8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Transport of Chaff and Timber
– I have received from Adelaide a telegram which states that there are about 1,500 tons of chaff on the wharf at Port Adelaide, which is part of an immense purchase made by the people of New SouthWales to tide over the severe drought from which they are now suffering. They have bought a standing crop, leaving agents to make provision for the transport and the shipping of the chaff, but they cannot get it taken away for lack of vessels, and they are losing their stock daily. As this is a matter of urgency, I ask the Prime Minister if he will make a special case of it, and do what is possible to relieve the drought-stricken people of New South Wales by putting vessels aside especially for the conveyance of this chaff?
– I recognise the importance and urgency of the matter, and shall consult with the Controller this afternoon to see what can be done.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that there are about 5,000 tons of chaff on the wharf at Fremantle awaiting shipment to New SouthWales, and that there are no ships available to take it away? Will the right honorable gentleman endeavour to make shipping available so that the requirements of New South Wales may be supplied?
– I shall bring the matter before the Controller.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that there are millions - I use the word advisedly - of feet of log timber lying at various railway sidings in the Cairns hinterland awaiting transport to the south ? Is he further aware that that timber is urgently needed here? Will he make a special effort to have it brought south ?
– Has the Minister for the Navy read in the newspapers the complaints about the allocation of coal? Certain working men in my district complain that the allocation by Mr. McGowan prevents some firms from getting a fair share of coal. It is said that certain firms which have been carting coal for years do not now get any coal allocated to them for carting.. Will the Minister see Mr. McGowan, with a view to remedying these complaints? It is not fair that one firm or individual should be dealt with differently from another.
– I suspect that the trouble has arisen by reason of the granting of priority. “When there is not coal enough to go round, certain industries, those most vital to the nation, must have the first preference, and the complaints may have been caused in that way. I shall be glad to have the whole matter investigated. I have not seen the report, but, if there is any trouble, we must try to remove it.
– Has an application been made to the Minister for Home and Territories, on behalf of Mr. Georgeson, for permission to leave the country, and, if so, has it been granted?
– An application was received by the Department from Mr. Georgeson for passports which would enable him to leave for New Zealand with a nurse and an attendant, so that he might undergo there a course of treatment at some mineral springs. The application was strongly supported by medical opinion. Thereupon I gave instructions that the law officers of New South Wales were to be asked whether Mr. Georgeson was required in Australia, and their reply being in the affirmative, I decided that no passport was to be issued.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to make a statement concerning the shipping policy of the Government? A number of ships have been launched, but no fresh keels have been laid.
– Questions concerning the policy of the Government are disallowable.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The desired information is being obtained.
Canberra and Jervis Bay
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he inform the House what arrangements have been made for the Prince of Wales to visit Canberra and theRoyal Military College, Duntroon, and if the date has been definitely fixed?
– The outline programme provides for a visit being made by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to Canberra and the Royal Military College during Monday, 14th June.
Mr. BOWDEN (for Mr. Austin Chapman) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What arrangements have been made for the Prince of Wales to visit theRoyal Naval College at Jervis Bay, and can he inform the House of the date of theRoyal visit?
– Arrangements have been made for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in H.M.S. Renown, to arrive at Jervis Bay on the8th June, departing on the following day. During the visit His Royal Highness will inspect the Royal Naval College. This date is provisional only.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
As it is reported that HisRoyal Highness the Prince of Wales is to visit the Duntroon Military College, will the Minister consider the question of arranging a like visit to the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay?
– The answer just given by the Prime Minister to the preceding question applies to this.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This matter is one controlled by the State Government.
Meeting of Parliament at Canberra - Transfer of Seat of Government - Supply of Electricity for Queanbetan - Settlers’ Requests to Minister - Representation in Parliament.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What is causing the delay in carrying out the arrangement made with the Queanbeyan Municipal Council for a supply of electricity from Canberra?
Will he lay on the table of the House the papers in connexion with this matter for honorable members’ information?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. BOWDEN (for Mr. Austin Chapman) asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– There were two main requests made to me during my recent visit to Canberra - 1. (a) That on behalf of the soldier settlers to make advances to them and to fence the exterior boundaries of their leases. Steps are now being taken to make advances to the extent of £625 per man available to returned soldiers settling in the Federal Capital Territory, to be expended for stock, improvements, and seed. The Government are not prepared to accede to the request to fence the exterior boundaries of the leases, but will purchase fencing material in bulk, so as to secure the cheapest rates, and will issue same to soldier settlers at cost price, plus a smallamount for handling charges. If the settler is unable to pay cash, credit for five years will be given at a rate of interest not exceeding 5 per cent.
Although no particular request was made to me, I inquired specially into the matter of school accommodation at Weetangera and Mugga Lane, and am approaching the Treasury with a request for funds to improve conditions at both places.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that an agreement has been completed between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to provide for the amalgamation of the Federal and State Savings Banks?
– Arrangements for the amalgamation are in progress, but the agreement has not yet been completed.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Government intend to comply with the provisions of section 27 of the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act, which provides for the. appointment of referees to deal with appeals against the Commissioner’s assessment?
– The necessity for the appointment of a Board of Referees has, so far, not arisen. The Board will, however, he appointed should the necessity arise later.
Absorption of Australian Companies - Commonwealth Insurance
askedthe Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Permanent Officers on Home Service - Retirements - Increases of Pay.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions areas follow. -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
When the proposed increase in payment to members of the Permanent Military Forces will be made?
– The revised rates of pay, &c., for the permanent units will be placed in operation as from 1st April, 1920.
Pay of Hospital Patients-War Leave Gratuity: Dependants of Deceased Soldiers
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that certain discharged members of the Australian Imperial Force remaining in military hospitals are receiving pensions only, whereas other returned soldiers are having their pensions made up to field rank pay?
– Approval has been given .that in the case of members who had been discharged from the Australian Imperial Force to pension and who were still in hospital on 25th February, 1919, or in the case of those who, on or after 25th February, 1919, were readmitted to hospital -after discharge suffering from a recurrence of genuine war disabilities, the rate of pension would be made up to the rate of pay drawn by such members prior to discharge from the Australian Imperial Force for the period whilst in hospital. Instructions to give effect to this approval were issued some time ago, but it is understood that difficulty has been experienced in obtaining the information required, by the Pensions Department, and consequently there has been occasional delay in carrying out the approval.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The matter is receiving careful consideration, and an announcement will shortly be made.
Locality Sign Plates on Post-offices - Port Adelaide Post Office - Report of Economy Commission.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will, before the Easter adjournment, state the definite date of his proposed visit to Port Adelaide in respect to the selection of a site for the new post office for that city?
– I hope to be able to visit Adelaide about the 20th or 21st April.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The first progress report of the Economy Commission, so far as it relates to this Department, was dealt with by my predecessor in a report laid on the table of Parliament on 21st October, 1919, to which I would direct the attention of the honorable member. The whole matter, as will be seen on reference to the remarks of the right honorable the Prime Minister and the right honorable the Treasurer in Parliament on 10th March, 1920, is under . consideration of the Government.
Mr. FLEMING (for Sir Robert
Best) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Government see that special provision is made in the Pacific mail contract, nowunder consideration, so as to’ assure uniform freights and fares and to prevent discrimination or preferences as to cargo space or otherwise?
– This matter will receive consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the recent simultaneous deliveries of the speeches by the Minister for Trade and Customs on the Tariff in the House of Representatives and by the Minister for Repatriation on the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill in the Senate, will the Govern ment take the necessary steps to provide in the Constitution, if necessary, that in future in connexion with important announcements and the introduction of Bills of very special importance they may, if so desired, be made or introduced respectively at a combined sitting of the members of both Houses in the same Chamber ?
– So far as Bills are concerned,the Constitution does not permit of this being done.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That to-morrow, Government business take precedence of general business, and that standing order No. 241 be suspended for the day inorder to enable the War Gratuity Bill to be further considered without delay.
.- I am as anxious as any other honorable member that we should complete our consideration of the War Gratuity Bill to-morrow, so that honorable members may leave for their homes, and not have to return until after the Easter holidays. At the same time I do not wish the passing of this motion to be accepted as a precedent that standing order 241 can be suspended without protest at any time merely because there is a majority behind the Government. The procedure under that standing order affords members the only opportunity they have to ventilate grievances, except when a Supply Bill is before the House, and, as a rule, such measures are hurriedly dealt with. I suggest to the Prime Minister that it would be advisable not to pass this motion to-day. If the state of business demanded it, the . Government, as soon as the question, “ That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply,” was proposed to-morrow, could move the adjournment of the debate in order that we might proceed with the War Gratuity Bill. I dislike late sittings, but it is extremely probable that we shall have a late sitting to-night. The chances are that if we sit until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. the suggestion will be made that we pass the Bill through all its stages before adjourning, and that we should not resume until 2 p.m. The War Gratuity Bill having been disposed of honorable members would then be able to ventilate grievances.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock a.m. to-morrow .
The following papers were presented:
Elections andReferendums - Statistical Returns in relation to the Senate Election, 1019; the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1919; and the submission to the Electors of Proposed Laws for the alteration of the Constitution, entitled (1) Constitution Alteration (Legislative Powers) 1919; (2) Constitution Alteration . (Nationalization of Monopolies) 1919; together with Summaries of Elections and Referendums, 1903-1919.
Elections 1919 - Statistical Returns showing the Voting within each Subdivision in relation to the Senate Election, 1919, and the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1919, viz.: -
New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed.
Income Tax - Royal Commission [Imperial] - Sixth Instalment of the Minutes of Evidence, with Appendices. (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 43.
In Committee (Considerationresumed from 30th March, vide page 1006) :
Clause 2 -
In this Act unless the contrary intention appears - “Member of the Forces” means -
a member of the Naval Forces; or
a member of the Military Forces enlisted for the duration of the war, or appointed without limitation of time, for active service outside Australia since the 4th day of August, 1914. … “Member of the Auxiliary Service” means a member of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, Royal Australian Naval Brigade Staff, orRoyal Australian Naval Radio Service, and includes any person appointed for permanent naval duty on shore. . . .
.- I move -
That the following words be left out: - “‘Member of the Auxiliary Service’ means a member of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, Royal Australian Naval Brigade Staff, or Royal Australian Naval Radio Service, and includes any person appointed for permanent naval duty on shore;”
The adoption of this amendment will bring within the scope of the Bill many who to-day feel that they are entitled to participate in its benefits. I refer particularly to those who are engaged in the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, the Royal Australian Naval Brigade Staff, and the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service. As I pointed out during the second-reading debate, there are in the Naval Service of Australia men whose services were retained here during the war at the pleasure of the Department. They feel that an undue hardship is placed upon them since, because they were compelled to remain here, as desired by the Department, they are not to. participate in this gratuity. There were issued to the wireless men certificates’ setting out that they had done their duty equally with those who went abroad. These men signed an undertaking that they would join the fighting forces if called upon to do so, and their services were such as should commend them to the favorable consideration of the Committee. I believe that there are supporters of the Government who will vote for this amendment, and since I desire to expedite the consideration of the Bill I shall say no more than that I trust that the Committee will recognise the justice of this claim on behalf of those who were actively engaged in war-like service during the war period, but whose services were retained in the Commonwealth.
– I desire to make a reference to an earlier definition in the clause.
– Then it will be necessary for the amendment to be temporarily withdrawn.
Amendment, by leave, temporarily withdrawn.
– In this clause “Member of the Forces” is defined as meaning -
I have in mind the position of several men who were high up in the military service, and particularly that of a colonel who had the responsibility of training troops at Broadmeadows, and was subsequently placed in charge of some three transports. It was his duty to take charge of the men on board the transports, which were armed for defence. He had to undergo the risks of submarine attack, and for all practical purposes the ship was portion of the battle front so far as he was concerned. Men of this class were chosen because of their military knowledge and experience, and some of them travelled on three or four transports, and were engaged on military service for a period of between three and four years. They claim that they fought in the same way as did the men in the trenches, and that they are entitled to the same consideration. By the words in the definition of a member of the Forces, “ appointed without limitation of time,” they are excluded from the benefits of this Bill. The striking out of the words might possibly have a wider effect than I desire to achieve, but I ask the Prime Minister to take into consideration the claims of these men.
– The two honorable members who have spoken have raised a question of considerable importance, and I should like to set out the views of the Government in regard to the classes of persons referred to, because more than one class is likely to be affected by any amendment that might be made. I know of no measure that was ever submitted to the people in greater detail than was this proposal to pay a gratuity. Certainly no measure was ever more exposed to the limelight of public criticism. Those who were members of the last Parliament will recollect that I announced that the Government had discussed with the executive of the Returned Soldiers’ League, not only the principle of a gratuity, but also the manner in which the principle should be applied. A general election followed close upon the heels of the statement made by me in the last Parliament, and as a result of the appeal to the people on this particular matter, a number of facts emerge quite clearly. Certain persons were included in the proposed gratuity and certain others were excluded. I shall mention later the reasons which actuated the Government and the soldiers in the inclusion of certain classes and the ex clusion of others. But for the present I am more concerned with emphasizing the fact that these distinctions were clearly presented to the people during the election campaign, and the people, including the soldiers, who were the persons most concerned, affirmed both the principles that are set out in this Bill and the manner of their application’. It is obvious that we are dealing with large sums of public money. Recently we have heard a good deal about the consumer in regard to the purchasing of commodities, and very properly so. Now we must consider the taxpayer, and whilst we have heard lately, as is quite proper, much of the grievances and the claims of different sections of the public, every one of us in this House is a representative of the taxpayers, and we are in duty bound to consider their interests. Now it must be perfectly clear to the Committeethat once we open the door to this gratuity it will be impossible to let in only that particular class that any honorable member has in mind. Others will come in, for the distinction between each class of person is so vague and slight that we cannot distinguish or in justice exclude any if we admit one. I take the cases mentioned by the honorable members for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) - members of the Naval Reserve, and others who were appointed as drill instructors, and in charge of transports. No’ one denies that those men did yeoman service, but we are not proposing a gratuity for the doing of service in relation to the war. This gratuity is the outward and visible testimony of the nation’s, gratitude to men who rendered a certain kind of service. It may be fairly said that if any one of us was given a choice of remaining in Australia and getting no gratuity, or being placed in the battle line >and risking death every hour of the day, and being paid a gratuity of ls. 6d. for every one of the days on which he might have been blown to atoms, there is not one of us, not even the bravest of the brave, who would not say, “ Give me the quiet home fireside.”
– These men did not say that.
– Suppose it is said that they were willing to go.
– But they did go.
– Some did go, and, of course, there were tens of thousands of men who were willing to go.. Some, however, were medically unfit; they could not go. Some were needed in this country; they could not go. But honorable members contend that because they were willing to go, they should receive the gratuity. That is not the principle underlying this measure. The payment of the gratuity is not to be in recognition of intentions and motives, but of services actually rendered, and not every kind of service, but of services of a certain character. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we must say that those who rendered this particular kind of service are worthy of a regard at least beyond those who rendered any other kind of service. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) stated that some of the men of whom he was speaking were over forty-five years of age, and that, therefore, they, could . not enlist. I suppose there were thousands who found themselves in the same position. But he points out, further, that these men made voyages to Europe on armed vessels. As for that, I myself made voyages to Europe during the height of the submarine campaign on vessels that were armed. Every munition worker went on board armed ships Every munition worker took the same risk in journeying to Great Britain as did every member of the Australian Imperial Force who sailed overseas. But it was a very different kind of risk, a very different service, comparing the risk of the munition worker on shipboard with the risk of the men of the Australian Im- perial Force at the Front, and of those who manned the Australian battle fleet. With respect to those who complain that their services are not now being recognised in the same way as those of the members of the Australian Imperial Force, all I can say is that for the services which they rendered this country is grateful. But those services cannot be classed for one moment alongside the services given by the fighting members of the Australian Forces. I admit that all members of the Australian Imperial Force may not have rendered equal service or .have been exposed to the same risks,, but it is impossible to draw distinctions between individuals. We must deal with classes; and, under the prin ciple contained in this Bill, all members of the Australian Imperial Force will be treated alike. The general will get no more than the private. My gallant and distinguished friend sitting beside me (Sir Granville Ryrie) will get only ls. 6d. a day, and the private will get no more. I suppose,- by the way, that in the days to come generals will think themselves lucky if they get one-twentieth of that which will be apportioned to the private; but those days have not yet arrived.
The next point I desire to stress is that the principles in this Bill, and the application of those principles, were discussed during the election campaign and approved by the people. I regret that there should be dissatisfaction, but that is inevitable. It .was certain that some would have to -be excluded. I do not deny that some men have been excluded who have rendered great service to the Commonwealth. It is very hard to draw a line and to say that all those upon the one side shall be getting nothing, while the whole of those on the other side shall receive the gratuity. For example, I do not deny the difficulty of distinguishing between the cases of members of the Australian Imperial Force who had not left Australia before the armistice, and members of the Royal Naval Brigade, or of the Garrison or Permanent Artillery. All I say is that the members of the Australian Imperial Force who had not left Australia prior to the armistice enlisted nevertheless for active service abroad. Happily for us, and for the world, the war terminated, and they were not called upon to go overseas. Members of the Garrison Artillery who waited on me - a splendid type of men - declared that they were willing, and always had been throughout the war, to go abroad.
– Some actually deserted from the Garrison Artillery and enlisted for active service under other names, and won honours.
– That is interesting; but I am sorry that, in my official capacity, I listened to the interjection. The fact is that, remaining here, they rendered splendid service. The members of the Permanent Artillery had to stay where they were told to stay; it was a matter of life and death to Australia that they should have done so. In remaining where they were told to stay, however, can it be said that they took risks which compare with those of the men who went into the very jaws of death? Are not these latter worthy of some more recognition than the others? That is the point.
The electors have had ample opportunity to discuss the principles of this Bill. They have approved them, and I now ask honorable members not to impose additional burdens upon the Australian taxpayers. The principles underlying the Bill are that the gratuity shall b© paid to certain classes of persons, and in the form of non-negotiable bonds; and those principles cannot be departed from. The extent to which the bonds may be cashed is also settled, and cannot be enlarged. The people, with some misgivings, perhaps, have assented to the distribution of some £28,000,000. They have given the Government no mandate to spend one penny more, and I trust that this Parliament will jealously guard the disbursement of the people’s money. It will be a difficult matter to raise the millions which will be required in order to cash bonds as provided for in the Bill.. To further extend cash payments will be impossible; at any rate, to do so would be fraught with disaster. I ask honorable members, therefore, while they may desire to extend the scope of this measure, to recognise that this is not one which emanated merely from the Government, but is a Bill which, in all essentials, has been submitted to, and approved by, the people. The Government is charged with the duty of raising the money necessary to pay a gratuity to those who are eligible under this measure. The Government is making provision in respect to the sum covered by the Bill. Beyond that, I say, with regret, that the Government cannot go.
.- Under this clause, unless it be amended, I fear that injustice will be done to certain worthy people. I know of a case where a youth went to the war, and was killed. Previously, he had been working as an apprentice, and his parents had not been dependent on him. Now, however, the parents are almost destitute, because the father has become blind. Under the terms of the Bill I fear that the mother will not be entitled to her deceased son’s gratuity. ‘
– That is not so, as the honorable member will see if he studies clause 9.
– The Prime Minister evidently did not apprehend the contention of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best). The wording of the Bill may have the effect, in many cases, of withholding the gratuity from men who actually left Australia. The honorable member for Kooyong cited the case of a number of men who enlisted, and actually went away.
– They had charge of three transports.
– Everybody in the Australian Imperial Force took service, under a certain prescribed form.
– I did not say they enlisted. They could not do so, because they were over forty-five years of age, but they went away in charge of transports on several occasions.
– The Prim© Minister has said that before he committed himself to the provisions of this measure he had a consultation with representatives of the soldiers, who expressed themselves satisfied with what was proposed to be done.
– That is so.
– I think that the honorable gentleman was justified in asking for the views of those men who knew more about the position than any one else. There are people left out of consideration in this measure who took as great risks as did at least half of the members of the Australian Imperial Force, and they were not consulted.
– They are ©lectors, and th©y had ample opportunities to make representations during the elections. Many of them did make proposals that were accepted.
– The Prime Minister asked whether one would choose to have been one of those who stayed at home or one who went away and daily took the risk of death or injury, but can the honorable gentleman not see that he has left out of consideration many men who did daily take the risk of death or injury.
– Who are they?
– Members of the mercantile marine.
– They were not members of the fighting forces.
– That is so, but many of them took risks as often and as great as did many members of the Australian Imperial Force. I know of men who made half-a-dozen trips and who were practically fighting submarines all the time.
– So far as recognition for valour and heroism is concerned, I do not deny that they deserve as much as any one.
– I point out that they were engaged only for one voyage at a time, but they went on several trips, and some of them were torpedoed three times.
– I did not refer to them, but to persons who remained in Australia.
– As regards those who remained in Australia, there should be consideration given to many of the Garrison Artillery and members of the Naval Citizen Forces. Many of these men were called up, and. an attempt was made to court martial some of them for enlisting.
– They should have got off.
– Many war workers and munitioners went one journey from Australia and returned after the war, but many men of the mercantile marine made several trips andhad to fight submarines. On two occasions vessels of the mercantile marine acted as men-of-war. It is suggested that this Bill is similar to the British Act, and perhaps the Prime Minister will say whether consideration would be given under that Act to the men of the Tara, a vessel that was not a man-of-war, but was engaged in carrying passengers between England and Ireland. She was submarined in the Mediterranean, where she was sent for a certain purpose. Some of her men were captured by the Turks and transported into the interior.
– I admit that the honorable member can quote cases that it is very hard to distinguish from those of the Australian Imperial Force.
– I could refer the honorable gentleman to the case of the men engaged in mine-sweeping on the coast of Australia.
– They will get the gratuity.
– I hope that is definite. I have tried in vain to find out whether they would be included. Then there is the case of the men of the Thursday Island Force. They were enlisted for the same purpose as the Rabaul Force. Some were sent to Thursday Island and some to Rabaul.
– They were part of the Civil Forces, and not of the Australian Imperial Force.
– Were not the men who went to German New Guinea members of the Australian Imperial Force?
– Yes. I do not know whether the men sent to Thursday Island were exactly members of the Australian Imperial Force, but they are not entitled to the gratuity.
– All who went to Rabaul were specially enlisted.
– Of those who enlisted, some were sent to Rabaul, and some to Thursday Island.
– The honorable member is speaking of Home Forces, who could be called up and sent to Thursday Island, but could not be sent out of Australia.
– There were men sent to Rabaul after the fighting was finished in German New Guinea.
– What men does the honorable member refer to ?
– Reinforcements of the army of occupation in German New Guinea. I think that those men should be given the gratuity, and the Thursday Island menshould receive it also. Men who took little risk will get the gratuity, and members of the mercantile marine and munition workers, who took considerable risk, will not. Some men have told me how they were dodging torpedo boats for days in the Atlantic, and were dodging submarines. The vessels on which some of these men were employed actually rammed submarines. The Government should agree that while this measure is specially intended for the Australian Imperial Force, those who took similar risk will be similarly provided for.
.- The Prime Minister has admitted by interjection that there are very many exceedingly hard cases that are not covered by this measure. I feel confident that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) knows of some men who enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Brigade who did just as much fighting, and were in the danger zone more frequently, than many of the men who went into the fighting line.
– I will not admit that for one moment.
– They were not men who enlisted.
– They were men who were called up. I have had dozens of these cases brought under’ my notice since the Bill was introduced. One man writes me to say -
I am a member of the Naval Brigade. I served 1,140 days, was retained for service in November, . 1915. I volunteered on three occasions, was refused twice, and accepted as a gun- layer at the third attempt. I was drafted to a troopship carrying Australian troops, and made three trips carrying United States troops to England afterwards. I had thirteen months, abroad out of two years, and was discharged at the end of hostilities. The result is that 1 am completing my trade, which I would have completed two years previously, having lost the difference between 6s. a day and 14s. Should not the gratuity apply in a case like this?
– The honorable member says that this man enlisted?
– Yes. He succeeded in enlisting at the third attempt.
– He will get the gratuity.
– Many of these men are very much afraid that they will not get the gratuity. I could mention the case of another man who was employed on the Indarra. He was an able seaman, and was compelled to join the vessel. He was brought ashore in Port Melbourne, and was not allowed to go on board the Indarra to obtain possession of his clothes.I am writing to the Minister for the Navy in connexion with this particular case, and. I trust that he will be able togive it his close and careful attention. He states that, although he was a gun-layer on a vessel, he will not be able to receive the gratuity.
– Does such a man know better than we do?
– He is guided by the provisions of the Bill. It is very peculiar that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), in order to obtain what he desires, has to delete the de finition of “ member of the Auxiliary Service,” in paragraphb of clause 2, which includes the men on the Royal Australian Naval Brigade Staff. I quote the following letter . from a member of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade: -
Members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade were compelled to take this ship (Barambah), with 1,300 troops, overseas. The master of the ship was a naval officer. The men were lined up, and as this officer read his commission to them, the first officer and the chief engineer were given temporary naval commissions, so as to command naval ratings, All offences committed on the ship were punished after arrival back at Melbourne, according to the King’s Rules and Regulations. They would not give us merchant service discharges, because we were naval ratings, under naval discipline.
– Such men will get the gratuity, as they were under naval discipline.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance that such will be the case. I also wish toread another letter I have received in connexion with the Royal Australian Naval Brigade -
In 1914 I was called up for service under proclamation. In 1915 I volunteered as a reinforcement to the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, and was refused permission to go by Lieutenant-Commander Bowen, then District Naval Officer for Victoria. In 1916 I volunteered for service at No. 5 Australian General Hospital, and served there for seven months. From there I joined the No. 2 Australian hospital ship Kanowna, and served abroad through all danger zones, working alongside Australian Imperial Force men, and doing the same duties. I was discharged after doing over two years’ service. I would like to state that there are other men who served on men-of-war belonging to theRoyal Australian Naval Brigade, and worked alongside permanent men, and we are cut out of the war gratuity.
I should like the Minister for the Navy to say such men are included in the provisions of the Bill. I am afraid the clause, as at present drafted, makes it appear that every one of those who were members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade or any auxiliary services will be excluded.
– They will be included.
– That is what I want to acsertain. I want it placed beyond all doubt. I feel sure that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), who represent maritime constituencies, are more conversant with the position than honorable members who represent inland constituencies. If the Minister for the Navy assures me that the men who have served on hospital ships and transports are included, I shall be satisfied. As the position at present seems somewhat uncertain, I feel that I shall have to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– As I understand the Bill, it is quite clear that all the men mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition will be included.
– Does it include the members of the mercantile marine ?
– No. It covers members of the Naval Forces who were liable to be sent overseas to be drafted to fighting ships.
– Does it include seamen on transports ?
– No; they were not under any obligation to fight, and there is a distinct difference between those and the other men mentioned. *
– They had to incur risks from submarines.
– I am not dealing with the question of risk. They were not enlisted in the fighting Forces, but the other men were. Some who were on the troopships were liable to be taken off and be placed on fighting ships. The Bill includes - any other member of the Naval Forces who served in a sea-going ship, during the war with Germany, and who, during that service, was borne for pay on the books of one of Eis Majesty’s Australian ships.
That includes mine-layers, those engaged in patrolling the coast of Australia in search of raiders, gun-layers, and signallers on transports. The wireless men are not included, as they were not members of the Naval Forces. Such men were under the orders of the master of the ship from beginning to end, and entered into a civil agreement to perform a certain duty on those ships. There is a sharp distinction between such men and the members of the fighting Forces.
– Are the men on the troopship Mallina, which acted as a decoy to German ships, included? Were not those men fighting ?
– I should think so.
– They will not be included, because they’ were on a merchant ship.
– Will the Australian boys on British vessels attached to the Channel Fleet receive the gratuity?
– There are many cases on the border line where it will be difficult to make a distinction as to the particular, duties they were performing, and on that account the prescribed authority is given power to investigate cases concerning which there is any doubt. It seems that the Bill is perfectly clear and sufficiently wide, as it provides, inter alia, for payment of the gratuity to - any other member of the Naval Forces who served in a sea-going ship, during the war with Germany, and who, during that service, was borne for pay on the books of one of His Majesty’s Australian ships.
– That would mean men on a man-of-war.
– It means what is clearly provided in paragraph d of clause 3, which I have just quoted.
If a man was a gun-layer or a signaller on a hospital ship, he will receive the gratuity.
– There were no gun- layers on hospital ships.
– Then there were signallers. Whatever duty men performed, if they were members of the Naval Forces overseas, they will be entitled to this gratuity.
– Does a gun-layer incur any more risk than does a man in the stokehold?
– I do not think that he incurs very much more risk. Mr. Watkins. - Does he incur as much ?
– I think that the man engaged in laying a gun has the first chance of being hit with a shell. However, it will not avail us much to inquire who incurred the greater risk. The question we have to consider is “To what arm of the service does any man belong?” A stoker is a pure civilian.
– The Prime Minister stated that a man’s qualification to receive the proposed gratuity will be determined by the risk which he incurred.
– Oh, no. I am quite sure that the Prime Minister did not say that. If the payment of the gratuity depended upon the amount of risk that was incurred by different individuals many members of our mercantile marine would be entitled to it. They incurred much more risk than did many of the men who were upon active service. But we have to draw the line of demarcation somewhere. As the Prime Minister has explained, this gratuity is intended to be a fighting gratuity. We would like to include all the cases which have been mentioned if we could afford to do so, but unfortunately we cannot. I wish that I knew where ail the millions of which honorable members opposite speak so glibly, are to be found. I do not mind telling my honorable friends that I shall require some of those millions next year. I hope, therefore, that I shall be shown just where these millions are to be picked up prior to the framing of our next Budget. Meantime, I am aware that the- Bill excludes certain classes of cases from participating in the gratuity, ana? includes other classes. In those “ other classes,” I am happy to say, most of the cases enumerated this afternoon will be found.
– I was about to remark when the Minister for the Navy intervened that if the statement made by the Prime Minister is supported by a majority of this Committee, the Bill should be put in globo and passed. The statement of the right honorable gentleman means, if it means anything, that no amendments can be made to this measure. If a majority of the Committee decide that certain amendments are necessary, the Government, it appears, will disclaim responsibility, and will refuse to proceed with the measure. Are we to “ open, gape, and swallow” - ito shut our eyes, open our mouths, land accept all that the Government choose to send us? Is not our parliamentary procedure being reduced to a farce when we are told that the Committee has no power to amend the Bill? I have been a member of this Chamber for nearly ten years, and I cannot recall a parallel case. I have never heard of a Prime Minister, immediately a Bill has been taken into Committee, saying to honorable members, “We cannot accept any amendments to it. It must be passed practically in the form in which it passed its second reading.” It is an utter farce for us to go into Committee if we are to have no opportunity of amending the measure. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy have admitted that cases are excluded from the Bill which are more deserving of consideration than are some of those which have been included in it. The Minister for the Navy also made a statement which seemed to imply that this Committee is going to throw upon the “ prescribed authority “_ an immense amount of work. He stated that if the “ prescribed authority “ decided that certain cases should be included in the list of those receiving the gratuity, they would be so included, but not otherwise.
– I did not say that at all. I said that there would no doubt be cases on the border line, and that whether they were included or excluded would be determined by the “prescribed authority.”
– There will be thousands of cases on the border line. Ministers have admitted that the arguments which we have advanced for the’ inclusion of certain cases are irrefutable. Yet we are asked to empower the “ prescribed authority” to expend many thousands of pounds more than are provided for in this Bill.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should cut out the “prescribed authority”?
– We cannot do that.
– What is the honorable member’s point, then?
– If what the Minister for the Navy says be correct, he has widened the scope of the Bill beyond the preconceived ideas of any honorable member. He has said that the “prescribed authority’’ shall have power to determine what cases shall come within the scope of this measure.
– In the first place, the honorable member asks the Government to widen the scope of the Bill. But when it is found that it has already been widened it is equally unsatisfactory to him.
– I say that it is for this Committee to widen the scope of the measure. The task should not he left to the “prescribed authority.” If the interpretation put upon the Bill by the
Minister for the Navy be correct, the measure must, of necessity, be widened very considerably. Why should not this Committee say what cases are on the border line? I object to legislation by regulation. We have had too much of it.
– This is not legislation by regulation. The Minister in charge of the Bill has all the details before him.
Mr.FENTON. - Not necessarily. Under the Bill, the “prescribed authority “ is to be empowered to do this thing and that. I have no doubt that the claims which will come under the purview of this body will be so numerous and so just that it will be unable to refuse to recognise them. If the Government are going to interfere that will be another injustice, because if the prescribed authority is to have any power at all there should be no interference on the part of the Government.
– The prescribed authority will not be able to do anything it likes. The honorable member should read the Bill.
– The Minister’s interjection absolutely contradicts his previous statement.
– It does, and I am basing the whole of my argument upon his statement.
– I do not think you are.
– I am. The Minister said that cases on the border-line would be decided by the constituted authority, and I again point but that thousands of cases will be on the borderline.
– What is the honorable member’s criticism of this particular clause of the Bill ?
– I am urging that the scope of the measure should be enlarged, which was the burden of the speech made by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). The Minister for the Navy distinctly said that the Bill would grant the prescribed authority greater power than had previously been given to any authority, and I protest against the Government legislating at express speed. We do not want to have any regrets about this Bill. Does the Minister for the Navy want to yard honorable members up again in a few months to consider amendments of the measure?
– No, but we would like to make progress, so that we can get to the Estimates.
– We have had a good example of ill-considered legislation in another Chamber, which has just passed an amending Repatriation Bill that practically demolishes one-half of the original Act, simply because so many blunders were made in it. And now the Government want to rush this Bill through without sufficient consideration. It may embody the wisdom of the Ministry, but I am not going to accept it for that reason. I want it to represent the combined wisdom of this Committee.
.- I move -
That the following words be left out: - “ ‘ Member of the Auxiliary Service ‘ means a member of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, Royal Australian Naval Brigade Staff, or Royal Australian Naval Radio Service, and includes any person appointed for permanent naval duty on shore;”
In reply to the statement made by the Minister for the Navy, I desire to quote the certificate issued to members of the . Naval Radio Section.
Mr. is employed in wireless telegraph work. In the opinion of the Naval Board (Australia), so long as he is so employed, he is doing his duty for his King and country equally with those who have joined the Forces afloat or ashore.
This card is issued by authority of the Naval Board to those who sign an undertaking to join the fighting Forces if called upon.
I trust members of the Committee will accept the amendment, so that the Bill will include all those engaged in the Royal Australian Naval Brigade and Staff, and also the Radio Services.
– I shall support the amendment. Evidently the Imperial authorities have recognised the value of the services rendered by men on some of the transports; as in the Argus one day last week there appeared a statement that the British Government had informed the New Zealand Government of their intention to name a warship after the transport Otaki, which successfully fought the German raider Moewe during the war. The Minister’s argument that transports are not fighting ships Falls to the ground completely, as these vessels were armed, and had naval men on board to. serve the guns.
– And they will get the gratuity.
– How do the Government propose to discriminate between one transport and another 1
– The men, and not the ship, will get the gratuity.
– During the war, there were occasions when all df a naval gun crew on board a transport were shot down, and infantry men helped wounded gunners to serve the. guns. Because they were not naval gunners, will they not receive consideration ?
– If they were enlisted men on board a transport, they will get the gratuity. * ‘
– Then I will quote what may perhaps be regarded as an extreme case. Suppose some of the firemen were off duty when a transport became engaged with an enemy submarine, and when the naval gunners were shot down they assisted to work the guns. Because they belonged to the mercantile marine, and were not on the ship’s articles as fighting men, will they get no gratuity ? We all know that when a man is “ put “ to it in certain circumstances, he does not consider what his position is. He just “ slogs “ in, and for the time .being becomes a fighting man. Are these men to be excluded from the gratuity scheme simply .because they were not enlisted men ?
– The honorable member is quoting supposititious cases.
– Does the Minister mean to say that the Otaki is a supposititious case?
– Then I have nothing more to say. If, after what I have said - that the Imperial Government think so highly of the action of the 0takes officers and men in fighting a German ship that they intend to name a warship after the transport - the Minister calls that a supposititious case, I will say no more.
.-f-I rise to make a personal explanation.
– The honorable member should, too!
– I should do nothing of the sort, and I should be glad if the honorable member would hold his tongue, and cease bawling at me across the table in that way. I ask him to be honest in the matter.
– The honorable member told me that I was only quoting a supposititious case.
– I said the honorable member was only quoting sup- , posititious cases, and then the honorable member pointed to another case, of which I know absolutely nothing. I, therefore, could not be said to be commenting on that case.
– Then, what sort of a Minister for the Navy is the honorable member, when a case like that takes place, and he knows nothing at all about it? He is only a supposititious case himself.
.- I wish to support the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). I listened, so far as I was able, to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and to subsequent speeches, and am at a loss to understand the line of demarcation which the Prime Minister draws. He said a distinction was made with regard to the payment of the gratuity, based upon the kind of service rendered. So far as I remember, that is the meaning of his remarks. I am at a loss to see the difference between the kind of service rendered, say, by a soldier who went to Rabaul, and a seaman engaged on a transport in the war zone, where there was great danger from submarines. Greater risk was attached to that kind of service than to the other. The Prime Minister also says that we have to consider the taxpayer. We were told, in the second-reading debate, that the country could not stand payment of the gratuity in cash, and that payment would have to be in bonds. We are now told that not even in bonds can the gratuity be paid to seamen and others. I should like to know what the estimate is of the additional expenditure that would -be incurred through the carrying of, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I should also like to have estimates prepared of the amounts that would be involved by including the seamen and any other body or class of men who may be included in any amendment that is moved on the measure. If the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) or the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) would be good’ enough, to furnish me with an estimate of the probable additional expenditure, I should be better able to judge whether this great concern for the taxpayer is genuine.
– I do not know that I can give the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) an estimate of what this amendment would mean. It would be very hard for anybody to estimate it, but, in my opinion, it would mean a great many millions of pounds. If the amendment -were carried it would open the door to every naval man, of every description, in Australia, whether he went to the war or not, and whether he served on land or on shore. If the amendment were carried, we could not possibly leave out the garrison artillery and the other permanent artillery, who are equally due for consideration. After we had done that, we could not leave out any man on the transports. We could not leave out the munition workers, or the seamen, or any of the nursing sisters. In fact, we could not leave out any one who served in a naval or military capacity in Australia. If we opened the door in one direction, therefore, would not that mean millions and millions of pounds extra? The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) knows that I am in sympathy with this movement. I undertake to say that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) ie sincere in wishing to do the very best possible for the returned soldiers in the matter of the gratuity. I go further, and say that if I thought the Prime Minister was not sincere, or that the Government were not sincere, in attempting to do their very best f or the returned soldiers, taking into consideration the necessity for not unduly creating a greater burden of taxation on the people of Australia, or an unnecessarily greater burden, than they have to bear at the present time, I would not support the Prime Minister, nor would I serve under him. Honorable members will admit that I am sincere regarding the gratuity, and would like to include all those people whom honorable members opposite have mentioned.
– Does the Minister deny that the seamen are just as deserving as some that are included?
– No, I do not deny it for a moment; but many men will be left out of this Bill who are just as deserving as those who are in it. I say, deliberately, that many such men will be left out; but it is necessary to draw the line of demarcation somewhere.
– Whatever is given should be distributed amongst the equally deserving.
– We cannot lay down that principle. The line must be left where it is drawn, or we shall have to include everybody, and then we shall not know where the expenditure will stop.
– There is no need to do an injustice1 to those who have rendered service.
– Not to those who have rendered service as laid down in this Bill, that is, those who have enlisted.
– Others are not included in the Bill.
– I ‘ am sympathetic towards the people who have been left out, but to include them would be to do an injustice to the taxpayers of Australia, and we have to consider them as a whole. Many hundreds of thousands of people had no relatives at the war, and had nothing to do with the war, but many thousands of men wished to go to the war, and were greatly disappointed at not being able to go. All those people are now to be taxed to give a gratuity to men who were in a different position from themselves.
– The taxpayers’ interests have been secured by the efforts of those men.
– That is a big question, which we cannot go into now.
– There would have been no taxpayers if it had not been for the seamen.
– Quite so; if it had not been for some of them. In my opinion, the carrying of the amendment would mean that we. could not debar any member of the naval or military services in Australia, we could not leave out the munition workers, we could not leave out the seamen on trans- ports, and we could not leave out any of the wireless men. In fact, many thousands of men could claim to have just as good a right to come in under the provisions of the Bill. It is impossible for the Government to include everybody, and I think honorable members opposite know it. I regret that this measure should be regarded as so contentious, and that honorable members opposite should seek to gain some notoriety by bringing forward amendments which they would’ not have carried out, or attempted to carry out, had they been on this side of the House.
-Will the Minister tell the Committee how the British Government treated the mercantile marine of Great Britain?
– I confess that I do not know the particulars of any measure of that sort. It is quite impossible to accept the amendment. If it is carried, it means committing the country to the expenditure of many millions of pounds, or at least of several million pounds, in addition to what will amount, at all events, to £30,000,000 under the Bill as it stands.
.- I regret exceedingly that the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) should impute motives to honorable members on this side. I am as desirous as any member of the Committee can be that justice shall be done to every individual, and, in my opinion, the mover of the amendment is as sincere as the Minister. Many of these men did good service.. While on my feet, I should like to make clear an interjection that I uttered while the Prime Minister was speaking. I stated that there were men who, in their desire to enlist, deserted. The men I had in mind were members, not of the Permanent Artillery, but of the Garrison Artillery. I think thatSenator Pearce said in another place that 253 out of 257 of these men went away ; but a number were prevented from going, and, to get away, left without leave. They deserted to join the Australian Imperial Force. .
– And they have been penalized.
– They were pardoned.
– They should not have been penalized. Many of them have won honours. The other night at the Tivoli Theatre members were present at a presentation to V.C. winners, among whom was. Sergeant Buckley, who, it is well known, enlisted under another name. Many men would have done anything to get away. We are pleading for those who were compelled to go into the danger zone, because we think that they should get the same treatment as others who had to run the risks of warlike operations.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Makin’s amendment) stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That the following paragraphs be added: - “ Munition worker” means a person who embarked for service abroad from the Commonwealth between the 4th August, 1914, and the 28th June, 1919, for the manufacture and supply of munitions and war provisions. “ War worker “ means a person retained by the Commonwealth Defence Department for war service occupation abroad.
It is necessary to move for the insertion of definitions of “ munition worker “ and “ war worker “ in this clause, so that later I may move an amendment to enable these persons to participate in the war gratuity, and perhaps I may be permitted now to indicate the justification for this course. The Prime Minister has stated that the qualification for participation in the war gratuity is the being involved in war risks. During my second-reading speech I mentioned that the secretary to the Munition Workers Association of South Australia was located at a place in England over which there were forty-five air raids during the time that he was employed there in the manufacture of war material. Those who were the enemies of our country at that time made a target of such places.
– What the honorable member is now saying had better be deferred to a later stage.
– My desire is to strengthen my case for the insertion of the definitions that I have moved.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity, later, to state a case for the payment of war gratuity to munition and war workers, but he must now confine himself to the amendment that he has moved, which provides merely for the insertion of definitions. Were I to permit him to state at length the claims of munition and war workers to a gratuity, every other honorable member might ask for the same consideration.
– Should I resume my seat, and the amendment that I have moved be defeated, would the amendment that I propose to move later be automatically negatived, too?
– No. Each proposal will be dealt with on its merits.
– I thought it advisable to set out the case for these men, so that the Committee might have a thorough understanding of the proposal immediately before them; but, on your advice, Mr. Chairman, I shall defer until a later stage the remarks which I wish to make.
– If the present amendment is defeated, it will be useless to go on with another. You should give your reasons now.
– I have the assurance of the Chairman that each amendment will stand on its own merits, and even should this amendment be defeated, I shall have a chance, later, of proposing the payment of war gratuity to munition and war workers.
– I have ruled out of order the remarks that the honorable member was making as being beyond the scope of his amendment. They should be deferred until a later clause is under discussion.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Makin’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
.- Under paragraph a of sub-clause 1, the Minister may pay awar gratuity to a member of the Naval Forces, other than a member of the auxiliary service, who, as a member of the Naval Forces, served in a seagoing ship after the 4th August, 1914, and before the 11th November, 1918, and the succeeding paragraph provides that the gratuity may be paid to a member of the Naval Forces, other than a member of the auxiliary service, who did not serve in a sea-going ship between the same dates. Thus the gratuity will be payable to many persons who did not leave the shores of Australia, and. made no sacrifices. Many munition workers to whom the gratuity is not to be paid, according to the decision of the Committee just recorded, made very big sacrifices to serve during the war in the capacity in which they were employed. There is no provision in the Bill for the payment of the gratuity to those who served in hospital ships in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea. Yet it is proposed to pay it to persons who served in a seagoing ship on the coast of Australia, and did not leave the shores of Australia. Last night the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) mentioned the case of those who were engaged in mine-sweeping on the Australian coast. There are quite a number of members of the Naval Forces who served on the seas in a sea-going ship, but did nob go beyond the shores of Australia. They made no sacrifice; they did not enter into any danger zone ; and they have no justification for expecting to receive a gratuity. I wish to test’ the feeling of the Committee upon the question of the payment of the gratuity to men who did not leave the shores of Australia.
– If the honorable member reversed his proposal, and included the other persons he has mentioned, we would support him.
– I want to give the gratuity only to those who made great sacrifices. Some persons went to the war for love of adventure, and others for various other reasons, but the great majority of those who enlisted, and went away to fight, made enormous sacrifices. In many cases men left their homes with scarcely sufficient provision for their wives and families. Oftentimes the wives, and’ even the children, were obliged to seek for work. Others who enlisted werepreparing for examinations and cleared off without finishing their studies. It was a marvellous response we had from those who went away, and we cannot give them too much in return.
– The Minister for the Navy and the Prime Minister have distinctly said that the men to whom the honorable member objects are not to get the gratuity.
– This clause specifically provides that they are to receive the gratuity. It is an important question. I propose to move to amend subclause 1, paragraph a, by the deletion of’ the words ‘ ‘ served in a sea-going ship’ ‘ with a view to inserting other words in lieu thereof. I do not think that the Minister will treat such an amendment as an endeavour to be at cross purposes with the Government. I am moving it as a matter of principle. Honorable members will realize that there is nothing of the nature of vote catching in it. There are bound to be numbers of people in my constituency who, although engaged in various avenues of war work, will not receive gratuities under this Bill, and may be omitted if my suggestion be agreed to. I would rather see the gratuity increased to those who made sacrifices than pay it to those who remained in Australia in good johs taking no risk, and making no sacrifices.
.- I have a prior amendment. I move -
That in sub-clause 1, paragraph (a), the words “ other than a member of the auxiliary service” be left out.
This is a very desirable amendment, because of the effect it will have by including a number of persons who were mentioned last evening, such as those .who were engaged in mine Sweeping, and in other occupations.
– The honorable member’s proposal is too wide.
– It is essential to place the position of these men beyond doubt. The elimination of these words will lead to the inclusion in the gratuity of men who have a just claim to participate in it.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) to certain cases that seem to me to be excluded from the operation of the Bill by the -words which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has moved to omit. The men in whom I am specially interested are Royal Australian Naval Brigade ratings and the Royal Australian Naval Brigade staff. I know of several members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade staff who were employed as instructors, and volunteered for service overseas, but were not accepted. They were detailed to do duty on vessels outside the Heads, and had, amongst other things, to examine German vessels that were to be interned. They placed themselves at the disposal of the Department, to be sent wherever the Depart-‘ ment pleased, and to perform whatever duties were required of them. One of these men showed me a returned sailor’s badge, which had been given to him by the Department, showing that he had. done what was evidently regarded as active service.
– What! In going outside the Heads?
– Ordinarily the ‘ duties of these men were on shore, but they had to go outside the Heads during the war, and to do what was dangerous work. Some of the young fellows of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade ratings waited on me recently, and I made a note of one or two of their cases, which I desire to bring before the Minister, with the object of ascertaining whether these young fellows, by the words to which exception is taken, are excluded from the operation of the Bill. One young man, to whom I shall refer as “A”, had ‘the Royal Australian Naval Brigade rating, petty officer. He volunteered for service with the Naval bridging .train, but his services were refused on account of his special rating as a sick berth steward. Subsequently he volunteered for service at No. 5 Australian General Hospital, and remained there for seven months. He then joined the Australian hospital ship Kanowna, and worked alongside ratings of the permanent Navy, doing exactly the same duties. He served in Indian waters, and went through the Red Sea to Egypt and England with invalided troops. On returning to Melbourne he was taken off the hospital ship, and was in naval barracks in charge of sick berths until October, 1918. In March, 1918, he had asked to be allowed to join the Australian Imperial Force, but received a written reply stating that under the circumstances the desired permission could not be granted. The Navy Department issued to him a returned sailor’s naval badge, bearing the words, “Returned from active service.” In another case one young man, who was an A.B., volunteered several times for service with the Australian Imperial Force, but received one of the ordinary circular letters, stating that permission to enlist could not be granted. When the Navy called for volunteers to man the Psyche, a mano’war, which was to be sent out on war service, he volunteered, was accepted, and went away, not knowing where he was going. He worked alongside ratings of the permanent Navy, doing the same, duties, and after a cruise to Torres Strait returned to Melbourne, where he was demobilized, and discharged after six months’ service. He received the returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League badge. I have several other cases of the kind, but these are sufficient for my purpose. I desire to know whether such men will be excluded from the scope of the Bill if the amendment providing for the deletion of the word’s, “other than a member of the auxiliary service,” is not made.
– They are all included under paragraph d of clause 3. All these men will qualify for the gratuity._
– I am satisfied with that assurance.
– I ask, Mr. Chairman, for your ruling as to whether the amendment is in order. This is a money Bill.
– Turn up that game.
– It is useless for us to spend several hours in a discussion which may be all to no purpose. It is just as well that we should know at once whether an amendment of this kind is permissible, so that we may devote our attention to other features of the Bill calling for consideration. I am dealing now, not with the merits or demerits of the amendment, and others of which notice has been given, but with a question of procedure. My point is that this is a money Bill, and that we are absolutely confined to the Governor-General’s covering message authorizing an appropriation of revenue to the extent necessary to meet the requirements of the ‘Bill as introduced by the Government. An honorable member reminds me that no amount is specified in the Governor-General’s message. That is immaterial. The vital point is that the Governor-General’s message merely covers the Bill as introduced by the Government, and that the amendment, which would increase the proposed charge or burden on the people, is absolutely unconstitutional. It is not provided for by a message from the Governor-General. There can be no escape from that position, since it has been laid down for generations.
– But would it not be interesting to have a division on the amendment recorded?
– That has nothing to do with the question. I ask, Mr. Chairman, for your ruling.
– When the GovernorGeneral’s message was first brought forward, I asked you, Mr. Chairman, whether it would be competent for any honorable member to move an amendment such as I then indicated, providing for the payment of the gratuity in cash. My recollection is that you then ruled that, since no amount was specifically mentioned in the message, such an amendment would be permissible:
– The honorable member for Wakefield has raised the point of order that the amendment is not in accordance with the constitutional requirement that a proposed vote for the appropriation of revenue shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has been recommended by a message from the GovernorGeneral. I have given this matter very serious consideration. I am bound to interpret the Standing Orders as I find them, and to have regard to established precedents, even if they be in opposition to my own personal views and desires.
– Evidently this point is an inspired one - already prepared.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement, and to apologize to the House.
– With all due respect to you, sir, I think the honorable member has-
– Order ! The honorable member has made a most insulting reference to an honorable member, and to the Chair. I ask him to withdraw it, and to apologize.
– With all due respect to you, sir, my remark was applicable to the Government. I did not intend-
– Order ! A direction from the Chair cannot be discussed. The honorable member has made a distinctly insulting statement suggesting collusion on the part of the honorable member for Wakefield and perhaps others and myself.
– That is not so.
– If the honorable member says that I have misheard him, and that he did not make such a statement, the matter need not be further discussed; but if he did utter the remark, which I certainly thought I heard him make, he must withdraw it and apologize.
– You have totally misconceived my intention, and have given my remark a colour that was never intended. What I said was that apparently the point of order had been inspired. I meant to suggest, not that it had been inspired by you, sir, but by the Government. I believe it is simply a gag inspired by the Government. I make no reflection upon the Chair.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance that he intended no offence to the Chair. I have had no communication with any Minister in regard to’ this matter, and I would object to anything of the kind at all times. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard’ Poster) did approach me about half-an-hour ago, and intimated, as it is competent for any honorable member to do, that he intended to raise this point of order at a certain stage of the Bill.
– He evidently discussed the matter.
-There was no discussion with me. The honorable member for Wakefield did not ask my opinion regarding the point of order.
– It is a usual act of courtesy to give the Chairman an intimation of a pending point of order.
– In regard to the point of order itself, if I were to consult my own inclinations I should be inclined to rule in a manner different from what I am obliged to do. I am not here to consult my own inclinations, but to interpret the Standing Orders in accordance with the precedents of this House and the practice of the British House of Commons. Several honorable members have alluded to the fact that the message which preceded’ the Bill mentioned no specific amount. That is quite true, but neither have other messages which preceded money Bills mentioned any specific sum. On th’e 1st August, 1907, the then honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Fisher) moved an amendment to the Bounties Bill to add to the schedule a bounty upon an article not already provided for, and the Chairman of Committees, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. McDonald), ruled that the amendment was in order. Considerable debate took place upon that ruling, and was contributed to by the present AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes), the late Sir George Reid, and others. As the matter waa of great importance, and would establish a precedent for the guid7ance of future Parliaments, the Committee decided, with the concurrence of the Chairman, to refer the matter to Mr. Speaker (Sir Frederick Holder). I think there is not one member of the present Parliament who was a member of this Parliament at that time but will agree that Sir Frederick Holder was one of the best, if not the best, Speakers this House has had’. He gave the fullest measure of consideration to all matters of this kind. After the Chairman of Committees had stated his reasons for ruling Mr. Fisher’s amendment in order, Mr. Speaker Holder gave his ruling, which may be found in full in Hansard, but which I shall quote in condensed form from the Votes and Proceedings -
Mr. McDonald reported that an amendment had been moved in the First Schedule of the Bill, to insert after the word “ Dried “ in the item “ Fruits “ the words “ and canned pineapples.” He had ruled this amendment to be in order, and the Committee had decided that the question should he referred for the decision of Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker stated he had no hesitation in giving his ruling. He would remind the House of the different stages through which the Bill had passed. First of air there was a Message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation. The appropriation was voted in Committee, and a Bill was then brought in to give effect to the vote, and providing for certain- bounties on certain items in the First Schedule. If the Bill did not provide for a bounty on pineapples a bounty could not be. now put in. If an item in the Estimates were under consideration the destination of a vote could not be altered. He ruled that no amendment could be introduced which would have the effect of giving a bounty on any item not provided for in the Schedule, or of increasing any bounty.
I spoke on that occasion, and I may be pardoned for quoting my remarks -
Under the Standing Orders, the reference of this question to Mr. Speaker must be decided by the Committee; but, as the Chairman has consented to it, no doubt the course proposed will be followed. I am in sympathy with the proposal of the honorable member’ for Wide Bay, and was desirous of making provision in the schedule for the encouragement of industries which, in my opinion, should be encouraged, and for which no bounty is allotted. But I have refrained from moving amendments, because I felt that they would be unconstitutional. On one occasion when I was Chairman, the right honorable member for Bast Sydney took similar action to that now proposed. I had ruled on a technical point whether a non-official member could increase an item in the Tariff,, but I was quite ready and willing that my ruling should be reviewed by Mr. Speaker. He confirmed it, and it stands now for all time. We have now before us another point upon which we should have his ruling for our guidance.
Those who were members of the last Parliament will recollect that I gave a similar ruling when the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) proposed an amendment to the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Bill which would have involved the payment of a larger amount from the Treasury than was provided for in the Bill. I ruled the amendment out of order because it was” beyond the scope of the Bill and would increase the appropriation. As has been interjected by some honorable members, the amount of money to be appropriated for this Bill is unspecified; nevertheless, the Bill itself makes a certain amount of provision, because clause 12 makes an appropriation of revenue “to the necessary extent for the purposes of this Act,”, assuming, apparently, that the Bill would be agreed to as drafted. I have to consider, also, whether, in the opinion of Ministers, the proposed amendment would increase the appropriation beyond the amount for which they have made provision on the Estimates or arrangements with the Treasurer. I had no guidance upon that point until, during the afternoon, a responsible Minister declared to the Committee that if certain amendments, .this one in particular, were carried, they would increase the appropriation by several millions of pounds. That being the case, and bearing in mind the ruling laid down by the late Speaker Holder, I have to consider whether, if the payment of a gratuity to certain persons not specified in the Bill as agreed to at the second reading will increase the amount of the appropriation, it will be competent for the Committee to include those persons. Taking into consideration all the circumstances, I have to rule - somewhat to my own regret, I admit - that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. (Mr. Makin) is outside the scope of the Bill, and therefore not in order.
– I rise to a personal explanation. I complain of the insinuation of collusion made by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley). No member of the Government, and no member of this Committee, made any suggestion to me in any way regarding this point of order.
– A few moments ago, when I sought to move an amendment to include munition workers in the scope of the Bill, I was assured by you, sir, that I would have a later opportunity to present their case. Does your ruling conflict with that assurance?
– My ruling will not prevent t!he honorable member from addressing the Committee in regard to the claim.3 of the munition workers.
– But shall I be out of order in proposing an amendment to include them within the scope of the Bill ?
– In the face of my ruling, such an amendment will be out of order.
.- I propose to move for the insertion, in paragraph a, after the word’s “in a seagoing ship” of the words “ in a zone of war.”
– Now for your definition of “ a zone of war.”
– That could be given a workable definition.
– The Bill is bad enough’ as it stands. I do not propose to assist the honorable member in cutting down its scope.
– I desire the Committee to decide whether or not gratuities shall be ,paid to persons who did not leave Australia. Such a decision can be arrived at either upon my moving to strike out the words “in a sea-going ship” or by adding thereafter “in a zone of war.”
– Then the Australian coast-line would be regarded as a zone of war because enemy warships sailed very close to Australia.
– As for that, it would, perhaps, have been a good job if some of those German shells had been thrown into Melbourne or Sydney. I desire to test the feeling of the Committee upon the point whether or not gratuities should be paid to those who remained in Australia, and I will do so by moving, by way of amendment -
That in sub-clause 1, paragraph a, the words “ in a seagoing ship “ be left out. 1 leave my amendment in that form in order that the Government may be free to so recast the measure as to withhold the gratuity from all who, in rendering war service of any kind, remained in Australia.
– But what the honorable member proposes is to increase and widen the scope of the Bill, and thus increase the necessary appropriation.
– No; my purpose is, after having secured the deletion of the words “in a sea-going ship” to have other words inserted which would have the effect of reducing expenditure. All I desire is a definite decision on the part of the Committee regarding whether the gratuities shall be payable or not to those who remained in Australia.
.- If it is the intention of the honorable member to narrow the scope of the Bill in order to make fewer persons eligible for the gratuity, I shall not support his amendment.
– That is my desire.
– We do not know what words the honorable member wishes to have inserted in lieu of those he would strike out. If we merely delete the words “in a sea-going ship,” we would widen the scope of the Bill. Then, however, we will be faced by a proposal to insert fresh words which - according to the honorable member himself - will more than ever narrow the scope of the measure. The Bill is already too narrow.
– The Committee finds itself in a difficult position. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) desires to leave out certain words in clause 3, and to invite the Government to insert others in lieu thereof, buthe does not givethe slightest hint of those words which he desires to have inserted.
– I wanted to insert some such expression as “in a zone of war.”
– But the war zone was in effect practically all over the world; certainly it was so in fact so far as sea warfare was concerned. I am afraid that any definition which might be inserted would tend to widen the scope of the Bill, and not to narrow it as the honorable member desires. With respect to reducing the scope of the Bill, the Government is in this position : ithas made certain definite pledges to the electors, from which it feels that it cannot depart.
– The promise of the Government was that gratuities would be granted to those soldiers and sailors who had gone into the danger zone.
– And there are many explanations of what was meant or intended by the proposals of the Government. Those definite proposals of the Government we must now endeavour, as far as possible, to honour. Possibly, some of our promises may have the effect of making this Bill rather less consistent and sequential than it otherwise would have been; but we are doing the best we can to give effect to our word. The honorable member’s amendment, while it would make the Bill more logical and easier of administration, would nevertheless contravene the promises made by the Government, and might cause injustice to be done. In the circumstances, I suggest that he withdraw it, seeing that nothing can be gained by pressing it.
– Could not the honorable member’s purpose be achieved if an interpretation of “war zone” were included in the Bill?
– I am afraid not. Promises have been made to our soldiers on the one hand, while, on the other, there are the obvious difficulties of the Bill. We all recognise its difficulties, inconsistencies, and illogicalities. We are trying to do a fair and generous thing by the soldiers and sailors who entered the danger zone, and I submit that the very difficulties which the Committee is now encountering furnish the best evidence of the successof the efforts hitherto made to carry out the promises of the Government.
– Will the Minister define those to whom the gratuity will be paid ?
– The portion of the clause which the honorable member seeks to amend relates principally to the sea-going members of the Australian Naval Force - the men who served in the North Sea. It is unfortunate that he should have sought to amend this portion. He would have been better advised in selecting a more appropriate part of the Bill, for I feel assured that he does not seek to obstruct the claims of those who will be eligible to receive gratuities as members of the Naval Forces.
– I wish to raise a point of order. The Chairman has already ruled that it will not be competent for the Committee to extend the scope of the Bill. The Minister for the Navy has expressed the opinion that the amendment of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will broaden the measure. I ask, therefore, that the amendment be ruled out of order.
– Since the amendment does tend to extend the provisions of the Bill, I have no option but to rule it out of order.
.- In the action which I now propose to take, I know that I shall be on much better ground. Imove -
That paragraph b be left out.
If the paragraph remains gratuities will be paid to members of the naval service who did not leave Australia at all. There is no intention to pay gratuities to those who served on hospital ships, or to people who went away as munition workers, many of whom made big sacrifices. Here, however, there is apparently no compunction about paying the gratuity to men who did not even go on board a ship. I do not know if honorable members recall the case of the transport Barambah. I certainly shall never forget it. She was absolutely unfit to go outside our coastal waters. She was unseaworthy, stinking, and vile. But the naval officers responsible for sending her with troops overseas are apparently to receive a gratuity, when some of them, at any rate, ought to have been in gaol instead of earning commendation or reward. I protest against the gratuity being granted to this kind of people. I can quite understand that among those who were compelled to remain in Australia are many to whom the Minister for the Navy would be pleased to award the gratuity. On the military side there were men who enlisted, and were granted commissions, and who remained in Australia for an inordinate length of time, if they ever left our shores at all. These men will be entitled to receive gratuities - certainly, at a lower rate of remuneration than in respect to those who went abroad. I would not mind if the amount of gratuity payable to men who saw real active service were made considerably more, but I do not wish the gift to be presented to those who did not go away at all.
– The honorable member is on. better ground, from his point of view, in submitting this amendment than he was in submitting the last. I hope when I have explained the matter the Committee will come to a decision. The men who, underthis clause will get1s. a day for six months, include on the naval side men taken out of fighting ships and sent to train other men in depot ships. They will include, for instance, men on the Tingira, men stationed at Jervis Bay instructing the naval cadets, and men on the Penguin. The clause will certainly also include all those who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and went into camps, but had not gone away. This is a drag-net provision, which covers all to whom it is proposed to pay a gratuity who did not actually go overseas to fight.
– How can the honorable gentleman compare them with men who actually did go overseas, such as munition workers?
– Many of these men died in the performance of their duties in the camps. The logical line is drawn in this Bill that men who offered themselves in order to get into the fighting, and were under training, as part of the procedure necessary to enable them to do so, should be entitled to this gratuity.
– Numbers of persons who offered themselves will receive no gratuity under this definition.
– But it was never intended at any time that the persons to whom the honorable member refers should be sent into the fighting line. In the case of the men covered by this definition, the intention was to send them as soon as they could be trained.
– I am one of those who believe that the Bill should be made to cover persons other than those who are at present included. In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister has told us that we must take the Bill as it stands and that not a comma in it is to be altered, the Minister for the Navy as well as the Prime Minister, must admit that members of the mercantile marine should be given the gratuity. No one, indeed, can gainsay that. I have explained that many of them have acted as man-of-warsmen. The ships upon which they have been employed were used as decoy ducks, or actually rammed submarines. One vessel was used as a man-of-war, and though she had not a gun on board, captured a German ship that was supplied with guns. Many of the men of the mercantile marine were actually engaged in fighting during the war. I’ am satisfied that if I could secure an opportunity to propose their inclusion in this measure, many honorable members opposite, as well as honorable members on this side, would support the proposal. I gave notice of an amendment to ‘Secure their inclusion, and I understood that we were to be allowed to submit such amendments to induce the Government to consider them. We have since had the thunderbolt launched by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Poster), which has led to an adverse decision by the Chairman of Committees. I do not doubt the correctness of the Chairman’s decision, because I was a member of the House when similar decisions, to which he has referred, were given. I point out that if the honorable member for “Dampier were successful in carrying an amendment to reduce the expenditure under this Bill, that should leave it open to other honorable members to submit proposals for widening the scope of the measure to the extent of including other persons if the expenditure thus involved would not then exceed the appropriation. Many of the men whom I desire to have included were actually in action, and casualties took place on board the vessels in which they served. I will submit the amendment of which I have given notice, because I believe a majority of honorable members are prepared to support it.
– I remind the honorable member that there is an amendment at present before the Committee.
.- Unless I hear some very good reason why I should shortly change ray mind, I am disposed at present to support the amendment now submitted by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). It appears that under the measure we will necessarily exclude a number of persons, such as men of the mercantile marine, munition workers, and others who have given service in what was clearly the danger zone during the great war. We are going to tax persons who are excluded from the benefits of the measure, although they went into real danger in connexion .with the war, in order to provide a gratuity for officers who conducted teaching operations in very safe places well outside the danger zone. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) said that some of the persons included under the provision now under consideration were teachers on ships in safe places, and I certainly am not prepared to support the payment of a gratuity to them. 1 shall be no party to a proposition to exclude men who ran real dangers in giving genuine war service in order to provide a gratuity for those who remained in safe places.
.- I disagree with the contention of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan)!, but because I cannot constitutionally secure the inclusion of persons whom 1 consider more deserving of the gratuity than some who are included, I am not on that account prepared to vote for the exclusion of some who are admittedly less deserving. The objection the ‘honorable member has. raised only goes to prove the statement of the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) that the Bill is illogical and full of inconsistencies.
– I should like to remind the honorable member that the persons covered by this clause were in process of going to the war to fight.
– But only in process, while a number of persons are excluded who took a prominent part in different phases of the war. I am not prepared to strike out one line of the Bill that will restrict the scope of its operation, merely because some men will secure advantages under it who are less deserving than others to whom these advantages will be denied.
– Surely the honorable member will vote against the inclusion of persons who do not deserve the gratuity?
– I do not think that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that the persons to whom he referred did not deserve the gratuity.
– I said that no case had been made out for them.
– They may not be as deserving as some who are excluded, but we should not exclude them merely because we are unable to include some who should be included. I know that the men of the Naval Forces were practical^ conscripted to go to Rabaul, and I am not sure that they are included.
– Yes, they are.
– Men engaged in the mercantile marine, because of their qualifications, were taken out of the vessels in which they were serving, and placed on transports on which they served for three or four years. I understand that their services are not to be recognised in this Bill. 5
– They are not governed by this clause.
– Unfortunately, I am afraid that they are not governed by an.other part of the Bill either. I believe that many of those men are- more deserving of a gratuity than some who will be included under paragraph b of the deftnition of “ Member of the Forces.” That, however, is not, to my mind, a sufficient reason for voting for the omission of the paragraph. Though I cannot extend its operation to include many men who, in my opinion, are richly deserving of some reward, I shall not support any proposal to restrict its operation.
.- In common with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), but for totally different reasons, I do not agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). I believe that the working classes of Australia do not pay any taxation. They only receive in the form of wages enough to keep them going from one week’s end to another, and it is not the working class in Australia that will have to pay this gratuity.
– I congratulate the honorable member upon his optimism. I wish I could think that.
– The working class pay for most things.
– It is the employer who takes the surplus value of the labour of the working class, who pays in the form of taxation. I say, as one who claims to represent the working class, that they do not pay taxation. My opposition to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is due to the fact that I consider its effect would be to lighten the burden of those people who were so anxious that the war should be brought to a successful issue, and who now want to dodge payment for it. Any proposal on the part of the Government, the Labour party, or any one else to extend the scope of the Bill, and make the war expensive for the people to whom I have referred, will receive my support. The effect of the amendment is to lighten the burden on those who desired war. They have had it, and let them pay for it. War is of no use to the working class, and this is an attempt to reduce the financial responsibility that war entails. Why are the honorable member for
Wakefield (Mr. Foster), and those associated with him, so anxious to carry this amendment? Is it not because they know that those whom they represent are vitally concerned ? Are honorable members opposite the new protectors of the working class?
– Is it the policy of the honorable member to always- vote in the opposite way to those on this side?
– I think it perfectly safe on this occasion to vote with the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. -Rodgers), who has not yet been heard on the important question of wool-tops. This is an attempt by the representatives of the financial and vested interests of this country to make their war burden as light as possible, and it will not have my support. Those who are represented by honorable members opposite have made their profits, so let them pay for them.
Question - That the paragraph proposed to be left out stand part of the clause (Mr. Gregory’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I have no desire to unduly labour this question, especially as you, sir, have already ruled in a certain direction. However, I do not think that your ruling is applicable to the amendment which I now propose to submit. I wish to move to insert after paragraph d the following new paragraph: - (dd) All members of the mercantile marine serving in the war zone or engaged in the transport of troops, foodstuffs, or munitions, or other commodities for war purposes.
– I regret that I cannot accept the honorable member’s amendment in the face of the ruling which I have already given.
– I should be lacking in my duty to the munition workers whose cases have been brought under my notice if I neglected to appeal to the Government for their inclusion in this Bill. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) has told us that we ought to be content to present our arguments in favour of men who have done meritorious war work, and whose services will not be recognised under this measure, and thereafter to trust to the generosity of the Government. When the definition clause was being considered, I was under the impression that I would be afforded an opportunity to advance the claims of the munition workers by moving the amendment of which I had given notice. Let me illustrate my contention by pointing to the cases of certain persons who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force for service abroad. Owing to their promise and adaptability, a number of these men were drafted to Duntroon, there to qualify for commissions. Whilst they were at Duntroon, because of the fact that they had graduated in chemistry, they were, at the instance of the Defence Department, and quite against their own inclinations, taken out of the college and instructed to proceed to a munitionfactory in England in the capacity of chemists. They were thus prevented from taking that active part in hostilities which would have brought them within the scope of this Bill. Personally, I fail to see why, because of their special qualifications in the direction I have sug gested, they should be prevented from participating in this gratuity.
– I would remind the honorable member that there were millions of men in all the warring countries who’ were treated in exactly the same way. There were a couple of millions of men in Great Britain who could not be spared to go to the war. They were employed in making munitions, growing foodstuffs, cultivating cabbages, and in doing a host of other necessary things. Consequently, they were not allowed to proceed to the Front.
– That is no reason why men similarly circumstanced should be deprived of this gratuity.
– A similar distinction has been made elsewhere.
– I understand that the Canadian Government have not made it.
– I am not clear as to what happened in Canada.
– Our Bill should be as comprehensive as that of any other country.
– Our Bill, I believe, is, upon the whole, much more meritorious than arethe Acts of other countries.
– The honorable member says that these particular men enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force ?
– Quite so.
– Then they will come in for their1s. a day. It does not matter upon what work they were employed; so long as they enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force they will receive the gratuity.
– I am glad to have that assurance. Of course, there are many other munition workers who did not actually enlist. I have already stressed the dangers to which they were subjected, and the value of the services which they rendered by reason of their special qualifications. I feel, therefore, that they have a special claim to recognition. Only the other day the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) stated that equipment in the case of an army is of just as much importance as are the men in the field, and that the craftsman is just as valuable as is the. warrior. I trust that the Government will consider the claims of those men who rendered to this country and the Empire such signal service during the recent war, and whose efforts so far have not been recognised. I now wish to move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “(g) Those persons who embarked for service abroad from the Commonwealth between the 4th August, 1914, and the 28th June, 1919, for the manufacture and supply of munitions and war provisions, also persons retained by the Commonwealth Defence Department for war service occupation abroad.”
– I shall have to apply to this amendment the same ruling as I have already applied to other amendments this afternoon. I have no option but to rule it out of order.
Clause agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
Clause 4 - (1.) The rate of war gratuity payable in respect of the service of any person specified in paragraph (a), (c), (d), or (e) (i) of subsection (1.) of the last preceding section shall be1s.6d. per diem. (2.) The rate of war gratuity payable in respect of the service of any person specified in paragraph (6) or (e) (ii) of sub-section (1.) of the last preceding section shall be1s. per diem. (3.) The rate of war gratuity payable in respect of the service of any person specified in paragraph (f) of sub-section (1.) of the last preceding section shall be1s. 6d. per diem. (4.) From the total amount payable in respect of the service of any person in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section there shall be deducted the amount of any war gratuity paid or payable by the Imperial Government to or in respect of the service of that person.
.- During the second reading debate, I stated that I thought dependants of soldiers who had enlisted, and had died in camp in Australia, should benefit under the scheme to the sameextent as soldiers who enlisted, and went abroad. I think an amendment in this direction will be acceptable to honorable members.
– Will the Government agree to it?
– I understand the Government will accept an amendment as outlined.
– You have come to an arrangement, then ? The Government will accept amendments from that side, and not from our side of the House.
– Will the amendment increase the amount of the proposed expenditure ?
– Yes; but I understand it is acceptable to the Government. I move -
That the following proviso be added : - “Provided that in the case of a person specified in paragraph (e) (ii) of that sub-section who died while in camp, the rate of war gratuity payable shall be1s. 6d. per diem.
I believe that not a great number of dependants will be affected by the amendment, but in justice to them they should be included.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I urge that the honorable member is not in order in moving to increase an amount from1s. to 1s. 6d. per diem. You have already ruled that it is not competent for any honorable member to move to increase the amount.
– When the honorable member rose I was about to draw attention to the fact that I had already ruled that an amendment, similar to that submitted by the honorable member for Parkes, was not in order.
– Would it be in order if the Prime Minister accepted it, and moved it himself?
– It would be necessary to bring in a new Bill.
.- If the Government intend to accept the amendment - and I urge them to do so - I wish to point out that persons who enlisted with the intention of being sent overseas, but were injured, and therefore incapacitated, stand in exactly the same position as the dependants of soldiers killed whilst in Australia. During the second reading debate, I mentioned one or two cases, particularly that of a doctor who was so successful in treating meningitis that the authorities kept him in Australia, with the result that he contracted the disease and died. I wish, also, to mention another case, of which the following particulars have been supplied to me -
As you announced your intention of moving some amendments to the War Gratuity Bill, I thought an outline of my case might be of use to you. I enlisted for service abroad on 4th October, 1916, and was in camp with the artillery at Maribyrnong until 1st March, 1.917. While doing battery drill on the latter date my horse reared and came down on top of me. I sustained a fractured base of the skull and laceration of the brain. Naturally I was discharged as medically unfit, and a generous Department offered me the badge of a reject. They still have it. Later on, as I had served for more than180 days, I was eligible and received the Imperial silver war badge. As a matter of fact, my service with the A.I.F. amounted to 241 days. In June last year my health, which had never been satisfactory since my accident, broke down, and I had to go into hospital for an operation to my head, and did not resume work until the New Year. I am entitled to none of the privileges of the returned soldier although my injuries were sustained while in the A.I.F. Furthermore, I have been debarred from participating in the benefits of the War Service Homes Act. Colonel Walker has ruled me ineligible, because I did not embark. Under the Gratuity Bill, as it now stands, I will be generously rewarded184s. Of course, I feel that being financially wrecked, the breaking up of my home, and being rendered a physical wreck for the rest of my days, is quite worth £9 4s. I am not even going to get1s. per day for the odd 57 days I served over the 184 days, which is the limit laid down by the Bill. . . . The men who were knocked out in camp here were not numerous, and for that reason officialdom takes the view that they cannot raise a big enough row to justify them in redressing any unfairness so far as they are concerned. They cannot join the Returned Soldiers League, as they did not go overseas, so there is no large body to fight their battles for them.
If the Government intend to consider the cases of men who were killed or died in camp, I suggest that they also give sympathetic consideration to cases like the one I have just mentioned.
– I was not aware, Mr. Chairman, that your ruling included amendments which were, or might be, acceptable to the Government. If you say that they cannot be accepted, then your ruling closes the matter, so far as the Bill is concerned. The” honorable member forParkes (Mr. Marr) consulted me before the dinner adjournment with regard to his amendment, and I said I thought it was a fair one. A man can only die once, and whether it be at Aldershot or Broadmeadows is not very material to his dependants. Do you rule that the Government may not accept the amendment?
-That is my ruling.
– Then all I can say is that the Government will consider by what means they can give effect to the proposed amendment. If it can be done by administrative act and the House is not averse to it, we shall attain the end in that way.
– Does the Prime Minister’s promise include the cases of those men who were injured in camp and discharged because of those injuries ?
– There are degrees of inefficiency due to illness or injury. I do not think any medical tribunal could say definitely, except in some cases, to what extent service in camp had materially affected any man’s health; but I give honorable members an assurance that obvious cases of a break-down in health, amounting in effect to such an impairment of a man’s earning capacity as practically to put him out of the industrial race, will be sympathetically considered by the Government.
– Mr. Chairman, I should like you to explain theposition under your ruling, as it might affect other amendments which it is desired to move. I understand that in the case of Tariff amendments, the Government may move to increase the duty.
– That is quite a different matter.
– Surely an amendment to this Bill is on all fours witha Tariff amendment?
– This Bill is brought down by message.
– The message is for the payment of a war gratuity, and does not limit the amount. If the amount were limited, and the amendment would have the effect of exceeding the sum, I have no doubt then that a Minister could not move it. I submit, however, that this amendment is on all fours with a Tariff amendment to increase the charges upon the public, and that if it is accepted by the Government, it is in order.
– The matter raised is a very important one. I join with the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) in asking for a deliberate pronouncement on the subject. I speak with a considerable amount of experience, and say that it has always been competent for a Minister of the Crown to move an increase either in duty, as has been suggested, or an amendment to a Bill brought down by message and involving a financial burden upon the people. I have not the message before me, and so there might be a technical objection to the acceptance of the amendment. If the message is for a particular amount, there is no. doubt that the Governmentwould have to amend it, or seek a supplementary message to cover the additional expenditure. But if the message is brought down to cover the terms of the Bill, my experience is that it has at all times been competent for a Minister to himself move to increase an. amount, for the reason that the Government is the responsible Executive of this House.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I ask if the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) is in order in debating your ruling. On three different occasions this afternoon you ruled that amendments of this nature could not be accepted.
– I am not debating the ruling, but am mentioning a fresh aspect.
– The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) has asked for information for the guidance of. the Committee. There is practically no point of order before the Chair. I gave this afternoon a ruling, which was exceedingly lengthy and fully detailed, on this specific question, and it seems to me that the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) are misapprehending the real circumstances of the case. There isa difference between the Tariff and the Bill now before the Committee. In the case of the Tariff, it is permissible to do certain things, because the Tariff is framed for the collection of money. This Bill is for the spending of money. I gave a ruling which I had previously given in other cases, and specifically alluded to a matter that cropped up in August, 1907. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. McDonald) was then Chairman of Committees, and gave a ruling on a point which, by his consent and at the desire of the Committee, was referred to the then Speaker (Sir Frederick Holder) for his decision thereon. The honorable member for Kooyong may not have been here when I quoted what then happened. The honorable member, who was, I think, in the House at the time, and other honorable members, will agree with me in saying that, as a constitutional authority and for knowledge of the procedure of the House, we never had any one more qualified to give a ruling than the then Speaker. He laid it down perfectly clearly in a case similar to this dealing with bounties, that such an amendment could not be moved. I ruled this afternoon that it could not be moved. I ruled just now that the members of the Government themselves could not move it at this stage, although they could move for increases in the Tariff: As the honorable member for Kooyong, perhaps, did not hear what I said this afternoon, let me quote again from the ruling of Mr. Speaker Holder. He reminded the House of the. different stages through which the Bill had passed. First of all, there was a message from the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation. This appropriation was voted in Committee, and a Bill was then brought in to give effect to the vote, and providing for bounties on certain items in the first schedule. If the Bill did not provide for a bounty on pineapples-, such bounty could not be put in.
-That was, by a private member.
– No; Mr. Speaker Holder applied it to all members.
– Was that a limited appropriation?
– No. Mr. Speaker Holder further stated that if an item in the Estimates were under consideration; the destination of a vote could not be altered. He ruled that no amendment could be introduced which would have the effect of giving a bounty on any item not provided for in the schedule, or of increasing any bounty. I applied that ruling to the matter before the Chair, and gave a ruling, which I stand by. It would be very much more pleasant to me if I could rule otherwise, but I have to interpret the Standing Orders. I have gone tothe highest authorities, and also quoted other precedents this afternoon, showing how the matter has been decided in another place on several occasions. I was therefore bound to rule, as I did just now, that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) was not in order. I may remind the Committee that it is very easy for the Government to apply a remedy, if. they so desire.
– The matter which you, Mr. Chairman, have dealt with in several rulings during the afternoon and evening is very important, and I may be permitted to submit that, in the circumstances, seeing that there are several similar matters in front of us in this measure, the course might be adopted, if you were inclined to do so, of referring the point to Mr. Speaker. I agree with you to this extent, that if your first ruling was correct, then your second ruling is also correct.
– It is quite possible for the first to be correct and the second to be wrong.
– I am expressing my opinion that if the first is right, the second is also right, because it is founded upon section 56 of the Constitution, which lays it down that a proposed resolution, or proposed vote for the appropriation of revenue or moneys, shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message from the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated. Your ruling is therefore founded on the fact that a message has to come from the GovernorGeneral, and not from Ministers, recommending the purpose for which the appropriation is made.
– A war gratuity, but in this case not limited in amount.
– I quite agree; but my position is that if the first .ruling is right, the second is right. . Seeing, however, that a very important question is involved, I suggest that the matter should be referred to Mr. Speaker for his decision. I do not wish to move that your ruling be disagreed” with; but I think you will see the importance of obtaining an authoritative decision, and perhaps may be induced to take the course, which is certainly open to you, of referring the matter to Mr. Speaker, and having it debated in the House. In May, 10th Edition, page 532, I find it laid down that -
As is subsequently explained, the constitutional principle which vests in the Crown the sole responsibility of incurring national expenditure forbids an increase by the Commons of a sum demanded on behalf of the Crown for the service of the State. This principle, however, is apparently disregarded when the recommendation of the Crown is given to a resolution empowering the expenditure of public money which, framed in general terms, places no limitation on the amount of expenditure to be authorized by the resolution.
As the resolution sanctions, without any specific limitation, the application of money to be provided ;by Parliament to certain purposes, when the clauses in a Bill founded upon such a resolution are before the Committee, the freedom of action sanctioned by that resolution can be exercised. The Committee is not bound by the terms of the provisions which the Ministers of. the Crown have inserted in the Bill; and any member may propose an increase of the grants specified in these clauses, or to extend the application of the provisions of the Bill, whatever may be the cost resulting therefrom, so long as the power conferred by the royal recommendation is not exceeded. Acting on this principle, when, in 1812, a Committee was considering a message from the Prince Regent recommending, in general terms, provision to be made for the family of Mr. Spencer Perceval, amendments were permitted for increasing the provision proposed by the Ministers; and this practice has been supported toy rulings from the Chair.
In view of that authority, sir, I submit that ‘this is a very proper case for you to exercise the discretion which is vested in you. There is no doubt that the Government have it in their power to get over the difficulty which has arisen. It is a very simple matter for them, even this evening, to obtain a fresh message authorizing an additional appropriation. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) is aware that all the Prime Minister has to do is to send a minute through, which will be forwarded to the Governor-General, and forthwith approved, when the necessary message can be despatched to the House “at once, authorizing the additional appropriation. It is just as well to emphasize that fact, so that the public may not run away with the impression that the sending of a message is the Governor-General’s own apt. It certainly is his act, but it is always done on the advice of his Ministers. If Ministers sitting on the Treasury bench desire to have the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) carried, it is well within their power, and quite a simple matter, to obtain a supplementary message. If they take that course, I hope they will also see that the message is wide enough to cover the amendments that have been moved from this side of the Committee. As you know, it is a very handy thing to have the ruling of the Chair to obviate the necessity of honorable member’s voting. It relieves honorable members of the responsibility of recording their votes, and of having it go forward to the public in
Hansard that they were for or against the extension of these provisions. I know that that consideration did not influence your decision in any way. In fact, I am quite certain that you would have been inclined, personally, to rule the other way. I recognise that you feel bound by your interpretation of the Standing Orders and parliamentary practice as you see it. Notwithstanding your view, however, I submit that, in view of the fact that the message already sent by the Governor-General and approved by resolution of the House is in general terms, it allows of the amendments that have been moved from this side of the House and also ‘by the honorable member for Parkes on the other side.
– It would, perhaps, be discourteous of me to allow the matter to pass without replying to what the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has said. I should not have the slightest objection to having this or any other matter referred to Mr. Speaker, if the Committee so desired. But this question was referred to a previous Speaker on a practically similar case, and I have quoted already what Mr. Speaker then said, and also what took place on another occasion in regard to the Tariff. In those cases where reference has been made to Mr. Speaker, rulings have been given which must be adhered to by any one who occupies my present position, so long as the Standing Orders remain unaltered. I have no desire to. restrict honorable members, but it is my duty, which I must faithfully perform, to apply to all sections of the Committee any ruling which I apply to one section. I have applied my ruling in this case to all sections. I have ruled that in this case a Minister may not do what a private member may not do. In the case of the Tariff, however, the position is different, owing to the special provision laid down in our Standing Orders, and the practice of the House of Commons, enabling Ministers at any time to move for increases. I have also had dissents from my rulings referred, with my consent, to Mr. Speaker regarding the right of an unofficial member to move for an increase in the Tariff. I have ruled that at certain stages an unofficial member can take that course, and that ruling has been upheld by a gentleman who was one of the best Speakers - and I say this without any disrespect to other occupants of that exalted position - that ever filled the chair. I, therefore, do not think that anything is to be gained at this stage by traversing my ruling. The Committee, however, can, if it chooses, decide to refer the matter to Mr. Speaker. As the honorable member for West Sydney pointed out, if it is the desire of the Committee, and that desire is intimated to the Government, there is a very easy and simple way by which the Government can solve the difficulty.
– And not throw the responsibility upon you.
– The responsibility is not on me; it Ls upon the Government: I am constrained to do what I am doing. .1 feel from what! the Government have said, and what the Prime Minister said just now, that it is their intention to take immediate steps to bring the matter now under review before the Committee again.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
.- I have an amendment to move which I have every reason to believe is in order. There is no question of an increase in the amount to be paid either to an individual or in bulk. I move -
That after the word “ made,” in sub-clause 2, the words “ in cash “ be inserted.
That is quite a simple amendment, and if the Government say they intend to accept it I shall sit down at once. The two words which I now ask the Committee to insert have only six letters between them. What is the intention of the Government in regard to this matter? The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has said that practically every provision in the Bill was before the people. Members of the party on this side of the House view with disfavour the method of paying the gratuity which the Government proposes to adopt. The other day, speaking on the sugar agreement, the Prime Minister twitted the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams), myself, and others with claiming to have been able to see further ahead than could be seen by those in control of affairs and in possession of the fullest possible information, and he added that within two months from the signing of the armistice the Imperial Cabinet - of which he reminded us he was a member - was making preparations for a campaign in 1919-.20.
– Quite right.
– The Treasurer (Mr. Watt), when putting his Budget before us, told us that had the war continued until the 30th June, the cost to Australia for the two years which have run since the armistice was signed would have been another £160,000,000 or £200,000,000. But had the war continued, the money necessary to finance it would have been found.
– -At what cost?
– No doubt it would have been a very heavy cost. Now we are asking that only one-sixth of the amount that we would have found, if necessary, for the continuance of the war shall be raised to pay this gratuity, the cost of which no Minister, so far as I am aware, has estimated at more than £30,000,000. I believe that the money could be found. When speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I showed that the bank deposits in Australia increased from £181,000,000 at the end of 1914 to £280,000,000 at the end of 1919, and Mr. Knibbs estimates that the private wealth of this country when the war broke out was £1,200,000,000, and during the five years of warfare increased by another £400,000,000.
– Nominally - on paper !
– For that the people are being compelled to pay to-day in higher prices for the commodities they purchase. If the Government accept the amendment, and decide that the gratuity shall be paid in cash, the money can be found. For over twelve months we had on the business-paper a Bill providing for compulsory subscription to wor loans. If that Bill were passed into law, there would be no difficulty in getting the necessary money. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) pointed out last night that Great Britain paid in cash, and not in bonds, the gratuities which she awarded to her naval and military leaders. They were not asked to accept IOU’s. The Government of which I was a member passed a Bill providing for a gratuity to the widow of General Bridges., and we gave her £4,000 in cash. Why should our soldiers be treated differently? Many seamen and private soldiers may urgently need this money.
– I have much pleasure . in supporting my leader (Mr. Tudor) in this matter. The Government say that they cannot find the money that would be needed to pay the gratuity in cash, but I have yet to learn that they have taken any steps to do so. They could find the necessary money by floating a loan. Honorable members opposite tell us that the soldiers who went away saved this country, and made it secure for Democracy; they speak of them as the most intelligent and best members of the community, and yet they say that they are not to be trusted with a gratuity paid in cash, and must, for their own protection, be given bonds bearing interest at 5i per cent. What a slur this is on the manhood of the country! They tell us, too, that most of the soldiers wish to get bonds, and not cash. If that be so, no harm will be done by giving them the opportunity to take cash, because they will ask for bonds; we are not obliged -to force cash on them. While some honorable members opposite may have made it appear to their constituents that they were in favour of paying the gratuity, in bonds, I made it equally clear that I thought it should be paid in cash; and visiting the Randwick Military Hospital, which is the largest in the Commonwealth, I put the Labour party’s position in this matter before the men there, and my majority went up over 2,000. That is an indication that the men want cash. We are spending nearly .£1,500,000 per week now on military contracts, notwithstanding that ‘the war was ended nearly eighteen months ago. Why should not the Government meet its obligations in respect to these contracts by giving bonds to those to whom it is indebted, and pay cash to the returned men? It will be a great disappointment to a man who has been looking forward to the gratuity to find that all he has got is a “piece of paper.
– The honorable member would like a few of these bonds.
– What will be the good of them if they cannot be exchanged for money? I possess some war bonds, and they have fallen in value; not that I object to that. If the Government desired to pay cash, they could make a forced loan, though I do not think that the public need be compelled to subscribeto a loan to raise funds for the payment of the gratuity in cash. We said that we would doall that we could to assist our soldiers, and probably if a voluntary loan were placed on the market the wealthy would show their gratitude to those who saved thecountry by subscribing liberally to it. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) suggested last night that it is the Government’s desire to increase the number of bondholders, but, in my opinion, Ministers do not wish to make the gratuity payable in cash, because they are afraid of interfering with the money market. If cash were given under a properscheme, the soldiers would be more content than they will be ifthey receive bonds. Half of them are looking forward to receiving cash. Half-yearly interest at 51/4 per cent. on £100 or £150 worth of bonds does not amount to much. Moreover, it is to be a criminal offence to deal in these bonds, so that they will not be negotiable. Were I to pay cash to a soldier for his bonds, I would be liable to a penalty, because trafficking in them is prohibited. I ask the Government, in the interests of the men, and of the general peace and harmony of the country, to make provision for a cash gratuity. The country is rich enough to find the money, and desires to do the right thing by its soldiers.
– In my opinion, the country, if put to it, could find the money necessary to pay this gratuity in cash. I do not think that a loan forthat purpose would bankrupt us, but those who would suffer from the financialdislocation which might result from borrowing the money would be the working men. They would be the first to feel the effect of crowding the market with further loans.
– It was the working men of the country who returned the members of the Labour party.
– I know that my honorable friend represents the workers, and that he thinks that no one else does. The interests of the working men will be best served by the course which the Government proposes to take. Moreover, the bulk of the returned soldiers do not desire cash payments.
– The right honorable gentleman should have heard what I heard said byreturned soldiers two hours ago.
– No doubt, the honorable member knows a good many soldiers who would like to receive a cash gratuity, and, on the other hand, we have heard from a good many who prefer bonds. This question is not to be decided on what individuals say in the hobbies or in the streets. TheGovernment have arrived at their conclusions in conversation with the soldiers’ unions.
– Unions, or executive officers ?
– Then there is a distinction between unions of men and their executive officers?
– My word, there is!
– I believe that may apply to many unions which the honorable member knows, but does he insist that I should make a distinction between a union and its executive ?
– No, between the soldiers’ executive and the soldiers themselves.
– Very well, the honorable member can make what distinctions he pleases. I am asked how the Government arrived at their conclusions, and I answer, “ By conversations with the representatives of the soldiers’ executive, who say that they are quite content with the bonds, and do not desire cash payment; “ and if I want further confirmation let me point to the fact that the soldiers in this House are mostly in favour of payment in bonds.
Now, leaving that aspect of the question, I come to the more serious side, the raising of the money, and the wisdom of raising it in order to pay the gratuities in cash. The matter is not decided by the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) that during the war the wealth of the country has increased from £1,200,000,000 to £1,600,000,000- an increase of about 25 per cent., less really than the general increase in the price of commodities and the cost of living.
– And certainly less than the increase in the equivalent to the purchasing power of a sovereign.
– The £400,000,000 increase merely represents an inflation of values, and if it has any bearing on this argument, should merely be accepted as a warning to us not to further inflate the credit and currency of the country, and so further reduce the value of money.
– The Government, are doing that now by issuing bonds.
– I have yet to learn that the issue of non-negotiable bonds will inflate the credit and currency of the country. On the contrary, I had the impression that this form of payment would tend to keep prices down rather than increase them. The increase in the deposits in the general banks from £180,000,000 to £280,000,000, quoted by the Leader of the Opposition, does not represent any increase in real values during the war. We ought to be obliged, to the honorable member for quoting those figures. They simply represent an increase in inflation.
– The man who has a credit balance at the bank does not think so.
– No, but the man whom the honorable member knows something about, who has to depend on his wages, finds it out when he goes to spend his money, and sees that it takes 30s. now to buy what £1 used to buy.
I have heard many suggestions during this debate as to where the money required to pay this gratuity could be found. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) suggests that we should try to float a forced loan.
– No, I suggested making a direct wealth levy.
– Does not the honorable member see that if we took a wealth levy amounting to £30,000,000 from the capital of the country, it would raise the general level of the interest rate? It would not help the country. It would not help any business man who had to borrow money to find that, in consequence of the depletion of the working capital of Australia by £30,000,000, the interest rate has been increased through the balance of the capital having to earn what was previously earned by the full amount of the capital. A capitalist who has money to v lend, .and has a moiety of his capital taken away from him will endeavour, if he has free and unrestricted use of the balance in the world’s markets, to spread the interest he would have gained on his full amount of capital over what remains to him.
Then there is the other matter of the raising of a forced loan. I should like to remind honorable members of the outlook. First of all, let me revert to the last loan we raised. We had the greatest difficulty in securing the money, and it was only in consequence of our threat to take it that we did succeed in getting the full amount subscribed, and then only at great inconvenience and dislocation to the trade and business of the country. With all our inducements to the banks and private lenders, there are £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 of loan money still owing to the banks on account of previous loans. This shows that money is not running about seeking investment in- war loans or in anything else. The plain fact of the matter is that the wealth of Australia consists largely of working capital, and a forced loan would simply mean taking away something from the working capital of the country.
– Great Britain has been doing a lot of it?
– I would like to remind the honorable member that prices in Great Britain are now 130 per cent, to 140 per cent, over pre-war prices, while here in Australia they are only 40 per cent, higher. Of course, the Old Country has had to do this, but it is all finding expression to-day in the increased cost of living, which is .falling most heavily on the shoulders of the working men of Great Britain. Great Britain has not done it voluntarily. Sheer necessity compelled it. The British Government would have adopted other courses had they been open to them. This is also an answer to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that had the war proceeded, Australia would have been obliged to do the same. A nation fighting for its life is prepared to do almost anything rather than lose. Last night, we had a very fine quotation from the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). He told us that Garfield said, in effect, that no nation was worthy of being called a nation if it did not gather up its jewels of manhood, and go down into this horrible pit of war prepared for either measureless ruin or unqualified success; but why bring such a quotation into an argument of this kind ? After all, it is a question of what is prudent - what is best to be done in the interests of Australia as a whole, including the soldiers whose special interests we are now caring for. The cases are not parallel. It is useless to make comparisons between Australia and other countries that have had to do what lias not been necessary here. We can do a generous measure of justice to our soldiers without impoverishing the nation to the extent that has been necessary elsewhere. We can grant this gratuity in a form that will be acceptable to our men without further unduly inflating the credit and finances of this country, and so causing prices to soar as they have, comparatively speaking, in almost every country but this. Prices undoubtedly have gone up here, and have hurt us in the going up. I am not justifying that ; I am merely stating the undoubted fact that this is the best of all countries for the working men. That is incontrovertible.
– Is it?
– It is; and is largely due, I believe, to our better financial conditions. We have less inflation here than elsewhere, and, therefore, our prices do not soar as they have done in other countries.
I believe wc shall do the fair thing by this country, and the best thing by our returned soldiers and the working men of Australia generally, by prudently taking the course we now propose, and avoiding the undue inflation of our financial position. This matter does not stand alone. To pay the gratuity in cash, we should have to find the money, and we could find it only by floating a loan, or, as some honorable members opposite have suggested, by taking it from the wealth and capital of the country. May I suggest to my honorable friends opposite that we have to raise l6ans for other purposes than the payment of a gratuity to our soldiers? Next year we shall have to borrow between £30,000,000 and £35,000,000 for war purposes. The war is not yet nearly paid for. Our annual obligations are towering up, and our capital obligations are augmenting from day to day, month to month, and year to year. We shall also have to raise next year about £16,000,000 in respect of “ loan redemptions
– State loans.
– Yes; but State loan obligations have to do with the general financial condition of the Commonwealth. They have an important bearing on the question of the inflation of currency and credit as a whole. We shall have to raise next year £16,000,000 of redemption money for the States, apart from the provision that will have to be made for other State spendings. If on top of all this we are to float another loan of £30,000,000 on the Australian market to pay the war gratuity in cash, what is our position likely to be? To attempt such a thing would be to smash the market.
– Has not the Prime Minister guaranteed that if the German war indemnity is not forthcoming the Commonwealth will borrow what is necessary to redeem these bonds ? In that event the Government would still have to find the cash.
– I am not concerned just now with that point. I am endeavouring to impress upon the minds of honorable members the -extent of our financial obligations. Every man would be glad to give the soldiers the money, if he had it in his pocket to give to him. It is this question of how the money is to be raised that I am trying to discuss. It seems to honorable members opposite to be a trifling matter, but to me it is a task of great magnitude, responsibility, and anxiety.
In addition to these loan requirements, there are obligations arising in connexion with our revenues and expenditures. Remember always that when we issue the bonds for the payment of this gratuity, we shall require to find £1,500,000 per annum for the payment of interest on them. That is one of the outlooks for next year. Then, again, on account of war loans we shall have to find from £1,500,000 to £2,000,000 in respect of additional interest. Even that is not all. The Bill dealing with war pensions that has come down to us from the Senate suggests that we ‘ shall have to find next year extra millions for war pensions. We shall also have to find next year £750,000 for old-age pensions. And so the sum goes on. Honorable members opposite say that the expenditure of the Postal Department must be increased, and that further provision must be made for arbitration awards. The outlook, instead of being easy, is very grave. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will not press further their demand for the payment of the gratuity in cash, but be content to accept the Government proposal to issue non-negotiable bonds with the limitations already imposed upon them, so far as the promises of individuals and Governments are concerned. We shall have quite as much as we can do to face, the financial obligations of next year, without taking on our shoulders the obligations arising from the finding of cash for the payment of the war gratuity.
– We shall have to get this speech from the right honorable member when we are dealing with the Estimates.
– I shall take care that you do, and I hope that when it is made my honorable friend will, with us, devote all his energies to the task of so contriving our finances for the next financial year as to make them as little irksome and troublesome as possible .to the general community. Meantime, I point out that to do what my honorable friends opposite suggest - to place further loans immediately upon the market, in view of the towering financial obligations we must meet, would be to dislocate the finances of Australia. It would lead to an inflation of the currency and credit of the country; and in the result re-act profoundly upon every section of the community, but, most adversely of all, upon the workers and taxpayers.
.- I am very pleased that we have drawn from, the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) the speech he has just delivered. Those who read the newspaper reports of it to-morrow will, however, view with some alarm the financial position of Australia. As I said on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, the Government, are taking no steps, nor did they take any_ during the war, to meet the outstanding obligations which every man interested in finance has long known would have to be faced. It was intended by the .people of Australia - election or no election - that with the passage of this Bill our returned soldiers should receive something which they could handle and dispose of as they pleased. To the general surprise of the community, when the. Bill was introduced it was found that it provided only for the issue of non-negotiable bonds. The Acting Treasurer has spoken of the .dangers of an unduly inflated currency. If there is one thing more than another which leads to an inflation of capital it is the issue of long-dated paper securities. The Acting Treasurer says that during the next two years we shall have to raise enormous sums of money by way of loan. I would point out that if our soldiers received this gratuity in cash, and were allowed to spend it as they pleased, the money would be circulated amongst our business and commercial houses, and within three months would be back in. the coffers of our banking institutions and available to meet further obligations.
Ever since I have been a member of this House I have endeavoured to induce my fellow-members to take an interest in the question of finance. I have repeatedly urged the Treasurer to bring about the consolidation of our State debts,, and by means of stock or consols to avoid the recurrence of redemption loans. Every soldier I have met has told me plainly what he intends to do with his gratuity. I believe the men will make good use of it. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) would make it appear- that the soldier is a person who should not be intrusted with his own money. When the soldier receives his gratuity it will belong to him, and it will be for him alone to say how the money should be expended. What to one man would be a luxury to another would be a necessity. Had the Government realized the position from the start of the war they would have, by means of the income tax or some other form of taxation of capital, insured that those who benefited by the war were drawn upon by the Government, in order to enable the country to carry on its war burdens. There seems to be no one on the Government side, however, who has the courage to stand up to those with whom the Nationalist party is particularly identified. They have not had the courage to do what has been done by those people who have charge of the public finances in Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. We, as custodians of this Commonwealth and its great resources, should say to the people who own the wealth, “We have run the country into debt for the sake of your interests and your liberty, and it is for you to foot the bill.” It is useless to seek the money from empty pockets. We must levy from those who have the capital. A paragraph in yesterday’s press shows that the Clearing-house returns in Melbourne so far this year show an increase of £39,954,568, and in Sydney of £36,635,800, as. compared with the corresponding period of 1919. Honorable members will admit that that phenomenal increase is a true indication of the marvellous growth in the volume of trade. We find, also, that land in the big cities of Australia , is being sold at £1,000 per foot. In the face of these facts, will any honorable member claim that there is not in Australia sufficient money to enable the gratuity to be paid 5n cash ? After all, the gratuity is a gift by the nation and not by the Government, and the Government should try to come to an understanding with honorable members in order to give effect to the will of the soldiers. The unanimity with which the House agreed to the second reading of this Bill shows the spirit in which honorable members on all sides regard the gratuity, and in the same spirit we should give the soldiers the cash that they need. I went down to the rooms of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ League a few days ago, and one soldier told me that he wanted the gratuity in cash, because he was trying to acquire a little home.
– He can buy a little home through the Repatriation Department.
– He wants to buy the home with his own money and the gratuity to which he is entitled. He does not desire to crawl about any Department; he desires to be treated as a man. What is the good of offering the man something on which he cannot realize for four years? An honorable member might as well buy a box of chocolates for his wife and tell her not to open it for four years. With these non-negotiable bonds they would not be able in time of distress to raise even 2s. 6d. from “Uncle.” We who have been reared amongst the industrial classes know the wants of the soldiers, and they expect us to voice them in this National Parliament. I have tried to persuade Parliament and the Government to actin a way that will meet with the respect of the people outside. The soldiers will not be satisfied with bonds that are not redeemable for four years. Why should they? Is there any honorable member on either side who would not deem it a pleasure to hand to the soldiers negotiable paper? It is all very well for a commercial man to give an impecunious customer four years’ credit in return for a mortgage over certain property, but payment deferred for four years is useless to a soldier who has a wife and family. Let the Government break away from the vested interests and put out of their minds the idea that prices will be inflated by the issue of negotiable bonds. There will be just as much inflation of prices if the bonds do not mature for four years. Every financial expert in the House of Commons has pronounced in favour of calling in all long-dated stock issued by the Imperial Government.-
The question of the next Estimates does not frighten me at all. It is for the Government to face the position. They will be forced to impose either additional income or land taxation, or to introduce a tax upon capital. We are bound to get rid of our war loane. But instead of trying to do so, we are now involving ourselves in a fresh one. In the Sydney Sun I have just been reading that a sum of £3,000,000 is about to be raised for the purpose of building new picture theatres. A Combine is to be created which will secure the whole theatrical business in the hands of one company; yet we are told that there is not enough money in the country to pay the soldiers in cash. The other day I read of a certain ecclesiastical party whose head was about to leave Australia for Europe. The newspapers reported that there was a proposal to make a cash presentationto this notable churchman, and that about £25,000 was promised within a few minutes by those present at the gathering. Further, it was stated that the sum of £50,000 would be raised in less than seven days. The cash gift was not availed of by the proposed beneficiary, but the fact remains that somebody in this country has money to spare. Somebody has sufficient money upon which the Government can draw in order to make cash payments to the soldiers. Perhaps the chief objective of this Parliament is to remove causes of discontent among the people. Will anybody say that if this Bill is passed in its present form there will be no more discontent in the community? The real issue at present is whether we shall give the soldiers a cash gratuity or hand them bonds that cannot be “cashed until 1924. Will we be better able to provide cash four years hence than to-day ? To-day- there are chances of securing the necessary money, but we do not know what may be the condition of the Commonwealth four years ahead. If we put the money involved in the soldiers’ gratuity into immediate circulation it will soon be. back in the coffers of the banks. When the millions involved in the gratuity are put into general circulation, the Government will have something upon which to impose necessary additional taxes. We should give the soldiers what we promised them. It is only an insult to hand them a piece of paper that is nothing more than an unsigned cheque. The bonds will be of no use to them. A soldier will have his useless blank cheque framed and hung up in his dining room, and he will be able to point to it and say, “I have framed this thing, and hung it up, as a monument to the incapacity of the Government.” If the Government were sincere, they could at least provide for the bonds to fall due over brief progressive periods. Another consideration is that if the bonds are paid in cash the Government will have saved themselves the interest bill, which will, in present circumstances, have to be met; and the sum will amount to several millions when managerial and other necessary expenses are added. I urgently appeal to the Government to make the gift in cash.
.- The Minister for -the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) has stated that returned soldiers do not want cash. It is silly and childish to say such a thing. Can it be imagined that any returned soldier would rather have art inalienable bond than a gift in cash ? There are some, of course, who do not want the money. I refer to wealthy men, who, if they received cash, would invest it. They would as soon have an interestbearing Government bond as a cash gratuity. But those are the only soldiers who do not want cash payment, and it is nonsense to insist upon the contrary. I challenge any honorable member opposite to give me particulars of a meeting of any considerable number of returned men, in any part of Australia, since first the gratuity was mooted, at which gathering it was resolved that those present would prefer non-negotiable bonds to a monetary gift.
Speaking upon the second reading of the Bill, I furnished details of mass meetings held in Sydney time after time. I was present at three myself, and at the largest there were approximately 10,000 returned men. In Brisbane, 4,000 soldiers gathered in the central squares. A crowded meeting was held in the Adelaide Town Hall. There was a great gathering of soldiers in Perth. Over The length and breadth of this country meetings of returned men have denounced the proposed presentation of nonnegotiable bonds, and have requested cash payment. In the matter of payment of the gratuity by way of bonds, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has made use of a little of his skilled art. He got a few officers into a quiet corner and. hypnotized them into an agreement in respect to that which he wanted to put before the country as his own policy. The Prime Minister then came along tothe soldiers of Australia, and represented this as the view of the returned men.
– It was the suggestion of the executive of the soldiers association.
– I have here thestatement of Captain Dyett, the Federal President of the organization, that when the Prime Minister placed him in theposition with the returned soldiers or Australia of having agreed to the payment of the gratuity in bonds, he deserted him, and then said he had. arranged with the banks and others to have the bonds taken over the counter and cash given for them. The Federal President of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League complained of this in the press. He said it was an unfair position to put him in, and that it was because the Prime Minister had represented to him that it was impossible to find the money to pay the gratuity in cash that he agreed to its payment in non-negotiable bonds. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) need not in the circumstances tell me that he was present at the interview when I had before me the statement of the Federal President of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League.
– Nothing the honorable member has said has controverted the statement I made.
– I shall leave that point with the further statement that I challenge any Minister or supporter of the Government to call a mass meeting of returned soldiers in this or in any other city in Australia, and ask them whether they would prefer the gratuity to be paid in non-negotiable bonds or in cash, and induce any considerable number of them to accept bonds. We know that they would indignantly repudiate the payment of the gratuity in bonds. I therefore say that I cannot conceive that the statement that the men would prefer bonds could be honestly made.
But that is not the main reason why the Government should pay cash. The main reason why they should do so is becausethey promised to pay cash. By referring to Hansard for 25th March, at page 858, it will be seen that in my speech on the second reading of this Bill I gave references showing the expansion of the policy of the Government from the time the Prime Minister first mentioned the matter in Brisbane until, as he went from place to place, he liberalized the proposal into a cash payment. These references have not been, and cannot be, disputed. I will now give the references to three main pledges by the Prime Minister. In the Sydney Morning Herald, of 7th November, it is reported that the Prime Minister said -
Those statements are definite enough, but there is no attempt in this Bill to carry out that definite pledge, that by May, 1921, the Government would, through the banks, redeem £20,000,000 worth of these bonds.
– That is not to say that it will not be carried out.
– If it is the intention of the Government to carry it out, let them show their bond fides by putting it within the four corners of the Act, so that it may not be the subject of further juggling as the matter is being dealt with to-day.
According to the Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, of 11th November, thePrime Minister said -
The banks will receive these bonds as collateral security. Arrangements have been made with the Savings Banks and all the Associated Banks that those who want the cash can get it.
This is a week later than the first reference quoted, and a week later still, according to the Sydney Sun, of the 20th November, at a mass meeting of the soldiers themselves in the Protestant Hall, Sydney, the Prime Minister made the statement -
The bonds will be accepted as collateral security by the Associated Banks of Australia.
If honorable members looked up the whole of the reports upon the matter, they would find that the Prime Minister stated that an arrangement had been made with the associated banks. He said, further, that he had arranged with the great employers of Australia to pay cash to their employees in exchange for the bonds. In my second-reading speech, I gave a list of great corporations in Sydney, including banks and insurance companies, and showed that 150 of the great employers of New South Wales, the chief employers of the State, had said that they would pay cash in exchange for these bonds. The Prime Minister appealed to the State Government of New South Wales, and they said, “ We will pay cash for the bonds to the whole of our returned soldier employees.” He appealed to the State Government of
Victoria, and also to the State Government of Queensland, and each said the same thing. The Governments of the three largest States of the Commonwealth agreed to pay cash in exchange for the bonds.
On the 22nd November, the Prime Minister said -
We shall pay cash to the whole of the employees of the Commonwealth services who are returned soldiers.
On the 28th November, on being asked by the soldiers to say what would happen in the case of soldiers who were unemployed, the Prime Minister pledged himself that for all soldiers unemployed cash would be made available at once. He further said to the maimed soldiers’ association in Sydney -
Cash will be paid to all soldiers who have lost an arm, an eye, or a leg.
I suggest to honorable members that if in all the cases covered by the references I have quoted the gratuity were paid in cash as promised by the Prime Minister, there would be practically no returned soldiers left to whom the payment could be made in non-negotiable bonds. On the top of all this, there was the unlimited promise that cash would be paid over the counter for the bonds by the banks. There is a substantial pledge on the part of the Government to the returned soldiers and their dependants that this was to be a cash gratuity. We are now asking the Government to carry out their pledges definitely made-, and proved’ to have been made up to the hilt. There is not an honorable member on the other side who can deny it. I challenge any honorable member opposite, from the Prime Minister down, to take the references I have made from the daily newspapers, and say that those utterances were not made by the Prime Minister. They cannot do it, and they dare not attempt to doit. Only one course is left to them, and that is to repudiate the pledges made to the returned soldiers’. Before the election, and while their votes were wanted, the flag was waved and the big drums beaten; but now, when the Government are called upon to carry out their pledges, they are not prepared to do so.
Sooner or later, the returned soldiers of this country will get full up of this business. I notice that the Prime Minister has on two occasions - and this is from the head of the Commonwealth Government - invited riot and revolution in Australia. Coming across from Westerns Australia, after he landed in Perth, from London, on the first occasion, he said -
There is some talk of direct action in this country. I will give them direct action. Let there be no mistake about it. I am not now referring to the law;
He thought he would head a revolution against some one, with a pack of soldiers at his back. What did he say in the second-reading speech on this Bill? He said, in effect, “ Dare to delay this, and the probabilities are that there will be a revolution here, and men will come up and tear the place down..” No one can read the right honorable gentleman’s second-reading speech on this Bill without noting the half-veiled invitation to riot and lawlessness in this country. I have never in my life, until this moment, made any reference to revolution and direct action; but I say, now, that if the returned soldiers of the country will put up. with this humbug, they are very different, men from what I think them to be.
.- I have listened twice to the speech that has just been delivered, and I think it is about the most hypocritical statement and line of argument that has been used in this House. Every one, not only in this House but in the Commonwealth, isaware that this matter was in a state of flux in the beginning, and that it was finally crystallized in the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr.. Hughes) at Brisbane.. From that time on honorable members opposite fought the election, and made one of the principal planks of their platform the payment of the gratuity in cash.
– It was never on our platform at all.
– It was not on the platform., but. in the party manifesto and in the speeches of every honorable mem-‘ ber opposite. Over the length and breadth of the land from a thousand platforms the electors of Australia were told that if they returned the present Government the soldiers would get bonds, and that if they returned the party opposite they would get cash. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) came into my electorate and told the people there that if the Labour party were returned the soldiers would get a fair deal, and would be given the gratuity in cash.
– Was that not true?
– I am not saying that it was not true from the point of view of the honorable gentleman. In reply, I told the electors that I could not see how the gratuity could be paid in cash. Bo far ,as my constituents were concerned I gave them to understand that the returned soldiers would get practically only what is provided for by this Bill Throughout the campaign honorable members on this side adopted a similar attitude,, whilst members opposite said that if they were returned they would see that the gratuity was paid in cash.
– So did the honorable member’s Leader.
– Of what use is it to say that, when the honorable member knows that honorable members on bis side told the people repeatedly that the Government refused to pay cash, and that if they were returned the soldiers would only get bonds. It is nonsense for honorable members opposite now to say that the Government promised to pay the gratuity in cash. I have stated the policy put before the people by honorable members on this side, and that policy was indorsed by the electors. It is because tho people indorsed their policy that the party on this side is in power to-day.
– We. said that if you were returned they would get bonds, and your Leader said they would get cash.
– Some honorable members have said that bonds were of no use, and have ridiculed payment on that basis. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will remember that his Government purchased certain stations in Queensland and paid for them in bonds and not in cash.
– But they were negotiable, bonds.
– Bonds payable twenty-one years hence, and the holders accepted them ‘because they were compelled to. The honorable member for West Sydney cannot persuade me to believe that if persons who took up those bonds were offered cash they would, not have preferred it.
– Queensland bonds are quite as good as cash.
– In view of all that was said in the election campaign, it is useless to say that the Prime Minister (Mr. .Hughes) made the statements attributed to him. Honorable members opposite were ito give something better than we offered, and I regret exceedingly that- this was made a party cry during the- elections. I do- not think that the question of acash payment influenced the- votes of the soldiers in the slightest, because, so far as T can gather, the experience of menabroad did not alter their political views.
– Does the honorable member deny that the Prime Minister made the speeches cited by the honorablemember for Cook (Mr. Catts) ?
– In «the (beginning, this matter was in a state of flux. The whole scheme was based on the. Prime Minister’s statement in Queensland, and was finally crystallized into its present form. The elections were fought on this question. I hope that in the regulations to be drafted under this measure that arrangements may be made for the States and employers to cash the bonds at their face value.
– Another inspired statement !
– It is not an. inspired” statement,, as J have nob consulted, any one. I do trust that provision will be. made in the regulations in the direction I have indicated, because if soldiers? employers are prepared to take up the bonds at their face value they should, be allowed to do so.
.- I would like to refer briefly to one or two. statements made by the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) in reply to the speech, of tha Leaden of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor).’ Earlier in the evening the Minister went Ito some trouble in an endeavour to prove that money was difficult to obtain, but I do not know whythere should be any scarcity. The attitude; the Government have adopted from beginning to end is that all. the money in the country has been blown away as were? many other things during the recent war* It i3 absurd ito express such an opinion,, because there is still as much money available- as there was before the- war.
In replying to the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. “West) the Minister said that crowding the market with additional loans would have a grave effect upon the present financial position of the Commonwealth. But the Government are actually floating a loan to-day, because issuing bonds is really floating a loan. Whether the soldiers accept the Commonwealth’s promise to pay certain sums in four years or some one else accepts the promise, it is an interestbearing loan just the same. As I intimated in my second-reading speech, during the election the necessary money to pay the gratuity should be raised by a direct wealth levy. The Minister stated that that also would have a disastrous effect upon the country. The whole” crux of this question is in a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), which is embodied in the Bill, that the gratuity is a free gift from the nation. If it is a free gift from the nation in recognition of services rendered in time of war, we have no .right to cavil at how the money shall be raised. The Government have no right to say that it is a financial obligation they have undertaken. If the Government said it was a duty that they had to face, they might have some justification for coming before this Parliament and saying it was difficult to raise the money. They have admitted that it is a free gift from the nation, but now tell us that they cannot make a free gift, and can only pay on a deferred system. The Minister for the Navy stated that if the money were raised by a wealth levy, prices would rise. If he accepts or assumes one position, and admits that prices would rise, he can only do so on the grounds that the soldiers, on receiving cash, would do nothing until it was spent. We know that one reason why prices are high to-day - I do not suggest that it is the only reason why they are as high ‘as they are - is because production has been interfered with by the removal of the producers into other channels of activity. If the Government assume that the soldiers will cease to produce while the cash is in their pockets, they are taunting the soldiers with being lazy and inefficient. It is only on that assumption that the Minister’s argument can stand. We are merely taking it from the hands of some to place it in the hands of others. We should
AT r. Lazzarini. impose a wealth levy on the institutions and organizations which have piled up millions - which is the only honorable way of redeeming this promise to the soldier - while the country was in dire peril. Honorable members opposite - some wearing returned soldiers’ badges - have said that they speak for the soldiers, and in doing so have stated that a majority of the men want bonds, and do not desire cash. I know more than one returned soldier, and I have no hesitation in saying that a large majority desire cash. I am prepared to repeat the challenge thrown out by the honorable member for Cook, (Mr. Catts) and defy the Government to take a referendum of the whole of the soldiers on the question of whether payment should be made in bonds or cash.
– Does the honorable member wish to delay the passage of the Bill?
– I do not wish to do that. The Bill could be passed in its present form, and a vote taken after.
In the arguments submitted by the Minister for the Navy against the payment of the gratuity in cash, the Minister has shown his incapacity to deal with the financial aspect of this question, as well as the financial affairs of the Commonwealth. He certainly displayed his inability to grasp the significance of important financial problems when he referred to the Commonwealth Bank notes as “ Fisher’s flimsies.” In concluding, I would like to designate the war bonds to be issued under this measure as “ Hughes’ humbugs and Cook’s camouflage.”
– I regret the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) is not present, because he made- the statement to the Committee that the last word of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) on this matter was at a meeting he addressed in Brisbane. Whatever the Prime Minister said oh that occasion, varying opinions were expressed in the different capitals. On the second reading of the Bill, I quoted the essence of a statement made by the Prime Minister in Adelaide before a meeting of returned soldiers. For the information, of honorable members, I shall again quote a portion of the report, which reads -
A Tired Voice. - We want cash. (Laughter and applause.)
– The Government have’ made arrangements with the banks whereby soldiers who want cash for their bonds can get it. (Thunderous applause.)
There is no getting away from statements such as that, and it is ridiculous for honorable members opposite to say that the Prime Minister did not promise to pay the soldiers in cash. Instead of affirming that we ave sending up a smoke screen, the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) is. himself guilty of those tactics. A similar proposition to that which we are now discussing was brought forward in the New Zealand Parliament in 19 IS, when a Bill dealing with the Expeditionary Forces from that Dominion was passed. In that measure provision was made for the payment of a bonus to returned soldiers. Consequently it was not necessary at the close of the war to pass another. Bill authorizing the payment of the gratuity. All that was necessary was for Sir James Allen to submit a printed statement setting out the lines upon which the gratuity was to be distributed. In making his speech, he stated that the Dominion was then in process of floating a Victory loan, and the fact that the Government were about to give £6,000,000 in cash to their ‘ returned soldiers should be an inducement to the people to subscribe to that loan. I believe the money for which they asked on that occasion was raised.
– No, it was not.
– I am under the impression that it was. New Zealand was the first overseas Dominion to insert in her “War Loan Bills a provision which imposed very serious penalties upon those who could subscribe to those loans but failed to do so. There were only a very few cases in which persons possessed of the means to subscribe neglected to honour their obligations. Last night the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) stated that New Zealand was in a position to pay her gratuity to her soldiers out of accumulated surpluses. Obviously, she must have been better financed during the period of the war than was the Commonwealth.
– The Government of the Dominion encouraged production.
– I quite recognise that. The man who did more to encourage production in New Zealand than anybody else was the late Richard Seddon.
The Minister for the Navy ha3 referred to Great Britain, and to the way in which she has been compelled to do things. He has argued that we ought not to institute a comparison between Australia and the Mother Country. I admit that -Great Britain has to carry very heavy burdens, and that her people have submitted to great sacrifices. T suppose that the national debt of Britain has increased from £600,000,000 in pre-war days to nearly £4,000,000,000.
– I did not know that. With an indebtedness of £8,000,000,000 on 45,000,000 of people who are obliged to import the necessaries of life from ‘countries oversea, including Australia, is it any wonder that her population cannot live as cheaply as we can? But notwithstanding all the burdens that she has to carry, Great Britain did not ask her soldiers to accept bonds. When a thanksoffering was given to Admiral Beatty by the nation, he was not invited to accept bonds, although it is safe to assume that he is a wealthy man.. Nor was General Haig requested to accept bonds. Both were paid in cash. Similarly the coalminers and the railway men of Britain were given cash bonuses. The soldiers, too, were paid liberal gratuities in cash. This is the only portion of the British Empire in which it is proposed to offer men a gratuity in the form of nonnegotiable bonds for a period of four years.
– The British soldier would like to have similar conditions.
– We shall occupy a unique position amongst the Englishspeaking races in respect of our treatment of returned soldiers if we pay them in bonds instead of in cash. We have boasted of the wealth of Australia. Although up-to-date we have merely scratched the surface, this is the richest country under God’s sun. We shall not occupy an enviable position in the eyes of other nations if we pay this gratuity in bonds. Talk about the depletion of capital. Who says that there is going to be a depletion of capital? If the wealth of any country be spread over a wider area, is not there a greater degree of happiness amongst its people? Yet it is argued that if we take £30,000,000 from the richest persons in the country, and distribute it amongst 300,000 soldiers, we shall be making the people poorer. Such a deduction is ridiculous. The capital thus distributed will still remain in the country. I quite agree with the statement of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) that we have either to brand every returned soldier asa spendthrift or as one who will use the cash, if it be given to him, for legitimate purposes. There are thousands of returned men who, if granted cash, will use it productively, either upon the farm, in the factory, or in the shop. At , the present time we are called upon to produce, produce, produce. Here is an opportunity for us to increase the wealth of this country. Let us embrace it. It is my belief that in 1924 we shall be less able to meet this payment than we are to-day. In 1925, we shall have to redeem our first war loan. Between now and then there is a huge expenditure confronting us.We are, therefore, more capable of paying this gratuity to-day than we shall be in 1924. The Ministry have given their position away as the result of speaking with many voices. The Prime Minister has said that we cannot raise the money with which to pay the gratuity, and the Minister for the Navy has painted a very doleful picture of the financial outlook. But the Acting Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) has told us that, according to the statement of the Prime Minister, about £20,000,000 of this war gratuity will be paid in cash by May, 1921. That is only twelve months hence. What is the difference between paying the gratuity in cash to-day and paying it in cash then? The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) and the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) have both expressed the opinion that where banks, Governments, and employers have promised to redeem the bonds of their employees, they should be allowed to do so under this Bill.
– They are allowed to do so.
– The honorable member for Flinders says that they are not. He informed us thathehas been making arrangements to redeem the bonds of his own employees, amounting to £15,000. That meansthat his firm is willing to incur a liability to that extent. Will the State Governments also be permitted to redeem the bonds of their employees? We should follow the example of New Zealand and Great Britain, by paying the gratuity in cash.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Tudor’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question soresolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause6 - (1.) A war gratuity shall not be payable in respect of the service of any of the following persons : -
– I move -
That paragraphs(b) to (g), inclusive, be left out, and the following inserted in lieu thereof: - “ (b) A person who has, in the opinion of the prescribed authority, committed an offence against military discipline, impairing the efficiency of the Army, or has been guilty of desertion in the face of the enemy, or who has committed an offence against a civil law.”
My object is to limit the disqualifications so as to bring the Bill into conformity with the Prime Minister’s pledge. Speaking to a meeting of returned sol diers in the Protestant Hall, in Sydney, on the 20th November, 1919, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said he looked with a lenient eye on men guilty of offences against military discipline, in so faras they did not impair the efficiency of the Army or involve desertion in the face of the enemy or a crime against the civil law. Instead of the long list of disqualifications set out in paragraphsb to g, I wish to limit the persons to whom the gratuity will be denied to those described in the amendment, in conformity with the Prime Minister’s own pledge to the soldiers. If I were asked to choose, I would rather have no limitations. Even inthe matter of desertion inthe face of the enemy, some men have been overwhelmed with the awfulness of conflict, and have, after years in the firing line, lost their nerve altogether, and probably did not understand what they were doing. I could develop that aspect, but do not wish to take up time in doing so. It is paltry and mealy-mouthed for us, now that the whole thing is over, to be picking out little isolated cases here and there, where men have already been punished, and setting up another judgment upon them. At any rate, this is the Prime Minister’s own pledge, and I want to see the Government kept to the pledges which he made. The amendment which I move embodies the very widest extent to which there should be any disqualification.
.- I have pleasure in supporting the amendment of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts). We should look with the most lenient eye possible on offences committed by men who have undertaken military service overseas, and have gone to fight for their country. I quite agree, also, that in many of the cases included in the clause the offence has been the result of the nerve-racking experiences through which the men have passed. There is another way of looking at it. Where men have offended against military or civil law, they have suffered the punishment due to them for their offences, and they may still have a splendid record of service to their credit. Having regard to these facts, we ought to be very lenient indeed.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra) [10.43). - I do not like the clause, and I do not like the amendment very much, hut I like the amendment better than the clause. There are too many disqualifications in the clause as it stands. Unfortunately we are going to be rushed for time over this Bill, and, owing to the desire of the Government to get it through, we shall not have that leisure to discuss it which the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) foreshadowed here some time ago. I hope the Government will not insist on the whole of the disqualifications set out in the clause. Even the disqualifications suggested by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) are too many. As every honorable member knows, the men went through a nerve-racking and trying time. We know that some of them enlisted when only eighteen years of age, or a few months older. Those who committed offences have been punished once”, and the Bill proposes to punish them again. I have received a letter from a gentleman, who asks that consideration should be extended to officers who have been cashiered. He says they will be absolutely prohibited from receiving the gratuity. I would suggest to the Government, if they have no time now, that they should make an alteration before, the consideration of the Bill is completed in another place. I am always reluctant to suggest that we should leave our work half finished, to be completed in another place. I should like the Government to agree to wipe out. practically the whole of this clause, except, perhaps, paragraph a, and the proviso in an amended form. Of course, a man will have some sort of appeal, but it will be a very slim .chance. I do not think it will be held that, in making this amendment, we are adding to the expenditure under the Bill. I trust that we shall look as leniently as possible on the offences of the men who went overseas. It is not British fair play to punish them again by withholding the gratuity.
– I hope honorable members will not agree to the amendment. The fundamental idea of the Bill is that the gratuity shall be, as was aptly put by the- honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt), the gracious gift of the nation to the soldiers for hon orable service. In clause 8, the spirit of the gratuity is set out in very appropriate language, as follows: -
The war gratuity payable under this Act shall not be claimable or recoverable by any person as a matter of right, but shall be deemed to be a free gift by the Commonwealth in recognition of honorable services during the war.
Will honorable members say that a man who from start to finish would not go into the front firing-line, and intentionally inflicted wounds upon himself in order that he might escape that duty, is one to whom we should be anxious to pay a gratuity?
– It might well be. It would all depend upon circumstances. Men may have been suffering from shellshock.
– My honorable friend is letting his emotions run away with him. Numbers of men never got near enough to the firing-line to have shell-shock. They took good care that they did .not. The disqualifications set out in the Bill are not so very abnormal or harsh, after all; and I appeal to honorable members not to be led away by too much sentiment or emotion. My own- experience of the war is that the men’s own officers always looked for a way out for them when they could find one; and we may be very sure that, when these sentences were imposed by their own fellows at the war, they were in most cases well deserved.
– I have had more experience of wrong-doers than the Minister has.
– The honorable member has not had more experience of wrong-doers on the field of battle. My experience in that matter was nil, and sowas his; but -I know many of the officers, and from all the conversations I have had with them, I believe that in courts martial an officer always looks for what is favorable to the accused, rather than for what is prejudicial to him. A man who inflicts wounds on himself in order to keep out of the fighting is deserving of the greatest ignominy. Such a man endangers the lives of those whom he is supposed to help, and commits an offence which cannot be overlooked. We cannot show sympathy with those who, so to speak, black-legged on their mates, and refused to do their job. The gratuity is not intended for menwho disgraced themselves; it is a gift to those who did their duty to the country. Further, it must be remembered that the cases that have been alluded to can be brought before the “prescribed authority,” who, we may be sure, will deal as leniently with them as possible.
– But why multiply instances? Why not be content to name one or two exceptions, and leave the rest to the “prescribed authority”?
– By doing what is proposed, we should be making eligible for the gratuity men who are not entitled to receive what is in effect a gift of the nation in recognition of honorable services.
– A person who has served a sentence is not disentitled to receive the gratuity unless he has been cashiered, or dismissed from the Forces.
– Yes. Only those who are deserving of no consideration are deprived of the gratuity. I hope that the Committee will stick to the Bill, and not be led away by emotional pleading on behalf of the amendment.
– Sub-clause 2 reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, if the prescribed authority is satisfied that in any individual case, having regard to the meritorious service rendered by the member, or such other circumstance as the prescribed authority thinks sufficient, it is inequitable that any gratuity, which would, but for this section, have been payable, should be withheld, the prescribed authority may authorize the payment of the whole gratuity, or of such part of it as the prescribed authority thinks sufficient.
If I interpret that provision correctly, a man who has committed an offence, but has afterwards made good, would be entitled to the gratuity.
– That is so.
– I should like, nevertheless, to see the amendment adopted. Everything depends upon the nature of the “ prescribed authority.” A just “ prescribed authority” might perhaps enable a bad law to be administered satisfactorily, while a bad “prescribed authority” might kill the administration of a good law. If the “ prescribed authority “ has the full confidence of both our soldiers and the citizens of Australia, the clause as it stands is perhaps sufficient.
– Such a “prescribed authority” will be appointed.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) is trying to bring this measure into conformity with the New Zealand law, which contains only two disqualifications. It disqualifies (a) those discharged with ignominy or on account of misconduct, and (b) those undergoing a sentence of penal servitude, imprisonment or detention at the expiration of which they will be discharged with ignominy. We could not do betterthan adopt a similar provision. Atone time offenders against the law were treated with the utmost rigour, and often with great inhumanity. But nowadays we make even prison life comfortable, and try to reform the offenders. If it is right to deal thus with civil offenders who committed their offences when in full possession of their senses, ought we not to be still more lenient with military offenders, who at the time their offences were committed were labouring under physical and mental disability? I believe that many good fellows who did magnificent service for the country have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment which they ought not to have suffered.
– To have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment does not exclude a man from the benefits of the gratuity.
– There is a multiplicity of words in the Bill, and I think we should do better by adopting the simplicity of the New Zealand legislation. I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). Now that peace has been brought about by the efforts of our soldiers, I would release all but those who have committed the grossest offences.
– Would you give the gratuity to men who would not fight?
– Would the right honorable gentleman visit the sins ofthe fathers upon the children? Would he deprive the wives and children of these men of the gratuity? A man may have fought honorably and well for. three years, and then, perhaps because he had imbibed too freely, may have acted contrary to the military regulations, and have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment that would prevent him from getting the gratuity. What is to be done with that man’s wife and children if he happens to he married? Are they to be penalized?
– The honorable member should look at the proviso, which reads as follows : -
Provided that, where the prescribed authority is satisfied that a person absent without leave, who has not, prior to the commencement of this Act, surrendered, or been apprehended, has neglected or failed to provide adequately for his dependants, payment may be made to some or all of those dependants of such sum (not exceeding in amount the sum which might, but for this section, have been paid to, or in respect of the service of, that person)’ as the prescribed authority thinks fit.
– The amendment seems to be more in conformity with the New Zealand provision. If the Dominion does not see fit to have a long list of penalties, I do not see the necessity for having themin our Bill . I shall support the amendment.
.- The system of trying by court-martial was in many cases undoubtedly crude and barbarous. Many instances’ have been brought under my notice of men who have been punished for what were very trivial offences, and it is well that a saving clause has been inserted in the Bill to enable the authorities to pay the gratuity where men are still considered worthy of receiving it, although punishment has been meted out to them-. However, there is another chapter in connexion with this question that has been carefully closed to the Australian public, and about which nothing has been said by the Government. I have no desire to open the book at this particular place except to hint very lightly at the actual state of affairs. The military authorities, and,. I think, the Government know that many men enlisted and went away from Australia who had no intention of going to the fighting Front, and never did go there. That number was by no means inconsiderable. ‘ The Government know that this was a matter which created great concern- not only in the minds of the Australian military authorities at the Front, but also in the minds of the military authorities of the Armies of the Allies. While it is some thing that is very regrettable indeed, I hope that we shall not be carried away by any canting, sentimentalism to suggest that those men who did not do their duty, and never intended to do it when they went away from Australia, should get a gratuity. The number, I repeat, was not inconsiderable, and there are not a few of those men now swaggering about as heroes and taking the forefront in the cause of the returned soldiers, a cause for which they never struck a blow and never went near enough to strike one. I suggest, therefore, that the provisions of the Bill be left as they stand, and I shall certainly vote for them.
Question - That the paragraphs proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause (Mr. Catts’ amendment). - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . .. 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
1 ) The war gratuity payable under this Act shall not be claimable or recoverable by any person asamatter of right, but shall be deemed to be a free gift by the Commonwealth in recognition of honorable services during; the war with Germany and her Allies, and may in any case be withheld or deferred or subjected to terms and conditions as the prescribed’ authority, having regard to the interests or deserts of the claimant, thinks just and proper .
.- I move -
That the words “ shall not be claimable or recoverable by any person as a matter of right but,” lines 2 and 3, and the words, “ and may in any case be withheld or deferred or subjected to terms and conditions as the prescribed authority, having regard to the interests or deserts of the claimant, thinks just and proper,” lines 6-11, be left out.
If my amendment be adopted, sub-clause 1 will read -
The war gratuity payable under this Act shall be deemed to be a free gift by the Commonwealth in recognition of honorable services during the war with Germany and her Allies.
– How can it be a right?;
– At all events, my amendment, if carried, will give claimants a light to sue for the gratuity, whereas under the clause as it stands the gates are closed against any man who may think he has a claim to it. I believe that many thousands who under other parts of the Bill are excluded from its operation will consider that they have substantial claims upon the Go.vernment for the payment of the gratuity in respect of their services overseas, but unless we make such an amendment as, I propose these persons will ‘be completely out of court. A man who, believes he is entitled to the gratuity should not be debarred from suing to obtain it. As the clause stands, the prescribed authority will have the right to. withhold or defer the payment of the gratuity, and also to subject it to whatever terms and conditions it may think proper. The disqualifications imposed by clause 6 are all-embracing, but even those who do not come within that provision may be shut out under this clause: It gives the prescribed authority another barrel to. its gun, and so. enables it to go beyond the express disqualifications which the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) unsuccessfully endeavoured to induce the Committee to strike out. No man who thinks he has a claim upon the Government should be deprived of the right to sue for the gratuity.
– I hope the honorable member will not press the amendment. These safeguards are inserted in the interests of the soldiers and their dependants, and are very necessary. The first sub-clause to which the honorable member has taken exception can apply in only very few cases. There are cases in which men are mentally weak, and having no guardians or friends to look after them, would become the prey of harpies and designing persons. The Commonwealth constitutes itself the guardian of such soldiers, and will see that they get the gratuity in such a way that it will be of service to them. This sub-clause is not intended to be used, nor. will it be used, in an arbitrary way.. The best guarantee that the soldier will get a square deal is the fact that the personnel of the prescribed authority will comprise a nominee of the Returned. Sailors and Soldiers League, and two other persons who will be entirely in sympathy with the spirit ofthis measure. In regard to sub-clause 2, I can hardly suppose that the honorable member would object to a provision compelling soldiers to do justice to their dependants.
– I am not proposing to amend that.
– That sub-clause is an eminently proper- and necessary provision. Unfortunately, it does happen that a small proportion of the soldiers leave their dependants unprovided for.. That is not proper, and the overwhelming majority of the soldiers do not approve of such conduct: I ask the honorable member for Darling to accept my assurance that sub-clause 1 is inserted for the purpose of looking after the soldier, and will be used for that purpose only.
– The Prime Minister has not, dealt with the proposal to omit the words “ shall not be claimable or recoverable.”
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Provision for payment where eligible person dies before payment).
– At the request of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, I desire to place a matter before the Government. I do not know whether the point at issue is already provided for in the Bill; but, if not, the returned soldiers desire the insertion in this clause of the following words : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this or any other Act, the mother and dependants of an ex-nuptial soldier shall benefit in the same way as the mother and dependants of any other soldier.
– If the honorable member will peruse the definition of “dependants,” he will see that the word means “ the wife, or widow, and children (including ex-nuptial children).” That is to say, ex-nuptial children and their parents will be placed in exactly the same position, as dependants, as any other persons.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10, 11, and 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 - (1.) In the case of a war gratuity payable to -
– It is my intention to move for the insertion of a new paragraph in subclause 1 in order to give the same rights to a de facto widow and children of a deceased soldier as are to be conceded to a de jure widow and children.
– In this relation I will cite a case which may interest honorable members. During the war the wife of a soldier who was abroad presented herself at the Defence Department, and claimed separation allowance, which was granted to her. Some time afterwards another wife of the same soldier made a claim for separation allowance. My colleague asked me what he should do in the circumstances. I said, “Pay the other lady also”; and the Department paid her.
– Some interesting cases have come under my notice also. Although in Australia a woman is supposed to possess equal citizenship rights with any man, there are many circumstances in which she has not equal rights; for instance, in respect to naturalization and the legitimization of her children. Some countries have enabled women to legitimize their children, but a female citizen of Australia has no such right. I move -
That the following new paragraph be in serted : - (aa) The de facto widow of a deceased member of the Forces;
.- I am afraid that the honorable member’s amendment will not accomplish what he desires. It should have been moved in an earlier clause. The clause now under consideration deals with cases in which the gratuity will be paid in cash instead of in bonds. I realize the force of what the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has said, and that if, after the de-facto wife has been paid, the genuine wife and family turn up later their claim cannot be ignored, but there should be some limitation of the time within which successive claims can be made. I am afraid that we cannot in Australia pretend that we are patterns to the world in these matters, in view of the many hard cases that have been brought under the notice of honorable members during the war. In the case of a de facto widow who, unfortunately for her, did not go through the religious ceremony of marriage, it would be well if something could be done to prevent the parent or other relatives of a deceased soldier interfering to prevent assistance being given to her. Some very hard cases have occurred, and only within the last twenty-four hours a woman came to me complaining that her husband was claiming money in respect of two sons who were killed, and that she would get nothing. I should be glad to assist the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) if it were possible, but I think he has moved his amendment to the wrong clause.
.- I move -
That the words “ or who has lost an eye or a limb” be added to paragraph (d) of subclause 1.
This amendment is moved in order to fulfil another of the promises made by the Prime Minister. I will give the honorable gentleman the reference to, it.
– No matter what the honorable member gives, it will not be true.
– I find, according to the Sydney Sun, of 22nd November, 1919, that immediately after the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to Sydney, Mr. Killeen, President of the Limbless and Maimed Soldiers Association, said -
Mr. Hughes informed him that members of the association who were classed as totally disabled would be able to immediately cash their gratuity under the provision’ already made. The Prime Minister also said that he would give instructions for a man who had a leg or arm amputated,’ or who had lost an eye, to be treated as a necessitous case by the Board or Commission which would deal with the question of converting bonds into cash.
– If these men can make out a claim as necessitous cases - and I assume they can if they have lost a limb, and cannot follow an occupation - they will get cash.
Mr.J. H. CATTS.- That is quite a different matter.. What I have quoted is a statement that if a man had lost an eye or a limb, his case would, as a consequence, be treated as a necessitous case, and he would get cash.
– I never made any such statement.
– Those are the statements attributed to the honorable gentleman, and they have not been contradicted.
– And, therefore, the honorable member will have them in the Bill.
– Those are the public pledges made to the soldiers of this country, and I intend to move to give effect to them. Mr. Killeen can explain to the limbless soldiers who have collecting boxes in the streets of Sydney, and have an association, that, at any rate, an attempt was made in this House to give effect to the promise which he put before them as the’ promise of the Prime Minister, which was published in the press, and which was never challenged. ‘
– As a matter of order, sir, you cannot accept that amendment according to your previous ruling.
– Does the honorable gentleman challenge the amendment on that ground ?
– Yes, I do. It is as good a ground as the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has for moving it.
– I do not think that the amendment is affected by the ruling I have previously given.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the words “since the date of his discharge” in paragraph (e) of sub-clause 1be left out.
I do not know why the Government have specially included members of the Forces who have married since their discharge. A member of the Military Forces who married before going to the war, and who had a family of five or six to support, is surely more in need of cash than one who has married since his discharge. I certainly do not wish to embarrass the Government by asking them to provide a larger amount in cash. . I cannot estimate the amount necessary to pay a cash gratuity to every married soldier, but judging by the number of married men in my own regiment I should say that approximately 10 per cent. of the members of the Australian Imperial Forces were married men. If my amendment were carried, it would probably mean that another £3,000,000 would be necessary. That, of course, is only an approximate estimate. I think it will be admitted that many of the men who will be classed as necessitous cases are absolutely in need of the money to be granted by the “ prescribed authority,” but many are necessitous cases through their own fault absolutely. I would not withhold the cash from them on that account, because I claim that the soldier in the main should be his own protector. If the finances of the country would permit a cash payment to be made, I would be in favour of paying it, and allow them to fight their own battles.
If men who have married since their discharge are to receive cash payment, those who married prior to the war are certainly more entitled to it. We need to be as consistent as we can, and I move the amendment for the favorable consideration of honorable members.
– I hope that the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) will not press his amendment, as the amount of cash at the disposal of the Treasury is very limited. The extent to which this clause involves the Treasury in liability is obvious on the face of it, and’ to include all married men would be to enormously increase that liability. The honorable member has stated - and with his logic I do not quarrel - that men who were married prior to or during the war are as much entitled to a cash gratuity as the men who had married since their discharge. That is quite true, but the motive of the Government was to encourage the soldier to marry. When I was asked in Sydney whether a man contemplating marriage would receive a cash gratuity, I replied in the negative, and stated that as soon as he married he would get it. I think that was a good answer. I have no doubt whatever that if this amendment were carried it would mean increasing our liability to pay in cash tenfold. I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment, because the Treasury will be quite unable to bear the added burden.
.- Personally, I feel disposed to support the amendment of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell). During the war period I have had equal opportunities with other members of the House of ascertaining the terrific disabilities of mothers, with children, who allowed their bread-winners to go abroad without protest, in maintaining their home and meeting the heavy burdens placed upon them. So far the Committee have not placed any heavierburdens on the Treasury than it was anticipated would be imposed under the provisions of this Bill. But this is a case in which we are really entitled to consider the merits of the recipients. The soldiers who have married immediately after their discharge will receive the gratuity. In such cases the money, for the most part, will be expended, not in helping persons who are in dire necessity, but in assisting to equip a new home. I am loath to press this matter, but if there are any persons in Australia who made real sacrifices during the war period, it is the women who were left with young children who were unable to assist in the upkeep of the home. These women ‘ have seen the struggle through in true Spartan fashion, and if the amendment be pressed to a division I shall certainly support it. If the Government are disposed to make any concession in this Bill, it should certainly be to the Australian mothers who “ stuck it out “ so nobly till their husbands returned from theFront. These mothers have had to exhaust the whole of their allotment money.’ Through organizations with which I was associated during the war period, I learned of hundreds of such cases; and, in order to help them, even if it will mean an increased tax on the Treasury, I shall support the amendment.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. While I was speaking yesterday of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League, I find from the Hansard report of my remarks that the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Kerby) interjected -
How many officers are on the executive? The honorable member will not answer that question, because there is only one.
To that interjection I am reported to have replied -
That is one too many.
In conversation with the honorable member I have since learned that hewas alluding to a gentleman for whom I have the highest appreciation - I refer to Captain Dyett. That gentleman was the secretary of the Recruiting Committee of Victoria with which I was associated as an original member - the only original member who remained attached to it throughout the war. I found Mr. Dyett a thorough gentleman, straight and honest in every sense of the word. Whenever he could do anything for a soldier or recruit he was ever ready to do it. HadI known that the honorable member for Ballarat was referring to him, my reply would have been something very different from what it was.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.10 a.m. to 12.45 a.m.(Thursday).
– I move -
That the following new paragraph be added to sub-clause 1 : - “(g) any person who is entitled to a gratuity under this Bill and is unemployed”.
Here is another of the Prime Minister’s pledges, as reported in the Sydney Sun of 28th November, 1919-
Asked this morning with regard to employers cashing bonds for employees what was the position of unemployed returned men, the Prime Minister pointed out that they would be treated as cases of hardship, and obtain cash for their bonds.
That was one of the inducements held out to returned soldiers by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes).
– Paragraph f covers such cases.
– No. The Prime Minister specifically stated that certain classes of men would get cash, and I want them to be specifically included in the Bill, so as to bring it into conformity with the Prime Minister’s pledges.
– What particular class?
– Unemployed returned soldiers.
– I never said such a thing in my life.
– I have already read what the Prime Minister is reported to have said with regard to unemployed returned soldiers. There is provision for a Board to adjudicate as to whether a case is necessitous or not, but there should be no question about unemployed returned soldiers being in necessitous circumstances.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Nicholls) negatived -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– I move -
That the following words be added to the clause: - “(6.) Any person entitled to a war gratuity may give to the Treasurer or other prescribed authority written authority to deduct from the amount of the gratuity such a sum as such person shall desire to contribute to the capital of any co-operative company or society of members of the Australian Imperial Forces and their next of kin and dependants with or without approved patriotic workers arid payment of the amount so authorized to be deducted from the gratuity shall be made in cash to such persons as the prescribed authority shall nominate to receive the same.”
This amendment provides that the Returned Soldiers Association may, by arrangement, have the opportunity of establishing a co-operative trading company with the gratuity money. The Returned Soldiers Association of South Australia have gone carefully into this matter. They feel that it would be a great pity if the opportunity was lost to the returned soldiers of creating some permanent monument with the gratuity. They fear that quite a number of the men may, if no such scheme is put forward, use their money in directions which will not be very useful. Sufficient men in the association have already intimated their intention of taking up practically enough shares to establish this concern. The idea is not only to have a co-operative society in the ordinary sense, but also to work in with those soldiers who have been settled on the land.
– Is it to be distributive ?
– Yes, distributive and trading. The society or store will handle the produce of returned soldiers who have taken up land, particularly along the banks of the Murray, and supply it direct to the consumer, thus altogether eliminating the middleman. By doing this, the returned soldiers will be not only helping themselves, but taking a very material step towards reducing the high cost of living. The scheme is to be quite voluntary. The words “with or without approved patriotic workers “ appear in the amendment. These were, put in because it was the intention to1 broaden the membership of the society to enable munition workers, rejected volunteers, and members of similar associations to become shareholders. I did not put the amendment on the notice-paper with any intention of anticipating the speech made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse). When he was putting forward the case for the establishment of a cooperative society, I had in my pocket the prospectus drawn up by the Returned Soldiers Association, but could not use it on that occasion because it was marked “ confidential.” It is immaterial to me who moves the amendment, or who gets credit for it, so long as we establish; the principle of allowing the returned soldiers to create, with the gratuity bonds, a co-oper”ative society which will be of material benefit, not only to themselves, but to the whole of the people of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in consultation with the honorable member for Swan and myself, has agreed to the principle that we have both put forward, but not quite in the form which we suggested. I understand that he has had a clause prepared that gives the opportunity of carrying out the prin ciple and enabling the society to be started. I do not anticipate any opposition to that proposal from either side of the Committee. Every one of us can agree to it. By doing so, we shall place no responsibility on our own shoulders, but we shall give the returned men an opportunity of carrying out the very laudable object that they have in view.
.I desire to confirm what the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) has said. It would possibly save time if his proposal and mine were amalgamated in the form of a new clause. I spoke at some length on the Address-in-Reply as to the advisability of inducing the soldiers to utilize the gratuity money in helping themselves, and helping Australia at the same time, by forming a large cooperative company for the manufacture of articles from our raw material in the shape of wool and many other products, which would indeed make for them a gratuity in perpetuity. The Bill, as -printed, makes no provision for them to invest their money in that way. If our proposal is adopted, it will be found to have been a blessing that the soldiers did not get their money in cash. They will have a little time for reflection, and for the formation of companies for their own benefit, thus becoming interested in the country they fought for. Considerable capital will be available by this means, and the soldiers can become the chief manufacturers of madeup woollen goods in Australia if they like to put their heads together. The amendment will give them an opportunity to do so in connexion, not only with wool, but with other raw materials. In Bunbury, a few of the returned soldiers put in a little capital with other Bunbury people, and the Government gave them some assistance. They have woods suitable for axe handles, pick handles, adze handles, and other things. They obtained the necessary machinery, and have developed an industry that will eventually be able to supply Australia, and shut out all outside competition. Undertakings of that sort ought to be encouraged, as they will help to get over many of the repatriation difficulties, and go a long way towards making this country self-contained. The proposal which I wish to put before the Committee is in substitution of the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Adelaide, and of one of which I have given notice. It is in the form of a new clause, which would read as follows: - 15a. - (1.) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the last preceding section, any member of the Forces may lodge with any approved company, as security for any sum payable by him in respect of any shares in that company, any Treasury bonds issued to him in pursuance of this Act. (2.) In the event of default being made by the member in the conditions under which the Treasury bonds were lodged by him, the company may lodge the bonds with any banking corporation, or with any other financial institution approved by the Minister, as securityfor an advance to the company. (8.) In the event of -default being made by the company in the conditions under which the Treasury bonds were lodged by it, the corporation or institution with which they were lodged may realize on the bonds. (4.) In this section “approved company” means a company -
It will be noticed that action on the part of soldiers under this proposed clause will be voluntary, not compulsory. The provision will give an opportunity to soldiers to utilize their bonds more freely. Business men and banking institutions will recognise their value, and will accept them as security. The bonds will, therefore, be very far from the worthless paper which some honorable members would make them appear.
– The provision just read, which embodies the proposals of the honorable members for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) and Swan (Mr. Prowse) is, in principle, unexceptionable. Those honorable members discussed the matter with me, and I told them that I had given the undertaking to Captain Dyett that the Government would do everything in its power to assist the particular association in which the honorable member for Adelaide is interested. We wish, moreover, to do all we can to enable the soldier, as the honorable member for Swan has said, to do something for his country as well as for himself, and something for him self as well as for his country. We shall do well in encouraging these young men to form co-operative associations for the purposes of trade, manufacture, and business generally. Anything that will help them to do that will be advantageous to the country as well as to them. Anything done by a soldier under the proposed new clause will be quite voluntary ; it merely enables him to utilize his bonds, despite the prohibition against alienation in clause 15. The Government is quite willing that the proposed new clause shall be inserted in the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– It is provided in the second paragraph of sub-clause 2 that in the case of a war gratuity not exceeding in amount such sum as is fixed by the Treasurer, payment may be made in cash. Can the Prime Minister tell us what amount is likely to be so fixed? Obviously, it would be ridiculous to issue bonds for a very small sum.
– Something must be left to the discretion of the Treasurer. The amount of gratuity due to a soldier might be a sum like £5 3s. or £4 7s. 6d.
– But the Treasurer will have to fix at once the minimum amount for which bonds shall be issued.
– There is no necessity for doing that.
– Immediately the Bill becomes law the soldiers will lodge their claims for gratuities, and some one will have to determine the lowest amount for which bonds shall be issued. If a decision is not made to-day, it must be made next week. The Treasurer must have considered the matter.From information at hand, I know that a large number of men have put in their claims, and that for some months past the Department has been hard at work having the accounts made up - in fact, that it is now only a question of writing out the bonds. I have not the slightest doubt that the whole of the necessary information is available as to what the limit will be, whether it be £3, £5, or £6.
– As far as I am able to ascertain, the Treasurer is not able to say how much is involved, for instance, in sums of £5, but honorable members may accept my assurance that the amount will not he. less than £3, and we shall not give more than £5 in cash under this particular provision. Of course, in necessitous cases, the full amount will be paid in cash.
– Have the Government decided whether the bonds will be in various denominations, say £5, £20, or £100, and so on? Will the returned soldier who has £100 coining to him have the option of saying that he would like the amount issued to him in one bond of £100, or in .two bonds of £50, or iii ten bonds of £10?
– Each’ soldier will receive one bond for the amount he is to receive.
.- If a soldier is to receive one bond, difficulty may be created in the case of a man who wishes to put; half of the amount he is to draw into one of the proposed co-operative companies. He may -not be willing to put the whole amount into such a concern. It seems to nic that it is only a matter of extra printing to provide, say, two bonds of £50, instead of one bond of £100. It would certainly obviate the necessity for the returned soldier having to go to the Treasury for the purpose of making arrangements to invest half of his gratuity in one of the proposed companies. The Government might well consider the matter of issuing bonds of various denominations.
– I am considering the matter. We are making every arrangement to facilitate this very thing. If .a soldier wishes to pay 25 per cent., 50 per cent., or 75 per cent, of the amount he is to draw into one of these proposed companies, the Treasurer will make all the arrangements necessary to enable him to do so. The printing of the bonds has already been proceeded with in anticipation of Parliament agreeing to the payment of the gratuity, but when Captain Dyett saw me about this very matter about five weeks ago I discussed it with him, and said that I would agree to arrangements to enable the soldier to make a portion of his gratuity available for the purpose of investing it in a company coming under the proposed new clause. All I ask is that if the Returned Soldiers’ League de sire to take advantage of the proposed new. clause and desire the help of the Government, they should without delay put the prospectuses of their proposed, corporations before us, so that we may be in a position to give them the help they require.
– I would not press that point.
– If the help of the Government is required at the time the men are receiving the gratuity, the. Treasurer must know of it beforehand.
– I understand that Captain Dyett consulted the Treasurer with the approval of the Prime Minister, and that a form has been agreed upon to this effect -
To the District Finance Officer, Military . Pay Office, - You are hereby authorized to deduct from the amount of my war gratuity the sum of…………… , and to pay the said sum to the
Federal Trustees on behalf of the (name of State ) Co-operative Society of Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Nurses. Signature, &c.
Each soldier signs this form, and the Treasury make arrangements when the bonds are paid out that so much is left for this purpose, and the balance is handed to the soldier.
– I know that Captain Dyett was sent by me to the Treasury, and discussed the matter at length with them. He told me that the arrangement made was satisfactory.
– A soldier who is receiving £100 by way of gratuity and is desirous of placing £50 of it to the credit of the company will draw £50 for ‘himself and have the other £50 paid into the credit- of the company.
– That is what Captain Dyett wanted, and that is what he was told to consult the Treasury about. He told me afterwards that the arrangement made was satisfactory.
, - I am surprised that, although the Government have had several months in which to consider this question, we have had brought before us a .halfdigested measure, the effect of certain parts of which cannot be explained. We have been told by a private member that some arrangement ha3 been made by the representatives of an organization with regard to the issue of more than one bond to a soldier. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is under the impression that only one bond will be issued.
– I think I said just now by way ‘ of interjection that Captain Dyett made a suggestion that I approved of, and that he discussed the details with the Treasury. The Treasury has agreed to his suggestion. It practically amounts to this, that if the soldier who is to receive, say, a £100 bond, desires to give £50 to a society, the Treasury will arrange the matter by giving him a £50 bond, and passing over to the Society another £50 bond.
– Will that be provided for by regulation?
– It can be done under this clause as well as under the proposed new clause.
– We should have an authoritative statement as te what is to be the procedure. If we have the. assurance of the Prime Minister, after consultation with his officers, that, in some instances, only one bond, and in others two bonds will be issued, well and good.
.Might I suggest that where a soldier had already received a bond for £100, and desired to put half that amount into a company, he should be empowered to return the original bond to the Treasury, and to receive in its’ stead two bonds of £50, one of which could be handed in by him to the company.
– We would be glad to do that.
. -I would suggest that the ordinary procedure relating to negotiable securities be followed in this case. It is quite unnecessary to issue various bonds as permissible operations take place. We should follow the practice adopted throughout the commercial world in connexion with every negotiable security. Where a transaction authorized by law takes place the nature of that transaction is indorsed upon the security, and the general community is thus advised of the extent to which it has been dealt with. There is no reason why the ‘Treasury officials should not in the same way indorse a bond in cases of the kind under discussion.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Treasury bonds issued in pursuance, of the last preceding section shall be accepted at their face value, plus interest accrued to date, in repayment of any moneys due by the person to whom they were issued under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1917-1918 or the War Service Homes Act 1918-1919.
– I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “or as collateral security by the Associated Banks of Australia.”
The soldiers were told over and over again that these bonds would be negotiable at the banks. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 11th November last there appeared a statement headed in big black letters, “ Cash Over the Counter,” “The Gratuity Bonds,” “Banks will Pay,” “Prime Minister’s Announcement “ -
Bonds will be issued which will be reserved for repatriation purposes.’ The banks will also receive bonds as collateral security.
Then there followed in big black type the statement that -
The Government has made arrangements with the Savings Bank and all the associated banks, by which the soldier who wants to cash his bond through other than the Repatriation Department will be able to go to the bank and get cash for it.
A similar statement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the same date. The president of the Associated Banks having stated that no such arrangements had been made, the following amended statement by the Leader of the Government (Mr. Hughes) was published in the Sydney Sun on the afternoon of the 11th November: -
I did not say that I had made arrangements with the banks to cash the bonds. What I said was that I will make arrangements with the banks, and most certainly I will.
On the 20th November the .Sydney Sun reported a speech made by the Prime Minister at a meeting of soldiers held in the Protestant Hall, Sydney, in which he said -
As you already know, the bonds will be taken by the Repatriation Department and as collateral security by the banks.
There are numerous other references to the bonds being taken by the banks. I submit that the soldiers of Australia clearly understood that these bonds were to be negotiable by the banks, which would hold them until the date of maturity and receive the interest due in respect to them. As the Bill does not provide for anything of the kind, I submit this amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the. negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Except as prescribed, no interest in any war gratuity, or in any Treasury bond issued or to bo issued in payment of any war gratuity, shall be alienable, whether by way or in consequence of sale, assignment, charge, execution, insolvency, or otherwise howsoever.
– As I read this clause, it will be impossible for the soldier to dispose of a bond, even to a person willing to pay the face value for it.
– I am opposed to that; I cannot understand the reason for it.
– Because it is a nonnegotiable instrument.
– But why is it a nonnegotiable instrument? If there are persons willing and ready to pay the full face value of the bond, why should the soldier be prevented from disposing of it? I move -
That the following words be added to the clause - “ Provided that nothing contained herein shall prevent the holder of any bond from selling such bond for its face value.”
There must be some deep-seated reason for insisting that the soldier shall retain the bond, even if he has a chance of selling it at its facevalue.
– He can go to any savings orother bank throughout the Commonwealth, and if he can get the face value there he may do so.
– Where is that provided?
– It will be prescribed.
– Why should other persons be prevented from paying the face value ?
– The honorable member must see that we cannot put on the market £28,000,000 worth of paper money.
– I am not suggesting that we should. What I am stating is that if the soldier can get the face value of his bond he should be entitled to sell it.
– Is that not exactly the same as putting £28,000,000 worth of paper money on the market?
– Not at all, because the soldier will not be able to dispose of his bond unless he can get its face value. If the Government were to throw £28,000,000 worth of paper money on the market they would find it would not be disposed of at its face value.
– The principle was clearly stated and accepted by the electors that these were to be non-negotiable bonds, subject to tie exceptions specifically set forth. One of those exceptions was that a certain number of bonds were to be cashed by the Treasury. We have been dealing with that class now. Another class of bonds was involved in the £6,000,000 worth which the banks agreed to cash. Dealing with the latter, the banks have agreed to take £6,000,000 worth, and to hold those bonds until they mature. That is the crucial point - one. of vital, importance -namely, that they should not ‘be thrown on the market. Then, in addition, the Commonwealth Government will cash all the bonds of its soldier employees. The same remark applies to the New South Wales State authorities, and in respect to Victoria also.
– Also with regard to Queensland ; but I think that South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania have not arrived at any agreement in this matter.
– In addition to the States, a very large number of .private employers have agreed to cash bonds. Except as prescribed, the bonds cannot be alienated. But we shall put no limit upon the banks; it is the banks which have placed: a limit upon themselves. They have said, “ We will take only £6,000,000 worth of bonds.” In effect, it is a loan. The banks are .lending the money; they are advancing cash for which we pay 5i per cent, interest for three years. If the banks will agree to cash still more bonds, then, of course, there will be no trouble with regard to the soldiers getting cash. But we cannot allow the bonds to pass from hand to hand, or permit them to become negotiable instruments or currency.
.I think I have already made my views clear concerning the undesirability of inflating the credit of the country by the process of cash payment for these bonds. But I have a few words additional to say with respect to employers who have undertaken to cash the bonds of their employees. I now understand that the words, “ as prescribed,” are to cover that position. That is to say, regulations are to be issued under the Act which will indicate to the employer how he may perform this service on behalf of his soldier employees without being stigmatized as a disreputable person, as he might be under the terms of the Bill in its present form. With, regard to the regulations, however, I desire to emphasize this: It will be very simple for any employer to say that he will be generous and will cash the bonds of his soldier employees, if he can walk straight round to his bank and secure additional credit facilities upon those bonds. For generosity of that nature- the soldier employee might well say, “ Thank you for nothing.” The banks are to take their promised £6^00,000 worth of bonds. Personally; I do not approve of that project. I think it is a mistake; but, at any rate, they will be required to place the bonds in their safes, so that they may not be used for the purpose of creating further credits throughout Australia. The employer, if he is allowed to go to a bank with his employees’ bonds and secure extended credit for himself, will not merely bring about an increase of the country’s credit and spending power by the amount of the value of the bonds, but will himself be able to operate to that amount. So far as I’ am concerned, I shall have to pay, probably, from £10,000 to £15,000 in cashing the bonds of my firm’s soldier employees; and in so doing I shall possibly pretend to- a certain virtue. Then what will be the position if I am. to. be allowed to walk around to my bank? Suppose that I have a fixed overdraft. As a matter of fact, I have not; but many employers have. I may have already operated up to the limit of the amount which the bank will extend to me. But when T present myself before my banker with £10,000 worth of my employees’ bonds, I will certainly be in a position to secure another £9,000 credit. That is to say, the soldiers would be getting £10,000 - which would go to increase the spending power, and, I fear, the extravagance of the country, while, at the same time, I would be getting £9,000, thus in no. way reducing the trading credit of the country. This double procedure would mean an extraordinary inflation of credit throughout Australia. In framing the regulations, therefore, the Government will be well- advised if they endeavour to provide that employers shall give cash, and not merely lend a little of their credit to their soldier employees. I suggest that the regulations shall specifically provide that when the employees’ bonds are cashed, the employer must deposit the bonds with the Treasury, together with signed receipts from the soldier employees, showing that they have received the full face value of their bonds.
– It appears that there is quite a lot of work to be done with, respect to this measure after it has left Parliament, namely, in the direction of drafting regulations. During the past five years practically the whole of the government of the country has been carried on by regulations ; but on a matter such as the soldiers! gratuity, as much as possible should be put into the Bill, and as little as possible left to regulation. As the Committee discussion proceeds, I am more and more convinced that this measure has been ill-digested. Apparently it has been loosely strung together, and brought down here in the pious hope and. expectation that it will go through and be all right. But every honorable member must have realized before now that the Bill, at .any rate, so far as we have gone, will involve considerable trouble, not only to the Government, but also to the people of Australia. Certain people provided for in clause 13 will be given the gratuity in cash. Every one agrees that if cash is given at all, those persons should get it. There are others who, under clause 15, will be prescribed by regulation, and not by the Bill, who will be able to get cash for their bonds if they are lucky enough to get in on the ground floor. The Prime Minister (Mr.- Hughes) has said that the banks will be prepared to give cash for these bonds to the extent of £6,000,000, and the inevitable result of this arrangement will be that a number of soldiers unable to get in early with their bonds to secure cash from the banks will consider that they have been hardly dealt with. It is important that we should know -whether private institutions are to be allowed to determine which of the bond-holders outside those covered by clause 13 are to be allowed to get in on the ground floor and secure cash for their bonds. Is- that to be decided by the Governor-General in Council by regulation, or by the directorates of the different banks 1 The amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) would obviate that difficulty by enabling a bond-holder to cash his bond with any one prepared to pay him its face value.
– The regulation might provide for the cashing of a percentage of the bonds, allowing an equal opportunity to all.
– Is the honorable member replying on behalf of the Government?
– I am making a suggestion which might occur to any reasonable mind.
– A certain number of employers will cash the bonds of their employees. If the banks will cash only the bonds of their employees, there will be no discrimination, but if in undertaking to cash bonds to the amount of £6,000,000 they will undertake to cash the bonds of outsiders, the lucky bond-holders may have to pay for the privilege of getting their bonds cashed. I can quite understand that some would be prepared to sell their bonds for half their face value. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), with the instinct inherent in the financial magnates of the community, voices his uneasiness at £20,000,000 worth of paper going on the market. The Prime Minister said that the Government are not going to flood the market with paper, but they will give cash to persons covered by clause 13, and will give the right to certain employers to cash the bonds of their employees, and to the banks to cash bonds to the amount of £6,000,000; and the payment of these bonds in cash must lead to a certain inflation of credit. The amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney would permit of the bonds being cashed at their face value, but would not allow the money bugs of the community to get rich quick at the expense of the soldiers. I venture to say that there are some persons possessing money who would be quite prepared to help their immediate friends by taking their bonds and giving them cash for them. When pertinent questions are asked about this business, we are told that the matter referred to is to be dealt with by regulation.
– It is all right, and it is 2 o’clock in the morning.
– Probably it is all right, and, iri any case, the Governmentmust shoulder the responsibility for the whole business.
.- I was hoping that when we passed the Bill we should at least know what sort of a measure we had passed. I am satisfied now that we shall not know that. Every honorable member who has been a member of this House for at least one Parliament will .know that we have never had an opportunity to deal with the regulations issued under any Bill passed since this Parliament first assembled in 1901. I can remember the late Right Honorable George Reid standing in this place fifteen or sixteen years ago, and saying, in effect, “ You can pass any legislation you please, so long as I have the administration of it.” We are being asked to hand over the administration of this measure to the Government because we have defined only a few principles. We have decided that a soldier is to get1s. 6d. per day, with certain limitations; that others are to get1s. per day with certain limitations; and that the gratuity is to be paid in bonds. We have not decided anything else. Even the number of persons who are to constitute the “ prescribed authority “ has not been decided, but the Prime Minister has said that it will consist of three persons, one of whom is to be a returned soldier. These things should have been provided for in the clauses of the Bill. We have been told that certain bonds are to be inalienable, and now we are informed’ by the Prime Minister that £6,000,000 worth of bonds–
– The honorable member heard that during the election campaign.
– A lot of promises were made during the campaign that are not embodied in the Bill. The Minister has informed us that £6,000,000 worth of bonds are to be negotiated by the banks, and it will be a case of first come, first served. Those in a fortunate position will have preference.
– That will be provided for by regulation.
– Regulations under a Bill are framed and issued, and we all know that they come down here in a bundle once a fortnight, or once a month, and are seldom considered by the House.
– Provision should be made for the percentage of the bonds to be negotiable by the banks.
– If that were done, apart from the necessitous cases, it would place every one on a fair footing. A proportion of each bond, or a percentage of the total number issued should be negotiable by the banks. If, for instance, £30,000,000 worth of bonds are to be issued, 20 per cent., apart from the necessitous cases, should be negotiable by each soldier through the banks. Under the present arrangement, some may be able to get to the banks before others.
-That is what every one will endeavour to do.
– That is not a fair position.
– How can they all get to the banks at the same time?
– We should have a statement from the Prime Minister on the matter.
– Certainly. It would be only fair, and I regret exceedingly that we are being asked to pass what is really a skeleton Bill, and leave so much to regulations.
– A large number of soldiers will not require cash.
– I admit that.
– £6,000,000 worth, or nearly one-fifth of the total amount, are to be negotiatedby the banks, some millions will be paid in cash by the Treasury, some millions by the Repatriation Department under the War Service Homes Act, and some millions by employers. Where are the unfortunates ?
– If that is to be the position, we might as well have provided for a cash payment right out. If the Prime Minister had made that statement four or five hours ago, a late sitting would have been avoided. We have adopted only two or three principles, and the rest will have to be done by regulation.
– Some rather extraordinary speeches have been made by honorable members since the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) moved his amendment. I take strong exception to the persistent reiteration of the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that the issue of non-negotiable bonds has been accepted by the electors. There is no foundation for such statements, as the general opinion throughout Australia is that the soldiers are to receive cash. The statement has been made that if £25,000,000 were thrown on the market in the form of negotiable bonds, it would have a disastrous effect upon the country. Where is the difference in putting £25,000,000 in the hands of the soldiers instead of in the hands of some one else, provided a guarantee is given that the bonds cannot depreciate. There are two main reasons why the Government have adopted this course. They desire to multiply the number of bond-holders who necessarily have a direct interest in the country. They are also anxious that the returned soldiers should hold their bonds for four years, during which time- they will expect them to increase the productivity of the country in return for what is supposed to be a free gift of the nation . I suppose that when the bonds are issued the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues will travel the Commonwealth preaching the doctrine of increased production. They will tell the soldier that he will have to sweat a bit harder in order to make his bond secure. This will be a good argument to use in an endeavour to whip them into a state of unreasonable activity. These are the only reasons why the Government are making the bonds non-negotiable and compelling soldiers to hold them for four years.
– I cannot see why the Government will not accept the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). We were told that these bonds were to be inalienable to protect the soldiers from harpies and others who would wheedle them out of their dues by offering less than their face value. There may not be many people in this country rushing to pay the soldiers the face value of their bonds if they are to be held for four years. The Bill absolutely prohibits the cash to be handed to the soldier, even though the face value of the bond is tendered. There can be no justification for such an attitude. I am sorry the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has left the chamber, because his statement regarding the £6,000,000 worth of bonds to be taken up by the banks should be further explained. He has stated that a certain number of bonds are to be cashed by the Treasury, and that the banks are also to redeem £6,000,000 worth. I concluded from the Prime Minister’s secondreading speech that the £6,000,000 worth to be taken up by the banks was for providing the Treasury with money to pay cash in certain cases. I would like the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) to give his attention to this matter, because I am sure that he gathered from the Prime Minister’s statement the impression that the £6,000,000 to be provided by the banks is in addition to the cash to be provided by the Treasury. Surely, the Prime Minister would not deliberately mislead the Committee. There are two Ministers present just now. Will they be good enough to tell me whether the £6,000,000 which is to be forthcoming from the banks is intended to enable cash to be paid in cases for which provision has already been made in the Bill, or whether it is intended to provide for additional cases?
– My impression is that the honorable member has already been told that it is intended to cover additional cases.
– If that be so, I shall watch the operation of the Bill very closely. As I understand the position, the £6,000,000 to which I have referred, is to be provided by the banks for the purpose of enabling cash to be paid in the urgent cases which are included in this measure.
If the banks pay cash for £6,000,000 worth of bonds, and hold those bonds for four years, it necessarily follows that their securities will be increased to that extent. Now, as they always make advances in relation to the securities which they hold, these bonds will, to the extent indicated, be absolutely negotiable.
– It is only a limited, and not a complete, negotiation.
– It is not complete. But the banks can make their own advances against those bonds, and they will inevitably do so. To that extent the bonds will become negotiable.
– Then the hororable member ought to be very glad.
– So I am.’ But evidently the Government do not realize the position when they affirm that this £6,000,000 worth of bonds will not be negotiable.
– If the banks pay cash for those bonds, they will not thereby enlarge their securities. They will merely have bonds instead of cash.
– The banks expand their credits or advances against securities in the proportion of at least four to one. That is, four pounds of credit or advances based upon one pound of security.
– The banks will provide the £6,000,000 to meet the cases which are enumerated in clause 14, and in addition, the Treasury will pay its own employees.
– That is a totally different statement from that which was made by the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member does not want information. He merely wants pellets with which to pelt us.
– I quite agree that some provision is required to prevent an unholy rush to secure cash for the £6,000,000 worth of bonds to which reference has been made. I take it that every returned soldier will not receive his bond on the same day. As a matter of fact, there will be 300,000 bonds to be distributed. If they are distributed in alphabetical order, then all soldiers from A to C may possibly receive their bonds on the same day. But before the list will become exhausted, probably several weeks will have elapsed. It therefore follows that, unless there is some control exercised over the cashing of these bonds, those who receive them first, if they desire to exchange them for cash, will be able to do so, whilst those who are at the bottom of the list will be left in the lurch. Finally, it seems to me that the banks will have the holding of most of these bonds. I am very glad that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has submitted this amendment, because of the information which it has elicited, although that information was doubtless given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) some time ago to members of the National party in Caucus assembled.
– What information?
– The information that the banks intend to cash £6,000,000 worth of bonds.
– That information was given on, the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– Ever since I entered this House continual complaints have been made - and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) has been one of the chief complainants - that there has been too much government by regulation in this country.
– The Minister has not said much in that connexion during the past few years.
– No, because he has had a hand in the framing of the regulations. He sits there a veritable Czar ruling this country.
– Then, if I am a Czar, will the honorable member sit down?
– I appeal to the members of the Country party who are professedly anxious to re-establish parliamentary control over our finances to support the amendment. In a measure involving an expenditure of millions of pounds, we should be more careful, especially in our legislation in respect of returned soldiers, than we are in our general legislation. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) has pointed out that his firm are prepared to. cash the bonds of their 150 soldier employees if the latter so desire.
– And hold them.
– The honorable member said he would place them with his banker.
– No; he said they should be deposited with the Treasury.
– But I understood him to say that there should be some registration of the bonds at the Treasury.
– The point I was trying to emphasize was that if we are going to cash the bonds, and the money is to pass into circulation, we should endeavour to do something to stop an undue inflation of currency.
– And I understood the honorable member to say that one method to accomplish that end would be to deposit the bonds with the Treasury.
– That would be one way.
– The honorable member for Flinders is in the fortunate position of being able to cash his employees’ bonds and deposit them with the Treasury ; but there may be scores of other employers who are not prepared to do that.
– Because to do so would limit their credit.
– Naturally they would want to hold the bonds as security upon which to obtain further financial assistance.
– That is my sole reason for protesting against paying the gratuity in cash.
– It appears to me that we are getting all the information concerning the financial effect of the measure it the tail end of the debate. It now appears that within a few months after the passage of the Bill quite £20,000,000 of the total amount of the gratuity to be paid will be in the possession of the banks of Australia.
– But the terms of the bonds will prevent their further negotiation.
– That may be so; but does the honorable member suggest that bonds cashed by employers and the banks will not be regarded as an asset? As a matter of fact, they will constitute a magnificent asset, and will be operated upon by banks as security upon which to advance millions of pounds to their customers. Therefore, in effect, the bonds will go into circulation.
– And that is what you want.
– But the warning note has been sounded that this will mean an undue inflation of our currency. It appears that honorable members on this side have’ to extract information from Ministers just as a dentist extracts teeth. A few months after the passage of the Bill, the banks will hold at least £20,000,000 worth of bonds. Therefore we might as well go further and adopt the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). so that the other £10,000,000 worth of bonds may be absorbed by the public.
– I again appeal to the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) and the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) for information. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has left his colleagues in a difficulty from which it appears they cannot escape. But honorable members on this side of the House are entitled to information as to how the Bill is likely to work. I have already asked if the £6,000,000 worth of bonds to be taken up by the banks represents the amount required to cover .the proposed cash gratuity payments mentioned in clause 13. It is extraordinary that at no time have we had an authoritative statement as to what it means.
– We have ‘had too many.
– I challenge the honorable member to show me where at any time during the debate any representative of the Government has “ told honorable members that the Associated Banks are to take £6,000,000 worth of bonds. Many honorable members, in their desire to stand behind the Government, have said that the Prime Minister has already intimated to the Committee that the Associated Banks are to take that amount of bonds, ,but I have asked in vain of the Minister for the Navy, the Minister for Works and Railways, and the Prime Minister, what that £6,000,000 means, and who is going to ‘be the arbiter as to what soldiers are to get the money. Is it money totally apart from that to be advanced by the Treasury ?
– Of course it is.
– If it is, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has just stated that the amount of bonds which will be paid in cash- will be not less than £20,000,000.
– I agree.
– Then, if the honorable member believes that, why does he swallow a cash payment of £20,000,000 and refuse to indorse a cash payment of £28,000,000? The Minister for the Navy should give the information asked for by those on this side, who are earnest and sincere in their desire for it. If Ministers cannot give it, they should tell us that these matters have not yet been gone into. Because of the half-digested manner in which the Bill has been laid before Parliament, only a few departmental officers understand it. If Ministers are not prepared to give us the information that we want, we can only come to the conclusion that they do not know what it does mean.
.It is a mystery to me why the Government refuse to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). It is perfectly reasonable, and, if carried, would be very beneficial to the soldiers, for whom the Government continually allege that they are very desirous to do something. If the amendment were carried, quite a number of the soldiers would be able to obtain cash. In spite of all that has been, said by the Government and their supporters, every member of the Committee, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) downwards, knows perfectly well that a majority of the men are desirous to get cash if they possibly can. It was stated in this chamber a few minutes ago, for the first time, that the banks were going to advance £6,000,000. I cannot see the difference between the banks advancing that sum and private individuals advancing it, or advancing even £28,000,000 for that matter. If the Government are prepared to allow the banks to make that advance, what sound grounds are there for preventing private individuals from lending the necessary money ? Is it the intention of the Government to pay £6,000,000 to necessitous cases, while the banks advance another £6,000,000, making £12,000,000 in all?
– And the private employers and State Governments.
– Private employers and the State Governments are desirous of doing so, but apparently will not be permitted. Is the £6,000,000 to be advanced by the banks to be separate and apart from the £6,000,000 to be paid by the Government?
– The Minister said so distinctly.
– I did not hear him say so. If he did say so, does that mean that £12,000,000 is to be paid in cash - £6,000,000 by the Government for necessitous cases, and £6,000,000 by the banks ?
– Whoever said that? I said nothing of the kind.
– One of the supporters of the Government attributed that statement to the Minister.
– I did not say that the Government were going to pay £6,000,000 in cash.
– If the Government pay .£6,000,000 to necessitous cases, and the banks take bonds to the value of another £6,000,000, and’ give cash for them, will that mean £12,000,000 in all ?
– Then what does it mean.?
– I will try to explain if the honorable member will sit down; but before I give the explanation, have I the assurance that honorable members opposite will accept it? It is of no use to give them information if they immediately begin. to throw it back at one’s head. So far as I understand this matter, what will very probably happen will be this-
– Never mind what will probably happen ; tell us what will happen.
– Go on, have your say. You do not want information.
– I asked the ‘Minister for the Navy a question, and he stated that he would give me the information I was seeking, if I would accept it. I am willing to accept it, but when he got up he said, “ What will probably happen is this.” Since he has been in charge of the Bill for the greater part of the evening, he should know what it means, and what will happen. I want to know what will happen, not what will probably happen. Apparently, the Minister is not prepared to give me the information-
– I am certainly not prepared to be catechized by the honorable member.
– My request is a perfectly legitimate one. Every member of the Committee does or should want information. I know that what will probably happen is that the Government will be defeated at the next elections, because the people will not be satisfied with this Bill. What I want to know is who will decide what persons shall receive their gratuities in cash out of the £6,000,000 that is to be advanced by the banks?
– That money is to be used to meet necessitous cases.
– The matter should be made clear. Is it the “ prescribed authority” who will say what individuals shall receive their gratuity out of this £6,000,000 ?
– The Committee is not ‘being fairly treated by Ministers.. ‘The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) is not acting properly in adopting; the attitude of the little boy who says “ I will not play in your yard.” merely because of an innocent and inoffensive interjection. He himself is the champion inter jector of this assembly. I understood him to say that the money that was to be advanced by the Government to provide cash gratuities for necessitous cases was additional to the £6,000,000 to be advanced by the banks. But according to a report published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 22nd November, and quoted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in his speech of the 19th March-
The Prime Minister announced last night that arrangements have been completed with the banks to find the sum of £6,000,000 for the payment of the war gratuity in cash to the following classes: -
Widowed mothers of unmarried deceased soldiers.
Other mothers of deceased soldiers who were dependent upon deceased soldiers.
Totally incapacitated and blind soldiers.
Soldiers who have married since discharge, or are about to marry.
Necessitous cases not included in the foregoing.
Now, the Minister for the Navy, when asked whether the £6,000,000 is to be advanced by the banks for the purposes enumerated in thatreport, says, “ No ; there is another £6,000,000 to come from the banks independently of that.”
– I did not make any such preposterous statement.
– Ministers do not seem to know what is proposed; one of them contradicts another. This is not fair to the returned soldiers. The whole matter seems to have been ill-digested by the Government, and now the Prime Minister denies what he said in introducing the Bill. I have never known a Committee ofthe House to be in such a position before. The Committee should be given the correct information before being called upon to give a decision. As an earnest seeker for that information, I appeal to the Prime Minister to supply it, so that I may be influenced in recording my vote upon the amendment.
– In reply to the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), and his query, and in particular to his quotation from a speech delivered by me on the introduction of the Bill, in which it appears in Hansard that I stated that the Daily Telegraph had said that the £6,000,000 which the banks were to find was to go in payment of the. cases under clause 13, I have only this to say: As the honorable member knows very well, it is not true. The £6,000,000 which the banks will advance is in addition to the bonds which the Treasury will cash under clause 13.
– I would like to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) what will’ be the total amount the Government will cash, plus the £6,000,000?
– I can only refer the honorable member to the Bill, and to what I have just said. By adding the two amounts together he will get an answer to his question.
– In an endeavour to arrive at some conclusion, I have listened with interest to honorable members on both sides who have made various estimates as to the amount which is to be paid in cash, but despite the efforts of honorable members to obtain information on the point, it appears that the longer the debate progresses the less information we are likely to get on the subject. One honorable member has suggested that between the Federal Government, the State Governments, private employers, and the banks £20,000,000 worth of bonds will be cashed, but I want to know from the Prime Minister what is likely to be the total amount. If it is the idea of the Government to facilitate the cashing of these bonds, if they have arranged with the banks to cash £6,000,000 worth, and if they propose to redeem the bonds held by their own employees, and have made arrangements with the State Governments to redeem certain other bonds, I cannot see what objection there can be to the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan),, seeing that if the estimate of £20,000,000 made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong is correct as to the amount to be redeemed by these processes, it only leaves a further £8,000,000. worth to be provided in cash. The amendment, if carried, will leave it open to the general public to do what’ the banks are to be permitted to do. The attitude of Ministers seems to be, “Take the Bill or leave it; you will get no further information;” and if one kicks up a row about the matter he gets less information. The Prime Minister could very easily dispose of my question if he would only tell me whether he has any idea as to the amount the Government propose to cash, other than the £6,000,000 which he says in one speech the banks are going to make available, although he comes here now and tells us that they will not provide it for that particular purpose.
– I was not anxious to take part in this discussion at such an unearthly hour, but in my parliamentary experience, which has not been very long, I have never before seen a Committee ofthe House in such a hopeless fog. Ministers may laugh and joke over their own blunders, but it is obvious that they are trying to explain away their own explanations. A curious position has been created by the different statements made by the Prime Minister. He has denied his own statements. In moving the second reading of the Bill he quoted from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 22nd November, as reported in Hansard, page 623, thefollowing statement : -
The Prime Minister announced last night -
– What have I denied?
– The right honorable gentleman has denied having made that statement.
-I have not.
– The right honorable gentleman now denies his own denial.
– I did not deny making that statement. I tried in answer to a question to explain the position.
– We do not wish to put any one in an awkward position. Will the Prime Minister now admit that in moving the second reading of the Bill he made this statement? I quote from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 22nd November -
The Prime Minister announced last night that arrangements had been completed with the banks tofind the sum of £6,000,000 for the payment of the war gratuity in cash to the following classes : -
– Why not whistle it?
– Will the Prime Minister stand by that statement and the further statement made by him in the course of the same speech -
Later still arrangements were made with a large number of employers throughout Australia to cash the bonds of their employees.
– What else are you going to do to keep the soldiers from getting the gratuity? How much longer are you on that side going to stop here acting the fool? You. have had your joke; let us get home.
– The Prime Minister has made several statements.
– I have not.
– Will he make a definite statement?
– I will not, except the definite statement that I am not going to make any more statements.
– Then the position is that this statement in Hansard stands. That being so, there can be no objection to the amendment providing that where a soldier can induce any one to buy his bond at its face value he shall be permitted to dispose of it.
– I stand by everything I said in my speech in moving the second reading of the Bill. I was asked a question on the spur of the moment just now. I did not hear the question very well, but I gave you an explanation. If it is not satisfactory I refer you to my speech in moving the second reading of the Bill. The position is there set out quite freely. Any one who wants information can find it. Those who want amusement can also find it.
– This is very amusing. The Prime Minister now stands by his speech as reported in Hansard. I am prepared to accept his latest statement, which is the very antithesis of that made by the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook).
– Nothing of the kind.
– The Minister for the Navy spoke of another £6,000,000.
– He did not.
– If those on that side are going to act the fool any longer, I am going out. You have been, at this now for thirty or forty minutes, and it is really becoming a scandal.
– It is scandalous that we cannot get a direct statement.
– A correct statement has been made.
– The Prime Minister will agree with me that it is a scandal that we cannot obtain information. Members of the Opposition have stood up here one after the other - . -
– You have, because you cannot stand up here two at a time. That is the reason.
– Ministers who are trying to explain away this matter have contradicted themselves. The Minister for the Navy has made a statement in direct opposition to that made by the Prime Minister.
– Not at all.
– According to the Minister for the Navy, there is to be another £6,000,000.
– You know that what you are saying is absolutely untrue
– The right honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and substitute for the word untrue the word “incorrect.” I call your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that the honorable member is constantly attributing to me a statement I never made, and which I have repeatedly denied. It is a wellknown rule of Parliament that the statement or denial of an honorable member must be accepted. That rule is being violated every minute that this discussion continues. I protest that when I say that I did not mention anything about an additional £6,000,000 my statement must be accepted.
– The rule, is perfectly clear, and well known to all members of Parliament, that when a statement which has been attributed to an honorable member has been denied the denial must be accepted and the accusation must not be repeated. ‘
– If the Minister for the Navy declares that he did not make the statement to which I have just referred, I shall not persist any further.
– I have protested ten times, and yet you continue repeating the assertion.
– Minis- ^ters were so tied up in regard to this matter that it was very difficult to understand what they did say. Certainly the Minister for the Navy displayed great difficulty in giving the explanation that was required of him. When we ask for information we are entitled to get something definite.
– You have got something definite.
– I am satisfied with that, but it was due to the Committee that we should know the facts. The Prime Minister now says that he is prepared to stand by the speech he made when moving the second reading of the Bill. If that is so, he can have no objection to the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). It took a great deal of inquiry and heckling to get a definite statement from Ministers. This only proves that they do not understand their own Bill.
.The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), when moving the second reading of the Bill, made one statement which appears in Hansard. Twice to-night he made a statement which is totally at variance with that which he made on the second reading. His statement to-night also will appear in Hansard, and it is the duty of the Prime Minister to withdraw one or the other. When the attention of the right honorable gentleman was drawn to his own speech, and a copy of it was handed to him to prove that his statement to-night differed entirely from that which he made in his second-reading speech, he affected to believe, and probably did believe for the moment, that some other document was being quoted. But he has since conferred with his fellow Ministers, and has made a microscopic examination of his own second-reading speech, and he ought now to be in a position to correct the statement he made to-night that the £6,000,000 to be provided by the banks was additional to the amount of £6,000,000 which, according to his second-reading speech, was to be ‘provided by the Treasury in order to- cash, the bonds in necessitous cases. The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that his statement to-night was wrong, and it would be only fair on hit; part to put the matter right at once. Surely it is reasonable for us to ask that he should say whether two amounts of £6,000,000 are to be found.
– I have not said anything of the sort.
– There are members sitting all round the chamber who know positively that the Prime Minister mentioned two amounts - the £6,000,000 to be provided by the Treasury for necessitous cases and the £6,000,000 to be provided by the banks.
– I did not.
– The honorable member did, and he knows perfectly well that he did.
– He did not.
– Order! A few moments ago I reminded the Committee of the parliamentary practice that an honorable member’s denial must be accepted. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) knows that rule, and I ask him and every other honorable member to observe it. If it is not observed we shall have a repetition of the scene enacted a little while ago when statements and denials were bandied across the chamber. Such scenes are unseemly and undignified, and degrade the institution of Parliament. I ask honorable members to accept each other’s statements, and to support the Chair in upholding the dignity of the Committee.
– As there seems to he some misunderstanding about this matter, I ask you, sir, to have uncorrected proofs Qf Hansard produced, so that we may see who is right.
– What does it matter?
– Why cannot the Prime Minister admit that he is wrong, instead of trying to make a fool of other people?
– I have just reminded the honorable member that he must accept the Prime Minister’s denial. If he desires to show that that denial i3 not correct, he will have other opportunities to do so. He certainly cannot do it now. He must accept the Prime Minis ter’s statement, and, with his long parliamentary experience, he must know that I have no power to call upon Hansard to produce a report to the Committee. The honorable member will have an opportunity at another time to put himself right by a personal explanation, or by some other means. In .the meantime I ask honorable members to assist the Chair in preserving the dignity of the Committee.
– I desire to ask you a question, Mr. Chairman.
– The honorable member has already spoken twice upon the matter before the Chair, and has thus exhausted his rights.
– But I want to make a statement.
– The honorable member will not be in order in doing so.
– I want to know what statement the Committee is to accept, seeing that so many have been made-
– Order ! The honorable member will please resume his seat.
.- It appears to me that if the Committee could only have the Ministers in attendance one at a time, while the remainder are absent from the chamber, we would be able to get along better. At any rate, it is interesting to speculate what honorable members would learn in such circumstances. One thing we certainly would be able to ascertain is that Ministers responsible for this measure are quite unable, in some cases, to furnish information which the Committee desires. For the Ministers to be under the necessity of continually running to Treasury officials for assistance indicates, at least, that they are not as fully informed as they ought to be.
– Order! The Minister concerned has already denied such an accusation, and that denial must be accepted.
– I have heard’ no denial of my assertion that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) have found it necessary to consult “Treasury officials continually in order to provide information sought by honorable members:
– Order ! The honorable member may not have heard the
Minister’s denial. The prevailing somnolence associated with the carrying on of debate at this hour of the morning may have affected him, and, for that reason, I would inform him that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) made exactly similar statements with regard to the Minister for the Navy, and that the Minister immediately denied their accuracy. The honorable member for Hume accepted the denial, and I now ask the honorable member for Angas to do the same.
– With all due deference, Mr. Chairman, I have not been asleep during this debate, and I resent the implication that I have been. I listened intently to all the honorable member for Hume had to say. He accused the Minister for the Navy of having said something concerning an amount of £12,000,000-
– Order ! The honorable member has said something with regard to the Minister in charge of the measure finding it necessary to go continually backwards and forwards in order to consult Treasury officials for the purpose of securing information. I have pointed out that the honorable member for Hume made a similar charge, which was denied, and that the honorable member accepted that denial. I now ask the honorable member to do the same, and to devote his attention to the matter before the Committee.
– I propose to do that; but I repeat–
– I rise to order. Surely this kind of thing has gone on long enough. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to confine the honorable member to the discussion of the amendment. It has not been touched upon during the past halfhour. It is about time that the ordinary parliamentary rules should be applied, and that honorable members should be restricted to the discussion of the specific matter before the Chair.
– I thank the Minister for the Navy for trying to deny me the rights and privileges which every other honorable member has enjoyed.
– But this is surely out of order. I have stated a point of order, and the honorable member continues to launch charges against me. Again he is out of order, and I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to call him to order, and make him obey the rules of Parliament.
His charge is utterly reckless, of course, but that is no reason why he should disobey every rule.
– The Minister for the Navy has asked me to interpret the rules, and administer the Standing Orders more stringently. I have permitted a certain degree of latitude to honorable members who have already spoken, because I realize that the subject is involved. Now, however, that my attention has been directed to the irrelevance of the remarks of the honorable member for Angas, I feel that I must draw the reins a little tighter. I therefore ask the honorable member, and all other honorable members to confine themselves to the matter specifically before the Chair.
– You pulled me up, sir, in regard to my statement about the Minister for the Navy going backwards and forwards to Treasury officials in order to secure information. If I may not say so in that exact manner, I will say at least that what I have already stated is the truth. I cannot get away from the evidence of my own eyesight.. I am a new member of this House, and that is all the more reason why Ministers in charge of Bills, fortified as they are by their long political experience, should be in a position to furnish information rather than be compelled to go back and forth making statements one minute, and adding to or subtracting from them the next, and so bewildering honorable members. To-night I am gaining some idea of the attributes which are necessary in order to be a Prime Minister. All one has to do, apparently, is to make a statement one minute, deny it the next, make another statement immediately afterwards–
– Order! The honorable member will please confine himself to the amendment before the Chair.
– These are insolent remarks.
– I rise to order, and ask that the Minister for the Navy be called upon to withdraw the words he has just uttered.
– If I have failed to hear words which are considered objectionable honorable members themselves are responsible. It is important that I should be able to hear all that is said, but that is impossible in present circumstances. I did not hear the statement to which objection has been taken.
If the words used by the Minister for the Navy are unparliamentary, or are offensive to any honorable member, I ask him to withdraw them.
– I heard the Minister for the Navy employ the word “insolent.” I think he also made use of the word “dog.”
– I did use the word “insolent,” but I call attention to the remarks of the honorable member concerning myself; and, in describing them, I repeat the word “insolent.” The honorable member has accused me, in effect, of general incapacity and want of knowledge. Every word he has uttered during the past ten minutes has consisted of an insolent attack upon myself, and I. ask for a withdrawal.
– The Minister has appealed for the application of the rules of this Parliament. That being so, I claim that he has no right to call me “insolent;” and if he made use of the expression “dog” in regard to myself I consider that he has still less right to do so.
– Oh, I very humbly withdraw.
– Thank you. I have discovered to-night some of the attributes requisite in a Prime Minister, but I am sorry that I have done so. From what I have seen and heard this eveningI am not surprised that the public should be losing confidence in political organizations and in some of the individuals who lead them.
– What have these observations to do with the amendment before the Chair?
– This much, sir, that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has moved an amendment which should meet all that honorable members opposite desire. Yet, statements and counter-statements have issued from the Ministers in charge of the measure, and these have bad the effect of bulldozing honorable members on this side. What with the maze of assertions and denials and denials of assertions and assertions of denials, one does not know what to believe. The Prime Minister said that this thing was a scandal, and that is the opinion honorable members on this side have of it, or they would not be penalizing themselves by remaining here until this hour of the morning trying to have the scandal cleaned up. I am stillin doubt as to who is to be the first to receive the £6,000,000 which is to be paid by the banks for these bonds.
– Order! I have extended to the honorable member greater forbearance than is usually extended to members who have been longer in Parliament. I have to direct his attention now to the fact that when it is plain to the Chair that an honorable member distinctly declines to be guided by the Chair and the rules of Parliament, the Chair is invested with certain powers to deal with repetitions of the same statements. This repetition is not necessarily a member repeating himself, but may be one member repeating what another has said. That has now been going on for some considerable time. I have no wish to apply the rule too strictly, but if there is continued repetition of the same statement, I am bound to apply it in order to preserve some semblance of order. What the honorable member was saying when I rose had already been said more than a dozen times by other members of the Committee. Neither side can gain anything by the adoption of that course. For the information of the honorable member, I may say that the Standing Orders provide that -
The Speaker or Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the House, or of the
Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition.
That has been going on for some considerable time, and I ask the honorable member not to put me in the position of having to enforce this rule.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) provides that any one who desires to cash these bonds at their face value shall be allowed to do so. That is a very reasonable proposal, and I do not know what objections the Government can raise to it. The Prime Minister in introducing the Bill said that the object of paying the gratuity in bonds was to prevent publicans, harpies, and sharpies exploiting the returned soldiers. That is an object with which I am indeed well pleased, but if the face value of the bonds is given to the returned soldiers I do not see how it can be said they will be exploited. Do the Government object to this proposal because they wish to have the returned soldiers as holders of bonds standing behind the holders of the £700,000,000 worth of bonds representing our loans? Do they think that this would lessen the chance of repudiation in the future? Is the amendment refused because the Prime Minister is scarcely likely to accept any proposal submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney ? Is that the explanation of the Ministerial objection to an amendment which would certainly meet the desires of the returned soldiers? If it were possible for them to cash their bonds at their face value, I have not the slightest doubt that many of the returned soldiers would avail themselves of the opportunity to do so. Do the Government oppose the amendment on the ground that it may lead to an undue inflation of the currency, an objection that was urged earlier in the debate? Perhaps the Committee will be given some answer to these questions. If the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) had not tried to stop me I would not have said as much as I have said, and there would not. have been so much trouble.
Question- That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Ryan’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 -
The amount of any war gratuity or interest paid or payable to any person in pursuance of this Act shall not be liable to income tax under any law of the Commonwealth or a State.
– I move -
That all the words after “The”, first occurring, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - amount of
any war gratuity, or
any interest paid or payable to any person in pursuance of section 13 of this Act shall not be liable to income tax under any law of the Commonwealth or a State, and shall not be deemed to be income for the purposes of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1919 or the War Pensions Act 1914-1916.
The effect of this amendment is to apply the exemption from income tax to bonds issued under sub-clause 3 of clause 13, but notto those issued under clause 11. The bonds to be issued by the Treasurer in accordance with clause 11 will be under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act for the purpose of this Act, and will be subject to income tax, while those under clause 13 are the war gratuity bonds, which will be free from income tax.
The second portion of the amendment exempts the gratuity from income tax when the recipients are receiving invalid, old-age, and war pensions. The measure has, therefore, been extended to cover the cases brought forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) and other honorable members.
.- In my second-reading speech, I pointed out certain hardships that would be experienced by some pensioners, and I am glad that the Government have accepted my suggestion, even though it has been modified. I realize the difficulty in defining what is income and what is capital, and I point out that while the gratuity may be recognised as income during the first year in which it is received, it may not be so regarded in the second year, when money may have been placed in the bank. Will it then be exempt? I do not want the income of the aged and infirm to be free of taxation only during the first year, and taxable in subsequent years.
– The exemption will continue.
– It is not for only one year.
– I shall be satisfied if the Minister gives me that definite assurance.
– The. Leader of the Opposition is assuming that after the first year it becomes a part of their capital.
– Exactly. I mentioned a case the other day of an elderly couple in receipt of old-age pensions of 15s. per week, who had two sons at the war for a long period. The parents of those boys would be entitled to nearly the full amount, which is estimated at approximately £130 each, or £260 for the two. As the Income Tax Act stands at present, the pension is reduced 10s. per week for every £10 of capital possessed. Under these circumstances, deserving people such as I have mentioned would be seriously affected, and provision should be made whereby the gratuity paid in such cases should not be counted as income for only the first year. I trust that the Prime Minister’s amendment will make it clear that so long as. this money is forthcoming it will not be charged as capital, but as income. Many of these old people have only a few years to live, and it is only right that we should show them every consideration. So long as the Pensions Act is administered in a proper way, there should be no reason to complain; but if we cannot give the necessary protection now, we shall have to do so when an amending Pensions Bill is under consideration. If the Government assures me that the Act will be administered in a sympathetic way, I shall be satisfied.
– Would it not be possible to frame a regulation to make the position clear?
– The matter is one which rests entirely with the Administration. I am sure that it is the opinion of honorable members generally, irrespective of the political party to which they may belong, that we should not extort blood money from these people.
– I understand that the clause as it has been redrafted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) provides that the interest earned by these gratuity bonds shall be free from income tax. Now, presumably the bonds will be taken up by the banks and private employers. Personally, I hold the opinion that the interest earned by these bonds should not be exempt from income tax save in the case of bonds held by soldiers. Certainly interest thus earned should not be free from income tax when the bonds are held by banks, private employers, and others. If necessary, I shall move an amendment upon the lines I have indicated. I believe that- before very long about £20,000,000 of these bonds will be in the hands of people other than soldiers. Exemption from income tax of the interest earned by the bonds would thus mean the exemption of more than another £1,000,000 from taxation.
– Whilst on the face of it the suggestion of the honorable member commends itself to me, there are many matters to be considered which prevent- me giving a definite pledge that I will accept it. For example, the banks will have to pay the face value of the bonds, and I am not quite clear as to the position they occupy in regard to the interest accruing upon them. Certainly we must not do’ anything which will tend to induce them not to cash the bonds as freely as they have agreed to do. But if the honorable member will leave the matter in abeyance, I promise him that I will look into it, and if I can adopt his suggestion without in any way affecting the principles of the Bill in their application to the banks and other institutions, I shall be glad to do so. But, offhand, I cannot agree to it. I must have time to consider exactly how far it will operate. I ask the honorable member to allow me to look into the matter, because- I share his opinion that it is not good business to allow interest earned by these bonds to escape the payment of income tax. He will be quite safe in leaving it in my hands.
– I think that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has made a suggestion to which the ‘Government should assent. The exemption from income tax of interest earned by gratuity bonds should be limited to bonds which .are held by soldiers. We have long departed from the principle that interest earned by war bonds should be free from income tax, and we should refuse to recognise that principle here. Any corporation or company which cashes gratuity bonds should be well content to receive 5£ per cent, interest upon the amount which it thus invests, and to know that it has rendered some aid to our returned soldiers.
– I think that Ministers must Tecognise the justice of my claim. Honorable members must know that these gratuity bonds will be operated upon by the banks.- Only the interest earned by bonds held by soldiers or their dependants ‘ should escape the payment of income tax. We have already affirmed that principle in another measure, and we cannot afford to depart from it here. We shall be negligent in our duty if we permit rich firms to escape the payment of income tax upon the interest earned by gratuity bonds. Will the Prime Minister accept the amendment which I have indicated ? If not, I move -
That the amendment bc amended by the addition of the following proviso: - “ Provided that interest on gratuity bonds held by any person not being a returned soldier or his dependant shall be subject to income tax.”
– I have stated the position, and cannot say anything further.
– All honorable members know my attitude concerning Government bonds in relation to income tax, but I want them to consider carefully the proposal now before the Committee. I thought the chief anxiety was to get cash for the soldiers, but if these non-negotiable bonds have to be bought at their face value subject to income tax, I am afraid the position will be somewhat jeopardized, for I can go down to the Stock Exchange and buy 1927, and even 1923 and 1925, war bonds at £94 15s. free of income tax.
– Five and a half per cent, bonds?
– No, 4$ per cent. But I think 5 per cent, bonds may alSO be had at the same rate. It must he remembered, too, that the war bonds are negotiable, so that if the amendment now before the Committee be carried the result will be to tighten up the position and make it more difficult to obtain cash for the returned soldiers.
– The Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) has just put up the plea that if anything is done to affect the gilt-edged appearance of these securities, they will be accepted at a discount, and therefore the position of the returned soldier holding bonds will not be quite so good. Are we to understand the Minister’s statement as another contribution to Ministerial opinion upon this important subject? Throughout the debate successive Ministers have been in charge of the measure, and not one of them has taken the trouble to have the necessary information available for the Committee. The Minister who has just sat down takes it for granted that this new issue of paper is going on to the market, and again I ask if the £6,000,000 to be taken up by the banks will be utilized by the Government to provide cash for the necessitous cases mentioned in clause 13. The banks will get these bonds at 5i .per cent., and the exemption will probably represent another 2-i per cent., so, taking into account the incidence of the income tax, they will represent about 7£ or 8 per cent.
– Is the interjection to be regarded as another Ministerial version of this difficult problem? Long before the Bill was drafted many speeches were made on the subject of the soldier’s gratuity, and as a set-off to the smallness of the amount, it was stated that . the gratuity would be free from income tax. But no one expected that an advantage, primarily intended for returned soldiers, would ultimately be reaped by the banks and other institutions that may cash the bends. If we intend to make this giltedged security available to the banks and other people, we ought to be honest about the matter.
– Remember that they are short-dated bonds.
– In the end they might be long-dated bonds, for no one seems to know what is going to happen. I estimate the bonds will be equal to an S per cent, investment, and I object to financial institutions getting, per medium of the ‘returned soldiers, something which was not intended for them. The Minister who has just resumed his seat appears to be anxious that nothing should be done by this Committee to remove the exemption provisions because, he says, it is likely to discount the face value of the bonds.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The Minister will have another opportunity of making a statement on this subject if he so desires. His is not the first statement in regard to this matter that has been made, repeated, and denied. I support the amendment suggested.
.I support the view expressed by the honorable member for “Wannon (Mr. Rodgers). A benefit, designed for the soldiers, should not be enjoyed by somebody else. With regard to the statement made by the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), it is very probable that any person or institution not committed to take up these bonds at their face value would not be quite so ready to do so if the interest on the bonds were subject to income tax. We have to remember that a large number of employers are under no obligation to take the bonds, and I am rather glad, because I have no desire to see the bonds indiscriminately cashed. If the amendment is carried, it will limit the number of bonds which will be cashed, by employers other than those already under an obligation. .
– I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), and am glad to. see the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) also supporting it. In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), it will probably be carried, but I confess that I was somewhat surprised that the Prime Minister took the view of it that he did. I am rather pleased that he did. take that view, because the freedom of the interest on these bonds from income tax could not be of any benefit to the soldiers, as there would not be any income tax due on the amount of income receivable by them on their bonds. The only advantage that would accrue would go to those into whose hands the bonds got, such as the banks, that would have £6,000,000 worth, or those large employers of labour who are committed to redeem them in cash. I am confident that the carrying of the amendment will be a great shock to some of those capitalists who were figuring on paying face value for the bonds, with the idea that they would be able to get a return of 5J per cent, free of income tax. Up to the present the war loans have been issued at only ii per cent, free of income tax, and it would be a distinct advantage to the financial institutions if they could get 5£ per cent, on the same conditions. I am glad the amendment has been moved, and that it is getting support from the quarter that it is.
Mr.LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [4.17 a.m.]. - I strongly support the amendment to provide that the exemption from income tax should apply only to the interest drawn by soldiers, and not to that drawn by anybody else into whose hands the bonds may fall. I absolutely object to Shylock getting his pound of flesh out of this transaction. There was a good deal of talk about the patriotism of the financial institutions, and the sacrifices they were prepared to make in the interests of their country during the war, in order that the soldier might be able to receive his gratuity. . It seems to me, in the light that we are getting as the debate on this subject proceeds, that it is going to be a gratuity to the banking institutions more than to the soldiers. Why is the exemption from income tax included at all? As the. honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) points out, I take it that about £200 will be the largest gratuity that any individual soldier will be paid, and the income from that amount will be about £10 10s. per annum. Where, then, does the income tax come in? But when the bonds accumulate into an amount of £6,000,000, the income tax exemption begins to work. I understand, from the latest statement made by one of the Ministers, that the only institutions or individuals who will be allowed to cash the bonds or get hold of them will be the banks. I suppose they will take £6,000,000 worth, and in twelve months’ time, after the cash has circulated through the ordinary channels of commerce and come back to them, they will lend the same £6,000,000 out again, and will then have £12,000,000 worth of bonds. In spite of the smiles that I see on the other side, the fact remains that the banks, by means of the circulation of £1,000,000, can get hold of £12,000,000 worth of these bonds. The whole thing turns out to be altogether different from what we thought it was, and from what the people were told at election time that it would be.
– It is a gratuity to make a banker’s holiday.
– Or to increase a banker’s bank balance. I wish to register my emphatic protest against the right of the individual soldier to freedom from income tax being transferred with the bonds to financial or other institutions. The Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) said that anybody could buy war bonds at 94^ or 95, free of income tax. If we make the interest on the gratuity bonds subject to income tax when they are transferred from the hands of the soldiers into other hands, the implication, from what the Minister said, is that the banking institutions, or whomever else the Government depend upon to cash bonds, will refuse to cash them. Apparently, then, we are getting right down to the mercenary spirit of commercialism, and the vaunted patriotism of these institutions is thrown to the winds. It was a good thing for the purpose of camouflaging the issue, and useful when the general outline of the Bill was being propounded. It served to throw dust in the eyes of the electors, but when it comes down to bedrock, and they have to pay the price, their patriotism goes by the board, and the good old precepts of commercialism are strictly adhered to by those who are here in the interests of the capitalistic institutions.
. -On the second or third War Loan Bill, the present Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) joined with myself and others in the endeavour to provide that the interest on the loan should be subject to income tax, because otherwise the burden of taxation would not be equitably borne by all sections of the community. We are all anxious to make the interest on these bonds free of income tax for the soldiers, but the soldiers would be paying tax at the lower rate, which would not be more than 5d. or 5£d. in the £1. It would be a very different matter if the bonds fell into the hands of people or institutions paying 6s. or 7s. in the £1. This was pointed out by Sir John Grice two or three months after the Minister and myself had fought the matter out on the floor of this chamber. We were accused of being fool financiers, but when other people took it up they were hailed as heaven-born financiers. We have no right to give to any section of the community an advantage over others. I trust the Government will see that the exemption from income tax, Federal and State, is given only to the soldiers, and not to others who may acquire the bonds. There are some people who pay income tax, Federal and State together, at the rate of at least 10s. in the £1. It would be most inequitable to allow them to draw the interest on these bonds free of income taxation.
– Yet our friends opposite laughed when I mentioned 8 per cent.
– It was all argued out before, and honorable members must all know that freedom from income tax would give a far greater advantage to men with large than to men with small incomes. Persons who pay nearly 10s. in the £1 now, if they acquired gratuity bonds from their employees returning from the war, would be placed in a superior position, because they would’ obtain from ten to twenty times the amount of exemption that the soldier would obtain. Surely the Committee does not intend to bring about that state of affairs?
– If you make available a better security, as the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) should know, you will depreciate the value of existing stock.
– Of course. I shall be sorry if the Government do not see their way to accept the amendment. It would be a serious thing if £20,000,000 worth of gratuity bonds were exempted from income tax when in the hands of the general taxpayer, because that would . mean a loss of revenue of over £1,000,000 a year. The Government and Parliament cannot afford to throw away that sum, and, I am sure, have no intention of doing so. If the Government oppose the amendment, I ask them to substitute something in its place, because we ought not to allow big institutions to escape income taxation.
. - A matter that is being overlooked is the compact between the Government and the banks.
– What evidence is there of such a compact?
– We have been informed repeatedly by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that thebanks have come to the assistance of the Government in regard to the gratuity by offering to advance £6,000,000 for the purpose of cash payments for 51/4 per cent. bonds. Then there is the position of the employers to be considered.
– We have just heard one of them speak on the question.
– I wish they would all show the same generosity as he is showing. We cannot get away from the fact that there is a compact with the employers. Then, again there is the statement of the Governments of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria that they will pay cash for the bonds of their returned soldier employees.
– But the State Governments do not pay income tax to the Commonwealth Government.
– South Australia would have cheerfully followed the example of the three States that I have mentioned had not the present financial stringency rendered it impossible for her to do so. It must be remembered- that the £6,000,000 which is to be advanced by the banks will be withdrawn from the working capital of this country, which is shrinking to a serious degree. The banks which are advancing the money to the Government at 5£ per cent. could easily let it out for the assistance of private enterprises at 61/2 per cent., and capital is badly wanted by the public. What is proposed not only breaks an arrangement with the banks and the employers, but also would be detrimental to the development of this country. To-day the Imperial Government is giving at least 51/2 per cent. for borrowed money.
– Six per cent. for the last money borrowed.
– If honorable members give careful consideration to the whole subject, they will stand by the arrangement that has been made between the Commonwealth Government, the banks, the private employers, and the State Governments.
– I should like to know, in view of the remarks of the last speaker, whether a compact has been made with the banks in regard to this £6,000,000 loan, and if the Government have entered into a contract or an honorable understanding under which the gratuity bonds will be transferred to the banks at 51/4 per cent. interest free of income taxation? If Ministers have made such an arrangement without the sanction of Parliament, they have exceeded their authority, and in the interest of justice should be prepared to break their contract with the banks as readily as by the Bill they have broken their contract with the returned soldiers.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Fenton’s amendment on Mr. Hughes’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 (Regulations).
– I move -
That the following proviso be added to the clause: - “Provided that the prescribed authority hereinbefore mentioned shall include not less than two returned soldiers’ and sailors’ representatives who shall be selected by the members of the returned soldiers’ and sailors’ organizations of the Commonwealth.”
When the Repatriation Bills were before this House I submitted a similar proposal. I think the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was on the other side of the world at the time. My idea is that soldiers and sailors should be represented on the prescribed authority - that they should have in matters concerning them the same representation that industrial organizations have on any board dealing with matters in which the unions are concerned. The Prime Minister has already announced that three persons will constitute the prescribed authority, but in the belief that this body will be something like the Repatriation Commission I seek to provide that at least two of the persons constituting it shall be elected by the returned soldiers or sailors.
– The soldiers are to have one representative on the Repatriation Commission.
– The Prime Minister overlooks my previous statement that I moved to have two members of the Repatriation Commission chosen by the returned soldiers and sailors. When that amendment was moved the Government would not consent to the delegates being selected by the men themselves, but said that they would nominate certain returned soldiers. My view is that the men themselves should elect their representatives on the
Board, which is to be the “ prescribed authority.” I have moved for the appointment of two, but if the Government will consent to embody in the Bill the principle for which I am contending, I am willing to waive my request for two members of the Board to be selected by the representatives of the men themselves, and to agree to only one being so appointed.
– The arrangements in regard to this matter were made between the executive of the Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League and myself on behalf of the Government. It was agreed that there should be one representative of the League on the “ prescribed authority,” and that the other two should be appointed by the Government. The honorable member is asking that the League shall select its own representative.
– Not the League. I understand there are several organizations of returned soldiers in the Commonwealth and a number of soldiers who do not belong to any organization.
– Ican hardly believe that the honorable member is serious. I propose to deal with the only organization in existence which gives me an opportunity to meet the representatives of - I do not say all the soldiers - but the majority of them. I know no better way of giving the soldiers representation than through the League. That is what I propose to do. The League will select their man and we shall appoint him. If that is what the honorable member wants, I shall give him my assurance that that is what the Government will do.
– I do not desire that the selection shall be restricted to the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League. I maybe wrong, but I am under the impression that the majority of the returned sailors and soldiers are outside that organization. I am informed that there are several organizations in the various States. That is the position in Victoria and New South Wales, and if the returned sailors and soldiers desire to select a man to represent them, there should bo no difficulty in the way of these organizations meeting for that purpose.
– I shall offer no objection to that. If the soldiers and sailors like to do that, it will please me very well.
– My amendment would provide for that, whereas the Prime Minister’s agreement is specifically made with the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League.
– And rightly so.
– That is because, perhaps, the honorable member belongs to it.
– So does practically every soldier.
– What is its membership?
– Roughly speaking, 150,000.
– That includes every man who took the League’s badge when he landed, and has never paid into the League since then.
– The honorable member seems to have a lot of outside knowledge about the League. It is a pity he is not inside it.
– I am in this House, and that is what the honorable member does not like. The Prime Minister will understand, even if the honable member for Ballarat (Mr. Kerby) does not, that the principle I wish to embody in this measure is that the returned sailors and soldiers if they wish shall select their own representatives. The various organizations could come together in conference, or appoint delegates, for that purpose.
– If by some arrangement mutually satisfactory to themselves all the organizations could agree, I should have no right to be dissatisfied. Clearly we should then have a representative of all the soldiers in all the organizations.
– Will the Prime Minister agree to incorporate this amendment in the Bill?
– Then I must press my amendment.
– This is another case in which the proposals of the Prime Minister (Mr.
Hughes) were reported in very definite terms. The right honorable gentleman, accompanied by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) and a special representative of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, went to Wollongong during the election campaign, and addressed two meetings. It is reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 21st November last that -
In the evening he was escorted by a band to the Crown Picture Theatre, where he addressed an overflowing audience of over 3,000 people. . . Asked if officers or “diggers” would fill the soldier positions on the Gratuity Board–
– Order! The honorable member is now departing from the question immediately before the Chair.
– I am dealing with a pledge which the Prime Minister gave, and which is directly associated with the question now before the Chair. The report continues -
Mr. Hughes said that the positions would be given to the best men, whether officers or “diggers,” and the diggers would have a say in their appointment.
On the following day he addressed a meeting of soldiers at Wollongong, and emphasized this point. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 22nd November last, it is reported that -
Prior to leaving by motor for Sydney this morning, Mr. Hughes addressed a meeting of returned soldiers in the School of Arts.
At this meeting he dealt with the question of making available the sum of £10,000,000 by May, 1921, and referred to cases of distress which would be dealt with by the Gratuity Board. The report continues -
A Voice. - How will you pay the £10,000,000 to be made available in May, 1921 ?
– We will pay widows and mothers and sick soldiers in cash. Then, perhaps, the men could be taken in order, the 1914 men first, the 1915 men next, and so on. There must be some order just as you came home, but I am perfectly willing to leave that to the League or to the men. ‘ ‘
That was his statement to the soldiers. Now we are told that the soldiers are to have one representative.
– That was the understanding with the League, and I am standing by it.
– It is a pity that the right honorable gentleman did not maintain that attitude throughout his election speeches. At Wollongong, where he was speaking in support of one of his supporters whose seat was being hotly contested, his first proposal in regard to representation was made more liberal; now he says he will stick to his earlier statement. It is a pity that he did not maintain some consistency in his promises to the soldiers.
– There is practically only one returned soldiers’ organization that has any considerable numerical strength. There are several other organizations without any Federal constitution, and if we are to wait until a representative is chosen by the whole of these organizations, it will be hard to say when the prescribed authority can be appointed. The Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia represents 50 per cent. of the returned soldiers, and it is undoubtedly the body from which their representative should be chosen. Even if the whole of the associations are brought together at a conference, the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia will have the preponderance of voting strength, and its representative must be chosen. Therefore, it would be a waste of time to hold such a meeting as was suggested by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine). I interjected a few moments ago that all those soldiers who counted were members of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia. I did not apply that remark to the men themselves; I meant that that organization was the only one that counted with the great bulk of the men.
– The statement of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Kerby) was not quite accurate. Some very good soldiers are not members of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia, because of the unjust rule of would-be dictators who were in official positions, and from which they were ultimately violently removed. The suggestion made in the amendment I com mend to the Prime Minister’s consideration. I introduced a deputation to-day to a Minister representing the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and it was suggested that a real representative of the soldiers might be chosen by ballot, the soldiers using their discharges as the old electoral rights were used; thus all soldiers, irrespective of whether they belonged to the stronger or the weaker organizations, would have power to choose their representative. Another suggestion I make is that, as a soldier can hardly be expected to understand all the minutiae pertaining to naval service, any more than a sailor can be expected to understand all the minutiae pertaining to the life and calling of a soldier, Cabinet should consider whether it cannot appoint to the Board two men - one to represent the soldiers, and the other to represent the sailors. By so doing a better result would be obtained than by having one representative of the two services.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Considine’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 15a. (1) Notwithstanding anything in the last preceding section, any member of the Forces may lodge, or may authorize the Treasurer on his behalf to lodge, with any approved company, as security for any sum payable by him in respect of any shares in that company, any Treasury bonds issued to him in pursuance of this Act. and may authorize the Treasurer on his behalf to pay to any approved company byway of payment in respect of any shares in that company, any money payable to him in cash in pursuance of this Act.
– Does the latter part of the clause mean that returned soldiers may use their bonds only for the purpose of joining a company made up entirely of returned soldiers ?
– No, there is nothing to stop them from joining any company.
– But they can do so by making use of their bonds for the purpose. If this clause restricts the use of bonds solely to association with com panies formed among soldiers themselves it will be doing an unjust thing. I will cite as an example the case of a hundred returned men who are engaged in farming operations in a Mallee district of Victoria. They are a fine community, and have been exceptionally successful. They live in a locality in which cooperative organizations are flourishingly carried on, and they may naturally desire to join such organizations. Will they be prevented from making use of their bonds in doing so? I know of another community of returned men who are engaged in fruit growing. Throughout the fruitgrowing district cool stores have been erected, or are being constructed, on cooperative lines, among the fruit-growers themselves. Are the returned soldiers to be prevented from employing their bonds in order to identify themselves cooperatively with fruit-growers around them?
– There is nothing in this Bill to prevent any soldier or any number of soldiers from becoming interested in any company or companies, apart altogether from those which are covered by the proposed new clause, providing that the returned men are able to get the banks to accept their bonds as collateral security. Let us assume that 100 soldiers, working in community, possess bonds averaging in value £50. They may desire to invest half the amount of the accumulated value in a neighbouring co-operative organization. If they take their bonds to the bank, and explain that they desire to secure shares, the bank will in the ordinary, course, consider whether or not it can accept the security offered. There is nothing to prevent such a procedure, seeing that the banks can accept the bonds.
– Is that provided anywhere in this Bill?
– I do not say that it is provided in the Bill, but the banks may accept these bonds as collateral security.
– Has an agreement to that effect been made with the banks?
– The banks may, if they choose, advance money on these bonds as collateral security, and the regulations under this Bill may prescribe the conditions upon which that may be done. If it is desired to follow out the suggestion completely and allow returned soldiers to invest their bonds in any way they please that cannot be permitted. Very careful provision is made to prevent returned soldiers being victimized. I remind the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) how difficult it is to draw the line. The cases to which he has referred are cases to which no exception could be taken. It would be a very good thing to encourage returned soldiers to invest in such enterprises as he has mentioned, but if they are free to invest as they please, other proposals each less desirable than the one preceding, might be made until we came to palpable and open victimization of the soldier, and we must protect him against that. Therefore, the regulations will prescribe the conditions under which these bonds may be utilized for this purpose, either by way of collateral security or in any other way, but they cannot be used for their face value for any other purpose than that provided for in the Bill.
– If what I have suggested is not provided for in the Bill, I ask the Prime Minister whether, if a group of soldiers situated as I have indicated made a joint request to the Treasurer to be permitted to invest their bonds in the way I have mentioned, would consideration be given “ to such a request?
Proposed new clause agreed to.
.I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 15aa. (1) The prescribed authority shall compile a schedule of corporate bodies and persons who have undertaken to pay cash to an employee who enlisted from their service in exchange for their gratuity bonds.
Any such corporate bodies and persons shall accept such gratuity bonds and provide a cash equivalent to an employee who enlisted from their service.
Any corporate body or person included in the schedule mentioned in sub-section (1) failing to comply with sub-section (2) shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.”
The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has stated on numerous occasions that numbers of employers gave him an under taking that they would cash gratuity bonds for their employees. It is perfectly true that the Government could frame regulations to permit of that being done where employers desire to give effect to their undertaking. But if certain employers do not desire to do so, there is no means provided by the Bill to compel them to carry out their undertaking. I do not propose now to read the list of 150 employers in New South Wales who gave this undertaking, but it includes all the big employers of that State, and may be found at page865 and following pages of Hansard of 25th March. Unless a clause such as that I have moved is inserted in the Bill, many of the employers will refuse to carry out what they have undertaken to do. They were electioneering, as well as the Prime Minister; they did not want a Labour Government returned, and they were stampeded into giving this public undertaking to their employees in order to assist the Prime Minister in his election campaign. It is only fair now that we should compel them to make good their publicly-given undertaking.
We know that various employers undertook that their employees who enlisted would, on their return to Australia, be re-employed by them; but evidence has been supplied in this Chamber that certain employers have refused to re-employ men to whom this promise was made. The Prime Minister said that he would pillory such an employer, but no action has been taken against them. In one case that came under my notice, the winner of a V.C. was refused re-employment by ; a previous employer on his return to Australia. By submitting this clause, I give the Government a last opportunity of giving effect to a serious undertaking made between the Prime Minister and the great employers of New South Wales. We have had the testimony of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) that a similar undertaking was given in Victoria, and no doubt employers in the other States agreed to the same thing. The Committee will have an opportunity on this clause to compel the employers to do the fair thing and honour their publiclyexpressed undertaking.
Question - That the proposed new clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
– I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the recon sideration of clauses 2, 3, and 4.
My reason for moving for the recommittal of the Bill is for the purpose of having these clauses amended to extend the class of persons to whom the gratuity should be payable. I desire to include all members of the mercantile marine engaged in the war zone or employed in the transport of foodstuffs, munitions, or other commodities for war purposes. Also to provide for the payment to dependants of persons who died in camp, as well as to certain other persons who were designated more particularly by honorable members on this side when speaking on the second reading. I submit that it is desirable that the Bill should be amended to make provision for such persons as I have enumerated, and also for raising the amount from1s. to1s. 6d. per diem in one particular case. I trust the House will agree to the recommittal of the Bill for these purposes, and I submit that the Committee will have power, if this course is adopted, to make amendments of the nature I am suggesting in connexion with these particular clauses. A Bill of this character must be founded on a message from the Governor-General under section 56 of the Constitution. I do not propose to keep honorable members very long, but I desire to obtain a decision on what I consider an important matter. Section 56 of the Constitution provides -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
The message from the Governor-General in connexion with this message, and on which it was founded, was presented to the House on 17th March. The message is in broad and general terms, and it is as follows : -
This is in wide and general terms, and that message was dealt with in Committee on Friday, the 19th March, when it was resolved on the motion of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) after debate -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to the payment of the war gratuity.
On the House resuming after the resolution had been carried, the Prime Minister moved, pursuant to a contingent notice -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
That resolution was adopted by the House.
– It could not have been done in Committee.
– The resolution was adopted by the House’, and a motion carried to this effect -
That Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
The Governor-General, in pursuance of section 56 of the Constitution, sent a message to this House in broad, general terms, which was adopted in Committee, and reported to, and affirmed by the House. The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy prepared a Bill which was in accordance with their views as to how provision should be made for the payment of the gratuity. Now I contend that when a recommendation is received from the Governor-General in such broad, general terms, the power resides in the Committee or in the House to move amendments such as I have indicated. In support of my contention I desire to refer you, sir, to page 532 of the 10th edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice, where you will find the following: -
No Increase of Sums demanded on behalf of the Grown. - As is subsequently explained (see page 580), the constitutional principles which vests in the Crown the sole responsibility of incurring national expenditure, forbids an increase by the Commons of a sum demanded on behalf of the Crown for the service of the State. This principle, however, is apparently disregarded when the recommendation of the Crown is given to a resolution empowering the expenditure of public money which, framed in general terms, places no limitation on the amount of expenditure to bo authorized by tin resolution. As the resolution sanctions, without any specific limitation, the application of money to Iks provided by Parliament to certain purposes, when that clause in a Bill founded upon such a resolution are before the Committee, the freedom of action sanctioned by that resolution can be exercised. The Committee is not bound by the terms of the provisions which the Ministers of the Crown’ have inserted in the Bill, whatever may be the cost resulting therefrom, so long as the power conferred by the Royal recommendation is not exceeded. Acting on this principle, when, in 1812, a Committee was considering a message from the Prince Regent recommending, in general terms, provision .to bc made for the family of Mr. Spencer Perceval, amendments were permitted for increasing the provision proposed by the Ministers; and this practice has been supported by rulings from the Chair, though, on the last occasion, not without remarks which deserve careful consideration.
I have shown to the House that there will be ample power in Committee to make amendments to the particular clauses to which I have alluded. I cannot refer to the happenings in Committee, but I have pointed out that when we reach that stage we shall have ample ‘ power to make amendments of the nature I have indicated. Every honorable member will agree with me that it is of the utmost importance that the representatives of the people should be afforded an opportunity of saying whether or not certain classes of persons shall be included in the category of those who are entitled to receive the war gratuity. The message from the Governor-General allows us that latitude. If we have not that latitude-
– Is the honorable member asking for a ruling on this matter ?
– No. I am merely giving reasons why the House should carry my motion for a recommittal of the Bill.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know whether the honorable member, under cover of a motion to recommit the Bill, may proceed to traverse a ruling that. has been given by the Chairman of Committees? It is a most unusual procedure, and really what my honorable friend is attempting to do by a side wind he might very properly do in ways which are laid down in the procedure of this House. The Bill has been through Committee, where it was decided that the clause which the honorable member wishes to reconsider could not be debated.
– But Mr. Speaker does not know what took place in Committee.
– I am quite aware of that. I am also aware of the fact that for the last quarter of an hour thehonorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan)’ has been informing Mr. Speaker of what took place in Committee. Every honorable member knows that that is his specific object in moving this motion. I submit that the honorable member cannot camouflage his objective in that way. There was a straightforward course for him to take in Committee. He did not take it, and he is now attempting to do in the House what he neglected to do in Committee. He is seeking to make you, sir, acquainted with the proceedings in Committee with a view to getting a direction from you which will practically override the decision of the Chairman df Committees. I submit that the honorable member may now proceed only to give reasons why certain clauses should be recommitted, having regard to matters which are relevant to those clauses, and not to a ruling which has been given in Committee concerning them.
– So far, I am officially unaware of any proceedings in Committee.
An Honorable Member. - That is one up against the Minister for the Navy.
– I would remind honorable members that it is a gross breach of courtesy, as well as a breach of our Standing Orders, to interrupt the Speaker when he is on his feet, andmore particularly when he is dealing with a point of order. I repeat that, so far, I am officially unaware of any proceedings which took place in Committee. All that I have before me at the present time is a motion by the honorable member for West Sydney for a recommittal of the Bill for the purpose of further considering certain clauses which he has specified. Until the Minister for the Navy intervened with a point of order, he was stating reasons why he considered the measure should be recommitted, and so far he has made no reference to any ruling which took place in Committee or to any proceedings there. It is for the House to decide whether the Bill should be recommitted or not. The motion itself is in order, and I am not concerned at present with anything else.
– When I was interrupted I was stating reasons why honorable members should consent to a recommittal of the measure. I was endeavouring to show that when the Bill is again referred to the Committee we shall have ample power to make the necessary amendments which are indicated.
– If the honorable member is not traversing the ruling of the Chairman of Committees I do not know what he is doing.
– I have made no suggestion regarding what happened in Committee. I have merely said that there were certain happenings there. If an important matter arose in Committee involving a decision as to the power of the Committee to adopt certain amendments, the proper course to follow would be to refer the matter to Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member wanted these clauses recommitted because he thought the Committee would have power to deal with them.
– No. We have the power to make the alterations; and I am suggesting that they should be made.
– Then may I ask the honorable member another question? Has the Chairman of Committees already decided that in Committee we have not that power?
– I am not allowed to give that information to the House. The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that if I attempted to say what had happened in Committee I would be transgressing the Standing Orders of this House, and you, Mr. Speaker, would very properly pull me up. I say, however, that if an important question of this sort arose in Committee, I should think the proper course would be for the Chairman of Committees to refer it to the Speaker, and that some means should be found whereby the final decision should rest with you, sir. However, all this is beside the point. The real substance of the matter is this: I believe that large numbers of persons, at present excluded from the provisions of the Bill, are just as much entitled to the gratuity as those who are provided for in the clauses which I desire to have recommitted. I particularly refer to the seamen, and to those persons mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), and by other honorable members, who moved amendments from this side of the House; but I do not want to. refer to them in detail at this stage.
– I must ask the honorable member not to revive any proceedings in Committee.
– If I did so, itwas done quite inadvertently, Mr. Speaker. I hope we shall leave no stone unturned in an important matter like this to endeavour to have incorporated in the Bill, by whatever forms our procedure will allow, amendments of the nature I have indicated. This can only be done by a recommittal of the Bill.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I think it very desirable that on an important matter of our parliamentary procedure the position should be made perfectly clear, otherwise the proceedings in Committee may be reduced to a nullity, so far as concerns the governance of the Committee by the decision of the Chairman. You may have no official knowledge of what has happened in Committee, but throughout the whole of his speech the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) endeavoured to prove that if we carry his motion and go into Committee we shall be able to do this, that, and the other thing. Why should this be the subject of a discussion at all at this particular stage ? The more we consider the matter the clearer it becomes that the honorable member is trying, by means of this motion, to get through a ruling of the Chairman of Committees, which prevented him from discussing this subject in Committee.
– You are trying to get round the decision of the Speaker.
– I am not. What I am endeavouring to do is to prevent honorable members opposite from getting round a very important rule and principle of parliamentary procedure. If by this means we are going to circumvent or override the decision of the Chairman of Committees, I submit that a very serious situation must arise, and the sooner our procedure is amended, the better it will be for all concerned.
– Do you mean to say that we cannot recommit a Bill? It has been done hundreds of times in this House.
– Of course, the House can recommit a measure, but only, I submit, for the reconsideration of certain clauses with a view to their amendment, and whenthat proposed amendment is clearly within the scope of the Committee. In this case, the Chairman of Committees has ruled that it is not within the power of the Committee to make an amendment.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman is referring to something that has taken place in Committee, and I have already ruled that that must not be done.
– Then, Mr. Speaker, I ask, on the motion for the re committal of certain specific clauses, should not the argument be mainly directed to the question whether, when we get into Committee, the Committee will have authority to consider those clauses? Surely this should have been the commencing assumption of the argument by the honorable member for West Sydney ?
– You are now canvassing the ruling of the Speaker.
– I am not; but I candidly confess I am trying to prevent an honorable member from circumventing a decision of the Chairman of Committees.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order! I have called to order several times, and interjections immediately follow. I shall name honorable members who persist in ignoring the call of the Chair to order.
– I am only referring to the power of the Committee to do certain things.
– Is this your point of order?
– Order! I am waiting to hear the point of order stated, and I must again ask honorable members not to interrupt the right honorable the Minister.
– My point of order is that the honorable member for West Sydney may not, on a motion to recommit certain clauses of a Bill that has emerged from Committee, refer to any matter that is not relevant to the consideration of the clauses in Committee. For the last fifteen minutes he has said nothing whatever as to the clauses he desires to have recommitted, the necessity for their amendment, or as to the power of the Committee over those clauses.
– The honorable member for West Sydney was stating his case for the recommittal of the clauses.
– The honorable member for West Sydney put his reasons for desiring to amend the clauses in one minute, and the rest of his speech was occupied by an attempt to show that the Committee had power to amend the clauses, when, as a matter of fact, every honorable member in the House knows what the ruling of the Chairman of Committees was in regard to amendments. .
Honorable members having risen to speak,
– I am quite prepared to give my ruling upon the point of order. There seems to he some obscurity in the minds of some honorable members in regard to the motion before the Chair. There can be no doubt that this House has the right to decide whether certain clauses in a Bill shall be recommitted. The merits of the arguments of the honorable member for West Sydney in support of his motion, so long as they did .not refer to the proceedings in Committee, are matters for the judgment of the House, as long as they were within the scope of allowable debate. A motion for recommittal may be moved without assigning any reasons. The honorable member stated that in his opinion certain things can be done, and desires that the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of considering certain clauses. I arn not asked to decide whether those things can be done. Proceedings in Committee are subject to the control of the ‘Chairman, although the Speaker can, if necessary, be appealed to in certain circumstances. lt will be for the Chairman .of Committees to deal with that question of order if the House decides to recommit the Bill. The only motion that I have before me is that the Bill be recommitted for the consideration of clauses 2, 3, and 4.
– The reason the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) gives, is that the Committee has power to deal with the matter, and that he believes it is necessary to deal with it. Judging by the time he spent on his argument, his strong ground apparently was that the Committee had power to deal with it. I submit that the Committee has no such power, and for that reason it. is useless to recommit the Bill. The Committee, in its deliberations, will be guided by the practice of this Parliament, which has been settled by Mr. Speaker Holder, a gentleman of the highest reputation and integrity, and thoroughly versed in constitutional pro cedure’. In the ruling he gave on the 1st August, 1907, he traversed statements similar to those made just now by the honorable member. In the first place the Bill upon which the matter was decided was introduced by message from the Governor-General in general, and not in specific, terms, and the procedure followed was exactly as the honorable member has described. Mr. Speaker Holder stated that -
The message having been considered in Committee, it was determined that the appropriation should be made. Permission was given to certain members of the Government to prepare and bring in the Bill. The Bill was brought in, therefore, in pursuance of the decision of the Committee. When it was brought in, it provided that certain bounties should, be payable upon certain items -
Just as this Bill provided that certain gratuities should be paid to certain persons under certain conditions. Mr. Speaker Holder added -
I rule now that no amendment can be introduced which would enable any bounty to be payable in respect of any item which is not already provided for in the Schedule.
The report in the Votes and Proceedings also states that no amendment could be introduced which would have the effect of increasing any bounty. Then a rather ingenious suggestion was made by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Crouch). I only mention this now because the honorable member for West Sydney spoke of a Governor-General’s message being brought up at any stage. Mr. Crouch suggested that the Bill might go into Committee, that the schedule might be altered, and the Bill reported to the House, and that the Government might then bring down another GovernorGeneral’s message to cover the amendments. Thereupon Mr. Speaker Holder said : -
Such a course as that suggested by the’ honorable and learned member is not forbidden under our Standing Orders, but. we have never followed it. Whenever any message has recommended an appropriation, that message has been at once referred to the Committee; and has been dealt with in what I conceive to bc the constitutional way. I should not like .to give authority to follow any such course as the honorable and learned member for Corio has suggested.
The practice of our own Parliament has, I submit, decided the question.
– That argument might well be directed to the Chairman of Committees.
– The honorable member’s argument might just as well have been. The honorable member preferred to address it to the House, and I am following his example.
– If the Chairman of Committees gives a decision on the lines which the honorable member suggests, then I have some way of getting to the Speaker. There must be some way.
– I do not want to refer to what took place in Committee, but the matter has been fully considered, the Bill has been before the House for a considerable time, the House knows its mind on the subject, and in the circumstances the House should decide that the recommittal should not take place.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted (Mr. Ryan’s motion) - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative. Report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I regret exceedingly that the Bill which is leaving the House is a mere skeleton, whose frame will have to be filled in with regulations. I hope, nevertheless, that it may accomplish the desired object. I regret also that the soldiers will not receive the gratuity in cash, because the money would have had to be found had the war continued. This will stand to our everlasting disgrace. I trust that the Ministry will make arrangements elsewhere to provide that those taking bonds from soldiers will not enjoy a remission of taxation upon the interest from them. We all desire that the soldiers shall draw this interest free of taxation, but it is not fair that employers or financial institutions which give cash in exchange for bonds should profit through the remission of taxation on the interest. If the Government can tighten up the Bill in this respect in another place, their action will, I think, meet with general approval.
– There is just this to be said on the subject of interest: The banks are advancing to us £6,000,000 at the rate of51/4 per cent., although this money, if otherwise employed, could earn 7 per cent. or 8 per cent.
– I am surprised that the Minister for the Navy has introduced a controversial subject at this late hour of the sitting. If we allow the interest earned by gratuity bonds held by banks and big firms to escape taxation, we shall be making an invidious distinction between one set of citizens and another. The House has already affirmed the righteous principle that the interest on money lent to the Government should be subject to income taxation. By remitting the income taxation on the interest earned by the war gratuity bonds held by others than soldiers, the Government will be losing revenue which the country greatly needs. I hope, therefore, that, in another place, an amendment will be moved on behalf of the Government which will impose taxation on the interest from these bonds when they are held by others than soldiers.
– As an old banker, I feel sure that there will be an accumulation of these bonds in our financial institutions. The remission of income taxation upon the interest of bonds in thehands of the soldiers amounts to nothing at all, because the tax paid in any individualcase wouldbe so very small. The big employers and financial institutions, however, have to pay taxation at a much higher rate per £1, and by letting them draw the interest on the gratuity bonds free of taxation, the Government will be losing a very large amount of revenue. The plea has been advanced that the banks haveacted nobly in this matter. I will allow that they have, though it must be recognised that had they not come to the assistance of the Government, our credit might have collapsed, and in that case they would have suffered. I remember the crash that followed upon the boom in Victoria. Sad there then been in existence an institution like the Commonwealth Bank, there would not have been that disaster. When that happened, houses which had been rented at £1 a week did not bring in more than1s. a week. I ask the Government to amend the Bill in another place, so that interest drawn on these war gratuity bonds, when held by employers or financial institutions, may be subject to income taxation. It is to be remembered that these bonds will form a gilt-edged security. Five and a quarter per cent. is a high rate of interest even in these times, for a security guaranteed not only by a Government, but by the only Government in the world that is backed up by the possession of a continent. No institution or capitalist should benefit by accumulating these bonds, which are the gift of the nation to men who risked their lives in its service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following paper was presented: -
Commercial Activities Act - Sugar RegulationsStatutory Rules 1920, No. 54.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 14th April.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like honorable members who are interested in this matter to look up Hansard of the 1st August, 1907, where they will find a decision by Mr. Speaker Holder regarding the alteration of the destination of a vote.
– The honorable member may not, on the motion for the adjournment, discuss a matter which has been the subject of debate, and has been decided by the House.
– It will do honorable members good toread the ruling, anyhow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 6.15 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 March 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200331_reps_8_91/>.