8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Acting Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Commissioner advises -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Minister will lay upon the table of the House the papers in reference to the recall of Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith, O.C., No. 1 Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, Egypt, in 1915?
– The documents upon which the Minister acted in accepting the advice of the authorities overseas have already been made available for the perusal of honorable members, and I shall be happy to enable the honorable member for Hindinarsh to peruse them.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government will have prepared a statement, and have the same laid on the table of the House at the earliest opportunity, respecting the following: -
The total amount paid by the Government during the periods July, 1918, June, 1919, July, 1919, and June, 1920, in connexion with the medical and surgical administration and staff at the military hospital at Keswick, South Australia?
A detailed list of practitioners and the respective amounts received for duties at the above hospital?
A list of practitioners permanently attached to the staff?
A list of practitioners in the service of the Department at this Hospital who also have a private practice?
A list of practitioners who are in the service of the Department at the above hospital, and who are also retained by other Government Departments, and what amounts are received for such other duties?
Mr.WISE.- Yesterday the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) asked me the following questions: -
Is it a fact that, in connexion with the transfer of the officers’ of the Government Land Radio Stations from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Postmaster-General, the following injustices have occurred: - (a) That permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service (previous to their transfer to the Department of the Navy for war service) find themselves transferred back to the Public Service without their former status, thereby being reduced from the Professional class of the Service to the Clerical; (b) that increments of salary earned by them under the Department of the Navy, and due from July last, have not been paid by the Navy, and that the Commissioner for the Public Service has ignored the same when assessing their present salaries; (c) that officers have beenreduced in salary as much as £29 per annum, in addition to their £12 annual increment, making their total reduction £41 per annum?
Is it a fact that the officers, who are all members of the Radio Telgraphists Institute of Australasia, instructed their secretary to ask the Public Service Commissioner to allow them representation when the details of the transfer were being considered, in order to prevent injustice?
If so, why was this request refused?
Is it a fact that the Public Service Commissioner acknowledged recently, through his representative in the Arbitration Court, that these officers were “ professional engineering men “ ?
If so, why have these men been deprived of their status?
As these officers have received no war bonus, repatriation benefits, or recognition of any sort for their services at a time of great national danger, will the Government, at this late hour, in recognition of this service, and in view of the treatment now meted out to them, appoint a special tribunal to inquire into their case at once with their official representative?
I promised that the information would be obtained, and the Acting Public Service Commissioner has now furnished me with the following information: - 1. (a) Upon re-appointment to the Public Service certain of the officers referred to have been classified in the Clerical Division.. The duties of these officers are not considered to be of a Professional Division character. Positions of an allied character in other sections of the Postmaster ^General’s Department are classified in the Clerical Division, and no good reason now exists for difference in divisional classification. Where the duties are of a professional character, e.g., engineers, the officers have been classified in the Professional Division, (b) Increments due from 1st July lost accruing up to date of transfer have been paid, except in cases where it is the practice to hold payment until the passing of the Estimates. The officers claims to these increments were not overlooked when assessing their salaries as officers of the Public Service, (c) While, owing to difference in system of classification in the Navy Department and in the Public Service, amounts paid as salary will in nine cases be less, there will be no reduction in actual remuneration; on the contrary, there has been a general increase. It must be noted that the Navy scale of salary covered all services rendered by officers on Sundays, on holidays, and for overtime, which, under Public Service practice, are compensated by payment in addition to salary. Furthermore, any reduction in salary has also been met by placing the Radio staff under similar conditions to those of the general body of officers in the grant of allowances to meet present conditions of living. Each unmarried officer will receive £30, and each married officer £45, in addition to salary, and remuneration for Sunday and holiday work should amount to at least an additional thirty days’ pay. Exclusive of Sunday and holiday pay, the officers of theRadio staff willbe paid during the current financial year a sum of £4,250 above what they would have received had they remained under the Department of the Navy, and received increments from 1st July, 1920.
Death of the Lord Mayor of Cork.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, in which he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “the effect on Australian relations with Great Britain of the action of that country’s Government in connexion with the death of the late Lord Mayor of Cork.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- The participation of Australia in the great European war justifies the intervention of this Parliament in other matters of international importance. “We fought for “ the liberty of small nations and to make the world safe for Democracy”; at least, so we were assured during the continuance of the war. That being so, we are entitled to show concern for small nations other than Belgium and Poland whose liberty is impaired and in which Democracy is not safe.
Our intervention in this conflict, which, by the way, evoked much eulogy from persons who have since proved neither friends to one small nation nor to Democracy, establishes our right to a voice in international matters, and cancels any objection which might otherwise be raised to this motion.
The people of Australia - putting aside a noisy but negligible faction - having taken part in the war, and having thus shown their desire for the liberty of small nations and for the triumph of Democracy, must be taken as cordially favouring removal of’ the grievances of Ireland. We may, therefore, assume that they reprobate and reprehend the policy which has resulted in the tragic death of the Lord Mayor of Cork. That event has provoked amazement and indignation throughout the civilized world. The public conscience is shocked by a policy which leads to such tragedies. Close observers of events, here and elsewhere, fear that a continuance of this policy will lead to strained relations between Australia and Britain. This fear is shared by some of the clearest thinkers and most eminent men, even in England. Among others let me cite Lord Denman, a former Governor-General of Australia, who knows this country intimately. Writing to the London Times on 6th September last, he said -
If not too late, the Lord Mayor of Cork should be released immediately. His death in prison will probably defer hope of Irish settlement for many years,
This is the part which I emphasize for the benefit of honorable members and those outside who may be inclined to object to the motion - and will certainly have serious consequences in the self-governing Dominions.
I take it that Lord Denman had several reasons for writing in that strain. The first, of course, was to save the English Government from the reproach of the murder of the Lord Mayor of Cork; the second, I take it, was the hope that his release would bring about a more speedy settlement of the Irish question. But he had a third reason. Lord Denman, knowing Australia well, is aware that our domestic problems are often complicated by appeals to sectarian rancour and anti-Irish prejudices, which invariably provoke retaliation. It is apparent that he desired to remove the cause of these outbreaks, in order that Australia might attend to her national affairs, free from such extraneous obtrusiveness. I may commend the wise words and the deliberate warning of Lord Denman to the consideration of the House and the country.
In itself, and apart from other circumstances the death in a foreign prison of the Lord Mayor of an Irish city should give pause to every man who values civic liberty. Let us consider what manner of man he was, and why he met death in a convict cell. No criminal, certainly. Even the Thugs who gaoled him dare not utter that perjury. He was a man irreproachable in domestic and private life, a poet and idealist, beloved by his fellow citizens, the parliamentary representative and chief magistrate of an ancient and important city. What sort of Government is it which puts a man of this type in fetters, and condemns him to the death of a felon?
– The death of a hero.
– Let us consider the character of the Government which did this thing. I say deliberately that you would have to go back to the Russia of the Czars or to some of the cut-throat clubs of theFrench Revolution for its prototype. .
– What was done was not as bad as shooting policemen in the back.
– I never heard of a policeman being shot in the back, except when he was running away. The honorable member should know that there are no policemen in Ireland. There are spies; there are the agents provocateurs of a foreign Government; but there are no men who at any time perform purely police duties as understood in Australia. There is not a police force in Ireland in the ordinary sense of the term. I suppose the honorable member spoke out to the fullness of his ignorance of Irish matters.
– I ask if the honorable member is in order in referring to the British Governmentas a foreign Government in Ireland?
– I have no precise knowledge that the reference was to the English Government. In any case, the honorable member is only expressing his own view.
– This ridiculous point of order I shall meet by a plain statement. I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as Ireland is concerned, the British Government is a foreign Government.
– You’ have sworn allegiance to it.
– Have I ? When ? I have sworn allegiance to Australia, not to any other country.
– You said that we fought the last war to make this a nation.
– I do not think that the honorable member did much fighting.
– Certainly the honorable member himself did not.
– I was past the ;ageof. fighting; otherwise I might have gone where there was some danger; I doubt that the honorable member did that.
– Then you do not know much about it.
– I know as much about it as you were in a position to know.
– In any case, what has the matter under discussion to do with Australia ?
– What had the war between England and Germany to do with Australia? Is it nothing to Australia, whose sons in thousands died for the liberty of Belgium and Prance, that little Ireland, a part of the British Empire, has had its liberty ruthlessly suppressed? Having spent unnumbered millions to help to “make the world safe for Democracy,” why should the honorable member question an effort, which costs nothing, to make Democracy safe in Ireland ?
I desire to assure the House that I am not voicing the sentiments of merely those of the kinship or of the blood, of the Lord Mayor of Cork. Here I have, a copy of the London Nation, a newspaper not published in the interests of any particular party, but apparently ah impartial one. The Nation is, I believe, a
Radical newspaper, but I think some honorable members opposite who are interjecting might consult its pages with advantage so far as international politics are concerned. The Nation says -
Here is a representative leader of Irish Democracy, a member of Parliament, and a chieftain of Sinn Fein. What are his relations with the British Government ? Mr. MacSwiney was first arrested four years ago. He was then deported to Wakefield prison without trial or charge. Some, months later he was released “ without explanation or apology.” In a few months he was rearrested and deported. He escaped, was rearrested, and sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment for a seditious speech. In one month of 1918 he was released for ill-health, and re-arrested the next. Again he was discharged a sick man, re-arrested . at the prison gate, and deported, untried and uncharged, to England. Release, again “without explanation or apology,” followed next spring. In the autumn of 1919 and in the following year four warrants were issued against him. His final arrest, and his fourth deportation to England, took place last month.
How was this man tried? Not by a jury of his fellow countrymen, but by a court martial composed of officers of the army of occupation. What sort of justice was4 he likely to get from a tribunal of that kind ? What was his offence 1 His offence was this : His desk -was burst open, and in it was found some document which was supposed to belong exclusively to the army of occupation. That was the offence for which this man - this Lord Mayor of Cork and member of Parliament - was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, and to a lingering and painful death.
– “ A lingering and painful” death “ ?
– That was the outcome undoubtedly.
– Would the authorities not give him any food ?
– The honorable member who asks that silly question is evidently unable to understand or appreciate the heroism cf a man who sacrificed himself for the advancement of an ideal. I do not expect the honorable member to comprehend such an exalted act.
– I cannot!
– No; certainly not. The honorable member is more concerned with the price of wheat.
– There is a great deal of difference between a man offering himself as a sacrifice, and his being murdered.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that a man commits suicide who rushes into a burning building to save life, or that a man in war time, when fighting against the enemy, suicides when he gives his life to save the lives of others ? That is what the Lord Mayor of Cork did, and I hope that there will be no Thuggish suggestion that he committed suicide.
– There is no question about it.
– It is a lie!
– I rise to a point of order. It is quite clear that this matter cannot be debated calmly.
– Simply on account of insolent interjections from the other side.
– I ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, whether this is a motion which should be debated in the present way. I should like to know, first of all, where the urgency of this matter is - how it becomes a matter of urgent public importance here in Australia. There is another course available in order to debate such questions as this. This question of Irish wrongs has been aebated here, as you, sir, may recollect, on more than one occasion. Such a question ought to be debated on a specific motion; it is not in the nature of a matter of urgent public importance such as to justify a motion for the adjournment of the House, and the setting aside of the ordinary business of the country. I subunit that the motion is not one within the category of the standing order, which provides clearly that an honorable member must rise in his place, and must propose to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a “ definite matter of urgent public importance.” This is a motion which would properly find its place, if at all, on the ordinary business-paper, to be dealt with in the ordinary way.
– The question whether this is a motion that can be rightly regarded as dealing with a definite matter of urgent public importance is not really one for me to decide. If the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) will read standing order 38 he will see that the question of urgency and of the importance ,of the motion is practically determined by a certain number of members rising in their places to signify their acquiesence in the view that the matter is of urgent public importance.
– What standing order is that, Mr. Speaker?
– Anything does to delay discussion that the Treasurer does not wish to hear !
– The honorable ‘member had better stop such insults; they will not help the discussion.
– I refer to standing order 38, which is as follows: -
Mo motion ‘for the adjournment of the House shall be made except by a Minister of the Crown, unless a member after petitions have been presented and notices of questions and motions given, and before the business of the day is called on rising in his place shall propose to move the adjournment for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance (which he shall then state and hand in writing to the Speaker), and unless five members shall thereupon rise in their places as indicating approval of the proposed discussion. The member proposing the motion for adjournment shall not be allowed to address the House on such motion until the Speaker shall have ascertained that five members approve of the proposed motion.
– That does not make the matter urgent.
– It has been decided by Speakers of the House of Commons that the fact that a certain number of members rise in their places is an indication that the matter is regarded by a section of the House as one of urgent public importance, and that it is not one for the Speaker to determine. That the onus is placed on the House seems to be clear from the fact that five members must rise in their places to signify approval and concurrence, and as an indication that they regard the question as one of urgent importance. Of course, it is for the House to deal with the matter as it thinks fit.
– Very respectfully I ask to be permitted to point out-
– Does the Treasurer question my ruling?
– I wish to point out where I think it is wrong.
– There is only one way to challenge the Speaker’s ruling, and that is by submitting a motion of dissent in writing; the Speaker’s ruling cannot be canvassed or debated except under such a motion. Honorable members will see how the business of the House would become chaotic if, when a ruling were given, it were made the subject of debate and argument with the Chair. Therefore, the Standing Orders specifically provide a means of challenging a ruling if it is thought to be wrong.
– Many a Speaker has heard another view in regard to his rulings before it has been finally disposed of.
– The right honorable gentleman would, in other circumstances, himself be the first to question such a procedure.
– The Treasurer has been very successful in his object. Knowing that the Standing Orders limit my time, he has adroitly consumed much of it. However, in view of the feeling on the Government side of the House, I will express no further opinions of my own, but simply read the deliberate declaration of the members of the British Parliamentary Labour party. Here is what the British delegation, after visiting every part of Ireland, reported to their colleagues in the House of Commons -
Ireland is utterly estranged . . . uy an administration whose methods would drive any spirited nation into a state of deep-seated and dangerous discontent….. Over the i greater part of Ireland the belief exists that
Dublin Castle pursues a policy of calculated provocation. The civil and military police between them have destroyed practically all safeguards of personal and political liberty. . . . Raids on private houses are of common occurrence. Possession of a -political leaflet means immediate arrest: A gathering of three persons is an illegal assembly. Fairs and markets, an essential part of Irish trade, are prohibited; trade union meetings, even national games and pastimes, are forbidden, and musical and literary festivities of the most harmless character are regarded as conspiracies. . . . The High Court Bench is mainly political, its charges to the grand juries, and political feeling often determines its judgment. No Irish Judge condemned the Ulster rebellion of 1013-14, which was led by an eminent King’s Counsel; but to-day all Irish Judges condemn Southern “ sedition.” The contempt with which Courts are regarded is the direct reflex of the general misrule.
Turning once more to the London Nation I find this extract, which I commend to honorable members -
A Government is no Government, as we English understand government, which discards the representative principle or inhibits it from working. This is what we have done to Irish representation.
I ask the attention of honorable members to the passage which follows : -
In 1918, sixty-eight Sinn Feiners were elected by the people of Ireland. Of these we have sentenced ten to death and twenty-one to penal servitude. Thirty-seven have been arrested without charge, and imprisoned or deported without trial, and sixty-five imprisoned without charge or for political offences. Only two out of the sixty-eight have escaped the attention of our police. The normal residence of an Irish Republican member of Parliament is a British prison.
Let me remove one possible misconception. These Irish members of Parliament are elected by the machinery and methods established by the English Government in Ireland, which are practically identical with, the machinery by which are elected members of Parliament in England. Such of these members as are not in gaol could enter the House of Commons to-morrow if they choose to do so, but they decline. Is it not a shocking commentary on Britain’s boasted love of freedom that the . elect of the nation find their place, not in Parliament, but in the gaols of the country ? I am confident that Australia will not stand for a policy so unrighteous, and that, if continued, it will lead to serious estrangement between the Dominions and the Imperial Government.
I do not wish to quote much from the Australian press, but here is a summary of the position in the Australian Worker of the 15th July, which well expresses the position. We are told -
The situation in Ireland is without precedent inthe history of any civilized people. No such barbarities were ever practised by the Germans in Alsace-Lorraine as have been perpetrated in Ireland within the past five years.
To-day there are nearly 100,000 British troops and 11,000 armed police trying vainly to compel the Irish race to show respect for English officials, whom they loathe, and for English laws which they neither made nor sanctioned. And this criminal and tragic farce is costing the British taxpayers over £14,000,000 a year. For what?
Do the Irish ‘people desire to injure Britain or the British? Are they trying to undermine the British Empire? Are they attempting to annex any British territory or to invade England?
Of course, they are not attempting any of these things. Ireland’s only offence is that the people demand the right to make their own laws without the intervention of foreign bullies and foreign bayonets.
An objection was made a few moments ago to the propriety of referring to the British Government in Ireland as a foreign Government. I repeat that any administration which does not exist by the free will and the sanction of the people over whom it functions is a foreign Government. Here, in this newspaper, I have an endorsement of that statement -
And Britain, being the bigger of the two, refuses to discontinue the bullying and the bayoneting.
Present writer, who is neither Irish nor Roman Catholic, is aware that there are a small number of people in Ireland who want to be governed from Downing-street, London. For the most part, they are either religious fanatics or capitalistic reactionaries, who see “ Rome “ or “ Bolsh “ in red letters whichever way they turn.
We have quite a number of the same kidney in the Commonwealth, but we do not allow them to run the country as they do in Ireland, with the aid of British machine guns, tanks, and troops.
What is there about Ireland which makes it so attractive to John Bull that he is content to incur the contempt of the whole civilized world rather than leave the place alone? What does Britain gain by keeping Ireland as a thorn in her flesh?
Would it not be immeasurably wiser policy to have Ireland as a contented, happy and prosperous neighbour?
I think I may fairly conclude with these words. I regret very much the heat which has been imported into this discussion. It was not of my seeking. I had no intention whatever of saying anything to offend anyhonorable member,or, indeed, any person in the community. If I have inadvertently done so, I regret it, but the justification is in the uncalled-for provocation I received from the ‘benches opposite.
– I must confess to a feeling of surprise that, under the Standing Orders, such a matter as this can be treated as one of urgency. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) can hardly expect us to believe that he has . submitted this motion in order to do some good thing for Australia. If he would have us believe, as wereadily can, that he ‘has moved this motion to do some evil to Britain and the Empire, then it does seem most amazing that it should he possible for him to do so with impunity under the . Standing Orders and procedure of this House, which recognise Australia as an integral part of the British Empire, and, in so many words, declare emphatically that the King of Britain is the King of this country. The honorable member has chosen as a peg upon which to hang his diatribe against England the death of Alderman MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork. In this matter every man speaks for himself. I am not going into the merits of the offence of the late Lord Mayor of Cork, or the manner in which he was treated. I would not like any one to think that I had no admiration for a man who died for a cause; but if I am asked whether this man died for a just cause, I join issue with the honorable member and say that he did not. He died for a cause in which he believed. If I am asked to bow my head as a token of respect for that man I do so, but it must not be understood that in doing that I am blaming Britain. The honorable member introduces this matter in a way that suggests that he thinks all the merits are on the one side. He has invited us to censure Britain. We cannot do that.
Ministerial Members. - We will not do it._
– By passing the resolution which the honorable . member would have us pass, we would tear up our Constitution and our connexion with Great Britain. The honorable member has asked us some very foolish questions this morning. He referred us to a newspaper called the Nation, which he would have us believe gives an impartial expression of British opinion. He then pro’ceeded to quote the Worker. I do not know who is the’ writer of the article he quoted, but in some newspaper in this country one can find support for any opinion one pleases to express. I could find support, just as effective and’ complete for Lenin and Trotsky and the Woody horrors which those men have perpetrated in Russia during the last two or three years.
– The Prime Minister does not know what he is talking about.
– They have perpetrated bloody horrors the like of which has never been known in civilized times. I am not going to censure Britain ; I am not going to interfere with the rights of the British Parliament to mind its own business. If some member of that Parliament rose in his place to-morrow and attempted to tell us what we ought to do in matters within our own constitutional power, I should be the first to tell him to mind his own business. We have business enough of our own. Let us attend to it.
I repeat that the honorable member would have us believe that all the merits of this matter are entirely with Ireland - that the Irish are always in the right, and that England is always in the wrong. I am not going to defend English rule in Ireland. Let the English defend it. But any man who in this House asks Australia to censure England on the ground that one man after a fast of over seventy days, has died, in order to show that he believes in Sinn Fein, and then expects- us not only to justify but to laud Sinn Fein in the face of its record of crimes and outrages, the like of which neither the honorable member nor I has seen equalled in his lifetime, must have a curious view of public opinion in Australia. I have before me last night’s issue of the Herald and this morning’s issue of the Argus. In the Herald it is stated that in Ireland within the last forty-eight hours two policemen have been killed and two wounded ; that one soldier has been killed and two wounded, two civilians killed and two wounded, and two “ black and tans “ killed. In the morning paper there appears a cablegram headed “ Sein Fern murders.” “Seventeen constables killed.” “ Public will not help police.” The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has said that he did not know of any policeman in Ireland who had been shot in the back. Sir, they shot an Irish Roman Catholic policeman while he was before the altar. The honorable member would have us believe that the police of Ireland are Protestants and Englishmen. They are mostly Irish Roman Catholics. This man was shot before the altar - a foul, sacrilegious crime. They shot another man on his way home from mass. . They waited for him, and as he left the church they shot him. The cablegram to which I have just referred states thai -
The outrages have been spread over a wide area, and have been of a most cold-blooded character. Constable Maxwell, who went to a public-house with a friend, was followed by four masked men and shot dead. Seven other men were present, hut none raised a hand to defend the constable. Constable McCarthy, of Bruff, went for a cycle ride. His body was found in a drain practically naked. Serjeant Fulton was killed in the streets of Ballymote. He was surrounded by a dozen men, who fired a number of shots at short range, and then escaped by mingling with the crowd in the street.
It is believed that the Irish people sympathize with the murder campaign, which is so embittering the constabulary and soldiery to increasing reprisals. Though the murderers must be known to scores of people, none will assist the police to track the murderers or Ave warning of Hanger.
The honorable member says that we should condone all these offences. It is nothing to shoot a man before the altar, because, although he is a Roman Catholic and an Irishman, he is a policeman. Because he is a policeman he i’s outside the pale, and may be murdered with impunity anywhere and at any time.
We cannot agree to this motion. The cause of Sinn Fein, for which Alderman MacSwiney has died, is a cause which cannot succeed, because it rests on force and is stained by bloody murder. Those priests in Ireland who have had the courage to tell the people what is right, have condemned it, but the honorable member did not quote them. I deplore all these outrages and murders. I deplore the state of things in Ireland. Long before this latest development I have attempted to secure some sort of settlement of Irish affairs. That, however, is beyond the powers of any one man. The trouble is embedded in tlie racial hatred or habits of mind. of the two peoples. It’ is beyond the power of this Parliament, the British Parliament, or any other Legislature to deal with. I do not justify anything that hae been done; but if I am asked when a policeman is shot that the Government should do nothing, that his comrades should stand idly by, that licence to commit murder wholesale should be given to one section of the Irish people, while the opportunity for. justice is denied to others, I will not have it. If I am asked on whose side I am in this campaign, then I declare unhesitatingly that I am on the British side. There the matter stands. It is not that I am attempting to justify the manner in which the English have governed Ireland - I do not believe that the English can ever govern Ireland properly. The English do not understand the Celts, and I have never hesitated to tell them that, but I shall not stand, quiet while certain people seek to establish a republic within gun fire of the English coast, and thus aim a blow at the very heart of the Empire. The Irish problem is one for Britain to deal with. ‘We have nothing whatever to do with it. But as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) insists that we must express our opinion, I have expressed mine quite clearly ; I am opposed to the honorable member’s view. I do not regard Britain as a foreign country; if it were a foreign country, very few honorable members opposite would have a right to be here at all, because they would not then be naturalized. When they speak of Britain as a foreign country, they do not seem to recognise that everything they have they owe to Britain’s might and power. They are very ready to avail themselves of British protection. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie quoted a statement from Lord Denman that there would be trouble in Australia; are we to understand that if we do not pass this motion the honorable member will attempt to recreate in Australia the state of affairs that exists in Ireland ? Let him try it ; he will then find that the Australians are of a temperament altogether different from that of the English.
.- The Prime Minister said that honorable members on this side are not naturalized, and, therefore, have no rights in Australia. I was born in this country, and I have as much right to be here as has any other citizen born of Welsh parents. Unfortunately) I was not in the Chamber when the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Mahon) raised this question; had I been here I would have supported him in drawing attention to this matter. . I have heard honorable members opposite praise Arthur Henderson, the present Leader of the Labour party in Great Britain. He i3 a good Nonconformist like myself, but they omit to mention the fact that his attitude on the Irish question is the same as our3. I do not say that all the fault is on one side. We have heard of a suggestion that ‘a battalion of the Australian Imperial Force should be sent to France, and apparently it is right for one side to say what it thinks on this matter, but the other side must say nothing. Mr. Asquith, who I presume is a non-Catholic, speaking in the House of Commons a fortnight ago on the motion of Mr Arthur Henderson demanding an inquiry into the position in Ireland, said - there was prima facie evidence that the police and military were going far beyond the limits of self-defence and had carried out reprisals which were a crime and an outrage against unoffending innocent people.
He is not an Irishman, and docs not represent an Irish constituency.
– But he has an axe to grind, all the same.
– A man in Mr. Asquith’s position has no axe to grind; the only motive he can have is to tell the truth. Apparently honorable members opposite see a political motive in every speech made by an opponent. Speaking at Leicester on Saturday -
Mr. Asquith . said he was amazed and ashamed at the lethargy and indifference of the British people regarding the policy of reprisals. The only hope for Ireland was complete and unrestricted self-government.
The Herald of 30th August contained this cable message -
In a letter, theRev. F. B. Meyer, President of the National Federation of Free Churches, urges every congregation in Great Britain to telegraph to-morrow to the Prime Minister, petitioning for the release of Aldermau McSweeney, who is undergoing a sentence of two years’ imprisonment in Brixton Gaol, and is hunger-striking.
That Federation comprises practically the whole of the churches in Great Britain, except the Anglican church, which is notoriously the most conservative body in the Old Country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stated that he would not defend English rule in Ireland; there are some honorable members opposite who will not go as far as the Prime Minister in that regard.
– I agree with the Prime Minister upon that point, as must every fair-minded person who is not an antiCatholic.
– The honorable member had betterrefer to antiBritishers.
– I am as good a Britisher as is any man in the House, and a much better Australian than many honorable members are.
– Why does the honorable member seek to make a political issue a religious one?
– It has been made a religious issue by honorable members opposite. I have always refused to make a religious issue ofthe Irish question, and I will continue to do so.
– Every argument the honorable member has used so far has been a religious one.
– I merely quoted the opinion of the Rev. F. B. Meyer, President of the National Federation of Free Churches, of which Mr.
Lloyd George was president at one time; but that gentleman did not get a single vote for any position at the last annual meeting of the Federation. I regret exceedingly that occasion has arisen for the moving of this motion. I had hoped that saner counsels would have prevailed. Like the Prime Minister, I cannot defend the English rule in Ireland.
– The Prime Minister said something more than that; he said, Let the British Government defend’ it.”
– When Gladstone introduced his Home Rule Bill the Unionists broke away from the Liberal party; but we read in the Herald a few days ago that Lord Henry Bentinck, a Coalition Unionist, and . an opponent of Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill, had denounced Mr. Hamar Greenwood, the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, and that a scene had occurred in the House of Commons- the like of which had not been witnessed for years. Even the very people who were so strongly opposed to Gladstone’s Home Rule proposals are dissatisfied to-day with the Imperial Government’s Irish policy. As a Parliament representing one of the self-governing Dominions, we have a right to express our opinion on the matter. I have taken the opportunity of expressing my view, while regretting exceedingly that occasion for so doing has arisen.
Motion (by Mr. Marr) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put and resolved in. the negative.
An honorable member who seeks to move the adjournment of the House is bound to state to the House the definite matter of urgent pub-, lie importance which he desires to bring on. It is not for the Speaker to say whether the matter is of urgent public importance. The honorable member states this upon his own responsibility.
A member desiring to move the adjournment of the House must produce a written notice setting forth the matter of urgent public im- portance to which he alludes. It is for the House to judge of the urgency and public importance of the matter by forty members rising in support.
My decision, therefore, was’ in accordance with our own practice, and the practice laid down, by Speakers of the House of Commons. It is also to. be remembered that it is the duty of the Chair to preserve the rights of honorable members, no matter on what side of the House they may sit. If it is desired to alter the practice of the House in connexion with special adjournment motions. the proper, course is to amend the Standing Orders. As matters stand, however, the onus is upon the House - and the fact that at least five other members must rise to signify their opinion that the matter proposed to be discussed is one of “urgent public importance” is in itself prima facie evidence that the Speaker is not expected to be the judge of that point. Were it otherwise it is certain that the Speaker might on every occasion of a special adjournment being moved find himself involved in conflict with members on either side of the House. It was to avoid this that provision was made in the’ Standing Orders for a certain number of members to signify approval before such a motion could be moved.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir Granville Ryrie) read a first time.
Bill presented by Mr. Poynton, and read a first time.
Mr. POYNTON (Grey- Minister for leave to move the second reading of this Bill.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 4th November, vide page 6231) :
The CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. M. Chanter). I draw the attention of honorable members to a clerical error in the item “ Purchase of house for Government Geologist, Darwin.” The item should read “ Purchase of house from the Government Geologist, Darwin.”
.- As the Minister (Mr. Poynton) knows, I have interviewed him on several occasions in connexion with the recent Ballarat election. First of all I approached him in regard to the payment of the legal expenses incurred by both parties to the appeal case heard by Mr. Justice Isaacs, and subsequently the Minister placed on the Estimates a sum of £800 to cover those expenses, both candidates having, I understand, agreed upon a certain amount which would cover their costs. This step I regard as only fair, in view of the decision of Mr. Justice Isaacs that the election must be declared void on account of errors made by the officials of the Electoral Department, but if it was right for Mr. Kerby, who was only elected by a majority of one vote, to draw his salary from the date of the first election until the election was declared void, I contend that the present honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) should also receive payment for the period between the first election and the upsetting of that election. I hope the Minister will give consideration to the matter.
– Would the honorable member agree to make his principle retrospective, and apply it, for instance, to the case of the dependants of Mr. Crosby, who was placed in a somewhat similar position in respect to a Senate election held in 1906?
-The honorable member is asking me to go back a long way. There have been other disputed elections in the case of the Riverina, Melbourne, and Echuca divisions, but I do not think they were declared void on account of official errors.
.- There are two matters in connexion with the Electoral Office to which I should like to draw brief attention. The first is the question of obtaining uniform rolls in State and Commonwealth elections. Recent events have revealed most extraordinary discrepancies between the rolls on which Commonwealth elections are held, and those upon which State elections are held. In reply to a question put by me the other day to the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), I ascertained that the officers of his Department are doing their best to bring about a system of uniform rolls. .
– I desire to draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I was glad to learn from a reply given by the Minister to a question put by me that he is taking all possible steps, by negotiations with State authorities, to secure uniformity in the compilation of Commonwealth and State rolls, and I shall be glad if before this debate is closed he willgive us any further information he may have as to the result of his efforts.
Every one desires that the electoral rolls should be as nearly as possible correct, so that every person entitled to vote should be enrolled, and that no name should be on more than one roll. Recent investigations, however, have disclosed a certain amount of duplication. I do not think that any elector desires to have his name on two rolls; but duplication gives opportunity for personation.
– The Chief Electoral Officer says that with the card system it is impossible for a name to be on two rolls at once.
– The matter is receiving careful consideration by the Department, and if I am here next year, I shall, in all probability, have to introduce an amending Electoral Bill.
– The Minister’s remark justifies what I have said, and as a practical way of preventing the duplication of enrolment I suggest that when a person applies for an original enrolment, or his or her age makes it obvious that he or she was entitled to enrolment earlier, the question should be put : “ On what roll were you previously enrolled”?
– That question is asked.
– A person is asked whether his name is already on a roll or not.
– An applicant for enrolment is asked whether he is already enrolled, and, if so, for what division; and he is also asked where he came from.
– And are his statements investigated?
– Only after the name has been put on the new roll.
– Investigation should take place before the new enrolment.
– I assure the honorable member that I shall go thoroughly into the matter.
– I am glad to know that, because I think that there is a weak spot in the present system.
– The Electoral Department still follows the silly practice of hanging electoral rolls outside public offices in townships, and asking the people to consult them to ascertain whether they are enrolled. In many cases electors do this and find that they are properly enrolled, only to discover on election day that some one has subsequently had their names taken off the roll. I understand that the rolls are printed every month, and I think that new rolls should be exhibited every month.
Once a person is enrolled for a Federal division, it is almost impossible for his name to get off the roll. In the old days, the trouble was to get a name on the roll. In the Queensland bush there was always a bunch of magistrates, composed mostly of squatters, who needed only an excuse to take a name off a roll. The elector might get it on again, but, in the meantime, he might be prevented from voting at an election. When a man applies for Federal enrolment, he has to state on what roll his name already appears, and if he declares that he is not enrolled, he is asked where he came from. Then a search is made in the head office of the State from which he said he came, to ascertain whether he is enrolled for any division in that State, and until the matter is satisfactorily settled, his name is not put on the roll for the division to which he has moved. He retains, however, the right to vote in any division for which he may have been previously enrolled. The electoral administration of the Commonwealth is almost .perfect, and reflects great credit on the officers of the Department, and particularly on the Central Branch. It seems to me that, with a view to lessening public expenditure, the Commonwealth and the States could come to an arrangement for the uniform compilation of electoral rolls. Tasmania set a good example by combining her State rolls with the Commonwealth roll* years ago, and a similar arrangement should suit the other States. I think that were the matter pushed ‘a little by the Commonwealth the States would accept uniformity. The Minister has said that he is sending the Chief Electoral Officer to the various States to try to bring about uniformity.
– Only last week there was a conference in Adelaide, and I understand ‘from the Chief Electoral Officer that practically every point in dispute was settled so far as South Australia is concerned, so that there should be a combined Federal and State roll for use at the forthcoming State election. I intend to send the Chief Electoral Officer to all the States.
– The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) has objected that the franchise should be the same in all the States, but uniformity in the compilation of the rolls can be secured even though there may be differences between Commonwealth and State franchises. The printing of “ S “ or “ F “ after a name on a roll would show whether the enrolment were for the State or for the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth Electoral Officer h quite satisfied that there need be no complications - that everything can be made quite simple.
– Then all that is needed is for some one to give the thing a push.
– There is a State prejudice to overcome.
– I do not think that that amounts to much. The combined rolls would be cleaner and better than the present State rolls. The recent Queensland election showed that there are more persons on the Queensland State rolls than on the Queensland Federal rolls.
– Nearly 69,000 more.
– Then either the Queensland State rolls are inflated, or the Commonwealth rolls are deflated.
– In Queensland it is difficult to get a name taken off the roll when an elector moves from one place to another. Thus a name can be- on two rolls.
– And when a name is on two rolls it sometimes happens that personation takes place.
– I have known votes to be cast in the names of men who had been <dead for six months.
– I am glad to know that the Minister (Mr. Poynton) is sending the Chief Electoral Officer to Queensland, and I hope that from the visit we shall have some satisfactory results. The honorable member for Werriwa. (Mr. Lazzarini) is quite right when he suggests that there may be State prejudices in this connexion, seeing that a number of State public servants maylose their lucrative positions if the Commonwealth take over the work.
– Could not a number of State public servants be absorbed?
– One of the staffs will have to go, and I can scarcely fancy it will be the Commonwealth staff. We are told by the Minister, however, that he has found no insurmountable difficulties, and that being so, some definite steps should be taken iu the direction I have suggested. This is highly desirable, if only on the ground of economy, for some hundreds of thousands of pounds could, no doubt, be saved in the three years. In passing, I desire to compliment the Minister (Mr. Poynton) on the assurance given him by the sub-Leader of the Country party (Mr. Jowett) that he will occupy his position next year ; that ought to be very welcome information, and, in any case, comes as a suitable, sort of Christmas box.
I must say a word or two about the Ballarat election, and the expense to which each of the candidates was put in subsequent proceedings. In the first case of the kind we had, when it was a matter between the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) and Sir Malcolm McEacharn, the whole of the expense was borne by the Commonwealth.
– A sum of £800 is on the Estimates, under the heading “ Miscellaneous “ ; this is to re-imburse the legal and other expenses incurred by the’ candidates at the last Ballarat election.
– We must not forget, as the Minister has suggested, that there are other expenses besides legal expenses, and, since the investigations were rendered necessary through the fault of officials, both candidates ought to be recompensed. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) is in a much more unfavorable position than Mr. Kerby, considering that the latter was drawing the parliamentary allowance all the time, while the present representative of the seat, without any salary, was strenuously engaged in seeking justice. We must remember that the majority by which the present member was returned at the second election shows that he was the desire of the constituency.
– Which position would the honorable member rather have - that of the present honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) or that of the other man ?
– That is a question which does not call for any personal answer from me; bub the honorable member for Ballarat was put to much trouble, expense, and worry in fighting the case, which was the result of no fault of his own. In view of what was done some years ago in the case of the Melbourne seat, I think the least the Government can do k to pay the expenses of the Ballarat candidates.
I must again ask the Government to do what they can to secure uniformity in the electoral rolls. In the case of the Commonwealth, the services of postmen are* enlisted to collect the names for the rolls.
– In the capital cities the postmen are paid so much ner 100 names ; but up to the present there has been another arrangement as regards the country.
– The arrangements in the country would appear to result in some cases in a man driving 50 or 60 miles only to find that he is not on the roll.
– I have recently agreed to an arrangement under which Registrars in the country will be paid in the same way as are the postmen in the metropolitan areas. In this way we hope to secure a more perfect roll than under the present arrangement.
– I am glad to know that the Minister has done even that little; it shows, at any rate, that he wishes to keep the rolls clean, and not have them unduly inflated. The honorable gentleman ought to keep in mind the suggestion about exhibiting the rolls outside post-offices. In places, on the advice of local newspapers, people have seen that their names were on the rolls, only to find, when they went to vote, that in the meantime they had been struck off.
– In such case, if the party makes a declaration, he gets a vote.
– Not in the case of small country districts, and in my own electorate ‘hundreds have been refused, although some of them were born there, and have never been away.
– I know the case of a man whose name was improperly removed from the roll, and who was refused by the presiding officer permission to vote.
– There are many such cases, but they are all in the smaller country places. If we fine a man for not seeing that his name is on the roll, we ought to fine the official who improperly removes a name.
– I have already explained that we have made the same arrangements for the country” as for the metropolitan areas.
– I am not finding fault with the Department; I think that the method of getting people on the roll, and so forth, is almost perfect so far as the officials are concerned; and all that is required is the help of the public. There should be every facility for getting on the roll, because it is apt to give rise to bitterness if a man drives ‘his wife and family, and other voters, possibly 60 miles, only to find that it is impossible to exercise the franchise.
.- I support the view taken by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) and the honorable member for -Maranoa (Mr. James Page). I am pleased to note that Tasmania is the first State to adopt the Federal roll. Last year the Taamanian Government paid the Federal Government £1,277 as her share of the electoral administration, whereas, in 1915 - the nearest year for which I canfind any figures - the cost of electoral administration to the State was £3,519- This snows a direct saving of practically 50 per cent, in the cost of administration. In 1918-19 South Australia spent £4,801 on 1 electoral administration, exclusive of £9,051 for contingencies;, the latter I take to mean the election expenses.. In Queensland the expenses of administration were £2,541, and in Victoria £15,161, but there are no details given of the latter figures. We have, therefore, to make an estimate as to the, proportion that the administrative expenses bear to the election expenses. Iia. regard to Western Australia there is- no information given, the amounts being shown under the Estimates for the Crown Law Department, with, no details. If we assume that the Electoral Departments of the various States spend £30,000 a year in administration, that does not seem excessive, and, further, assuming: that Tasmania by her recent arrangement is saving 50 per cent., we may take it that £15,000 per annum would be1 saved by the co-ordination of the Departments. However, more important than even this saving is an assurance that every man and woman entitled to the franchise shall be on the roll. In the case of the Commonwealth!, with compulsory enrolment, any failure must be entirely the fault of the elector concerned, if that elector has failed to send in a card. In the recent State elections in. Victoria thousands of people were disfranchised through the inefficiency of the Electoral Department; but I cannot say whether that inefficiency was on the part of the police or on the part of the departmental officials.
The proposal for one electoral roll naturally gives rise to the question of electoral divisions. In Tasmania all the State divisions are the same as the Federal divisions; and we have the HareClarke system of proportional voting, which is the most equitable in operation in Australia to-day.
– It gets you nowhere.
– It gets you’ there, every time. The point I wish to make- is that the States which have single electorates are going to have some little difficulty, because many of the Federal divisions overlap the State divisions. In order to bring about a thoroughly sane and effective system, it will be necessary to re-adjust the divisions for the State Parliament. I hope that this will soon be done.
In connexion with the Estimates relating to the Meteorological Department, I should like to ask whether it is proposed to spend any more money on the Balsillie rain-making experiments. So far, the results do not appear to have justified the expenditure.
– The expenditure in respect of. those experiments is provided for in the Estimates relating to the Department of Works and Railways.
– I regard the general expenditure of the Meteorological Department as being very necessary. Having regard to our extensive coastline, the warnings issued from time to time by the Department probably avert much loss of shipping, and so save the Commonwealth thousands of pounds. We have on these Estimates a total proposed expenditure of £93,000 for rental of buildings used by the various Departments. Is there no possibility of centralizing many of these offices? At the present time they are scattered all over the city, and it seems to me that not only would the convenience of the public be studied, but a saving anight be effected by renting large premises in which these offices could be centralized .
Another item to which I desire to draw attention relates to the administration of the Northern Territory, for which we have a proposed vote of £104,440. I do not object to expenditure provided some return can be obtained for it, and if it is impossible to reduce the cost of administering the Territory, we should at least make some effort to increase production, and so to increase the revenue. This item : is a growing and most unsatisfactory one. The Territory”, however, is a very valuable asset,I regard it as the key to our White Australia policy, and if we are to keep Australia white we must develop it.
.- Since we are taking the Estimates of each Department inglobo, I think it would be desirable if the Minister in charge of each Department would make a speech at the outset, explaining the difference between the estimated expenditure for this year and the actual expenditure for last year. I notice that we have here in these Estimates an increased expenditure of £281,133.
– I can give the honorable member a few items which more than account for the difference. For instance, there is an item of £52,000 representing payments made to the Postmaster- General’s Department for the transmission of meteorological telegrams. That is a mere transfer from one Department to another. Provision is also made for an expenditure of £150,000 on the census. That item did not appear in last year’s Estimates. There is also an item of £100,000 for immigration, although immigration matters will be dealt with by the Prime Minister’s Department. It will thus be seen that the expenditure for which we provide is actually below that of last year.
– I hope the Minister does not misunderstand me. I merely suggest that it would be of great assistance to honorable members if, instead of the whole vote for a Department being put without any explanation, the Minister in each case would adopt the practice of moving the total vote and explaining the difference between the estimated expenditure for the current year and the actual expenditure for last year.
– The expenditure for which we provide in the Estimates for my Department this year is actually £65,000 less than the expenditure of last year.
– Such an alteration as I suggest in the practice adopted by Ministers would do away with a good deal of misapprehension and give honorable members a clearer view before we entered upon the discussion. The ‘Minister, indeed, might furnish us with information which a mere examination of the figures would not disclose. The honorable gentleman, I think, will admit that it is impossible to say from the figures that are before us exactly where an increase or a decrease takes place. So much for the question of practice.
A good deal has been said with regard to uniform rolls. I approve of the idea, provided, of course, that the rolls compiled by the Commonwealth would be complete. Shortly put, we want to have it made easy to get on the rolls and difficult to get off. There are many instances where persons get their names on the rolls, and when they go to vote find that for some reasonor other their names have been removed.
– It is quite evident that that does not occur in Queensland.
– Why so?
– Because on the Queensland State rolls there are over 60,000 names in excess of those on the Commonwealth rolls for that State.
– I do not know what the respective numbers are, but it may be that many citizens of Queensland are not on the Commonwealth rolls. At least a large number of people in that State have not their names on the Commonwealth rolls.What is the qualification for enrolment ?
– Residence for one month in the subdivision.
– It is somewhat different from the Queensland practice. The principle of the Queensland Electoral Act is that every adult person in the State shall have a right to vote.
-Some critics say that there are more names on the Queensland State rolls than there are adults in that State.
– That is mere political misrepresentation. We all know that such statements are made, and made only to reflect upon the administration of the Department concerned. We do not want to get down to that sort of thing here. It is all very well for Ministerial supporters to make such statements outside. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith),, for instance, might make such a statement in Hobart, where there was no means of checking it; but in this House the position is entirely different. If the Queensland State electoral machinery is carried out, no adult can be on two State rolls, and no one can be on a St ateroll unless he is entitled to vote.
I propose now to refer to the appointment of a gentleman named Barnes - not an Australian native-:- to go to the Old Country as a Commonwealth Immigration agent. I believe that the realpurpose of the Government in sending him there is that he shall carry on for them an anti-unionist propaganda. That will not commend itself to the great body of the workers of this country. I should! like to know whether Mr. Barnes has yet left for England ?
– I understand that he has. Immigration is now dealt with by the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Put I understood that the Minister dealt with immigration.
– No; I have nothing to do with it. After the item of £100,000 in respect of immigration was included in my Estimates, other arrangements were made.
– Then the Immigration branch has been transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department.
– It will be transferred back to that Department.
– Why should not the Minister for Home and Territories be in charge of it? I wish to know why Mr. Barnes has been sent away to carry on the propaganda work to which I have referred. I have been reading the newspapers, and I notice that there is a frank admission that he is going to carry on some sort of propaganda which certainly will not be in favour of this party, nor one that will commend itself to the great body of unionists in Australia. It is very important that the Government should be impartial, and have regard to what are the aspirations and desires of the workers of this country in making such an appointment. They have made an appointment which does not . commend itself to the workers, and particularly to the unionists, and I hope that they will take some steps to minimize the party propaganda which this gentleman has been sent away to carry out.
– What is Mr. Barnes’ chief offence?
– The honorable gentleman ought to know.
– He stood by his country, did he not?
– Is it the honorable member’s idea of “ standing by his country “ togo back on unionism, to go back on organized labour, to go about the country carrying on a propaganda of falsehood ? Mr. Barnes goes onthe public platforms of this country, and in the statements he makes has no regard for the truth. He makes absolutely foundationless statements.
– I have heard that said of the honorable member.
– Probably the right honorable member has made the statement himself; but there is no foundation for it .
– I have not made the statement, but there are plenty of grounds for making it.
– That statement is very offensive to me, Mr. Chairman, and I ask that . the right honorable gentleman be called upon to withdraw it.
– The Minister will withdraw the statement.
– The honorable member is very thin-skinned. I meant nothing more than to indicate that the honorable member, when on the public platform, makes quite a number ofpolitically incorrect statements.
– Order !
– That must be withdrawn.
– If it is offensive to say that the honorable gentleman makes incorrect statements, I withdraw it.
– I should think so.
Sitting suspended from 1 to2.15 p.m.
.- The Ballarat election dispute differed entirely from other election disputes in quite a number of aspects. For one thing, Mr. Kerby lost his seat for nothing that he had done himself, but because persons who were entitled to vote were prohibited from making the necessary declarations which would have enabled them to do so, and were thus deprived of the opportunity of voting. Again, all other disputes were decided very rapidly, but the Ballarat appeal was prolonged for several months, and as a result the honorable member who eventually won the- seat lost several hundred pounds, which otherwise he might have drawn in the way of salary. Furthermore, while the appellant was quite prepared to leave his case in the hands of his secretary, the Bench decided that he must be represented by counsel, the consequence being that whatever allowance the Government may make for legal expenses incurred before the tribunal is all swallowed up in the payment of the fees of a legal practitioner. Nothing is left for the layman who prepared the case, and who, in fact, having handled it for months, was ready to take it before His Honour Mr. Justice Isaacs. On all these grounds, because the second election was declared necessary owing to faults on the part of the officials of the . Electoral Office, because neither candidate indulged in any improper practices, because the hearing of the appeal was unduly prolonged, and because the layman who was prepared to handle the case for the appellant gets nothing out of the costs for which an allowance has already been made, the Minister (Mr. Poynton) might fairly give consideration to the granting of direct compensation to the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). Particularly ought he to do this because in previous cases sums of money have been paid as compensation, quite apart from the actual legal costs incurred in the hearing of appeals. In this case the employment of counsel was forced upon the candidates against their will. So that compensation ought to be paid to them apart from the legal expenses which were incurred through no fault of their own. If the Minister cannot deal with the matter himself, I ask him to submit it to his colleagues, and see whether in the circumstances something cannot be done to accede to the request put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) on behalf of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath).
– I shall do so.
.- It is certainly time the Minister (Mr. Poynton), on behalf of the Government, gave some indication of what is proposed to be done in connexion with the Northern Territory. We ought to know whether the present system of management is to continue, and also the present expenditure. For instance, these Estimates provide for the payment of £1,250 salary, and £200 allowance for an Administrator, £1,000 for a Judge, £1,000 for a Director, and £700 for a Secretary. In this provision, for so many officials there seems to be a skeleton outline for the administration not of a sparsely-populated territory, but of a settled and well-populated country. There are fourteen sub-branches in the Northern Territory Administration, and it is well worth puttingon record what they are, so that honorable members may have some idea of what is being done in the Territory to-day. These fourteen subbranches are - Aborigines, Agriculture, Botanical Gardens, Police, Gaol, Charitable Institutions, Health, Law, Stock and Brands, Education, Public Works, Lands and Surveys, Mining, and Hotels.
– Which, sub-branch would the honorable member cut out? Would he propose to cut out Police, or Gaols, or Health? *
– The Minister is adopting tactics which have been tried previously, and it is rather surprising to me that some one whose duty itv is to “ strafe “ Ministries has not already taken them to task over it. If in my business affairs there is obviously something going wrong, I do not attend a shareholders’ meeting, put the position before* the shareholders, and when a critic rises and points out where I am wrong, simply answer him by saying, “ What would you do?”
– I think it is a very pertinent question to ask which subbranch the honorable member would abolish.
– I agree that on the face of it the retort of the Minister was rather brilliant; but as a matter of fact it will not hold water for one second. It is not the unfortunate outsider’s business to tell the Minister how he is to do his job ; but the position is that if the Minister cannot do it some one else ought to do it for him.
– You can have my position to-morrow if you wish it.
– The physician prescribes only when he is called in.
– What, another coalition ?
– I think it would be a very effective coalition, but at the present moment I am not proposing such a thing. My object in calling attention to this expenditure is to point out that eventually we may run into trouble, but the best the Minister can say in reply is, “ What would you do? “ When I have concluded my remarks the Minister can demonstrate by giving the facts that a very obvious criticism is not justified, but it is no help to the Committee to merely suggest to any one who criticises the Northern Territory vote that everything is perfect, and ask, “ What could any one do?” I do not think the Minister would suggest that the Northern Territory administration has been perfect. My object in rising was to get from” the Minister before these Estimates drift through, some indication which will at least reassure the Committee that the expenditure is receiving his consideration, and that he proposes to work down to some definite line.
– Ministers have been endeavouring to do so for the last ten years. Any suggestion is very helpful.
– There is always hope that some one will come along with intelligence to indicate how something can be done; but when I rose for the purpose of making a few innocent remarks about the Northern Territory, and to ask whether the Minister would make any definite statement in regard to the administration there, his attitude was such as to drive me into the position of becoming a hostile critic, and almost to become more and more hostile every minute, in order to maintain my position. There was no necessity for this. The only point I am raising now is whether the Government have anything in mind as to how the Territory can be dealt with. I want to know if they have any definite scheme which they propose to put into effect. If it be recognised, as it should be, that we have the northern part of Australia to populate, and if we are to make the fullest use of that portion of the Commonwealth, it seems to me that it is the obvious duty of any Government to tell us what their scheme is. If, however, they are barren of any ideas of the sort, it is the duty of the Committee to demand from them how they propose to run the Territory, on the present lines, but with a very much decreased expenditure. To return to the point which I was endeavouring to make when the Minister interrupted, let me tell the Committee that there are 140 officers in the Northern Territory drawing over £46,000 in salaries, and spending £60,000 on contingencies. Apart from the cost of the Departments I have mentioned, and £119,000 for interest and sinking fund, provision is made in other parts of these Estimates for further expenditure in the Northern Territory. For instance, the Trade and Customs Department at Darwin costs £1,370; the Railway Department, £40,000,; and the Post Office service, £28,000.
It seems to me that there must be something wrong if we cannot administer this Territory in a more economical way. I recognise that in the future state of development it is quite likely that the cost of administration might be considerable, but the present state of the Territory’s development does not justify the amount we are now spending upon it. Before these Estimates are agreed to, I hope the Minister will give the Committee some idea as to the Government’s proposals in this regard.
With regard to the Ballarat election, it appears to me that the two candidates have been put to considerable expenditure for a reason that no one can suggest was their own fault, and I certainly think they are entitled to be reimbursed for any additional expenditure they have been put to, which is expenditure that was not cast upon other candidates at the recent general election.
– A sum of £800 has been provided on the Estimates to meet those expenses.
.- I have received a letter from an Italian resident of Sydney informing me that he has tried to bring hig wife to Australia. He has been working in this country a number of years, and his letter contains the following: -
A few days* ago I went to the Immigration Office in order to nominate my wife. After being told that it would have cost me £26 from Naples to Sydney, the officer in charge asked mc then whether she was able to speak English. I answered that I knew enough for the two of us. He told mc then that a regulation, recently passed by the Minister of Home and Territories, requires that an emigrant must know a little English before he or she embarks; not only that, but the form which he handed me (he stated) after being filled in will have to be sent to the abovementioned Minister for approval. What sort of a barbarian law is that?
He wants to know what sort of a barbarian law that is ?
– He would find one very much like it in Italy.
– I do not know that he would find very much difference between Italy an’d Australia in that respect.
– I have heard some complaints from Broken Hill miners about bringing men out to Australia who could not speak English.
– Yes, that was when the Government sent interned Bulgarians up to Broken Hill to take the jobs of the Britishers they were recruiting. It is no wonder the residents there squealed.
– Long before that, the miners in Western Australia complained.
– I do not know that the Minister’s interjection is a very logical reply to the complaint of this Italian who has been working here, and seeks to have his wife join him in Australia, but is precluded from doing so by this regulation made by the Minister. If it is desired to increase the population of the country, surely a good way of doing so is to enable persons who have come here to send for the members of their families to join them. The man to whom I have referred is apparently a lawabiding citizen, because he has resided here for several years. What objection can there be to his wife joining him, even though she may not be able to speak English ? She could learn very quickly if living in this community.
– The regulation you speak of has not come under my notice. I shall inquire about it.
– I am only giving to the Committee the statement that has been made to me. It may not be correct, or the departmental officials may have made a mistake.
By the midday mail I received from Sydney a letter in which the writer, an Englishman, and an ex-member of the Australian Imperial Force, complains in quite a number of pages of his treatment since his discharge. He is so angry about it that he has written to the Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers Federation of the United Kingdom a letter in which he gives Australia anything but a good advertisement, pointing out that a number of ex-sailors and soldiers in Sydney are having a bad time. He has sent me a copy of that letter, and in it he says -
This Repatriation Department was organized to benefit returned soldiers, and to place them in a condition to work”, and get them work. How they do it! They supply the ex-Australian Imperial Force men with letters to the Orient liners manager here for him to give the bearers a working passage to England, and thereby help the good work of repatriation along. Many avail themselves of the offer, glad to leave, while the Orient Line take advantage of their misfortune, and obtain their services at ls. per month, while we British seamen, with good’ books, are stranded. The shipping office in the port of Sydney do the same.
He asks the Federation to publish his letter in as many newspapers as possible, to warn ex-service men from coming to
Australia. This is another passage from his letter to the Federation -
If my statement proves correct, hold it up, and let their office staff unload them. One of the clique (the Minister of Repatriation Millen) now on thu way to Europe to represent this Commonwealth at the League of Nations, and encourage immigration. To do this the country will be pictured in the most glowing colours.
After referring to the last loan, he says -
I joined a union to obtain bread and scrape three months since, paying £3, and cannot get work. Therefore, I advise all returned men to be warned through their organization (Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers Federation, United Kingdom) of things as they have been pictured here by one of themselves.
Evidently he is not prejudiced in favour of unions.
– He is not the kind of man whose complaints a unionist should ventilate without investigation.
– I do not consider the honorable member capable of judging that matter.
– How does the honorable member connect hi3 remarks with the Home and Territories Department?
– I am showing how the expenditure of £100,000 on immigration may be rendered ineffective 6y maladministration.
– Would it not be better to discuss this matter on the Repatriation Estimates?
– I understand that Senator Millen has gone to Great Britain to, among other things, encourage ex-ser- vice men to come to Australia.
– What the honorable member complained of is not done by the Repatriation Department as part of the work of repatriation.
– Is it not done by the Department?
– I cannot say, but if the honorable member will give me the particulars of this case I shall inquire into it, and let him know the result.
– This man says that the officials of the Repatriation Department in Sydney are giving ex-soldier3 letters to the Orient Company’s manager, so that they may obtain cheap passages to the Old Country.
– We undertake to secure employment in. Australia for all returned sailors and soldiers who desire it, and have practically completed that branch of our work. Within a few months there will be hardly any names on our lists. Should a man choose to leave Australia, that is not our business. If the honorable member will give me this man’s name, I undertake to find him work within three days.
– His name is W. H. Coulter, and he writes from Lidcombe Hospital, New South Wales.
– If he applies to the Deputy, I guarantee to find him suitable work within three days.
– I hope that the Minister will also’ ascertain whether hia statements are true.
– It will be found, when the facts are sifted, that those who get passages to England are assisted by the Department at their own request.
– I. thought you said this man was unemployed.
– He is.
– The letter looks as if he was employed very much.
– The Government are giving these men employment in continually writing to honorable members.
– I do not know anything about this particular case, but quite recently a soldier who came here under similar conditions found that he could not work because of an injured arm, and applied to me to get him a passage Home. He desired to get back in order to look after his increased pension rights, and he thought he would do better amongst his friends than out here. I got him a free passage without any shilling-a-dal business.
– This man says that he has three children in California, and that his wife is dead; and he congratulates himself on the latter fact, because otherwise she would be in as bad a position as he is. He mentions the various Government Departments to which he has applied for work, and by which he has been turned down. He points out that while the Department is finding fault with private employers for not giving work to soldiers, this and other Departments can find him nothing to do.
– If the honorable member will give me the particulars of this case I undertake, before the Estimates of mv Department are reached, to have it sifted and attended to.
– Will the honorable member undertake that this man will stop at a job if one is got for him?
– Most members are in receipt of a great number of similar communications, but I have not ventilated in the House all that have reached me. The present is a different case altogether; it is a case in which a man feels himself so badly treated that he has gone to the trouble of getting into touch with the official organization of the returned soldiers in Great Britain in order to prevent his mates from coming to Australia. His letter bears every impress of a truthful statement.
– What is he by occupation ?
– I do not know. However, I am satisfied with the assurance that the matter will be looked into.
There is one other case which I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister. One of the Italian reservists was taken from Broken Hill. Whether he was killed or missing I do not know; but his wife, who is still in that city, has been deprived of the allowance which she. received whilst the war was in progress. At present she is in receipt of a very small sum at distant intervals from the Italian Consul. She has written to me, and I would like the Department to look into the case and explain why the allowance has been cut off.
I wish to say a word or two in support of the argument, of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) and other honorable members on the case of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). The case is, I think, unique, so far as this Parliament is concerned. It has been clearly shown that it was through the gross carelessness of some of the departmental officers that the present member for Ballarat was deprived of his seat and remuneration for a number of months. Whatever was the cause of the trouble, it lay with the departmental officers, and I think it would be only fair if the honorable member were paid the full salary as from the date of the first election. It is the rule, I think,that if any member of the public suffers any disability ‘through carelessness or mistakes in any Department he shall be’ allowed compensation. The result of the second election has shown that the honorable member for Ballarat was justly entitled to the parliamentary remuneration from the beginning of the Parliament.
I was pleased to hear from the Minister (Mr. Poynton) this morning that he is taking steps towards the provision of a uniform roll for the States and the Commonwealth. A Federal election costs, I believe, about £80,000, and I suppose that in the same period a similar amount, or more, is spent by the different States. In my own electorate, at a recent State election, it was found that the ballotboxes of the State had become damaged, and though there were Federal ballotboxes which had been in use only a few months before in the same neighbourhood, new boxes had to be provided for the State election. Of course, the Minister cannot bring about this reform himself, because the State authorities have to be consulted, and- must be willing to adopt it. I hope, however, that sweet reasonableness will prevail, and that we will very soon have one electoral roll and one method of enrolment. We have been told to-day that in the case of Queensland there . are about 60,000 more names on the State rolls than on the Federal rolls, and the electoral officer of my own district told me the other day that the Federal roll there is much smaller than the State one, the latter having been issued later. I am quite satisfied that the State rolls of New South Wales show more . names than do the Federal rolls, so that I was not surprised to hear of the state of affairs in Queensland. Every honorable member knows that when the names have been collected by the policemen, the people think that they are duly enrolled; butthe two systems of collecting names are different. In the case of the States the police do the collecting, and the average person does not worry much about the matter, but is convinced that he is on the roll. In one part of my electorate 300 notices were issued recently asking the electors for reasons for their names not being on the roll. I understand that if the reasons given are good, only a nominal fine of 2s. 6d. is imposed. Out of the 300 persons involved, I think that all but two stated that they thought that the collecting of their names by the police officer meant that they would be on the Federal roll. Apart from the economy of a uniform roll, much confusion would be avoided, and many people saved from worry. The average elector does not wish, to keep his name off the roll, but is confused by the varying systems adopted. Even if we do have a uniform roll, something ought to be done in the way of a uniform method of collecting the names. I hope it is true that South. Australia and Tasmania have consented to uniformity, and that the rest of the States will follow. We would then get a better expression of opinion at the ballot-box, and, altogether, conditions would be much improved for both Commonwealth and States.
– There are two points on which I desire to say a word. One is the suggestion made that a sum of money shall be placed on the Estimates as a set-off to the loss of salary which the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) ‘would have received had he been returned at the general election. The other question is that of a uniform electoral roll. As to the first .matter my right honorable colleague (Sir Joseph Cook) has already informed honorable members that it is a matter which the House itself must decide; if the House is in favour of the suggestion, the Government will approve of it, and by placing an amount on the Supplementary Estimates pay it to the honorable member.
– Do you want a vote on the question ?
– Precisely how we are to do this thing I do not know, but, speaking for myself and for the Treasurer, I would say, if I were asked, that the honorable member for Ballarat has made out a prima facie case. The responsibility, however, must rest on the House - we must have the authority of the House - and we shall give honorable members an opportunity of expressing their opinion before the session closes.
We are all agreed, I think, as to the desirability of uniform electoral rolls; there is no question of party, or difference of opinion in that matter. I would only like to say that no blame attaches to the Commonwealth for this uniformity not having been effected sooner. We have done everything in our power, and the Minister in charge of the Department (Mr. Poynton) informs me that considerable progress has been made, more in some States than in others, towards the end in view. But I think 1 shall not be doing any one an injustice when I say that the” principal cause of the delay has been the vested interests of the officials in the various State offices, who imagine, I think quite wrongly, that this is a blow aimed at their prerogatives or possibly at their pockets. I may be doing -them an injustice. If that is the case, I apologize to them. Uniform electoral rolls, however, are very desirable, and the Commonwealth,. I repeat, has made very considerable progress in the matter. My honorable colleague informs me that he believes that in the case of one State at least the . next elections will be held on a uniform roll.
– That is in South Australia.
– I am sure we shall have the support of all sections of the House in trying to bring about that uniformity.
I may, perhaps, be permitted at this stage to give the information which I promised last evening, to supply as to the cost incurred in the case of Merton v. Hughes. The item on the Estimates is “ £3,087,” that amount being set down for “expenses in America.” I have ascertained that the total expenditure, so far as we and our officers know, is £3,055 7s. 6d., London; and £3,400 6s. 10d., America. These are the total expenses, some of which have been paid, while .in the case of others only the accounts have been rendered. I think that is the whole of the information. The item itself will be brought down, I presume, on the Supplementary Estimates, but the information is now in the possession of honorable members and of the public.
– I had hoped that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) might have included in his statement some information in reply to the case put by the. honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) with regard to the Northern Territory.
– I am sorry, but I did not hear it.
– I think it is high time that this Parliament had placed before it some outline of the work contemplated over a term of years in the Northern Territory. During the war things necessarily were allowed to drift. The Territory has been a very expensive acquisition to the Commonwealth, and yet there is every reason to belieVe that it is a very rich portion of Australia, and that under wise government, instead of being the heavy responsibility that it is to-day, it might be converted, if nob immediately, as all events at a comparatively early date, into an asset. The information that one gets in regard to the Territory indicates that we have been inclined to pursue wrong lines in its administration. We are attempting to induce people to take up small settlements, which cannot be immediately pro.fitable, whereas the policy indicated by the nature and the situation of the country is that we should, in the first place, encourage the pastoral industry, and give encouragement to prospecting, in the hope that some mining centres ar.ay be discovered, which would help to attract population, and so make the smaller industries eventually successful.
I hope before this session ends we may have from the Government a definite statement as to their intentions with regard to the future of the Territory. A strong man is needed .as Administrator to control it. He should be given very wide powers, and should be judged by the results he produces, instead of being continually interfered with by the Central Administration, which cannot have the intimate knowledge of the conditions existing in the north that the man on the spot, provided that he be the right man, must have.
.- There is a matter that I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister (Mr. Poynton) and the Committee, although I am not optimistic enough to think that it will receive the attention it deserves. On page S9 of the General Estimates there is a small but ominous item of nearly £1,000 for clearing the rifle range at Warwick of prickly pear. I imagine that an area of that sort would comprise from 300 to 500 acres. If it will cost £1.000 to clear such an area, only a very easy sum need be worked to show what it will cost to clear something like 20,000,000 acres of badly infested pear country in Queensland. In that way we shall get an idea of the enormous sum of money necessary to attempt anything like eradication of the pest.
– Have we yet a solution of the prickly pear pest?
– Far from it. I do not intend to take up the time of the Committee by going deeply into the question, although I understand it, I believe, as well as most people do. But I want honorable members to realize that it is probably no exaggeration to say that onethird of the enormous area of Queensland is more or less directly threatened at the present moment. The pest will very shortly - one may say that it has already - become a menace in more than one State. The State Governments of Queensland right through have proved themselves quite unable to cope with it.
– Has any serious effort been made to cope with it?
– It is difficult to say what is and what is not a serious effort, but there is no royal road to clearing the country of the pest. It is not a mechanical question, but an economic one. Land can be easily cleared, but it is the cost of carrying out the work which has to be considered.
The present Government of Queensland - and I do not speak in any party sense - does not believe in the principle of freehold, and. that is an additional difficulty in the way of the solution of the problem. I say quite openly that so far all our Governments in Queensland have proved themselves incapable of handling the question. To put it broadly, the complete eradication of prickly pear today is no longer practicable. We can abandon all ideas of eradication or of clearing the pear-infested country. We now have simply to consider what steps should be taken to prevent the further spread of the pest. It may be said that this is not a question for the Federal Parliament, but it will be admitted that if a fire breaks out in one of a row of houses, it becomes a very important matter for the occupiers of the remaining houses that that fire should bc promptly extinguished. The Commonwealth is now the direct proprietor of a very large area .with an extensive frontage to the Queensland border. With a clear understanding of the position, I do not hesitate to say that the pear is gradually eating up a very large portion of Queensland and becoming an absolute menace to the whole of Australia. I am convinced that sooner or later it will be forced upon us that this is a huge national danger, and we shall have to face it as a national question. I ask the Government and the Committee to realize the danger, and I invite honorable members to consider ‘whether we ought not now to prepare our minds for dealing with the subject, realizing that the prickly pear having become a national clanger, must be treated on national lines.
.- I do not wish it to go out in connexion with what has been said regarding the election for Ballarat that any reflection was made by Mr. Justice Isaacs upon the permanent electoral officers of the division. He had some harsh things to say concerning certain officials, but as one of the candidates I desire to state that, so far as Mr. Anderson and the other permanent officials of the Department are concerned, no one could have carried out the work better than they did.
– Mr. Justice Isaacs complimented . them.
– Yes; I wish to make, that quite clear.
I should be glad if we could secure uniform rolls for State andFederal elections. In connexion with the recent State elections, it struck me as peculiar that the -Commonwealth permanent officials for the Federal electorate of Ballarat had nothing to do, although they arc trained men, while others who knew very little about electoral matters were brought in to conduct the State elections. Much greater satisfaction would be given if we had uniform rolls, and the permanent officials of the Commonwealth Department conducted both the State and Federal elections. They understand the law, and know exactly how to compile rolls, and to conduct an election. The reflections which Mr. Justice Isaacs cast upon electoral officials in connexion with the first Ballarat election related to men employed only for the day, who were not familiar with the Electoral Act. Certain persons whose names had been improperly removed from the rolls claimed the right to vote; but the presiding officers, in certain cases, knowing nothing of section 121 of the Act, refused to allow them to do so. That was practically responsible for the trouble which occurred. I repeat that the Electoral Department, and particularly the chief of the Department in Ballarat, did their work in connexion with the Federal election there in a splendid manner.
If we desire to have a thoroughly satisfactory set of rolls, we should take care to have fewer subdivisions than at present. The State electorate of Ballarat West consists of two subdivisions. If persons remove from one side of Sturtstreet to the other, they may still be in the same electorate, but in a different subdivision. Being unaware of the fact that they are in a different subdivision, they fail to get enrolled for it, and are either prosecuted for that failure, or find, when election time comes round, that they have no vote. The Department would be well-advised if it decided to have only one division for each State electorate.
– It is due to theCommittee that I should make a statement with regard to the Northern Territory. Exception was taken to the interjection that I made, while an honorable member was speaking on the subject, “ What would you suggest ?”
– We will let the honorable gentleman off, so far as that matter is concerned.
– But I do not wish it to be thought that I was treating the matter in a cavalier way. Reference was made to the number of officers employed in the Territory, and I may say that I have been going very carefully into the whole question, with the object of making a reduction. Unfortunately, there are not many people in the Territory, but a number of Departments are necessary. If we did not maintain a certain number of officials there it would be necessary to drag the citizens of the Territory down to the other States for the redress of their grievances. No greater problem confronts the Minister for Home and Territories than the administration of this Territory, where, I believe, we have a wonderful asset if it is properly handled. In my opinion it can be developed, not by following the lines of closer settlement, but only by adopting the more primitive method of stocking with cattle and sheep, which has been applied successfully in other parts of Australia that are now carrying large populations. In pursuance of this policy Ave have been putting down a number of bores east and west from the Wave Hill district towards Camooweal, and boring should also be undertaken south towards the Macdonnell Ranges, The land is capable of growing excellent grasses and edible herbage, and produces a very fine class of stock, particularly in the central area. The doubt as to whether permanent water exists we are endeavouring to solve by means of these bores, and later on I propose to ask for the expenditure of a considerable sum of money in this direction. However, excellent results have been obtained so far. The average depth of the bores put down is 170 feet to 200 feet, and water of a very high character has been tapped. In No. 1 bore water was struck at a depth of 247 feet, and rose 170 feet in the bore. Pumping yields 32,000 gallons per day without reducing that level. In No1. 2 bore water was struck at a depth of 180 feet, and the bore is capable of producing 32,000 gallons a day. At another bore a pumping test for twelve hours gave 29,000 gallons. On one pastoral station a number of bores have been put down, and an excellent supply of water was obtained at a very shallow depth, varying from 42 feet to a little over 60 feet. At one of these bores 500 head of cattle are watered.
My idea of developing the Northern Territory is to provide railway facilities in conjunction with the policy of boring for water, not on every block, but in certain localities, in order to demonstrate that a permanent supply is obtainable. Where these facilities are provided I am satisfied a wonderful development will follow. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) is not so confident as I am about this, but when we realize that we have a Territory 900 miles long by -600 miles wide we can see that it is not a little proposition capable of being administered by one or two men. The trouble is that all through, during the period of administration by the State of South Australia, and since the Commonwealth has taken over the Territory, Ave have been endeavouring to develop it from the Darwin end, which is the tropical portion ‘of it. I do not think Ave shall succeed in any attempt to develop the Territory from the tropical end, but if it is. once bridged by a railway I am satisfied that thousands of people will settle there. The worst enemy of the country is the man who has never seen the locality, the man who would develop it from Bourke-street or King William-street; but here I have the testimony of a young fellow who went into the Macdonnell Ranges at seventeen years of age, and who, although not as well equipped as other men, through having a maimed foot, has, according to a letter he has forwarded to me, made an unqualified success of his efforts to develop the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory. He commenced as a lad, earning 30s. a week. gaining experience on stations, and after saving about £350 went to Western Australia, hoping to make his fortune there. Eventually he returned to the Macdonnell Ranges country, which is so much condemned by Melbourne newspapers and other critics. He writes as follows: -
I arrived back at Alice Springs about July, 1911, with £350 and a few horses. I then bought a fe-v cattle, and joined in a partnership on a small cattle ranch. After fighting the ordinary difficulties one has outback, and all the inconveniences one has to contend with in the bush, I am pleased to state that my success has been such as to enable me to invest the sum of £7,000 cash in a ranch in the same district, with the ultimate prospect of being able to pay off the £12,000 that represents the total cost….. There is room for thousands of people W]to are willing to work and put up with the rough conditions outback. There is an immense area of good stock country lying idle.
This young man has the opinion that a great future awaits this portion of the Territory, but the attitude of some honorable members is like that of a man who takes up a property Avith a limited capital, and refuses to spend any money on it. If Ave Avant to make anything out of the Northern Territory we must spend money on it. In the meantime Ave cannot do better than follow the course of putting down bores, and demonstrating that permanent water is available. As soon as that is done young fellows, sons of pastoralists whose holdings are being cut up for closer settlement, and who are anxious to get out further back to continue their pastoral occupation, will be found going to. the Territory. There is every possibility of development on the primitive lines of settlement which have been so successfully applied in all the” States. We shall not succeed by forcing closer settlement.
Although I have absolute faith in the future of the Northern Territory,, I admit ic is a very difficult question to handle. I have recently received a communication stating that the residents there are very much upset because a branch of this Legislature has refused to allow them to have representation in this Parliament.
– ¥e might let them have a representative in this Chamber.
– I do not know whether that could be done, but, at any rate, I think they ought to have representation in this Parliament.
– It was your party in the Senate which said that they should not.
– The claim was put forward in the Senate that the Territory should be represented by the senators of South Australia or Western Australia; but that cannot be done under the Constitution. However, the- matter will come up again.
The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) claims that my Department is keeping the wife of an Italian out of Australia because of a regulation which he says has been issued, stipulating that before she can enter the Commonwealth she must be able to read, write, or talk English. There is no such regulation in existence.
.- The Committee should not too precipitately agree to the Home and Territories Estimates, because upon them’ the question of immigration comes up for consideration, and it is one upon which much can, and should, be said. Bound up with it is the settlement of the Northern Territory. I do not share the optimistic views of the Minister respecting the Territory, but I would not think of decrying it as a national asset, or of saying that it. is impossible to make it a productive white man’s country. I agree with the Minister that it has to be populated, and from the south rather than from the north. It is idle, however, to suppose that we can populate it properly until there has been a very large increase in the population of the Commonwealth as a whole. No part of Australia is adequately populated yet, and we cannot, by artificial processes, populate the Northern Territory, and make it productive in advance of the development of more accessible areas.
A short time ago the Prime Minister made a statement in this Chamber of the Government policy with respect to immigration. He told us the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), who is now abroad on a mission, was to interest himself in London in the subject of immigration, and that the Government proposed to appoint a Mr. Barnes to act as emigration agent on the other side of the world. That appointment is obnoxious to every member of the Labour party, and to the great body of the community outside for which we speak. It is so obnoxious to the workers that the party will be justified - and indeed bound - to let organized labour in Great Britain know that it should not rely on Mr. Barnes as a spokesman for Australia in the matter of immigration.
– That is to say, in the prosecution of a vendetta against this man, you would destroy out scheme of immigration.
– That is not so. The Minister for Repatriation is charged with the duty of looking into emigration on the other side of the world, and to that I offer no objection, because, though we differ in politics, I recognise that he holds his position as the result of the vote of the Australian people, and as a member of the Government, so that, apart from his personal qualifications, he is entitled to speak for a large section of the community. My objection to Mr. Barnes is not personal, and not even political; it is based on the fact that he has neither the qualifications’ nor the capacity to speak for Australia, and those whom the Labour party represent have no confidence in him. His public performances, utterances, and course of conduct are such that he has utterly forfeited, if he ever possessed, the confidence of that class to which he will have to appeal in England to make his mission a success. ‘ An emigration campaign is not to be won by an appeal to the personal friends of members of the Government, or to those in high places; the appeal must be made to the bone and sinew of the country from which emigrants are to be drawn - the workers of Great Britain and Ireland, and the workers of other countries - if it is intended to prosecute our immigration policy outside the British Dominions. The class of men we want here are those who are prepared to work on the land, and, after them, men who are prepared to work in the secondary industries. If the Government, as a reward for the political apostasy of a former member of the Labour party who has joined them, appoints Mr. Barnes as their emigration agent at Home, their immigration scheme is foredoomed to failure. Nothing is more sensitive than the public mind regarding representations concerning the possibilities of a new country to which people are being invited to emigrate. When a person speaks as an emigration agent for Australia he should possess the full confidence of the people from whom he goes. This gentleman does not do that. He is in no sense an Australian, and his experience of this country has been very limited, both in time and in extent. His political history marks him out as a man in whom the workers of Great Britain cannot have confidence. I hope that the vote for the Department of Home and Territories will not be passed until there has been more discussion of the immigration policy of the Government and of the proposed appointment of Mr. Barnes.
– There is an Immigration Bill before the House.
– It will afford other opportunity for protest. It is imperative that we should express the strong views that we hold regarding this appointment, and I am strongly inclined to divide the Committee regarding it by moving a reduction of the vote. It is not certain that we will deal with the Immigration Bill before Christmas.
– I want to get the Bill through, and will be only too pleased if you will help me,
.- I think that we might report progress now. One or two members who are not here wish to say something upon these Estimates, and if the Minister allows them to go over until next week they will probably be dealt with then within halfanhour.
– Next week we shall be dealing with the Commonwealth Bank Bill.
– Are you not going to take up the Estimates next week?
– I hope so; but not immediately.
– If you will give me the assurance that there will be an oppor tunity for the further discussion of the Northern Territory administration, I shall let the vote pass.
– There will be Supplementary Estimates.
– If you give me the assurance that there will be opportunity for that discussion I shall say no more now.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate with out amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate, with the message that the Senate had agreed to certain amendments, and asked the concurrence of the House of Representatives to its amendments of clause 26.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s message) :
Clause 26 (Evidence of declarations).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - At end of clause add: - “ Provided that the person affected by such declaration will be entitled to publicly examine and cross-examine the declarant before such declaration is acted upon by the Minister.”
Senate’s Message. - Amendment agreed to with the following amendments, viz.: -
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That the amendments made by the Senate he agreed to.
Resolution reported; reportadopted.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Can the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) inform us what business it is proposed to take next week ?
– I hope to take the Banking Bill first, and then one or two little measures.
– You do not propose to proceed with the Estimates first?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19201105_reps_8_94/>.