House of Representatives
17 November 1920

8th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 6573



– I have to-day issued a writ in connexion with the by-election for the Kalgoorlie division, and the dates fixed therein are those announced to the House at the previous sitting.

page 6573




– Four or five weeks ago I asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the aspersions on the character of Gunner Yates, and the expense to which he had been put, the Government would consider the advisability of reimbursing his expenses. The reply I received was that the right honorable gentleman would consult the Minister for Defence and the Assistant Minister for Defence, and let me know the result. As we shall shortly have a long adjournment, I wish to know if the Minister can give me any information on the subject?

Assistant Minister for Defence · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– An amount has been passed for payment covering Gunner Yates’ out-of-pocket expenses.

Mr Tudor:

– How much?


– I do not remember; but the sum which is to be paid is that which Gunner Yates has claimed as his expenses. I take it that nothing more is asked for.

page 6573


Mr. FOWLER presented the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts on Commonwealth Shipbuilding.

Ordered to be printed.

page 6573



– Is there any possibility of the Public Service Superannuation Bill being laid on the table before the House adjourns?

Treasurer · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Bill has not yet been dealt with by Cabinet, though I understand that a draft of it has been prepared. The honorable member may rest assured that its presentation will not be long delayed.

page 6573



Land Settlement


– On the 1st September I asked the Acting Minister for Repatriation whether the Department could supply information as to the conditions and privileges offered to sailors and soldiers settling in various parts of the Commonwealth. Is the honorable gentleman yet in a position to give a reply to my question ?


– Yes. The following is the information that has been collected, covering all the States: -

page 6573


The Returned Soldiers’ Settlement Branch will, in the case of settlers who have entered into occupation of their farms, supplement by cash advances from its own funds the sustenance allowed the Department of Repatriation, but so that the settler shall not receive more than the following: -

For single men. - £1 12s. per week (exclusive of pension).

For married men. - £2 7s. per week, plus 4s. for the wife or housekeeper, and 2s. 6d. per week for each child under the age of sixteen years (exclusive of pension).

Widowers or single men who employ a housekeeper are to receive same rates as married men, viz., £2 7s. per week, plus 4s. allowance for mothers living with them and dependent upon them.

After the period for which sustenance (if any) is paid by the Department of Repatriation has expired, the Returned Soldiers’ Settlement Branch will continue to pay sustenance in accordance with the above rates for the balance of the term approved, and without deduction in respect of any pension.

This sustenance is payable for varying terms on certain group settlement, i.e., poultry farms, orchards, vineyards, pig farms, market gardens, and. is a first charge against all sales of produce from the farm, and any balance owing at. the end of the sustenance period must be repaid in five equal annual instalments, with 5½ per cent. interest added.

Sheep, Cattle, and Dairy Share Farming

On Group Settlements only, where the advance of £625 is not sufficient to stock the land after making necessary improvements and providing implements, &c, sheep, cattle, or dairy stock may be allotted on shares to a limited, extent.

Forms of Tenure

  1. Land is made available under one or other of the following tenures: -

    1. Homestead Farm.
    2. Crown Leases.
    3. Returned Soldiers’ Special Holding.
    4. Suburban Holdings.
    5. Group Purchase,

In addition, a discharged soldier may obtain land under the provisions of the Closer Settlement Acts, which have been amended to allow one or more discharged soldiers to apply for land to be brought under the Acts. He may also obtain land within an irrigation area. (See Settlement Purchases and Irrigation Farms. )

  1. Homestead Farm.

Tenure. - Lease in perpetuity.

Residence. - Five years, to be commenced within six months after confirmation.

Annual Rent. - 2½ per cent. on the notified capital value, payable half-yearly in advance.

Reappraisement of capital value is made at end of first twenty-five years, and every twenty years after.

The holder can apply for appraisement within five years after confirmation.

Improvement in lieu of Rent. - Rent need not be paid for first fiveyears, if an amount is spent in each year equal to the annual rent, upon permanent, fixed, and substantial improvements, the same, except boundary fencing, being in addition to the improvements required by the conditions of the farm.

Conversion. - The right to convert into conditional purchase, and thence into freehold is given. (b)Crown Lease.

Tenure. -Lease for forty-five years.

Residence. - Same as homestead farm.

Annual Rent. - One and a quarter per cent. on the notified capital value, payable yearly in advance. Minimum rental is£1 per annum.

Reappraisement of the capital value is made at the end of fifteen years, and thirty years from commencement.

The holder can apply for appraisement within five years after confirmation.

Improvements in lieu of Rent. - Rent for the first year will be remitted if the lessee expends a sum equal to the rent for that year in improvements, the same, except boundary fencing, being in addition to the improvements required by the conditions of the lease.

Conversion. - (Same as Homestead Farm.)

  1. Returned Soldiers’ Special Holding.

Land may be sot apart either by way of sale or lease, under such conditions as may be determined.

If by way of lease, the conditions will in general be similar to those of Homestead Farms.

Application can be made to purchase the land, subject to the recommendation of the Land Board and approved by the Minister. The capital value will be appraised, and it must be paid by fifteen equal annual instalments, with 2½ per cent. interest added.

If set apart by way of sale, the conditions will be notified, and in most instances will be very similar to those of Group Purchases.

  1. Suburban Holdings.

Tenure. - Lease in perpetuity.

Residence. - Five years, to he commenced within six months after confirmation.

Annual Rent. - 24 per cent. on the notified capital value, payable half-yearly in advance.

Reappraisement is made at end of every twenty years.

Right to Purchase. - Application to purchase may be made, and, if approved, purchase money is payable in ten equal annual instalments.

  1. Group Purchase.

Tenure. - freehold title will be given after all conditions have been fulfilled, and payment made of all moneys due to the Crown.

Residence. - Five years, less the period of any residence performed before the date of confirmation.

Purchase Money. - Usually the instalment is 6 per cent. of the notified capital value, and of this instalment 5 per cent. onthe outstanding balance is taken as interest. First payment is due twelve months after confirmation. The terms of payment extend over thirty-eight years.

Power is given to suspend payment of the first two instalments, and also the third instalment provided improvements to the value of the three instalments have been effected by the holder in addition to improvements effected out of moneys advanced by the Crown.

Fencing. - Boundaries to be fenced with an approved fence within three years from confirmation.

The Closer Settlement Acts provide for one ormore qualified discharged soldiers purchasing privately-owned land upon terms approved by the Minister for Lands.

Tenure. - A freehold title will be given after all conditions have been fulfilled and payment made of all moneys due to the Crown.

Residence. - Five years must begin with twelve months of commencement of title, and may be extended to any date within five years.

Purchase Money. - Deposit of 64 per cent, of capital value of farm and balance is paid in annual instalments at the same rate.

Irrigation Farms

These farms are set apart on Irrigation Areas and are dealt with by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission.

Tenure. - A lease in perpetuity. A perpetual lease grant may issue after five years.

Residence. - A condition of residence is attached in perpetuity and must commence within six months of granting of application.

Rent. - Rent at the rate of29 cent, of the capital value is paid annually.

  1. Conditions and privileges offered to soldier settlers: -

Soldiers travelling to inspect land that has been made available, and which is proposed to be taken up under the Returned Soldiers’

Settlement Act, will be carried free on one return journey only, second-class tickets being issued on presentation at the booking office of ‘ the approved certificate from the Department of Lands.

Soldiers who are successful applicants for blocks of land will, with their families, and such belongings (including live-stock) as were in their possession immediately prior to taking up the land - the live-stock not to be more than sufficient for the land required - be carried at half the ordinary fares and rates when journeying by rail to take up their residence on such land. The same concession applies to purchases made out of advances by the Department. The concession will be subject to the production of certificate from the Department of Lands, and will not be allowed unless travel is made within six months after respective holdings have been granted to applicants.

Training Farms

Training farms have been established at Grantham Stud Poultry Farm, Seven Hills, for training in poultry farming.

Glen Innes- Nursery. -Four training in general horticulture.

By arrangement with the Department of Agriculture, certain colleges and farms are available for training of intending settlers. Sustenance, which will not require to be repaid, will be provided by the Repatriation Department.

Financial Assistance

An advance to an approved amount not ex ceeding£625 is available for every soldier settler on a home maintenance area, for the following purposes, and no other, namely: -

  1. The clearing, fencing, draining, water supply, and general improvement of the said land.
  2. The purchase of implements, stock, seed, plants, and such other things as may be deemed necessary to satisfactorily occupy and develop the land; or
  3. The erection of buildings on land owned by such soldier or held by him under lease from the Crown or the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission.

Money will be advanced up to an approved amount not exceeding £625 for seed, stock, tools, and implements to share farmers, and to lessees of private lands whose leases have a term of not less than five years. In each case the share-farming agreement or lease must be produced for inspection and approval. An advance will not be made to share farmers or lessees of private lands for buildings or improvements.

Repayment of Advance. - The terms of repayment are usually as follows: - House, water supply, fencing, and other permanent improvements, by payments extended over twentyfive years (first five years’ interest only to be paid). Tools, stock and implements, by payments extended over six years (interest only to be paid at end of first year). Seeds, plants, trees, &c, usually in one year.

Interest on advances is fixed by the Act as “not exceeding 3½ per cent. for the first year, 4 per cent. for the second year, and so on, the rate increasing by not more than one-half per cent. for each subsequent year until the rate determined by the Minister (in accordance with the Act) has been reached.” The maximum rate has been fixed at 5½ per cent.

page 6575


Advancesup to a maximum of £1,000 are made to a soldier settler who is the owner or lessee of land in the mallee country, or of land which, in the opinion of the Minister of Lands, is mainly grazing land. The State, where necessary, bears part of the cost of the erection of the permanent improvements.

The conditions of the land tenure are as follow, viz. : -

In the case of virgin Crown lands, selection purchase leases are issued for a term of. twenty or forty years, and the rents paid go towards purchase. Improvements areto be effected according to the classified value of the land. Residence for three years and nine months, during the first six years of the lease, is essential on or within 5 miles of the land.

In the caseof re-purchased lands, conditional purchase leases are issued for a term of 36½ years, and provides for the payment of the value of the land by seventy-three half-yearly instalments. The annual payment amounts to 6 per cent., including interest at 5 per cent. per annum on the portion of the unpaid pur chase money.

The utmost value of land that may be granted to any one soldier is £2,500, excepting where the Minister, after consulting the Board, considers that the land is mainly grazing land, when the maximum value of land that may be granted is £3,500.

In cases where there is no homestead, and the land is not likely to become reproductive for some time, the Minister may direct that repayments of purchase money and interest shall not be payable for a period not exceeding three years, and the lease may be extended accordingly; but the lessees will be liable for municipal rates and water charges, if any, from the date of the lease. In cases of readymade farms on which there are homesteads the free period is one year. The State bears the loss of interest for the free period,and the lease is extended accordingly.

These concessions may be reduced or discontinued by the Minister if the conditionsof the lease are not complied with; if the land is not satisfactorily worked, or where, upon thereport of an Inspector or an Advisory Committee, the Minister is satisfied that the permanent and substantial improvements on or the income likely to be earned from the allotment are such as to make the reduction reasonable.

Residence is compulsory until the land becomes freehold. A Crown grant may be issued after twelve (12) years on repayment in full of the purchase money if the conditions of lease have been complied with. The land may be sub-let or sold to an approved applicant aftertheexpirationofthefirstsixyearsof thelease. The only condition required of a returned soldier desirous of taking up land is that he must satisfy a Qualification Committee that he is suitable as a settler, or may prove after training to be suitable. If farming experience be limited the Committee may recommend a free course at an agricultural training farm. In the case of a single man, should the pension be less than £1 per week an allowance may be granted to increase it tothat amount. For married men the amount is £1 10s. per week, and 2s. 6d. per week for each child dependant, hot exceeding four, inclusive of pension. Advances up. to £625 or to £1,000 as mentioned in first paragraph are made for the purchase of stock andimplements, erection of buildings, fencing, &c. to. soldier settlers taking up virgin Crown lands or repurchased land under the tenures mentioned above. In cases where the soldier settlers are parties to approved share-farming agreements, or who have leased private land, advances not exceeding £250 are made for the purchase of stock, implements, &c. Soldier settlers who own private land may obtain advances not exceeding in the whole the sum of £625 for the purpose of improving the land and purchasing stock and implements. Sustenance to a soldier settler who is in necessitous circumstances, and who may reasonably be expected to insure the success of his undertakings may be paid at any time during the first two years of his occupancy for periods not exceeding in the aggregate six months in accordance with the following scale, viz.: - QUEENSLAND. Such advances are made through the agency of the Government Savings Bank at the rate of *15s. in the £1* of the value of the land and improvements made or proposed to be made. Generally, these advances have a currency of twenty-five years. The rate of interest is 5 per centum per annum. Simple interest only is payable during the first five years, and thereafter interest and redemption must be paid in half-yearly payments of £4 0s. 3d. per centum. In the case of any advance in respect of a pastoral holding or grazing selection, or scrub selection, the term of the advance shall not exceed the period for which the lease is to run at the date of advance, and the payment of the interest and redemption shall be adjusted accordingly. If this period is less than ten years, the amount of such advance shall not exceed the rate of 10s. in the £1 of the estimated value as above. Provision is also made, however, that when land is open for general competitive selection under the ordinary provisions of the Land Act, except in the case of land open under the grazing tenure, an application lodged by a discharged soldier holding an honorable "discharge, and who is not already a land-holder, will have priority over all other applicants, provided he lodges his application at least seven days before the date on which the land will be opened for selection, and undertakes to perform the condition of personal residence during the first five years of the term. SOUTH AUSTRALIA. *Privileges and Conditions.* Prospective soldier settlers are trained in rural pursuits. - (Paid30s. per week, with board and dodging. Discharged soldiersare established on land, dairying, horticultural, and agriculturalpropositions.By allotment on perpetual lease , or covenant to purchase agreement of Crown lands, or lands acquired forthe purposeof settlement of discharged soldiers; orby purchase of properties for particular soldiers, either onmortgage or covenant topurchase agreement. In cases of mortgages, term ofrepayment,iffixed by arrangement) with interest, as under: - 1st year, nil; 2nd year,2½ per cent.; 3rdyear,3½ per . cent. ; 4th year and thereafter, 5 per cent. Perpetual leases - Crownlands (other than irrigation areas.), no rent is payable for the first four years; then to the tenth year, 2 per cent. on the value of the land; thereafter, 4 per cent. on value of land. Irrigation areas - First year, no rent; second year, quarter of full rent; third year,half of full rent; fourth year, three-quarters of full rent; fifth year and thereafter, full rent. Covenant to purchase agreement, Crown lands - No instalment is payable for the first four years; then to the tenth year, 4 per cent. interest on thevalue of the land;during the next thirty yearsthe purchase money is payable with interest at 4 per cent. In all other cases - The term of the repayment is sixty-five years; for the first year, no instalment or interest is payable; forthe succeeding four years, interest alone at2½ per cent. for the second year,3½ per cent. for the third year, 5 per cent. for the fourth and fifth years; thereafter the purchase money is repayable with interest at 5 per cent. Inthe caseof perpetual leasesand covenant topurchaseagreement,thesettler is on penult for the first twelvemonths ; thenthe title deed is issued,underwhich thefinancialobligations imposedcommence torunthere is nofinancial liabilityduring the permitperiod). In thesecases,also, the settlerisrequiredto personally resideupontheproperty during nine months of the year,land work it in thecapacity of principal. advances are madefor - (a)Improving and equipping the settlers' holdings. - On mortgage or bill of sale, security according to the nature of the advance, repayable within forty-two years in the caseoffixed improvements, and nine years for other items ;in the former casethe first repaymentinstalmentis due at theendof fourand ahalf or five years, accordingly as the repayments are half-yearly or yearlyrespectively, and in the latter case at the expiration oftwoandahalf or three years, accordingly asthe repayments are half-yearly or yearly respectively, with interest as follows: - 1st year,nil; 2nd year,2 percent; 3rd year., 3½percent.;4th year, 5 per cent.; and thereafter, 5½per cent. Settlers are enabled to avail themselves of the technical knowledge and advice of the departmental inspectors. The above privileges and conditions are extended to discharged soldiers and widows of discharged soldiers who are qualified to engage in the rural occupations which they desire to take up. WESTERN AUSTRALIA. In. re-purchased estates, the full purchase money with interest must be paid in thirty years, but no payment is required in the first year, the interest being capitalized. {:#subdebate-6-0} #### Soldier Settlement {:#subdebate-6-1} #### General Correspondence. - All communications having reference to the activities of this office (registration, qualification for necessary certificate, applications for advances, &c), should be addressed to the Controller, Soldiers' Settlement, Lands and Surveys Department, Perth. All Correspondence having reference to Lands and Survey business proper (inquiries *re* blocks available, applications for Crown land, inquiries *re* land rents, &c), should be addressed direct to the Under Secretary for Lands. Freedom of Choice. - The ex-soldier who lias been proved eligible to come under the provisions of this scheme may select in any locality for which he has a preference, provided that suitable land is available therein. It is recognised that men will naturally desire to return to the districts from which they enlisted, and extensive repurchaseshave been made to enable this desire to be met as far as possible. Group Settlement. - This class of settlement will be encouraged as far as possible, with the object of securing pleasant social conditions for the ex-soldier. Present repurchases of private estates and future subdivisions will make effective provision for this. Work. - Ex-soldier settlers will be provided with the best land and will be afforded every facility to develop same under the most favorable conditions. The Department merely requires consistent industry on the part of the settler. {:#subdebate-6-2} #### Avenues Wheat Belt. - Mixed farming - wheat and sheep, pig raising - dairying. Grazing farms. South-West. - Mixed farming and dairying - fodder crops - orchards - pig and poultry farms - intense culture - root crops, market gardening. North.-Pastoral leases. {:#subdebate-6-3} #### Legislation {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Lond Act Amendment Act 1917. 1. Agricultural Lands Purchase Act Amendment Act 1918. 2. Agricultural Bank Amendment Act 1917. 3. Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Act Amendment Act 1919. Regulations under these Acts. {:#subdebate-6-4} #### Administration Nos. (1) and (2) are administered by the Lands Department, No. (3) by the Agricultural Bank, and No. (4) by the Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Board. The administration by the above-named Departments is co-ordinated under the Controller of Soldier Settlement **(Mr. A. McLarty)** and his staff, which has been drawn from the Departments concerned. The State Repatriation Department is at present located in that portion of the Lands and Surveys Department fronting Cathedral-avenue, Perth. {:#subdebate-6-5} #### Qualification All ex-soldiers and sailors desiring to settle on the land are required to register at the office of the Controller, Lands Department, Perth, and to secure qualification certificate of agricultural efficiency. All applicants who were discharged from Military or Naval Service, other than " A " Class, will also be required to secure medical certificate of physical fitness for agricultural work. Those applicants who are found on examination by the Qualification Board to be insufficiently experienced may be required to undergoa training course on either a farm specially set apart for the purpose or to take service with an established farmer until qualified toundertake farming operations on their own account. Sustentation allowance will be paid during such training course. In addition to the Central Qualification Board, which meets daily at the Lands and Surveys Department, Perth, with the excep- tion (at present) of Wednesday and Saturday, Branch Qualification Boards have been constituted at Albany, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton; and in all outlying centres where a Local Repatriation Committee is in existence, the said Committee may be constituted a Qualification Board for the purpose of duly examining applicants who desire to come under the provisions of this scheme,, and who would be penalized by being compelled to journey to the city for the purpose of going before the Central Qualification Board. {:#subdebate-6-6} #### Land Land is provided under the heads of - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Crown Lands. - Farming. 1. Crown Lands. - Grazing. 2. Crown Lands. - Pastoral leases. 3. Repurchased Estates. 4. Repurchased Single Properties. 5. Crown Lands. - The provision of these is in the hands of the Surveyor-General and his staff. Suitable land is subdivided and thrown open for selection by returned soldiers and sailors. Two thousand acres of cultivable land may be held by one man, of which 160 acres are granted free, except for office charges. On the remainder, the soldier is charged halfprice only. Loans for improvements and living allowance are granted to approved applicants on the terms set out under Finance. 6. Grazing leases on Crown lands are granted up to 5,000 acres in or adjacent to the agricultural districts. 7. Pastoral leases in the pastoral areas up to 100,000 acres maybe selected free of rent for five years. Any additional area is taken under the ordinary conditions under the Land Act. 8. Repurchased Estates. - These are acquired by the Lands and Surveys Department under the Agricultural Lands Purchase Act. The Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Board and the Controller are consulted at every stage of the negotiations prior to purchase, in order to insure the purchase only of the best land available. After purchase the estates are' subdivided and made available for returned soldiers and sailors on the terms set out under Finance. {: type="a" start="e"} 0. Repurchased Single Properties. - These are acquired under the Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Act or the Agricultural Bank Act by the Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Board, and should be, as far as possible, going concerns; stock, plant, &c, being included in the purchase price. The ex-soldier is required to locate a property which he considers will be suitable to his requirements, and have same placed under offer to the Board. Concessions are set out under Finance. See also remarks *re* options under Procedure. {:#subdebate-6-7} #### Assistance Advances on liberal terms, as set out under Finance, are made for improvements, inclusive of house, clearing, fencing, water supply, machinery, stock, seed, fertilizer, and living allowance, until the farm comes into the productive stage. An ex-soldier who held his property prior to enlistment may also be assisted to pay off existing liabilities on the land. Concessions on advances are set out under Finance. {:#subdebate-6-8} #### Inspection For the convenience of ex-soldier settler applicants, administration will be decentralized as far as possible, in order that an ex-soldier who is resident in the country districts may transact the bulk of his preliminary business with the district inspector stationed in the locality in which he desires to settle. For example, an applicant desiring to purchase a single property will see the district inspector with the necessary particulars. That officer will inspect the property and forward his report and recommendation thereon to head office, thus obviating the delay which would be occasioned by application being made in the first place to head office. District inspectors are located at Northam, Kellerberrin, Bruce Rock, Kununoppin, Geraldton, Narrogin, Katanning, Albany, Bunbury, and Bridgetown. {:#subdebate-6-9} #### Residence After an ex-soldier takes up residence on his holding, he will be visited once a month by his local inspector, who will supervise approximately fifty men. This officer will make payments to the settler for work done (see Finance - Living Allowance), advise him on farming operations, and note his requirements for the ensuing month. These inspectors will be carefully chosen in respect to their knowledge of the branch of farming for which the particular district is suitable, and their investigations will be thorough. It is not anticipated that any settler will object to this. The ex-soldier will bear in mind that he has been placed in possession, in each case, of a valuable and fully equipped property, and that, therefore, departmental supervision is necessary. Residence on land acquired and held under the scheme is compulsory for at least six months of each of the first five years. {:#subdebate-6-10} #### Procedure Procedure to acquire land and assistance under the soldiers' settlement scheme - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Application to Controller, Soldier Settlement, followed by appearance before Qualification Board to receive certificate of suitability for farming. 1. Selection of land - Crown, repurchased estate lot, single farm, grazing farm, or pastoral lease. 2. Application for land, lodged in Lands Department. 3. Application for advance, lodged with Controller, Soldier Settlement. Note. - Where an application is made for an advance to purchase an improved farm (single property), it should be accompanied by a written offer from the vendor, giving full particulars of the property and encumbrances (if any), stating the bedrock price, and giving two months' option of purchase. {: type="1" start="5"} 0. Approval of (3) and (4) and commencement of farming operations. Note. - The necessary forms of application are obtainable at all district offices. {:#subdebate-6-11} #### Finance {:#subdebate-6-12} #### Concessions to Soldiers Fees. - The ex-soldier settler pays only 50 per cent. of Lands Department fees; and 5s. per cent. of Agricultural Bank fees. The stamp duty payable on transfers has been reduced to 10s. per cent. In both cases, the fees are paid by the Department and added to his capital advance, repayable as shown below : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Crown Lands - Land. - One hundred and sixty acres free, except for office fees. Conditional purchase selections up to an additional l',S40 acres at half price. No payments are required for five years, and the purchase money is then payable by equal half-yearly instalments, not exceeding 6d. per acre per annum. The term of payment depends on the price, but will not be. less than twenty years from the. date of selection. Improvements. - Advances by Agricultural Bank for improvements are repayable in thirty years. The interest during the first year on amounts up to £625 is at the rate of 3½ per cent, rising by½ per cent. yearly, until the ordinary bank rate is reached. Over £625, the ordinary bank rate is charged. Stock and Machinery. - The Agricultural Bank advances are repayable in eight years. Living allowance may be covered by work, such as clearing, fencing, &c,when it will be capitalized and added to. the mortgage payable in thirty years, or it may be covered by cultivating, cropping, &c, repayable from the proceeds of the crop. In either case, the advance is against work. A sustenance allowance will be paid by the Federal Repatriation Department for six months pending productivity of land, the amount being 20s. per week for single men, 30s. per week for married men, and 2s. 6d. for each child, not exceeding four. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. Crown Lands - Grazing Farms. - Concessions as above. 1. Pastoral Leases. - Up to *100,000* acres is granted rent free for five years. Any area over this must be taken under ordinary conditions. Advancesup to £1,200 are granted on approved propositions, of which £625 carries the interest concession of3½ per cent. the first year, rising½ per cent. yearly till the cost of the money is reached. The advances are repayable over twenty years. {: type="a" start="d"} 0. Repurchased Estates. - Payments are provided for from thirty years, with, the first half-year's interest capitalized,, and interest only for the4½ years following. Advances are as. stated under Crown Lands. {: type="a" start="e"} 0. Repurchased Single Properties;-- Advances up to £2,000 per individual are made to purchase these.. It does not necessarily follow; however, that this amountwill be advanced inall cases where settlement is effected per medium of purchasing an improved property.. The maximum amount will only be advanced in cases where it is abundantly evident that the value is represented in the security offered. The ex-soldier for whom a single property has been purchased will be required to pay half-yearly, as from the date of his occupancy of such property, 50 per cent. of all rentals payable thereon to the Crown. The interest concession of3½ per cent. for the first year, rising½ per cent. yearly till the current rate of the Agricultural Bank is reached, is given on amounts up to £625. On all amounts over and above this figure the ordinary rate of the Agricultural Bank is charged. Advances are repayable in thirty years, except for plant and stock, which are repayable in eight years. {: .page-start } page 6580 {:#debate-7} ### TASMANIA The limit of £625 allowed for advances is seldom exceeded. Exception, however, is made in cases where blocks are purchased for grazing or dairying purposes, and where the £625 is insufficient to meet the cost of developing the land, buildings, and the purchase of stock. These cases, however, are comparatively few and far between. Tenure. Successful applicants for blocks in repurchased estates or for single farms are entitled to- leases of the land allotted for a period qf ninety-nine years, with the right of purchase after lease has been in force for ten years, provided the conditions of lease have been complied with, at the valuation placed upon the lot at the time of leasing. The capital value is fixed by- the Minister on the recommendation of the Board, and the rental is based at a rate not exceeding 5per cent. on such valuation. Where there are any buildings on the land at. the date of leasing, such buildings will be valued separately, and the lessee will be required to purchase same at such valuation, with interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum, by equal half-yearly instalments, covering a period of twenty-one years. No rent or instalment on buildings will be payable in respect of any allotment held on lease for the first year, the Aust payments, falling due eighteen months from. commencement, of lease.A lessee will not be liable for payment of rates, and taxes, Government, municipal, or otherwise, on. the land for four years, from date of lease. Repayment of ADVANCES Advances for purchase of stock, implements, <&c., and on permanent improvements, are re. payable as follows: - *Principal Repayments.* (Period repayable by half-yearly instalments. ) Stock, seed, and furniture - 1st year, nil; four years. Implements - 1st year, nil; ten years. Improvements - three years, nil; eighteen years. *Interest Payable.* 1st year, *31* per cent.; 2nd year, 4 per cent;; 3rd year, 4* per cent.; 4th and subsequent years, 5 per cent. {: .page-start } page 6581 {:#debate-8} ### COLLECTION OF DUTIES {:#subdebate-8-0} #### Presentation of Invoices Mi. CORSER.- Is it a fact that importers have been informed that, in the absence of invoices, after the 2nd July, 1921, they will not be able, unless under -exceptional circumstances, to get delivery of goods on depositing duty in accordance with their ascertained values? Will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider & request from the Chambers of Commerce for greater facilities for importation than are proposed to be given ? {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Prior to the war the practice of the Department was, in all but -exceptional to refuse to deliver goods unless the necessary documents were produced, but when, during the war, mail services were entirely dislocated, and the shipping services became very erratic, the Department tried to meet the commercial community as much as possible by providing that, on making a deposit of duty, with such addition as might be thought to cover all contingencies, importers could get delivery of the goods, and enter them for home consumption. That practice has obtained up to the present time; but, in a number of cases, importers after receiving goods have refused to produce documents in support of the valuation on which they paid duty in advance, and the Department has not been able to enforce, the production of those documents, even where it believed that the duty paid was less than should have been paid. Consequently, it is felt that the present temporary arrangement must be ended, and we have given what we think is sufficient notice to the commercial community to enable it to make arrangements with -shippers which will enable documents to be sent in future with, or before, the goods to which they relate. We are, of course, willing to consider any representations that may be made to us, but I think that, unless in exceptional cases, in which delivery will be given before the production of documents, we must insist on the production of documents before duty is paid. {: .page-start } page 6581 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### COAL TRADE DISPUTE Morwell Coal Mine {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr WATKINS:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Has the Prime Minister read the statement of the Victorian Minister, made in the Legislative Assembly, that Commonwealth legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes does not affect a State Government in any way, and does he not think that we should know exactly where we stand in regard to our legislative powers for the settlement of disputes? Has the right honorable gentleman any further statement to make concerning his consultations with the Premier of Victoria regarding the existing coal dispute? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
Prime Minister · BENDIGO, VICTORIA · NAT -- I have already stated that I made a suggestion to the Premier of Victoria for the settlement of the dispute, which he was unable to accept. This Government has taken no further action, and, speaking off-hand, I do not see what else we can do. The men will not work, arid the Victorian Government will not accept the Coal Tribunal's award. What are we to do ? I express no opinion about the rights and wrongs of the dispute, arid I am open to receive suggestions from members who think they can tell me how to bring the dispute to a conclusion. {: #subdebate-9-0-s2 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA -- Seeing that the Victorian Government seems to be taking shelter behind its legislation, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether, when two Acts of Parliament come into conflict, it is not the general rule that, providing that the Commonwealth law is constitutional, it must prevail? Does that not apply to the present position? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- As a general principle the rule which the honorable member has referred to does apply; that i.° to say, when two laws, State and Federal, conflict upon a matter in regard to which both the State and the Federation have concurrent jurisdiction, the law of the Commonwealth prevails. But when the honorable member asks me whether that principle applies in this case,, I tell him that I do not know. It is extremely difficult to know what the law is at present, following upon the recent decision of the High Court in regard to State instrumentalities. Prior to that I would have been able to say, " No, it does not apply." Now, I cannot say that, because that judgment goes very far. How far it goes no one is able to state. I am not going to say, for one moment, that our law does not prevail. It is not for any member of this Parliament to cut down the powers of the Commonwealth, and while there is a doubt I shall certainly not resolve that doubt against the Commonwealth. But if the honorable member asks me for an opinion whether, as a matter of fact, our law doe3 prevail in this matter, I tell him frankly that I do not know. There is one simple procedure, however, which I suggested to the Premier of Victoria. That is that he should go to the Court and ascertain what the law is. I suggested that if he wanted to close down the Morwell Mine he should do so; that he should pay the award rate up to the date of his closing down the mine, and should then go to the Court and ask, "Is this law *ultra vires,* so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, or not?" If the Court were to say that it was *ultra vires* there would be an end of the matter. I am authorized to say, on behalf of **Mr. Baddeley** and his colleague, as representatives of the Colliery Employees Federation, that they would recommend their Council to accept such a decision. I think this way is the best way, but the Premier of Victoria says he cannot take this way. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Why do you not take it yourself and establish your own law? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- We are not challenging the award at all. We say that the award does apply. {: .page-start } page 6582 {:#debate-10} ### PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS {: #debate-10-s0 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA -- I desire to make a personal explanation. In the course of a debate in this chamber a few days ago, regarding the question of payment for wheat, the honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Cunningham)** made a statement which has since been brought under my notice. The honorable member, after he had referred to myself upon some matter, stated that it was " upon record " that the firm with which I am associated exhibited its patriotism during the war by charging for calico which it had purchased at 5 1/2 d. per yard prices ranging from lc Sd. to 2s. per yard. If that statement were merely a repetition of something which had been told the honorable member for Gwydir, I, personally, would not have taken the trouble to correct it, or to make any remarks upon it. But the honorable member used the words, " It is upon record." When I had his statement pointed out to me I interpreted that phrase as meaning that the facts had been ascertained and were somewhere upon record. I asked the honorable member subsequently, and he then said to me, " Oh, *no* ; there was no such record ;" and he added that somebody had told him what he had stated. For an honorable member to say in this House that something is on record when it has only beenrepeated to him by some one else is absolutely improper. After I had made my inquiry of the honorable member it would have been fairer for him to have got up in his place and to have withdrawn his statement. That is the only point upon which I am protesting, namely, that a. statement has been made to the effect that certain circumstances are upon record when there is no such record in existence. Concerning the truth or otherwise of the? statement itself, there is not the slightest ground for suggesting that anything of the sort occurred. There have been two inquiries conducted by Commissions in Melbourne upon the subject of the cost and selling price of goods, before which Commissions sworn evidence has been tendered. Every book and every figure of .every company has been at the disposal of those bodies of investigation, and no such particulars as the honorable member for Gwydir quoted have been ascertained or recorded. In addition, I wish to say that since the honorable member's statement was brought tomy attention I have had the fullest inquiry made in every channel of the business with which I am connected, and there is not one shred of evidence, or anything, indeed, to show that there is the slightest truth in his remarks. {: #debate-10-s1 .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM:
GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES -- By way ' of personal explanation, I desire to say that the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr..** Bruce) appears to be under a misapprehension in his interpretation of the meaning of the phrase, " on record." His ideas are not mine; and, with respect to his inquiry from his firm, I can only say that we never expected him to find out the facts stated by myself. {: .page-start } page 6583 {:#debate-11} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - Customs Act - Direction No. 1 Exchange Rates and Value for Duty. Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 215. {: .page-start } page 6583 {:#debate-12} ### LECTURE IN QUEEN'S HALL {: #debate-12-s0 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon, Sir Elliot Johnson:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES -- With regard to a lecture to be given in the Queen's Hall this evening, and concerning which I have been asked for information by several honorable members, I do not know the purpose of the lecture as I was absent in Sydney during the week-end. I understand, however, that arrangements were made with the President of the Senate, who is Chairman of the Joint House Committee. Some honorable members desire to know whether it would be permissible for them to bring friends to the lecture. I merely desire to say that there will be no objection to honorable members bringing one or two friends if they desire. I understand that the lecture will commence at about 7.30 p.m. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- .When I was asked a question upon this matter, and which I subsequently passed on to yon, sir, I remarked that I understood honorable members could bring the same number of friends as they are permitted to bring into the Speaker's Gallery. {: #debate-12-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- That is so, namely, two. Honorable members will realize that the seating accommodation is limited, and I take it, therefore, that they will not desire to bring more than a reasonable number of friends to the lecture. ADJOURNMENT *(Formal).* Pillaging on the W'ater Fronts. {: #debate-12-s2 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Elliot Johnson:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, " The evil of pillaging, which is greatly increasing on the water front of Australia." *Five honorable members having risen in their places,* Question proposed. {: #debate-12-s3 .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST:
Kooyong -- I have been requested by members of the mercantile community, as well as by mercantile and insurance companies, to bring under the notice of the House the pillaging that is taking place on our water fronts, with the object, if possible, of securing some redress, or of devising some means to correct the evil. This is not a new subject. Pillaging on the water fronts has been practised for a considerable number of years with impunity, but it has developed of late to such an extent as to demand the most serious attention. As the result of collusion and conspiracy, it has been reduced te such a fine art. that detection of the offenders has become, to a large extent, impossible, and we must either be content to allow it to continue in its present flagrant form, or grapple determinedly with it. My attention has been directed to investigations that have taken place, the details of which have been published in a series of articles in the *Industrial Australian and Mining Standard.* I had already seen these articles, but when my attention was specially directed to them I read them very closely, and am free to say that they lack nothing in the way of thoroughness and downright plain speaking. The scathing and ruthless terms in which the evil has been denounced, and the evidence which has been adduced in support of the charges, are such as to demand the immediate consideration of the House. When such charges are so circumstantially made by a responsible journal, they cannot be disregarded. This newspaper has not been content merely to make the charges, but has supplied the necessary evidence in proof of them. Roughly put, the charges are that the unions on the water front are. largely composed of criminals - that a gang of thieves- {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- What? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- The charges are not mine. I will give the House the evidence adduced in support of them. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Does the honorable member say that all trade unionists are criminals? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- Not at all; distinctly no. Mr.Brennan. - It is a mean,contemptible lie! *Several honorable members interjecting* {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Elliot Johnson: -- If honorable members would not converse in such loud tones, and would refrain from interjecting, they would be able to pay more attention to the honorable member's statements, and thus avoid misapprehension. I ask that the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** shall be Heard in reasonable silence. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE:
BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; IND LAB from 1920 -- I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Kooyong in order in referring to the unions along the waterfront as being composed of criminals? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member's point of order serves to emphasize the view which I have just expressed, that if honorable members would not converse in such loud tones they would avoid misapprehensions. The honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** made no such statement as thatjust attributed to him. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- He did, sir. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorablemember is under a misapprehension. The honorable member for Kooyong didnot himself accuse unionists working on the Water front of being criminal's. He was merelyquotingcharges made by a newspaper. {: .speaker-KZU} ##### Mr Lavelle: -- On a point of order, I ask whether, if the honorable member would not be allowed bo make such charges, is he in order in quoting some one else to the same effect? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Such statements, if they refer to any honorable member of the House, would not be in order but if they refer to persons outside there is no standing order which precludes the making of them. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- On a point of order, I desire to say that I am a member of a water front organization, and I ask- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- That is no point of order. Mr.Blakeley . -On a point of order, I submit that the honorable member for Kooyong is not entitled to quote from a. newspaper reportunless he is prepared to vouchfortheaccuracyofthestatements contained in thatreport . {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member for Kooyong is not asking a question basedon a statement in a newspaper, and is, therefore, not required to vouch for the accuracy of the statement towhich he refers in thecourse of a speech. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- I rise to a point of order. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member hasalready raised a point of order, and is not entitled, under cover of raising another point of order, to debatemy ruling. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- I have said quite frankly, and in the most definite terms, that I have no personal knowledgeof the facts, but that these statements have been published in a responsible newspaper. *Several honorable membersinterjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! I am not going to strain my voice by constantly calling for order. If it is necessary for me again to direct attention to the rule that an honorable member shall be heard in reasonable silence. I shall take steps under the Standing Orders to insure that he shall be so heard. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- This newspaper demands-and at the request of the mercantilecommunity I support the demand - that there shall be a full inquiry and' investigation of the whole subject, with a view to securing someremedy or redress; and also that an opportunity shall be afforded of proving or disproving the published charges which are made, and it promises that it will adduce the" necessary evidence in support of itscharges. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- I move - That the question be now put. Question-That the question be now put - put. The House divided. AYES: 5 NOES: 47 Majority ... 42 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Motion negatived. Adjournment of the House is to call attention to the same, and to the extent of the evil complained of. I shall later on make the. necessary quotations, so as to satisfy my honorable friends as to the proofs and evidence that are said to be forthcoming. These charges are so serious, and are so strongly indorsed by the mercantile community, that the demand for some remedy must be met. A further charge, and a very serious one, is that of complicity of officers of the Department in these frauds. That is a charge which the House cannot afford to overlook. {: .page-start } page 6585 {:#debate-13} ### ORGANIZED WHOLESALE THIEVING FROM SHIPS AND WHARVES £500,000 Added Annually to the Costof Living. {:#subdebate-13-0} #### Drastic Action Necessary to Break Up Gang of Waterside Thieves Losses suffered in this way throughout Australia have been definitely ascertained to be upwards of £500,000, but, as a matter of fact, estimates carefully made indicate that they amount to a figure which is nearer £1,000,000. While these losses are paid for the time being by the merchants, insurance people, and shipping companies, as a matter of fact we all realize that they are ultimately passed on to the consumers, so that it means so much additional taxation on the community, The language used in this article is plain, unmistakable, and straightforward. This is what it says - >An organized gang of thieves banded together as a bunch of conspirators is included among the select and exclusive organization of workers who operate on the wharves of Commonwealth ports. The conspiracy, indeed, is world-wide. The thieving of cargo, more commonly known as pillaging, is not only carried on on a grand scale on Australian ships, and wharves, but on oversea vessels before departure for -abroad, on the high seas, and at Commonwealth terminals. . The position has become intolerable, and for our part we say the time has arrived when the authorities should take drastic action to break up the gang, gaol the arch conspirators, and put an end to this wholesale form of robbery, which is now winked at by the law and regarded as something in the nature of an uncontrollable evil. It points out the responsibility of the unions, and calls upon them - to purge their organizations of the thieves and rogues included in their lists of financial members. It refers to the futility of the mere re cording of fines against these people, instead of imprisoning them. It says - A £10 fine to these men is as a mild scolding to a petulant child. If the man has not the cash to pay, the " Black Hand " quickly produces the funds. Then it gives a list of the claims on one insurance company for twelve months. This list occupies close' on two columns of the publication. The amounts of the claims range from a few pounds to £900 for a single voyage. The total amount paid by this insurance company for the period was £5,127; and as there are fifty or sixty insurance companies doing this class of work, honorable members can gain a substantial idea of the ravages Drought about by this pilfering. A report was called for by this insurance company, and the article says that the report states - >In June last four bales of woollens, valued at £900, which were tallied from the ship on to the wharf, disappeared mysteriously. Again, three bales, valued at £500, were landed on thi wharf, and vanished. What were the Customs authorities and the wharfinger doing to let these be taken away without authority. One Flinders-lane warehouse has received claims amounting to £2,700 in the last twelve months. Surely, after these scathing charges had been made in this most straightforward manner, and in such unqualified terms, one would have thought that writs would have immediately followed: in order to bring this journal to account for them, but nothing of the kind took place. {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- The unionists, the waterside unions, who are charged with having thieves and rogues in the lists of their financial members.' {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- In Sydney, the wharf labourers who are working the overseas ships are loyalists, who are not members of a *bond fide* union. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- That fact is quite immaterial. This matter is such a serious menace to the whole community that we have a right to look into it. At any rate, this journal i6 dealing with Melbourne particularly; and on the 11th November it follows up its attack with an article headed: {: .page-start } page 6586 {:#debate-14} ### GANGS OF CONVICTED THIEVES OPERATING ON AUSTRALIAN WHARVES Official Statistics Demonstrate that Wharf Robberies are Increasing. {:#subdebate-14-0} #### Ominous Silence of Waterside Unions Then it gives the following table of prosecutions for thefts and interference with goods on the Melbourne wharfs: - What is taking place in Melbourne is only typical of what is taking place elsewhere. It then proceeds' to say - >The deliberate statement made by this paper that an organized gang of thieves is operating on the water fronts of Australia within the seclusion of a select and autocratic organization has been indorsed during the past few days by evidence received from a variety of sources. The statistics published above demonstrate very clearly that the evil is growing, that the menace is becoming more pronounced, and that the day has come when unity of effort is necessary to effect a " clean-up " on the water front. The matter had been brought up in another place by an honorable senator, and the Minister's reply being to the effect that the duty of the Customs Depart-, ment was merely to collect revenue and detect frauds in connexion with Customs matters, this journal comments on that aspect of the matter and says - This is a fact, but we say quite emphatically that the Customs Department, or, to be more exact, those whom it employs, display shocking disregard for the safety of cargo which, in the process of landing, is detained for check and inspection. At most Australian wharves there are closed sheds, where valuable cargo, on being landed, is placed for safe keeping. Wharf labourers in pursuance of their work are admitted to these compartments, but for some inexplicable reason, it is stated, the Customs officers forbid authorized special detectives, and special watchmen, employed by the ship-owners, to enter the enclosures. We are informed that convicted thieves have been granted access to these special compartments, when watchmen have been excluded. Is this part of the conspiracy, or is it merely a conspicuous example of official ineptitude? Inquiry into such a matter as this may produce interesting revelations. It goes on to point out that these are very grave assertions, and says - We would like to hear what the Waterside Federation has to say in this connexion. It gives instances of these depredations which are amazing in their volume and extent. The newspaper says - Since our last issue, our representatives have interviewed numerous Melbourne and Sydney merchants regarding the disgraceful state of affairs existing on our water fronts. All are glad to offer whatever assistance they are able to give to bring about a better state of affairs; meanwhile, they watch with the keenest interest for what our challenge to the water front unions will bring forth. The names of a few merchants who are victims are given, and, therefore, I am at liberty to quote them.. But a great number of others are afraid to have their names published because of the terrorism that exists, and the extra attention which has followed on previous complaints. But this list which I am about te quote conclusively proves that it is not mere pilfering, but wholesale thieving, that is going on. {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- I ask that it be extended. Honorable Members of the Opposition. - No. {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST: -- Am I not entitled to have the time occupied in the taking of the divisions deducted? {: #subdebate-14-0-s2 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Elliot Johnson: -- No. It has been ruled on more than one occasion that deductions from the time limit may not be made for interruptions. {: #subdebate-14-0-s3 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
Prime Minister and Attorney-General · Bendigo · NAT -- I am parry that the honorable member far Kooyong has not been able to conclude his speech. The matter brought before, the House was, in its present form, quite new to me, because I had not read the articles referred to; but, after some twenty years' intimate acquaintance with the waterside workers, it would be wrong if I did not say what I know of them. I shall do so quite briefly and plainly. My experience of unionists generally has convinced me that, in point of honesty, they will bear favorable comparison with any other persons in the community ; and, having been secretary and president of the Waterside Workers "Union for twenty years, it is incredible to me that those in control of the union should be parties to what amounts to a criminal conspiracy. I do not believe it for a moment. I know the secretary of the organization, and would trust him with every penny I have in the world. I trusted him when we were colleagues ; and, although the unionists and I have differed, we did not differ on matters of this kind, and I am not one to alter my opinion of persons with whom I have worked because of a change of political views. As for unionists *qua* unionists, I do not think that the charge of dishonesty will lie. The overwhelming bulk of the Waterside Workers Union is composed of men who are as honest as any of us, or as, in the opinion of some outside, that statement may not be thought the highest encomium, I will say as honest as any other body of men in this Commonwealth. In my experience I have found little difference between the members of one class and those of another; all are tarred- with the same brush, and have the same faults. During my long association with the waterside workers, there was an insignificant percentage of the whole body who joined the union to escape the penalties of the Vagrancy Act. and to practice their criminal profession. I had occasion, as secretary and president, to try to deal with such men, and the union passed resolution after resolution to deal with them. I know the wharf conditions of Sydney far better than those of Melbourne. There a number of men joined the union in order to be able to have an answer to any police officer who might question them about what they were doing; but of the 5,000 members of the Waterside Workers Union, only a very small percentage were dishonest. This small percentage was very active, and composed of men who joined the union for criminal purposes in connexion with their work on the wharfs, or to cloak other criminal practices. But what the honorable member for Kooyong has referred to is not pilfering, as I understand it, but wholesale thieving, and I do not understand how it can go on without at least the collusion of the man over the hatch and of the man who engages the men. A person would not be put onto one of these thieving gangs who was not of the same kidney as the rest lest its operations might be interfered with. It is no easy thing to broach and steal cargo - of course I do not speak as an expert. The cases that have to be opened are often tremendous, and after goods have been taken out of a case, there still remains the difficulty df getting them out of the ship, and off the wharfs; so that a whole number of men must be an the swim.. If the statements that have been made are true there must be a conspiracy. I say, however, that the union is not guilty. After my long association with it I could not remain quiet while such a charge was made against it. I say that the union, a3 a union, is not guilty of dishonesty, though if the statements that have teen made are true, there must be a band of men who have got into the union who are bringing discredit on it. Were I still a member of the Labour party, I would say .exactly what I am saying now. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- We want an investigation by a Select Committee or a Justice of the High Court or of the Supreme Court. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- It is suggested in the article that has been referred to, that the Customs authorities are involved in the dishonesty that is alleged. I do not know how that can be, but I will leave my colleague to answer for his own Department. The charge that has been made against the union, however, will' not lie against it, the overwhelming bulk of its members being as honest, straightforward and desirable citizens as any in the country. But. if the statements are true, there is going on on the wharfs, not pilfering, but thieving on a wholesale scale, such as is not possible without criminal conspiracy. It is not the wharf labourers alone who can be responsible for this; there must be others outside directing operations. As I have said, I shall leave it to my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, to say in what light he regards the suggestion of dishonesty on the part of Customs officials. Speaking for myself, I am perfectly prepared to have an inquiry made. I am satisfied that the Waterside Workers Union has nothing to fear from an inquiry, and I hope and believe that the Customs Department has nothing to fear, but if it has, that is its own look out. If any one has been guilty of dishonest practices, ho must put up with the consequence. What, has taken place brings discredit on a large body of men, and on all the ports of the Commonwealth, and we cannot countenance it. I think the matter a very serious one, and I shall give my attention to it. {: #subdebate-14-0-s4 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
Yarra .- I have read the articles mentioned by the honorable member for Kooyong, which are couched in the most extravagant language, language which reminded me of a remark recently attributed to Kipling, who, in reply to the complaint that something, he had written was extravagant, said, " If you do not make extravagant statements, no one will take any notice of you." Apparently this newspaper has made extravagant statements so that notice may be taken of its complaints. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say what he did regarding the waterside workers, of whom he has a more intimate knowledge than probably is possessed by any other member of the House. For the newspaper to employ such phrases as that the waterside workers were " largely composed of the criminal class," that there was " an organized gang of thieves," and that there was " a select and exclusive organization," was absolutely wrong. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Then, why is not a writ issued against the paper ? {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- If we were to issue writs against newspapers every time they libelled us the lawyers would always be busy. This paper continues that pillage is even winked at by the law, and that when men charged with pilfering go before the Courts they are let off with small fines. That drags the magistrates into the " select and exclusive organization"; they are in the conspiracy also. I do not believe that pillaging is being carried on to the extent alleged. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- There is a great deal too much of it. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- There is a great deal too much robbery going on among all classes of the community. It is not as easy to pilfer goods as for those who sell goods to raise prices three or four times above pre-war rates. These people are doing more harm to the community than any number of pilferers who may be busy on the wharfs. I would be prepared, of course, to do my best to stop pilfering, whether by men inside or outside of a union. It is very difficult to pillage a ship's cargo. The chief offenders are not the thieves, but the " fences." The people who buy the goods from pilferers for about one-fourth of their value are the persons who should be proceeded against and stopped; but these " fences " are sheltered all the time. If the authorities could suppress them they would do away with much robbery. The editor of the newspaper under discussion has not been content to quote cases of pilfering in Australia in order to bolster up his attack, but he has actually cited the circumstances of a theft of a locomotive from some South American port, I understand. Then there is another case of an elephanthaving been stolen. Could any one imagine an elephant being pillaged from a ship on the Australian coast? These instances are used to bolster up an attack upon Australians. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- That paper says it is prepared to stand for everything it alleges with regard to pilfering in Australia. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- Yes, and it drags into the " exclusive and select organization " the magistrates in our Courts, and the whole of the Customs Department as well. Right from the timewhen the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** was himself a Minister for Customs, and including the period when I presided over that Department, every Customs Minister and official is apparently brought within the scope of this " exclusive and select organization." The whole accusation is absurd. There is pilfering going on - too much of it; but I donot think the *bona fide* trade unions have anything to fear from an investigation. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- The bulk of the pilfering occurs in regard to oversea ships, and not from Inter-State vessels. The greater part of the wharf work done in Sydney in connexion with oversea ships is not performed by the *bona fide* trade unionists, but by socalled loyalist organizations. There was a loyalist organization formed in Victoria. Thekind of gentleman who acted as its secretary may be imagined when I remind honorable members that he set fire to his own house in-order to try to bring discredit upon the *bona fide* union. This individual - Baker, by name - put the fire stick to his own place; that was proved in Court by the detectives who investigated the matter. A great deal of pillaging would be stopped if the authorities were to root out the so-called loyalist organizations. If there is a criminal class at work, that epithet will apply more truthfully to the alleged loyalist waterside workers than to any *bona fide* organization in Australia. {: #subdebate-14-0-s5 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 .- With respect to the Customs Department, I would welcome any inquiry. While I was entitled to treatment other than that which I received from the editor of this newspaper concerning the very serious charges made against Customs officials, I feel, at the same time, that when he is confronted with an inquiry, and asked to substantiate his statements, he will probably either do so or withdraw them . When the charges were brought under my notice, I caused a letter to be written to the editor. He was asked to supply me with such information as he had, upon which he had founded his serious allegations against a body of public officials. The Acting Deputy Comptroller-General wrote in my behalf as follows: - >My Minister desires me to ask if you will kindly supply me with any specific information in your possession in support of the statements made regarding the officers of this Department. The editor's reply reads - >I have to acknowledge with thanks your favour of the 16th November. In reply, I be" to inform you that I am under an editorial obligation not to divulge the sources of my information unless and until the Government decides to hold a public investigation. If this be done, I shall be glad to supply your Department with all the information in my possession. I did not ask the editor for the sources of his information, but for the information itself. By inquiry, per telephone, I caused him to be asked whether he would supply the information. I told him that I did not want the sources, but the actual particulars. He has absolutely declined to give me any information. However the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** has said that he would welcome an inquiry, and I, myself, have no objection, for the reason that I believe that an inquiry will elicit the fact that by far the greater amount of pillaging occurs outside Australia. {: #subdebate-14-0-s6 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- . That comment would not apply to Inter-State boats. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Of course not; but by far the greater part of this pillaging takes place before the goods come under Customs control at all. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Some merchants have individually lost between £15,000 and £16,000 worth of goods in the past two years. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I admit that the matter is serious; but I believe that, upon investigation, it will be confirmed that the greater portion of the pillaging occurs before the goods come under Customs control. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- We have lost thousands of pounds' worth; but we have no evidence concerning whether the goods were lost inside of or outside of Australia. We cannot say where they have gone. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is so. The opportunities for pillaging are, if anything, greater on the other side of the world than here. Goods are in transit for a considerable time, very often, between factory and ship. They are frequently locked out from the wharfs. A carter sometimes takes goods to his own home in such circumstances, and he has sole possession of them before they ever get to the wharf at all. Even in the packing-room of a factory there are opportunities for pillage. The Customs Department has ample evidence that that kind of thing frequently occurs. Packages have arrived here containing nothing but stones and bricks, and similar heavy things, which, have been inserted in order to make weight. We have 'had evidence of false packing being wrapped up in newspapers of those countries from which the goods have come; and the dates of the newspapers have coincided with the date of despatch of the goods themselves. The whole question is one which has caused the commercial community throughout the world grave concern, and it is an extremely difficult matter to deal with. The newspaper articles under discussion have definitely stated that Customs officials have interfered with people who were charged with the duty of seeing that pillage did not occur. There are three parties, besides Customs officials, who are more or less engaged in trying to detect pillage. One of the three is comprised of the police, who, in Victoria, are under the control of the Harbor Trust. There are certain police who, under the Harbor Trust Act, are handed over to the Harbor Trust; and they specialize upon the work of endeavouring to put down pilfering. Then there are the Harbor Trust officials themselves, a limited number of whom are in charge of the actual sheds. Besides these two parties, importers engage, through one agency, a number of private detectives. These, together with our own inspectors, are the people who are engaged in the effort to deal with pillage. I have made careful inquiries regarding the extent to which our officers co-operate with these forces. The impression I have gained is that the cooperation is, for the' most part, cordial and thoroughly effective. But it has happened, on one or two occasions, that private detective agents have been sent down to the wharfs without credentials to indicate by whom they had been employed, and, on such occasions, our officers have found these gentlemen " mooching " about among the cargo in the sheds. When they have been asked what they are doing they, have said, " We are private detective agents, employed by So-and-so." Our officials have replied, " Will you please show us your credentials?" They have not had any, and so they have been thrown out of the sheds. I maintain that our officials have acted rightly. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- The charge is that they have thrown out men who have had their credentials upon them.. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is a matter the truth of which can be ascertained by investigation. I believe it will be found, however, that these charges against Customs officials as a body cannot be sustained. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- We all sincerely hope so. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Among all bodies of men, there are generally individual black sheep. The Customs Department itself has had occasion to remove men; but I am of opinion that the staff, as a whole, is thoroughly trustworthy. While, no doubt, among the Customs officials there may be some - as among the ranks of the waterside organizations themselves - who are not to be relied upon, I repeat that an inquiry will be welcomed. {: #subdebate-14-0-s7 .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN:
West Sydney .- T am sure that no honorable' member is in sympathy with pilfering or thieving in any shape or form. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- No matter what class indulges in it. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- No matter what class engages in it; but it is rather remarkable that the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** should practically have indorsed this general attack which is made by a somewhat unimportant newspaper. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- That is not correct. I indorsed the statement that a vast amount of pilfering has been going on. As to these charges, I frankly said that 1 knew nothing about them, but that they were so serious that they demanded investigation. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- I understood that the honorable member was practically indorsing the views expressed by the newspaper to which he referred. I am glad to hear .that he does not indorse them. It must be clear to honorable members that, under the guise of making an attack upon pilferers, a deliberate attack is made upon the waterside workers - an honest, hard-working, honorable body of men. It was because I was under the impression that such an attack was being made - and the honorable member's remarks certainly gave me that impression - that I supported the motion by the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb)** " That the question be now put." I did so because these men have no opportunity to reply for themselves, and I am not prepared to remain silent while a general charge is made against them. I do not think that any " twopenny halfpenny " rag of a. newspaper has a right to get an honorable member to stand up in this House and demand an inquiry which incidentally means that a suggestion of dishonesty is made against every unionist. Why does not the editor of this newspaper tell the Commissioner of Police who the offenders are? Surely we have an organization of police to detect crime. What is there of a secret character about the information possessed by the editor of this newspaper that he cannot tell the Commissioner of Police about it? Have these people no confidence in the Commissioner of Police, General Gellibrand ? Surely he is an honorable and capable man, with a sufficient force of detectives at his disposal to enable him to discover these criminals. I regard this as an attack against the labour unions along our seaboard.. It is really an attack upon the Labour party, made at the instance of some of the big insurance companies, which give expression to their views through this newspaper. The honorable member for Kooyong has asked why, if these charges are untrue, the unions do not issue' a writ against the newspaper? That, to me, is very familiar language. It is the language of the insurance companies. They make vague and general charges upon which no action can be successfully founded. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- There is no vagueness in so far as these charges are concerned, and if they are not true they constitute a deliberate libel. I make that statement as a lawyer. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- And, as a lawyer, I tell the honorable member that the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia would not have one chance in a million of succeeding in an action for libel against this newspaper, even if the charges are false. They could not succeed unless it were shown that the articles in which these statements were made referred to every member of the union. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Nothing of the kind. . {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- You cannot libel a man by referring to some of a class. If I say that there are ten thieves in an organization of one thousand members-, there is no libell of any identifiable' individual' involved. In such circumstances a man would fail to succeed in a libel action in any Court in1 the world since- he could not prove that he had been libelled'. The answer to an action' based, on such a published statement would be,. " I did not refer to you,. I said that there1 were ten thieves in this organization of one thousand strong. If you like to put the cap on, well and good." {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- That is not the law at all. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- I say that it is. The honorable member may set himself up as being a better lawyer than I am, but I give it as my opinion that no- action for libel would' succeed against this newspaper unless it could be shown that it had' charged every member or specified members of the union with being criminals. That could not be done, and, consequently, no action for libel could succeed. That, however, is the method of these people. They say, "'We will make a general' charge, and they can issue a writ against us." When' a writ is issued the action is heard before a jury consisting of managers of insurance companies and such like people. Such cases are tried before a special . jerry. I have often said that it is most important for Democracy, and for the workers of every country, that all1 cases should be tried by the great bod'y .of the people - by juries chosen from the electoral rolls rather than from any specific class. Issue a writ forsooth ! That is the suggestion in regard to a vague charge of. this sort upon which the Waterside Workers' Federation could not possibly succeed. But, in case there should be any possibility of success in such an action, the insurance people take care that such actions shall be tried by a jury of their own class. And yet they say, " Issue a writ." I do not wish it to be inferred that I object in any way to a thorough investigation which will sheet home these crimes, for I have no time for . criminals in any class. Those who commit these offences should be suitably punished. I would not suggest, as perhaps the honorable member for Kooyong would desire, that they should, be hanged, drawn, and quartered. The honorable member complained about the penalty, but it ought to be possible to sheet home these offences through the ordinary machinery of the police.. {: #subdebate-14-0-s8 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon, Sir Elliot Johnson: -- I- do not think the honorable member ought to accuse the honorable member for Kooyong of such bloodthirsty desires. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- He does not seem to take offence at my remark. He knows that I am. not making it with any malice. I am merely suggesting that he would favour, perhaps, a far more severe form of punishment than that which the average citizen believes to be sufficient. I am with him in believing that criminals should be detected and punished. But an attack upon criminals should not be made the means of a general' attack upon the Labour party or the unions of this country, and I certainly repudiate the suggestion that was made against them. I would not even think it fair to make such an attack upon the so-called loyalist unionists as a class unless it could' be shown that there were sufficient ground for accusing them oi being criminals. Is there anything to lead us- to the conclusion that the police cannot investigate these charges*? What would be the subjectmatter of the inquiry ? If a *primd facie* case can be shown for an inquiry I shall be for it all the way. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- The police in every State have been extensively employed on this work for- some time. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Have they failed? {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- Not in all cases ; but there have not been many convictions. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Can the editor of this newspaper succeed' where- our expert police fail ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Does the honorable member think this pillaging should be allowed to continue? {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -No. But I should like first of. all to see the reports of the Commissioners of Police in the several States. Can they not advise the Minister ? {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- If this newspaper editor keeps to himself information that would lead to the discovery of offenders, is he not condoning their offence? {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Exactly. If he has keptto himself information, that ought to bo available to the Minister, what can be his reason for doing so? It seems to me that this newspaper is obtaining a good advertisement out of the whole thing. T do not blame those responsible for its publication. It is "good business."' If it can take action which leads to the great National Parliament being held up for a whole afternoon in order that something written by the editor may be discussed it is good business for them. If it can induce the honorable member for Kooyong to- make a statement here that the editor of the *Industrial Australian and Mining Standard,* who will not disclose the source of his information, can prove that there is a worldwide conspiracy, well and good. But " world-wide conspiracy " is very familiar language. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- The honorable mein-' ber knows that he is misrepresenting *mi.* I said I had taken action at the instance of the mercantile community and mercantile institutions which are suffering. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- I am referring to the language used by the particular newspaper to which the" honorable member has thi3 afternoon given so much prominence. I am not blaming the newspaper. It is getting a good advertisement by causing the House to -pause in its ordinary work in order to demand that there shall be an inquiry by a Justice of the High Court Or' the Supreme Court as to the competency of our Commissioners of Police, om' detective forces, and the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officials, to deal with this matter. But these people will not induce me to enthuse over the suggestion that we should depart from our ordinary methods of investigation. It is, after all, a matter for the police. This newspaper editor should have gone to the Commissioner of Police,, and have said to him, " Here is information upon which you can sheet home a crime. I can prove it." Had he done that the Commissioner surely would have had the whole matter properly investigated. Is this Parliament to be made the means of investigating every matter? Only last week the House took away from the ordinary Courts of the land a matter that should have been inquired into by one of them. Are we now going to investigate pilfering on the wharfs? As the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** suggests, the Commissioner of Police might ask the newspaper editor for the information which he has in his possession. But it is the duty of any citizen who has in his possession- evidence of the commission, of a crime to report it to the proper authorities. This newspaper editor would not even have to give the' information, on oath. I am sure that the Comminsioner of Police in any State would, and' ought to, act immediately upon, information given to him. Had the proper course been pursued, even while we were talking about it, the police should have arrested some of these criminals'. If the *Industrial Australian and Mining Standard* can sheet home these charges, it can sheet them home through the medium of the police. It appears to me that the gist of these articles is an attack upon labour unions. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- That is not correct. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- They want to convey the impression that in the labour unions working on the water front there are bands of criminals, and that they support the Labour party. This statement is made in the vaguest terms, and then th£ unions are invited to issue a Writ. The persons making the charges would . like them to issue a writ for libel and to have the action tried by themselves. That is one of the methods of the capitalists. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- What does the honorable member means by "tried by themselves" ? {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Tried before a special jury consisting of representatives of their own class. When the suggestion is made that the Court should be resorted to by means of an action for libel I would like to intimate to the honorable member that in my opinion the tribunal which should try these cases should be broadened and democratized, and that all actions for defamation should be tried by common juries taken from the ordinary electoral rolls. When that happens, it will be a great protection to Democracy and the public generally. I do not intend to detain the House louder. I felt bound to rise to protest against the charge that is made against the members of the waterside unions generally, and also to point out that the machinery of investigation .provided by our ordinary police force should be' able to run the offenders to earth. If they cannot, they are not fit for the positions they occupy. {: #subdebate-14-0-s9 .speaker-KYI} ##### Sir PROWSE:
Swan .- I am pleased in one sense that this matter has been brought forward this afternoon, since it is of great importance.. I agree, too, that the evil is world-wide. It is not confined to Australia. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Nor to wharf labourers. {: #subdebate-14-0-s10 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- Nor to wharf labourers. It is rather singular that the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Greene)** should have referred to a case that actually came under my own notice in a certain State. I had twenty-five years' experience of the adjusting of pilfering claims, and I know that the cases of pilfering are numerous. The records of convictions show this, and it is an evil that should be stamped out. In one case which I adjusted, the firm had accepted from the Customs, and oyer the wharfs, a case of stocks and dies on the weight. There being no marks or signs of the case having been opened, the goods were taken delivery of as sound and in good order. At the warehouse, however, the merchant decided to ring up the marine insurance office, and when an inspection was made it was found that in the case there was a piece of bluestone calculated to be almost exactly the weight of the stocks and dies for Which it had been substituted. In order to prevent the bluestone knocking against the sides of the case is was wrapped up in a New York newspaper. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- You would not accuse a wharf labourer, of wanting stocks and dies? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- A wharf labourer is just as likely as anybody else to desire such things. There is no desire on my part to palliate offences of the kind, and no honorable member should endeavour to prevent an investigation. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr Ryan: -- Has the honorable member no confidence in the various Commissioners of Police and their staffs? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- The methods now adopted are not adequate to stop the evil, and, therefore, some further steps are necessary. As an insurance manager I acted in the settlement of many claims; and pilfering has become so glaring that it is almost a daily occurrence for insurance companies to be rung up, and asked to send an inspector to see some cases of goods that look suspicious. Sometimes, of course, it is found that there has been no interference, but in other instances, the insurance officer, the surveyor attached to the wharf, and the Customs officer find that a case has been levered in such a way as not to affect even the nails, and that a variety of goods, including silks, stockings, underclothing, and other articles, have been removed by merely thrusting in the hand. This pilfering does not always occur in Australia, but the record of convictions here is evidence that it does to a considerable extent. Under the circumstances this Parliament, or some other authority, should take immediate steps to improve the methods of detection. The £500,000 mentioned by the newspaper as representing the value of the goods pilfered in Australia is well under the mark, and it is quite true that this pilfering increases the cost of living. The rates charged by insurance companies to cover pilfering are fairly high, running up to 10s. per cent, on the Australian coast. Most of the companies, however, are not fond of the risk, even at such a rate. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- Is that the rate between Australian ports? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- Yes. The pilfering that comes under the notice of the police does not represent 50 'per cent, of that which actually occurs. As I have said, the pilfering has become so frequent that the insurance company take the calls from the wharfs as almost a matter of routine business; and it has to be borne in mind that all the extra cost involved is borne by the general public in the form of the increased price of goods. Let there be no mistake, these losses in the form of additional charges are passed on to the consumer. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** refer to the unions as he did. I am also pleased to realize that the worst and cleverest pilfering is committed outside Australia. . Do not let Australians, however, try to vie with the more expert thieves elsewhere,, but, rather, set themselves to work to stop pilfering altogether, , for it is wrong, and does good to no one. There may be a little conspiracy amongst men on a wharf - I do not, of course, say that all the men are involved - and naturally they do not like the idea of any police or other officer superintending the work of handling the cargo. If there bc such an officer about there are references made. to " pimps," and so forth. ; but no honest man should object to the presence of any officer. Such an attitude, however, may readily be taken by the few who art! guilty of this offence. The merchants pass on their losses, and the insurance companies are paid for their losses, so it cannot be said that an inquiry is advocated in the interests of either. An inquiry is necessary in the interests of the people of Australia, the poor as well as of the rich, and also' in the interests of the trade unions, and of the fair fame of Australia. The police do not seem to be permitted to get to the root of the matter. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr Ryan: -- Will the honorable member explain what he means by that? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I do not know whether it is the function of the police to go on board a ship and watch; I think they have to be specially engaged for such work. It was' stated that in one case where a detective was engaged he was pitched out of the vessel, so that this method does not seem to meet the evil. The most serious feature of this pilfering is that it is quite possible for it to go on long enough to become a popular evil. I have known gold stealing to become so regarded - to be looked upon as no crime in the eyes of otherwise honorable men. In fact, in some cases gold stealing does not even affect the reputation of the thief, and is regarded with leniency by his fellow citizens, simply because it creates- business in the town- or district. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr Ryan: -- That is a grave reflection on Kalgoorlie. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I have made no reference whatever to Kalgoorlie, but I repeat that there have been cases in which the fellow citizens of gold stealers have had no sympathy with convictions, because these cut off revenue from the town affected. In the same way, pilfering amongst a certain section is regarded as a mild sort of offence, to be met by a small fine. Very often those charged call evidence of their excellent conduct in the past. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Sometimes clergymen give such evidence. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- That is so. {: .speaker-KZU} ##### Mr Lavelle: -- Where has the honorable member known that to happen! {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I am not going to say where I have known it to happen. I am not here to attempt any political trickery, and I do not like this question to be regarded as in any way a party question. The idea should not get abroad that there is any palliation of an offence of the kind ; and every member of the House should be anxious for an inquiry, so that some method may be devised to prevent, or, at least, reduce the evil. {: #subdebate-14-0-s11 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I wish to make it perfectly plain that neither I nor the party with which I am associated have any sympathy with pilfering or stealing of any kind. Further. I have no desire to make out that there is no pilfering on the wharfs. Any one who reads the newspapers, or whose business takes them on and about the wharfs, must know that pilfering does certainly sometimes take place. I can speak with a certain amount of knowledge, so far as the trade union is concerned, because I am a member of it, and have held office in it. I should like to tell the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** that in the matter of honesty, I would just as soon be a member of a waterside workers union as of a lawyers association, and I think that is the view of people generally. When, at the outset of the honorable member's remarks, I moved " That the question be now put," I did so not because I had any particular grudge against the honorable member, but because, at some time or other, I had been informed by **Mr. Speaker** that if I read a statement from a newspaper I had to accept the responsibility for it. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Elliot Johnson: -- That applies to the asking of questions. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- Possibly that was in my mind, and when the honorable member came forward with this statement, I thought he was about to father some of the remarks made by this journal. I am glad to have his assurance that he does not, because this is a sample of what the journal says - >We invited, nay, we challenged, the leaders of Labour to proceed at once to set their house in order, and to purge their body of the corruption infesting it. We affirmed the indisputable fact that the waterfront unions are packed with criminals. That is a deliberate and dirty lie. I have moved .among these men, and for once I agree with the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** that, -as. a body of men, it is as honest and trustworthy as any other body in the community. I brought this paper with me to-day, wondering what I -could do to refute some of the statements it contains. I. peruse it, for one reason, because the proprietors are good enough to send it to me gratis, and for another reason, because, next to the *Argus,* it is the most ' ' cock-eyed ' ' publication I have ever read. Without a doubt, it gives me the other side of politics. This particular issue contains a cartoon, which shows the feeling of the journal towards the " wharfies." It is a cartoon of a family gathering, and bears the following letterpress : - {:#subdebate-14-1} #### Coals to Newcastle Gwendoline. - " It's cousin Vera's birthday on Friday. What shall we send her for ti present, Dads?" Dads. - " What about a dozen pairs of silk stockings?" Mum. - " Don't be a goat, Bill. Her father works on the water-front as well as you." That is the attitude of the paper towards the waterside workers, and, in addition to the leading article dealing with the same question, there are three pages devoted to it. It is very evident that it- is working up a case; and I join with the honorable member for West Sydney in congratulating it on its success in having the matter brought forward here. I had arrived at the conclusion that .it was not worth touching the matter; but seeing that it has now been brought up, I take this opportunity of speaking upon it. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** say that some of the pilfering takes place outside Australia. I remember reading in the Adelaide *Register.* which certainly does not give the " wharfies " more than a fair deal, that some cases on being opened up were found to contain New York bricks. The Australian "wharfies" could not have put New York bricks into those cases. I would be as. justified in saying that some merchants would be capable of putting bricks in those cases and selling them for something else as others would be in claiming that the "wharfies" would be guilty of taking out of the cases the goods they originally contained. The request has been put forward that .an inquiry should be held into this matter, and although I agree with the Prime Minister that the Waterside Workers Union would come out of such an inquiry all right, I am bound to say that if we are to appoint a Commission wherever anything " fishy " occurs, or wherever stealing is reported, we shall have our work cut out. Although there have been great losses through pilfering, there have also been great losses in other directions. Honorable members who are prepared to have the actions of " wharfies " scrutinized would not be so anxious to have any scrutiny into the actions of some of the so-called higher classes - the commercial thieves and brigands of this country who have pilfered in another direction by taking money out of the pockets of those who could ill-afford to lose it by means of the profiteering which has become so rampant in this country. I have looked through the list of firms mentioned in this journal. {: #subdebate-14-1-s0 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- No; I do not propose to do so. I see names of firms who ought to be the last to complain of stealing. While I say that I do not stand for any pilfering, either by the wharf labourer or by the merchant, still I hold that it is more despicable for a man who has more motor cars than he can use, and whose family and relatives have more clothes than they can possibly wear, and more food than they can eat, to rob the poorer classes of the people by imposing higher prices on them, than it is for the poorer man to rob the richer man. Although both actions are highly immoral, that of the man who may be obliged to rob out of necessity is not so despicable as that of the man who robs for the sake of greed.. In fact, I have read in nearly every newspaper in Australia that the actions of the members of this House in increasing their salaries to £1,000 was robbery. If we are to investigate all charges of robbery that are made, we shall indeed have a very hard task in front of us. But if this particular inquiry is held, I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Greene)** will see that he takes an interest in it, because the honour of his staff has been impugned by this newspaper article, which practically makes Che definite" charge not only that there is am organized gang of criminals, but also that officials o'f the Customs Department are in that gang. I quite- agree with. **Senator Earle,** who said, that the paper-, in making- these serious charges, should either be thanked or- have the charges rammed down its throat. I hope that something- will be done in the matter, and- I welcome the proposed appointment of a- Select- Committee. {: #subdebate-14-1-s1 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Darling .- As an active member of the Wharf Labourers Union for some years, and as an inactive member of it at the present time, I say, without hesitation, that the waterside workers of Australia fear no inquiry; but when an investigation is made into the different channels through which goods pass, it will be seen that the wharf labourers are only one class of those who handle the commodities. First of all, the firm which is despatching the goods may dishonestly pack wrong goods. It has been done. For instance, we have heard of the wooden nutmegs of America, and the wooden hams sent to Australia. *Debate interrupted under standing order* 119. {: .page-start } page 6597 {:#debate-15} ### ESTIMATES 1920-21 {:#subdebate-15-0} #### In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 16th November *(vide* page 6554). Postmaster ster - general ' s department . {:#subdebate-15-1} #### Divisions 125: to 135, £6,352,936 {: #subdebate-15-1-s0 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Darling .- This is the third occasion on which. I have endeavoured to place on record my views upon the wages paid in the Commonwealth Public Service. Yesterday, on the motion for the adjournment of the House to discuss the basic wage, I made certain statements with regard to the position of the Basic Wage 'Commission's report. Again, last night, before I was inter t mi) ted, I' dealt with the extraordinary number of- resignations . in., the . Commonwealth. Service, amounting.- to thousands in . a period *of three . years, and. with, .the promises of. the> Prime Minister to appoint. a. Royal Commission,.^' fix the basic wage: and bring into -operation-, the* wage arrived, at. immediately/ on the; -receipt of the. report- of that Commission. Upon this subject. I, have received quite a. lot of correspondence; .and I. propose to read some; of itv Here is one. from Coonsamble - >Signed- petition deploring Justice Starke'sdeclaration.' Appeal- to- the. Prime Minister, but i look- for. -you and your,- colleagues to Australian spirit of fairness,- and hope that that spirit will ultimately prevail. Here ; are others, from Dubbo - >The Chinamen at Dubbo pay more wages to their employees than the Post and Telegraph officials receive. Basic wage urgently required. Please give it your support. > >Heard three men talking direct action on Barden's Corner. Basic wage the trouble. Please support same, and wire collect when the bacon arrives. > >Starke's declaration, which was announced last Monday, was staggering blow to Federal Service. In course Starke's address he said decent board was procurable for 15s. a week: Where are- those hash houses? Starke says impossible for him. to grant .hugesum of money of £2 5s. a week to a man *1* Is gross extravagance. Kanaka labour. . rampant in Postal- Service. I' hope the Postmaster-General is listening. I have another letter from which I shall read extracts, suppressing the writer's name for obvious reasons. The cost of 'living, as you are well aware; hats gone up leaps and bounds. I was only reading in last Sunday's *Sim* where it stated it required 42s. 2d. now to purchase what a sovereign did in 1911. Second-class hotel board at Brewarrina, Narromine, Dubbe and other places is now 35s: a- week. £150- *a* vear is £2'17s. 6d. a week; 35s. out of £2"l7.s:.: 6cl.i for board .leaves. 22s. 6d. a . week for. a single man to pay his washing . bill, probably these times not -less than 5s. a week, and; by the time he pays for- smokes; he- probably may have ls. 6d; left out of his pay- to. buy a picture- show- ticket; Seventyfive -.per cent. of the postal employees'- salaries do not go higher than £174". a year, with .a thirty-quid bonus (hard fought). Personally 1 "have had fourteen' years' service, thoroughly competent in all its brandies; am twenty* eight years . of ' age, am. on the top of my grade receiving as salary £17.4 *a* year. Un: skilled- labour in New South Wales receives as a basic wage, when attaining the age- of twenty-one years, married or- single, £201 per year for a kick-off. It can be. truly said tho. "Postal Department pays real. " slave " wages. It expects its officers to be properly attired and keep respectable.- How can. they? The postal men see- outsiders' salaries brought up to the times, .but we arestill the same. Cost of commodities is going, up '-every minute.* to meet extra, pay forshop assistants' awards-, railway.- awards^ hairdressers' awards. But wo get nothing, only halving to pay- double, for. our living; while -onn salary remains the somer. The Post and Telegraph Service of Australia is unequalled as a sweating Department; no other Commonwealth Department sweats its employees more, and in no other vocation followed by a large number of men and women are conditions so bad as there. Ministers apparently' intend that this state of affairs shall continue, and that no relief shall be given to the employees. In my early remarks on the basic wage, I predicted that this Government would not give the House an opportunity to deal with the subject, though I hope that that opportunity will be given, and that we stall be able to take a vote on a motion regarding it proposed by an honorable member. If such an opportunity is not given, I hold out absolutely no hope whatever for the public servants of the Commonwealth. It is over twelve months since the Basic Wage Commission started its labours, and the delay seems to show that Ministers do not intend to keep their election promises. How can a young man of twenty years of age live on a wage of £2 2s. per week, or a single man with fourteen or fifteen years' service on £2 15s. per week ? And there are married men getting only £2 18s., £3, and £3 2s. ner week. On such wages they cannot properly feed and clothe and educate themselves and their children, and cannot enjoy any of the good things of life. The position of affairs is so serious that unless the Government is prepared to immediately give some relief, there must be trouble. The Arbitration Court, a special Tribunal, and a Commission appointed to deal with the matter, are channels through which relief might be granted. But should they all be definitely closed by the end of next month, our public servants will be compelled by economic conditions to follow the lead of the more militant organizations. It has been said that it would be an awful thing for the Public Departments of this country to be closed, and that is so; but it would be no more than the Government deserves. If no money was received or paid in the Commonwealth Departments, that would more quickly bring Ministers to a recognition of the conditions which exist than all the telegrams that have been sent to them and to members. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- You will get another, leading article in the *Argus.* {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- I do not care what appears in the *Argus.* Those con nected with that journal have never agreed with any of the sentiments I have uttered, and I do not expect them to dfc- so.- I am speaking for the public servants of the country, and I say, as the result of years of experience, that when all avenues of relief have closed, drastic action should be taken. If the Government is not prepared to make an announcement before th© end of December, only one course* is open to them. I venture to say that immediately the public servants decided on direct action, the Government would appoint a tribunal to remedy their grievances, or would have to take the consequences of holding up the business of the country. Since I was thirteen years of age I have been through many strikes. I know their efficacy, and I know the cost of them to those who take part in them. I received my industrial baptism at Broken Hill at a very early age, when I went with my mother to the store to cash a coupon for 10s. on behalf of my father and for 5s. on behalf of my brother - 15s. in all to keep a family of eight. Flour was the chief comm.od1.t5 brought back. Because of that experience, and because of experience which I have gained since, I feel that the Commonwealth Public Service is " ur> against it." If the Government is not prepared to do something to relieve the acute distress and poverty which permeates the Service, there must be trouble. I have stated that I believe in arbitration. I believe that it is better to arrive at a settlement through an Arbitration Court or by means of compulsory round-table conferences, but when a Judge declares that £3 a week is sufficient for a single man, and £3 15s. for a married man who has a' wife and family to support, I say that his Court is absolutely closed against those seeking redress. People cannot live as human beings on such wages as those. If Ministers do not appoint a Special Tribunal to settle the grievances of the public servants, or give effect immediately to the recommendations of **Mr. Piddington,** the Basic Wage Commissioner - either of these two courses would meet with the approval of" the public servants - but if, on the contrary, they shut up Parliament and shirk 'their responsibilities to the service, they will deserve all that they get. So far as is 'in my power, I would help the public servants of the country, and my organization would help them. If our public servants were members of the Australian Workers Union, they would not be employed under the sweated conditions under which they work to-day. {: #subdebate-15-1-s1 .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY:
South Sydney .- I wish to direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the lack of proper facilities in my electorate. For a number of' years I have been waiting for the erection of post offices in the new suburbs which have sprung up there. At Botany the Department bought land for a post office site eight or nine years ago, but the post office still remains poked away in the town hall. It is a bad business arrangement to pay rent for accommodation and to keep land lying idle. The district is full of factories, and population is increasing there. I do not blame- the PostmasterGeneral, more than his predecessors, for the neglect to provide proper conveniences for the public, but now that the Treasurer has said that there is plenty of money available, and that he will not stint the Postal Department, 1 ask the honorable gentleman to take notice qf these complaints. In South Kensington more buildings have recently been erected than in any other part of Sydney. Hundreds of homes have been built there for soldiers, and yet proper postal facilities have not been provided. I ask the Postmaster-General if more . cannot be done for Kensington, South Kensington, Long Bay, and Maroubra Bay ? It is surprising that the postal 'facilities of the district have not been improved, remembering the enormous population that has gone there .of recent years. These facilities would prove a paying concern. They would not be a burden on the Department. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- What about Dee Why? {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- We have no proper facilities there. ' {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- The sum of £1 ,000 is put down for a post office at Dee Why. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- Yes, but nothing is done. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- The erection of these buildings has been handed over to the Works Department, and I am pressing for their completion. I have given the instruction that the Works Department shall be asked for a report every month as to the progress of the various works. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- I deeply regret that the wages received by the employees of the Postmaster-General make them the worst paid body in the community; the ordinary labouring man, because he" has more fight and is organized in unions, gets nearly double as much. I hope that the Postmaster-General may say, before his Estimates are passed, that he will give effect to the basic wage that has been proclaimed in New South Wales, by paying none of his officials less than £4 5s. per week'. That would allay the discontent which I believe exists in every branch of his Department. All the services of his Department have been increased in cost - letter rates, telephone calls, and telegraph charges - yet the employees remain the worst paid in the community. I understand that on last year's working the Department showed a profit; but we do not want a profit to be gained either at the expense of the public by the cutting down of facilities for communication, or at the expense of the employees. I hope that the employees will be put on a proper footing. We hear a good many complaints about delays in the delivery of letters and telegrams, but we can imagine what might take place should the officials become soured by their grievances, and get careless in the performance of their duties. They are apt to blunder in sorting letters, and it can be quite understood how such mistakes could disarrange the whole service. The employees should be encouraged to do their work well by being paid something more than a mere living wage. I hope that after the Estimates have been passed the Postmaster-General will show that he has taken a live interest in, the whole subject, and that his Department will be raised to the highest possible plane. {: #subdebate-15-1-s2 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 .- I desire to put on record the appreciation of certain country districts of the treatment of the Postmaster-General. Only to-day I received the following letter from Dorrigo, an isolated district in my electorate. It states - >At the last meeting of the Progress Association I was asked to convey to you the thanks of the members for your successful efforts in striving to bring about the establishment of a daily mail service between this centre and Bellingen. Believe me, Ave appreciate your worthy work, and let me assure you that the increase in frequency is a great boon, serving to dispel the isolation of this locality. Will you convey to the Postmaster-General the appreciation of my association of his sympathy towards country centres of small population.' Already his administration has markedly improved 'the conditions of isolated districts.We thankhim f ortheincreased mail service thathe has given us. Thatis the immediate result accruing from theestablishment of a daily mail service,after some six or seven years of agitation. There are other mailservices in my electoratewhich are just as desperately in need of sympathetic attention, from which sourcesthe expressions of appreciation would be just assincere if the requests ofthepeople were granted. The one mail service to 'which I especially direct attention : isthatbetweenGrafton and Macksville, alongthe north coast of New South Wales. If that were a daily mail servicewhich actually fitted in with requirements, itwould prove of immense value to the people, both in their 'business and inkeeping them more adequately in touch with public affairs.In addition to the complimentary references whichhave received, others, unfortunately, have come to hand which show that the requests of residents have been long delayed, andhave not even yet been granted.Here is one ofthese documents: - >It is some six yearssince I first urged the establishment of a telephone line between Dorrigo andMegan,and itseemsto metobe strikingly strange that, at the conclusionof everyreply I have received from the Department,thefollowing, almost cryptic statement has appeared:That in view of the shortage of material and ofthe number of urgent works already approved,some considerable time must elapse before theworkcould be commenced, eveniftheresidents acceptthe conditionsset outherein. > >Does it not strike you as strange that this shortage should, whenever the Megan connexion is mentioned, bo always suspended over uslikethe Sword ofDamocles? I believethe residents of Megan would accept the latest offer of the Department if they had any guarantee that the 'work would be proceeded with at once. But, as it is, the residents might fulfil their part at once,andthen have to wait indefinitelyfor the Department to move.I am extremely sorry thatI have to write on this subject again; but in the interests of a. struggling community who are developing the back-blocks, who are fighting against odds, and who are really deserving of the best that the country can give, it is necessary.The great troubleis that it is not possiblefor the Department to realize the real position. If it could, things would be 'different. With our roads, it sometimes takes five hours totravel 12 miles.What does this mean in cases ofsickness or accident? It meansthatwhen the doctor isrequiredhehas to be driven inforandthen driven out -a matterof(atthebestoftimes)six hours. > >A telephonemessage would bring the doctor in three hours.Theextratimewouldperhaps, mean the difference between life and death. Is not this line - a line to serve the settlers in an isolated district cursed with deplorably bad roads - one of the first importance? In considering theurgencyof construction of lines, I suggestthatwhenthere arecertain workshaving equallygood claims, those should receive precedence where there is no othermeansof communication. . Someprovision should be made to prevent a situation ; arising such as existed during the lastParliament, when the funds at the disposal of the Departmentfor the purchase ofmaterial weremiserably inadequate and,evenso, were not. expended. Although, up to the present,the Postmasters-General has been able largely to meet therequests of honorable members in a generous way, I hope that steps will be taken -to establish a trust or sinking fund which will enable the Postal Department to "have always available abigsupplyofmaterial,and will permit the purchase of those supplies upon thebeat economic basis.If sucha policy were inaugurated, there would not be so many complaints and such longdrawndisappointments on the part of residents out-back. Mr.Burchell.-That delay of six years to whichthe honorablememberhas referred was exceptional. Dr.EARLE PAGE.- Not.altogether. I know ofcases where approval for certain works was givenfouryearsago. But the -stereotyped notification has always been giventhat nothingcouldbe doneuntilmaterialwas available. Mr.Burchell. - That state of affairs was largely due to the war. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- To some extent it was; but the troubleisthattheDepartmenthas not a policy which will (permit it to buy material in. a big and economic way. We know that year after year, Estimates have been considered only after the greater part of the financial year has expired. The Department has been entirely dependent upon the few weeks' supplywhich has been voted. Thatkind of procedure has made a great differencein the Department's activities. Anotherfactor is this: Three lineswere urged to be constructed in my electorate. Allwereequallyurgent, and all were approved.But, becausethe votefor the PostmasterGeneral's Departmentforthe financial yearin questionpermittedthe expenditure of no more than, for example, £700 upon any one *of* the three lines, the other two had to be put aside. Thereasons givenwerethat thetotal costof the threewould, in the first place, amount to morethan the £700 available, and, secondly, that their construction would have been necessarily carried over the end of the financial year. If a sinking fund were established, 'difficulties of that character would be obviated ;the Departmentcould run its business in a continuous fashion instead of working piecemealand haphazard from one year to another. Another matter to whichI desire to call attention has to do with the rates of pay ofpostal servants. The bulk of the employees in the Department have joined organizations, and now look to the Arbitration Court for wage awards; so that particular consideration does not primarily interest the Government, though ultimatelytheymust shoulder the responsibility of paying a living wage. Compared with practically every other public servant who performs analogous duties in any country town, the local postmaster - even although he can show the longest term of service - *-is,* almost without exception, the lowest paid. I recently gave instances inthis Chamber with respect to public officials in a certain town. The pay received by the local school teacher exceeded byabout £200 per annum the salary of the postmaster, although the latter was controlling five more employees than the former. Similar comparisons may be made between railway stationmasters and postmasters. There is one other matter to which I wish to refer that is the payment of junior telegraphists. Their training is of consider able value to them, ofcourse; but their wages during the early period of their training should be, at any rate, sufficient to allow them to live without too much hardship when they have been sent away from their holmes. Many of these employees are placed in positions where they are required to handle various moneys. Temptation is continually placed in their way. The Government should pay them at least enough to prevent that temptation from becoming irresistible. {: #subdebate-15-1-s3 .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE:
Barrier .- About the 19th March last I drew attention in this House to the fact that my name had been forged to a bogus tele gram which had been handed in at the Haymarket Post Office, Sydney.I then urged that investigation bemade into the matter, and that whatever steps were necessary to secure the conviction of the offender should be taken in order that my name might be vindicated. After a considerable time I received from the Postmaster-General's Department the following letter, dated 12th August, 1920 : - >Dear **Sir, -** With further reference to the representations made by you in Parliament some time since, regarding an unauthorized telegram in your name despatched from the Haymarket Post Office to Broken Hill, I beg to inform you that special inquiry in the matter has been made by a detective, but that, while suspicion points strongly to one source as that from which the telegram came, sufficient evidence has not been obtained to enable a charge to be proved. - Yours faithfully, G. H. Wise. Upon receipt of that communication I asked the Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral's Department to allow une to see the result of the investigation. I saw the file, and in any opinionthere was on it sufficient evidence to warrant the taking of action. I then requested the PostmasterGeneral to lay the papers on the table of the House, in order that it might be made known to the general public, and my own constituents in particular, who were responsible for this conspiracy to use my name for their own purposes, and against my personal and political interests. The honorable gentleman did not see his way clear to do that. He said that sinceI had seen the papers no useful purpose would be served by laying them on the table of the House. I then interviewed the Acting Secretary of the Department, and asked for copies of the statements made by the postal detectives with regard to their investigations. I asked, further, for a statement that had been made as to the location of the particular typewriter upon which this bogus telegram had been typed. The PostmasterGeneral informed me that he had sought legal advice, and that the SolicitorGeneral, I think, had advised that it would be against established practice to comply with my request for definite information or to lay the papers on the table of the House, where they would be open to criticism and comment. I wish to be as fair as I can in dealing with this matter, and I must say at the outset that I am relying on my memory of what I saw on the official file. If any statement that I make in regard to it should be inaccurate, then obviously the Postmaster-General can meet it in the ordinary way by tabling the actual reports. The position is that my name was forged to a bogus telegram, which was used against me, and was forged so successfully that technically the persons responsible for it cannot be prosecuted. They have been too clever to enable a prosecution to be successfully launched. There is such an accumulation of circumstantial evidence, however, that I believe no man or woman in the community on learning of that circumstantial evidence will have any doubt as to the identity of the offenders. But because the Department thinks that it cannot sheet home this offence I am denied even the right to have the papers laid on the table of the House. I am expected to let the matter drop without my own constituents or the general public being made aware of the real facts. I have been forced into what is to me a very distasteful position, but there is no course open to me other than that of dealing from memory with the contents of the file. About the 14th January last I received from the secretary of the Miners Union in. Broken Hill a telegram advising me that I had been selected as the miners'' delegate to proceed to Tasmania. I answered that I would go by tha first available boat. I subsequently received a letter from **Mr. W.** Carey, general secretary of the Australian Labour party in the State of New South Wales, dated 2lst January, 1920, asking me to place myself at the disposal of the central executive for campaign work during the then forthcoming State electoral campaign. I replied that I had been selected by the Miners Union of Broken Hill to proceed to Tasmania; that I did not know how long I should be there; that I was going to Tasmania at my own expense; that my old comrades badly needed my assistance there, and that the executive no doubt would cordially agree with the action I proposed to take. I next received a letter dated 24th February, 1920, signed by ex-Senator Grant, on behalf of the campaign committee. which read as follows: - >Dear **Sir,- The** campaign committee has carefully noted the contents of your letter dated the 29th January. It is of the opinion that you should put in at least one week in thp Sturt 'electorate before the 19th prox.. Kindly let me know by return mail if you are prepared to do so. On the following day I received from **Mr. Carey** a letter which read as follows : - >Macdonell House, 321 Pitt-street, Sydney, 25th February, 1920. > > **Mr. M.** P. Considine, M.H.R., > >Federal Parliament House, > >Melbourne, Victoria. > >Dear **Sir, -** I am directed by my executive to ask that you proceed to Sturt at the very earliest moment, in order to take part in the campaign there on behalf of the three selected and indorsed Labour candidates. > >Owing to the disturbed state of the political world in Broken Hill, it is most necessary that, every assistance possible be given to our candidates for Sturt. > >Trusting that you wall give this matter your urgent attention, and thanking you in anticipation, yours faithfully, > >Caret, General Secretary. I ask honorable members to bear with me while I read this correspondence, since I will be able to show its connexion with the matters of which I complain. I replied to **Mr. Carey** - 11th March, 1920. Dear **Sir, -** I desire to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 25th February, wherein you state that it is the wish of your executive that I should proceed immediately to Sturt State electorate. In reply thereto, I have toinform you that it is not my intention to take the platform against men whom I believe to be thoroughly *bond fide* Labour men, and whose work in the Labour movement in this country constitutes a record of which any member of the party might well be proud. I regret that the disinclination of the executive to take any steps in the direction of healing the unfortunate breach existing in the ranks of Labour in the Sturt electorate forces upon mc the very disagreeable task of choosing between participating in the commission of an act pf grave injustice on Messrs. Brookfield and O'Riley, or of placing myself in opposition to the expressed wishes of the executive. I have decided that I will not go to Sturt, and in conveying that decision to you I desire to remind you that on every occasion that my services were placed at the disposal of the party for election purposes they were turned down, and I was told to " stick to my parliamentary duties." On this occasion, however, when engaged in a campaign for funds for the Broken Hill miners in Tasmania, I am asked to drop that and goposthaste to Sturt. As previously stated, I cannot see my way clear to do that. Trusting that the executive will not misunderstand my attitude on this matter. - Yours faithfully, M. P.Considine. In reply, I received from **Mr. Carey** the following letter, dated 15th March: - >Macdonnell House, 321 Pitt-street, Sydney, 15th March, 1920. {:#subdebate-15-2} #### Mr. M. P. Considine, M.H.R., Parliament House, Melbourne, Victoria. Dear **Sir, -** I am in receipt of your communication of the 11th inst., *re* your decision with reference to Sturt State electorate, and in reply wish to inform you that same will be placed before my executive at its next meeting. - Yours faithfully, W. Carey, General Secretary. I have never yet heard what was the result of the executive's deliberations. On returning from Tasmania, I received from **Mr. Vic.** Kavanagh the following telegram : - >Can you give Billy O'Brien a night at Moama and Deniliquin? Messrs. O'Brien, Cleary, and Thomas were candidates at the State election then proceeding. I replied that I would do so, and set out immediately. I left Melbourne on 13th March, spoke at Deniliquin, Moama, and Mathoura, and left again on the followingWednesday to resume my duties in this House. During my absence the following telegram, addressed -to me by **Mr. Huckell,** secretary of the Barrier District Assembly of the Australian Labour party, had arrived: - >Assembly require your attendance Broken Hill, Thursday next, for State campaign.Reply. In my absence, the party Whip **(Mr. James Page)** replied, stating that I was doing good work at this end of the electorate. Next day, while I was still absent, this further telegram came from **Mr. Huckell-** >If cannot *come* Broken Hill, wire me wishing success to official Labour party candidates. - -Huckell. The party Whip **(Mr. James Page)** did not reply to that message, preferring to await my return. When I got back I found these telegrams, together with others, awaiting me. Among them was the following, addressed to me by the *Barrier Daily Truth* on 17th March: - > *Miner* reports you opposing Brookfield other end electorate. Wire reply immediately if correct and your whereabouts. In reply to that message I sent a press wire, conveying the whole of the correspondence which I have read to honorable members, and showing my attitude with regard to Brookfield and the State campaign. On the 19th March, that is to say, the day before the State election, I received the following wire from the *Barrier Daily Truth: -* >Huckell has received wire signed " Considine, Haymarket, Sydney," wishing success Official Labour party. Wire reply immediately if this is genuine. Urgent. To that message I replied - >Any telegram, letter, or message from Sydney with my name attached thereto is a forgery. I have not beep in Sydney since January. On the same day I raised the matter in the House. This completes my own file in connexion with the question. The papers in possession of the PostmasterGeneral show that the detective who made an investigation in Sydney came to certain very definite conclusions as to who was responsible for the sending of the bogus telegram. The departmental handwriting experts are of opinion that the same individual could have forged my name. The typewriting experts who were consulted by the departmental officials in Sydney say that the bogus telegram was typed on an Underwood machine which had certain very peculiar characteristics. Those characteristics were such that samples were taken of typewriting done on various machines, including three in the Australian Labour party's headquarters, Sydney. These samples are numbered in the documents 5, 6, and 7. No. 6, which is one of the samples taken of work done on the typewriters in the office of the secretary to the Australian Labour party, Sydney, according to the statement of these gentlemen, corresponds in every particular with the peculiarities I have mentioned. Who attached my signature to this telegram I am not in a position to say, but I have no doubt that my constituents at Broken Hill will be able to arrive somewhere near the truth from their experience of certain other persons. Honorable members will recognise that I cannot go outside this House and make any statement on the matter that would not leave me, the injured person, open to an action for libel. I am, therefore, denied common justice if these papers and the full facte are not made public through the Minister. I have asked that this shall be done, and I have been refused. I am sure honorable members cannot say that I have shown any particular rashness, in view of the time I have allowed to elapse. I have been very persistent, however, in asking for this information, because I refused to be " used " by anybody without some explanation. While I have no evidence in my own possession, it all being in the hands of the Department, I cannot take action myself; all I can do is to attempt to force its production, and allow honorable members and the public to draw the inference that I draw from the facts. {: #subdebate-15-2-s0 .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I have seen the papers, or I should not have been able to do' what I have done; but they have not been given to me to use, and I have to speak from memory. As I say, I have asked for the production of the papers, and I have been refused. {: .speaker-KLG} ##### Mr Mahony: -- The honorable member may move a motion in the House, and force their production. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I shall take that course if it is in my power. I stated, at the outset, that I desired to be as fair as I possibly could in the matter. The detective in Sydney was of opinion that further investigation should take place, but I understand that his superior officer reported against that course. A different detective, who knew nothing but the report that had been forwarded for his consideration, was sent from Adelaide to Broken Hill to investigate; and his report was at variance with the report of the Sydney detective, inasmuch as the former did not think there was any evidence against the' person who is suspected in Broken Hill. But that does not dispose of the evidence that has been accumulated in regard to transactions at the Sydney end. I do not hesitate to express the opinion that there was collusion between certain people in Broken Hill and certain people in the Australian Labour party head-quarters who thought it an opportune moment, not only to get rid of Percy Brookfield, but to send me with him. {: .speaker-KZU} ##### Mr Lavelle: -- Why did they wish to get rid of you? {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- For the same reason that they called me up three months ago to show cause why I should not be expelled. I have been unable to secure any answer from them for three months. {: .speaker-KZU} ##### Mr Lavelle: -- You know that Brookfield left the Labour party? {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I know he was forced out. If I am asked why they wish to get rid of me I do not mind saying that, in my opinion, they thought I would damage their chances of getting on the Government benches. All the accusations I am making are directed against individuals, and not against the Labour movement. I believe that the Labour movement, in the very near future, will rid itself of those people; at any rate, I hope so. But I shall remain in this House so long as my constituents permit me to represent them, and I shall represent them according to the views I have expressed both inside and outside of this Parliament. I shall be no party to the actions of any gang of " crooks," forgers or others who use their brains to commit these crimes - for crimes they are - in order to further their own schemes. Having failed in every other direction to secure what I consider to be a " square deal," I have taken this opportunity to lay the facts "before honorable members. So far as the Australian Labour party is concerned, I refuse to have anything further to do with it. {: #subdebate-15-2-s1 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera .- I recognise that the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Wise)** has done a great deal towards improving postal and telegraphic facilities in the remote districts of my own and other electorates; but yet more can and should be done. We, in our present environment, do not realize to the full the disadvantages that many of our fellow-citizens suffer in the remote parts of the country. The Postmaster-General and myself represent two of the largest constituencies in Victoria, where there are, probably, more struggling, pioneer settlements than in any other part, at all events, of this State. I feel sure the Postmaster-General realizes what postal and telephone facilities - particularly telephone facilities - mean to residents out-back. I could cite quite a number of cases in which deaths have taken place solely because of the absence of any means of communicating with a doctor. I feel I have the sympathy of every honorable member when I say that one of the first things provided for the settler who goes to carve out a home in the wilderness should be a telephone. No doubt this would cost money; but the expenditure would give a good return. These men and women who go out-back are absolutely the finest and most worthy of our citizens; and yet they are permitted to suffer from many grave disabilities. Their means of refinement, recreation, and culture are less, and they receive a smaller return for their work than is the case with any other section of the community. That is an assertion which, I think, cannot be successfully contradicted. I am informed, on very good authority, that a telegram lodged at . Mildura, on the Murray, for transmission to Went- v worth, also on the Murray, and 17 miles distant, is not sent direct, although there is telephonic communication. A telegram so lodged, I am told, is sent from Mildura to Melbourne, from Melbourne to Sydney, and from Sydney to Wentworth, a distance of 1,500 miles. To use a common, every-day phrase, somebody may have been " pulling my leg." {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- I think you are pulling ours! {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- Not intentionally; that is my information on the authority of one of the leading business men of Mildura. I had intended, when I last visited Mildura, to make inquiries at the local post-office; but I neglected to do so. Will the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Wise)** make inquiries into the matter? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- I shall. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- And if my information should prove to be correct, will the honorable gentleman inform ' honorable members why any telegram should be sent in this roundabout fashion? {: #subdebate-15-2-s2 .speaker-KZU} ##### Mr LAVELLE:
Calare .- The question of a drought allowance to mail contractors has been brought up on several occasions, and a deputation has waited on the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Wise)** with a view to a complete adjustment of the matter. I honestly believe that the Postmaster-General thinks that this business is being attended to; and, therefore, I wish to draw his attention to the fact that, at the present moment, there are many mail contractors in New South Wales who, though in my opinion entitled, have not received any drought allowance for this year. Only to-day I received two communications to the effect that certain mail contractors were about to be paid; but I know there are several others whose claims are still unsettled. I do not charge the Postmaster-General with neglect, because I believe that when he gave us the assurance that the matter would be attended to, he trusted to his officers, and understood that it would be. The policy of the Department in regard to the erection of telephone lines in country districts inflicts great hardship on the men and women who are most concerned. We all know that the life of the settler is not nearly so pleasant as the life of the town resident. And if they have to pay a subsidy in order to have a telephone line put up, or have their mail delivered to them, that is inflicting ah additional hardship on them. Every honorable member recognises that the Postal Department should not be run as a profitmaking concern, and that it is a public utility which should be conducted in the interest of the public. Therefore, I hope that more attention will be paid to the extension of facilities, including telephones in country districts, without the residents there being called upon to pay the heavy subsidies which they are now asked to provide. In almost all country towns the telephone exchange closes at 6 o'clock. Of course, I know that by the payment of a special fee an exchange can be kept open after that hour, but from all parts of my electorate I have received communications from men who are affected by the early closing of the telephone exchanges pointing out that as in almost all cases persons who are engaged on the land work until 6 o'clock or afterwards, they have no opportunity of making use of the telephone to assist them in the transaction of their business unless, they chose to dislocate their ordinary daily pursuits in order to do so. They claim that if the exchange is allowed to remain open until 8 o'clock at night, it would afford them great assistance, and at the same time bring additional revenue to the Postal Department. Quite recently this House passed a Bill increasing the postage and telegraph rates, and although that increase, which is 100 per cent, in the case of letters, has been in operation for some time, we have, so far, found no corresponding increase in the wages paid to the employees of the Department. Twelve months ago a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the basic wage, and a month ago we were informed that the members of that Commission did not desire to take any further evidence, yet we are told by the Prime Minister that their report is not yet available. When the Arbitration (Public Service) Bill was before this House a little while ago, the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. McGrath)** submitted a proposal that no award should be given affecting the Public Service which prescribed a lesser rate than the basic wage, but with the support of the Country party the Government were able to defeat it, showing conclusively that they had no intention whatever of paying the basic wage. Had the proposal of the honorable member for Ballarat been agreed to, we would not have had the present agitation throughout th>Public Service. I also moved an amendment to provide that in any award given no difference should be made in the rate prescribed for married men and single men, 'but **Mr. Justice** Starke has just delivered an award which differentiates between them. In any case, the rate he prescribes is very inadequate; whereas the standard wage in New South Wales, as fixed by the Board of Trade is £4 5s. per week. Commonwealth public servants are receiving only £2 15s.. per week. I do not propose to weary honorable members or delay them by reading the contents of the various letters and telegrams I have received on this subject. Some honorable members have received over a hundred telegrams from constituents, and no doubt every honorable member has received such messages, setting forth the agitation among these public servants, -particularly those in New South Wales, in respect of the refusal of the Government to pay a decent wage. There is not one centre iu my electorate in which a Commonweal-!, public servant is employed from which I have not received a telegram complaining of the inadequacy of the wage paid. Every one knows that the Commonwealth servants have a reasonable cause for their agitation and the protest they have p;it up. The remarkable feature about it is that we have had no dislocation of the Service. I do not wish to advise the Commonwealth servants, but I 'say without hesitation that if I were one of them and did not receive the basic wage, I would certainly strike, irrespective of the consequences to any one else. Of course, first of all, I would use every means in my power to see that I got justice, but I certainly would not work for anything under the basic wage. I ' will give every assistance to the employees of the Postal Service in their agitation to obtain the basic wage and in whatever steps they may take, no matter how drastic they may seem to be. {: #subdebate-15-2-s3 .speaker-L0Q} ##### Mr WIENHOLT:
Moreton .- I do not think that semi-official post-4 masters have been treated altogether fairly. Their position is certainly a very difficult one. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- Do you mean allowance postmasters? {: .speaker-L0Q} ##### Mr WIENHOLT: -- No, I refer to semi-official postmasters. The PostmasterGeneral knows what I mean. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- But we would like to know what you mean. {: .speaker-L0Q} ##### Mr WIENHOLT: -- If I went into details I would take up more time than I wish to do. I am rather surprised that there are not one or two in the Barrier electorate. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- They are peculiar to Queensland. {: .speaker-L0Q} ##### Mr WIENHOLT: -- I believe that they are not being appointed now. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- The Department is abolishing the semi-official offices and creating official offices wherever they can possibly do so. {: .speaker-L0Q} ##### Mr WIENHOLT: -- The semi-official postmaster cannot get any advancement. Although he is not actually threatened with the loss of his position, he cannot at this stage become a permanent official with the chance of promotion. I would like the Postmaster-General to look carefully into the position of these men. I think that at least -he could grant them leave on full pay. Every man needs a decent holiday at. least once a year, especially in the hotter parts of the Commonwealth : but if a semi-official postmaster takes a holiday he has to provide a *locum tenens* at his own cost. This is an injustice. I think the Postmaster-General should provide these men with a holiday free of any expense to themselves. I do not intend to speak on the general question of telephone facilities in country districts; the matter has been put excellently more than once by honorable members of all three parties ; but any one who, like myself, happens to have a private telephone stretching out in a way that makes it the furthest point of any telephone communication in a closely settled country district, will know from the free use one's neighbours make of it the great advantage such a service affords. I always tell any visitor who happens to be staying at my cottage not to be frightened if he hears people walking about at night, as it is likely to be some one who has come in from further out to make use of the telephone. There are many cases of confinement and so on, in which the use of a telephone makes a great difference. I do not believe in being parochial in these matters; but I notice that the PostmasterGeneral has on the notice-paper two notices of motion, the first of which is a proposal to duplicate the trunk line between Melbourne and Sydney. I have no desire to say anything against the interests of the people in the two leading cities of Australia, but I do think that the Postmaster-General should be careful to make sure that he is not unfairly duplicating existing facilities before considering the requirements of districts which have no facilities. Of course, it would be unfair for me to say this without mentioning also that the Minister's second notice of motion relates to a proposal to link up Brisbane and Sydney by a trunk telephone line, which, I think, is a very necessary work. I agree with the honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** that it is better to build a new line to open up additional country along the line of communication. It may be my fault as a member, but I certainly do not see that the district I have the honour to represent is getting very much further in the matter of telephone communication. There is one district which I may quote as one among many, Pimpana Island, which is very closely settled. A proposal to connect it with the line from Brisbane to Southport was approved seven years ago, and at the time the residents paid £80 towards the work, but since then they do not seem to have made any further progress towards getting the line. I hope the Postmaster-General will look into this matter. I believe he is sympathetic, and I hope that he will keep' continually before him the urgent necessity for giving telephone communication in country districts. {: #subdebate-15-2-s4 .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle .- I wish to speak in reference to the method of grading officers in the Postal Department. I understand that it will necessitate a slight amendment to the law. Outside the capital cities there is no relative distinction made as between certain groups, no matter what the importance of a post-office may be. Take, for example, the post-office at Newcastle, where the volume of business transacted, and the revenue received, are greater than are the volume of business transacted and the revenue which is received by offices in some of the State capitals. Yet that office is graded as a country post-office. There one may see the postmaster sitting at a table, so busy that he is unable to interview people who wish to consult him, receiving cash from the officials at the end of the day just as if the office were one of minor importance in a remote portion of the Commonwealth. The existing system urgently needs alteration. Let me give a typical instance of the conditions which obtain in respect of Commonwealth postoffices. In the telegraphic branch of the Newcastle office there are twenty-five officials employed, yet the head of that office is in receipt of a salary of more than £100 less than that which is paid to the railway official in charge of the operators at the same place, who has only eight senior and eight junior officials under his control. The telegraphists in the post-office are required to operate the intricate duplex system, whilst the operators on the railways staff are merely required to work the simple Morse instruments. A similar disparity between the salaries of the members of the railway staff and those of the postal staff obtains from the top to the bottom. Again, in the telephone mechanics' branch, men who have been engaged upon highly skilled work for years are to-day in receipt of a wage which is only equal to that of an ordinary labourer outside. The same thing applies to all other branches of the Commonwealth Service. Thus there is no encouragement for good men to remain in the Service. As a matter of fact, some of the best officers in the Postal Department are leaving that Department to accept employment outside. I hold that our Commonwealth Departments should at least set an example to other employers in the matter of adequately paying for efficient service. After the lapse of nine, months it is time that the report of the Basic Wage Commission was submitted for our consideration. I hope that before many days have passed we shall know its contents, and be in a position to deal with it. In conclusion, I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will recognise that the importance of a post-office does not depend upon whether it is situated in a State capital, and that all these offices should be graded in accordance with the volume of work with which they are required to deal. If an amendment of the, law is necessary in this connexion, the sooner it is made the better. {: #subdebate-15-2-s5 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert .- As the representative of a country electorate, I feel impelled to say a few words upon this occasion. Upon previous occasions some honorable members have assisted me to voice my complaints, sometimes with effect, at other times without result. However, I am pleased that at the present time we have in office a PostmasterGeneral who has shown himself to be sympathetic in the matter of providing postal and telephonic facilities for outside districts. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- He is a " live wire." {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- He is. . There are only one or two honorable members who represent remote constituencies such ag I do. They include the honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Page),.** the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. McDonald),** and the honorable member for Dampier **(Mr. Gregory).** I do not suggest that either the Postmaster-General or his deputy is to blame in the matter to which I am about to refer, but it is a fact that, some time ago, our postal inspectors were instructed to be as economical as possible in all their recommendations. Suppose, for example, that I write a letter to the Postmaster-General, in which I make a complaint. That letter will be sent on to the Deputy Postmaster-General in Queensland, who in turn will forward it to the inspector of a particular district. That officer will report, perhaps, not exactly as he has been instructed, though he may. have received an intimation that he is to " go slow." Certainly he does go slow - very slow in some cases. Let me give point to my remark by instancing what occurred in 1918 when a cyclone in Queensland blew a certain post-office to smithereens. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Where was that ? {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- At Innisfail. At one time there was a Customs House there, but it had been closed some time before the cyclone occurred. . The building, however, remained in the possession of the Customs Department, and was severely damaged in the cyclonic storm. It is true that the Customs Department had leased it, but evidently somebody had the ear of the Minister for Trade and Customs, with the result that the damage which it sustained was immediately repaired, whereas the local post-office was permitted to remain for nearly twelve months in its damaged condition without any effort being made to repair it. In that case, however, the fault did not rest with the inspector. During the same cyclone another little post-office was blown away, and with it about £8 worth of postage stamps. These had not been put into the office safe, as they should have been, and the wind swept them away and damaged them to such an extent that they were unfit for use, with the result that the postmaster was compelled to pay for them. Pin-pricks of this kind are very irritating. Only the other day I received a copy of a letter in which the Postal Department asked for a guarantee of £900 in connexion with the proposed erection of a telephone line. From my own experience I know that the departmental estimate of works of this description is usually 50 per cent, in excess of the price for which they could be executed outside. I have proved that conclusively upon more than one occasion. I wish now to say a few words in regard to our public servants who are located in the northern portion of this continent. {: .speaker-KZU} ##### Mr Lavelle: -- Does the honorable member mean to refer to the basic wage ? {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- T am not dealing with that matter just now. In common with other honorable members, I received a wire from **Mr. O'Connor** - " Agitator O'Connor " his telegram was signed - and in reply I stated that I - was willing to support any wage which was obtained by constitutional means. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- What did the honorable member mean by that? {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- I meant that I am willing to support any wage which is obtained by constitutional methods, either through Wages Boards or the Arbitration Court. I was one of the first members when this House assembled after the elections to give notice of a motion regarding the living allowance that is granted to Commonwealth servants in the north of this country. But, owing to numerous votes of censure upon the Government, my motion was gradually relegated to a lower place upon the business paper, until at last the opportunity for submitting it entirely vanished. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- That is not the first occasion upon which that sort of thing has occurred. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- No. 1 am singularly unfortunate in that respect. Then the matter came before the Arbitration Court, and while it was *sub judice* 1 was prevented from referring to it. That allowance, I do not hesitate to say, should be double or treble the amount which is paid in the southern portions of the Commonwealth. To a certain extent this issue has been side-stepped. In a document which I have received from the Postmaster-General's Department, it is stated that there is a larger percentage of resignations from officers of. that Department in Queensland than obtains in any other State. What are the causes for "the existing dissatisfaction? One is that the salary which is being paid to these officers is an absurdly low one. Their living allowance should also be increased, and the Postmaster-General does not need to go to the Public Service Commissioner in order to grant that increase. He can grant it off his own bat if he chooses to do so. He need not shrug, his shoulders. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- What about other Departments ' {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- I am dealing with the Post Office. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Tudor)** knows that he could have done this when Minister for Trade and Customs. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- I would not have done it without consulting the other Ministers. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- The Treasurer has the money, and he is willing to advance the Postmaster-General what is needed. Honorable members who represent city constituencies in which there are three postal deliveries a day know nothing of the sufferings of the men outback, but when we plead for increased facilities of communication the answer we get is a vague one. I admit that the present Postmaster-General has, in a memorandum which he recently issued, and by his action in support of it, shown a good deal of consideration for outback districts; but I ask him to be still more liberal. The policy of economy hitherto pursued by the Department has been a false one. The Minister for Works and Railways **(Mr. Groom)** knows something about Queensland conditions. He knows that, whereas in the big cities there are several postal deliveries a day, in many parts of Queensland there is a mail only once in three weeks. If the PostmasterGeneral would increase his liberality to the outback districts, it would be greatly appreciated. {: #subdebate-15-2-s6 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- The Postal Estimates are a hardy annual; but, although I have been a member of the House for now over nineteen years, I do not seem to get much further for all my strivings with the Department. Something always prevents me from getting what I desire in the interests of my constituents. Only a few members are situated similarly to me, and know the conditions of the remote parts of Queensland. When I leave the railway line, I get to places where no one knows the news that I bring, and I get no further news until I return. I was away electioneering beyond the NeverNever when war broke out, and it was three weeks before I heard of it, while those whom I had been visiting did not know of it for another six weeks, or, in all, nine weeks after hostilities had been declared. I anticipated with much interest the discussion on these Estimates,, because early in the session, when the Estimates for last year were dealt with, members of the Country party, and some of the other followers of the Government, said what they would do. The chief among these was the honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. Richard Foster),** who raved and roared, and walked up and down like a caged lion, saying what he would make the Government do. To-day, however, he is as docile as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Austin Chapman).** {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- He stayed here all last night to try to do something. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- And did not succeed? Then he had better not have tried. The honorable member for Darling Downs **(Mr. Groom)** told him the truth; and, in proof of what the Minister said, when a division was taken an hour afterwards he voted exactly as the Minister said he would. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Surely you expected that? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- Not on the Federal Capital question. The honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** was not going to allow the Government to do this or that; but when the honorable member for West Sydney ( **Mr. Ryan)** asked him if he would move an amendment, he said, "No/' He was asked if he would vote to put the Government out of office, and he replied, " No, certainly not." {: #subdebate-15-2-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member is a little wide of the Postal Estimates. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- I would not have referred to these matters had we not got towards the end of the discussion on the Estimates. I have been waiting for these gentlemen to make good their threats. Why has the honorable member for Wakefield not done so? {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- The PostmasterGeneral has given more promises, and has ordered the stuff. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- I am glad to hear that. Whenever we have asked for new telegraph or telephone lines, we have been told that material is not available. I am glad that material is available now. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- It is not all here yet. It is under order. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- That has been said for years. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- I shall give figures to show what we have now. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- I am not blaming the Postmaster-General. I can say of him, without flattery, that he is the best man the country districts have had in that position since Federation, because he has not only made promises, but has carried them out, particularly in the restoration of mail services. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Sir JOSEPH COOK:
Treasurer · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- He is trying to cut out a mail service in my electorate. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- That is a really good tale. The Postmaster-General might have done that before the right honorable gentleman was Treasurer, but he would not think of doing such a thing since. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Sir JOSEPH COOK:
Treasurer · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- He cut out a service that had been there for twenty-five years. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- But there are probably railway facilities now in the district that did not exist twenty-five years ago. The right honorable gentleman wants both a railway and a road service, and he will be wanting next an aerial mail delivery for Parramatta. While the Postmaster-General has done much for the outside districts, and especially in my constituency, by restoring mail services that had been cut out, we are still in need of telegraphic and telephonic facilities in my district, where in some cases people are living 400 and 500 miles from any centre of population. In view of the advance in wireless telegraphy and telephony, I should like to see the honorable gentleman install a powerful wireless station away out on the South Australian border of Queensland, with smaller stations to the east of it. Let me inform him that there are pastoralists in western Queensland who have established wireless stations with plant and operators, from which they can send messages to Townsville from 800 to 1,000 miles distant. The messages received at the Townsville station are sent on to the telegraph office there, and are then wired to their different addresses. When private enterprise can accomplish so much, is it not reasonable to expect that the Government will attempt to do something for the benefit of the people in those out-back districts who cannot afford to install such plants for themselves? Any one who has lived in such remote districts is in a position to appreciate the value of a telephone service. I have known people to ride 60 or 70 miles to get to a telephone in order to communicate with the nearest doctor in a case of sickness or accident that they might be told what to do until a doctor could be secured. I am well aware that I am not talking to an unsympathetic audience in the members of this Committee. . I have noticed that one of the! newspapers to-day published a request for old newspapers and magazines to be sent to these out-back settlers. The day of the arrival of the mail is a red-letter day in some parts of the constituency I represent. There are some places where they have a mail only once in every three weeks, and they are very glad to get it then; although here, if there is not a mail every three hours, there is a " barney " about it. It is only on a few occasions during the year, when Supply Bills are under consideration, that we have an opportunity to ventilate the grievances of the out-back people. I knowthat I have the sympathy of the Postmaster-General in this matter, , and I again impress upon him the advisability of establishing wireless stations in western Queensland. I am satisfied that the enterprise would pay. Many telephone services which have been established did not pay at first, but there is not one now; in western Queensland that does not pay handsomely. One matter about which I have to complain is the increase in postal and telegraphic rates. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -Without increased rates we cannot expect increased services. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- We have had the postage rate increased from1d. to lid. for years, and we have recently had a further increase in the postal rates without being any better off than we were before, so far as the postal facilities in some districts are concerned. As a matter of fact we do not mind what rates are charged outback so long as we get a telephone service. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Sir JOSEPH COOK:
Treasurer · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We are spending every penny of increased revenue derived from the increased rates on the Post and Telegraph Department this year, and a good deal more. We are spending £1,400,000 more than last year, and are receiving less than £1,200,000 additional revenue from the new rates. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- I can give the right honorable gentleman a tip which will help as greatly if he will act on it. The Government propose to establish an extra telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney to cope with the business, and if the Treasurer will delay the erection of that extra line for another twelve months, and spend the money which it will cost in my electorate in providing facilities which do not at present exist, the Government can carry out the extra line between Melbourne and Sydney next year. If the right honorable gentleman will undertake to adopt that course, I shall not say another word. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Sir JOSEPH COOK:
Treasurer · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The trouble is that the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Wienholt)** will ask me to do the same thing next year in the interests of his electorate, and the Melbourne - Sydney line will be postponed again. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- I do not doubt that the erection of an extra line between Melbourne and Sydney is required, but at the same time I cannot forget that a loose end of wire has been left dangling for years on the border of Queensland. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- That is so. The line has beenerected from Brisbane to Wallangarra. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- And it has been left dangling there as an evidence of the incompetency of the Federal Government. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- Itis used for ordinary purposes. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- I am aware that it is used for telegraphic purposes. I daresay that a double line connecting Sydney and Melbourne is necessary. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- Yes, it is very necessary. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- Still, I should like some of my constituents given consideration; there might, for instance, be a line built between Quilberry and Eromanga. Are honorable members aware that the honorable member for Grampians **(Mr. Jowett)** has thousands of miles of telephone line erected in Queensland along his fences? I spoke at one place in my electorate called Thylungra over a line covering six hundred miles erected by the Scottish Investment Company. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- That is a privately constructed line. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -Yes, and they have no trouble with it. *Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 9 p.m.* {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- There is one little spot in the electorate of Maranoa which sadly requires attention from the Postmaster-General. I have been trying for many years to get a decent post office in place of the inadequate building provided at Jandowae, in the Dalby district. I have had much correspondence with the Department on the subject, but have never been able to get further than the receipt of a notification that my request had been referred to an inspector for report. As an " old hand," I know what that means, of course. The electorate which I represent is almost as big as New South Wales, so that my one simple little request ought not to be objected to. I again plead with the Government to give a lead to private enterprise in the matter of inaugurating wireless telephony and wireless telegraphy to bring the outback people of western Queensland into touch with civilization. After the authorities had inaugurated the system of boring for artesian water supplies, and had proved those vast storages, private enterprise stepped in and made it possible for Queensland to carry millions of head of stock. With that lead in mind, I plead with the Government to make the initial experiments with these new means of communication. There are stations far outback where the people seldom see a strange face.. There are many people who never see a white man or woman until they come in to the railhead at some terminus or other - a matter of 300 or 400 miles journey. I feel sure that my pleading with the PostmasterGeneral will not be in vain, for he has already given us mail services which we had never previously had, and he has reinstated others which had lapsed. People of the cities have no idea what it means to be dependent on a mail delivery once in every three weeks, or for a delivery to be delayed as long as three or four months in wet weather, and to be altogether abandoned during drought times. The installation of flying services will do vast good in the Never Never. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- Flying machines are going to provide the way out in regard to a lot of our back country. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- Yes. The people of Charleville have not waited for the Government to show them the way. They have put up their own money for the purchase of machines, and they are instituting an aerial mail and passenger service. They are going to prove the efficacy of air transport outback. I want the sympathetic attention of the Postmaster-General while I discuss the matter of allowance officers. There are few of these latter now in the far-back portions of Western Queensland. The former Public Service Commissioner, **Mr. Mclachlan,** instituted the appointment of postmasters from among General Division officers, who were called assist.antsincharge. They did the work of postmasters, and many of them were much more efficient than postmasters who were actually drawing higher pay. I appeal to the Minister "to do something more for them. I never travel through my constituency but some postmaster, or one or other of his assistants, tells me he is very anxious to get back to civilization. If he pays for his own return to Brisbane it costs him a really enormous sum in coach and rail fares. *Extension of time granted.* In a democratic country like Australia it is peculiar that there should be two distinct rates of allowance for officers serving side by side in the one office. A postmaster and two of his assistants were sitting together at the same table at a country hotel. The first-mentioned received very nearly as much again, by way of allowance, as his' assistants; yet they ate the same " tucker," sat down together, and were waited upon by the same people. Because the one was a postmaster, and was entitled to a district allowance, he got practically twice as much to pay for his keep as his assistants, who were charged the same. That is not fair. The line repairer at this office, who was a married man with seven or eight children, received the lowest allowance of them all. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- All allowance men outback are underpaid, whether they are postmasters or line repairers, or anything {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr JAMES PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- That is where the basic wage is wanted. It is not in the cities so much as outback where a basic wage should be given. This line repairer had to send his children 600 or 700 miles to school in Brisbane. I agree with the case put by the honorable member' for Herbert **(Mr. Bamford)** this afternoon, when he asked the Minister to review the allowances paid to men outback. The man I speak of has been there for over twenty years, and must give satisfaction, or he would not be kept there. He has some lonely rides over those plains. When he is relieved every second year, so that he may have six weeks away, it takes him three days to get down to Brisbane and three days to get back. There is a week gone out of his leave. In many instances there have been as many as two or three men relieving him. After they have been there a fortnight riding that line "on their own" for a couple of hundred miles, they have a habit of getting sick, and another man has to be sent up in their place. Yet this man stays there from year to year. No member of this House would cut the Postmaster-General's estimates down by one shilling so long as he secures efficient service. If there is one thing more than another that honorable members have asked for ever since I have been here, it is that the Postmaster-General shall be as liberal as possible, provided that he gets efficient service. All I have asked the PostmasterGeneral for, and it is not much, is a few more hundred miles of telephone lines, and one little ewe lamb of a post-office. As to the wireless telegraph and telephone business, I should like the Postmaster-General to try to give us an experimental station right out near the South Australian border. It would not only be food for us in Western Queensland and for the Northern Territory end of the South Australian border, but would also bring us into communication with Darwin. The existing telegraph line is costing a great deal of money, and if we could have communication by wireless a great saving would be made. With these remarks, the Postmaster-General's estimates have my good wishes. {: #subdebate-15-2-s8 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Swan .- I wish to emphasize a point which I endeavoured to make in an earlier debate on Supply. If I mistake not, from the figures before us, the Postmaster -General estimates a profit from his Department of £1,283,000. If that profit is to go into the general revenue, I regard it as nothing less than a scandal, in the face of the general opinion of members that the Postal Department is a service, and should not be a profit-making machine. If, however, the heavy anticipated revenue, which is greatly in excess of that of the previous year, is to be devoted to the very necessary extension of the facilities of .the Department, particularly in rural parts, I shall have the greatest satisfaction in casting my vote for the passing of these Estimates. I should particularly like the Postmaster-General to speak on this matter himself, in order to explain to the Committee to what purpose he proposes to devote the surplus. I hope it will not be treated as the £500,000 surplus of last year was treated. {: #subdebate-15-2-s9 .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND:
Illawarra -- I had intended to make some remarks on the question of the remuneration of the employees of the Department, but as there will be an opportunity before the House adjourns of discussing it in the debate on the basic wage, I shall not bring it before the Committee now. I wish, however, to place before the PostmasterGeneral the position of the younger employees of the Department - those from whom it is hoped to draw the responsible officers of the future. It must be admitted by every one who has given any attention to the matter that the Commonwealth cannot hope to develop an efficient service under existing conditions. To-day, in order that a man may keep his son in the Department, he has to subsidize him until he is long past the time when in any other employment he would be making some useful contribution towards the expenses of the home. Cases have come under my notice where lads of seventeen or eighteen have been transferred from their home towns to remote centres in the interior on a wage of 30s. a week, out of which they are asked to find board and clothe themselves, and provide some of the amusements that ought to belong to the period of youth. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- How is it they all rush these positions? {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND: -- That is just what they do not do. When a lad. applied for special consideration in one case, the Department gave him the ' princely allowance of £6 a year for living away from home. That means that the parents of lads have to consider whether they can afford to subsidize them while they are working for the Government, with the knowledge that, even if they attain to the position of postmaster, their remuneration will still be far below a reasonable wage. These young people will not come under any basic wage arrangement, and that is why I mention their case now. If we hope to have sufficient capable officers in the future, it is essential that we should offer encouragement to the better class of young men to come into the Service. Today the Service has nothing to offer to an intelligent youth, because he can turn to almost any other occupation in the Commonwealth with a greater hope of preferment; and a higher remuneration than are possible to him in the Postal- Service and some other branches of the Public Service of the Common wealth. One very illinformed honorable member says they are rushing the Service. The fact is exactly the opposite. The Department is put to the expense of training these young people for two or three years, and then they get out to where they can command better wages. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- We have been taking some on without examination in order to get them. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND: -- I was told by a gentleman whose word I accept that the efforts made by the Department to encourage lads to study telegraphy have, in Sydney at any rate, resulted in the training of telegraphists- for branches of the State Service. As soon as a lad is competent to do the work of a telegraphist, other Departments, such as the Railway Department, offer him from 50 to 100 per cent, better wages than the Commonwealth offers, and thus, after the Commonwealth has been put to the expense of his years of training, he passes out" of the Commonwealth Service altogether. That is called economy. I consider it the very worst form of extravagance. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr Ryan: -- Who calls it economy? {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND: -- We shallhear it so called in the next debate, if not in this. We also read in the newspapers, which are supposed to be the great vehicles for the expression of public opinion, that the Commonwealth Government is grossly extravagant. It can be more readily proved that the Commonwealth is niggardly to the extent of millions in the remuneration of the people who do its work, and that many of the evils of the Public Service to which the papers continually call attention arise from the fact that we do not give to the members of any branch of the Public Service, and particularly the more highlyorganized branches, that remuneration which is given for equal brains outside. While we continue to expect that public servants shall do their work for less pay than is given to people doing similarly responsible work outside, we cannot hope to secure the same efficiency in the Public Service that it is possible to obtain in private concerns. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Is the honorable member advocating increased taxation? {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND: -- I am advocating whatever is necessary in order that the Commonwealth shall obtain efficient service. That can only be done by paying decent wages in every branch. I have had a business training. I hear people talking about the need of business men in politics. Any business man who takes hold of this problem will apply to it the same principles that he applies to his own business. That is, he will pay well the men who do his work, if he wants to retain efficient officers in his service. The man who knows business, and knows what realeconomy means, is after the best brains he can get to run hig show. He does not consider whether it is going to cost him £2,000, £3,000, or £5,000 for the man who has control of tens of thousands of pounds' worth of his business. He wants to know where he can get the man who can make £10,000, £20,000, or £30,000 by the efficient management of his business. , That is the attitude the Commonwealth will have to assume if it is ever to get equal efficiency with private organizations. Not a month passes but some of the best intellects in the Service go out of it to better positions abroad. That goes on right up to the top. I heard talk from some honorable members about the extravagant salary that was paid to **Mr. Alan** Box, the secretary of the High Commissioner in London. They said, " The Government have taken a civil servant from Australia, who was getting only £300 or £400 a year, and are giving him £1,000 a year. What shocking extravagance!" **Mr. Box** had not been in London very long before a private concern offered him £2,000 a year, and to-day he is no longer in the Public Service of the Commonwealth. That is the story of many others in every Department. As soon as a man shows his capacity to earn a decent salary the Commonwealth will not pay it, and he has to look elsewhere for that preferment which he ought to be able to get in the Service. I hope the Postmaster-General, with other Ministers, will look at this question in the light in which it would be regarded by any business man trained to get the best brains to run his business. If we can get at the head of each big spending Department the same efficiency that a large employer would expect to get at the head of similarly large spending departments of his business, ' we shall have less cause to complain of many of the services, and will attain that degree of efficiency which we cannot hope to reach with cheap labour. {: #subdebate-15-2-s10 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 .- - I indorse the remarks made by the ' honorable member for Illawarra **(Mr. Lamond).** I do not know whether honorable members generally have gone into this matter so deeply as I have, but, in my opinion, the efficient post-office official has to be an expert in a greater variety of directions than almost any one engaged in general commercial and financial life. To begin with, postmasters and postmistresses must have a fair knowledge of banking business. The Commonwealth Savings Bank has branches in most post-offices, and the business connected therewith is by no means simple, but, on the other hand, somewhat intricate. That fact I can vouch for as an old bank clerk. They have to attend to the telephone service, and must also be expert telegraphists. The postal matter dealt with calls for extensive knowledge of details in regard to rates and so forth; and they have another set of duties which relate somewhat to banking, but are not within the range of the business usually carried on by the associated banks. I refer to the business connected with the payment of old-age and invalid pensions, in connexion . with which everything must be carried out in proper form. Further, they have to attend to the electoral matters for both Commonwealth and States, and this is no easy work, in view of the absurd variety of the methods of voting. Added to this, they have to supply forms for income tax and land tax returns for both Commonwealth ' and States, and are called upon to witness signatures to a great number of official documents. I quite agree with what was said by tlie honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Page)** ; and I certainly regard the Postal Department in its sweating capacity as comparable only to the Education Department of Victoria. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- In the Darling there are three teachers who left Victoria to better their positions. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Victoria, as concerns its Education Department, has long been known as the " scab " State of Australia, and the name is certainly deserved. In the matter of education, there never has been a civilized country, with the exception of Switzerland, where we find more money devoted to the school than to defence. I often wonder that there are not more monetary losses in the Postal Department than are experienced now. I know that if I were a Judge, I should view with great leniency any postal official who came within my jurisdiction charged with any offence in this connexion. Instead of being the best paid Department of the Commonwealth it is the worst; and I hope that the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Wise),** who bears a striking likeness to the great Bryan, of America, will carve his name on the history of Australia, and rival, if not surpass, his predecessors in office. {: #subdebate-15-2-s11 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong -- As an old public servant I have consistently pointed out that if we desire to get the best from our Public Service we must pay the best wage or, at any rate, as good a wage as is paid for similar work outside. One of the greatest blessings a country can have is a well-paid, contented, and efficient Public Service, for that means we shall get our money's worth over and over again. With a complaining ill-paid Service we can expect nothing but bickering and discontent, with lack of efficiency. It is a marvel to me that the public servants perform their duties so well in view of their meagre pay. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- If we had fewer public servants we could pay better wages. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- I know that the honorable' member has an idea that a few men can do a great deal of work. I quite agree that the Commonwealth and the State Public Services are losing their brainiest men simply because they can do better in private employment. As an illustration of this I may say that a young mechanical engineer, then twentyfive years of age, who was in the State employ, took an opportunity to join the Commonwealth Service as a temporary officer in a new Department. Later on, the appointment was made permanent, and he was sent to France during the war as adviser in railway matters. The other day, when I was in the Commonwealth offices I asked after him, and I was informed that he had returned, but had left the Government employ, and was now in private practice with eleven draftsmen under his control. We shall continue to lose men of such character and calibre if we are not prepared to pay them what they are worth. The States have complained of losing valuable officers to the* Commonwealth, but that was at a time when the Commonwealth was paying better salaries. At the present time the salaries paid by the Commonwealth are in many cases less than those paid by private employers, and we in turn are losing valuable men. Government works are being carried out in practically all the electoral districts; and it does seem as though, in this regard, there was greater difficulty in the case of Government work than in the case of private work. On the Mornington Peninsula, in my electorate, the construction of a railway is being held up because the State Railway Department is not paying a wage equal to that for similar work outside the service. On the other hand, I know of contractors who are kept busy all the year round, and who have no cause to complain of any difficulty in obtaining skilled service, simply because they are prepared to recognise ability. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- What about inefficient employees ? {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -There are good and inefficient men in all places, even in this Parliament; and I am afraid that if we had to face an examination up to a certain standard, many of us would not pass. If the honorable member would apply such a test to ordinary employment he oUght to be prepared to take a dose of the same physic. I know of no big business organization, whether private or governmental, where all the employees -are of equal calibre or merit; but the outside employer knows that the average work he receives is good, and is willing to pay for it. As we differ in our facial appearance so we do in our ability; and employment must be found for the whole of the human family, despite its inequalities. The sooner the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** abandons the idea of trying to perform a miracle the better. I believe that the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Wise)** sympathizes with the policy of encouraging what we call local industry. In my opinion, we import altogether too much of the articles we require in the Postal Department. With our raw materials, and the genius of our workmen, we should be able to produce nearly everything that is necessary. If there are patent rights, the Government ought to make some arrangement so that the actual work of manufacture - may be carried out here. I have been, delighted with the splendid work done in some of our own workshops. The work in connexion with telephones is intricate and delicate in character; but notwithstanding, this it can be admirably performed by Australian workmen, and I trust the Postin Master-General al will give our local mechanics an opportunity of manufacturing in Australia as much of the postal requirements as can possibly be made here. Why should we import from America articles that can be manufactured in the Commonwealth? I trust the PostmasterGeneral, with his sympathies in this direction, will proceed on these lines, and give his officers every encouragement to arrange for the manufacture of our requirements as far as possible in the Commonwealth. I am glad to support the suggestion of the honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. James Page)** in connexion with wireless telephony. I understood the Postmaster-General to say when he was last discussing the subject that the Department had certain experiments in hand, and if that is so I trust they will be extended over short, moderate, and long distances, because if this work can be satisfactorily carried out we shall bv able to dispense with poles, wires, and insulators, and thus reduce our expenditure to an enormous extent. Messages can be transmitted by this system just as intelligently as- under the present system. I made some inquiries from the honorable member for Bass **(Mr. Jackson)** concerning the means of communication between King Island and Tasmania. .Some fifteen years ago the *Yambacoona* was the only steamer trading between King Island and Launceston, and on one occasion when she damaged her propeller, and had to undergo repairs, those good old pioneers who were then located .on the island were cut off from the rest of the world for four or five weeks. I understand there is now a wireless station on the island, and the residents are now in close touch with the rest of the world. Although the sea does not divide portions of Australia there are people in the back-blocks of the Commonwealth who are as much isolated as if they were living on a lonely island owing to the absence of means of com- municationI am a city representative, but I was born in the country, and I realize that if we desire Australia to progress we must make country life more attractive. There is a great responsibility resting upon the Postal Department, and it should be our endeavour to give those who are living in the more remote parts of this great continent the most up-to-date postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities to enable them to carry on their magnificent pioneering work. Coming nearer home, I am either fortunate of unfortunate in representing more than one-half of the outskirts of the city of Melbourne, and I have very great difficulty in obtaining postal and telephonic facilities for those who live in the outer suburban areas, and who, to some extent, have to suffer inconveniences similar to those of people in the back-blocks. The residents in those suburbs are prepared to go out 9 or 10 miles from the slums of the city in order to rear their families under more congenial conditions, and it is the duty of the Postal Department to help them as much as it possibly can. I do not intend to criticise the present Postmaster-General, because I believe that, considering the time he has been in office., he has done remarkably well. According to the figures on the present Estimates the Government are going to spend in the Postal Department this year £1,000,,000 more than was expended last year. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- But they are imposing additional charges. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- That is quite true. It has been my duty to introduce citizens to the present Postmaster-General, and I am pleased to say that he has granted benefits and concessions - and rightly so - that were denied by the previous occupant of that office. I trust that the Deputy Postmaster-General, to whom we have to go with our requests, will fully consider the requirements of those in the outer suburban areas as well as those of our outback settlers. I am not one of those legislators who expect our State Railways ot Commonwealth Postal Department to pay, because I do not think they should be regarded as commercial concerns. If adequate railway and postal facilities are provided, it will mean that our vast ex-, panseof territory will be more rapidly developed, and that we shall in that way reap an indirect benefit. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- The Post Office is not costing the Commonwealth anything. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- It is not. The previous Postmaster-General made a boast of saying that he had created a surplus of £500,000, but that is not a creditable performance, seeing that the service was starved in order to accomplish it. I would like to know whether the PostmasterGeneral has been informed by his officers that the automatic telephonic system does not possess all the virtues that were at one time attributed to it. According to the latest reports, the automatic system in the United States of America - although they . were very enthusiastic over it a few years ago - is being dispensed with, and the old system is being reverted to. If the statement published in this evening's paper is correct, that the Basic Wage Commission, which has been taking evidence all over Australia, has fixed a basic wage of £5 5s. per week, I presume there will be a howl of indignation in some quarters. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- I was informed that it had been fixed at £5 10s. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- I trust it will not be fixed below that rate, because I am" not one of those who look upon the financial situation with any degree of apprehension. At the present time the Commonwealth Government are underpaying a number of deserving officials, and we cannot expect to retain their services unless they are adequately remunerated. Although I was once a public servant, I would not be prepared to re-enter the employment of the Government under any circumstances. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Is the honorable member not in the Public Service at present? {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- The honorable member is a representative of the people. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- A representative of the people is rendering a public service, and: speaking in broad general terms, is a public servant. Unless we are prepared to pay for ability, many of our most brilliant officers are likely to leave the Service and' engage in private employment) where their work will be moTe generously recognised. Our public servants should be properly paid, because they have to carry great responsibilities and have important duties to perform. There is no better way of obtaining the best brains in our midst than by paying a decent wage, and the Commonwealth and State Governments should be model employers ; but, instead of that, they can justly be branded as the worst sweaters in the community. {: #subdebate-15-2-s12 .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE:
PostmasterGeneral · Gippsland · NAT -- I do not desire to delay the Committee at this juncture, but there are two or three matters which have been mentioned by honorable members to which I wish to refer. I do not intend to deal with the question of wages, because, as the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** has -already stated, that question will be considered by the Government when the report of the Basic Wage Commission is before us. This year's Estimates provide an increase in salaries in the Postal Department of £494,000. Every one knows that the payments to allowance officers has been one of the most difficult questions with which any Postmaster-General has had to deal, because these offices do not provide a living wage, and are based on the understanding that the persons in charge have other business to which these offices are merely adjuncts. I have already announced that the Government have provided £85,949 for increases to these non-official postmasters, which has made a very sub-, stantialaddition to their remuneration. I am glad to hear from honorable members that the policy of the Government in regard to the Postal Department meets with their approval. It is a policy I always advocated as a private member, and is one that was given expression to by the late **Mr. Deakin,** in May, 1908, when we had an animated discussion on postal matters in this chamber. He complained of the mistaken view that many people took of the Postal Department, and said - >We hear criticism incessantly, usually from outside, but sometimes within these walls, based upon the supposition that the Post Office is nothing but a very large private business, conducted, it is true, for the purpose «t supplying public wants, but which is to be measured by the rules ordinarily applied to the control by private persons of business conducted for their own gain. Nothing, as all those who have reflected upon the position know, can be further from the fact. The Post Office is a great national institution, which proceeds upon the basis of recognising equality of citizenship in the equality of the claims preferred by its citizens, no matter where they may reside, to far more consideration than they could ever hope to receive upon a pounds, shillings, and pence basis. Holding that view of the Post Office, it follows, in my opinion, that its primary object is to give the people every possible facility in postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communication, keeping in touch as far as possible with business methods and management. That is the policy I have endeavoured to carry out. It »is the policy of the Government. A large number of mail and telephonic services have been, and .are being, established as the result of concessions we made in the matter of subsidies that were required from the residents; and I can say, for my own district, that I have not heard of any complaints when these conditions have been offered to the people. Quite recently, I issued instructions to the following effect: - >I desire the several Deputy PostmastersGeneral instructed that in future no mail, postal, telegraphic, or telephonic facility now existing is to be reduced, or, as in the case of the pillars in question, materially altered in such a manner as to raise objections from persons in the locality served, without the matter first being submitted to this office. I may add that the Prime .Minister desires' every possible facility afforded which this Department can afford in country districts to encourage settlement. Concerning the complaint about telephonic communication in different parts of the Commonwealth, honorable members know, of course, that we are suffering from the effects of the war. I am fortunate in having had placed at my disposal a considerable sum of money which was not made available to my predecessor **(Mr. Webster)** ; but, unfortunately, wc have to wait for material to come to hand. Shortly after taking office, I obtained .permission from the Treasurer **(Sir Joseph Cook)** to call for tenders for works representing an expenditure of over £500,000; and at the present time we have contracts let for the following works: - 6 switchboards, £178.864; 636 miles of cable, £463,253 ; 19,354 miles of wire, £140,067; 45,628 telephone instruments, £190,597; and, in addition, a lot of accessories, poles, cross-arms, conduits, insulators, and other material, the whole amounting to £1,131,000. All these are under order, but the contractors will not bind themselves down to give delivery within a specified time. All they can promise is that they will supply the material and do the work as soon as possible. I can only repeat that, however disagreeable it may be for people who are inconvenienced, they must possess their souls in patience until the material comes to hand, so that the work may be proceeded with. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Where are the orders placed principally? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- In America. A lot of wire is also being obtained here. The other night an honorable member complained that, in the matter of works put in hand, Victoria was being favoured as against New South Wales. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr Ryan: -- Why mention that now? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- Because I want to put on record what is the real position. In the contracts above mentioned the material is being allotted as follows : - New South Wales, £280,150; Victoria, £159,780; Queensland, £47,068; South Australia, £39,323; Western Australia, £23,425; Tasmania, £4,306. This represents a total of £554,000. In addition, we propose to refer to the Public Works Committee this year the installation of the automatic exchanges in New South Wales to cost £713,000; in Victoria to cost £307,000; in Queensland to cost £167,000; in South Australia to cost £75,000; and. in Western Australia to cost £41,000. Honorable members will see, therefore, it is not true that New South Wales is not getting its fair share of expenditure. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- It appears that New South Wales is getting more. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- No; but this information is a complete answer to the charge made the other night that we were boosting up Victoria at the expense of New South Wales. We are anxious to extend the telephonic communication in the out-back districts, and there is not much likelihood of any surplus in connexion with the affairs of the Department. I am quite satisfied to push on with all necessary work, and I know the Treasurer is prepared to give me all the money I want, because this is the policy of the Government. The only thing that will prevent the money being spent will be the impossibility of getting material supplied during the year, but we shall do our very best. We do *not* want to make any surplus out of the Post Office. As I said in my circular letter, I want to see what would otherwise be a surplus expended in extending these facilities in the out-back districts. I have always contended that people do not go out-back from philanthropic of patriotic motives. They go there because they think they can make a good living; but the Government should never fail to recognise the benefits which people who go out-back confer upon the country . by opening up and developing that country. Therefore, both State and Federal Governments should de all in their power .to make theconditions of out-back settlers as comfortable as possible. State Governments may do this by means of roads and railways, and the Federal Government by means of improved postal and telephonic facilities. When wireless telephony is developed as a commercial proposition - that is a long way off yet - it will be possible to effect a considerable saving in the construction of telephone lines. That is our object. I have indicated the way in which at present the money is intended to be spent. There will be no surplus so far as 'I am concerned. I shall be quite satisfied if the Department pays its way. Having been made to pay during **Mr. Webster's** term of office, I would not like to see it now become a drag on the country.. The honorable member for Barrier **('Mr. Considine)** complained that I would not lay on the table some papers relating' to the forging of his name to a telegram. I told the honorable member that I would give him every possible facility. to know all that we had discovered on the subject, and I directed that the utmost inquiry should be made. When I received a report that full inquiries had been made by one of the best detectives in Sydney, from which point the telegram was sent, and that it was unnecessary to send to Broken Hill, I minuted the papers that, as the Department had been made use of as a means to forge the honorable member's name, and possibly do some injury to him, it was our duty to ferret the matter out to the utmost. I therefore directed that the most skilled detective we had as near as possible to Broken Hill should be sent there to make a thorough investigation. The result of the inquiry was simply suspicion. The detective told us where he thought the telegram had been forged, but he was by no means certain as to the person who had done it. In fact, he was firmly of opinion that there was not sufficient evidence to sheet home a charge against any one. In these circumstances I felt we had no right to make public the actual report of a detective which merely ended in suspicion; but, in order to get an opinion which might be entirely free from departmental prejudice, I submitted the matter to the Solicitor-General **(Sir Robert Garran),** who held that, in the circumstances, it would be contrary to all previous practice to place the papers on the table of the House or the Library. At the same time, I gave the honorable member for Barrier every facility to peruse all the papers in connexion with the matter. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- What was the use of my seeing the papers if I could only make use of what I 'could carry away in my memory ? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- I did not intend that use should be made of official reports that merely contained suspicion. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- You have said nothing about the Sydney detective's report. You have merely quoted what his superior officer recommended. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- The Deputy Postmaster-. General at Sydney concurred in the detective's report. If the honorable member had looked at all the papers he would have seen the detective's report. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- I have seen it, and have also had a conversation with the detective. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- What about the automatic telephones? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- I have heard from the officers of the Department no suggestions as to the setting aside of automatic telephones. On the contrary, they are still proceeding with the work of installing them. {: #subdebate-15-2-s13 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Swan .- The speech of the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** was so confusing that it' was difficult to follow the logic of his argument. I was certainly pleased to hear his laudation of the principle of private employment, which he quoted as an example for the Public Service. I have a practical knowledge of only private employment, and it is generally the only business knowledge possessed by honorable members elected to this Chamber, who claim that the functions of the various Public Services should be run on business lines. The honorable member intimated that he would not re-enter the Public Service; and when he said this, I tried to get in a kindly interjection, which, of course, he endeavoured to misconstrue into an attack by me upon the Service. This has rendered it necessary for me to rise again reluctantly at this late hour, and even at the risk of becoming a nuisance, to make clear my views upon the matter. I believe in the best payment for the best of services. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- Then, why did not the honorable member take his increase in salary? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- Who said I did not? I came here under the understanding, as doubtless the honorable member did, that I would be paid a certain figure for a certain period; but before the Christmas adjournment I hope we shall have a further opportunity of discussing that matter. I believe that many good men leave our Public Service, and the State Services, because the system of promotion and remuneration is wrong. Men who have grit and heart leave the Service. Doubtless, the honorable member for Maribyrnong has that grit and heart, which is evidenced by the speeches he makes, and he would not go into the Service. Clever men cannot remain in it without submitting to considerable sacrifices. Many of the best of men have told me that it is most difficult for them to tolerate the system. At any rate, a business man will not employ a man who has been in the Public Service for a number of years because he is not able to apply himself to private enterprise or business methods for the simple reason that public servants are made time-servers. A man must be promoted because he is senior, and not because of his intelligence or ability. I have frequently been told that if there is a smart man in the Service who is desirous of discharging his duties capably and well, and of adapting business me.thode to a Department, he is looked upon by his fellows with disdain, as one who is trying to push himself forward, and endeavouring to " lick-spittle " his superiors with a view to promotion. This is just the' point upon which I differ from the honorable member for Maribyrnong. I believe in payment for service, but I do not believe in paying all on a flat or basic line, which is just what private persons do not do. They pay for the work done, and this is an encouragement to an employee to put his worth into a concern. I would like those who serve us to be paid properly for proper service; and I regret that the Bill for the appointment of two or three business men to inquire into the whole management of the Public Service has been dropped. If that were done, if the bad systems were done away with, and the unneeded servants referred to in the report by the Economy Commission were weeded out, we should then be able to pay efficient men adequate salaries for the services which they render. We should not pay our public servants by rule' of thumb, we should not pay them a wage under which merit will be entirely disregarded. These are the matters of which I complain and of which my party complains. We have an army of 250,000 civil servants in the States and the Commonwealth- in other words, we have one civil servant to every ten adults. That is altogether too many. They are tripping over each other, and we are not getting from them the service that we should for the tremendous sum of money which we pay them. To-day the salaries of our public servants aggregate nearly £40,000,000 annually. When we allow a business Commission to straighten up these Services we shall be able, to alter the methods by which civil servants are now promoted and to insure that they shall be adequately paid for the services which they render. {: #subdebate-15-2-s14 .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN:
West Sydney .- I am sorry that I did not hear the observations of the Postmaster-General upon the question of the salaries paid to bur public servants. I have listened to a great deal of criticism from honorable members upon both sides of the Chamber concerning the fact that the Postal Department is paying many of its officials a salary which is altogether inadequate. There can be no argument about that statement. I am sorry that the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** did not direct the Postmaster-General's attention to this fact. Nobody can look through the Estimates with a knowledge of existing conditions in regard to our post and telegraphic services without recognising that the salaries which are being paid to many of these officials are utterly insufficient. That must be obvious to everybody. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- Quite so. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Then why not admit it? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- I do admit it. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Then it is admitted by all parties in this Chamber. That being so, what are we waiting for now ? Is it for the report of the Basic Wage Commission ? If so, what will happen when we get that report? Surely the Prime Minister ought to be sufficiently frank to admit that the salaries being paid to our public servants are entirely inadequate and ought to be increased. It is our business to raise the necessary money to permit of that increase being granted. The Commonwealth should not ask its officers to work for a wage which is less than they are entitled to receive. As an illustration of the nature of the salaries which are being paid at present, I would point to a list of officers who, I am sure, have had a long experience of their work. I find, for example, that there are 170 telegraphists who are in receipt of £193 12s. per annum, 150 telegraphists at £244 per annum, 65 postmasters who get £222 per annum, and 167 postmasters at £270 per annum. I might go through a long list in almost every branch of the Department in which similarly inadequate salaries are being paid. What guarantee have we that when the report of the Basic Wage Commission is submitted the whole of the grievances of the underpaid public servants in this Department will be remedied? Will the PostmasterGeneral assure me that he will deal with the salaries of all these officials ? Does he think that my question is not worthy of an answer ? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- Yesterday the Prime Minister stated the intentions of the Government* This is a Government matter, and not one for an individual Minister. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Surely it is a matter for the Postmaster-General. The question of a basic wage may be one for the entire Government to consider, but every individual Minister should be concerned in seeing that a proper wage is paid to the public servants under his control. Are the whole functions of Government to be concentrated in one man ? Must our public servants wait until he speaks? What does he know about all the individuals in the different Departments? The principle of a basic wage itself may be a matter for the right honorable gentleman, but there are quite a number of officers in the Postmaster-General's Department who will not be affected by the determination of a basic wage. What is the PostmasterGeneral's policy in regard to them ? Does he say that he desires to discuss the matter with Cabinet? Is the salary of every individual officer to wait until the Basic Wage Commission has reported to the Prime Minister? Is that to be made an excuse for postponing consideration of the demands of our public servants? It certainly looks like it, and it is our duty to employ the most effective means at our disposal in standing up for these underpaid officers. They have nobody else to stand up for them. During the past fortnight I have received many communications concerning this matter, both by letter and by telegram, and to many qf these I have been unable to reply by reason of the fact that they have been anonymous communications. I now reply to all of them, that I am entirely with them in their request. I am sure that the facts which they have recited are correct. I hope .that the Postmaster-General will give us an assurance that something will be done to remedy the state of affairs which exists in his Department so far as the payment of salaries is concerned. Will he say that he will do all that he can to secure justice for these men ? He merely tells us that he has to wait for the Prime Minister to move in the matter. But, after all, the Prime Minister is only one man, and there are seventy-five members df this Chamber. If one man is going to tell seventy-four men that they must wait until he is ready to move in this matter I decline to subscribe to that proposition. I shall do what I can to see that each individual Minister shoulders the responsibility which properly belongs to him. Will not the Postmaster-General say that he is sympathetic towards the under-paid public servants in his Department, and that when he goes into Cabinet he will advocate a proper increase in their salaries ? How long are we to be given to discuss the report of the Basic Wage Commission when it is presented? Perhaps upon the last day of our meeting prior to going into recess we shall be told by the Government, " Here is the report of the Commission, and the Prime Minister thinks so and so should be done." We may not then have the details before us that we require to enable us to form a sound judgment, and, later on, we may be called upon to give an account of our stewardship. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- If the Public Service gets much bigger it will take charge of this House. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- If our public servants are able to do that it can only be because their demands are just. I should be the first to resist unreasonable demands, or unreasonable methods in putting forward demands, and I know that the public of Australia would not stand for a Government that yielded to what was unreasonable, or to demands put forward in an unreasonable manner. But, on the other hand, the public will not allow the Government to inflict injustice on a section of the community because it happens to consist of public servants. It is our duty to set an example by giving fair play to the public servants; and that is not being done by this Government. What are we waiting for? Why do we hesitate? This Committee could, within twenty-four hours, make the Government do what it desires to have done. We are asked to wait for a recommendation concerning the basic wage, although we know that these Estimates provide salaries which are inadequate, and that the officers of this Department have no one but us to look to for redress. Are we to pass these Estimates because the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Wise)** wishes to wait for something the Prime Minister is going to say about the basic wage? I do not think that we should do that. My hope is that the Postmaster-General will give us, and the public, an assurance, before the Estimates are passed, that he will recommend that something be done. Surely the Prime Minister is not master of the honorable gentleman's mind. Is he silent? Will he not give us an assurance? In that case, I hope that some one with more persuasive faculties than I have will assist me in endeavouring to induce him to make an announcement. Perhaps some of my honorable friends opposite will' come to my aid. The honorable member for Wannon, the Honorary Minister **(Mr.** Rodgers), sits there smiling. He must have a lot of public servants in his electorate. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Postmaster-General will give them a square deal. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Do you not think it a fair thing to ask him for his views on the matter? I make an appeal to other honorable members. The honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Burchell)** would, I am sure, be able to apply some persuasive force to the Postmastergeneral. I am desirous that, before the Estimates are passed - and I put it in the most reasonable way I can - the PostmasterGeneral will say something which will be a guarantee to lis that he is earnest in the intention to do something to remedy the injustices that are complained of, something beyond waiting for what the Prime Minister may say in a few days' time, when every one will be rushing for his portmanteau. The time to make a statement is now. If the honorable gentleman will make a statement on the subject, I will sit down. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- I have said all that I intend to say on the subject. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Then I have not done so. I feel so strongly on this matter that I consider it my duty, and that of every other honorable member, to use all the means at our disposal under the Standing Orders to compel the Minister to make a statement. With this object, I move - That the vote be reduced by£1. I move that amendment to call attention to the injustice that I am sure every honorable member feels is being done to a large body of the public servants of this country. It will give honorable members an opportunity to express their views on this subject, and if they think as I do, of endeavouring to induce the Minister to say that he intends to support the very reasonable requests that are being made by this large body of underpaid public servants. The Minister sits stubborn and says nothing; but if he wishes to get his Estimates through- {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- I am content to sit here all night again. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr RYAN: -- So am I, and all tomorrow night, too, if necessary. I feel as fresh as paint, although I was here until4 o'clock this morning. I would npt object to sitting up every night of the week if thereby I could achieve my end, which is to give our public servants what they are entitled to ; because, undoubtedly, their case demands attention. They have wives and families to support, and yet we are asked to wait for the Prime Minister to receive a report; to read it; to confer with his colleagues about it; and then to say something concerning it. We wish not only to have something said, but also to have something done, and done now. If the PostmasterGeneral would indicate that, owing to some Cabinet arrangement he is prevented from speaking on this matter, the position, would be different. If he told us that he had no definite views on the subject, we might give him time to make up his mind. He might be able then to express a definite opinion by tomorrow. But he has given no valid reason for not saying something about the salaries paid by the Department for which he is responsible, and of which he is the mouthpiece in this Chamber. Should he not say somethingabout the grounds of the complaints of these public servants? In my opinion he should, and the amendment that I have moved gives him the opportunity to do so. {: #subdebate-15-2-s15 .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Gwydir -- I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney. I think it very necessary that a discussion should take place on a matter of such great importance as that on which he has spoken. The PostmasterGeneral **(Mr. Wise)** seems to think that this is a personal matter, and spoke of his readiness to sit up all night; so also are we ready. If he were in the position which his underpaid officials occupy, the knowledge of the inadequacy of his salary would probably prevent him from sleeping, even if he were in bed. It is laughable to suggest that the Parliament of this country should wait for the report of a Commission to which the Government may not pay heed when it receives it, and which will, in any case, affect only the lower-paid branches of the Public Service, without doing justice to that very large body of men who, though not on the lowest rung of the ladder are, at the present time, paid salaries that are not adequate in view of their years of service and the responsible positions they occupy, handling, as they do, day after day, many thousand pounds of public money. Every member of this Parliament has received communications from branches, and from individual members, of the Public Service, during the past week or ten days, pointing out the scandalous sweating conditions . under which they labour. I remind honorable members that the deputation of public servants who waited upon members of this Parliament in Sydney this week took very great care to point out that they were endeavouring to secure a peaceful adjustment of their claims. They did not wish to take drastic action. But let me warn the Government that they cannot continue to rebuff a large body of men and women year after year without sooner or later reaching the breaking point. It may well be that we shall wake up one morning and find that, because of the do-nothing attitude of the Government, the Public Service will be in a condition of chaos, attributable, not to their leaders, but to the rank and file, who will be unable to restrain themselves any longer. Many of them are on the verge of bankruptcy to-day. It is the desperate position in which they are that induced them to take the step they did in sending their communications to members of this Parliament. During the past four years, members of the Labour party have been continually endeavouring to induce the Government to do something for the public servants, and their requests have been refused again and again on the score of lack of funds. A Commission was appointed to look into the question of the basic wage. Two months have elapsed since it ceased to take evidence, but no report from the Commission is yet forthcoming. This Parliament will rise in a few days' time, and it may be that the report of the Commission will not reach us during this session. If Parliament goes into recess before the report is submitted to it, there will be no opportunity to discuss it; the grievances of the public servants will continue, and they must continue to labour under the scandalous conditions under which they are labouring to-day. No Department is 'worse in this respect than is that of the Postmaster-General. I might refer to dozens of cases of men personally known to me, in my own constituency, who have twenty-five and thirty years' service to their credit, and yet are to-day in receipt of wages less than £200 per annum, on which some of them are endeavouring to support families of six and seven children. It is pitiable to see the methods they have to adopt in order to maintain an outward appearance of respectability. Their condition is one of nothing more nor less than genteel poverty. As members of the Public Service, they are not permitted to take casual work outside, and cannot add to the income they receive from the Commonwealth Government. We are often told that, per head of population, Australia is the wealthiest country in the world; and, if that be so, there should be no difficulty in paying our public servants a reasonable living wage, as well as paying those in the higher grades, and who have nearly a life-time of good service to their credit, a wage commensurate with their years of service and the re- * sponsible duties they are called upon to perform. The honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** dealt with the matter of promotion from the stand-point of the private employer. While he criticised the system at present operating in the Public Service, his method of solving the difficulty to which he referred is that some one, he did not say who, should have the job of saying who should be given the higher positions and be paid the higher salaries. If that system were adopted, and seniority were to count for nothing, in many cases the " crawler," and not the efficient man, would be the person promoted. In many cases it would not be merit, but other and less worthy considerations, that would operate to secure promotion. We know that in private employment many men get to the top of the tree because they are " crawlers,'' and not because of merit and "efficiency. Men in the Public Service, who have given to it years of faithful work, should not be " scrapped " because of some small defect in the present method of promotion in the Service. Questions connected . with the PostmasterGeneral's Department are of the gravest concern to Australia, which is a land of great distances and sparse population. I have never ceased to voice the opinion that it should be the duty of the Postmaster-General's Department to render service to the community. Unfortunately, some time ago a campaign was initiated by the daily press in Melbourne for the running of the Post and Telegraph Department for profit. For four or five years prior to this session of Parliament a system was in force of making the Department pay by cutting down services which the pioneers in the back country of Australia had enjoyed. That was i pernicious system. Every one in the back-blocks resented it, and we are all pleased to have the assurance of the present PostmasterGeneral that it is not his idea that the Department should be run for profit. Having regard to his age, there is no member of the Committee who has lived longer than I have in the back country of Australia, and none who has looked forward with greater expectancy to the arrival of the mail once a week, once a fortnight, or, it might be, once a month. No one realizes better than I do what a boon it is to the. people of the back country to have an efficient and adequate mail service and telephone and telegraph facilities, thus bringing them into closer touch with civilization. The factor of isolation is one of the great drawbacks and hindrances to country settlement. Whether it is a matter of mail facilities, of transport of goods and produce, or of keeping in touch with medical assistance, country folk are at a tremendous disadvantage compared with residents of towns and cities. The latter, too often, I am afraid, do not realize and sympathize with the hardships borne by their fellow-Australians in the sparsely settled back country. The reason for. a changed policy in the conduct of the Postmaster-General's Department is due to the agitation of the public generally. The system of running the Department for profit was proved by the people themselves to be a wrong one. Now, just as that general agitation altered the views of the Government, I hope that the great public agitation which is occurring today will similarly change the policy of Ministers with regard to the present sweated conditions of Commonwealth servants. I trust that, as an outcome of the protests being aroused on every side, justice will be done to public servants", very many of whom, under pressure of the tremendous cost of living, are now in a truly awful position. They find that, with the sweated wages which the Government are giving them, they can scarcely keep going. Many have had resort to money-lenders. When our public servants are so poorly paid that they are open to the wiles of these ghouls and blood-suckers, disaster is bound to follow. The Government are losing hundreds of their best men from the postal and other services. I know officials who have occupied high and responsible positions for many years. During the past twelve months they have been literally forced to get out, and to seek in the open market opportunities of private employment. Every man who leaves the Service after years of training renders the Service less efficient. And what about the juniors as they come in, and from whom the senior officers of the future are to be drawn ? They are no longer attracted to enter public Departments. They see senior officials getting out after fifteen and twenty years' experience, and they cannot fail to perceive the reason why. Naturally, they ask themselves why they should enter upon so unattractive a career. Once our public servants were admittedly better off than private employees. Now the opposite holds good. Our public servants lag far behind, both in regard to conditions and wages. Comparing the two great bodies of employees, namely, those inside and those outside of the Service, the former to-day are in an unenviable position. One cannot wonder at their resigning and throwing themselves upon the open labour market to take the risks of securing a livelihood, and, at the same time, forfeiting . all rights which may have accrued to them. It is a scandalous shame that, in a country like Australia, there should be Government employees receiving as little as £3 8s. per week, when employees doing similar work for private employers are earning £4 5s. per week. The Government ' are sheltering themselves behind the Basic Wage Commission. The PostmasterGeneral, as the head of a great Department, is not prepared to say what he is going to do, or that he will do anything at all. He takes the paltry attitude of following the lead of the Prime Minister. Prom our experience of the right honorable gentleman we can only Bay that, such being the case, there are very poor prospects ahead for the employees of the Postmaster-General's Department. The Government are using the Basic Wage Commission as an excuse for continuing to sweat their employees, and I hope the latter will, at any rate, demand from their representatives in this Parliament who support the Government their reasons for not assisting us. {: #subdebate-15-2-s16 .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR:
Parkes .- In view of the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Ryan)** and of the honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Cunningham),** I feel bound to say something concerning the charges which have been made against the Government and honorable members who support the Government. I regret that our Public Service should have been brought into the limelight for party purposes pure and simple. No honorable member on the Opposition side has said and done half as much for and about the Public service as I. I have been constantly bringing the cause of the public servants under the notice of the Government and the public ever since I entered this House; and I refuse to quietly allow the party opposite to endeavour to take to themselves exclusively this championship of the public servant. {: .speaker-L0H} ##### Mr Ryan: -- The result of all your alleged efforts is that the Public Service is still being sweated by the Government whom you are keeping in office. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- And as they were sweated by the Government which preceded them. The Commonwealth Public Service is the worst paid in Australia to-day. It was at one time the best paid service, but for a considerable number of years, practically ever since the public servants went to the Arbitration Court, and were taken away from the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commissioner - which was a retrograde step - their salaries have been decreased. I am prepared to admit that members on all sides of the House are ready to see that the public servant is paid a fair remuneration for his services. I had twenty years' experience in the Service, and was for eight years secretary of one of the unions., so I should know something about it, and the conditions under which the public servants work. The Postal employees have to devote a number of years to training in the specialized lines of occupation which they follow. There are no men in Australia more worthy1 of better remuneration than they are receiving than the members of that Department. Prom the postmasters right down to the lowest rank they are not receiving the remuneration that their services deserve. Some years ago this Parliament deliberately divested itself of the control of the Public Service, and gave it to the Arbitration Court. I have been fighting for the returned soldiers in connexion with the Service, and notwithstanding the promise made on the floor of this House by **Mr. Andrew** Fisher when he was Prime Minister, that no permanent appointments would be made to the Service until all the men had returned from the Front, I have a list of no less than 238 appointments which have since been made, and which were not secured by returned soldiers. We have heard that the Prime Minister went to the Public Service Commissioner, and was flouted. The Public Service Commissioner can snap his fingers in the honorable gentleman's face, saying, " You cannot dictate to me. I am running the Public Service independent of Parliament." We' have no control over the Public Service, because it was the wish of Parliament and of the people of Australia that the control of the Service should be taken away from political influences, and put in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- He is an absolute dictator. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- Unfortunately, he is. I regret we cannot discuss this question altogether apart from party. Why should it take a party aspect? I concede to the members of the Opposition a desire to see that a fair thing is done to the public servants, just as that desire is felt by those on this side of the House, and it is regrettable that we should make a party issue of it. The Prime Minister says he is trying to get the Chairman 'of the Basic Wage Commission to expedite their report, and that he believes it will be presented on Friday. He has also made a definite promise to-day that the House will not rise until the report is sub- mitted and that he will deal with it personally before the House rises. I do not think he could make a fairer proposition. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- He has made a lot of promises, and has broken them. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- I have heard a lot about the promises he has made, but I' have yet to learn that he has broken any of them. I believe it is in the best interests of the' Public Service, and of men outside the Service, that they shall belong to a trade union. Those are the bodies that have been fighting for a decent living wage, and every member of them has got a living wage both inside and outside the Service. But there are men inside the Service to-day who are not eligible to join trade unions, and they are not getting 'the wage they should be getting. The man who looks after the Commonwealth Offices -in Sydney receives the magnificent salary of £3 a week. He gets, also, £32 a year as a living allowance. It is disgraceful that the Commonwealth should pay him only £3 12s. a week when he has a wife and several children to keep, and has to maintain a decent appearance. As far as the basic wage is concerned, I suggest that whoever has the control, whether it is Parliament, or the Public Service Commissioner, or a Board of Management, should adopt a basic wage for the whole Commonwealth. It could be easily done in this way : Supposing the basic wage in this State was £3 6s. a. week, whereas in New South Wales it was £4 5s. They should take the lowest basic wage paid in any State, and pay the difference between that and the basic wage in the particular State where the man is employed by means of an allowance. The difficulty that confronts the Public Service is that, if we paid every Commonwealth .public servant in New South Wales £4 5s. a week, which is the basic wage of that State, and only paid the Commonwealth public servants in Victoria £3 6s. a week, immediately a man was transferred .across the border he would bc senior, because he would be getting a bigger salary. We should do the same thing as was done at the inauguration of Federation, when every Commonwealth public servant in Western Australia had 5 per cent, added to his salary while he worked there, because the cost of living was higher there than in any other State of the Commonwealth. Those men in "Western Australia are still . getting an addition of 5 per cent, to' their salaries, notwithstanding the fact that Western Australia is one of the cheapest places to live in. If living in New South Wales cost £4 5s. a week, we should pay the difference between that and the Commonwealth basic wage, should our basic wage be lower, to bring our employees up to £4 Bs. in that State. I regret that the honorable member for West Sydney has moved the amendment. I was hoping that we could get the Estimates through, and have a day to discuss the basic wage question before the House rose. I am satisfied that honorable members on the other side of the House have the interests of the Commonwealth public servants equally at heart with men on this side, but I do not think they have them any more at heart than we have. I think we can work together in the interests of the Service of which we are the head, and see that the servants employed by the Parliament of Australia get a fair and even living wage. {: #subdebate-15-2-s17 .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS:
Cook .- The honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Marr)** has told us that for months he has been raising the question of the better payment of the public servants. The honorable member now has the opportunity of doing something more than talking. He has the opportunity to vote, and the prospect of having to vote to force the Government to do what he has been advocating for months fills him with horror and dismay. It says very little for the influence of a gentleman who supports the Government that he has" been talking for all these months with so little effect. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; UAP from 1931 -- You have not been here to listen. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- What is the use of listening to the honorable member when he talks Without any result? I prefer to do the business of my constituents in the Public Departments to sitting in the chamber listening to idle wind. The honorable member, after telling us that he has talked all these months without obtaining any result, then goes on to show us all the obstacles that are in the way of a new and proper basic wage being paid now. He apologizes for it not being paid, and finds excuses for the fact that the Government are not paying it. He gives reasons why it should not be paid now. {: .speaker-KMU} ##### Mr MARKS:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT; IND NAT from 1929 -- 1 gave no reasons why it should not be paid. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- He says we have not the power, but that the power rests with the Arbitration Court. The fault, be says, lies in that fact. Surely the honorable member has not looked into the matter very closely. The public servants were given the privilege of going to the Arbitration Court, but they were not compelled to go there. Nothing can prevent this Parliament from paying the public servants of the Commonwealth any amount it likes. If the Arbitration Court awarded £5 as the minimum wage, there would be nothing to stop this Parliament from paying the public servants a minimum wage of £6. There is only one thing which can prevent Parliament from taking action, and that is the want of the will to act. The honorable member also told us that the Public Service Commissioner flouted the Prime Minister. If that is so, it is so much the worse for a Prime Minister who would permit the Public Service Commissioner or any other officer of the Government to flout him. Then the honorable member confused the matter in the minds of those who will read his speech in *Hansard* by the confusion of his own mind when he told us that, whether it is Parliament., the Public Service Commissioner, or the Board of Management who has the power, it ought to be done. Apparently, after all these months of talk, the honorable member has not yet convinced himself where the duty and responsibility rests for paying or withholding a proper remuneration. ' The honorable member for Parkes then goes into a disquisition as to the varying rates of a living wage in the various States. Such a confusion of ideas it :s difficult to follow. I have spoken on this question on several occasions, and do not propose to repeat what I have already said, only within the last -few days. We have done the talking, and the material thing now is t<> get a vote to show what is the faith in honorable members. As the Minister in charge of the House indicates that he wishes this matter to go over till tomorrow, when we shall further consider it, I shall not now further discuss it. Progress reported. House adjourned *at* 11.12 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.