8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– (By leave). - In accordance with my intimation of last week, I propose to make a brief statement of the intentions of the Government regarding the business to be transacted by Parliament between now and the arrival in Melbourne of the Prince of Wales. The War Gratuity Bill and the Repatriation Bill have first to be dealt with, and I hope will be disposed of without delay, and there will then follow the motion foreshadowed in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, thanking the members of the Naval and Military Forces for their services during the late war. Other measures to be passed are a Bill to amend the Navigation Act, a Bill to establish a Bureau of Science and Industry, and a Bill to ratify tho agreement with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The Government must also obtain Supply; and we prefer to do this by getting rid of the Estimates for the current year. It is proposed, therefore, to allot a period for their discussion. In this connexion, honorable members are informed thatthe Acting Treasurer will be in a position to deliver his Budget speech in August next, and that, therefore, although the. Estimates for this year are being dealt with at the end of the year, those for next year will be presented in good time. If wecannot get the Estimates for this year passed before the Prince comes, we shall have to bring down a Supply Bill.
In order to get through the business that I have outlined, it will be necessary, I think, for the House to sit on Tuesdays, and I shall therefore move that we meet on Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
As to the length of the adjournment for the Prince’s visit, we think that it will be sufficient if Parliament adjourns for the period that the Prince will spend in
Victoria and in New SouthWales. We shall endeavour to so arrange business while he is in the other States, and to give such pairs, as will enable the representatives of those States to be absent without interfering with business or disturbing the equilibrium of parties.
.- (By leave.) - A Bill to amend the Navigation Act is an urgent measure, because the Act should be brought into force as soon as possible, in order that our navigation laws may be right up to date. I believe that the Senate passed an amending Bill, which would have done all that was needed, but. it did not get through thisHouse. I do not think: there is urgency for the Bureau of Science and Industry. Bill, a measure whichhasbeen brought forward more than once during the last two or three years. I do not know whether it is intended to rush this through before the proposed adjournment. As to the ratification of the agreement with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, I would remark that honorable members on both sides - particularly those of the Labour party - regard with suspicion agreements with oil companies, because of the “ cornering” that has been practised by the Standard Oil Company of America, the most notorious Combine in the world, and similar organizations. It may be, however, that the agreement will free us to some extent from the tentacles of that company. But to ask us to rush through all the measures that have been mentioned is to ask us to pass more legislation than we shall have a fair opportunity of discussing. The Prime Minister says that the Budget will be delivered in August; but we know that the discussion of the Estimates will not necessarily follow immediately. It has been the practice of late years to pass the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill soon after the Budget has been delivered, so that there may be no delay in proceeding with public works, but - especially during the war - we have not had an opportunity to discuss the Treasurer’s proposals until a great deal of the money we have been asked to vote has been spent. I shall be very glad if the Acting Treasurer does introduce a new era, and give us an opportunity to discuss the Estimates shortly after the delivery of the Budget.
SirGRANVILLE EYRIE (North Sydney - Acting Minister for Defence) [3.9]. - Itold the House duringa recent debate that further investigation would he made into the record of Gunner Yates. Of course, I realize that it is due to any man who went to the Front that he should have an opportunity of clearing himself,or being cleared, ofany imputation upon his services. I realize that aman’s record in thegreat war is very dear to him ;at anyrate, Iknow that my record is very dear to me, and if any imputations were made against it Ishould beone to make a terrible fuss. Atall events, I set about devising the best means for having an impartial inquiry into the whole businessof Gunner Yates’ service. After consultationwith the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and with theapproval ofthe Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), Ihave decided to have an investigation of this character:the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) toappointone man fromhis side of the House,while Iappoint a man from the Government side. It had been in my mind to appoint a militaryman, but, on the suggestionof an honorable memberthismorning, I thought that, perhaps, it might be more acceptable to honorable members oppositeif I appointeda non-military man. My only wish isto afford an opportunity for an impartialinquiry. The two men thusappointed, I suggest,shall mutually agree upon a chairman fromoutside, who, I insist, Shall be a military officer of the rank of major or higher. It isonly f air-atall events, it is only proper - that a military man shouldbechairman of this tribunal. I didnotentertainthe proposalputforwardby someone on theOppositionside that thereshouldbeaSelectCommittee, for that isacumbersomemethod,entailing expensein bringing forward witnessesto giveevidence.Underthe circumstances, Ithinkthat a smallCommittee such asI suggest wouldfully answer thepurpose.
Mr.James Page. - Willthe Committee beallowed tocallevidence?
SirGRANVILLERYRIE. -The Committeewillhaveaccess toall the records of the Department -asmuchaccess as I can give it.
– No; a militarymanknows the channels through which to makeinquiries, and through which he can obtainall military records. Theremust be a military manat the head of thisCommittee.
– There might be a military mantoassist the chairman.
– No; the chairman should be amilitaryman.
– Leave the militaryout altogether.
– I cannot agree to that. I think I am makinga fair proposal, and I ask the Leader of the Opposition(Mr.Tudor) toaccept it as the best thatcan bedone with a view to establishing Gunner Yates’ record - to establishing what he has claimed. I do not know whether that claim is rightor wrong, but an inquiry should be made by an impartial tribunal,and I think theone I suggest willappeal to honorable members onboth sides.
Mr.Makin.- Will thetribunalbe able tosummon Gunner Yatesand others connected with the case?
-Thatwill be left totheCommittee. Of course, the Committee cannot summon people togive evidence, for that is the business ofa Select Committee.
– That means that if a man chooses he may decline to giveevidence.
SirGRANVILLE RYRIE- Let the Committee obtain information where and from whom they like, andin this theywill have the assistance of the Department and the staff in furnishing the records.
-That is a fair “go”!
-. - Ihope thematter willnot be debated, orany question be raised inregard to it,butthat the Leader of the Opposition will accept the proposal.
Mr.Tudor. -Youdo not expect me to name my manto-day ?
– The Leaderof the Opposition may take hisowntime.
Remarks by Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Has the Prime Minister read the remarks of Mr. Justice Higgins, in which the learned Judge stated that the Government were appointing an illegal tribunal, which, in his opinion, would come into conflict with the functions of the Arbitration Court? If the Prime Minister has read those remarks, has he any statement to make regarding the matter?
– Yes, I did see a report of His Honour’s remarks in one of the morning newspapers. I noted with very great regret that His Honour adopted the same tone in yesterday’s proceedings that he did in the proceedings last week - a tone which, in my opinion, is quite improper, and would be strongly resented-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that no reflection can be made on a Judge except on a motion of which due notice has been given.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is making a reply in answer to a question. I ask the right honorable gentleman to refrain from making personal reflections.
– I do not mind whether I answer the question or not; but, if I am asked a question, I shall answer it my own way.
Honorable Members. - Order !
– The Prime Minister cannot do that.
– The Prime Minister knows that he is perfectly entitled to answer the question, but in doing so he must conform to the rules of the House.
– What is the point of order?
– The Prime Minister is perfectly entitled to answer the question, but in doing so I ask him to refrain, as far as possible, from reflecting on the Judges of the Courts, whose conduct can only be debated on a specific motion.
– I am not reflecting on the Judges at all. Are you, sir - the custodian of the rights and privileges of the House - to sit still while persons reflect on a member of the House, and a member who occupies the position of the head of the Government. Am I not to be allowed, when answering a question, to at least say something? If that be the case, I will not say anything here, but will say it where I please.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), without notice, whether he is aware that there is a section of the community, wellmeaning though hard-hearted, which considers that all frailties are crimes? If so, will the Prime Minister, under the War Precautions Act, stop the press from printing incidents of the Prince of Wales’ journey through New Zealand? I mean such incidents as that His Royal Highness has won two bets at a race meeting. I consider that the press and many sycophants are not giving the Prince a chance; and I desire the press to be suppressed - prevented from printing comments on the frailties of the Prince in going to race meetings, dancing with pretty girls, and so forth.
Question not replied to.
– I would like to know what are the prospects of the Trade and Customs and Excise report for 1918-19 being laid upon the table within the next couple of months, in order that honorable members may peruse it before the Tariff is brought forward for consideration.
– I will endeavour to see that the report is laid upon the table within the period mentioned.
Anzac Hand-weaving Industry.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The necessity of assisting the returned soldiers and sailors in obtaining a full supply of good yarn from the Government or other mills, in order to make the Anzac hand-weaving industry a success.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- Honorable members will sympathize with me that we should now be going into the third year since I first took up this matter. They will agree, too, I hope, that if I were to show some heat in stating my case to-day there would be reasonable excuse, seeing that, instead of some ten or twelve men being employed to-day in the Anzac hand-weaving industry - just as there were at the end of 1917 - there should now be an infinitely greater number so engaged. My recommendation, which I hope honorable members will support, is that yarn should be supplied to every returned soldier or sailor who is willing to go in for handWeaving, and that branches of the industry should be opened in every city or large centre of population. I propose to quote copies of letters which have passed between returned men engaged in the industry and the Minister for Repatriation. In New South Wales, those concerned with hand-weaving have always had a square deal and a fair wage; their pensions have never been tampered with. In Victoria they have never had a square deal, and their pensions have been reduced. In Scotland, at present, returned soldiers and sailors are being given a squarer deal than those in Victoria. I will first read a letter forwarded to me on the 25th November, 1917 -
I hereby request that you will kindly give Audience to a deputation of returned soldiers to-morrow, Monday, the 26th inst., at 10 a.m., at your office in Elizabeth-street. There are twelve of us, all returned soldiers, engaged in the manufacture of hand-woven tweeds Under the supervision of the State War Council.
We requested the Repatriation authorities (Senator Millen) to grant us an increase in pay to enable us to combat the high cost of living, and to eventually repatriate us to allow our forming a co-operative concern and start in business on our own account. I have copies of all communications between both parties, which I will put before you. All of our requests have been refused; therefore, the grounds for our complaints. The majority of us are married men.
Honorable members will perceive that the men wanted to make their industry a co-operative concern, such as could be brought about to-day, thanks to the Country party having succeeded with its momentous amendment to the Repatriation Bill in the course of consideration of that measure last Friday. In the letter to the Minister for Repatriation, which I will now quote, the men employed in hand-weaving remind the Minister of the allowance which they were receiving, and they point out that, if they were in receipt of a war pension, the amount drawable was. deducted from their allowance. In New South Wales, the circumstances were different. Fortunately, the men similarly engaged there were under the Red Cross Association. They received an allowance for three months, and then were paid 2s. per. yard as the tweed left the loom. The letter to the Minister is as follows: -
We, the undersigned, respectfully beg that the Honorable the Minister for Repatriation will give consideration to our application, particulars of which are set down hereunder.
We are engaged in the manufacture of handwoven tweed under the supervision of the State War Council, and are in receipt of an allowance at the present time which is as under -
For a single man, £2 2s. per week.
For a married man, £2 12s. per week, with an additional 3s. 6d. per child per week.
If in receipt- of a war pension, the- amount drawable is deducted from the allowance.
This scheme is self-supporting, and at present employs twelve returned soldiers, and when each was working a hand loom we would approximately turn out 72 yards of cloth per day, which is sold at the present time for an average of 15s. per yard.
We request that the State War Council supply each of us with a loom and pay us at the rate of 2s. per yard for the manufacture instead of the allowance as at present.
The undermentioned is the profit, &c, which the Repatriation Fund would be in receipt of when the twelve looms were at work in accordance with our request: - Cost of manufacture per yard - Wool, per lb., 3s., equals 1 yard; scouring and darning, 6d., equals 1 yard; wastage, per yard, Id.; wear and tear, 2d.; weaving, 2s. (the price which we request) ; cartage, 3d., on wool and material; total cost, 6s., of finished cloth; sales on average, 15s. yard; profit per yard, 9s. on finished cloth. Each man would average 6 yards.
For twelve men, 72 yards daily at 9s. yard, £32 8s. daily profit.
For twelve men, for week of five and a half days, £178 4s. weekly profit.
For twelve men, per annum, £9,266 8s. per annum.
Total expenditure per annum (all expenses), £6,177 12s. per annum.
Annual turnover, £15,444.
We have the demand from two firms alone, which are prepared to take as much of the material as we can turn out.
We also request that on your decision, should it favour our requests, an amount of the profit be placed in a trust fund to finance us .to the extent of £100 per head - in. all £1,200 - to enable, us to proceed with arrangements at all early date to co-operate and commence in the business on our- own account.
Trusting- you will give your kind- consideration to our. requests.
Following is the answer from the Department, signed by the Comptroller, Mr. Lockyer, dated 9th November, 1917: - ‘
In response to letter of the 4th inst., addressed to the Minister; and signed by yourself and eleven other returned soldiers engaged in hand weaving, please inform your comrades that inquiries are being made regarding their representations, and you will be informed later on of the. result.
Then the men received a further departmental communication, as follows, dated 23rd November, 1917: -
In reply to letter of the 4th inst., signed by yourself and eleven other returned soldiers engaged at the- Hand-weaving School at Carlton, I am desired to advise you that after inquiry it is- not considered desirable that the present conditions of employment should be altered. Yours faithfully,
Honorable members will see that, these men did all they . could in the matter. The Department was made aware o,f what had happened in New South Wales, where the returned soldiers were treated as men. Since that time, the Victorians engaged in hand-weaving have, been fighting for fair play. If their proposition had been accepted, there would have been now employed, instead of some’ twelve or fifteen men, fully 1,000, who would have been earning at least £5 5s. a week. I have had .the pleasure, of investigating the Red Cross .hand-weaving industry for the manufacture of hand-woven tweeds and homespuns. There is not one man who has worked at the hand looms in Melbourne but who regrets that control was taken from the State War Council. The officials of that council were most considerate and helpful to them, but since the matter has come under the control of the Repatriation Department and Senator Millen, I regret that the position has been quite the reverse. ‘ With the Red Cross weaving industry in New South Wales things have been altogether different. I have a letter with me dated 1917, stating that the men in the. industry there worked -for three months on an allowance, and then went on to piece-work at the rate of 2s. per yard, whether they were proficient or not. In Victoria, every man who enters the industry produces something of value from the very first day. There are at present thirty-five men engaged in hand weaving in Sydney, and, each, is earning £5 5s. a week, and returning good value for his money, payment being .based upon 2s. per yard as the cloth leaves the. loom. In New South Wales there are experts at hand weaving who could earn £10 10s. per week, but it is held by the governing body that it is better to employ two returned soldiers- at £5 5s. per week than one man at £10 10s. per- week. In Sydney the men engaged in the industry are supplied with morning- tea, a good luncheon, and afternoon tea ; and they are not deprived of the paltry little pensions they are receiving. Everything’ is quite the opposite in Victoria. Here the pensions of ‘the men engaged1 in hand weaving were taken from them, and the Minister for Repatriation was unkind enough to say that samples of their output- were not exhibited in Queen’s Hall along with other products of returned soldiers because there were no injured or- sick- men engaged in hand weaving. Had the Minister gone through the building in which the industry is conducted he would have seen that some of the men were without -limbs.
– Who pays for the afternoon tea supplied to the men in Sydney?
– It is provided by the Red Cross Society there. I only wish that the men in Melbourne- were under the Red Cross.
Accompanied by Mr. Prendergast, Leader of the Opposition in. the Victorian Legislative Assembly, I interviewed Mr. Lockyer. We went into the matter thoroughly, but the same old argument was used: that although these men might learn the trade, machinery would in a little while wipe it out, and deprive then of a living. Against that statement we have the offer of . Messrs. Buckley and Nunn Limited to take every yard of tweed that these men can make for five years at 15s. a yard. I am wearing a suit of clothes made from Anzac tweed three years ago, which, has. been cleaned five times. Honorable members can see that the handwoven cloth of the returned soldiers is holding its- own against the imported rubbish which has been used to line it. I must say that Mr. Lockyer was most sympathetic, but I cannot, for the life of me, understand - unless it was the influence of the man at the top - why he did not allow the men in Melbourne to have the same opportunity as’ the men in Sydney have. He was most courteous, and went into the matter thoroughly, and if we were unable to persuade him, it was the misfortune of Mr. Prendergast and myself. At any rate, we left his presence knowing that we had met a man. .
Some honorable members will recall that I exhibited in the House some yarn sent from the Government Woollen Mills to these unfortunate returned soldiers to be made up into tweed. I pointed out that it was worse than shoddy, which, as we all know, is an admixture of cotton and wool. ‘There was no cotton in this yarn, but the wool was of such a short staple that it was absolutely unfit to make up into cloth. I untwisted some of it in the House. It was so short in staple that it would fall to pieces. Accompanied by another honorable member I went to Senator Millen and showed him the yarn, untwisting it in his presence. He said, “ This . must be stopped.” Will.honorable members believe me when I say that it was not stopped? I commend the bravery of Sergeant Sinclair, who .stood up against the Minister and refused to make up that vile yarn. Where is he now? He has been eliminated, or sacked. Let honorable members call it what they like. But if it had not been for his efforts, there would have been no hand-weaving in Melbourne. Honorable members may recall the noble work that the Melbourne Age did in connexion with this matter. Week after week its columns showed up the infamous way in which the industry was being treated. Yet nothing could be done. By and by a little amelioration was granted. The Repatriation Department allowed the men 2s. at the loom; but they wanted the tweed to be measured after being shrunk. Woollen cloth such as this ‘ shrinks from onequarter to one- third of a yard. Yet this wonderful Department wanted the tweed to be measured after it had passed through the shrinking vat. I venture to say that ally one who knows anything about weaving will know that, the money paid to the weaver is on the cloth as it leaves the loom. However, that abomination was ultimately got over, and now the men can earn fair wages. The factory was closed for two days as a protest against the manner in which Sergeant Sinclair was treated. There are three gentlemen in Melbourne whose names I could give who are prepared to support the industry if Sergeant Sinclair can do anything for the returned soldiers; but I think he is too disgusted with his treatment. His heart is broken; and he certainly needs a long rest after the fight he has put up. Why is it done ? I have with me a piece of the real Blighty tweed, as manufactured at Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. The men who are engaged in making this tweed were earning from £3 to £5 10s. per week at the time I received certain communications with reference to it, but they are now earning up to £7 per week, working eight hours a day. Just to show that there is no truth in the assertion that there will be no call for this hand-woven tweed with machinery competing, let me mention the fact that Burberry, the greatest maker of overcoats in the world, has offered to. take this Blighty tweed for ten years at a certain price.
– As a matter of fact, hand-woven tweeds have come in again, and are -now holding their own against mill-woven tweeds.
– The Blighty tweed is ‘27 inches wide; that -is three-quarters width. It was purchased at Home at 10s. lid. per yard, and sold- here at £1 per yard. Possibly the freight and duty would amount to 5s. per yard. In Mel- bourne the Anzac tweed, which certainly looks much better , than the Blighty tweed, is sold at 15s. per yard for double width. For a while honorable members and others were permitted to buy suit lengths at 15s. per yard; I was the means of selling over £150 worth of the Anzac tweed at that price, and there is not one man or woman who bought the material but would purchase another length. The Blighty tweed, being of narrow width, i.s sold to the public in lengths of 7 yards and S yards. I showed our Treasurer (Mr. Watt), a keen business man, how the Anzac tweed could be produced at 7s. 6d. per yard, and he asked why could not the public get .the cloth at 10s. per yard. I am still asking the same question. 1 would submit the following recommendation : Afcer paying good wages, the cloth should be sold as follows: - By the roll at 25 per cent, profit to warehouses and tailors; in suit lengths at 10s. 6d. per yard to the tailors; and at lis. per yard to the public ; all yarn supplied to be of good order and quality.
Thank goodness, the Red Cross in Sydney arc independent of the Minister for Repatriation. They have’ not to beg for Australian yarn to be woven into Australian tweeds by men. who fought and bled for us at the Front. Only 500 lbs. weight of yarn is supplied weekly to the Anzac industry in Victoria. If it is impossible to increase that allowance while the output from the Government mill remains, as at present, at 16,000 lbs. per week, let double shifts be worked. I am sure the workmen would be only too glad to work overtime, if necessary, to help their brothers in. this industry. I have here two samples of the cloth made by the Department at a cost of 4s. 4d. per yard double width, and it is certainly very good. . Unfortunately, in -the arrangement made for makin? this tweed into suits for returned soldiers, no provision was made for quarter and half size suits. Thus, if I desired to obtain a pair of trousers, I should have to select one made for a man 6 ft. high, and have them altered. By making quarter-size and half-size suits, there would be no difficulty in- fitting men short and wide like myself. This cloth was supplied to the factories at 4s. 6d. per yard, and tenders were accepted for the making of suits for returned soldiers at prices ranging from 22s. 6d. to 30s. each. Here is an offer that I have received from a reputable firm to supply suits direct to the public if this material were obtainable by them at 4s. 6d. per yard - 13th October, 1919.
To Dr. W. Malone.v, M.P.,
Dear Sir - Re our conversation regarding the manufacture of clothing from the Government mill tweed, I am prepared to be able to supply direct to the public, if it were possible to get supplied with the tweed, and the price was as stated, i.e., 4s. 6d. per yard, at the following prices to-day: - -ReAdy-made suits, in four grades. - Grade I., 42s. Grade II., 45s. Grade III., 51s. Grade IV., 60s.
Order suits, in three grades. - Grade I., 60s. Grade II., 69s. Grade III., 82s.
Dr. Maloney. 1 can submit, for the benefit of those interested, samples of each of these grades. The output from the factory to-day would be 500 suits weekly, which could be increased as desired. Regarding the distribution of same, I have several suggestions that I would like to submit to you personally, and with my experience, I am sure would prove to be a great benefit to the public.
I am out to help the public who are paying for the war, and who provide the salary of the Governor-General, as well as my own. I thought this was such a good offer, following as it did upon a remark made by the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), “Why cannot the public obtain this tweed at a fair increase?” that I addressed the following letter on the subject to Senator Russell: - 15th October, 1919.
Dear Friend - Enclosed is copy from a reputable firm. I have also other oilers. I would be thankful if you can decide, for the benefit of the whole of the public, if the Government mill can and will supply the cloth of equal quality to that lately supplied for the making of suits for our returned soldiers.
If the suits were made from superior cloth, they would be equally reasonable, the difference being the price between 4s. 6d. and that charged for the superior cloth at the mills.
If the government of Australia were placed in the hands of a born organizer like Ford, of motor car fame, with instructions that he should make it a national community, I am sure he would not allow millions of pounds weight of greasy wool to be sent out of the country, as it is at present, when it could be scoured here and made into tweed. I am informed that when Messrs. Foy and Gibson were making cloth for women’s costumes at 3s. 6d. per yard, and turning out an article which so to speak “ knocked spots “ off anything that Flinders Lane had to offer at the same price, pressure was brought to bear - T am speaking subject to correction - and the factory was taken over under a military ordinance to make up cloth for the soldiers.
Tenders were invited by the Government for the distribution, of cloth manufactured at the Government Woollen Mills, Geelong, to discharged returned soldiers, and it was stipulated that -
The only persons entitled to order suit lengths under the contract shall be returned soldiers and nurses who were on active service outside Australia, and who were members of the Australian Imperial Force, -and were not discharged therefrom for disciplinary reasons.
The Department also invited tenders for the purchase of certain articles, and among the tenders received was the following: - Caps - forage, khaki, and felt, 5d. each. I believe they cost at the lowest 3s. 9d. each. Curtains, caps, khaki, 2d. each; hats- felt, fur, Imperial pattern, part worn, 2s. 3d. each; helmets - khaki, part worn. 2s. 3d. each; pockets for gas masks, 1/2 d. each; puggarees - khaki, part worn, 6£d each; ribbons for hats, Army Medical Corps, and ribbons for submarine miners’ hats, Id. each; wire for caps, S.D., 1 1/2 d. each. I believe that the Government accepted even lower prices for these articles. The Department also offered for sale short lengths of cloth and flannel, and received among other tenders one in which the following prices were offered: - Cloth, blue, No. 3, 56 inches wide, 10s. per yard; cloth, scarlet, No. 2 and No. 3~ 56 inches wide; cloth, white, No. 2, 56 inches wide, and serge, blue, No. 1, 58 inches wide, 10s. per yard; dungaree, blue, 27J inches wide, ls. 6d.. per yard; drab, Melton cloth, thick, 66 inches wide, and cloth, drab mixture, W.P., 56 inches wide, 10s. per yard; flannel, light-weight, 9 ounces, in short lengths, and 8 ounces, in short lengths, ls, 6d. per yard. I do not know whether this tender was successful, but I hope that the Government obtained slightly better prices.
The question arises -as to what it would cost to set up one of our returned soldiers in the Anzac tweed industry. A working loom in 1917 COSt £20, and an> expert weaver employed in connexion with the Working Men’s Col’ege advises me that a good hand-power loom can be obtained to-day for £30 From the 1st December last to the 1st April of this year the Anzac Tweed Trust showed a profit of £602, or 27.21 per cent, on the turnover of £2,214. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in illustrating how the consumer is suffering through the activities of the profiteer, mentioned woollens manufactured in Geelong and sold at a profit by the mills at 12s. a yard. I am informed that the mills supply the warehouses with tweed at from 7s. to 8s. 6d. per yard. A clergyman, who knew what he was talking about, spoke on a public platform in Geelong in regard to this matter. I was accused by Mr. Williamson, chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures, “of having made a misstatement, but the assertions made by the reverend gentleman to whom I have referred bore out what I had said. Have not honorable members heard of tweed manufactured in Geelong at 8s. 6d. per yard sent into the warehouse in Flinders-lane and sold at from 21s. to 25s. per yard?
Extension of time granted.
– No; but if the honorable member cares to go to Geelong I will give him the address of my informant. If he cannot obtain the information then, I shall be prepared to devote half a day to assisting him in further in-‘ quities.
– I think the honorable member ought to obtain the information.
– As the honorable member has more means than I have, and is connected with “the Lane” which is being attacked, it is his duty to go to Geelong and make the inquiries.
– I have inquired everywhere, and I cannot sheet home the charge.
– I have mentioned my authority, and as he is a relative of Mr. Watt, I would rather believe his statement than the honorable member’s hearsay.
– The honorable member makes a statement, but he cannot substantiate it. All he can say is that a clergyman said certain things. He does not know those things of his own knowledge. I am in sympathy with the honorable member, but I wish to be fair.
– Of course, I did not buy the tweed, and if I had bought it I had not the power to send it into a warehouse in Flinders-lane and then sell it to retailers in Geelong at an increased price. Will the honorable member say that every yard of cloth that leaves the Geelong mills and is sent into a warehouse is not sold at a greater profit than 10 per cent. ?
– I also am sympathetic with the honorable member’s desire. I have tried to discover these practices, but, like the honorable member, I cannot.
– I have discovered sufficient to satisfy me. Perhaps the honorable member has taken the trouble to read the report of the proceedings of the Fair Profits Commission last week, when Mr. Henry Allen, a director of Richard Allen and Sons Proprietary Limited, was examined in regard to the selling of tweeds. I believe Mr. Allen is a member of the City Council, and a very nice gentleman, indeed. He stated that his firm had sold tweeds by competitive tender, and he continued -
We have already done that. The surplus on the goods we offered by competitive tender realized £100 12s.1d., which amount we handed to the Melbourne Hospital, upon audit of our books by an outside firm.
). - Of course, it is your customers’ money you handed over, not yours? - It was the difference between the prices received by competitive tender and the prices we offered for the goods.
Some people might call it cheap charity? - I object to that remark.
Did not Mr. Allen state in evidence that he made a profit of 100 per cent? If he did make that profit, he is a profiteer. The Prime Minister said, “ I am out against the profiteers every time, and. will fight them tooth and claw.” I wish to the Lord he would, and I would assist him ! On the other hand, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) said, “ I consider the Defence Department is justified in obtaining the highest price for any goods it has for sale.” Could any two statements be more diametrically opposed ? No one can argue that selling cloth at 17s. per yard, which could be profitably sold at 12s. 6d. per yard, is not profiteering. Without detaining the House further, I ask honorable members to honour the men who fought for our liberties by seeing that those engaged in the Anzac hand-weaving industry get a fair deal. The man who planted the industry in Australia has been dismissed, and the factory was closed up for two days as a protest.
– Has not the Age exposed all these proceedings ?
– The Age has done noble and glorious work in this matter.
– Order ! The honorable member’s extension cf time has expired.
– I realize that the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is very earnest in his determination to do everything in his power for the returned soldier, and in that endeavour I am fully in sympathy with him. It is commendable for any honorable member to strive to find means of support for those men who have returned from war service overseas. Unfortunately, there are almost insuperable difficulties in the way of supplying an unlimited quantity of yam for the purpose of giving employment to the returned soldiers in the hand- weaving industry.
– Will the Minister state what those difficulties are?
– In the first place, the Commonwealth mill is under contract to supply the Anzac Tweed Trust with 500 lbs. of yarn per week for hand-weaving purposes.It has also contracted to supply the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League with 40,000 yards of finished tweed per month, or 480,000 yards per annum, which can be obtained by returned soldiers for civilian suits upon application to the league.
– Is the mill working more than one shift?
– The working of an extra shift has been suggested, and although the difficulties in the way of working a night shift are not insuperable, yet the manager of the mills (Mr.Robinson) contends that, ifthere is to be any night work, it should be for the purpose of enabling the mill tofulfil its present contracts. The 480,000 yards oftweed which is to be supplied to the league will absorb 70 per cent. of the total output of the mill, leaving only 30 percent. for the Navy and other GovernmentDepartments. It is considered that the mill cannot, as suggested by some honorable members, supply an unlimited quantity of yarn to these men, in order that the hand-weaving industry may assume large proportions. If extra yarn is to be made and supplied tothe men now engaged in the industry, it will have to be suppliedto others throughout Australia, and it would be impossible for the present Government mill tomake enough yarn for the purpose. Themill is being enlarged by the addition of a wing, but even that enlargement will not be more than sufficient to enable it to carry out the contracts to which I have referred.
– Will not the contract for the supply of 480,000 yards of cloth for returned soldiers and sailors come to an end soon ?
– Some of the men have already got their tweed.
– The contract is for a year. I do not know the date of its termination.
– Is there a possibility of yarn being obtained from private mills ?
– I doubt that private mills would supply yarn to thoseworking in competition with them. The Government is not putting any obstacle in the way of obtaining yarn from private sources.
– If the Government were to make representations to some private mill, surely the supply of a considerable quantity of yarn could be arranged for.
– This socalled hand-made tweed is, I think, rather a worsted ; and the contention that hand-made cloth is. superior to machinewoven cloth is erroneous.
– It brings the bigger price.
– The honorable member referred to the Burberry material, of which magnificent overcoats are made, but that is hand-woven cloth in which hand-spun yarn is used. Here the hand-woven cloth is made of machinespunyarn.
– In. “ Blighty “ to-day they are doing exactly what we are doing here.
– I do not think that the hand process produces a superior cloth, except so far as the spinning is concerned.
– The experts I have consulted are against you.
– In March, 1919, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) summoned a conference of experts, at which a member of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League attended, and the members of the Repatriation Commission were present. After an exhaustive inquiry, a report was drawn up, which embodied a strong recommendation for the discontinuance of the hand-weaving school.
– Have you read the statements of most of these men, published in the newspapers, to the effect that they did not make such a recommendation ?
– I have not.I am giving the House now information that has been supplied to me. The conference expressed the view that the hand-loom weaving enterprise should not be further undertaken by the Department of Repatriation, as it could only lead returned soldier operatives to a dead-end employment. That has been my opinion right along: At the present time, prices are high, and there is a. big demand for tweed, and a. sentiment in favour of Anzac tweed; but, in time, machine-woven tweed will displace the hand-woven tweed.
– It was said that the machine shears would entirely displace the hand shears, but there are still hundreds of men shearing by hand.
– In my opinion, these men should not be encouraged to enter an industry which will gotopieces when times become normal in. this country, because they will not be able to compete with machinery. The report to which I have referred says that the sale of the Anzac tweed was contingent, largely on two conditions, which would not obtain permanently -
Other important factors in determining the recommendation of the Commission which were elicited at the. conference were the following: -
I am informed that the hand weavers cannot finish their cloth, but must get it finished by machine processes.
– Messrs. Foy andGibson havebeen generous enough, up to the present, todo the finishing, and I believe will continue to do it.
– If handlooms were being worked all over the Commonwealth, we could not be certain of finding Foy and Gibson’s everywhere.
– Why should not the Department undertake to finish this cloth ?
– There is evidence of English authorities of unquestionable standing in the weaving trade in support of the contention -
Later, upon representations being made with regard to hand-loom weaving by the Fathers Association and the Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, the Repatriation Commission reconsidered the position of this industry, and reaffirmed its previous decision that the industry was not one that it could recommend the Department to conduct as a repatriation activity.
Extension of time granted.
– The gist of the information supplied to me is that for the next twelve months the Government mill will be kept working at its full capacity to meet its contracts, and that if the mill could supply the yarn that is asked for, it would not, in the opinion of experts, be wise to encourage the hand-weaving process.
– A lot of those statements have been contradicted.
– I have not seen the contradictions. Certainly, I think that hand-weaving is an industry which cannot be permanently successful, especially as it is dependent on Government or private mills for a supply of yarn, and produces cloth which is not finished until it has been subjected to processes of power-driven machinery. I am sorry that this is so, because I know that the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is earnest in his desire to improve the lot of the returned men.
– The statements of the Minister are refuted by one of the members of the conference to which he has referred, in a letter published in the Age on the 24th April, 1919, addressed to Mr. Gilbert, the Controller of Repatriation. The writer was Mr. A. F. Frood, and he said -
The finding of the Commission relative to the cost of running a two-set spinning plant was evidently ex parte, as the proposal to in stall a spinning plant was submitted to the Government by me after the Conference.
The last paragraph of the letter is as follows : -
I submit that the facts are against the Commission’s findings, and I ask the Minister to give the Committee an opportunity to state their case, or to give the industry a further year’s trial on the business lines we have suggested.
There is evidently a difference of opinion as to the erection of the two-set spinning machinery, and we have here a general statement that the findings of the Conference were against the facts submitted. This is very remarkable as coming from a member of the Conference. As to the shortage of yarn, the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) relies to a considerable extent on the big orders that the Commonwealth Mills at Geelong have to fill, just as though that were the only source of supply. My own opinion is that if an appeal were made to the woollen manufacturers of Australia on behalf of the returned soldiers for the supply of yarn, there would be a handsome response. Although I am an amateur in this industry, I have received some first-hand knowledge regarding it; and it fell to my lot to see the first small model of the hand-weaving machine, which was made by Sergeant Sinclair in his home at Ascot Vale; indeed, Sergeant Sinclair, on that small machine of some 18 inches square, made some cloth. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has said, that gentleman has been sent adrift, or has received some treatment which he does not consider proper. This gentleman is an exsoldier himself, with a son who fought at the Front, and he is largely responsible for the start of this industry.
– It is carried on by the Returned Soldiers Association.
– If the returned soldiers do not receive some encouragement from the Government, they will have to drop the industry.
– It is limited to ten men, and the industry cannot be extended without a proper supply of yarn.
– Without proper encouragement and assistance, such as is given the many other industries in Australia, this one must cease to exist, swamped by importations. If those who are opposed to the establishment of hand-weaving in Australia know that the Government are not behind the industry, it will have a very short life. It is not a fact that a maimed man, with one hand or one leg, cannot work the machine - that those who take part in the industry must be strong physically. Such maimed men can easily work these machines, and they ought to be given every encouragement. The question is .whether it is a proper thing to establish this industry, and allow our returned soldiers to earn a living by its means; and to that question the Government should give its straight answer, “ Yes “ or “ No.” It may happen that private individuals in the community will be called upon to financially assist these returned soldiers, and this, of course, would not be to the credit of the Repatriation Department or the Government.
– Where are we to get the yarn?
– I suggested just now that the Government might make an appeal to the woollen manufacturers of Australia. I believe that, at the present time, the Commonwealth mills are turning out 480,000 yards of tweed, or sufficient for about 150,000 suits, per annum, and are supplying 500 lbs. of yarn per week to the Anzac Trust.
– That employs seven men.
– But we are not going to stop at the employment of seven men. Additions are to be made to the woollen mills at Geelong for the purpose of supplying the increased demand, though I do not say that that includes the Anzac demands. In Victoria there are five or six private woollen mills, and if we take the total number in Australia at a dozen, I feel confident that an appeal to the proprietors for the supply of a certain percentage of the yarn for the Anzac industry would meet with a favorable response. I ask the Minister to consider favorably that suggestion. We may take it that before twelve months have expired there may be another half-a-dozen privatelyowned mills in existence. In Victoria and other States companies are being formed for the manufacture of tweeds and blankets; and it is undoubted that as the greatest wool-producing country in the world, we ought to manu- facture all our own woollens. This is an industry specially fitted for maimed or physically weak men, and it ought to be given a fair trial.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) deserves a good deal of credit, if I may be allowed to say so, for the way in which he has fought for this industry. Having carefully watched the discussion of this matter, I am bound to express the opinion that there has been a good deal of misapprehension, and a good deal of prejudice; indeed, I am afraid there has been a good deal of downright misrepresentation regarding the possibilities of hand-woven tweed in Australia. I happen to know something about the handloom weaving industry in Scotland, and although my actual experience is somewhat out of date, I have kept in touch with those interested in the trade, and feel fairly competent to say a few words regarding it. I desire, at the outset, to flatly contradict those who declare, and who have apparently informed the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie), that there is no chance of hand-woven tweed competing with the machine-made article. The actual facts are exactly the contrary. In Scotland, for many years back, the hand-woven article has not only entered the market against the mill product, but is actually gaining ground. It is only because of the limited output possible that there is not much moore of the hand-made article sold. The West Highlands of Scotland have been rehabilitated to a large extent by this industry, which is carried on in a very profitable competition with the oldestablished woollen mills of England. There is, I believe, at the present time a demand in excess of the supply of these Scottish hand-woven tweeds. A good deal of yarn used is not hand made. As a matter of fact, the hand-spun yarn is quite insufficient to meet the demands of the weavers, and, accordingly, mills have been set to work in many instances to fabricate a yarn which approximates, as nearly as machinery can do it, to the hand-spun article. The success of the woollen tweeds made from this yarn has been so great that the mills are now beginning to put on the market imitations of hand-woven tweed3. Manufacturers even go so far as to “adopt special methods by which to imitate the peculiar peaty smell of the real article, in order that simpleminded folks may be deceived by the sniff. The weaving of the tweeds is a comparatively simple matter. The hand loom is not an intricate or expensive machine, and can be manipulated by a cripple. There is only one treadle required in the case of ordinary tweed made of one uniform yarn. Although I have not seen cases myself, I am quite sure that a man who has lost the forepart of his arm and hand, could have a substitute in an artificial hand to enable him to perform the simple operation that the work requires. A man might require a natural hand to ply the shuttle, -but even in that case I am not sure that an attachment could not be supplied to enable a maimed man to do the work. At any rate, it is work that may be quite easily learned, and it is so light that I have seen quite young girls working effectively on the loom. Then there is another quality in connexion with hand-loom weaving - namely, that work can. be carried on in & shed adjacent to one’s own home. The warp has to be put on a beam .by a special machine, but it is a common sight in Scotland to see a weaver shouldering his beam home with the warp wound upon it, which, by a simple operation, can be made ready to transform into cloth. An apparatus of the kind, placed at some central point, would serve men who, by their disabilities, cannot get away from their homes. They could have their work carried to them, and so be able to earn a comfortable living at a light and very satisfactory employment. As far as price is concerned, it is quite possible that handwoven tweeds could not be turned out at as low a figure as an inferior quality of machine-made material ; but, so long as Australian hand-woven tweeds are made of a good quality, and all wool, I feel sure that the industry will be capable of indefinite .expansion, for there is something about hand-made cloths which cannot be approached by the machine-made article, and which commends them to any one desiring a suit which is at once recherche in appearance and capable of eminently satisfactory wear. The handwoven tweeds, which the Anzacs are producing, are about as good a material as a man can put on his back. It would pay the country well, and be at the same time to the credit of the Government, if they established mills to supply to the handloom weaver the yarn required for his daily work.
– In Great Britain there are spinning mills which do nothing else but spin yarn which is sold to other people.
– I have pointed out that there is such a demand for yarn for hand looms-
– And for machine looms, too-
– Quite so; but to meet the demand for yarn for hand looms a special yarn is being spun and supplied, so far as may be possible, to whomever requires it. There is no indication of the hand-loom industry dying out in Scotland. “ It has been established with success in several parts of Ireland, and seems to be gaining rather than losing ground. If we can give the in- dustry reasonable encouragement in Australia, and enable the operatives to secure yarn for their simple machines, we will not only confer an inestimable advantage upon our soldiers, but achieve something of considerable value to the country as a whole.
– The Assistant Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) states that hand-woven woollen goods are 100 years behind the times. That may be admitted; but one of the reasons why they do not want hand-woven materials - and especially Anzac tweeds - placed on the market is that the cost of manufacture exposes the enormous charges made for machinewoven materials.
– Whom do you mean by “they”?
– The Government, the Repatriation Department. Returned soldiers engaged in the industry can turn out hand-woven tweeds at their anything but up-to-date establishment for 7s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. a yard. But they are not allowed to sell for anything like thai price. Certain parties may avail themselves of the concession price of 15s. a yard; and, by the way, I believe that members of Parliament are included among those favoured individuals. But even that price is as much again as the cost of production; and the public must pay fi a yard. The fact is that they - and I still mean the Government - will not let the returned soldiers sell their output at anywhere near the cost of production.
– Are concessions made to warehouses?
– Yes; but at one stage the soldiers were compelled to sell to one house only. About the cheapest Australian machine-made woollen material costs 15s. a yard. Yet these handwoven stuffs can be produced for 8s. to Ss. 6d. a yard. Is there any wonder that efforts should be made to decry the hand-woven material and prevent the industry from expanding? In Australia, while we were manufacturing tweeds, we were not manufacturing yarn to any great extent. Since the stoppage of supplies of yarn from the Old Country a need has arisen for the more considerable manufacture of yarn, and companies have entered upon its production. Yet they cannot keep up with the demand. There are many manufacturers of woollen goods in Australia who are now considerably concerned over the new Tariff. I believe there are about fifty knitting establishments in Victoria alone, and they fear that they will be compelled to close their works because of the extra duty imposed on imported yarn. The yarn manufacturers of Australia cannot supply material, for the reason that they have already made contracts with large mills which are manufacturing their output.
– Well, let the soldiers build their own yarn mills.
– Exactly; that would hugely overcome the difficulty. There is, as a matter of fact, more .work entailed in the production of yarn than in the manufacture of woollen material itself- If the soldiers were to go in for manufacturing yarn also their profits would be enormous. I know that the Government arc in a difficulty with respect to securing yarn. The Government mill at Geelong is manufacturing tweeds practically to the limit of its capacity, in order to supply returned soldiers; and this is interfering with the production of khaki. I understand, however, that the turning out of khaki cloth is a matter which need not be pushed on with to a very considerable extent at the present moment. If the mills of Australia each supplied a portion of the yarn necessary to keep the returned soldiers going, it would not amount to a flea-bite. The progress of those mills would not be in any measure retarded.
– There are twenty-seven mills in Australia.
– I understand that that is so. The information supplied by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) is quite correct. Hand-woven tweed not only competes with the machine-woven material, but is doing so so successfully that imitation handwoven material is actually being manufactured. I have a suit of such cloth myself. It would have been wiser to encourage the Anzac hand-weaving industry in the best possible manner from the very start, namely, by promoting the hand-weaving of yarn itself, and so turning out a commodity which would be hand-woven material in every respect.
– Is it too late to put that into effect now?
– T do not think so! Two years ago, last February, I introduced a deputation to the Minister for Repatriation, when a comprehensive scheme was placed before him for the manufacture of woollen goods in order to assist in the repatriation of returned soldiers. At that time, at any rate, we could not have been interfering with vested interests, because Australia was not producing one-tenth of the woollen goods used by the population. However, all the satisfaction we received was that it would be impossible ‘ to carry out the suggestions of the deputation. It is a pity that matters should be allowed to remain as they are. The price of machine-made material to-day is so high that even if a man had no limbs, and had to turn out his tweed with the aid of artificial hands and feet, backed up by his own teeth, he could manufacture more cheaply than the machine today. The whole point is that there is a form of robbery going on. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons why the Anzac industry has been kept back is that its expansion would show the people just how they arc being robbed. Many persons, by the way, speak of Anzac hand-woven tweed as the best material produced in the world. Extravagant statements of th, kind, should not be made, since they can be easily refuted. The material is certainly all wool, and hand -woven, and it is very good; but to exaggerate* its quality is only doing the industry harm.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) upon having introduced this subject, which is one of great moment to returned men, and to Australia as a whole. The balance-sheet issued by the Anzac Trust concerning operations during the past six months shows that the working of hand-looms by returned soldiers under present conditions ran be carried on profitably. A profit of 27 per cent, was shown upon the turnover. That is so good that one might say that the men engaged in the industry are almost running a danger of being called before the Fair Prices Commission. The Assistant Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) stressed the fact that the report of the Commission appointed to deal with the matter set forth that the industry led to nowhere, and that it could last only for the matter of a couple of years. Even if that were to be the case, the Government should make every effort to have looms established for the supply of cloth during those two years. Unfortunately, there are in Victoria at present about 3,000 returned men out of employment. Numbers of these could learn handweaving in 6ix weeks to two months, and they could fully utilize all the yarn available to them. The Minister stated that the Commonwealth Mills at present were working at full capacity in the production of yarn. Some little time ago, I interviewed the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) on this subject, and suggested that he should inquire whether it was practicable to run a second shift on the spinning machinery at the Government Mill. I have not yet received any satisfaction in the matter, but that my suggestion could be carried out has been proved from another source. In Ballarat there is a mill run by private enterprise, at which the employees are at present working the spinning machinery for sixteen hours a day to provide yarn for eight hours’ weaving, and they are now making arrangements to work twentyfour hours a day in order to supply an abundance of yarn. With private enterprise willing to do this, surely the Government, in their desire to assist returned men and provide immediate employment, as well as to cut down the cost nf living, could work the Commonwealth Mills three shifts a day for the purpose of supplying sufficient yarn. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has said quite correctly that, without Government sympathy, the industry would very soon die out; but while we are obliged to pay high prices for machine-woven tweed, there is a very good” opening for hand-weaving. The industry is now employing nothing but returned soldiers, and it is capable of great expansion because there is a big demand for the tweed. In these circum-stances, it should receive every encouragement. Several honorable members have been under the impression that it is a calling in which disabled men> may be employed, but that has not been the experience of the Anzac Trust. They started out by putting men into the handweaving without one leg or one arm, but soon ascertained that men so disabled could not do the work satisfactorily. They are now employing on the hand looms only those who are physically sound.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) gave us some very interesting details about hand-weaving in Scotland. I carnie across a part of Ireland during my visit over there which, until a few years ago, was a. barren waste upon which people were unsuccessfully striving their utmost to reap a very precarious livelihood, but which is now a hive of industry. The people are exceedingly prosperous, because some genius came along to those barren hillsides and commenced the industry of hand-woven linens. Each family has its own loom, and they can weave away to their hearts’ content. They do not fight for thirty-six hours a week. The men engaged in our Anzac factory work forty hours per week, and for their labours receive an average return of £5 per week. We may not anticipate that their work will continue to be carried on at the same profit to those engaged in it, but, still, results so far indicate that when people are ready to put forth a good effort the hand looms are exceedingly- profitable to those who are working them.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) spoke of the cost of the Anzac tweed as being 8s. 6d. ‘ per yard, but I think he must have been misinformed, because the factory is paying 8s. 6d. per yard for the labour, and beyond that is obliged to pay 4s. per lb. for yarn. Its costs are some- where in the vicinity of lis. or 12s. per yard, in -spite of which the output is sold at 15s. per yard, and not, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said, £1 per yard. Any member of the public can go to the factory and select his cloth, which will be sent to him through any tailor at 15s. per yard.
– I know dozens of persons who have been obliged to go to Messrs. Buckley and Nunn’s, and have been called upon to pay 19s. per yard.
– The Anzac Trust deals direct with the public, and not through the warehouse. A report was published stating that the Repatriation Commission was unanimously against the establishment of hand looms, but later on four members of the Commission, Messrs. A. E. Fullard, manager of Foy and Gibson’s woollen mills; F. W. Lloyd, of Buckley and Nunn; D. Melvin, formerly general manager of the Ballarat Woollen Mills; and A. F. Frood, secretary of the British Empire Union, dissociated themselves from this finding, stating that the report did not express their opinions. These are four practical men with a knowledge of weaving at their fingers’ ends. They are satisfied that if encouragement is given to the industry, it will become permanent and profitable.
The establishment of hand-weaving should prove a very profitable occupation for the surplus labour of country districts during slack periods. For that reason alone, I think the industry should be encouraged in every way. All honorable members are in favour of decentralization as far ae possible, and are not anxious to establish huge factories, which will draw people into the cities, and away . from country districts. I impress on the Government the advisability of making the fullest inquiries into the possibility of working the spinning machinery at the Government mills for twenty-four hours a day if necessary in order to cope with the demand, and give the biggest supplies of yarn possible, not only for the Anzac Trust in Melbourne, but also for other Trusts that may he started in country centres for the purpose of establishing hand-weaving factories.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is to be congratulated upon bringing this matter forward, and giving honorable members the opportunity of expressing their views upon it. I cannot speak with any experience of weaving wool, but I have had experience of working up other animal products, in which the hand can always beat the machine, ana turn out a better article at certain stages in the process of manufacture. It may be that we are putting the hands of the clock back in advocating hand work in place of the use of machinery, but it is quite possible that the strain on the spun yarn may not be so great with the hand looms. Any one who has seen machine weaving must recognise that there is considerable strain on the fibre of the spun yarn. I candidly admit that I have not sufficient knowledge to know whether the hand-made or the machinemade article is the better. If those who have the requisite knowledge declare that the .machine-made article is the better, we are not entitled to provide a pound of yarn for these men to continue their work; if, on the other hand, a supply of the yarn is of advantage to returned soldiers, it is the duty of the Government to give them a fair deal.
– Some people prefer hand-woven tweed.
– It is in a class by itself. There is always a demand for it.
– Yes; some people prefer the hand-made article, exactly the same as there is always a demand for the hand-sewn boot. I understand that the spinning machines in the mills are graded to avoid strain on the yarn as it is wound on the bobbins. Any one who has visited a spinning mill, and seen the yarn winding round a bobbin will have noticed that the diameter of the bobbin is about half-an-inch when they start to wind the yarn on it, and gradually increases to about 4 or 5 inches when it is fully wound. We have several mills in Victoria making yarn for hosiery. I am not sure what alterations would be necessary for making yarn for cloth, but there is one thing the Commonwealth Parliament must not neglect, and that is to see that, as far as possible, we make in Australia what can be used in Australia. Instead of sending our wool overseas, and bringing it back again in the shape of underwear, hosiery, jerseys, and cloth, we should see that all the wool which can be used in Australia is made up here. I recognise that there have been difficulties in regard to securing adequate machinery, but now that many of the factories in the Old Country, which were used for making munitions, have reverted to their pre-war business of manufacturing machinery, I trust that they will soon be filling the Australian orders which have been placed with them for some time past. One feature about the Anzac tweed industry is the possibility of eliminating at least one middleman. If these returned soldiers receive the quantity of yarn they need, not only for present requirements, but also for the future, they will deal direct with the retailers, and, in doing so, will receive the hearty support of every honorable member of the House. The mills are compelled to sell everything they produce through the warehouses, which entails extra handling and extra cost. I would be very loath to place any obstacle in the way of the men who are starting this industry. There are twenty -seven woollen mills working in Australia. Surely they could give some assistance to these men who propose tostart for themselves. If hand -woven tweed is preferred by some citizens, they are entitled to get it. I trust that the Government will supply the 500 lbs. of yarn they have already contracted to provide. It may be difficult to work a part of a woollen mill a second shift, and not the whole of it. I regret that further time is not available for the fuller discussion of this subject.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the number of assistant post offices in the Commonwealth that has been called on to make up deficiency in guaranteed revenue during the past financial year?
– When the honorable member first gave notice of this question he was asked by letter what he meant by “ assistant post offices,” and as soon as his reply is received the question will be answered.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he can make known the conditions under which wool-growers will be liable for income-tax and war-profits taxation in regard to their anticipated half-share of profits accruing from the oversea salts of wool, so that growers may know if such taxation will be levied as one charge for the year in which the dividend is received, or spread over the years to which such dividend is attributable?
– Income tax and war-time profits tax on profits accruing from overseas sales of wool will not be assessed in the year in which such profits are actually received, but will be taxed in the year to which the profits are apportioned by the Central Wool Committee.
asked the Minister for Homeand Territories, upon notice -
What is the average cost per ton deadweight of the steamers of 5,000 tons and over already built in Australia?
– The shipyard costs of the two ships already constructed at the Williamstown Dockyard, including interest on capital, depreciation, and overhead charges, work out at about £29 per deadweight ton. The cost of the vessels completed at Walsh Island and Cockatoo Island is not yet available.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Copper Sheets and Plates - Export of Foodstuffs
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Harvesters - Wire Netting and Galvanized Iron - Iron and’ Steel.’
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - -
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Greene).- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Greene).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Greene).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Greene).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The following papers were presented : -
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, at -
Goulburn, New South Wales (3).
Mayfield, New South Wales.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Notes Act 1910-14.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the High Court Procedure Act 1915, and for other purposes.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to continue in force for a limited time the War Precautions (Coal) Regulations.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes, for Mr. Gbeene) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1919.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to ratify an agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the AngloPersian Oil Company Limited.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Patents, Trade Marks and Designs.
In Committee: Senate’s amendments agreed to.
Resolution reported andreport adopted.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, the following works be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report thereon, namely, mobilization and vehicle stores at Seymour, Victoria, with necessary railway connexion, water supply, &c.
This is the formal motion required by the Act to allow of this work being referred to the Committee for the purpose of inquiry and subsequent report to this House. These mobilization and vehicle stores are necessary and urgent. The Commonwealth Government have arranged with the Imperial authorities for equipment and vehicles for five dismounted and two mounted divisions of the Australian Imperial Force to be sent to Australia, where they will be stored and issued as required. For this purpose a considerable storage space will be required. The material is now coming to hand, and the Victorian quota will, it is proposed, be principally located in these stores at Seymour. Similar stores are built or being built at Liverpool, New South Wales, and the New South Wales portion of the equipment will be located there. It is extremely urgent that these buildings shall be completed at the earliest possible date as temporary storage space is available now for only a limited portion of the material.
– Will these buildings be temporary ?
– No. Seymour is to be the mobilization centre for Victoria, as Liverpool is for New South Wales. The decision to erect these stores at Seymour has been arrived at after very careful consideration by the highest military experts of the Defence Department, and after reviewing and inspecting several other sites. It is intended that the site, which is situated about 1 mile eastward of the railway station at Seymour, shall be connected by a special siding with the Victorian railways, and that the necessary water supply shall be obtained from the existing supply for the town of Seymour. The buildings proposed to be erected at this stage consist of the following:
The construction proposed for the store sheds is of the simplest description, consisting of hardwood wall and roof framing, covered with corrugated galvanized iron, of types which have been generally adopted for similar structures erected and being erected at Liverpool, New South Wales, and elsewhere. The construction of the proposed cottage is intended to be brick. Based upon values obtaining at this date, the estimated cost of the buildings, including the railway connexion, water supply, excavations, road-making, fencing, &c., is,approximately, £75,000.
– That is a lot of money.
– It is a lot of money, but this is very big equipment.
– What area is provided for that money?
– I do not know the area of the site, but the total floor area of the sheds is 210,000 superficial feet.
– Has the land been already purchased ?
– I am not sure, but I will get that information. A location plan of site and disposal of buildings thereon, with working drawings of the proposed buildings, are submitted for reference to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and arrangements will be made for submission to the Committee, in the form of evidence, of complete details respecting the estimate of cost and other features of the proposal which the Committee may call for.
– What is the value of the material to be stored ?
– I have not that information; but I know it is very valuable material, and that there is a very large quantity of it. These are matters which will come under the inquiry of the Works Committee itself.
– Will it be within the province of the Committee to inquire whether the site is suitable, and to make inquiries as to other sites ?
– The decision as to what is a proper site for a mobilization centre for Victoria is, of necessity, a military question. The Act empowers the Committee to inquire into the expediency of the work, and this reference to the Committee, in accordance with the Act, is as to the expediency of proceeding with the proposed work. I am moving this motion in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
– What if the Committee finds that the site is altogether unsuitable ?
– The site has been selected by the best experts as being the most convenient centre for mobilization purposes for the State of Victoria.
– Will it be necessary to build a railway connexion?
– It is necessary to build a siding from the railway station at Seymour. The proposed site is about a mile east of the station on the same side as the camp, but nearer to the station.
.- The Works Committee should have power to say whether the site is suitable.
– So they have. We have held that always.
– We may take that as the view of the ex-chairman of the Committee.
– In some cases we have had no discretion at all.
– Then the two exchairmen of the Committee disagree. If the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), who was chairman for about three years, puts up one case, and the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), who was chairman more recently, puts up another, where do we stand who have not been on the Committee? . I do not say that the Committee should wander all over the Commonwealth inspecting sites, but on making their investigation into the erection of these buildings at Seymour, Victoria, they should certainly say whether the proposed site is, in their opinion, the best or not. After the war broke out, everything was naturally hurried to an extraordinary degree. Within one short period I believe that 29,000 men enlisted in Victoria. Broadmeadows was overcrowded. Influenza or meningitis broke out, and although probably the best was done in the circumstances in creating the camp at Broadmeadows, it had to be hurriedly shifted to Seymour, and supplementary camps were started at Bendigo, Castlemaine, Geelong, and a number of other places in Victoria. It should not mean much extra expense for the Committee to ascertain whether the proposed site is the best. It would be a different matter if we owned the land, but the Minister was not sure of this when questioned on the subject. If it is not Government land, we are not bound to go there. It is quite possible that if we decided to go there and had not already acquired the land we might have difficulty in getting it,although I know thai the Lands Acquisition Act gives the Commonwealth power to acquire land at the value which existed on a certain date.. ‘Seymour may not be the best place for mobilization and equipment stores in Victoria. At one time all the camps in Victoria used to be held at Langwarrin. That was supposed to be the probable battleground if ever Victoria was attacked from the sea. Certainly the battleground will never be Seymour. No enemy willever come viâ that place, wherever else he comes from. He may come viâ Queenscliff, Geelong, Langwarrin, or Gippsland, but not viâ Seymour. It may be necessary to have a place secure from the enemy.
– That is where we shall make our first stand.
– I do not know what will happen if we have to fall back on Seymour.
– What about Canberra?’
– I presume there will be similar stores in each State. There is already one at Liverpool, New South Wales.
– That is in my electorate.
– Then the honorable member has been failing in his duty this session in not asking questions about the Liverpool manoeuvre area. The two previous members, Mr. Orchard and Mr. Cann, asked about fifty times what was tobe done with it. It was the stock question for every honorable member for that electorate.
– I got the site settled when I previously represented the electorate.
– The honorable member must have been very lax in his duty,. judging by the questions asked by his successors.
– The site was resumed before I left.
– The site for these stores may be a military question, but if it is the Committee are very much hampered in everything they inquire into so far as the military are concerned, because if that stand is taken theywill have no power to change the site.
– There is nothing to prevent them from saying the site is not suitable.
– That, of course, would be a negative finding. When the question of erecting stamp and note printing offices at Victoria-parade, Fitzroy, was submitted last year, the thing was all cut and dried, and settled before it was mentioned to the House at all.
– Has not the site been selected for practically every work before ever the work was submitted to the Committee? It should not be so.
– It should not be; and that is why I am entering this protest. I want to give the Committee the greatest possible scope for their inquiry.
– How can plans and specifications be submitted to the House unless the Department selects the site first ?
– Plans and specifications of the buildings could be submitted without the site being selected.
– In the case of city property, in Sydney, for instance, you have to plan to suit your site.
– I know that is so in certain cases, but I object to the site being cut and dried, particularly if it is not Government property. If it is known that the Government are going to spend £75,000 in a certain district, we all know what happens.
– Under the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act, nobodycan take advantage of it.
– And no one has ever been known to take down a Government -I don’t think!
– It would be competent for the Committee to report that the buildings are unnecessary.
– It would be. In view of the terms of the Peace Treaty, and the promise of demobilization and disarmament, and the cessation of the building of warships, it will certainlybe within the power of the Committee to say whether or not it is advisable to go on with this work at the present time. If we have valuable material, it is far better to have it housed than to leave it in the open in all sorts of weather; but it is often the practice to put under cover a certain amount of material when it is doubtful whether it is worth the expense. I want to see the Committee empowered to make the fullest inquiries; and I want it to be within their competence, if they find the site unsuitable, to say so, and to say that they believe it would be better to put the building somewhere else.
. -The question raised by the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) should be settled by the House. About three years ago, when the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) was Chairman of the Works Committee, this question arose in the House, and I remember that the honorable member then complained that the Committee had no voice in selecting the site. He said they were sent to a site and asked, to a certain extent, to approve of it. If that is so, then the whole system ought to be altered, and the Committee ought to be given the fullest power. As one who practically drafted the first Public Works Committee Bill, and induced the House to accept it,, I can say thatthe deliberate intention of the House was that the Committee should be free to report to Parliament as to the advisability or otherwise, in every respect, of the proposals submitted to it. If it is tied to a particular proposal, without reference to the suitability of the site that has been selected, its usefulness will be considerably reduced. Now that we are making the first reference to a new Committee, the House should,I think, determine whether it is within the province of the Committee to report on the suitability of a chosen site, and, if necessary, recommend some other site, or leave it to the House to say whether another site should be inspected. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), who have been chairmen of the
Committee, seem to take contrary views of its functions in this respect.
– The Minister may be able to tell us what the position of the Committee is.
– The Minister says that in the present case the selection of the site is a military matter.
– I said that the selection was determined by military considerations.
– If Seymour is a good site for the proposed stores, might not some other place within 10 miles of Seymour be equally good, or better?
– The honorable member seems to think that the Committee should travel all over Victoria to discover whether better sites could not be obtained at Bendigo, Ballarat. or some other place..
– Before this proposal is referred to the Committee, we should know the view of the House on the question that I have raised. I think that in the opinion of the majority of members the Committee’s inquiries should be as free as possible, and it should have the power, if it finds a site unsuitable, or thinks that a better site is obtainable, to report to that effect.
– So it has.
– If the Committee were of opinion that a proposed work would be too expensive, they could report that they considered it inexpedient to proceed with it, and if they thought the site utterly unsuitable it would be their duty to report accordingly.
– That would be only a negative report.
– I think that the Committee should have the power to say, not only that a proposal is extravagant, but that a better site could be selected for any proposed work.
– The honorable member would not have the Committee select sites?
– It can do everything but that.
– A gentleman who has been chairman of the Committee says that it has not such power.
– Does the honorable member contend that the Committee should select sites?
– No; but I do not think that sites should be selected and land purchased before the Committee has reported on a proposal. I understand that in the present case the site has been practically selected.
– That is so.
– Then the Committee is to be asked to report upon plans for a building to be erected on a particular site. Such a reference lessens the powers of the Committee.
– Surely, in a case of this kind, the military should fix on a site before a proposal is submitted to the Committee.
– To my mind, the inquiry of the Committee is largely a waste of time and money, and to some extent a farce, when a site is definitely fixed beforehand.
– Departments mustput definite propositions before the Committee.
– One, or two, or more sites could be selected by the authorities and referred to the Committee, together with plans of the proposed work. In this case I understand that certain roads will have to be made and a water supply provided; but there may be localities where that expenditure would not be needed. I should like some expression of opinion from the House on the question I have raised. One, or two, or more sites should be selected, and the Committee should be asked to express its opinion upon them.
– And so boost their values.
– Let the Government take an option over them, if necessary. I want the Committee’s inquiries to be as untrammelled as possible, and I hope the House will define the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the Committee, because there seems to be a great diversity of opinion regarding them.
.- I have pleasure in supporting the reference of the proposed work to the Committee, and I have confidence that the Committee as constituted will make a true and faithful recommendation concerning it. It happens sometimes that the Committee is hampered by the fixing of a site before a proposal has been referred to it. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will remember that for the auto matic telephone exchange in Sydney a site was selected which was surrounded with buildings. The Committee approved of the plans submitted to it, but condemned the site. Its report was never adopted by the House, yet, nevertheless, the Postmaster-General of the day went on with the erection of the building.
– Was not the Committee’s report submitted to the House ?
– Yes.; but it was not adopted. So far as this particular reference is concerned, I think that Seymour is too far from Melbourne, and that it would be handier to erect the proposed buildings at Broadmeadows. I wish to know from the Minister whether the Department intends to use new iron, or whether the old iron already in its possession will be utilized?
– That will be a question for the Committee to investigate.
– The expenditure of £75,000 upon the erection of sheds to house certain material is a big proposal. At the present time galvanized iron is very dear. I suggest that the Committeeshould consider the utilization of the old iron and timber that is now at Liverpool and Broadmeadows.
– It is the practice at the present time to use again whatever material may be available, and suitable.
.- When a proposal is submitted to the Works Committee, care must be taken that neither the Committee nor the Department concerned is so hampered that there may be undue delay in the carrying out of a public work. The Public Works Committee Act provides that plans, specifications, and estimates must be submitted to Parliament by the Minister before a proposed work can be referred to the Committee. It would be impossible for plans to be prepared for - any work, unless the Department responsible for them had fixed upon a site as the best obtainable; but one of the first questions to be asked when a proposal has been referred to the .Committee is whether the site that has been adopted is suitable. That inquiry was made on many occasions while the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) was chairman of the Committee. When it was pro posed to erect a large store in Sydney foi” the Postal Department, the Committee went all round the city to ascertain what storage accommodation was available, and whether it would meet the purposes of the Department, and render unnecessary the erection of the proposed building. It is the duty of the Committee to report on the question of site; and, having been chairman of the Committee for three years, I say that it is its practice to inquire into the suitability of chosen sites. If the Committee were not satisfied that the site that had been adopted was a good one, they would make special inquiries; and if they could ascertain that there was a better site, they would recommend that site for adoption; or they would recommend that the site which had been selected was unsuitable, and would leave it to Parliament to make another reference to them. I hold that the Committee has the fullest power to do this. But it would not be justified in travelling all over the country to look for sites. Again, the Act requires that the reports of the Committee shall be submitted to Parliament, and ‘that Parliament shall then decide whether the work in question shall be proceeded with. While the present Minister has been in power, that procedure has been followed ; but, under an earlier Minister, the reports of the Committee were almost disregarded, and works were proceeded with without the proper parliamentary sanction. I hope that on every future occasion when a report is received from the Committee - and many of the reports have been of great value to the country - it will be submitted to Parliament, and a decision arrived at as to whether the work reported on should be proceeded with.
– Judging from the remarks of the two ex-Chairmen of the Public Works Committee, the present is a very opportune time to have the matter of the reference of works to the Committee placed on a proper footing. I am disposed to agree with the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) that it is impossible to draw up plans and specifications of a building without something being known of the site on which it is to be erected. Whilst something should be known about the site, I do not think that the Committee should be limited to the adoption of a particular site. It occurs to me that if the Public Works Committee is to have the final say in this matter, we are starting at the wrong end. The Minister has said that the military authorities should fix the site for the erection of these stores, and yet it is suggested that the Public Works Committee should have the power to upset the whole proposal by reporting that the site selected is not suitable.
– Yes; that is so.
– While I agree that something must be known of the sites before plans and specifications can be prepared, it appears to me that the mistake which has been made in this matter has been to purchase the site before the proposal is referred to the Committee. If the site has been purchased, and the Public Works Committee eventually decides against it, what position shall we be in, assuming that the Committee is to be the final authority on the matter of the suitability of the site ?
– The final authority is Parliament.
– I take it that Parliament will be guided by the report of the Public Works Committee. Suppose that Parliament supports a report of the Public Works Committee against the site selected, what position shall we be in if the site has already been purchased ?
– If it has been wisely purchased, we can surely sell it again1.
– I do not think that this House should indorse that method of doing business. In view of the dissatisfaction expressed in connexion with the scope of inquiries by the Public Works Committee in the past, I am, as a new member of that Committee, particularly anxious to know exactly the powers intrusted to it. The Minister says that, in this case, the site ‘has been purchased by the military authorities; they have decided the buildings to be erected, and their cost; and after all this has been done, the matter is to be referred to the Public Works Committee. It appears to me that the work that has been done should be the work of the Public Works Committee, and not the work of the authorities who have already arrived at certain conclusions. The site should not be finally purchased until the Public Works Committee has an oppor tunity of inspecting it, and deciding as to its suitability or otherwise. I ask the Minister for Works and Railways to say whether the site in this case has really been purchased.
– I am getting the information now. I have already told the House that the Defence Department own a large area of land at the place indicated, but whether they own the particular site selected for these stores, I am unable to say.
– Do they own the land, or only rent it?
– I am unable to say whether they own this particular site.
– I believe the Defence Department merely rents, and does not own, the sites of camps’ in Victoria.
– The fact that the Minister does not know whether this particular site has been purchased or not only makes the position worse from my point of view. If the site has not actually been purchased, there is no serious objection to the proposal; but I have a serious objection to referring this matter to the Public Works Committee, and telling the members that they have authority to decide for or against a particular site, when the Minister does not know whether that site has been purchased or not.
– This question came up for consideration before on a motion to refer the erection of the proposed Notes Printing Offices to the Public Works Committee. That, I think, is another of our public works in connexion with which the report of the Public Works Committee was not approved by Parliament.
– Unfortunately, that work was not approved by Parliament.
– The building was erected without its authority?
– No; a motion after the report of the Public Works Committee was not introduced.
– I do not know what could be said in favour of the urgency of any public work that was not said in favour of the urgency for erecting that building two years ago, and, therefore, after all the hot wind we had then, I am astounded to hear that nothing has been done.
– The hot wind scorched the proposal.
– I am firmly of opinion that questions affecting the defence of the country should be settled b’y the responsible military authorities, and that civilian interference with them is liable to lead us very far astray. We should always be in a position to place the responsibility for military blunders upon the persons who are intrusted with the defence of the country. The military authorities have decided -that camps should be established in certain places, and that stores should be established at these camps, and we should not now ask a committee of civilians to say that this is all wrong, that the camps should be established somewhere else, and the stores should not be erected at the camps at all. If this course is adopted, the responsibility for failure will rest not with those to whom we have a right to look for guidance in such a matter, but with the Committee of civilians who interfere with their plans.
– The military have made more blunders than any other Department.
– Though I may admit that, I should not presume that civilians dealing with the same problems would make fewer blunders than have been made by the military authorities. The question of the site for a camp should not be submitted to the Public Works Committee. That has been “decided by the military authorities, and the question that now arises is not as to the position of a camp, but as to the position of certain stores. It seems to me that when the military authorities decided where the camp was to be, they very probably also decided that the stores were to be there too, as one cannot conceive of stores of this kind being erected a long way from a camp, because that would involve the carriage of equipment and supplies to the stores, and again from the stores, and it might be several miles to the camp In my opinion, the question of the site will not arise in this case, as I believe the Public Works Committee would admit that the only possible site for stores is at the camp where the supplies kept in those stores are to be used.
– Does the honorable member think that if the Committee found the site selected an unsuitable one they would be justified in reporting to that effect?
– Yes; but how could they find that the site is unsuitable if it is at the camp? If the Committee came to the conclusion that a camp should not’ have been established at Seymour, they might then report that no store should be erected there; but if a camp has been established at a particular place, it must be economically advantageous that the stores should be erected at the camp.
– Have we a camp at Seymour !
– No; I do. not think there is a single man there.
– In my opinion, it is somewhat farcical to refer military works to the Public Works Committee at all.
.- I am very glad that this matter has cropped up. In almost the first speech I made in this House I said that the Federal Parliament should adopt the practice of establishing Parliamentary Committees to investigate various matters coining under the control of .the Commonwealth. These Committees should make the fullest possible inquiry into the matters submitted to them, but they should not, of course, have the power in any way to interfere with the policy of the Government. They should be given full powers of inquiry, and should be responsible to Parliament for their report. On their report Parliament should decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal submitted to a particular Committee for report. There are many questions which do not actually come before this House which I should like to see submitted to a Finance Committee. The report of such a committee upon many matters would be valuable just as reports from the Public Works Committee are valuable. In this case government officials have selected a particular site, but in my opinion the Public Works Committee should not be compelled to accept the site selected by departmental officers if, on investigation, they are satisfied that a better site might be chosen, or that the site selected is unsuitable for the building proposed to be erected. We have an instance in Sydney of a site chose.it by departmental officers, when, I think, Mr. Spence was Postmaster-
General, for the erection of a telephone exchange; but upon investigation by the Public Works Committee it wm? seen that it would have been a criminal act to establish a telephone exchange on that site, to which there was only a narrow entrance down an alley-way. Hundreds of employees were to be employed in the building, and the most inflammable material was to be stored there; and so the Public Works Committee condemned the proposal at once, because of the unsuitability of the site. I say that any Parliamentary Committee should have ample powers to inquire into every detail of any matter submitted to it outside questions of Government policy. Parliament would never ask a Committee to discuss questions of Government policy, but the fullest inquiry and report in respect of all details of any proposed work should be submitted to Parliament before it sanctions expenditure upon that work. If the Public Works Committee in New South Wales report that a proposed line of railway will not meet the requirements of the people, or that by an alteration of the proposed route of the line public expenditure may be saved, the State Government will not proceed with the COnStrue.tion of the line by the original route proposed. So it should be in connexion with Committees of this Parliament. I hope that ample powers of inquiry will be given them, and that no action will be taken by Parliament until their reports have been received. We may in most cases expect a majority and a minority report from Parliamentary Committees, and Parliament can decide which should be adopted. I look with great favour upon the establishment of these Parliamentary Committees, which, I believe, are capable of doing very useful work in connexion with the government of the country. I only wish I could take the members of the two Committees to the Sydney Post Office, when I think I could open their eyes .to the brutality under which the employees there suffer. Then, if inquiries were made into the proposed alterations there, it would be found that one-third of the space on the ground floor will he taken up by the erection of stays on the walk, and pillars to carry a top room, while another one-third is to be occupied with lift space to give people an opportunity, I suppose, for joy rides. All such extravagance and waste could be prevented if the Public Works Committee had the necessary powers. That Committee should certainly be authorized to inquire as to the sites as well as to the erection of proposed buildings. At Seymour much trouble has been caused by the flatness of the land, which renders drainage operations difficult. If men are to be accommodated there, we should certainly see that proper sanitation is provided, for, after all, the first duty of the Government is to insure the public health. The duties of both the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee ought to be clearly defined, though even with their present powers, they could, by the exercise of a little common sense, do much useful work. The delegation of work to Committees has proved a great success in British Parliaments, and there the Committees have full power, apart, of course, from questions of policy for which the Government are, and ought to be, responsible. I do not know much about the immediate work under discussion, but I can say I fought very hard against the erection of the Notes Printing Office in Melbourne. In that case, when I visited the site, before Parliament had any opportunity to consider the matter, I found all the. necessary .planking and material there for the building of concrete walls. I hope such a thing will not occur again, and that we shall never find the investigations by either of our Committees forestalled. These Committees are very essential bodies, and they should have complete power to point out mistakes made by the Government or Government officials.
Mr. BOWDEN (Nepean) [6.5 j.- The question before the House is whether a certain work shall be referred to the Public Works Committee. I am in favour of the reference, but I am of opinion that the Committee should have power to make all the inquiries necessary to the presentation of a report for the guidance of Parliament.
– The motion says that the inquiries must be “ in accordance with the Act.”
– We have been told by different members of the Committee that there have been various rulings on the question whether sites are included in the investigations. The Minister (Mr.
Groom) was asked whether the Committee will have this power, and he said that the site was a question for the Defence Department. I am astonished to learn that camps have not been established in Victoria, as in New South Wales. If there is not freehold land, as in the case of Liverpool, where- 1 was instrumental in furthering the work on a former occasion - this motion may have the effect of centralizing a camp at Seymour, and it is a question whether it is desirable to abandon the Broadmeadows Camp altogether.
– The Broadmeadows Camp does not belong to us.
– I understand that neither of the camps belongs to us.
– There is an area that has been vested in the Commonwealth for camp purposes, but the particular piece of land under consideration, I find, has not been acquired.
– Have we an option over it?
– It has not been acquired at all.
– If we decide to build on the land, the price will certainly go up. “ ,
– We are protected by the Lands Acquisition Act.’
– Nominally that is so; but, practically, I find that the Commonwealth is very often not protected by that Act. The point is that the spending of th;s large sum of money might have the effect indirectly of centralizing the camp there. If the Department has determined that the Victorian camp shall be at Seymour, and has already acquired land for that purpose, the question arises whether that land, or some of it, could not be used instead of acquiring other land. All these questions ought to be taken into consideration by the Committee, and an exhaustive report presented to us.
.. - I am glad that this motion has been moved in reference to a Department which, in recent years, has had the duty of expending millions of pounds. As an old member of the Public Works Committee, I think that every member of it at that time came to the conclusion that naval and military works, instead of being exempt, were the very works that called for investigation, except, of course, works which were expeditiously required in war time.
– Or works involving secret information.
– The Public Works Committee has inquired into very secret works, and I am very pleased, indeed, that it is now to inquire into expenditure under military authority. I quite agree with the idea that the Public Works Committee should inquire into the whole circumstances of public works, including the sites of proposed buildings. As a member of the Committee I voted against the erection of postal stores in Sydney, simply because I disagreed with the site that had been selected, it being of such a character as to require considerable expenditure in order to find foundations. Last year we had a discussion in this House regarding a certain site for the Notes Printing Office, but I do not think the question was settled whether the Committee should have power to inquire as to the site.
– It was left an open question.
– An amendment was moved to that effect; but the question of the site was not referred to the Committee, although I was prepared to agree to that course.
– There should be a thorough understanding on the point from the beginning, because the military authorities may make mistakes, as in the past, involving the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds. We have only to remember the work on some of the Naval Bases, where investigation at the initial stages would have saved much money. Sites are selected, and works quickly arranged for to cost £500,000 or, perhaps, £750,000, by the military authorities. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), also an old member of the Committee, will bear me out when I say that at a certain Naval Base in Victoria mistakes were made, and that, although the Committee were late on the scene, it was able to save a considerable amount. When the naval or the military authorities require any work carried out, they are, apparently, able to obtain unlimited money; and now we are asked to supply £75,000, as usual, in a hurry. A Treaty of Peace has been drawn up, but this country, at any rate, seems to be more warlike than even it was during the war ; and the Department is prepared, again in a hurry, to spend money right and left. The Defence Department certainly needs a watchful eye on the part of both Parliament and the two Committees. I have no opposition to offer to the motion, but we ought to be placed in possession of allthe facts relating to this proposed Camp. We heard rumours that the Broadmeadows Camp was to be done away with, but now we are toldthat that is not so. Later on, we were informed that the Seymour Camp had been acquired. Now we learn that it has not.
– Part of it belongs to the Commonwealth, but I cannot say the precise area. This particular site, however, has not yet been acquired.
– If the Committee discover that this particular site is an unsuitable one, they should recommend that it be turned down and that another site should be substituted for it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of the measure is to vest in trustees a sum of money which has accumulated as a surplus from the operations of the canteens conducted in connexion with the Australian Imperial Force. As honorable members are aware, these canteens were run in the various camps throughout Australia, on the transports, in Egypt, Palestine and France, in fact wherever there were Australian troops.
– Wherever they wanted a beer.
– Unfortunately beer could not always be obtained. I take it that we must give a lot of credit to those who were responsible for inaugurating the system which was employed in running the Australian Imperial Force canteens. These canteens proved of the greatest benefit to the men of all ranks in the field. One gentleman to whom a great deal of credit is due in this connexion is Mr. Lockyer, of the Inter-State Commission. He it was who inaugurated the system which has been employed so successfully in the running of the canteens. Under this Bill the fund to be created is tobe vested in trustees and is to be devoted to the interests of blind or totally incapacitated returned soldiers and of the widows, orphans, and dependants of those who have been killed in the field. It must be definitely understood that disbursements from the fund cannot be taken into consideration in any way by the Repatriation Department.
– The sums expended under this Bill will be in excess of the assistance granted by that Department?
– Yes; and theamounts must be kept absolutely separate. The moneys expended under this Bill will have no connexion whatever with any grants that may be made by the Repatriation Department. To insure this result it is essential that neither body should know what payments have been madeby the other. It is only reasonable to suppose that some honorable members hold similar views upon this measure to those which were expressed in another branch of the Legislature when it was under consideration there. A section of the Senate heldthat it would be preferable to hand over this money, which amounts to something like £500,000, to the Repatriation Department.
– Is that amount exclusive of the gift by the late Sir Samuel McCaughey ?
– Where did the balance of the money come from?
– From the executors of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey. However, I am merely dealing now with the surplus which has accumulated from the operations of the Australian Imperial Force canteens, and which amounts to £500,000. The whole of this money is to be distributed in the way I have indicated. Then the trustees of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey have intimated that if this money is vested in the proposed Trust - the personnel of which I shall state presently - they will be prepared to hand over to the Trust an amount of £450,000. We ought, I think, to place on record our appreciation of such a munificent gift by that deceased gentleman.
– The executors of Sir Samuel McCaughey do not impose anyconditions?
– I believe that they do. They have intimated that they will not be prepared to hand over this £450,000 to any Government Department.
– Would it not be a fair thing to appoint one of the executors to the Trust?
Six GRANVILLE RYRIE.- I do not know that they have made any request for representation on the Board. If honorable members adopt the line of argument which was adopted by certain gentlemen in another place, we shall be confronted with the position that the executors of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey will refuse to ‘hand over this money if it is to be dealt with by a Government Department, such as the Repatriation Department. It will be wise, therefore, not to insist upon any alteration in the principles of the Bill.
– The trustees have not been very carefully selected. I do not like some of them.
– They have been already selected. One of the trustees is to be the .president of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League for the time being. Another member will be Mr. Lockyer, of the Inter-State Commission, who, I believe, is to be the President of the Trust. The other trustees include Mrs. Alfred Deakin, widow of the late Hon. Alfred Deakin, a lady who has taken the greatest interest in our returned soldiers; Major-General Sir C. B. White, whose appointment is a very good one, I think; the Hon. George Swinburne, Mr. Percy Whitton, and Mr. Harold P. Moorehead. The last-named was, I understand, a private in the Australian Imperial Force. I do not know him personally, but I believe that he is a very able man.
– Are not all the trustees from one State?
– They are not.
– What member is from any other State?
– MajorGeneral White is not a Victorian. He happens to be here in the performance of his military duties,’ but he is a Queens lander. I do not know from what State the president of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League will come.
– Where is it proposed that the trustees shall sit?
– In Melbourne. In my opinion, it is almost necessary that ail members of the Trust shall reside in this city. If we give one State outside of Victoria representation upon the Trust we shall be compelled to give every State representation upon it. If that course be adopted it will be quite impossible for the trustees to meet as often as will be necessary in the discharge of their duties. We could not bring a man over from Western Australia and Queensland, for example, every time a meeting was to be held. The representatives of distant States would be obliged to live here.
– What machinery has been, devised to deal with Inter-State cases ?
– I will explain that in good time, but I am now dealing with the necessity for the trustees residing in Victoria.
– Are the positions on the Trust to be of an honorary character ?
– Yes. Of course, the’ trustees will have to employ a secretary.
– It is only fair that the fact that the positions are of an honorary nature should be stated.
– In reply to the Leader of the Opposition, I say definitely that the positions on the Trust will be of an entirely honorary character. It is not essential that any member of the Central Trust should be resident in any State other than Victoria, because in each State Capital there will be an Advisory Committee.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to S p.m.
– I have stated that Advisory Committees will be established in the’ capital city of each State. These will be honorary, of course, and the Government are of opinion that there will be no trouble in securing men and women to act upon them.
– There is’ nothing in the Bill dealing with their appointment.
– Regulations will be gazetted for the creation of the machinery necessary to carry out the purposes of this measure. The trustees will sit in Melbourne; then there will be the Advisory Committees in each State capital; and, lastly, there will be all those small voluntary committees which were established in connexion with re patriation. There -were many zealous ladies and gentlemen in every part of Australia who heartily and voluntarily took up the work of assisting in repatriating our returned men. Those small committees have been kept alive, and it is intended now to utilize them in connexion with this piece of legislation. They will be asked to report to the State Advisory Committees on all cases in their districts. The State Committees will send to the trustees their recommendations upon those reports, and the trustees, acting thereon, will send to the nearestSavings Banks the amounts of cash decided to be granted to persons in need of relief. In my opinion, it would be absolutely wrong to hand over the surplus money from the canteens to the Repatriation Department, as has been’ suggested in another place.
– What is the amount of money in hand?
– There is the sum of £500,000, ‘being the surplus from the canteens, and then there is to be added to the fund - if the Trust comprises the personnel set out in the Bill - an amount of more than £450,000 under the will of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey. Altogether, there will be something like £1,000,000 available. In substantiation of my remarks regarding the inadvisableness of this money being dealt with by any Government Department, I desire to read a letter forwarded by the general secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League to the Prime Minister as long ago as 26th June, 1917. This letter indicates that even then there was some suspicion i” the minds of returned soldiers that the canteen moneys might ‘be handed over to the Repatriation Department. Portion of the letter reads thus -
My council understands that profits from canteens are to be utilised by the Repatriation Committee for repatriation purposes. As a consequence I have to ask if a statement of accumulated profits can be furnished to this council.
In reply, the Secretary to the Department of Defence wrote -
It is proposed that the profits, if any, at the end of the war, resulting from the operation of the Australian Imperial Force Garrison Institutes and Canteens shall be_ devoted as an additional aid to the blinded’ and otherwise permanently disabled soldiers, or some other similar special purpose, which it is considered will command the sympathy and approval of the original contributors. It is not contemplated that any such moneys will be transferred to or be absorbed by the Repatriation Fund.
Even in 1917 a virtual pledge was given that this money would not be handed over to the Repatriation Department; and I repeat it would be very unwise to do so.
There is nothing contentious in this measure. The sooner it is passed the sooner will deserving people benefit. A question has been raised regarding the appointment of another lady to the Trust. I received a telegram to-day from Dr.Mary Booth, an estimable and wellknown lady who has done a great deal for our returned soldiers. She very strongly urges that another woman be appointed trustee. Australian women folk have done a great deal during the war, and are deserving of every consideration in the matter of the appointment of public bodies to deal with the affairs of returned soldiers, and 1” think that, as a compliment, a further appointment might be made to the number of trustees under this Bill. I point out, however, that there are hundreds of capable and enthusiastic women who have given very much time during the war to the welfare of widows and orphans, and of blinded and crippled soldiers. Their services will be of inestimable value upon the State Advisory Committees - even more so, in fact, than upon the Trust itself.
– Does the Bill provide for the appointment of the State Committees?
– They will be created by the regulations.
– Who will appoint the State Committees?
– The appointments will be made by the Government by regulation. Probably the trustees will furnish nominations.
– Will recommendations to the State Committees’ be made by the trustees?
– I can only repeat that these Committees will be created by regulation, and that they will act in an honorary capacity. They will work in conjunction with some 800 small committees, broadcast throughout Australia, which have been acting in connexion with repatriation. Their -personnel have shown a keen desire at all times to be of the greatest possible help to our returned men, and their services have been invaluable. Most of these bodies are still carrying on.
– The trustees will have absolute power over the moneys vested in them ?
– Yes, within the bounds of this measure, of course. With regard to the amount to be handed over by the “executors of the will of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey, it is laid down specifically how it shall be used.
– In this respect the trustees will be simply administering the will?
– Yes. Senator Pearce, in the course of remarks in another place, is reported, in Ilansard of loth April (page 1165), as follows: -
As regards the McCaughey bequest of £450,000, which is to be transferred to this Trust, it lias been provided that the. money shall be allocated as follows: - (a) Pastoral, agricultural, and technical education, £300,000.
We presume that scholarships will be established under that portion of the will. The Minister continues -
That is for the benefit of the children of soldiers; (6) beds and cots in hospitals for wives and children of soldiers, £50,000; (c) subsidies to building funds of Australian Imperial Force units, £50,000; and (d) for other special purposes to be decided by the Executors, £50,000.
I trust honorable members will not view the measure altogether from a party stand-point. I think I can say, on behalf of honorable members on this side - and I hope on the other side of the House also - that our first wish is to create the machinery for disbursing this money in - the best possible way.
– Do you not think that the soldiers ought to be consulted in regard to the trustees?
– The president of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League will be one, and I do not think we could do better than that. I trust the measure will have a quick passage, so that those who are en titled to the money may receive it without undue delay.
.- I agree with the Minister that the Bill should have a speedy passage, but certain details should be discussed. The whole of the £500,000 representing surplus of canteen fund was made out of the soldiers themselves. Speaking generally, the canteens were well conducted, and the articles were sold at least as cheaply, if not more cheaply, than in private establishments in the vicinity of the camps. As this money belongs to the soldiers they are entitled to have some voice in its distribution ; but it must not be forgotten that the trustees will be charged with the handling of another £500,000 from another source. The object of the Bill is a very worthy one, and I am glad to know, from the Minister, that any benefits received by disabled soldiers under this measure will be entirely apart from benefits to which they may be entitled through the Repatriation Department, but the operation of this measure must necessarily relieve the Repatriation Department of a certain amount of work and liability. I understand there are from 200 to 250 blinded soldiers. Recently we passed a Bill providing than they shall be housed free for life, only a peppercorn rental of about ls. a year being charged in order to retain control by the Department of the houses in which they live, and we have also increased their pension allowances up to £4 per week. I believe, however, that the best we can do for those who have been so unfortunate as to lose their sight is to furnish them with facilities for training in some useful occupation; and in this respect excellent opportunities are available at St. Dunstan’s, in England. The trustees to be appointed under this Bill might therefore do far worse than send our” blinded soldiers over there for training. But some, in addition to being blinded, have lost limbs. I have in mind one about whom I heard at Dandenong one night last year, when I spoke there, of a man who was blinded, had lost one limb, part of another limb, and had his jaw very seriously fractured. It is hardly likely that one so badly knocked about as he was could be trained for any occupation, but many others can, and I think this money might very well be used for that purpose. I merely throw this out as a suggestion, as it is possible the trustees will take notice of remarks made in this House concerning the duties which it is expected they shall perform.
– Your proposal might relieve the Repatriation Department of some of its responsibility.
– It would; but we have not Sue facilities for training such persons here. The money representing the surplus from canteen funds profits was obtained after charging the soldiers current rates or less for commodities supplied; and I should here like to pay my tribute of praise to Mr. Lockyer, who is to be the chairman of the trustees. When he volunteered for this work he was, I think, an official in the Department over which I was presiding. It is only right that it should be known that he was then due for six months’ furlough; but, instead of taking it, he spent the time in organizing the canteens, and I believe he did excellent work. I take no exception to any of the persons named as trustees; but if I were a representative from one of the other States I might have something to say about the Trust being comprised of residents of Victoria. There is no mention in the Bill about State Advisory Committees, which, I take it, will be appointed for every State. There should be some’ reference to this matter in the Bill, because what honorable members have been objecting to all along .has been the centralization of work. I believe, however, that while Melbourne remains the Seat of Government the trustees must necessarily meet here. The Minister referred to the excellent work done during the war by a great many women on behalf of the soldiers; and I think there was room for more than one woman on the Trust, particularly as the trustees will be dealing with widows, widowed mothers, and the dependants of deceased soldiers, and these, of course, will include girls as well as boys, who will be entitled to be trained for some occupation. As the Minister pointed out, £300,000 of the McCaughey bequest is to be set aside for pastoral, agricultural, and technical education of the children of deceased soldiers. At least the same provision should be made for the education and training of dependants who may not care to en gage in any of those rural pursuits. Several honorable members accompanied me a few months ago on a visit to the Working Men’s College, Melbourne, where we saw a number of nurses who, like so many of our soldiers, were suffering from shell shock, and also some widows and daughters of deceased soldiers, and who are being trained by the Repatriation Department for some useful calling.
– I notice the trustees are principally Victorians.
– Yes; and I said that if I were a representative from one of the other States I would probably complain about the personnel of the Trust, because, with the exception of General White, who is a Queenslander, they are Victorians.
– At the outbreak of the war General White was at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, I know, because I consulted him on the first Sunday.
– But he is a good Australian.
– He told me he was a Queenslander. There should be some provision in the Bill for the appointment of .State Advisory Committees, and one woman at least should be on each Committee, because in certain circumstances a woman would be able to get at the facts much better than any man could. From time to time, the soldiers have put forward the claim that they are the only persons who should decide how the profits from their canteens should be spent; but the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has deprived them of that argument by pointing out that what will be done with this money .is in addition to what will be done by the Repatriation Department, and that private individuals have contributed to the fund to be administered by the trustees appointed by this Bill. I cannot see how the Repatriation Department will be relieved of any great amount of work by the disposal of this money.
– This fund is intended to supplement the work of the Repatriation Department. ‘
– We cannot supplement it too much. Due prominence should be given to the fact that the executors of the estate of one of Australia’s citizens have contributed £500,000. Little enough was given by our citizens voluntarily towards the Repatriation Fund. It will be a good thing if contributions to this particular fund can be secured, because there will be opportunity to do splendid work with the money by way of supplementing the work done by the Repatriation Department.
I agree with the telegram received from Dr. Mary Booth advocating the appointment of a ‘Second lady to the trustees of this fund. It would not be such a onesided body if her suggestion were adopted. I know that Mrs. Deakin and the gentlemen who are named in clause 5 have done splendid work in the past, and I believe that they will do it in the future, but . it would be an advantage for them to have the advice of at least a second lady from another State besides Victoria. It could not then be said that there was any desire to centralize the administration of the fund in Victoria. There should be some representative of another State among the trustees. No exception can be taken to the trustees whose names are mentioned in the Bill; but they are not the only persons who have done, and can do, work of this kind. No harm would be done by enlarging the body, and I hope the Government will accept an amendment to enable that to be done, and at the same time to provide statutorily for the appointment of State Advisory Committees, each ‘having at least one woman upon it.
.- The Commonwealth Government have been made virtually trustees of this fund, which has been almost equally provided by the profits derived from the canteens - the soldiers’ money - and the munificent bequest of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey. The thanks of this House should certainly be extended to that gentleman for the manner in which he distributed the money he made in Australia. The whole responsibility of the Commonwealth lies in the administration of its trusteeship; and under this Bill we are handing it over .to further trustees; but I think there ought to be some way out -of the difficulty created by making the Trust entirely Victorian. Following en the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), I suggest that one person from each State should be appointed to the Trust.
– They would not be able to attend.
– Quite so; but they could when they cared to do so. In administering money like this, co-ordination is highly necessary. The proposed State Committees may have different opinions as to who is deserving of assistance under this ‘bequest, and trustee money; but if each State is entitled to have a representative on the central Trust, there will begreater 00-ordination and smoothness in the administration of the Act and the fund.
– That would be all right if we were paying them, but it isanother matter when we are not doing so.
– I notice that no fees are to be paid to the central Trust, or to the .subsidiary bodies to be appointed in the various States. That will mean economical administration; but the payment of travelling expenses of the Staterepresentatives would be justified. Victoria is not the only State to be considered,, yet the only persons named in clause 5- are Victorians, which fact is bound tocause a certain amount of feeling.
– Good heavens!
– There is no “Good heavens!” about it. This fund is to be paid to soldiers’ dependants and othersmentioned in the measure throughout all the States; and while every kind word can be spoken in favour of those who arenamed in the Bill, the provision does not go far enough to satisfy the peoples of the States. Under the present arrangement, State Committees can only communicate with the central Trust by letter. If they could communicate in person through having the right to a seat on the central trust, it would do a great deal towards achieving the smooth working of the Statute.
– The pivot of (he Bill is the provision for dealing with the sum which represents the surplus from the canteens.
– The Repatria-tion Department can deal with that’ matter.
– TEe Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) has explained the wisdom of providing for the Repatriation Department having nothing to do with this money.
– That is not the contention of the soldiers.
– There has been a degree of soreness on the point; but the Minister has assured us that there has been a strongly-expressed desire that the Repatriation Department should not deal with this fund in any way. Then there is a further provision for transferring by gazettal notice or otherwise any other fund the Governor-General chooses to transfer to the Trust constituted by this Bill for the purpose of having it administered by them. It is under that provision that the munificent contribution from the estate of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey is to be handed over to the Trust. I am not at all clear what authority there is for allocating this bequeathed money in a particular way, as the Minister indicated was to be done. The money when handed over must be administered by the Trust in accordance with the terms of the Bill.
– But it will have to be administered in accordance with the terms of the will.
– Of course, but not in accordance with any terms dictated by a Minister. The Trust will be obliged to consult the executors of the McCaughey estate as to the final allocation of the money bequeathed to the fund. It is quite competent for the GovernorGeneral in Council to transfer to the Trust any other money the Government may have at their disposal, whether it be subject to a bequest or otherwise.
It is quite immaterial to me whether the trustees are chosen from any particular State - I would be quite satisfied if they were all chosen from New South Wales or South Australia, or any other State, but it is quite necessary for them all to live in the one State. Otherwise there would not be effective administration. They must meet frequently.
– But three will form a quorum.
– It would be very unsatisfactory if the work of the trustees should be done by a bare quorum.
– Will not the State Advisory Committees have any power ?
– I am coming to that point. The solution of the whole difficulty is that the Trust shall be constituted from the residents of one par ticular State who can meet frequently for the purpose of dealing with the fund.
– Would the trustees be weakened if their number was added to ?
– As I have already pointed out, it would be unsatisfactory to have the fund administered by a bare quorum.
– We could have those mentioned in the Bill, and add others.
– Those who were added would live in distant parts of the Commonwealth, and all their work would have to be done by correspondence. I agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) that provision should be made in the Bill for the appointment of Advisory Committees. It is true that there is full power in clause 10 of the Bill to appoint Advisory Committees by regulation. That clause reads -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, ‘prescribing all matters which are required or permitted’ to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.
The terms of that clause are very wide, but it would be more satisfactory to the House if we had a definite assurance that the State Advisory Committees were to form a statutory portion of the scheme. The Advisorv Committees must serve as a connecting link with the trustees sitting in Melbourne, as it would be impossible for them to deal effectively with, say, Western Australian cases. After the trustees have been in consultation with the Advisory Committee of a State they must necessarily, as faras the funds under their control will permit, accept its recommendations. We should therefore be quite sure that such Committees are to be appointed, and we should also know what powers are to be vested in them. I am glad to have the assurance of the Honorary Minister that the trustees will also have the assistance of Local Committees appointed under the Repatriation Act.
– The Local Committees will advise as to details.
– Somebody must have the responsibility, and if the trustees are to be assisted by State Advisory and Local Committees, they should be in possession of the most reliable information available. Provided the recommendations of the Advisory Committees are consistent with the provisions of the Bill, I do not think their recommendations can very well be disregarded.
I am sure those persons who are to comprise the Trust in an honorary capacity will be quite prepared to work harmoniously in the interests of the persons who are to benefit. As suggested by the honorable member for Yarra, I, too, think it is desirable that another lady should be appointed to the Trust. There are a number of ladies throughout Australia who have rendered excellent service in connexion with this particular class of work, and I think it would help the trustees very materially if they were to have the assistance of an additional lady member. It is also desirable that at least one or two ladies should be appointed members of each State Advisory Committee, and if this were done we could rest assured that the work would be performed in a highly satisfactory manner.
I presume the Honorary Minister or his officers have consulted the soldiers or their representatives as to the manner in which the fund is to be distributed. Nobody can take anv exception to the broad terms of the Bill, which provide that the trustees shall be charged with the duty of receiving and considering applications from widows and orphans, widowed mothers, and other immediate dependants of deceased soldiers, and from seriously disabled soldiers, for assistance and benefit. I feel sure the measure will meet with the general approval of those who are’ likely to benefit, and doubtless they have been consulted in some way or another.
– They are to have special representation.
– Yes; but I am speaking more particularly of a primary consultation as to the disposal of the fund.
It is gratifying to know that the proposed Trust is to have the able assistance of Mr. Lockyer, who has devoted special attention to this particular class of work, and if the trustees accept his advice they cannot go very far wrong. I join with the honorable member for Yarra in appreciatively acknowledging the fine work he has done in the interests of our fighting men, and I compliment the Honorary Minister on having been able to arrange for the appointment of such a suitable Trust. Per sonally, I would not have any objection to a Trust comprising persons selected from any other State, and my only desire is that this important work shall be carried out in a thoroughly efficient manner.
.- It appears that this measure has been introduced in skeleton form, but I presume the Government or those who are to administer it know what they intend doing. There are many organizations and Government Departments that are at present performing similar work to that to be undertaken by the proposed Trust. Has it been arranged that the Trust shall pay, say, £1 a week to some persons and 10s. a week to others, or is that to be decided by the Advisory Committees? It has been stated, by interjection, that every case will be dealt with on its merits, but I do not think that the distribution of such a huge sum should be undertaken in a haphazard way.
– The trustees will not know the manner in which the money is to be distributed until they ascertain the number of cases likely to require assist ance.
– All those data are available, as the number of widows, orphans, and totally incapacitated soldiers is at present on record. The House should have some information as to the basis on which the trustees are to work and the probable liabilities that have to be met.
– The fund is to be distributed in a comparatively short time- that is, £500,000- and it will be disbursed sensibly and fairly on the recommendations of the Advisory Committees.
– If no definite policy is decided upon the administration of the fund will depend largely upon the moods of individuals. In connexion with our repatriation and pensions schemes we have a set basis which cannot be departed from, and I am afraid that this scheme will not be administered satisfactorily in the interests of those who are to benefit.
The proposed Trust is to consist of very estimable persons, all of whom are favorably known and well fitted for undertaking the work, but I consider that the Trust should comprise not more than two or three members, and each State Advisory Committee not more than four or five members. As the State Committees are to be appointed under regulations, we do not know how many persons are likely to constitute a Committee. It has been said that we are not dealing with public money, and although such is the ease, we cannot disregard our responsibilities in the matter. Every one desires that the best possible machinery shall be provided for the effective distribution of the money, but I cannot conceive how the scheme will work satisfactorily unless Committees are to be appointed in all the States, including Victoria.
– Such Committees are to be appointed.
– If a large number of persons is appointed to the central Trust and to the Advisory Committees the work will be hampered in many ways.
As regards the McCaughey bequest, it appears that there is some reluctance on the part of the executors to place the fund under the control of any Government Department, and, judging by my experience, Government Departments certainly do exercise a good deal of reluctance in distributing money to persons entitled to it. I do not desire to say anything against the late Sir Samuel McCaughey, but many of the soldiers who will not return were sweated by that gentleman.
– That is a most disgraceful statement to make concerning an honorable gentleman who was most liberal in donating funds for charitable purposes. The honorable member ought to be ashamed to make such a statement.
– I am not ashamed. As president of the Australian Workers Union I am in a position to say that no man gave more trouble to us than the late gentleman, and there is no man who has sweated his men more than he did..
– That is not correct.
– The Honorary Minister does not know anything about it.
– I do.
– You do not.
– Order !
– The members of the Australian Workers Union made his money for him.
– Do not talk rubbish.
– I would like to take honorable members to the Yanco shearing shed, where I spent an afternoon quite recently. I can quite understand the honorable gentleman leaving great wealth, as his employees were compelled to live in hovels or pigsties that were unfit for human habitation. However, I do not desire to say anything further about that.
Mr.Rodgers. - Was the honorable member there in the capacity of shearer or agitator ?
– The honorable member does not know anything about the matter. Ministerial supporters do not understand the question. They do not know the sweating conditions under which the employees of this gentleman worked.
– I know as much about the matter as does the honorable member.
– Honorable members opposite have not had to strike and tight and to camp on the banks of creeks in order to earn just a living wage at the Yanco and other properties in that district.
– It is not fair to introduce a matter of the kind on this Bill.
– Certain statements having been made, I wish to put before the House the views of the members of my organization in order that there shall be no misconception as to how this money was made, or how the employees of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey were treated. If the whole of his wealth were to be given back to the returned soldiers or their dependents, it would be merely finding its way to its proper destination.
– Does not the honorable member think that he made an excellent will for his country?
– He made a good deal of money out of this country, and ai the expense of the workers.
– Order! The whole of this discussion is irregular.
– The McCaughey bequest provides that the sum of about £300,000 shall be devoted to training men in agricultural, pastoral, and other technical work. The proposed Trust will not possibly be able to undertake that training. If a Trust of three mem bers iii New South. Wales or Queensland were given control of that phase of the work alone, how could we expect them, acting in an honorary capacity, to give the whole of their time and attention to matters that are already covered by governmental activities? They could not, and I am sure they would not, do it. There is an allocation of about £50,000 for beds and cots in hospitals for the wives and children of members of the Australian Imperial Force, and a like amount to be used for special purposes to be devised or decided upon by the executors. They, I take it, will be the executors of the McCaughey estate, and they will instruct the trustees of the Canteens Fund as to how this money shall be disposed of. That arrangement is not satisfactory. Once Ave accept that money we undertake certain responsibilities, and I believe that the funds cannot be satisfactorily administered by persons acting honorarily, for the reason that they have neither the knowledge nor the time to deal with highly technical subjects upon which large staffs are employed throughout the Commonwealth. There are the system of vocational training in connexion with the Repatriation Department, and the instruction given by the various State colleges and experimental farms in agriculture, viticulture, horticulture, and many other rural pursuits. It is now proposed that, in addition to those activities, some very estimable people, known perhaps for their patriotic work, shall be given the task of deciding highly technical questions in regard to education. They will be unfit for the work, which will necessarily be delegated to other persons having the necessary knowledge, and who will be paid for their services. In its present form, the Bill is a mere skeleton; evidently very little care has been given to its preparation. So far as the measure goes, it has been- explained, but much in connexion with these funds has been left unexplained. The creation of a huge and cumbrous committee of trustees is the only tangible scheme contained in the Bill, together with an all-embracing power to make regulations which will be the real legislation under which the fund will be administered. The Minister would act wisely if he recast the Bill, withdrawing it for that purpose if necessary. In its present form it is bound to cause a good deal of work in Committee. I shall move to provide for the creation of three head trustees, and Committees of not more than four in each State. The Committees will do the local administration work, and their recommendations will be sent to the three head trustees. If the Government will not accept that amendment a good deal of time will be occupied in discussing the Bill, and there will be divisions and other delays which should not be necessary in connexion with a measure of this character. If the Government will recast the Bill on- more definite lines, and give more information to the House, the measure will be passed much easier than it is likely to be in its present form:
.- It is regrettable that we should have had to -listen to a speech such as that which has just been delivered. The late Sir Samuel McCaughey made his wealth by increasing the production of Australia through improving what is, after all, the chief industry of this country. To no man in the history of the Commonwealth do we owe more for the improvement of our flocks than we do to the deceased gentleman, whose memory has been attacked this evening. Any man who improves the flocks and herds of the country takes no money out of anybody’s pocket, but puts money into the pockets of the whole community.
– He improved n’ot only the flocks, but also the country.
– Just so; and he added to the wealth of the community without defrauding anybody. Yet we were told by the . honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who is president of the Australian Workers Union, that the late gentleman made his money by robbing the workers.
– Yes, by sweating them.
– I know the workers in the bush just as well as does the honorable member, and I am sure that they will take very little pride in the speech that has been delivered by their president. On the contrary, they will be ashamed of his utterances. Another statement which he made showed that he is utterly confused as to the purpose of the Bill. He talked about the distribution of nearly £1,000,000. This measure does not propose to distribute that sum of money.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the Bill.
– What the Bill proposes to distribute is the £500,000 in the canteens fund. The McCaughey bequest cannot be distributed by the trustees to be created under this Bill; they can deal only with the interest on that money. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) also seemed to have a confused idea as to the proposal before the House, because he indicated that the funds which are the subject of this legislation might be used to relieve the Repatriation Department of some of its obligations. It is most definitely laid down that this money shall not be used for any purpose of the sort, and I am sure that the Government do not propose that it should. The Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie), when explaining the Bill, quoted a letter written in 1917, which showed that the Government had definitely laid down the policy that these funds shall not be used to relieve the Repatriation Department in any way of its duty to the soldiers. I quite agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) that women should come into the administration of this Bill more than is at present proposed. One of the chief functions of the trustees will be to provide for the women and children of soldiers, and we all know that women are much better at handling children than men can ever be. Therefore I cordially indorse the suggestion that more women should be placed on the central Trust. I also suggest that there should be at least one woman on each State Committee. The whole of the administration of the repatriation activities from the central body down to the hundreds of Committees distributed throughout the States is being altered, and the new scheme seems to be as good a one as can be devised. But in every case where they have power to do so, the Government should appoint women to positions on Trusts and Committees; for the Repatriation Committees as at present constituted do not usually include women. We must have more of the feminine touch if the Bill is to be administered as successfully as it should be.
I have a little cause of complaint against the Bill in that it is rather confused as to the handling of the two separate funds. Ihave already en deavoured to show that they are on different footings, but clause 6 provides -
The trustees shall be charged with the duties of -
That applies quite readily and fittingly to the distribution of the canteens fund, and if it were laid down definitely that that’ provision applies only to the canteens fund, it would meet the situation exactly. But sub-clause b continues -
That part applies with perfect fitness to the McCaughey bequest; but the two funds should be kept apart and distinct, so that there would be no confusion in the minds of honorable members, and, possibly, in the minds of the trustees and Committees later. It has been stated in another place that it is hoped that the whole of the canteens fund will be distributed within a period of about six months. I think that estimate is too sanguine,but the money is the rightful property of the soldiers. They provided it, and it belongs to them; it is in no sense a governmental fund. But there was no other method than that which has been devised for the distribution of the money amongst its rightful owners. As soon as I returned from abroad my first action in the House was to inquire as to what was being done with the canteens fund and to draw attention to the fact that they should be used for the benefit of the women and children of the men who fell at the Front. I am delighted to see that the Government have taken action in that direction at the earliest opportunity, but it would be wise for them to lay down more definitely a clear-cut distinction between the funds drawn from the canteens and the McCaughey bequest. That would remove all difficulties and complaints and to a large extent eliminate the obstruction with which we are threatened when the measure goes into Committee.
.- I should not have risen but for the remarks of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) about my late friend, Sir Samuel McCaughey.
– What a lot of friends the millionaire always has!
– That remark is quite uncalled for, and I am sure that before the evening is over the honorable member who made it will be the first to regret it. It might have been thought that in the discussion of a Bill which deals, among other matters, with the administration and distribution of one of the most munificent bequests ever made for the benefit of the people of Australia, some note of gratitude would be heard. It would not have been out of place if the House had, by resolution,passed a vote of thanks or vote of appreciation to the memory of that great man. I say without hesitation that he was a great man. He was a personal friend of mine. I watched his career, and was, to some extent, brought in contact with him for the last forty years. At all events, if it was not thought necessary by the leaders of the House to ask honorable members to mark in that way their appreciation of the munificence of the bequest made by the late gentleman for the benefit of the people of Australia, at least we might have been spared the melancholy and distressing spectacle of a man who was one of Australia’s greatest citizens being traduced on the floor of this House.
– It is to be hoped that we shall have no more of his kind.
– I trust that we shall have no more of this kind of insults to the memory of our great men, and also to the intelligence of the people. It was my good fortune to meet the late Sir Samuel McCaughey very many years ago, and to have watched his career during the last forty years. So far from such a man being regarded as in any way the enemy of the people or of any class of the people of Australia, I think that in his life-time he probably did as much to benefit, not only the whole of the people of Australia, but the members of that very Australian Workers Union, in whose name the honorable member for Darling has spoken to-night, as any other man who could be named.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot
J ohnson) . - Order !
– I trust that I am confining myself within the four corners of this Bill, which deals with the administration of the bequest left by my late friend.
– I hope that this matter will not be pursued any further. It was raised in debate, and has been sufficiently referred to. I have allowed a little latitude, because of certain references to the bequests of a deceased gentleman, which appeared to have some relation to the purposes of this Bill. But the debate is now developing too much into an attack upon and defence of the deceased gentleman himself, and I think ought now to return to the Bill.
– It was with a desire to bring the minds of honorable members back to the Bill that I rose. I find that at least half of the funds dealt with by the Bill owe their origin to the munificence of the gentleman whose name has been so freely used to-night. It seemed to me, therefore, that this was a most fitting opportunity to make some reference to the source of the money with which the bill deals.
– The trouble is that t he McCaughey bequest is not mentioned in the Bill.
– How was it, then, that the honorable member introduced the name of Sir Samuel McCaughey? It does not lie in his mouth to reproach me with introducing into this debate something which does not properly pertain to it. As regards the means by which the late Sir Samuel McCaughey made his money, so far as I was able to discover in my long acquaintance with him, there was not one step which he took that did not redound not only to his credit, but to the benefit of the whole of the people of Australia.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to pursue that subject further.
– I should be glad if we could obtain more information from the Government about clause 3, which is divided into two paragraphs. The first refers to all surplus moneys of canteens, and the second to “ any moneys which are transferred to the trustees, and which the Minister, by notice in the Gazette, directs shall form part of the fund.”
-Order! The honorable member will be in order in discussing principles, but not clauses, .at the second-reading stage.
– I bow with the deepest respect to your ruling. I remain on my feet only for the purpose of eliciting further information from the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Eyrie) regarding the general, purport of the Bill, which I find is “ a Bill for an Act to make ‘provision for the administration and disposal of the funds of Australian Imperial Force canteens, and for other purposes.” Will the Minister disclose to the House what those other purposes are? I should like not only to elicit 30me information, but to impart a little, if I can do so, regarding the other purposes for which the Bill has been introduced.
– Give us a word on the benefactions in the Bill.
– I thought I could properly introduce that subject by dealing with the benefactors of the Bill; but apparently this is neither the time nor the place to do so. I hope to deal further with these details in Committee.
.- It is quite evident that the last speaker (Mr. Jowett) rose merely for the purpose of making some very kind remarks about the president of the Australian Workers Union (Mr. Blakeley). He must be totally unacquainted with the provisions of the Bill, or he would not have made some of the remarks he did make. The House is virtually resolving itself into a society for the admiration of the persons named in the Bill; but, in my humble opinion, there are other people in the community who worked just as hard, and deserve just as much credit as they do. The Australian Imperial Force canteens showed a surplus over and above the money required to pay their expenses. Some of the men who ran the canteens put their money in to start them; and if the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) likes to look up the correspondence from myself to the Defence Department on behalf of those people, he will find that they were done out of their money, which was never returned to them. We are dealing in this Bill with £500,000, which has come from the soldiers, and I am satisfied that if the soldiers had had the appointment of a Trust to administer the fund, those appointed would not have been all of the one political colour, as the members of the Trust proposed by the Government are. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) will remember that we had funds similar to this in New South Wales for the relief of sufferers from the Bulli disaster, the Ly-ee-moon disaster, and others. The Australian people, with that magnificent generosity which they always show to those who require’ assistance, contributed large sums of money, which were vested in trustees, just as this Bill proposes. In those cases the trustees 3tuck to the money until the older people died, and the boys and girls, for whom it was intended, grew up. Then they turned round and told us that there was nobody to receive the money, and it remained unused for years. I have nothing to say against the proposed trustees personally, but their sympathies and views are so much at variance with those of the section that I come from and represent that it is possible, unless the Bill is altered, that the fund will not be administered in the spirit and intention which the men who supplied the money would have approved. I urge the Minister to have the fund administered in the way in which - those men would have administered it themselves. The House would have heard nothing about an Inter-State Trust but for an interjection I made across the chamber. As soon as I got the Bill I saw the flaw in it, and interjected, when the Minister was speaking, that the members of the Trust all came from one State, and that there was no provision for administration in other States. The Minister replied, “ We cannot have” any one from other States on the Trust, because he would have to travel to Melbourne, and that would mean additional expenditure.” I am sure the proposed trustees will not administer the fund properly. The Minis- ter should show his honesty of purpose by withdrawing the Bill, and inserting the necessary new clauses in it. That would be a statesman-like way of dealing with the matter. Those who have been in political life for any length of time know that promises count for little.
Prominent in the Prime Minister’s career are the promises made and not carried into effect. In my opinion, the promises made in regard to the Bill may never be fulfilled. I have nothing to say against the gentleman whose bequest will form part of the fund that will be the subject of the proposed Trust. He became a millionaire, and noone believes that any one can become a millionaire all of whose transactions are above suspicion. As to his money, he could not take itwith him. Naked we come into the world and naked we go out of it again. I think it is a good thing. I feel sure that Mr. Ashton and Sir Joseph Carruthers, who are trustees under his will, and derive kudos from their connexion with his affairs, being public men, will not allow themselves to be deprived of anything that would increase their political importance. I understand that some of his money was devised for the promoting of classical study at the University, and that there are bequests in aid of technical education as well, for the benefit of the children of soldiers. I knew the old fellow, and on one occasion stopped three days at his house. No doubt he was a good business man, and, like most Scotchmen, if he spent £1 he got £2 for it. It will always be my endeavour to see that funds subscribed for philanthropic purposes are administered in the spirit that prompted the beneficence of the givers. That will happen only when persons like myself are charged with their administration. I have had a long experience of affairs, and have been trustee of many funds, and still am a trustee. This is a very crude measure, and shows no special ability on the part of the draftsman, though he may have the excuse that he drew it on the information that was given to him, and was badly informed. It is not. clear whether the children who are to benefit are to receive a weekly allowance or occasional doles, or whether widows are to be set up in businesses. The £500,000 which was earned in the canteens was contributed by those who drank beer and spirits most freely, because it was out of alcoholic drinks that the canteens made their profits. We are told that this is only a small measure; but it contains vital principles. Parliament should see that those for whom the money of which it disposes is intended get what has been provided for them. The Bill does not show how the money is to be apportioned. Apparently, the Minister got a letter from Dr. Mary Booth, and it frightened him, because she is one of his constituents, and an opponent, and a pretty strong one at that. I hope thatwe shall be told definitely who are to be appointed to the Committees in the various States. In my opinion, this fund should be administered by representatives of the soldiers, not by ornamental society leaders. If you want a tooth drawn, you go, not to a stonemason, but to a dentist. At the present time nearly all those at the head of public affairs have a string of letters after their name so long that they might well be called alphabetical people, and some of them have so many letters in front of their name as well, that to address a letter to them in full would take from 9 in the morning until 5 in the evening. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) remembers the Bulli disaster in New South Wales, which brought into existence a fund, the trustees of which became regular professional philanthropists. They invested the money that had been subscribed for the victims of the disaster, appointed one friend as secretary and another as clerk, and applied the interest in miserable doles, such as were not intended by the subscribers, a woman with six children receiving 6d. a day for a child, and the children of the sufferers being treated as if they were different from other children. A well-known teetotaller in Sydney was in charge of the administration of the fund, and administered it in such a way that afterwards persons could not be got to subscribe to similar funds, and in New South Wales the fountains of charity were for a number of years sealed up. These canteen profits were made chiefly by the sale of alcohol.
– No; that is not so.
– I have been in some of the canteens myself.
– Does the honorable member not know that Mr. Lockyer made a new brand of beer containing only 2 per cent. of alcohol?
– It could not be called tea; it was beer, and not tea. Cold tea was no good to the soldiers.
– Tell the Minister for the Navy about the Bulli Fund.
– The right honorable gentleman knows all about it. I am sure that he believes that its administration is no credit to those who have charge of it.
– This is not a similar proposal.
– I should like to know what is the difference. The right honorable gentleman is pretty cute as a politician, and I know no one who could more cleverly show that black is white; but he cannot explain the difference.
– I could not make west into east.
– And the right honorable gentleman could not make the people of East Sydney break away from West. He tried very hard to do so; but they would not listen to him, and he had to clear out. When the people of East Sydney got West, they stuck to him, as they knew when they had a good thing. I advise the Government to withdraw thi* Bill, and submit another proposal which will set out specifically what is to be done in the distribution of these funds. I am aware that the measure was passed in another place, but I never take much notice of that other place, because this is the business House of this Parliament, since it controls the finances.
– This is the people’s House.
– It ought to be, but I am afraid that it is not just now. I am satisfied that, in respect to the McCaughey bequest, the trustees of Sir Samuel McCaughey’s will will not permit any of the funds in their charge to be dealt with in any other way than that provided for in the will of which they are executors. Mr. Carruthers and Mr. Ashton are pretty cute men, and know well the duties of an executor of a will. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) has agreed that this Bill should make provision for State representation in connexion with this Trust. The Government would do well to take note of that, as their majority is not very large, and the Corner party are not quite to be depended upon. If members of the Government wish to keep their jobs, they will, in the circumstances, take my tip. and carry out their duties in a proper manner”. I appeal to them again to permit this Bill to be so framed that the administration of these funds may be placed in the hands of persons who know something of the conditions of those whom it is intended to benefit’ by their distribution.
.- I am one of those who are responsible for the existence of the surplus canteens funds. I should like, therefore, to say a few words about their distribution. The way in which I usually became acquainted with the canteens fund at the inception of the canteens was by putting a couple of pounds into the proposal to enable a start to be made. I never happened to be there at any time when there was to be a distribution of profits. I have been disappointed to-night to find that there appears to be a general desire on the part of the Government and the House to get rid of this £500,000 of accumulated profits in the quickest possible time. It has been suggested that these funds should be distributed in the course of about six months. I agree with the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) that some means of dealing with this money should be devised other than the paying of it out as a sort of extra war gratuity in the way which has been suggested. The benefits provided for under clause 6 of the Bill appear to me to be benefits already provided for by other legislation passed by this Parliament, and are benefits the cost of which should be met by the whole of the people of this country. Those who have suffered by reason of the war should be treated in the most generous fashion, and not in a casual way. If this ‘ £500,000 is distributed in a casual way, as it will be if we leave its distribution to honorary trustees .and honorary advisory Boards, there will be nothing whatever to show for it. It seems to me that the suggestion put forward by Sir Samuel McCaughey in his will is one jhich might properly be followed by this House in the disposition of the surplus canteen funds. An amount of £300,000 of the McCaughey bequest is to be devoted to education, and, in my view, the £500,000 of canteen surplus profits should be set aside to provide for the education of the orphans of men who fell on the other side, or of men who have returned disabled to Australia. If the Government take the step of augmenting the McCaughey bequest in this fashion there will not be wanting men of similar spirit who, during their life-time, will give generously towards such a fund, and make -secure the future education of the orphans of the men who died in doing their duty to their country. It is easy enough now to be generous, because the remembrance of the war, and the terrible danger we escaped, is present; but in ten or fifteen years’ time, when the boys and girls are growing up, there will be less inclination to handle their cases liberally. I think that the sum I suggest should be capitalized and appropriated in a similar way to what is suggested in the McCaughey will. I further suggest that one of the executors, or at least a nominee of the executors of the will, should be one of the Trust which has the administration of the fund. I go further, and suggest that, as well as an Advisory Board for the central administration, we should go direct to the electorates for the next body of advice, and not worry about State administration. There are only seventy-five electorates, and if we distributed the money, even under the present arrangement,” it would mean £7,000 or £8,000 in each electorate. If there is a State advisory body as well as a central body, we shall have continual circumlocution, and a great deal of expense, with very little satisfaction to anybody.
– We have to link up with the Repatriation Committees of each State.
– The Local Repatriation Committees could much more readily work in the electorates than in the States. One of the difficulties of repatriation is .that its administration is not sufficiently centralized. It seems to mc that the country children will be penalized in the future by reason of their distance from the centres of education, and these are the children who should receive the greatest benefit under the will. I think it goes without saying that the constituted Trust should be from one centre. There is no reason whatever for any State jealousy; and if the suggestion I have made for electorate Advisory Boards is adopted, these will be in communication with the central Trust, and remove any occasion for such, jealousy.
– I will not detain the ‘House many minutes, but merely desire to say a word or two, because I was interested in the canteen funds as a member of the War Council in Queensland. All the positions under this Bill are honorary, and, therefore, the Country party cannot be accused of not aiming at economy on this occasion. When the Repatriation Bill was under consideration, the Minister in charge of it (Mr. Poynton) very pointedly said that all the business connected with the returned soldiers, particularly the pensions business, should be carried on under one roof. The Bill before us affects none but the soldiers themselves; this is practically the soldiers’ fund, to which they themselves contributed, some directly and many of them indirectly; and if there is any part of the business that should be brought under one roof it is this. The Repatriation Department, with it? great staff, should take over the distribution of this fund.
I have no fault to find with any of the persons who have been named in the Bill as trustees. One or two of them, as I know from personal observation, devoted the whole of their time, and in many .instances much of their money, to making the canteens a success. Mrs. Deakin, the widow of the late Hon. Alfred Deakin, did honorary work during the war second to that of no woman in the Commonwealth; and if any one deserves a position on this Board or Committee it is that lady. Then there is Mr. Lockyer. Perhaps honorable members, or the soldiers themselves, do not know the interest that that man took in work of the kind, particularly in connexion with the canteen business. There was six months’ leave of absence due to him for long and meritorious services in the Commonwealth, and he devoted that leave to fixing up the canteens throughout the Commonwealth. For all that work he hoped for no reward, and took none; and now, at the “final flutter,” he comes forward and offers his services free.
There is no party politics in this Bill. Some of the gentlemen mentioned are good men. We know, for instance, what the Hon. George Swinburne, of Victoria, has done. He has done his “bit” here as far as any man could, and the others were all engaged in work connected with the soldiers, either at the Front or in the Commonwealth.
Then, again, I think the ladies who have been the leading lights of the Red Cross Society here deserve some recognition. Some of them were wholly and solely devoted to the welfare of the soldiers across the seas. They denied themselves of every pleasure, and in many cases of ‘every comfort, in order to help the boys who went to the Front; and as there is’ no provision made for their recognition in the Bill, I should like to see, under the regulations, one, or, perhaps, three of them, appointed to the advisory bodies. No one could administer this part of the business better than some of the women of Australia.
I agree with my namesake, the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), in the suggestion that this money should be capitalized in perpetuity. There is, roughly speaking, about £1,000,000.
– What would eventually become of the capital?
– In fifty years’ time, what will that matter to us? If this £1,000,000 were invested .at the present rate of interest, there would be an income of £60,000 per annum.
– What is that among so many?
– Has the honorable member ever known what it is to want a “ quid “ ? Personally, I think that if from this fund could be distributed a few shillings per week to some of the widows and orphans now receiving assistance from the Repatriation Department, it would prove, in many instances, a godsend. In moving the second reading of this Bill the Minister said that he did not expect the money to last more than six months, and that the Trust would endeavour to get rid of it as speedily as possible.
– Did not the honorable member advocate the payment of the war gratuity in cash?
– I did not advocate it, but I voted for it.
– And now that the Government propose to pay cash the honorable member wishes to have this money tied up.
– If the Government desire to throw it about, by all means let them do so. . Thank God the executors of the late Sir Samuel McCaUghey will not allow them to throw his bequest about. That has been tied up in such a fashion that it will be of some value in the years to come. Do Ministers imagine that in ten years time the public of Australia will think as much of those men who went across the seas to save this country as they do to-day? Time works wonders. Every day the children of those who fell in the war will be growing up, and in a few years many of them will be able to look after themselves. It would be wisdom on the part of the Government to add to this fund one million pounds or two million pounds, so that the Trust might . have interest amounting to £180,000 annually to distribute amongst necessitous cases. That would be money very wisely invested indeed. But it will not take long for the fund to disappear if it is distributed in the way that has been suggested. However, I recognise that it is idle for me or any member of the Opposition to make recommendations to the Minister. But the people outside will take notice of those who wished to do the best that is possible for the widows and orphans of our fallen soldiers.
– Is it not a fact that Mr. Lockyer discussed this matter with the representatives of the soldiers, so that the scheme provided in the Bill is largely the result of their own conclusions ? After all, it is the soldiers’ money, is it not?
– Why does the State enact legislation to prevent people getting drunk? Is it not to save thom from themselves? If the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) had very little to come and go upon, and if he were offered his choice between £100 now and £100 distributed over ten years, I know which he would choose.
-This is the soldiers’ money, and it is only the difficulty of returning it to them that is responsible for it being dealt with in this way.
– Ministers say that the money is to be , distributed amongst necessitous cases. I do not believe that there is a single soldier who, if consulted, would not say, “Whatever my cut is out of it, give it to the widows and orphans of those who have fallen.’’ When we were winding up the ‘ canteen. in Brisbane after the buildings had been sold, there remained a certain amount of money to. bo distributed. A “vote was taken as to what should be done with it, and I am pleased to say that there was not one soldier who did not say, “ Give it to the. widows and orphans of our mates who fell overseas.” They have paid this money, they have “ boozed “ it up, and they are quite satisfied that the surplus shall go in the direction I have indicated. I agree with the honorable member for Cowper that if the money were invested wisely a good deal might be done with it.
– He does not look as if he “ boozed “ much.
– He said that he put a couple of “ quids” into the fund. A man docs not need to be a drunkard to contribute to a fund of the kind, he merely requires to have a drink now and again, just as I do-
– This money has been made out of 2d. beer.
– If the Minister has not had a “booze” in. the canteens in the camps here,, he occupies a unique position. I have never known a Minister to visit a camp without having something to. drink, even if it were lemonade.
– Amongst Mr. Lockyer’s achievements, he induced the authorities to brew a new kind of beer for the canteens.
– And it took so much more of that beer to make the men drunk that the canteens became more profitable than they would otherwise have been. As one who was associated with Mr. Lockyer on the cantoens in Queensland, I wish to pay my tribute to him for what he has done for the soldiers and Australia.
– It is mainly his suggestion, that we should apt in this way.
– But “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety,”’ even if those counsellors are only Labour men. Mr. Lockyer may not have thought of the wisdom of investing this money. But if He and the Government think that the method provided is the best for dealing with this matter, I have no objection to urge.
– The Bill has been drawn’ loosely in order to give- the Trust all the power that we- can.
– I believe that the Repatriation - Department shouldknow nothing of the doings of the Trust which it is intended to constitute.
– That Department has neither created the fund nor endowed it.
– No. I can understand why this scheme has been put forward. It is intended to provide for the equitable distribution of the. money amongst the widows and orphans of deceased soldiers. So far as I am concerned, I wish it all the good luck that can attend it. I have implicit faith in the trustees to be appointed, and particularly in Mrs. Deakin and Mr. Lockyer. With them upon the Trust I’ am certain that the fund will be as well administered as it would be if 1 were a member oft the Trust myself.
Debate (on motion by Mr. BOWDEN’ adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 April 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200428_reps_8_91/>.