8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Deputyspeaker (Hon.J.M. Chanter) took thechair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the ActingPrime
Minister whether it istrue thatthe Im- perial Government intends to declare, on the 4th August, that Britain is at peace with all her former enemies, and whether, under those circumstances, Australia will automatically cease to be at war with those countries, andall war restrictions will cease to operate? Sir JOSEPH COOK.- I have no information whatever on the subject, and I, therefore, content myself with expressing the good hope thatthe condition of the world onthe 4th August maybe such that Great Britain will then declare herself at peace with all herenemies.
-I ask the Act ing Prime Ministerifhis attention has been’ drawn toa paragraph in to-day’s newspaper which contains the statement of a man evidently well known in America, that Australia has accepted German Governmentbonds in payment for wheat and wool,and was offering a year’s credit. Has the Government any information on the subject?
– As the honorable member knows, Bawra is ‘looking after our wool. I know nothing whatever about thestatement referred to.
– Can the Minister for the Nary tell the House the total numberof personsemployedatthe Royal Naval College,at Jervis Bay,including the instructional staff?
– I should have liked noticeof the question,and thought that the honorablemember would give noticeof it. Speaking from memory the instructional staff At JervisB ayn umbers thirty-three, and the ratings and other men employed thereninety-six. In justice to theinstitution, I should add that theratings employedthere wouldhave to be maintainedbytheNavyDepartment elsewnere iftheir services were notbeing usedatthe College. Theymustbeavai- ble in timeofwar, and the costof their maintenance is not rightly charged to the College.Itmust notbe forgotten, too, that theCollege at a distance fromany town, and is consequently more costly to maintainthan a similar institution near to a city wouldbe. It hasto find itsown water supply and itsownelectric light supply and these and other services add to itscost.
-In last night’s Mel- bourne Heraldacablegram was published stating that the Admiralty is referring to the Australian authorities theposition of Royal Navy pension ers who areserving is the Royal Australian Navy, itbeing suggested that their pensions should he modifiedbecause of the deferred pay to which the men axe entitled. I wish to know if the Admiralty hascommunicated with theNavy Board on the subject, and, if so, what reply has been given to itscom- munication ?
– I readthe Heraldcablegram,but I have notseen anycommunication from the Admiralty.
– Is there any foundation for the report that the Government intends to depart from* precedent by issuing a loan at, 95 instead, of at par., and offering, a rate, of interest equal to 6i percent. ? We should know something definite about the terms of the proposed loan> before leaving the matter in the hands of. the Executive, whose past actions do not inspire confidence.
Sir- JOSEPH COOK.^1 would not for the world have the honorable member lose’ Eis grip of the finances’ of the country, and for that, reason),, among; others, I shall during, the day make a statement about: the’ proposed, loam
– I ask the Minister representing, the Minister for Repatriation whether the soldiers’ are to be penalized in any way for. the faulty administration’: of. the War. Service Homes Commission,, which he admitted, in his statement on Wednesday night?
– Not in any shape or form. I have indicated, tha- policy of the Government about excess- costs;, and: the Minister- for Repatriation (Senator Millen), has done the same in the Senate. During the: recess^ I propose: to visit each: State with, the Chairman: of the Business Board, to adjust these excess costs- and L hope* that that will’ be: don& im a. manner satisfactory to. the; soldier.
– Has.’ the Acting Prime Minister a reply to a question which. I asked him a. fortnight ago about the number of war- pensions refused”, the number of pensions reduced, and- the cost of. administering, the pensions?
– I shall’ endeavour, to’ get the informations during the day.
– Has, the Government come to. a decision regarding the claims for civil® endowment made- by public servants’ who have- adopted children’, and of* widows! doing- clerical work who. have: children?:
– In the scheme that has been agreed- upon adopted, children will occupy the same place asnaturalborn children, no distinctionbeing made: between them. Neither shall w.e- make a distinction, between the, man employed in the Service, who- is the f a ther, of children, and the widow so employed who has children. They will receive the same consideration.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether the Government will make the allowance in respect of the adopted children of members of the Public Service retrospective? Will it: be dated back to the time, at which the. allowance in respect of other _ children commenced ?
– I should” imagine that that is simple equity.
Mr. - GRE.GORY.r- Can the Acting Prime Minister make a statement now as: to the length of the proposed adjournment?
– It is usual to. announce that at the termination’ of the last sitting. Until’ the Tariff is out of the way we cannot have a prorogation, so that the House must meet again.
– But you do not propose to recall- us within a fortnight or three weeks ?’
– I am glad that the honorable member wishes to- see the back of Parliament ; I am sure that Ministers will, be,- delighted to see the backs of some honorable members,, for a. little while at least, although, we may miss them-. Our intention is-, to call the- House together again about the middle: of September, but? to- pass, a motion- giving- Mi: Speaker1 authority to> announce to each, member’ by telegram of - letter the- date of. reassembling. This will provide for any emergency.
– Will- the Acting Prime Minister- state definitely which: of the proposals’ on. the business-paper he desires, to haver passed to-day?’
-. - Is? the whole- day at our ‘disposal?
– At the moment, I cannot answer the question:;- hut we- shall do our best to meet you.
– As the honorable member is aware, our object is to pass some of the public works motions, and a day or two ago I promised to give the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) an opportunity to speak about the’ Wheat Pool.
– Does he propose to apologize to the wheat-growers for his. action ? , .
– Out intention is “ to afford the honorable member for Dampier the opportunity I have mentioned, and then to proceed with the motions relating to the carrying out of certain public works that have been recommended by the Public Works Committee. I should like very much, also, to secure the passing of a small Bill relating to bounties.
– I presume the Government will invite the House to deal ‘ with Government business before considering the motion to be submitted by the honorable member for Dampier. “
– This is the last day of the present sitting, and I must be a little generous to a great question which is profoundly affecting the whole of the people at the moment, and is certainly causing a great deal of agitation and perturbation in at least one State Parliament. I confess I am. in the same grip of circumstances, and I want to keep faith with the honorable member for Dampier.
– Has a settlement yet been secured of the long standing and very important dispute between the Federal Government and Mr. F. W. Hughes as to the amount of money which it is claimed Mr. Hughes, or a company in which he is interested, owes the Commonwealth? If so, will the Acting Prime Minister state briefly what are the terms of settlement?
– I regret to say that there is no settlement. The processes of the law are going on, but I am unable to state the precise point that has been reached. I am afraid that there cannot be a settlement of the matter except in the Courts of the country. Meantime Sir Robert Garran is grappling with the subject, and there I must leave it at the moment.
Advisory Committee - Statement in the “ Age “ Newspaper - Convention Hall and Hostel.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister direct, his attention to the usual weekly lying statement, which appears in the A ge newspaper, to the effect that Canberra supporters in the House are totally opposed to the Advisory Committee, as a t present constituted.
– The statement is a disgraceful slander.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister give the statement an emphatic denial? It is also reported in the Age that supporters of the Canberra movement are agitating for an expenditure of £100,000 at the Federal Capital this year. I should like the right honorable gentleman to inform the press that we are asking for an expenditure of not £100,000 but £500,000 this year.
– I do not know that the honorable member’s question needs a reply. I was surprised at the adjective that he applied to the newspaper in question. I understood him to refer to it . as a “ weekly lying paper.” Does he spell the word “ w-e-a-k-l-y “ ? Which “weekly” did he intend to use?
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways make to-day his promised statement to the House with reference to the plans for the building of the Convention Hall and Hostel at Canberra, and any other works that may be gone on with at the Capital during the next two months?
– Yesterday afternoon I received from the Advisory Committee a report dealing with the progressive occupation of Canberra. I am, therefore, now in a position to submit at once the whole matter for Cabinet consideration.
– Would it be possible to. have the report printed and distributed amongst honorable members before we adjourn to-day?
– The honorable member may see the report.
Purchase of Houses Already Erected
– Arising out of the statement made on Wednesday evening by the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. “ Rodgers), I desire to ask him whether we are to understand that the policy of purchasing houses already erected is to be wholly discontinued by the War Service Homes Department.
– Not wholly. Where it can be proved that it would be unprofitable to build a new house for a soldier - that a house already erected could be obtained for less than it would cost to build a new one, or where there is a surplus of houses, or- other special circumstances of that kind, the purchase of houses already erected will be considered justifiable. It is not intended that there shall be a complete prohibition of the purchase of houses already erected. Where we can get a better asset for the soldier, and at the same time not render more acute the shortage of housing accommodation by purchasing a house already erected, that policy will be pursued.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook),- by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook), by leave, agreed to- -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– Is the Minister for Home and Territories aware that, owing to wet weather in certain parts of the country, some of the census collectors were unable to complete their work within the allotted time? If so, will he consider the advisableness of making them an allowance in respect of the additional days so worked by them ? In the absence of the honorable gentleman, I have not been able to get such payment for these men- from his Department.
– If the honorable member will submit specific cases to me, T shall make full inquiries, and see that justice is done.
– Some time ago a deputation of members of this Parliament waited upon the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) in order to point out certain disabilities suffered, by tubercular ‘soldiers. The honorable senator promised that he would go into the whole question, and endeavour, by amending the regulations, to remove some of the disabilities of , which complaint was made. Will the Assistant Minister state whether a decision has been arrived’ at ?
– This is a matter with which the Minister himself is dealing directly, since it affects the Department of Repatriation. I understand from him, however, that he has favorably considered the representations made, and I hope that a direct answer to the deputation will be available forthwith.
Continuous Camps poh Cadets.
– It has been brought under my notice that it is proposed to require cadets to put in whole-day drills, and also to go into continuous training camps for three weeks. Will the Assistant Minister for Defence inform the House what is actually, to be done in that direction ?
– I have no knowledge of a. proposal to hold a continuous training camp for three weeks. n
– Is the honorable gentleman sure that his officers would not make arrangements for such a camp without his knowledge?
– I am. I think the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) has been misinformed as to. the holding of a three weeks’ continuous camp.
– What about whole-day . parades and- the statement that -boys attending them must bring their own food ?
– If the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper I will secure for him a considered answer.
– I have received today a letter from a recent arrival from England, who was unable to find work in Melbourne, and proceeded to my electorate, where he is now in permanent employment. He now desires to bring out from the Old Country his wife and. son. He did not serve at the Front, but having regard to the fact that he is in permanent employment here he desires to know whether any concession in respect of the passage money for his wife and son would be made by the Immigration Department. The question of immigration is very much in evidence just now, and a statement on this subject by the Acting Prime Minister would beof general interest?
-I regret that I cannot answer the honorable member at the moment, but as this is the last day of the present sittings I will send him a written statement.
-Having considered the matter for some weeks, is the Acting Prime Minister now in a position to give the House the information for which I have asked on several occasions as to the names of those honorable members who have not accepted the full amount of the parliamentary allowance as fixed under the recent amendment of the law?
– I am not prepared at the moment to answer that question, butI should like to tell the House that the honorable member (Mr. Gabb) does not draw the £ 1,000 per annum to which he is entitled. He draws only £600 per annum.
– In order to relieve the minds of the Government, and of honor - able members supporting them, I ask if it is intended to remove certain members of the Ministry from their offices and to replace them with other honorable members before this House meets again.
– There is only one thing certain with respect to that matter. I am in a position to announce only one certainty, and that is the nonadmission to the Ministry of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West).
Payment of Gratuities
– Has the Treasurer come to any decision with respect to the claims of the Queen Alexandra nurses’ for payment ofgratuities ?
– The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) interviewed me some days ago and introduced a deputation of these nurses. Numbers’ of other honorable members have interested themselves in the same matter; and have made various representations; I have submitted the whole proposition for reconsideration to Cabinet, and this is what we have decided to do - subject, of course, to the approval of Parliament, since the proposal involves a tidy sum of money : There were 126 of these nurses, who went away from Australia under what is known as the Queen Alexandra scheme of nursing. All of these nurses volunteered for service with the Australian Imperial Force, but; because they had been sent away in connexion with the Queen Alexandra scheme, they have not so far been accorded the benefits and privileges which our own nurses of the Australian. Imperial Force have received. These 126 nurses; went overseas and performed their nursing duties in just the same manner as other Australian nurses. After they had departed from Australia, under the auspices of the Queen. Alexandra scheme, there were despatched overseas nearly 1,000 Australian nurses to perform the same duties as the 126. Care was taken, however; to include them in the Australian Imperial Force. Thus; was set up. a distinction between the two classes of nurses, who, however, were doing precisely the same class of work and; serving under the same conditions. The facts must strike honorable members as being inequitable. The Government have decided, therefore, to place them all on a parity. That is to say, where Alexandra nurses have received gratuities f rom the Imperial Government, the amounts involved will be taken into the equation and the Federal authorities will make up the difference between what they have received from Imperial sources and the amount given to the nurses of the Australian Imperial Force. We shall have to make up this difference to the Alexandra nurses in the shape of gratuity bonds. I do not recall at the moment the exactamount of the estimate,but a rather considerable sum is involved,and the passageof an Act of Parliament will be required in order to authorize the payment. I feelconvinced, however, that the Federal Legislature will be so unanimouslyofopinionthat the proposedpayments should be authorized thatI may safely anticipate its approval. I propose, then, to proceed to make up the difference in the payments to the Alexandra nurses in anticipation of the passage of a smallmeasure which can be passed when honorable members meet again. Upon ‘this implied understanding I shall proceed to adjust matters.
– How about the circumstances of an Australian nurse who wasin England when the warbroke out and who joinedthe Queen Alexandra nursing staff in London? She, and other nurses similarly placed,had no chance to volunteer with the Australian Imperial Force in Australia.
– The distinction is that the Australian Imperial Force nurses were sent from Australia. We did not sendthat nurse who was in London upon active service with the Australian Forces. She is in precisely the same position as some thousands of other Australians who happenedto be in England when the warbroke out. My son was among this number. He joined up asa private in England and did hisbestto get into the Australian Imperial Force. Our specific regulations, however,kept himout.This nurse who joined up in London, and those Australian fighting men who did the same thing, have had to accept the disabilities arising from their serving with a Force, the remuneration of which was less than the payments made to members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– About a fortnight ago the Acting Prime Minister promised that he wouldcallfor reports from the various State Governments with -respect to the unemployment unhappily existing to-day in Australia. The idea indicated by the Acting Prime Ministerat the time was thatan endeavour might be made to cooperate with State authorities in order to relievethe unemployment situation. I wish to know if those reports have yet been secured, and, if so, what measure of assistance the CommonwealthGovernment have determined to give.
-Reports have not yet been received, but activity in this matter is proceeding. I assure the honorable member that the whole subject has not been lost sight of.
– I desire to know whether the proposal for conducting a seventy-days’ training camp for our young Australian Cadets is tobe proceeded with or has been abandoned.
-There is no question of a seventy-days’ training period.
– I wish to clear the matter up, since it : is naturally disturbing the minds of the mothers of many of our young cadets. Is there any likelihood of a revival of the proposition during the forthcoming recess of this House ?
SirGRANVILLE RYRIE.- No ! No provision hasbeen made forsuch an extended period of training.
– Haveany steps been taken to fill the vacant position ofFirst Member of the Naval Board, and is there any truth in the rumour that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) has been selectedto fill that position?
Question not answered.
CountryMotor Mail Service.
– I understand that officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department have been for some time busily engaged in inspecting back-country mail routes in order to ascertain whether someof the motor mail services cannot be cut out. Is it the policyof the Department to discontinue these country services, or to decreasetheir number?Or can the Postmaster-General say whether it is intended to increase suchfacilities ?
Mr.WISE.- Iknow nothingabout the matter at all.
– I desire to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether there is any further information available* respecting the sale of inferior wheat and flour to South Africa. I should like to be informed, further, whether the Government intend to follow up the matter, so that the blame may be placed upon the guilty shoulders.
– I have already told the House that I hope this business will be cleared up in London, between the Prime Minister’ of the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister of South Africa. I now present a paper having relation to flour and the matter of freights to. the United Kingdom. I lay this document on the table, and move -
That the paper be printed.
– I move -
That the following words be added: - “ and having in view the unsettled trading and financial conditions existing as the result of the war, this House is of opinion that the continuance of the present Wheat Pool for the purpose of the control and disposal of the 1921-22 wheat crop is necessary in the interests of the growers and of the” Commonwealth.”
– What sort of a trick is this? There will be no finishing up to-day !
– I rise to order. My point i3 that this matter of the continuance of the Wheat-Pool system has been already considered and dealt with during this week. A vote was taken on the subject only a day or two ago. Is it competent, therefore) for an honorable member fo reintroduce the identical matter as the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) now proposes to do?
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! I have been asked to give a ruling upon a point of order, but such is the babel of voices that I have not been able to hear the precise nature either of the amendment or. of the point raised thereon.
– I desire to put before you, sir, a point of order which must take precedence, in that it refers to prior business. In view of notice ^having been given by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that it is his intention to move the adjournment of the House to ‘discuss a matter of urgent public importance, I contend that that motion must take precedence of all other business.
– Will you permit me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to point out at this stage where my amendment and the amendment which has been .already dealt with by the House this week radically differ?
– That has to do with another matter. I have been asked to give a ruling whether, in view of a notice of motion having been given for the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, that motion should not take . precedence of any proposed Government business or amendment thereto. The practice which has been followed by all the Speakers who have occupied this chair has been, when an intimation of this character has been given, to permit questions to be put without notice, and answered; whereupon the formal motion for adjournment has been put. I have been waiting for that stage to arrive at which questions without notice would be concluded. During that period the honorable member for Darling has risen on two or three occasions, upon either of which he might have taken the opportunity to move his “motion. Since he rose, however, to ask questions without notice, I purposely delayed calling on other business. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) then intervened by presenting a paper and moving that it be printed; upon which motion the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) moved his amendment. I must rule that that procedure was in order, and I emphasize that I do so in pursuance of the invariable’ practice of this House.
– I now desire to take this point of order, namely, that the question of the continuance of the Wheat Pool system having been discussed during the week, and a vote having been taken upon it, it is not now competent for an honorable member to re-introduce the same subject-matter in the form of an amend- ment, the terms of which are similar to the question which has already been dealt with.
– The amendment which I have moved is, to my mind, entirely different from the amendment moved by another honorable member earlier this week. The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition to the Supply motion instructed the Government, to take steps to insure a continuation of the Wheat Pool. I am asking to-day merely that the Government shall use their influence with the State Governments in connexion with this matter.
– I rise to a point of order. I have give notice of a motion to adjourn the House in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), in order to give honorable members in the Corner an opportunity to apologize to their constituents for their attitude on the amendment moved on Wednesday in regard to the Wheat Pool-
– Order !
– This discussion may continue all day unless the Government use the “gag.” Apparently, they have decided that there shall be no discussion on my motion.
– The honorable member must state his point of order without making comment upon other matters.
– My notice of motion cannot be dealt with because apparently this discussion will crowd it out. The natural inference is that that is the desire of the Government. I ask whether it is in order that my notice of motion should be thus crowded out? My motion would be merely an exercise of a privilege allowed by the Standing Orders, and I claim that it should take precedence over other business.
– I have already ruled that the procedure which has been adopted is quite in order.
– Reverting to the point of order raised by the honorable member for South Sydney, I wish to dra”w a distinction between the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney on the Supply Bill and the amendment I have proposed to-day. The honorable member’s amendment in- structed the Government to do certain things in connexion with the continuance of the Wheat Pool. My proposal only asks that the Acting Prime Minister should bring his influence to bear upon the State Governments with a view to getting certain action taken for a definite period. The purposes of the two amendments are entirely ~ different, and I contend, therefore, that my proposal in no way contravenes the Standing Orders.
– The document laid upon the table is a statement by Senator Russell in reference to the disposition of flour, &o. The Acting Prime Minister has moved that the paper’ be printed, and to that the honorable member for Dampier has moved to add an expression of opinion that the continuance of the Wheat Pool for the control and disposal of the 1921-22 wheat crop is necessary. It may be that this amendment deals with the Wheat Pool matter in a way different from that in which it was dealt with by the amendment ‘moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) on Wednesday. Therefore, I am not inclined to rule it out of order.
– -In submitting my amendment to the House I wish to emphasize the difference between the proposal made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and that which I am making to-day.
– I ask, for a ruling upon a point of order. The paper which is the subject of the Acting Prime Minister’s motion relates to flour. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) deals with a .Wheat Pool. The two subjects are entirely different, and I ask whether it is competent for an honorable member to move an amendment which is not relevant to the original motion?
– The disposal of flour is involved in the sale of wheat and the creation of a Wheat Pool. The two matters are inter-related, and lj therefore, rule that the amendment is iri. order.
– Nobody knows better than does the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) that all matters connected with the export of flour are controlled by the Central Wheat
Board. I congratulate the honorable member on his efforts to achieve a poli-, tical victory rather than to do somethingin the interests of the farmers. Any person with parliamentary experience must recognise that the tabling of an amendment such ,as that moved on Wednesday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was tantamount to a. motion of want of confidence in the Government. In my opinion, the amendment was moved, not for the purpose of doing anything in the interests of .the producers, but simply in . order to gain a. political advantage. We all know perfectly well that it is outside the power of the Federal Government to initiate or carry on a Wheat Pool except by co-operation with the State Governments. Ever since the Pools were instituted there has been an arrangement between the wheat-producing States and the Commonwealth Government. To-day I am asking the House to instruct the Acting Prime Minister to use his influence with the State Governments to secure $ continuance of the Wheat Pool for the next season.
– Does’ the honorable member propose to instruct him by resolution ? Has he the courage to do that ?
– The honorable member would be more at home in creating industrial trouble.
– The honorable member cannot serve two masters. He must choose between the boodlers and the farmers.
– Or the agitators. The Pools were instituted as a war measure, and it is as a war measure that I desire the Wheat Pool continued for another season. That course is necessary owing to the unsettled trading and financial conditions which obtain as a result of the war, and it is for that reason alone that I ask the Government to use. their influence to get the Pool carried on, not as a permanency, but merely to cover the 1921-22 harvest. The Premier’ of Victoria says that he has received satisfactory assurances that private companies will be able to purchase and finance the wheat in the coming season. But it seems to me to be impossible to get a satisfactory guarantee that there will not be a danger of insufficient, money being available if the financing of the crop is left entirely to private enterprise.- I desire the continuation of the Pool merely as an expedient to provide a longer time for con ditions to become normal, and .for .theproducers to mature a scheme of their own for the future handling of their wheat. I am convinced that the farmerswill be able to do big things by cooperation, just as big things have been done in that way by the wool-growers. It would have been wiser if the earlier counsels had prevailed in .connexion with the Wool Pool. There is no member in this chamber who is more averse than I am to continuing the restrictions upon trade and! commerce, but to lift them at the present, moment, within a few months .of the garnering of the harvest, will involve a grave danger of “the producers being left wholly at the mercy of one or two large tradingconcerns. I wish to derive no political advantage for my party from this action. I have interviewed the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), and asked that the Commonwealth shall come to the assistance of the farmers in Western Australia in the formation of a co-operative Pool, Having heard that the South Australian Government have decided that’ they will have nothing further to do with the Pools,, and a similar .decision having been cometo by the Victorian Government, I desired to protect my own State, and on behalf of the farmers there I asked the Commonwealth Government to guarantee a co-operative Pool to the extent of 50 per cent, of the value of the wheat voluntarily put into it. We agreed that the Pool should.be subject to any restriction which the Government chose to impose in regard to export. If they desired that certain quantities of wheat should be set aside for local consumption, we were ready to accept that condition. Nobody can say that in asking for a 50 per cent, guarantee we were making anything but a reasonable financial proposition. The farmers of Western Australia are almost unanimously in favour of a Pool, and the ballot of growers in Victoria has resulted in 73 per cent, of them recording a similar opinion. I am not asking anything for the future, but desire an arrangement for this year only in order to give the farmers of Australia time to put their house in order. I have no desire to again quote the speeches of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in favour of the co-operative movement; but I do not think that any honorable member here would be more desirous than the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton)-
– I am surprised at the way the business is being’ conducted to-day.
– The honorable member for Hunter is trying to count out the House.
– I shall count it out if I can, and I now draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The fullest publicity should be given throughout Australia to the position that has arisen in the House to-day, when we see an entire ab.sence of honorable members opposite) who call themselves farmers’ representatives. Amongst those members are the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) and the honorable member foi Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham).
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House.
– I counted the House within the last two or three minutes, and a reasonable time has not elapsed before I am again called upon to count it.
– The fullest publicity should be given to the fact that, although certain honorable members opposite are supposed to represent farming constituences, every one of these members have left the chamber. There is not one farming representative here to aid in carrying a resolution of this sort, and it should be made known to every farmer in Australia that there is an organized opposition with a. view to preventing any negotiations in their interests.
– I again call, attention to the state of the House.. I think a sufficient time has now elapsed to enable a quorum to assemble to carry on the business of lie country.
– I call the. attention of honorable members to the powers which are vested in the Speaker, and are supported by the practice of the House of Commons. When the attention of the Speaker is called to the state of the House, and he has counted the House and- satisfied himself that there is, a quorum-
– But if honorable members immediately walk out again there is- no quorum.
– I ask the honorable member to allow me to continue. If honorable members will study our Standing Orders, and not only those dealing with this particular point, they will find that a reasonable time has been defined as a quarter of an hour.
– That has never been acted upon until this morning.
– I thank the honorable member for Hunter for having given such an advertisement to the country representatives in his own party. ,
Mi”. Charlton. - I shall give another presently !
– I am grateful and thankful to the honorable member; and hope his- action will prove of value later. However, I am a great believer in the co-operative movement, and would like; if. time allowed, to show- the. wonderful
Success of agrarian co-operation in Canada. There the co-operative Grain Growers’- Grain Company started with a paid-up capital of only 25,000 dollars.
– I will take your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as to -whether the honorable member is in order in tait* ing about the co-operative movement on a motion to provide for a continuance of the Wheat Pool.
– The Acting Prime Minister (Sir- Joseph Cook) read a document and moved that it be printed. That document deals with cooperation in connexion with the Wheat. Pool, and, therefore, the honorable member for Dampier is in order.
– I am trying to build up my argument that this Pool should be for one purpose and for one purpose only, namely, to enable the cooperative movement to develop until the producer can carry on the work without any Government assistance. I feel sure that we in Australia can do equally as well as the farmers have done in Canada, for there are brains and men of grit amongst us. In Canada every effort was made, by banks, exchanges,, and other financial, organizations tq destroy the cooperative movement.; indeed, on .one occasion the Canadian Government had to come to the assistance of the farmers and enable- them to hold their own. To. show the wonderful success- of the movement in-
Canada I should like to read the following from an article in the Quarterly Review : -
The final step was taken in 1917, when the Grain Growers’ Grain Company, the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Co., and the Alberta Co-operative Elevator Co. were all merged in a new body under the name of United Grain Growers Ltd., with a paid-up capital of 5,000,000 dollars.
That was a few years after a start had been made with 25,000 dollars, and those concerned had no previous experience, but were good, hard-headed business men and farmers for the most .part, and it will be seen that they managed to build up a magnificent organization.
– What has this to do with the question before us?
– I am merely trying to show that by means of co-operation the Australian fanners may be enabled to place themselves in the same sound position that their Canadian brothers occupy. In the early days in Canada the wheat-grower had to take advantage of the nearest aud quickest market, but after a while, by means of co-operation, he found himself able to avail himself of the markets of the United States of America, Canada, England, and elsewhere. Co-operation would be an advantage, even if confined to separate State movements; but I look forward to an Australian co-operative scheme.
– Are you in favour of the methods adopted by the Canadian farmers ?
– Not all of them; my desire is to leave farming matters to the farmers themselves, without the aid of politicians. As a member of Parliament, I am quite prepared to stand aside, beyond affording a little assistance in the early stages of the movement. If the policy I am supporting is carried out, the farmers will find themselves quite able to deal with outside organizations. We are told that South Australia refuses to come into the movement; but if Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia enter upon some reasonable scheme, I hope the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) will use his influence with the State Governments to see that the necessary assistance is given. My main desire is that the Treasurer shall endeavour to have an arrangement made for this year, and this year only.
– You were not in favour of it the other day.
– The honorable member is trying to make political capital-
– You are trying to retrieve yourself in the eyes of your own party !
– The honorable member has succeeded in placing the country members of his own party in a most discreditable position.
.- I desire to second the motion. The object Bf the Country party is to secure the continuance of the Pool for the present year, because we believe ‘that to be the desire of the overwhelming majority of growers. A ballot was recently taken of the wheatgrowers of Victoria, and I should like to direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) to the figures connected therewith. The following questions were submitted to the wheat-growers : -
The ballot was taken by the Victorian Farmers Union and the Agricultural Society of the State. .
– Not by the farmers ?
– By the organizations representing the farmers. The Victorian Government were requested, but refused, to undertake the ballot, with a view to placing it above suspicion. The fanners’ organizations then had a ballot taken at their expense, and here is the official report of the deputy returning officer: -
The wheat referendum ballot, which was conducted by the Victorian Farmers Union and the Chamber of Agriculture, and for which Mr. C E. Merrett, the president of the Royal Agricultural Society acted as returning officer, closed at noon on Saturday, 11th July last; 19,816 ballot-papers were issued to farmers who had wheat in the 1920-21 Pool. Of these, 15,002 were returned prior to the closing of the poll.
While the ballot was in progress the Victorian Government definitely and finally decided against the Pool. It received a deputation representative of wheat5* shippers, speculators, and middlemen”. local and foreign, and having heard their views, decided against a Pool without awaiting the result of the ballot. Therefore, although the number who voted was higher than is usual in a parliamentary election, it was not as high as it would have been had the Victorian Government not done its best to kill the project.
A count of the first preferences revealed that 10,832 favoured a compulsory Pool controlled by the growers, 2,057 an open market, and 1,633 a Government Pool; whilst 480 votes were informal. Of the latter, 173 indicated their preference for a Pool controlled by the growers, 115 for a Government Pool, and 06 for an open market. It was impossible to classify the remaining . 96 informal votes.
When the second preferences of those who favoured a Government Pool were examined, it was found that 1,381 desired a Pool controlled by the growers, and 252 an open market.
In addition to the ballot-papers mentioned above,868 were issued to farmers who submitted statutory declarations that they intended growing at least 10 acres of wheat during the coming season.
Many returned soldiers, and some others, who had put in their first crop this year, represented that it was not fair that they should not be allowed to express their views about the formation of a Pool to deal with the wheat of the coming year, and it was agreed that those who would sign a declaration before a justice of the peace that they intended to have at least 10 acres under wheat for the coming season should be given ballot-papers.
Of these, 760 were returned. The first preferences were 677 in favour of the growers’ Pool, 42 for a Government Pool, and 32 for an open market. The second preferences of those favouring a Government Pool were 41 for a growers’ Pool, and 1 for an open market. There were nine informal votes, of which four indicated a preference for a growers’ Pool, and two for a Government Pool, whilst the remaining three could not be classified.
The aggregate first preferences indicated that 11,509 farmers desired a compulsory Fool controlled by the growers, 2,089 an open market, and 1,675 a Government Pool. The second preferences of those favouring a Government Pool were 1,633 for a growers’ Pool, and 42 for an open market; the grand total, therefore, being 13,142, or 86 per cent., of the valid papers returned for a Pool controlled by the growers, and 2,131, or 13.9 per cent., for an open market.
The daily press of this metropolis - the Age, the Argus, and the Herald - with a unanimity that was remarkable and rather suspicious, have persistently opposed the Pool throughout, and the Age made this characteristic comment on the figures that I have read -
The wheat-growers themselves have thus by a very large majority voted against the idea of any further Government-controlled Pool.
Because of that impudent assertion, we applied to the deputy returning officer for an account of the second preferences of those who had voted for a Pool controlled by the growers, and we were informed that 12,140 voted for the Government Wheat Pool, and 1,002 for an open market. I have quoted these figures to place them on record, and to show that in the State in which a fair and impartial ballot has been taken there is an overwhelming majority of wheat-growers in favour of the establishment of a Pool. It is hardly necessary to reply to what has been said by the Labour party about our action in voting against their amendment, or, as they put it, against the Pool. Undoubtedly the establishment of a Pool is of vital moment to the wheat-growers of Australia, and the members of the Labour party endeavoured to take political advantage of the fact, and have since sneered at the members of the Country party because they were not simple enough to fall into the trap obviously set for them.
– Is not the establishment of a Pool the right thing?
– The honorable member has been long enough in Parliament to know that the Labour party has not played the game in this matter in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I hope that, should some strange turn of fortune’s wheel place the Labour party in power, we, of the Corner party, may be a little fairer to members opposite than’ they have been to us and to the Government.
.- The manner in which the business is being conducted by the Government to-day is rather surprising. Speaking for the Labour party, in the absence of the Deputy Leader, I have said that we desire to facilitate business, so that there may be an adjournment from to-day, and it is, therefore, a shock to find that the. Governmentis allowing the Country party this opportunity to try to redeem itself in the eyes of its electors for its negligence the other day in regard to their interests. In these circumstances,” it seems unlikely that we shall be able to deal this week with the business requiring attention. Earlier in the week the Labour party moved an amendment to the Supply motion, the terms of which were practically the same as those of the amendment now under discussion.
– The meaning of the word “practically’5 would have to be stretched a good deal to justify that use of it.
– Practically the two amendments are identical. The Country party now ask the Government “ to agree to the continuance of the Wheat Pool. ‘ “- Mi*. Gregory. - We ask it to use its influence. - Mr. CHARLTON. - In that case, this amendment is not loaded, although the members of the Country party are endeavouring to make the people believe that they are trying to do something for them.
– The honorable member is ‘affecting ignorance of the constitutional position.
– The Country party has the voting strength to compel the Government to do what it desires.
– The Government can do nothing without the consent of the States.
– According to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) the amendment merely asks the Government to use its influence, and if Ministers say that they are not prepared to do that, there is an end of the matter. Strangely enough, we hardly heard a word from the Country party the other night when there was an opportunity to discuss the establishment of another Wheat Pool. Members of that party then sat dumb.
– Of course, we did. We were dumb with astonishment at the tactics of the Opposition.
– The members of the Country party, who are supposed t<i represent country interests, sat dumb when the Labour party, many of whose members are representative of the primary producers, moved in the interests, of the farmers. It must nol be forgotten that the wheat belt of New South .Wales is represented in this House by Labour members. When we asked the .Government to continue the Wheat Pool,., the members of the Country party, who are supposed to represent the wheat-growers of the other States,- voted against us.
– Your amendment’ meant more than the establishment of another Wheat Pool.
– That is your trouble; it meant too much for you.
– It meant action, while your amendment means nothing.
– The Opposition amendment meant politics.-
– That is so; but this amendment of the Country party means nothing. It is. the firing of a blank cartridge. Members of the Country party having failed in their duty to those who sent them here, wish to obscure the fact. It is members of the Labour party who represent the majority of the primary producers of New South Wales, and we have endeavoured to do our duty by them. Directly we knew that the wheat farmers desired the continuance of the pooling system, we took action to secure it, anticipating . that we should have the support of the Corner party.
– You would have had it if you had gone about things in a proper way.
– What is the proper way?
– You should not have attacked Supply.
-We ought never to jeopardize the position of the right honorable gentleman, I suppose. The Country party constantly trumpets, through the press, and by the mouth of its Deputy Leader, what it will do to depose the Government; but when the opportunity comes it takes care to do nothing. If the members of the Country party said they were not justified in injuring the Government-
– That is ridiculous, in view of their past actions;
– Whenever a difficult situation has arisen - I am speaking of the time before the Prime. Minister went to England - the members of the Country party have taken care that the Government should not.be defeated. There has been no better bridge-builder for the Government than the Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr: Gregory).
Whenever the Government has been in difficulties he has endeavoured to find a way out for them.
– On a point of order, I submit that the honorable member is not discussing the question’ before the Chair, which relates to the advisability of continuing the Wheat Pool. For the last ten .minutes he has not addressed himself to the question, but has been referring to a previous debate and to party relations.
– On the point of order, I submit that I have not departed from the rules of debate. I have merely been showing that the honorable member for Dampier, who has moved an amendment providing for the continuance of the Wheat Pool, is inconsistent, since he had an opportunity to deal with this very question earlier in the week when it was brought forward by the Opposition.
– I fully recognise that the circumstances that have arisen this morning are somewhat unusual, and have, therefore, allowed honorable members a certain amount of latitude. I have, however, already called upon honorable members not to reflect upon past votes of the House. I was loath to call the honorable member to order when he was dealing with the actions of the Country party, but I now call upon him to observe the Standing Orders, and discuss the question before the Chair without indulging in recriminations.
– If the honorable member (Mr. Charlton) is not in order in referring to past actions of honorable members of the Country party, would he be in order, sir,, in referring to their past inaction ?
– No; that also would be out of order.
– I shall endeavour, sir, to obey your ruling. I submit, however, that I was justified in replying to statements made by honorable members who were allowed to state why they did not support an amendment dealing with this very question, which was .submitted on Wednesday last by the Opposition. I have been endeavouring to show the House and the country how inconsistent honorable members of the Country party are, and how negligent they were of the interests of those whom they claim to represent, when they voted against the amendment which we submitted calling upon the Government to arrange for the continuance of the Wheat Pool. There may have been some element of doubt as to the attitude of the farmers on this question, but that doubt no longer exists so far as the farmers in some of the States are concerned. They have made it known that they desire the continuance of the pooling system. They have made representations to that effect to honorable members of our party, and, I presume, they have also made known their views to the Country party. That being so, when we submitted an amendment calling upon the Government to continue the Wheat Pool the Country party should have backed us up. Had they co-operated with us in that effort, I am certain the Government would have at once accepted our proposal. Their failure to support the action taken by us then is responsible for our being called upon to discuss the question again to-day. I hold that this: is only a death-bed repentance on the part of the Country party.
– Does the honorable member say that the Commonwealth has power to compel the States to establish Wheat Pools?
– He knows very well that we have not, and that the action taken by his party the other day was a mere pretence
– The Commonwealth Government can enter into negotiations with the State Governments to ascertain whether they are prepared to continue the Wheat Pool.
– la that what we were asked to do in the Labour party’s proposition on Wednesday last?
– Yes, and the Country party were not prepared to accept it. I believe that Pools controlled by the Government, and dealing with not only wheat, but all classes of commodities,-. would be in the best interests of the producers and consumers alike. It would be well for us to organize along those lines. In that way we should at once bring about co-operation as provided for in the paper which the. Acting Prime Minister has laid on the table of the House. Much could be done to reduce the cost of living by a system of Pools with properly organized Government control. I notice that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) carefully refrained from saying a word on behalf of the consumers.
– I said that arrangements should be made subject to such conditions as the Government might seefit to impose.
– The honorable member urged that the Wheat Pools should be continued in the interests of the producers. He said nothing about the interests of the consumers. My contention is that they should be continued in the interests of the producers and consumers, and to the detriment of the middlemen, who should be wholly cut out. In order to achieve that object, we should have representatives of both the producers and the consumers on these Pools. If we are to have true co-operation, both interests must be represented.
– Hear, hear ! You must have dear wheat and cheap bread ! Mr. CHARLTON.- No. My contention is that the farmer and every one else should receive a fair return for his labour. The farmer should get a fair profit on all that he does in producing his crop.
– And that profit is to be fixed by the honorable member’s organization.
– That is provided for in the programme of the honorable member’s party.
– If a Wheat Pool were to be established, the profit would be fixed by the Board subject to the approval of the Government. Provision should be made for a fair return to the farmer. But what has been the experience of the farmer? Why is it necessary to continue the Pool ?
– Does the honorable member believe in world’s parity for wheat? That is the test.
– I believe, as I have said on very many occasions–
– I have asked a straight-out question. Why not answer it?
– I am going to answer it. I have just ascertained that the debate on this motion will close at 1 p.m., and, therefore, I shall have to curtail my remarks. As to the right honorable gentleman’s question, I would point out that if we are to get back to normal times the world’s parity for wheat will be much less than it has been of late years. I did not advocate the payment of the world’s parity, during the war, for wheat for local consumption. I said that, having regard to the increased cost of living, the price paid for wheat for local consumption should be such as would- give the producer a fair return, and that for the surplus sold overseas we should get as much as possible. The world’s parity is falling.
-I understand the honorable member to say that he is not in favour of world’s parity in respect of wheat for local consumption.
– I am not in favour of payment of world’s parity if the world’s parity falls to much less than is necessary to give a fair return to the producer.
– Is the honorable member in favour of world’s parity when the price of wheat goes up?
– I have already answered that question ; but I will answer it again. When the world’s parity was exceedingly high I took up the position that everything that we produced in our own country should be supplied to our own people at prices that would allow the producer fair and reasonable conditions, having regard to the cost of production, and that we should get as much as possible for the surplus which we sold overseas, since the bigger the return the better for the whole Commonwealth.
– Then the honorable member is in favour of paying less than world’s parity for one-third of our total wheat production.
– No; I say that everything points to the price of wheat before very long falling below a rate which would give the farmers of Australia a fair return for their labour. The payment of world’s parity for wheat for local consumption in such circumstances would not give the producer a -sufficient return. I am not in favourof that. My contention is that very much of the increased cost to the consumer is swallowed up by the profits of the middleman. The middleman should be cut out, and that is what would happen under a proper co-operative scheme. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ but that, in the opinion of this House, the representatives of the Country party are blameworthy for their failure to support the amendment of the Acting Leader of the Opposition for the continuance of the Wheat Pool.”
– It is apparent, to all honorable members, and I hope and believe it will be equally obvious to the people, that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and his colleagues of the Country party have found themselves in an ugly dilemma during the past day or two. I have never previously known or heard of such a situation as has developed in this Chamber. A definite amendment was moved by the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), which, if it had been agreed to, would have entailed direct and specific action. It would have had the effect of bringing about what the great bulk of the wheat-growers desire, namely, the continuance of the Wheat Pool. The only .reason why the Country party voted against it was that the amendment would, if carried, have endangered the Government or compelled it to do something. Since their’ ignominious display in voting against the amendment, honorable members of the Country party have very evidently been in close collaboration with the Acting Prime Minister. The Government and the Country party have put their heads together in order to find a way out for the honorable member for Dampier, who has attempted to fool his supporters and the wheat-growers -of Australia generally.
– You cannot fool the wheatgrowers.
– No, the honorable gentleman will realize that to his cost! The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) is in the same boat as the honorable member for Dampier. He has been going around his electorate at a pretty strenuous pace during the past few weeks impressing upon the wheatgrowers the necessity for casting a solid vote in the plebiscite on the Wheat Pool so that, there should be no mistake concerning their attitude towards the continuance of the pooling system.
– And the honorable member for Echuca did quite rightly.
– Certainly he ‘ did ; but now he has let his wheat-growing constituents down. The reason why members of the Country party did not support the amendment of the honorable member for West Syd- ney in favour of the continuance of the, Wheat Pool system was that they were, afraid that by so doing they would hurt the Government. They felt in duty, bound: to support the Prime Minister. (Mr.. Hughes), who has violated his pledge’’ given to the wheat-growers in the course: :of his policy speech at -Bendigo at’ the last elections. Surely the immunity granted’ by the Country party prior to the departure of the Prime Minister for London did not. mean that its members would be willing to permit the Government to violate the pledge given to the primary producers! The Prime Minister said, in the course of his campaign speech, that the Federal Government would stand ‘behind the - wheat-growers for this season. Now, however, the Country party have agreed to a violation of that promise. The members of the Country party have agreed to connive at the breaking of the Prime Minister’s pledge. They say, “We have entered upon a truce with the Government.” The wheat-growers must be shown that when it became a matter of saving the Prime Minister or the wheatgrowers of Australia the Country party decided upon the former course. Members in the Corner preferred to allow the Prime Minister to break his pledge, and thus they have betrayed their wheatgrowing constituents.
– The pledge given by the Prime Minister before he left for England has not been broken. It stands to-day.
– But the pledge which he gave at Bendigo, when he undertook to stand behind the wheatgrowers for this season has been violated because of the tactics of the Country party. The Acting Prime Minister has said, “We want to be rid of this whole business ;” and honorable .members in the Corner have replied, in effect, “ Very well ! Although there has been a violation of the Prime 1 Minister’s pledge, rather than put the Government out, and let the Prime Minister down, we will undertake to betray the wheat-growers.” That, in a nut-shell, is the attitude of this so-called Country party. I am’ informed that the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) and the honorable member for
Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) have been in constant communication with their colleagues of the Country party in the Victorian Legislature, where, also, a conflict is being waged about the continuation or otherwise of the Wheat Pool system. I have been informed that the honorable members for Echuca and Wimmera have been spurring on their State colleagues to fight for a continuance of the Pool. They do not mind sending the State members of the Country party to the country, but they themselves, together with the honorable member for Dampier, take mighty fine care not to send themselves back to the electors. That kind of procedure is good enough for their State colleagues, but it will not do for them!
– What terrible people you must be on that side, when country members prefer all these fearful alternatives to “Ryan”!
– It is with them rather a matter of saving their own political skins. Whatever preference may be swaying them their tactics will not satisfy the wheat-growers.
– Will the honorable member permit the Acting Prime Minister to make a statement? Or does he propose to talk this business out?
– I desire to keep the honorable member for Dampier on the horns of the dilemma on which he is hanging.
– I am in no dilemma.
– The worried look on the faces of honorable members in the Corner during the past twentyfour hours has been a regular study. The country will learn that this amendment, launched from the Corner, really means nothing. It is a sham and a delusion. If the Country party wanted to do anything practical, they had their opportunity a day or two ago, when, if they had voted for the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, they would have forced the hands of the Government. Now, after having been in collaboration throughout yesterday and half of last night with the Acting Prime Minister, the honorable member for Dampier comes forward with his little scheme. He has obviously been appealing plaintively to the Acting Prime Minister to let him and his colleagues out of their awk ward situation. However, the wheatgrowers will learn of the false game they have played. They are not yet out of their dilemma. The honorable member for Dampier has been a really good bridgebuilder for the Government. His services have been most useful; but 10,000 such amendments as he has launched will not suffice to explain the attitude and tactics of the Country party with respect to the amendment moved by the Labour party earlier this week for a continuance of the Wheat. Pool. I repeat that, had that amendment been carried, something definite must have followed. The Acting Prime Minister does not want anything definite to happen in the direction of the continuation of the pooling system. The Government and the Country party have put their heads together in order that the members of the latter may let themselves out. It is my bounden duty to expose the whole sham for what it really is. No more words of mine are necessary to emphasize the dilemma of the Country party and the manner in which they have let down the people who, in mistake, sent them to this Parliament.
– I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Charlton’s amendment of the amendment)- put.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Prime Minister does not know what I am about to propose.
That the following words be added to the amendment: - “ and that the Commonwealth Government should take steps to secure a continuance of the Wheat Pool, and provide an adequate cash guarantee to wheat-growers for all wheat delivered at railway sidings.”
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 1.9 to 2.15 p.m.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
If these officers had been satisfactorily performing the duties of the positions for upwards of two years, and if provision existed on the Estimates, what is the reason -
Will the Minister see that these alleged anomalies are removed, and direct either -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade andCustoms, upon notice -
How many cases of fruit were exported to Great Britain during the past’ season from Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia respectively?
– The unit of quantity in the statistics for fresh fruit is the cental. Based on this unit the figures sought are as follow: -
New South Wales - Apples, centals, 2,837: other fresh fruits, centals, nil; total centals, 2,837.
Victoria - Apples, centals, 68,775; other fresh fruits, centals, 6,409; total centals, 75,184.
South Australia - Apples, centals, 13,576; other fresh fruits, centals, 806; total centals, 14,382.
Western Australia- Apples, centals, 48,551; other fresh fruits, centals, 8,497; total centals, 57,048.
Tasmania - Apples, centals, 266,362; other fresh fruits, centals, 13,296: total centals, 279,658.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that there have been trade reprisals by increased duties or otherwise by Java against the importations of Australian fruits into Java owing to the recently increased duty on bananas? If not, have any representor tions been made to the Minister from Java in connexion with the above?
– So far as is known, no reprisals have been made. Representations have been made by theConsulGeneral for the Netherlands on behalf of the Government of the Netherlands East Indies protesting against the increased duty on bananas.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Whether, in the case of lads who are engaged in the Navy, and are due for holidays when their ship is in a State other than that in which they live, the Minister will see that railway fares are available to them at half-rates to and from their homes?
– For some considerable time past the Department has made every endeavour to obtain the cooperation of the States with a view to securing privileges in railway travelling for officers and men of the Navy, but, so far, without success. Warrants charge able to the Navy Department are issued to officers and men given . Christmas leave, from Sydney and Melbourne, in respect to the journey beyond Adelaide or Brisbane, to their homes, such ranks and ratings themselves meeting the cost of the journey as far as Adelaide or Brisbane. It is regretted that, in view of the present shortage of funds, it is not possible to grant further concessions.
– On the 12th July last, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) asked the following question : -
Whether I would furnish a statement showing
The number of returned soldiers settled on the land in each State to 30th June last.
The average cost of settlement per individual soldier in each State.’
The number of ex-soldiers remaining in each State to be settled in accordance with the arrangements made, between the Federal and State Got. vernments.
I now submit the following reply: -
The Department is not in possessionof full and definite information on the above, a request for which has already been forwarded the Premiers of the several States.
Particulars are appended of such information as is available, and which may be helpful to. the honorable member: -
Number of soldiers settled on the land. Figures supplied by the several State Governments -
New South Wales, to 31st March, 1921-5,782.
Victoria, to 30th June, 1921 - 7,845.
Queensland, to 30th June, 1921 - 2,413.
South Australia, to 30th June, 1921 -2,245.
Western Australia, to 30th June, 1921-3,905.
Tasmania, to 30thJune, 1921- 2,209.
New’ South Wales, £6,265,135; Victoria, £10,802,362; Queensland, £2,079,451 ; South Australia, £2,344,215; Western Australia, £3,205,980; Tasmania, £1,880,375.
– On 13th July, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr ) asked the following question: -
Will the Acting Prime Minister make available, for the information of honorable members, the cost of the Central Administration and State branch offices of the Federal Taxation Department during the years 1917-18 and 1920-31 ?
I am now in a position to supply the following information : -
The above information, taken alone, may induce misleadingconclusions in the minds of the persons who may see it. The expenditure should not, it is thought, be stated apart from the revenue collections in the yearsin question, or apart from the causesof increases in the expenditure. The total collections of revenue by this Department in the stated years were -
The respective percentage costs of collection were -
The serious increases in costs as between 1917- 18 and 1920-21 have arisen through -
– On the 14th July, 1921, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) asked the following questions : -
Will he furnish a return for the year ended the 30th June, . 1921, showing separately the following particulars for each State: -
The number of applications for war pensions not granted?
The number of reductions in warpensions?
The number of cancellations in war pensions?
The cost of State Boards?
The fees received by chairmen and other members of such Boards.
The Repatriation Commissioners supply the particulars as set out in the attached return for the honorable member’s information: -
The main cause of reductions in rates of pension is the gradual recovery ofex-members of the Forces from wounds and illness. During the same period the number of increases in war pensions was -
These increases are mainly the result of failing health or increased disability from wounds of ex-members of the Forces which has become evident on the review of thepensions. The number of reductions and increases quoted above include the pensions of exmembers of the Forces and their dependants in the proportion of approximately 40 per cent. and 60 per cent. respectively.
This includes cancellations by reason of -
Miscellaneous causes, 30 per cent., including -
The proportion of ex-members and dependants in the above number is approximately -
Ex-members of the Forces, 40 per cent. Dependants of ex-members of the Forces, 60 per cent.
During the same period, new war pensions have been granted to the number of -
Chairman, 21/2 guineas per session of at least four hours.
Other members, 2 guineas per session of at least four hours.
.- I rise to move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion in regard to the cost of the Royal Naval College, at Jervis Bay, and the Royal Military College, at Duntroon. My reason for desiring the suspension of the Standing Orders–
– The honorable member cannot proceed to discuss this matter.
– I know the Government do not want me to discuss it, but I am moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to enable me to discuss it in accordance with the rules of the House. I do not want the Standing Orders twisted or distorted to suit me. That has been done too often.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I call your attention to the fact that the honorable member is -accusing you of twisting and distorting the Standing Orders.
-He did not say anything of the sort.
– He did. In any case, I submit that this matter cannot be debated.
– The observation of the honorable member for Darling was not directed against Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understood him to say that he did not want the Standing Orders to be distorted in any way to suit him.
– By the interpretation placed upon the Standing Orders this morning I was prevented from bringing before the House a matter of great urgency and extreme importance to the people. I endeavoured to elicit some information from the Government yesterday
– Order! The honorablemember may not debate the question.
– I am not debating it; I am stating reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended to enable me to deal with this matter. In stating my reasons I am pointing out that I am compelled to take this course, because I was prevented from dealing with the matter in another way. I desired to obtain certain information yesterday–
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member cannot give reasons for a motion suddenly sprung upon the House in this way. The matter must be decided at once, and without debate. In any case, the honorable member can only ask for leave to move a motion. He is now proceeding to discuss the question.
– The Government are afraid of the disclosures I may make.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) may, in accordance with the rules, move to suspend the Standing Orders, but I have already told him that at this stage he cannot debate the subject of the Military and Naval Colleges.
– He may state reasons for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– But those reasons must not extend into a debate of the question.
– I have not attempted to debate the question. I endeavoured ‘ to elicit certain information which Ministers have refused to give, and, because of that refusal, I handed to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, last night a notice that it was my intention to move to-day the adjournment of the House-
– On a point of order. The honorable member is proceeding to debate the question and to give reasons why he wishes to move a certain motion.
– On a point of order. Is the Acting Prime Minister in order in questioning your ruling?
– The honorable member for Barrier must resume bis seat.
– The honorable member for Darling can only at this stage move a suspension of the Standing Orders and test the feeling of the House immediately, and I doubt if he can do even that without leave. He is now proceeding to debate the matter before the Standing Orders are suspended. He cannot do that. The standing order clearly refers to “ cases of urgent necessity.” Is there any urgent necessity about this matter?
– There is an urgent necessity to waste the rest of the day.
– The Acting Prime Minister has nobody but himself to blame for the time that was wasted this morning.
– I submit that the honorable member for Darling may only move, without debate, the suspension of the Standing Orders, and the motion must be carried by an absolute majority of members of the House.
– In regard to the point of order, I draw attention to standing order 407 -
In cases of urgent necessity, any standing or sessional order or orders of the House may be suspended for the day’s sitting on motion, duly made and seconded without notice : Provided that such motion is carried by an abs.o- . lute majority of the whole number of ‘the members of the House.
I contend that the honorable member, for Darling is perfectly in order in stating reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended in order that he may deal with a matter which is of urgent necessity. We talk a great deal about the financial position, and the honorable member’ desires to show that the Government are spending thousands of pounds needlessly, and that- money has been wasted. Is not that a matter of urgent necessity?
– This matter is governed by standing order 407. Several rulings in regard to matters of urgency have been given; they are to the effect that the power to decide what is a matter of urgency has been taken from Mr. Speaker, and that the decision rests with the House.
– The question must be decided at once.
– Order !
– The matter is one of urgent necessity, because a sum probably exceeding £147,000 will be spent this year if the House does not take preventive action.
– Order F The honorable member is now debating the question.
– I have said that £147,000 will be expended-
– I rise to order. Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, inform me whether or not a motion has been submitted ?
– The honorable member for Darling is in pro- cess of submitting a motion.
– I submit that he should move his motion, and his reasons can be stated only after the motion has been handed to the Chair.
– It is well known that a member first states his reasons and then concludes with a motion.
– Not in a matter of this kind.
– The honorable member for Darling intimated that he intended to move the suspension of the Standing Orders. He proceeded to speak in support of his motion, and I reminded him that he must confine his remarks to a statement of reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended. Tlie honorable member has said that he intends to conclude with a motion, and
I can find nothing in the Standing Orders that prohibits the course of action he has taken.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker–
– I rise to a point of order. This matter is not so simple as it looks. I remind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of where this takes us. If the honorable member, Mr. Blakeley, may give reasons, other honorable members may also do so, and this may be done any day and every day, and at any hour of the day.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister in order in traversing your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker?
– The Acting Prime Minister intimated his intention to take a point of order.,
– I ask your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– I want your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as to what can be clone under this motion. I submit that a matter of urgent necessity must be something of which notice cannot be given. Honorable members could go on debating this motion until to-morrow morning, and that means that the whole business of the Parliament may be paralyzed by any honorable member, without notice or intimation, at any time of the day, for any purpose whatever.
– I have already intimated that I am not in the position to be called on to say whether this is a matter of urgency or not. I have read the standing order, which permits honorable members to do certain things, and the Chair is powerless to intervene; it is a matter of the alteration of the Standing Orders. The standing order is perfectly clear; and my interpretation of it is that, while a general debate cannot be allowed prior to the motion having been stated from the Chair, the honorable member, so long as he confines himself to reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended, is within the standing order.
– I have been vainly endeavouring to give reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended. I have been continually interrupted by the Acting Prime Minister, who, apparently, is not himself this morning. In his de sire to get on with the business of the House, he has continually obstructed an honorable member who is desirous to bring up matters of urgent public importance. I have not deviated from giving reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended. I endeavoured to elicit information with regard to the particular matter with which I desire to deal, and failed to get it. I endeavoured to find out what the Government intend to do with reference to the curtailing of certain extravagant expenditure. Last night, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I handed you a letter in which I intimated that it was my intention to move the adjournment of the House to-day to deal with a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the cost of the maintenance and upkeep of the Royal Naval College at Jervis Bay, and of the Military College at Duntroon. Although I rose in my place several times to-day, you did not call me. The custom of the House has been for yourself or Mr. Speaker, as the case may be, to call on the member who has given notice; but this morning that was not done. The Acting Prime Minister was called on and he read, and laid on the table, a paper, obviously in order to prevent me from submitting my motion. This is a matter which concerns every member of the House. Huge sums of money are involved. Is the Acting Prime Minister now trying to arrange with the Country party to move the “gag” on me?
– I am determined thatI will not have the House held up in this way.
– Is the right honorable gentleman in order in reflecting on the Chair by saying the House is being held up by your ruling?
– I do not understand the Acting Prime Minister to be reflecting on the Chair.
– Not at all, Mr.. Deputy Speaker.
– I have been prevented by the operation of standing order 119 from dealing with this particular matter.
– Will the honorable member let me say–
– I will let you say nothing; you have been “saying “all the morning.
Motion (by Mr. Hector Lamond) proposed -
That the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) be not farther heard.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I should like to make an appeal to honorable members opposite.
Mr.Blakeley. - It is of no use making an appeal - not the slightest use.
Mr.Parker Moloney. - The Acting Prime Minister first “ gags “ us, and then makes an appeal to us.
– Order !
– I desire to make an announcement to the House concerning the proposed loan.
– We object - that is very definite.
– I desire to move that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Treasurer to make a statement regarding the loan.
– I second the motion.
– We have not an absolute majority.
– No matter; let us have a vote.
Several honorable members interjecting.
– Order! It is quite impossible to hear what honorable members are saying.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker–
– I wish to move that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) be no longer heard.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat and ‘ allow the Chair to hear what is being said by the honorable member f or Capricornia.
– The motion I desire to move is that so much of the Standing Orders–
– I move -
That the honorable member be no longer heard.
– I ask the honorable member to resume his seat, and allow the Chair to conduct the proceedings with at least some dignity.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker–
– Will the honorable member resume his seat?’
– I desire to explain–
– I rise to a point of order.
– I shall write out the motion which I desire to move.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I draw your attention to the difference of your attitude in accepting a motion from an honorable member opposite that a member on this side be no longer heard, from the attitude you now adopt in refusing to accept a similar motion from this side.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I refuse to accept that reflection on the Chair. I have done no such thing as the honorable member states, and I ask him to withdraw the reflection on the Chair.
– If, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there is no change in your atti- tude, then my motion is in order that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) be no longer heard.
– The interpretation of the standing order, to any reasonable mind, is that it is applicable when a debate is in progress. . In all my experience I have never known an attempt to be made to apply it when a member was stating the terms of a motion which had not been stated from the Chair. It is certainly open to an honorable member to rise and state the terms of a. motion, and this the honorable member for Capricornia was doing. There was such a hubbub at the time that I could not catch the words of the motion, and I asked the honorable member to repeat them. When the motion has been stated, if an honorable member desires to take a certain course, it is quite open to him to do so. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has handed me the following intimation in writing -
I desire to move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as will permit the Acting Prime Minister to make a statement regarding the proposed loan.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker–
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 20
There not being an absolute majority of the members of the House voting for. thequestion, it was resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I do not think I need add much to what was said about the Bill by the Acting Prime Minister last night. “ Parliament voted £270,000 to encourage the production of oil from shale, and £84,680 lis. 3d. has been paid in respect of 7,870,022 gallons of oil produced, so that about £186,000 is still unexpended. It is expected that claims for about £4,000 will be received in connexion with production since the 17th June last. The Act expires on 31st August, and the Government proposes to look thoroughly into the whole question of the production of oil in the twelve months for which this Bill will extend its operations. If the Tariff Board be appointed, as we anticipate; this is one of the matters to which it will be asked to give attention. The experience we have had in this matter has not been altogether satisfactory, but we want to discover whether or not there are reasonable grounds for believing that the continuation of this kind of assistance to the industry will produce more permanent results than up to the present would appear to be likely.
– What companies are drawing the bounty?
– The Newnes Company, with which John Fell and Company are more immediately concerned, is alone drawing the bounty. Every one knows that the history of the company carrying on operations at Newnes has not been altogether satisfactory. We desire an opportunity to look into the whole question; we want particularly to find out to whatextent new fields are likely to be developed, and whether there is a probability that these new fields will give more satisfactory results than those which have been worked have so far done.
– This will not interfere with oil production in Papua ?
– No. This Bill has nothing whatever to do with Papua. It relates to the production of crude oil from shale. I hope the House will agree to it with as little delay as possible.
.- When the original Bill was before the House, the then Minister for Trade and Customs presented to us a glowing picture of the future of shale oil production in Australia. The period in respect of which the bounty was payable under that measure is about to expire, and we are asked to extend it for a further term of twelve months, since the whole of the money provided for this purpose under the principal Act has not yet been expended. What is the history of the company at Newnes, which alone is claiming the bounty ? It is producing a crude oil and drawing the bounty, in my opinion, under false pretences. Instead, of conferring any advantage on the people of Australia, it is merely selling the crude oil which it produces to gas companies in Auckland, and Christchurch, New Zealand, as well as to the Sydney, North Sydney, and Manly Gas Companies. Surely this bounty was not designed to enable gas companies to pay bigger dividends. Messrs. Fell and Company have not gone beyond the production of crude shale cil.
– The bounty is only payable upon the production of crude shale oil.
– When the original Bill was before us we were not told that all the benefits derived from the payment of the bounty would be secured only by big gas companies. Having regard to the price which the public has to pay for gas, 1 do not think that the gas companies want any help from us. The public have reaped no advantage from the bounty. We are being asked to continue it merely to benefit companies that are already well
The one redeeming feature in the speech made by the Minister (Mr. Greene) is the statement that the Tariff Board to be appointed will be asked to investigate this matter. ‘ I have visited the works at Newnes and have seen kerosene being produced from crude oil. In the process of refining, paraffin wax and other by-products are secured. During the war period, when the price of kerosene oil was enormously increased, and when it waa difficult to obtain supplies, no effort was made by the Newnes company to produce kerosene oil. It seems to me that this bounty has been misplaced. Those who have been drawing it have not done the fair thing by the country. Had they made an honest effort during the war to produce kerosene from the crude oil, and so to relieve the people of the Commonwealth who were being called upon to pay enormous prices, I would not have protested against the continuance of the system. I would not object to John Fell; or any one else, drawing the bounty as long as he did the right thing in regard to it. But this company has not done the right thing. It has simply been producing crude oil, and selling it to various gas companies, so that we have been feeding people who are already well fed. I am not in favour of the continuance of the bounty unless we have a guarantee that these people will produce not only crude oil, but kerosene oil. In the absence of any such’ undertaking I shall vote against’ the second reading of the Bill.
– I supported the original Bill when it was before the House some years ago, and I shall support this measure, but I think it is possible to improve it. All that the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. 4 Riley) has said concerning the company carrying on operations at Newnes may be true; but other companies are arranging to produce crude oil, and I hope will go much further than Mr. Fell’s company has done. A company, has been formed to produce, oil from shale deposits in Tasmania. It will not produce kerosene, because the shale to be treated does not lend itself to the production of that class of .oil .: but it yields a very excellent crude oil, and many valuable by-products. When Admiral Henderson visited Australia some years ago, he declared that the oil produced from. the shale in question was very suitable for the ships of the Navy, and steam-ships generally, and I believe it is the intention of the company which is taking over the working of these, deposits to erect retorts, and to break down the oil in a refinery in this State.
– At Yarraville.
– That is so. Out of the amount originally set apart for the payment of a shale oil bounty, a sum of £1S6,000 yet remains to be expended, and it is proposed by this Bill to extend the payment of the bounty over a further period of twelve months. I should prefer to make the bounty payable for the next three years. I do not ask that the amount shall be increased, but merely that the payment shall “ be spread over three years instead of one. It is hardly possible for new companies to come in during the next twelve months and secure any part of this bounty,- but if the period of payment were extended for three years instead “of twelve months as proposed in the Bill, the result, I am sure, would be beneficial. When we go into Committee I shall move accordingly.
– Why does the honorable member desire the payments to be spread over the next three years instead of being confined to the next twelve months?
– For some years I have been urging that a Tasmanian company should be given a contract for the supply of crude oil to the Australian Navy, but, so far, my efforts have been unsuccessful. That company, owing to the failure to obtain such a contract, has not been able to raise the money necessary to develop its leases; but another company, whose head -quarters, I understand, are. in Melbourne, has made arrangements with the holders of those leases to work them under the royalty system. The retorts are being erected, and, according to the manager, the field is developing just as the late Mr. Twelvetrees, who was geologist for Tasmania, predicted it would do. It would appear that, just as he and other authorities predicted, large deposits of shale are opening up. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) knows that the industrial world is using more and more oil, so that crude oil propositions which twenty or thirty years ago would have been of no value are today very profitable. I hope the Minister will agree to extend the period for three years instead of twelve months.
– I do not want to extend the term beyond a year, because I am not satisfied that the payment of a bounty on crude oil is the best way to assist the industry. My impression is that it would be better to give a bounty on the products of the crude shale oil, and that is why I think it wise to extend the period of payment .for only twelve months. By that time, we shall have obtained information that will enable us to decide whether the period should be further extended, or whether the bounty should be given only on the products of the crude oil.
– If that is so, _ is there any reason why we should provide for any extension of the period ?
– Yes. If we did not provide for an extension the money set apart for the purpose would lapse.
– Surely if we made the bounty payable over a period of seven years from 1st September, 1917, instead of only five years, as proposed in this Bill, it would not interfere with the Minister’s plans.
– If we passed an Act making it payable for seven years, the Parliament would thus enter into a moral obligation to pay it to any one producing crude shale oil during that period. If the Government desired to change the basis of the payment of the bounty from the crude shale oil to the refined product, they would not be able to do so, and, at the same time, hold to their moral obligation to the producers of the crude oil.
– In the circumstances, perhaps, the Government could do so. After all, the amount involved consists only of a carry-over for twelve months. Even if Parliament made ‘the period three years it would not be a highly immoral procedure if, at the end of twelve months, a repealing measure were, if necessary, introduced. I had hoped that the Minister would accept the term of three years, provided that no increase of bounty were asked for.
– I trust that there will be no extension to. seven years. It is evident that the mere production of crude shale oil is not very beneficial to the community. I believe that if the bounty is given upon the refined products - and there are very many of these, as laboratory experiments and demonstrations will make apparent to any investigator - it will be far better for Australia. There will be a greater amount of employment arising from refining processes, and these latter undertakings will be entered upon much more extensively than to-day.
Mr. MCWILLIAMS (Franklin) r3.18]. - There is much reason in the attitude of the Minister (Mr. Greene), and, at the same time, there is something behind the argument of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley). Having been a consistent supporter of the bounty system for many years, and, particularly, in respect of the extraction of crude shale oil, I am . able to say that it was never intended i/hat the bounty should be given upon the crude oil, and, at the same time, that that commodity should be exported out of Australia. As the honorable member for South Sydney has remarked, this practice has been going on for some time. A company has now taken up the Latrobe shale oil deposits, in the electorate of Wilmot, and it has erected refinery works at Yarraville The proposal of the Minister is a good one. If it is to be understood that the only reason why the extension for a year is proposed is to enable the authorities to review the basis on which the bonus is payable, I shall agree to the Bill without further parley. There is one very strong point which I desire to make. Any one who cares .to read the report of “Viscount Jellicoe will be uncomfortably impressed with the fact that the supply of oil for the Australian Navy is unsatisfactory. It is only too fully realized that the Australian Navy is dependent on the fuel oil which comes here from Sumatra or Borneo; and experts have pointed out that a couple of hostile torpedo boats, lying up in those island waters, Could very easily cut off our Naval supplies. In his report upon naval defence, submitted to the Commonwealth in 1919, Viscount Jellicoe said -
Whilst the coal question is in a highly dangerous state, the supply of oil fuel to ships on the large scale that would be necessary in the event of active service is equally unsatisfactory. The whole question should be treated as very urgent. In this connexion, it is noted that the reports on the shale oil field in northern Tasmania are uniformly most satisfactory. It is very desirable that early action should be taken in developing this source of supply.
I know that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith) has been giving this matter his most earnest attention for some time, and that, under conditions laid down by the Naval Board, the Minister has agreed to permit a trial of the oil for the Navy. Steps are being taken in that direction. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that if a bounty is given to a company to produce shale oil, and our Navy requires that commodity, its export should be prohibited. If the proposal of the Government is that the bonus shall be granted more upon the refined product than upon the crude oil, it will be in keeping with the views and desires of all those who originally supported the bounty principle. Here, we have a company which is spending a very large sum of money in erect.ing refineries. The true object of the bonus is now, perhaps, for the first time, about to be given application.
Question resolved in the affirmative;
Bill read a second time;
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 2 of the principal Act is. amended by omitting the words “ four years “ and inserting in. their stead the words “ five years “’.
Section proposed to be amended: -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated. Revenue fund …. the sum of Two hundred and seventy thousand pounds during the period of four years commencing on the first day of September, One thousand nine hundred and seventeen, for the payment of bounty in accordance with this Act.
.- I desire some information concerning the means by which the bonus is paid upon crude shale oil. I understand that the oil is transported over the railways in specially-constructed steel trucks, and that the procedure by which the quantity of oil is gauged for the payment of the bounty is to place a, measuring rod into the oil in the tank upon the truck. Suppose, however, that the tank is half full of water. I have been given to understand that it is possible that under this system of measurement a bonus can be secured upon the whole of the contents of the tank, irrespective of whether or not it is entirely oil. The suggestion is that the Government may be defrauded.
– Every precaution which the Department can devise in respect of the payment of the bounty is taken before the actual sums are paid over. There are very strict regulations having to do both with the payment of this bounty and of others. I shall undertake to have inquiries made to see whether there is any possibility of fraud in the direction hinted at by the honorable member.
.- Will it be possible for the New South Wales company which has been established - and accepting, for the sake of argument, that that may be the only firm in a position to claim the bounty within twelve months - to secure the whole of this balance of £186,000 in one year?
Mr. GREENE (Richmond - Minister for payable in any one year is specified in section 4 of the Act as follows: -
As a matter of fact, it would be quite impossible for any one firm to absorb the whole of the amount available during twelve months. There would be entailed enormous extension of existing plants, at any rate, before any thing like that could come about.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
The following paper was presented : -
Factories - Commonwealth Government - Reports on - Clothing, Cordite (including Acetate of Lime), Harness, Saddlery, and Leather Accoutrements, Small Arms, Woollen Cloth- Reports foryear ended 30th June, 1920.
Ordered to be printed.
.-I move -
That, in accordance with the provision of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed works : - Erection of Automatic Telephone Exchanges, Albion and Newmarket, Queensland - which said works were referred to the Public Works Committee, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its inquiries.
The Public Works Committee have reported that, after careful consideration of the evidence, they are satisfied that the necessity exists for the automatic telephone exchanges at Albion and Newmarket, and recommend that their construction be put in hand as speedily as possible. The total estimated cost is £89,779, of which £7,450 is for buildings, £6,000 for air conditioning . plants, £61,954 for exchange equipment, including that necessary at other exchanges, £12,548 for equipment for subscribers’ premises, and £1,797 for line plant (conduit cables and aerial lines). Summarized, the cost of the installations, including land purchases, will be £90,043. The condition of the service in Brisbane is such as to necessitate this work being proceeded with as early as possible.
– I do not take up the attitude that these works should not be proceeded with; but I point out that whilst we are. carrying out big works of this character in the metropolitan areas, it is not fair to the country that they should not be provided with better facilities than are being offered to-day. They are calling out for postal and telephonic conveniences, and, apparently, there is no chance of their requests being complied with. Yet we are increasing and improving the larger works in the capital cities. I believethese works are necessary, and should be carried out, and that there may be similar works in other capital cities that are equally necessary. ButI question whether the country districts are given fair consideration in comparison with the cities. The expenditure on postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services is limited, and I question whether it is fairly proportioned between city and country. I am inclined to think that we spend much the greater amount in the cities.
– The larger population deserves the larger expenditure, and I can assure the honorable member that works in the cities are needed.
– The honorable member speaks as one who represents a city constituency, and represents it well; but whilst I take no exception to money being expended in the cities, I am asking that the country districts should get a proportionate share. I do not say that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) is at fault, but because of the difficulty of obtaining raw material and the shortage of money for many years past the country services have been starved. During the tenure of office of the last PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster), the expenses of the Department were cut down wherever possible, and very often the country districts suffered. In parts of my own electorate facilities which had been enjoyed for upwards of twenty years were taken away; but the present Postmaster-General has restored some of them. Therefore, I am makingno complaint against his administration ; I am merely asking that country requirements should not be lost sight of when expenditure on postal and telephonic facilities is being apportioned. If £2,000,000 were available for expenditure in this way, I do not say that the country and the city should equally divide it; but, having regard to the sparseness of the rural population, there should be a little more expenditure in the country in order to establish a fairer proportion. I avoided speaking on the Supply Bill in regard to this matter, although I would have liked to address myself to it as it affects the rural population of Australia generally. Honorable members will admit that country people are at a considerable disadvantage in consequence of the limited amount of money expended, and the difficulty in procuring the necessary appliances for telephone installations. Even where services have been established in the country the settlers have had to guarantee certain amounts to insure that the services would be payable. Even when those guarantees have been given, the services have not always been established. It is not fair to require pioneers, who desire facilities which will keep them in touch with civilization, to guarantee an amount of money in addition to the ordinary” revenue, so that the service may be payable. If a guarantee against loss is to be required in connexion with every proposition of the kind, the settlement and development of the country will be retarded. When people go into the backblocks, and try to improve the country, we should assist them by giving them facilities, without asking them to pay more than is paid by subscribers in the city. I hope the Postmaster-General will not lose sight of these facts. We are on the eve of a short recess, during which these matters will require to be considered by Cabinet, and I ask Ministers to see if there cannot be a better allocation of the expenditure by the Postal Department than there has been in the past. When £89,000 is being spent in one city and £100,000 in some other city, whilst at the same time not even £20 can be provided for. a country service, a very unfair position is created, and it makes difficult the position of those who repre- sent country constituencies. People ask why it is that so much money can be expended upon city works and so little made available to the country, and why, even when a service is given in the country, the poor, struggling settler has to guarantee to make good any deficiency. The whole system should be altered in order to give greater encouragement to settlement. We are constantly talking about decentralization and providing for the settlement of people in country districts, and we should give practical encouragement to that idea, by providing people who do settle in the distant rural areas’ with reasonable facilities by which they can keep in touch with the outside world.
– I quite agree with the remarks made by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and I have kept that aspect of the matter in mind when dealing with the requirements of country districts. We cannot give a telephone service to every country town that asks for it without requiring any guarantee at all, but we made a very great concession last year by reducing the amount of such guarantees. For instance, if there is likely to be a deficiency of £20, we ask the people to be served to guarantee 25 per cent, of it, the Department providing the balance. I am doing all I can with the funds at my disposal to extend the facilities in the country districts as far as possible. As a representative of a rural constituency - and a pretty rough one in parts - I know the wants of the people in the country, bub we can expend only what money the Treasurer is able to give us. Last year he allowed u3 £900,000, which was considerably more than the vote for the previous year, and he has allowed us to anticipate a vote of £900,000 for the current year by ordering material in advance so that it would be coming to hand this year, instead of our having to wait until the money was voted before placing our orders. I hope we shall be able to get more money this year in order to enable us to overtake arrears of work. I assure the honorable member for Hunter that I am fully alive to the necessity for extending all these facilities.
– What is the Department doing about the provision of another automatic exchange at Sydney?
– I cannot say definitely at this moment, but I know that the matter is under consideration.
.^ The honorable member for Hunter (Mr* Charlton) spoke of the requirements of people in the country districts. I assure the honorable member that there are people in the city requiring telephones more urgently than do people in the country. If I were to describe the disabilities in connexion with the telephone service in Sydney, the honorable member would agree that, by comparison, the country is being «very fairly dealt with. In anticipation of the opening of one automatic exchange, which is partly finished, one firm spent £900 three years ago in preparing its establishment for the new system, in accordance with the Department’s request, but to-day that firm is without any telephone service at all. The automatic system is within two or three streets of the premises, and the firm is left entirely in the dark as to what future developments will be-. I remind country members that the facilities given to city establishments greatly assist in the conduct of their business, and reduce the cost of handling the transactions of country districts. There is one firm in Sydney that has a turnover of from £1,000,000 to £1,750,000 per annum solely iu dealings with country people, and it has frequently complained of telephonic disadvantages, which delay the conduct of business and cause a great deal of irritation to them and to their country clients. City representatives are prepared to do all that lies in their power to assist the country districts to get telephonic services, but their own districts are even worse victims of the present inadequate system than are the country districts.
– I am afraid that the officials of the Department are using this countrycity cry a little more than is warranted in connexion with these applications. About a year ago I made application for an urgent suburban service, and received in reply a very pretty little essay dealing with the necessity for the extension of telephone services in country districts, and mentioning the conditions of the isolated farmers, settlers, and so on. Seeing there was no hope of getting the suburban service, I sent in an application on behalf of a poor, isolated, struggling farmer, and it met with the same fate. The other day I visited the locality and I found “it one of the most intensely settled dairying districts of New South Wales. The farmer who had applied for the telephone was living a little over two miles distant from the exchange. The report to the Department was to the effect that the installation of the telephone would he very expensive, as he waa the only man in the locality; but if he liked to pay £162 he could have a private telephone. Failing that, the Department were unable to do anything for him. When I visited the locality I was astonished to find that this farmer was surrounded by other farmers and small settlers, all of whom could be connected with the telephone exchange at a very reasonable cost ; so I am convinced that no examination on the spot was made in that case.
– He could not have been such an isolated farmer, after all.
– Lacking a telephone, he was isolated from other farmers and from his market just as if he had been living in that district alone. In his case the Department failed to live up to the sentiment contained in the little essay which they send to city representatives who support requests for connexions with the city exchanges. My constituency includes all sections of the community. In it are rural producers, suburbanites, and city people; everything except wheat-growing is carried on there, so I am interested in this question of an efficient telephone service for all classes of the community. We were told only yesterday by the Minister that all the money required for the purposes of the Postal Department was available. I think that statement had been made repeatedly in reply to honorable members’ complaints, and yet T have, over the signature of the Postmaster-General himself, a letter which discloses an extraordinary attitude on the part of the’ Department towards the big industries of this country. There is, at Port Kembla, one of the biggest industries in Australia, the management of which have repeatedly asked for a direct line from the Kembla works to their city office. It is situated in a district that is continually complaining of the overloading of the main line; and it is admitted that the main line from Wollongong to Sydney , is constantly overloaded, but it is stated that from want of materials the Department is unable to remedy that state of affairs. This industry to which I refer is one of the greatest users, and, therefore, the construction of their private line would greatly relieve the public line. The management have offered to supply the wire for a direct telephone line to Sydney and pay the rent, which I think, amounts to £5 or £6 per week. The letter from the Postmaster-General contains a number of interesting conditions which have to be complied with before the service may be given, and after the hopes of the people interested have been raised in this way. for a couple of pages we come to the concluding paragraph in the letter -
In the event of the Department’s terms being accepted, it will not be possible to proceed with the erection of the line at present, as funds are not available therefor. Until this aspect of the matter is definitely settled, it cannot be stated when the work will be undertaken.
This intimation is made in the face of the statement that ample sums are provided for the purposes of the Department, and in the face of the fact that if this private company were allowed to construct the line it would relieve the Department of many of its difficulties in connexion with the main, telephone line.
.- I should like to know if the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) is prepared to make any statement in connexion with the extension of wireless telephony, which .is being developed in other countries of the world? In Russia, where the people are supposed to be in such a disturbed condition, wireless telephony has reached such a stage that it is possible to carry on conversations over a distance of 3,000 miles, and I gather from information which I have that numerous powerstations are established throughout that country. In Australia, with a scattered population and long distances, wireless telephony would be a great boon to the people. I should, therefore, be glad if the Postmaster-General could indicate if his Department is keeping in touch with the advanced experiments that have been made in other parts of the world, and from which it is likely we would reap some important advantages.
– I have already spoken on. the motion, and am debarred from speaking again.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provision of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work: - Erection of a telephone trunk line between. Brisbane and Sydney - which said work was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to ‘this House the result of its inquiries.
I was very much surprised when I found that there was no trunk line telephone communication between Sydney and Brisbane. I had the matter submitted to the Public Works Committee, which, after due consideration, expressed the opinion that a trunk line should be erected as proposed, and recommended accordingly. The report of the Committee states that the revenue to be derived from this trunk line is estimated at £2,250 for the first year, rising to £5,100 in the second year. In the first year it is estimated that there will be a loss of £601. That loss was first estimated at £970, but it was found possible to take the smaller amount owing to the fall in the price of copper wire. In reply to the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), I may say that I told him some time ago that the Government are establishing wireless communication between Camooweal and Powell’s Creek, and canvassing the various stations with a view to the erection of wireless plant in order that there may be communication with the terminal stations, and so with the whole of Australia.
.- The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) is anxious for a statement from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) in regard to the establishment of wireless communication throughout Australia. What we have heard from the PostmasterGeneral is not very satisfactory as far as it goes.
– Some people think that everything can be done in twenty-four hours !
– I understand that the expert or manager of one of the wireless companies in Sydney travelled on the. same ship as the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to England, and it would be interesting to know whether we may ex pect developments in this method of communication between two States, or throughout the States. If wireless is to be established throughout Australia, in the near future, there will be no need for the proposed trunk line. I understand that the Prime Minister is very anxious that there should be general wireless communication throughout the Empire, and, if that be possible, it certainly should be easy to have wireless between one State and another.
– It is wireless telephony we require.
– That method of communication could also be undertaken ; and if developments of the kind are about to take place, I do not see why we should go to ‘the expense of constructing a trunk line between Sydney and Brisbane. Have the Government any plans in this connexion, or are they simply waiting for “something to turn up”? I should say that wireless is the more effective and less expensive system.
– Wireless is by no means the more effective; it has a long way to go yet.
– The telephonic communication at the present time is not very effective.
– I think the wireless would prove even less so just now.
– Of course, I do not oppose the motion, because if it is not the intention of the Government to install wireless in the near future, it is only right that Sydney and Brisbane should be connected by telephone, in view of the fact that Brisbane is extending a little and the Queensland population increasing.
.- It is with some reluctance that I offer a little criticism on this proposal of -the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise). I feel that reluctance because I believe that the Department is a better paying proposition at the present time than it has ever been, and that the Postmaster-General is certainly endeavouring to meet the requirements of country districts. According to the evidence of Mr. H. B. Templeton, Deputy Postmaster-General, Queensland’, before the Public Works Committee, that gentleman does not consider “ there is any likelihood of a large increase of business as between Brisbane and Sydney, and intermediate towns “ - as a result of the construction of the proposed line - “ b&cause the commercial transactions between
Brisbane and Sydney are nothing like those taking place between Sydney and Melbourne.”
– Mr. Templeton further stated that relatively the BrisbaneSydney business would be as great as the Sydney-Melbourne business.
– I admit that Mr. Templeton’s evidence does not appear to be altogether consistent. In reply to Senator Newland, Mr. Templeton said -
I consider the erection of a trunk line telephone between Brisbane and Sydney is desirable, and will be remunerative.
But he also said in reply to Mr. Mackay -
I do not wish this work to be postponed, but if I had to choose between providing an important service like the proposed Albion automatic exchange and this trunk line, I would stand by the Albion work as being the more urgent and the more important from a revenue point of view. It is a matter of comparison. This trunk line is most desirable if the funds to provide for it can be found without any interference with necessary urgent work.
Finally, he said before the Committee - lt is problematical whether the line will become payable. My experience is that more business is obtained on trunk lines between correlated centres than in the case of a trunk line such as this wilt be between two distinct centres.
I should like the Postmaster-General to consider whether he cannot expend pub-‘ lie money in a more remunerative way than in the construction of a telephone line between Sydney and Brisbane. Where services can be established and become immediately payable, they ought to be established before the Department undertakes works such as that proposed, especially when we find the Public Works Committee estimating the loss on the first year at £60 1. I understand there are many Queeusland proposals, telegraphic and telephonic communications that would pay immediately, and it is to these that attention should be devoted, and not to others, where success is problematical. It may seem strange for me to take up such an attitude; but the great work before us is the settlement of people on the land and in our country towns. We see huge cities like Sydney and Melbourne growing, while country towns are being depleted; and, after all, this trunk line will only.tend to still more centralize business in Brisbane and Sydney to the further detriment of the inland centres. If there is any urgent business as between Brisbane and Sydney, it can now be done by telegraph. Although the evidence given by the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, is not altogether consistent, that gentleman finally told the Public Works Committee that it is problematical whether the proposed line will ever pay.
– All the evidence tendered to the Committee was to the effect that the undertaking would ultimately be a paying one.
– I shall not vote against the construction of the line/ but I consider that if the Postmaster-General can find any business proposition which will pay better, he certainly ought to defer the construction of the proposed line for the present.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) can have read very much of the evidence taken by the Public Works Committee in regard to this particular matter. That evidence was overwhelmingly in favour of the construction of the proposed line. If the honorable member will take the trouble to carefully read the evidence, he will see that every witness called by the Committee was in favour of the erection of this particular line. The facts and figures which were submitted convincingly prove that the undertaking will prove a sound financial proposition from its very inception.
– Then how did the Committee come to report a probable loss o’f £601 upon the line during the first year,?
– If the honorable member will read that statement in conjunction with the other evidence which was tendered to the Committee, he will see that there is not much in it. But even if the work did not pay for the first year, the honorable member would scarcely condemn it upon that account, so long as it proved a sound financial proposition thereafter.
– We should be ten years ahead of public requirements, instead of twenty-five years behind.
– Un:doubtedly. All the indications are that the line will be a paying one.
– And the evidence tendered to the Public Works Committee shows that ‘it will not only serve the interests of city people, but will provide facilities for the residents of country districts.
– The principal reason which should actuate us in approving of the line is that it will not merely provide facilitiesfor the residents of two cities, but that it will confer material benefits upon people who reside between them.
– It will link up communication with places as far north as Gympie.
– In his evidence the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, stated -
There is no doubt that an arrangement could be made by which calls from Ipswich, Toowoomba, and other important centres along the line would take their turn in the circuit. Calls will be transmitted in the order in which they are lodged, no matter whether they be lodged here or at Toowoomba or Sydney. In addition to benefiting Brisbane, this trunk line will benefit country towns’ along the route.
That is why the proposal appeals to me so strongly. It will provide outback residents with facilities for communication, and thus enable them to enjoy some of the benefits of civilization of which they have been too long deprived.
– I am not quite sure of the route which the proposed line will traverse, because the Minister, in submitting the motion, did not make that matter clear. But I recollect that the Leader of the Country party, when speaking in this chamber the other day, emphasized the necessity which exists for the construction of a line which would traverse the north coast of New SouthWales.
– This particular line will go through Warwick and Wallangarrra.
– Why cannot we construct a line to Brisbane by the shortest route, one which will serve all the north coast district?
– This line is already built to Wallangarra.
– It is quite possible that later on there may be a line traversing a route down the other way.
– Only the other day the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) was stressing the need which exists for a line to Brisbane through the north coast of New South Wales. I agree with him that the construction of such a line is a necessity.
– It is not the fault of the Country party that there is no such line.
– I know that. I am speaking on behalf of the Leader of that party, who represents a constituency adjacent to my own. Quite recently, too, I noticed in a newspaper published in Gloucester an article setting out how necessary it is that a railway along the route suggested by him should be built.
– Ultimately, we shall have to build a line to Brisbane through the north coast.
– There is no doubt of that.
– Such a line would shorten the distance to be traversed by 100 miles.
– Exactly. We should thus be practising true economy. What is the position of the north coast of New South Wales ? It is only during the past nine or ten years that that district has come into prominence. For years the residents there struggled to obtain a railway, and eventually the Government of New South Wales decided to construct one. Since the construction of the north coast railway the district through which it passes has gone ahead by leaps and bounds. Settlement has greatly increased there, and many big estates have been cut up. That railway will eventually link Sydney with Brisbane, and the telephone line between the two cities might well follow it. The honorable member for Cowper advocated this before he entered the House, as he has done since, because he knows the justice of it, and I, who represent a portion of the district through which the line would pass, hold the same view about the matter. At present, the people of that district cannot get the telephone communication that they need.
– But the line that is proposed is absolutely needed.
– I do not say that a telephone line between Brisbane and Sydney is not needed. My argument is that it would be cheaper to take it along the route of the north coast railway, which will ultimately be the direct route to Queensland, because it is more than 100 miles shorter than the present route. I believe that it would be well to send back the proposal to the Works Committee for the investigation of this suggestion.
– The direct line between Sydney and Brisbane would be of no use to the north coast districts, which must have a line of their own to Sydney.
– Where would that line terminate?
– Probably at Murwillumbah.
– That would be an unsatisfactory arrangement, because there would not then be a direct communication with Queensland. A line going right through to Brisbane would serve for communication both north and south.
– Intermediate stations could nob cut into the “ through line. There must be a north coast line.
– My contention is that if this line were taken through the north coast districts by the direct route to Brisbane, it would not be necessary to have a through line following the New England railway route.
– The honorable member forgets the big towns along this route.
– I do not; but tie adoption of the route which ‘ I suggest would’ mean a. saving in distance and a corresponding saving in cost, and would prevent the congestion of telephone business.
– The honorable member is right in urging the construction of a north* coast telephone line, though not to the exclusion of that now proposed.
– This matter should have received more consideration. I do not take exception to expenditure which is absolutely necessary, because I believe in giving all the facilities for communication that can be given to the people in the country districts, and the necessary connexions between capitals should be made; but I .still think that it would have been better to take this line along the more direct route to Brisbane. I hope that the Postmaster-General will give consideration to. the suggestion that a line should be carried along that route.
– I shall do so. . .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That, in accordance with the provision of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1013-1914, it is. expedient to carry out the following proposed work : - Erection of an additional telephone trunk line between Sydney and. Melbourne - which said work was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which .the Committee has duly repotted to this House the - result of its inquiries.
This is a work of the greatest urgency, the duplication of the existing telephone line being eagerly desired by tie residents of both the cities concerned.
– The PostmasterGeneral should give us more information than that.
– I concluded that honor- , able members, especially leading members of the Opposition, would have read the report of the Works Committee on the subject. The Committee points out that the- proposed line would be, utilized for both telephone and telegraph purposes, the interest on its capital cost being divided between the two services; and that it would pay from the beginning. The report says that the Committee, after carefully considering all the facts placed before it, was unanimously of the opinion that the line should ‘be erected as early as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That, in accordance with the provision of the Commonwealth Public Works’ Committee Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work : - Erection of additional telegraph line from Perth to Eucla, via-‘ the transcontinental railway route - which said work was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its inquiries.
The report of the Public Works Committee on this matter has been before the House for a long time. It contains the following statements: -
The Committee took evidence in regard- to this matter in Melbourne, and constituted a Sectional Committee to take further evidence in Western Australia.
In the course of the Committee’s investigations, it was ascertained that this Perth to Eucla line really forms a section of the through Inter-State line between Perth and Adelaide; and that the existing lines are insufficient to dispose of telegraph business within a reasonable time. The actual number of telegraph messages carried daily during 1920 is stated to have been 3,216, and, as the indications are that this traffic is rapidly increasing, it is urged that necessity exists for the erection of a new line to deal with this traffic.
The coast line, which it gis proposed to Tei place by the line now under consideration, is 1,006 miles in length, and was brought into use in the year 1878. It is an iron wire of a weight of 400 lbs. to the mile, and this fact and the fact that it is in close proximity- to the coast leads to heavy leakage of current, which has the effect of : considerably slowing . down the traffic. Inquiry was made as to the feasibility of re-erecting the existing line, but it was pointed out that to do this would cost approximately £85,295, as .against £4*2,030 for the present proposal. It was further pointed out that, ‘ in case of breakdown, the existing line .is difficult of access, and the result is that messages are often considerably delayed before repairs can be effected.
If approval be given to construct the line now proposed, it is intended to recover or abandon the material of the existing line between Israelite Bay and .Eucla, and to recover 17G miles of wire, insulators, spindles, and. brackets between Albany and Hopetoun.
Financial Aspect. - Estimating the cost of construction at £42,030, and allowing 10 per cent, to cover interest on capital, depreciation, and maintenance, it will be seen that the annual cost of this new line will be £4,203.
As against this, it is estimated that the saving on the cost of maintenance of the existing service will bo £3,731, and that the estimated increased annual revenue will amount to £2,000, or a total amount of £5,731; so that the annual saving on this project will amount to £1,628.
It is pointed out that, in estimating the cost of construction of this line, the price of copper wire was taken at £180 per ton. Since that time the price of electrolytic copper has fallen) so that the wire will now cost approximately £130 10s. per ton. Consequently, the original estimated cost may now be reduced by perhaps £0,000. 1
While on this subject, the Committee desires tff point out that prior to the war copper was obtained for departmental purposes at the current price of electrolytic copper, plus £17 per ton to cover manufacture and freight. Since that time a plant for the manufacture of copper wire has been established at Fort Kembla, New South Wales, and the wire now costs the Department £57 10s. per ton more than the quoted price of electrolytic copper.
Inquiries were made by the Committee as to whether, in the case of lengthy telegraph lines of this nature, it would be possible for settlers along the route of the line to be allowed to make use of the line for the purpose of sending telephone messages, but it was stated in evidence that, as the line will be used for sending telegraph messages practically for the whole of the 24 hours of the day at fast speeds, the effect would .be to create a buzzing noise, which would render it impossible to hear a telephone message. The Committee, however, thinks this question merits further consideration, and hopes the Department will devise some method .of enabling facilities to be given to remote settlers to use the line for telephone purposes for a short period during the most convenient time of the day.
After a careful consideration of the facts, the Committee is of opinion that the erection of the proposed line is justified, and recommends that the work be put in hand as early as possible.
.- We have had a little more information from the Minister on this motion.
– I did not want to weary the House by reading reports which I presumed that every member had read.
– My difficulty is to know exactly where we are going. I do not want to agree to anything that will plunge the country into expenditure, especially at this juncture, when the Treasurer is so economical. Many public works are standing still to-day because we have not the money for them. The question is whether the line is to traverse a satisfactory route. I read all the Committee reports that come before the House as far as possible, but during the last three mouths, when we have been deal-, ing with the Tariff, I confess that I have not been able to keep in touch with them all. The Minister states that the present line has broken down, and that there is no communication at present between the two places. It will take £85,000 to repair the existing line, and the Committee recommend the construction of the new line for £42,000, which shows a big saving. The Public Works Committee have done good service, and are justifying their appointment. In this case they are saving the country a good, deal of money. They report (hat the work isabsolutely necessary, and that to patch up the existing service would cost, practically twice as much as will be required for the new service. As members whose districts are traversed by the line have said nothing in opposition to it, I pre- sume it is in the best interests of their constituents, and, therefore, I shall do nothing to prevent the recommendation of the Committee being given effect to.
.- I take an entirely different view of the matter. It is the duty of the members of the Works Committee, while their report is before the House, to assist the Minister. I should like to hear from some of them who have heard the evidence on this matter. They should be here to back the Government up. The chairman of the Committee is a Western Australian, and, no doubt, would recommend that the work should be carried out.
– You can expect a perfectly fair deal from the chairman of the Committee.
– Has the honorable member, as a member of the Committee, anything to say in support of the report ? I shall sit down if the Postmaster-General will promise me one or two post-offices in my electorate. I get from him plenty of nice letters, but no bricks and mortar. On the whole, the Works Committee are te be commended’ for the great work they have done”, and I hope some of them will be able to justify the reports they have submitted. I shall support the motion.
– The remarks made by the honorable, member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) were offered in a jocular spirit, but when they appear in cold print they may be taken literally. As a member of the Public Works Committee, I therefore tell the House that we exhausted’ every channel of information, and had before us witnesses who had been all over the route. We were absolutely uninfluenced by State considerations, and were convinced that the line would pay. What is more, it will afford settlers between Eucla and the transcontinental line an opportunity to get in touch by telephone with doctors, business people, and friends, and will prove a very great boon to them. These people are living in absolute isolation, and I would afford them a facility of this kind even if I thought the line would not pay. Public convenience should take precedence over all questions of .profit, so far as the services of the Postmaster-General’s Department are concerned. I repeat, however, that the Committee exhausted every avenue of information on the subject, both at Adelaide and Perth, and was convinced that the line would not only afford great facilities to the people, but prove a payable proposition.
.- I am a searcher for information rather than one who is seeking to impart information to the House.
– This looks like a “ stone wall.”
– If honorable members opposite will persist in discussing this motion, we will adjourn the debate. Time is up. It is for them to decide what shall be done.
– I do not want to stand in the way ‘of the passing of the motion. >
– It will mean work for a number of the unemployed.
– I have not had an opportunity to read the report of the Public Works Committee, which inquired into this proposed work, but I know that a substantial expenditure is involved.
– It is quite apparent that honorable members opposite do not want to provide for public works. They join in deputations to the Government asking- us to provide work, and when we bring down a motion which will give employment to a number of men, they proceed to block it.
– Apparently, one no sooner rises to discuss a motion of this kind than motives are imputed. I have no desire to delay the passing of the motion, and, therefore, shall say no more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 19th July (vide page 10262), of motion by Mr. Groom -
That, in accordance with the provision of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work: - Erection of Ordnance and other Defence buildings at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland - which said work was referred to the Public Works Committee,’’ and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its inquiries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the resolution of the House of the 29th October, 1920, referring the following works to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report thereon, viz.: - ‘ Extension to buildings and equipment of the Commonwealth Woollen Cloth Factory at Geelong; Victoria - be rescinded.
.- The Public Works Committee has already been notified of the intention of the Government to take this action, but no reason has been given for it. This is a ‘serious departure from Government policy.
– I will allow the matter to stand over.
Debate adjourned. - 1 “>
Members’ Official Accommodation in State Capitals.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Before we adjourn, I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to a recent decision of the House Committee, which I believe was arrived at at a very small meeting of the: Committee, and which interferes very considerably with the privileges of honorable members who do not reside in Melbourne. The matter should have been brought forward at an earlier stage, as many honorable members representing New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia have left to catch their trains, and, consequently, are not able to express their opinions.For many years past, honorable members have had the privilege during the recess of using offices at the other capital cities in which totransact their official correspondence. The accommodation provided is somewhat similar to that available in Melbourne; but the House Committee, for some reason’ or other which has not been disclosed, has seen fit to say that those members who do their work in other cities shall be penalized, whilst those who reside in Melbourne can take advantage of the facilities provided in this building. It is a highly improper proceeding on the part of the Committee.
– There is nothingphenomenal in that, as we have never had privileges such as you halve had in Sydney.
– Probably that is due to the fact thatWestern Australian members spend most of their time in Melbourne, and, therefore, do not require such accommodation, New South Wales members have to do their official work in the offices in Sydney.
– One would think that the honorable member was the only one who worked.
-i direct attention to the. state of the House.
– This is a very nice game, and I strongly object to the attitude of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), I shall take another opportunity of discussing this matter.
– I desire to say a few words before we adjourn. Is the honorable member for Batman prepared to withdraw his call?
– Do I understand that the call for a quorum is withdrawn.
– Then I shall take this opportunity of thanking you all for the assistance the Government have received.
A quorum not being present,
Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House at 4.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210722_reps_8_96/>.