8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories whether, in view of protests made by the united Councils of the northern districts of New South Wales in regard to the discontinuance of weather reports, and their request that the former servicesbe restored, he will inform the House if the statement attributed to Senator. Pearcein.to-day’s press means the complete restoration of the services ? If not, what are the particulars of the services to be restored!
– I have read the statement reported to have been made to the press by Senator Pearce. It is practically correct. Reports as towind, rain and weather, as between coastal stations, will be wholly restored. The sending of reports, as between country centres, in reference to river gaugings and the weather willbe restored on a restricted basis. No information of any value will be withheld, ibut there are certain reports the sending of which to country centres is not considered to serve any useful purpose. For instance, we do not think any benefit is to be derived from the sending of an urgent wire to Broken Hill, Cobar or Albury with regard to the Tainfall in Sydney, nor do the people of, say, Gabo Island require information as to weather records all over Australia. I repeat that, while the former services between country centres will be restricted, nothing considered to be of value to the people will be left out. The position is the same with regard to weather forecasts. All the important centres will be supplied with such information. Economy can foe effected, however, by refraining from sending such reports as “urgent telegrams.” In many instances that used to be done. By an arrangement with the Postal Department such information will now ibe sent by way of ordinary telegraphic messages ;but preference will be given to such messages, so that they will be dealt with almost as speedily as if they were urgent telegrams.
– How is money tobe saved by that decision?
– It will mean a saving in the expenditure of the Department for Home and Territories, which hae to pay for these messages.
– It is merely a matter of cross entries in the books of the two Departments involved.
– Quite so; but it will mean a saving to the Department for Home and Territories, which is responsible for such expenditure.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Works and Railways whether the Government intend this session to bring in a Bill providing for the construction of the North-South railway?
– Nothing can foe done until the Public Works Com mittee has submitted its report to Parliament. As soon as the report ie forthcoming it will be considered by the Government.
Distribution of Blankets
– As the result of re presentations made to him by a deputation, the Prime Minister has directed the issue of blankets tounemployed soldiers in Melbourne. I am glad that he has done so, tout I ask him to explain why a similar application from Newcastle, where at the time there were 8,000 unemployed soldiers and others, was refused?
– I do not think that the honorable member made such a request to me.
– No, I made it to the Minister for Defence.
– I do not remember having heard of the request.
-Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement with regard to the cotton guarantee?
– The Government; believing that the opportunities for the development of the cotton-growingindustry in Australia are almost unlimited, and that the position of the world’s market makes the occasion one that is hardly likely to recur, has taken the responsibility of offering such generous and widespread encouragement to growers, prospective and actual, as is likely to induce the maximum amount of cotton to be grown. As stated in the press, the Government has decided to co-operate with the State Governments, and, it is hoped, with the Empire Cotton-growing Association, to give a guarantee which, so far as the aggregate amount is concerned, is without limit. The guarantee per pound will rest upon a basis yet to be ascertained, but in all probability it will be the same as that given last year for seed cotton.
– Would the Minister for Trade and Customs like to make an explanation to the House in regard to the sugar question? The Minister, apparently, is not prepared to answer my question.
Wireless Operators on Commonwealth Government Lineof Steamers.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is tr.ue that the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited has the sole right to appoint wireless operators on the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers?
– I refer the honorable member to the agreement, in which he will find duly set out the powers of the respective parties. The agreement was laid on the table of the House some time before we went into recess, and was submitted later on to a Committee representing all sections in this House.. The rights of the parties are duly prescribed therein. I cannot say what are the powers of the company in regard to the appointment of wireless operators on the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers.
– Will the Minister for Health lay on the table of the House all papers in. connexion with the dismissal of Officer Chambers from the Quarantine Department. Western Australia?
– I do not feel disposed to lay the papers on the table of the House, but should the honorable member choose to peruse the file he is at liberty to do so at any time.
– Has the Minister for Trade arid Customs any information to hand in reply to the request I made some little time since to be furnished with a return as to the export of rabbit skins, and the quantity of skins used in Australia during the last two years?
– Yes. Following on the honorable member’s question, I immediately had prepared a return showing the quantity of rabbit skins exported from Australia, and also caused to be set on foot inquiries as to the local consumption. It is very difficult to obtain information as to the quantity used in Australia, but the Department is dealing with the matter.
– Will the Treasurer state whether the sugar receipts mentioned in his recent financial statement are related in any way to the sugar accounts presented to the House by the Minister for Trade and Customs last week? If they are not so related, are the figures given by the Treasurer in the nature of a suspense account?
– I have not the figures before me now, but the accounts which I presented to the House were in the nature of a balance-sheet. All the accounts that pass through the Treasury are on a cash basis, and take no account of stocks in hand; consequently, there will be a wide difference between the Treasury statement of the sugar account and the statement presented by the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– When does the Minister for Trade and Customs propose to give honorable members detailed information regarding the sugar transactions?
– In my statement to the House, last week,I told honorable members that I would furnish in detail such information as was already available, but I also pointed out that we are in the middle of a sugar year, and until the accounts of the companies are balanced at the end of the year the figures for the current year will not be available. I promise, however, that a detailed statement for each completed financial year will be presented to the House in a very short time - possibly at the end of this week, or, at any rate, next week.
-Will the Minister for Trade and Customs lay on the table of the House copies of the sugar agreement?
– There are many sugar agreements, but if the honorable member wants all of them he can have them.
– In view of the statement published in the press that the Minister for Trade and Customs deliberately permitted himself to be used as an instrument for public deception, does he intend to make any further explanation on the sugar question, or is the House to be debarred from a discussion on the subject until November next?
Question not answered.
– By what means do the Government propose to dispose of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills?
– Tenders are being invited for the purchase of the mills.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a statement by Mr. E. J. Holloway, that the Melbourne Trades Hall authorities have been waiting for some time to put before the Prime Minister their views with regard to the arbitration law? Is the right honorable gentleman prepared to grant an interview to those gentlemen?
-I very much regret that, owing to my indisposition, I was unable to seethem earlier. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) brought the matter beforeme, and, because 1. was indisposed, was good enough to postpone the deputation until 5 o’clock this afternoon, when I shall receive them.
– When does the Minister for Defence propose to give to the House an opportunity of considering the compensation to be paid to Defence officers who are retiring voluntarily or compulsorily ?
– At the earliest possible opportunity.
– Not long ago a letter carrier at Gardenvale was set upon by certain persons and injured, and postal moneys were stolen from him; the official waa seriously injured. What is the measure of compensation, if any, to be paid to this officer? Is it to be, as rumoured, only compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act, namely, half-pay during his disablement? If so, I suggest that the compensation is very inadequate.
– If the honorable member will give notice of the question I shall endeavour to get the information for him.
– Has any embargo been placed on the export of meat to Germany?
– No. Recently Australian packing houses have sold meat some of which, not a large quantity, is destined for Germany.
– Is it true that German goods have been landed in Australia within the last week, notwithstanding that the embargo is not to bc lifted until the 1st August?
– It is nottrue that any German goods have entered into the commerce of this country. Anyhow, they can only do so subject to the provisions of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act.
– The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) asked on 6th July whether it was true that the Queensland Government had placed an embargo of £700 per head upon all Danes entering that State. I communicated with the Premier of Queensland on the matter, and he advises that no such embargo as that suggested by the honorable member exists in his State.
Hobart Office - B alan ce-sheet,
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) asked on the 14th July whether arrangements would be made to establish in Hobart a branch office of the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers. My colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) replied on my behalf that inquiries would be made. I am in receipt of advice from the acting (manager of the line that the Tasmanian Government Shipping Department was appointed the agent of the line at Hobart only, and he is giving attention to the press reports that the head office of the Tasmanian Government
Shipping Department at Hobart may be removed to Launceston. The acting manager adds that every facility is given to shippers in Hobart and other ports in Tasmania.
The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) asked on the 14th July whether steps would be taken to see that the balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers for the financial year ended 30th June, 1922, would be made available within a reasonable time. The honorable the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene), on my behalf, promised to bring the matter under notice and endeavour to comply with the honorable member’s wishes. The acting manager of the line in Australia points out that the accounts embracing transactions in Australia up to 30th June of each year have to be despatched to London, and there incorporated in the books and accounts before the profit and loss account and balance-sheet can be completed. The figures have to be gathered in Melbourne from all the States, and from Java and Singapore, and this cannot be done at the earliest before the end of July or middle of August. It is apparent, therefore, that the complete accounts from Australia cannot reach London until towards the end of September, and that after allowing time for the incorporation of these figures in the hooks of the head office, it will be recognised as impracticable that the balance-sheet can be produced before, say, November of each year. As the statements have then to be forwarded to Australia, it will be seen that they cannot be available here much before six months after the end of the financial year.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The stoppage of reports re weather, &c., directly affecting the pastoral, agricultural, and shipping industries.”
Five honorable members having risen
– Notwithstanding what has been said from the front Ministerial bench this afternoon, I make no apology for moving the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the stoppage of the weather reports. I endeavoured to move in this direction last week, because I considered that it was a very urgent matter, and I do so to-day because I want more assurance than we have so far been given in this connexion. Something must be done forthwith. Questions upon this subject were submitted ten days ago by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) and myself. They were on lines similar to the question submitted bv the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to-day. I have been endeavouring all along to get some satisfaction for people in country districts who are sometimes threatened by fire and flood, and for people on the coast whose lives may be endangered by the cessation of the weather telegrams. The blacks in the Monaro district say, “Whaffor?” when they do not understand anything. Last week I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), “Whaffor?” I asked him why steps had been taken to discontinue these weather reports. The Treasurer’s reply was as follows -
There is no necessity to “ cut off “ anything. The amount on the Estimates is the same as was the case last year, and the step taken in regard to the weather reports arises out of a redistribution of the services of the Meteorological Branch.
According to the Treasurer no saving has been effected. Therefore I want to know why the change has been made. Yesterday afternoon the following appeared in the Sydney Sun -
Danger of Floods
The heavy rainfall in the eastern districts has been responsible for rising rivers, except in the south. There is a danger of the Hunter flooding, and of the Hawkesbury exceeding its limits. A considerable amount of backwater has still to come donn, which will cause anxiety for the next few days. There is a very strong pressure running out of the northern port rivers also.
In the country, too, torrential rains sre reported, and floods are feared on the coastal rivers - especially the Manning and the Hunter - and their tributaries. But, owing to the false economy of the Federal Government in curtailing the system of weather reports, it is impossible for the Weather Bureau to toll just how bad things are.
Her© is a letter forwarded to me by the council clerk of Cooma, in my electorate - linnicipali t.y of Cooma,
Council Chambers, Cooma, 24th July, 1922
Dear Sir, -
I am directed by the Council of this Municipality to ask you to make all possible representations to the Minister against the decision to discontinue the despatch of weather forecasts and weather messages to country stations.
As this information is of immense advantage to country districts, the Council is of opinion that the small cost to the Government should not stand in the way of a great public necessity.
I have received similar communications from the Town Clerk, Yass, and a dozen other bodies as well as from public citizens, and as I was anxious to get this matter settled without bringing it up in the House, I spoke to the Minister and wrote to the Department of Home and Territories. I received the following reply-
Melbourne, 26th July, 1922
Dear Sir, -
With reference to your letter* of the 20th July, forwarding a communication from the Town Clerk, Municipality of Yass, dated 19th July, relative to the discontinuance of the despatch of meteorological information from the Bureau to country centres, I have to inform you that it had been found necessary to instruct the Commonwealth Meteorologist to confine expenditure on meteorological telegrams within the limits of the amount voted by Parliament.
The arrangements made by him in this connexion were, however, provisional only, and have now been reviewed.
I may add that it is anticipated that the directions which have been issued will make it possible to substantially restore the services which had been temporarily discontinued, and, at the same time, by eliminating unnecessary advices, effect economies without impairing efficiency.
What are we to understand by the words ‘ substantially restore the services ” 1 I am not satisfied with this reply. If the gentleman, who has been responsible for cutting off the weather reports is to be the judge as to what will be an efficient service, we have come to a pretty pass. But apparently the policy generally adopted is, “If we want more money, let us tax the primary producer, the man on the land in isolated back-blocks.” I want to know who nas been responsible for cutting off these reports. We must hold the Minister blameworthy because we cannot attack public servants who axe unable to come here and speak for themselves. Nevertheless, although it might be unfair for an honorable member in this House to attack a public servant, if it should happen that a highly paid official has been responsible for the stoppage of these weather report® - and I am told that such is the case - he is not fit for his position, and should be drummed out of the Commonwealth Service. My statement may be strong, but the man who would cut off all news of flood waters and fire in country districts or rainfall along the coast is causing people to be in danger of losing their lives. Thank God there has been no loss of life so far, but anything in that direction is likely to happen. What an outcry there would be if, through the stoppage of these ioastal reports, there should be a shipwreck, with accompanying loss of life. If it is the Minister who is responsible for the action taken, we can take him to task here.
– According to the Treasurer there has been no saving effected. The Government seem to be run by the Departments Officials tell Ministers what they are to do, and Ministers do what they are told till there is a row in the House. Then they run back to their officials and ask them to review their instructions. What is the nature of the substantial alterations which we are now told are to be made? The stoppage of these weather reports in the first place was a scandal. There was a similar happening a few years ago, and Ministers were taken severely to task. No economy has been effected. It is not economy. It is parsimony, or, at the best, false economy, to cut off the news of flood waters.. Fortunately these waters do not travel too fast. If settlers can be advised by telegram that floods are coming down a stream, they have ample time to get out of the way, but owing to the stupid blunder of cutting off these communications, hundreds of thousands of people will be at the risk of their lives. It is extraordinary that all these stupid blunders should be at the expense of people in country districts. If anything affects city people there is an immediate outcry, and Ministers take rapid steps to make an alteration - at any rate, more rapid steps than they propose to take on this’ occasion, If the action taken in this regard has been that of an official, the Minister should let us know. He should ask that public servant why he has exceeded his instructions. Of course, it is very difficult for a Minister in this House to answer on the spur of the moment matters affecting the Department of a Minister in the Senate, but this is a questionthat should be thoroughly probed. We have too much running of Departments by officials. I know that there are many of our public servants who are splendid men, quite prepared to stand up, if necessary, against Ministers and members, and do only what they think right, but they are severely handicapped by the fact that there are others in senior positions who are ready to do things such as that of which I am now complaining. Whatis to be done to protect the lives of mv constituents ? The following press telegram has been published from Perth: -
Mr. Curlewis, the Government Astronomer in charge of meteorological science in Western Australia, stated on Tuesday that in consequence of Federal instructions the daily rainfall and weather telegrams from 122 country stations will be discontinued. The Government is being asked to protest.
That is the way the money goes! The StateGovernment are asked to protestin order that lives may be protected. Are we now about to get something definite from the Government? The Treasurer states that there is nothing further to be said. I suggest that the old system be reverted to for fourteen days, and that, meanwhile, inquiries be made. Let the Government first put a stop to all possibility of trouble or danger from the curtailment of these sources of information, and . then immediately make investigations. I am aware that the Assistant Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) is a man of courage; he is a man indeed whom I greatly admire. But has he the courage, as a Minister, to stand up in his place and say that he approves of this curtailment of vital information, or of any reduction at all ? I want to know specifically what public official is responsible. Will the Government consent to act as god-father to his action? I can hardly think that they will. The Treasurer says there is not one penny of saving to be made. He does not add, . as he fairly could, that there may be actual ruin to be faced by thousands of people, who may find the interests of a life-time suddenly threatened. Floods in the back country of New South Wales are sweeping down, while many people in their path know nothing of their peril. They are not placed as we are, for we may walk down one of the city streets and read the weather notices upon a board. Many of the people who are endangered cannot even be informed by telephone, for they have not been able to obtain telephonic connexion. Others, more fortunately placed with respect to this latter facility, may find themselves cut off from warning owing to the wires going down before the floods. I appeal to the Government to revert to the old system for a fortnight, and, meanwhile, to go very earnestly into the question whether they are doing a fair thing by the country. I make no apology for bringing this matter forward as I have done. I have already sought unsuccessfully, by means of questions, to secure information and redress; but I have got nothing better than the official communication which I have just read. It would appear that nothing has been done ; and something has got to be done.
.- I approve of the action of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) in bringing forward this urgent matter of public importance. Some people may possibly not perceive the full significance of the subject. It is one, however, which affects practically the whole of Australia. In some parts it touches the people vitally, for they are endangered by floods. That their peril is really urgent has been already pointed out. I am able to state from personal information that, in certain parts of the Commonwealth, settlers have barely escaped the floods.
– They have not escaped in some parts.
– I have received communications from the municipalities of West Maitland, East Maitland, Newcastle, and North Lambton, all urging the absolute urgency of the full restoration of meteorological reports. The official reply, given by way of answers to questions in this chamber to-day, indicates that, for all practical purposes, this will be done. It would seem, then, that all is well for the future. But that does not end the matter. There should be some explanation of the course of action which has been adopted. I am doubtful whether public officials are solely to blame, seeing that there has been an official announcement that the change would involve a saving of £30,000. No individual official would make public such a statement as that”. The Government must bear the responsibility. The country has been informed, further, that the matter is really the outcome of a dispute between two public Departments - the Postal and Meteorological. That is to say, this curtailment of vitally-essential news is the outcome of a mere departmental difference of opinion. There can be no real economy in this matter, when it involves only a question of book-keeping as between two public Departments. No saving can be made to the country by that method. Now, following agitation throughout the country, and within this Parliament, the Government are backing down. But, instead of admitting that they have been in the wrong, the Government are making some paltry excuse about certain limited information which will not be forthcoming “for the future. The situation is more important than the Government appear to realize. When I left Newcastle, many people were in doubt whether there was about to be a disastrous flood visitation. They did not know what was going to happen because they could not get full information. They lacked advice from the northern part of the State regarding the rainfall and the state1 of the rivers. After heavy falls in the north of New South Wales, the settlers generally look for a severe rush of flood waters, and, unless they are acquainted beforehand with what is happening, they are apt to suffer severe losses. Unless ample warning is given in my own district, farmers along the banks of the Hunter often cannot remove their stock to safety. Even the lives of the settlers themselves may become endangered; life-boats have often had to be sent out to rescue them. I trust that the Government will restore this information in its entirety. There can be no excuse for a failure to do so. The curtailment of such a service is a false economy.
– I am pleased to find the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Chapman) in such a sincere mood to-day. I am always glad to find him standing up earnestly for the mau en the land. And I hope and trust that he will always succeed in securing merited privileges for his electors, since I happen to be one of them. The honorable member represents, almost solely, men on the land and in coastal districts, and, therefore, practically the whole of his constituents are vitally interested in the maintenance of these weather reports. It was quite refreshing also to find the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) so keenly solicitous for the welfare of the. man on the land. I have already given honorable members nearly all the information which I have been in a position to place before them, or, indeed, to procure. The only action originally taken by the Government in this matter consisted in giving instructions to the Meteorological Department that, this year, they must cut down their expenditure ito an amount strictly within their allowance, which amounts to £52,000. Last year that sum was voted for the purposes of the Meteorologist’s branch of the Department, but it exceeded that amount by £2S,000.
– To whom was the extra money paid?
– It was charged to the Postal Department, and that Department stood the loss. The Minister determined that the Department this year must live within its means - that it must cut its ‘ cloth according to its measure. As soon as Mr. Hunt was advised that his expenditure must be kept within the vote of £52,000, he discontinued the sending of many of these reports. He took that action absolutely “ on his own.” Urgent representations from all over the country were made to the Government as to the restoration of the service, and the Government have heeded those representations. The Minister has decided that the services shall not be cut off holus bolus. They may be restricted to some extent, but they will not be wholly discontinued. Wind, rain, and weather reports as between coastal towns will be restored. I take it that, as a matter of fact, the direction of the Minister that they shall be restored has already been carried out. Messages as between country centres in regard to river gaugings, rainfall, and general weather information will be restored on a restricted basis. The Minister in an interview with the Government Meteorologist asked him whether he could vouch for the usefulness of sending detailed information to all the centres included in the tremendously long list prepared by the Department. The Government Meteorologist said that he could not, and that the messages passing to and from certain centres were of no value. He was then asked why, if that were so, these messages had been sent. His reply was that the system grew up before Federation - that in pre- Federal days, postmasters in, very small centres sent weather reports to the Department, and that gradually’ many of these small centres were included in the list of those to be supplied with the services of the Department. The Minister also found that, in many cases, urgent weather telegrams were sent when there was really no need for them. These urgent telegrams are to cease, but it has been arranged that weather telegrams shall be given preference over ordinary telegrams, so that we shall get at practically half the cost a service equally as good as that obtained by the sending cf urgent telegraphic messages.
I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) should have said that the restoration of the original service would involve no expense. Ifno expense is involved in sending these numerous telegrams, why is the Government Meteorologist’s Department charged for them ? Labour and material are largely involved in the carrying on of the service, and it is idle for the honorable member to suggest that the sending of thousands of telegrams all over the country does not result in any expenditure. The Department of Home and Territories is debited with the cost of these telegrams, and it does not wish to be debited with an amount in excess of that set apart for the service.
– At all events, the cutting down of the service does not mean any real economy; it is only an economy as between two Departments.
– I can only say that, to the extent to which it is of any use to the community, the service will be restored. It is not the wish of the Government that farmers, graziers, or any one else should suffer loss by the withholding of information as to rain or flood.
– Is there to be any further inquiry?
– I have already explained that the Minister for Home and Territories, after making inquiries, has issued certain instructions to the Government Meteorologist, with the result ithat, with the exception of messages that are of no real value, the former service will be restored.
– The honorable gentleman says that weather messages are to have preference over ordinary private telegrams. Will they have preference over urgent telegrams handed in by private individuals?
– I cannot say.
– Will flood advices be sent by urgent wire?
– All weather messages are ito have preference over ordinary private telegrams, so that they will be practically equal to urgent telegrams. We do not desire to do anything likely to lead to loss on the part of the people on the land, nor do we wish to withhold information from the coastal towns which might be of service to shipping. I think that further discussion should stand over until honorable members have had actual experience of the working of the service as now proposed. Should it prove to be unsatisfactory, honorable members will doubtless lose no time in bringing the whole matter before the House.
.- I hope that further inquiry will be made by the Minister in regard to the circulation of weather reports. The geographical position of many centres makes them far more important, from a meteorological point of view, than their size and population might suggest. Under the curtailed scheme districts in which there are only a few residents may be deprived of the service, although it is of vital importance that the earliest possible information from those centres as to flood reports should be available in other districts. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 15th instant we have the statement that -
Replying to Mr. Fleming (New South Wales), in the House of Representatives today, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) said that the only telegraph weather reports which were to be discontinued were certain messages between certain inland towns in Kew South Wales. The Minister added that the change would not affect flood reports or coastal reports, and the usual forecasts would still be issued.
– That was the information we had at the time.
– I quote this to show how necessary it is that the Minister should obtain more information, and not be ‘Completely satisfied with the answers supplied to his inquiries by officers of his Department. Unless the Minister obtains more information, we may have something more tragic than has yet occurred. Although the answer given by the Minister for Defence to the honorable member for Robertson, as set out in the Sydney Morning Herald, was an official one - prepared, I take it, by officials of the Department - and the House was, to some extent, satisfied with it, we find that within less than a week the reports formerly sent to four stations on the Macleay River alone - reports which are absolutely vital - have been cut off. I refer to the stations at Bellbrook, George’s River, Armidale, and Hillgrove. There are flats about 15 or 20 miles wide along the river where dairying is largely carried ou. These flats are intersected by numerous creeks, and I should say that something like 100,000 cattle are depastured on them. In the case of an ordinary rainfall dairy farmers there would not require to shift their stock; but if there was a prospect of a flood it would be necessary ito know that they had to shift them probably twenty-four hours before the flood waters came down. It will thus be seen how important it is that people in such districts should receive the earliest possible warning of threatened floods. The dangerous position of the people living on the lower flats of the Macleay was pointed out to the Meteorologist, and in justice to him, I must say that he immediately directed that hourly reports should be sent from Kempsey to the stations I have named. Before these representations were made, however, he felt justified in depriving them of the weather reports altogether. I hope that the Minister will make something more than a casual inquiry into the matter; that he will see to it that the former service is restored, and that not merely stations on the coast, but reporting stations in the west shall continue to send out and re* cove weather information which is of vital importance to graziers and others.
.- I see no reason why the Government Meteorologist should not immediately revert to the old system, which gave great satisfaction. ~No valid reason has been advanced by the Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) for. not restoring the full service1. I have received two communications, one from the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce, and the other from the Goulburn Shire Council, protesting strongly against the discontinuance of the weather’ reports. Despite what has been said by the Minister, no real saving has been effected by the cutting down of the service. It is absurd to expect a Department like that of the Government Meteorologist to keep its expenditure within £50,000 or £60,000 per annum. Because of special disturbances its expenditure in one year, may be three times greater than it was in the preceding year. Even if a real economy, and not a saving of expense only as between two Commonwealth Departments, were effected by reducing the service, the action taken by the Minister would not be justified. It is imperative that the fullest information as to weather forecasts should be circulated for the protection of life and property. These reports are distributed by Commonwealth instrumentalities, and I defy the Minister to show that the restricted service will lead to the withdrawal of even one man from the Postmaster-General’s Department or the Department of Home and Territories. In view of the actual facts, the excuse that the service was cut down with a view to effect economy is utterly worthless. The weather forecasts are of vital importance to the landed interests of Australia. Who is to determine the value of sending out reports to certain districts? An official in an outback centre may think it unnecessary at 9 a.m. to send a telegram intimating that the river in his district is rising, but before the day is over he may find that such in/formation was all-important to people living many miles lower down. As the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) has said, flood waters sometimes rise slowly, but after reaching a certain point they come along with a rush, so that it is highly important that early information of an approaching flood’ should be sent out. It is dangerous to allow the Department to say that it will discontinue the issue of such reports as appear to the officials to be unimportant. In the absence of better evidence than we have had this afternoon, I question whether the Government Meteorologist is in a position to determine the value of all such information to country and coastal districts. For the sake of the small amount of money that is to be nominally saved by a bookkeeping entry, there is no necessity to depart from the old service, to which everybody is accustomed, and for which all look. The Minister might well reconsider his decision; and I do not think he will meet with any trouble in this House if the expenditure of his Department is increased by a few hundreds or thousands of pounds.
.- If the Government had sought a method of antagonizing the country people, it could not have done better than cut down the weather reports. There is no doubt that the curtailment of this service has caused a storm of indignation throughout the rural districts, and also in the cities and large centres, where commercial and financial undertakings have their head-quarters. The rainfall is one of the country’s greatest assets, and in a continent in which the climatic conditions are so varied and unreliable, weather reports, especially in regard to the rainfall, have a very important bearing on the whole of our production and commercial undertakings. I read with gratification thestatement in the press this morning that the Minister had decided to restore the weather reports, and I understood that to mean a restoration to their former condition. The announcement afforded me a great deal of relief, for, like other honorable members representing country districts, I have been inundated with letters and telegrams upon this subject. Among other centres which have communicated with me are Glen Innes, Armidale, Guyra, Emmaville, Tamworth, and Manila, Barraba,Walcha, and other centres, and I have to-day sent to the innumerable centres from which I have received correspondence telegrams informing them that the Government had decided to restore the old service. I admit thatthe service may require reviewing. It may not be necessary nowadays to send urgent messages from adjacent towns or villages to head-quarters, because through the more general use of the telephone big centres are able to gathar and collate information from surrounding villages. The weather reports, however, are mo3t essential to those who are engaged in production and in the commerce and finance of the country, and the Government will commit a great blunder if they disregard these important factors. Many of us are not so much concerned as to who governs us, as we are concerned in seeing thait all services and conveniences that affect the prosperity, insurance, and guarantees of the country are efficient. These things mean so much for our credit, and credit means everything to the people engaged in primary production.
.- We are indebted to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for having brought this matter before the House. It is one of the most important with which any Parliament can deal. I am certain that the weather reports are looked for by almost every person in country districts. The honorable member who has just preceded me (Mr. Hay) knows that the people living along the rivers in Queensland, New South AVales, and South Australia look for the weather reports every morning. In fact, the people require a great deal more information than has been given to them hitherto. Proper gauges should be installed in different parts of Australia to provide reliable data regarding the rainfall. Great rivers are running to waste in Australia, which, in years to come, will be utilized as are the rivers in America and other parts of the world. One good effect of this debate will be to impress upon the people abroad that rain does fall in Australia. As a matter of fact, we get a good deal of rain ; but we want more water conservation, and we must have a better system of gauges, so that accurate records of the rainfall may be kept. I know that many visitors have said that what Australia requires is water power. There is in this continent as much water as in other countries, but we are not making sufficient use of it. I am surprised at the action of the Government in curtailing the reports; and I feel sure that a man like the Assistant Minister (Sir Granville Eyrie), who has had practical experience of the value of this information, will use his influence to have the old service restored.
.- I am afraid that the Government did not fully realize what would be the effect of their instructions to curtail expenditure in connexion with the Meteorological Department. After listening to the speech of the Minister, one might conclude that the Government adopt the policy of hanging a man first and trying him afterwards. They, presumably, told Mr. Hunt to curtail this service, and if the people did not kick up a row that policy would be persisted in; if the people did kick up a row the Government would review it. All this trouble could have been avoided by a consultation between the Government Meteorologist and the Minister before any curtailment of the meteorological service was decided upon. Had that been done, country dwellers would have been spared a lot of annoyance, and the time of honorable members and the Parliament would have been saved. I hope that in future, before any service is curtailed, Ministers will interview the departmental heads in order that they may be fully informed of what is proposed. I am sure that the Minister in charge of the Meteorological Department would never have consented to this curtailment if he had known fully what was to happen. This is a reversal of the Government’s expressed intention. Through the Prime Minister they are repeatedly declaring that their policy is to safeguard country interests, and one of the arguments advanced in support of the famous wireless agreement was that by means of wireless this information could be cheaply sent broadcast over Australia. But the first thing the Government have done is to cut down the information that was previously available. It may not be known to the Minister that the instruments have been already shifted from various stations and are not available for the information of the public. The discontinuance of this service means a reduction of trade. For instance, a stock buyer hears that 100 miles away rain has fallen ; but .if there is no rain gauge he has no certain knowledge as to whether .the rainfall is sufficient to justify him in buying stock. I ask the Minister to see that these instruments are restored to all country stations. The excuse given by the Department is that instructions have been issued to cut down expenditure, and the Department cannot afford to supply instruments to the rainfall stations. The question to decide is whether or not the people are prepared to pay for these services. The protests we have received during the last week provide convincing testimony that the people are prepared to pay for information which is absolutely essential - that is, unless they are to inn the risk of losing stock through not being able to remove them in time to avoid a flood. In the Gwydir electorate there is a line of towns along the Darling River, and there and in the districts adjoining people must have many days’ notice of warning of floods in order that they may get their stock away in time. When the flood arrives it is quite common for the watercourse to be 22 miles wide. Everybody must realize at what an enormous disadvantage these people are placed through being deprived of information regarding rainfall and the rise and fall of the rivers. I do not agree with those honorable members who have suggested that because the Government provide this service it costs nothing. Every service that is rendered costs something; but the people are prepared to pay that cost, and money for it should be made available to the different Departments by Parliament. I shall never be afraid of voting in favour of making money available for such services as these. In country centres where information is lacking regarding rain in the outside areas, the stock and station agents have sent urgent messages at their own expense in order to get reliable information to lay before prospective, buyers and sellers. By this means the wheels of trade are kept in motion and the stagnation that follows uncertainty is avoided. We are indebted to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) for having persisted in bringing the matter before the House to-day. The information given to honorable members before the Minister rose to-day was not such as representatives of the people have a right to expect from the Government. As representatives of our constituents we have a right to know from the Government what their intentions are. It is useless to blame Mr. Hunt; if the Minister gave him a free hand to reduce these services, the Minister must take the responsibility. I feel certain that this discussion has thrown new light upon the subject, and has proved to the Government that they should not have acted in such a haphazard manner. Instructions to curtail expenditure have been issued in other Departments. Ministers should get into touch with the beads of those Departments and give them definite statements as to where the curtailment of expenditure should be carried out. Otherwise, during the remaining months of this session we shall have the adjournment of the House moved over and over again to discuss questions which there would be no necessity to debate in Parliament if Ministers would only give instructions that economy must be effected in certain definite directions. Ministers should not give heads of Departments, as their only guide, the sweeping statement that their expenditure must be kept within a certain limit. Such a policy is not only unfair to those in control of Departments and to. the people who have services rendered to them, it is also unfair to honorable members. It means that the business of the House may be held up day after day with matters that should never advance to the stage at which action is necessary to be taken here to secure redress of grievances. I regret that the Government, in this case, have not taken the necessary trouble to insure that the curbailment of expenditure in the Meteorological Department should not be in the wrong direction, because their mistake in this regard has led to the holding up of business and a waste of honorable members’ time, and we are only now where we were previous to these instructions being issued.
.- The fact that a Minister has assured the House that the curtailment in the supply of meteorological information originally intended will not be carried out may to some extent take the sting out of honorable members’ criticism, but it is false economy to have any cutting off of expenditure in this direction and i? inconsistent with the professions of the Government and their declaration in the Governor-
General’s Speech of the importance of primary production. Ministers say that Australia depends solely upon primary production, yet they seek to carry out, at the expense of primary producers, a tinpot saving which is really no economy at all.
– Would it be of any advantage to primary producers to send to Gabo Island an urgent wire as to the weather conditions on the honorable member’s farm ‘!
– The Minister may imagine that because there is not a very _ big population in the neighbourhood of my farm information in regard to the weather conditions there is unnecessary for the public of Australia, but I remind the Minister that all outlying posts in Australia are important. The supplying of information in regard to weather conditions is a public service which it is the proper function of the Government to undertake. If news as to the weather at my farm is not given to me by the public press through the Meteorological Department of the Commonwealth I am obliged to spend money, as a. taxpayer, in procuring the information privately. I am continually watching the Western Australian weather reports published in the Melbourne press. If I cannot get that information in that way I must telegraph at my own expense. But, as a community, we might as well get that information collectively and not individually
– The honorable member would let the Government do the work for him ?
– Yes, on my behalf as a taxpayer. The taxpayers as a whole have to pay for this information, and when we have scientific developments such as the telegraph and wireless at our disposal and upon which the Government propose to extend their operations, it is a. gross inconsistency on their part to attempt curtailment in a direction of which a vast country such, as this needs more and more. In progressive nations, not only weather reports, but market reports are flashed from one end of the country to the other, in many cases three times a day. I am glad that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) has raised this question. Nothwithstanding the intimation made by the Minister this afternoon, in my opinion we should get back to where we started to retrench, in this direction if, indeed, the Government are not prepared to give additional information which would be beneficial to the people of Australia.
.- I am pleased that it is the intention of the Government to restore, to a great extent, the services previously at the disposal of people in outback districts. I look upon the question as being one of outback versus city. We cannot assume that the reports sent from. one State to another are of no value. They give the people in business in another State the opportunity of telegraphing to their local representatives and asking what the conditions of markets and so forth may be. There is certainly a great deal of duplication in the matter of weather reports, information as to flood waters and so forth. Many States are spending considerable sums of money each year upon the upkeep of observatories, a work which is within the province of the Commonwealth Government. It is particularly valuable for prospectors to know the weather conditions in districts where they propose to prospect for gold or other minerals. It is particularly valuable to a prospector to know whether the lakes, for instance, which cover such vast areas in the interior of Australia are likely to be impassable at the time of his visit, or whether he would be prevented by floods from reaching the spot where he intends to carry on operations. Weather reports also help stock-owners. It is absolutely necessary that the markets in various towns should be supplied with beef and mutton, but they cannot be so supplied unless the cattle and sheep are moved from the various stations and farms where they are fattened. Stock, however, cannot be moved, particularly in outback districts, until there is a demand. It is, therefore, highly important that the buyers in, the towns where there is a demand for stock should be in a position to wire the owners of stock as to the weather conditions on the stock routes along which the cattle or sheep are likely to pass. Information thus supplied often enables the stock-owner to divert his cattle or sheep to another route, aud thus en-, BUreS for bini the full result of his labours. I trust that when the amended proposals are made known by the Minister, the House will have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on them. I. do not agree with the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham). Parliament is the place where these matters should be discussed iu order that honorable members may see that the people in their constituencies are getting what they . have a right to expect
.- I am not one who feels that he ought to condemn the Government because they have attempted some economy. I would rather commend them for practising economy if it can be effected without unduly endangering life or efficiency. In this matter of the curtailment of meteorological reports we have a good illustration of that economy which so many believe in, that is to say, economy at the expense of the other fellow. I rise, this afternoon, to direct attention to another aspect of the question which is not so much related to the possibility of loss of life - the effect of weather and river height reports upon the navigation of the River Murray and its tributaries. I have lived on the Murray for some years. It is customary for huge stores of goods to be located at Morgan, in South Australia. As soon as advice comes forward that heavy rains have fallen in New South Wales, barges are immediately loaded and taken in tow by steamers to the Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers, because although, as the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) has explained, flood waters may be twenty-two miles wide in some places, the rivers very quickly subside. It is important that the navigation companies working on the rivers should know when to despatch, their boats from such points as Morgan in order to take stores to the towns and stations up the tributary rivers and return into the Murray itself. With respect to the settlers along the lower Murray, there is recurrent danger of the reclaimed swamps being inundated. Complete and reliable advice, therefore, is essential for the success and welfare of those settlers. With respect to the provision of a limited service, I should say that if necessary reports were made available once or twice a week the situation would be sufficiently covered: that is, so far as the interests of navigation and the welfare of reclaimed swamp settlers are concerned. I can well understand that under the system obtaining in Government Departments a certain line of information may be coming to band day after day, year after year, and that much of this detailed matter, which has worn quite a groove or rut for itself, may be really unnecessary. If some of this unimportant data be pared away and the really essential information retained and elaborated, no one would say that this debate has been in vain.
– I hope the Government will not practise economy in directions where it is essential that public services shall be retained in full, if not elaborated. As an outcome of recent agitation, in which I joined, a wireless station ‘ has been installed in the Willis Island Group, off the coast of Queensland, from which notification is given concerning approaching cyclones. Information from that source is absolutely invaluable. The same may be said for much mainland advice which has been received year after year through the Meteorological Department. On occasions I have known of a complete absence of rainfall on the Burnett River, in Queensland; and yet, almost without warning, floods have swept down, 13 feet high. But for the information officially given through the sources under review to-day, tremendous damage and loss of stock would have occurred. However, settlers have been kept in touch with the state of the streams which feed the Burnett, so that it has been possible to remove live stock before the floods have reached them. This applies to other portions of the State. A year or two ago I impressed upon officers of the Department concerned the importance of procuring fuller particulars, in view of the grave risk and the actual loss occasioned in the locality of which I have been speaking. The necessary information was thereafter provided, and dias since been coming regularly to hand, much to the gratification and profit of settlers concerned. I am glad to learn from the Minister that these important particulars will still be made available. It is the duty of the Government to see that all essential news of the kind is promptly and regularly supplied. I know that many people would prefer to pay directly for all such information rather than that it should be withheld. I cannot believe that the Government will act so unwisely as to curtail the supply of this essential news. In conclusion, I may add that I have received a protest only to-day from Chambers of Commerce in my electorate.
.- I have been naturally disappointed to find that, although the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) furnished me with an answer on the 14th of July stating that the serious state of affairs brought about by the curtailment of the meteorological information would be remedied, it should have been necessary for an honorable member to take specific action to-day. Almost innumerable complaints have been received from all over the country during the past few days. One important aspect has been overlooked this afternoon, although the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) made some reference to the point which I had in mind when he alluded to the settlers on the Lower Murray. It is very difficult for any official to say which are the stations in a given area from which weather reports and the like should be drawn. It is essential for persons living on and engaged about the great watersheds of our river systems to be kept informed of the aggregate rainfall over the whole area; and”, thus, it is just as necessary that these reports should be drawn from places where there may be only two or three residents as from those in which 200 or 300 people are living. I resided for many years on the upper reaches of one of the watersheds of the Murray. I have seen the river bed in that neighbourhood dry for hundreds of yards; and at other times I have known that same area to be covered by water, sometimes for 26 miles in width. Another phase of the subject lies in the fact that, in Australia, we are just beginning to realize the possibilities of hydro-electric schemes. There are many places, par,ticularly in New South Wales and Queensland, where projects of this character can be established. I have in mind one site on the north coast which stands out naturally as the most promising of all. It is desirable that complete records of rainfall covering the whole of such districts and river systems as these should be received and officially tabulated. I hope the Government will not only retain the old system in full, but that, as far as possible, the provision of these reports shall be extended and improved. A policy of cutting down would be penny wise and pound foolish. As for the danger to life, property, and stock, mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), I can support all that has been said in that direction. It is a fact that, in parts of his electorate as well as in my own, through which the Hunter runs, there is sometimes actual danger to life because of sudden floods from the northern areas. Indeed, lives have been lost in the past because of lack of due warning.
– And many thousands of head of stock have been swept away.
– Yes; the properties and household goods of settlers also. I again urge that these weather reports be restored in full.
Honorable Members. - Divide !
– I am not anxious to occupy further time; and, if honorable members desire, we shall have a division. Certainly, the subject-matter is of sufficient importance to warrant a vote. I admit that the position of the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) is awkward. He has responsbility without power. I emphasize the point raised by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming). In ray own district certain large water-power schemes on the Shoalhaven and other rivers have been proposed. It is essential that the supply from various watersheds, and furnished by specific streams, should be authoritatively known and recorded. When certain big firms come out to Australia from England to spend millions in establishing great water-power projects, they should be able to draw upon official data in the directions I have just indicated. The Government should not revert to a partial system of obtaining reports. No expenditure is involved in securing the information. There will be no saving by cutting down the volume of reports ; no public servant will lose his job. As for that aspect, however, I ask again who is originally responsible for what has been done. A hue and cry has been raised throughout the country over this matter. I am getting suspicious. It would seem that a certain line of action is being taken in some of our public Departments to cast odium upon the Government. I resent that, and the Government should sec to it that such a thing does not happen again.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Erection of High-power Stations.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries will be made, and, if tenders are to be called, the Government representatives on the board of directors will be communicated with on the matter.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Referring to recent replies given by him in connexion with the Dr. Campbell Brown expedition, will he state -
On whose authority was the elaborate interim report of the director printed by a private firm in Sydnby?
Was the cost borne by the Commonwealth or included in the claims made?
What was the total amount claimed by Dr. Campbell Brown?
Did the Commonwealth pay for the building and fitting out of the Wattle in Sydney?
What arrangements were made with the Australian Pictures Limited to have photographs and films taken by the operator who accompanied the expedition?
Was any money paid by this company for that right?
If so, how much, and to whom?
If not, are the films and photographs the property of the Commonwealth?
Who paid the expenses of the operator ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Payment of Income Tax
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has considered the request of the Missionary Societies of New Guinea for native representation in the proposed Legislative Council for Papua; and, if so, has the request been granted?
– The suggestion referred to by the honorable member has already been made on several occasions, and at the present time is receiving consideration. At the same time I would remind the honorable member that it is the duty of the official members of the Legislative Council at all times to safeguard the interests of the natives. Moreover, under section 41 of the Papua Act 1905, paragraphs 7, S, 9, and 10, assent to certain Ordinances affecting native interests cannot be given unless the Ordinance contains a clause suspending its operation until the signification of the Governor-General’s pleasure thereon.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– As the House was informed by my colleague, the Minister for Customs, on Friday, this matter is already under the consideration of the Tariff Board. The honorable member may rest assured that, should the necessity arise, the Government will not stand by and see a key industry in Australia brought once more under German control.
Sorters : Payment for “ Final Sorting” - Revenue from “Various Sources - Semi-Official or Allowance Offices.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Acting Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the total amount paid or received by post-offices in connexion with each of the following services: -
– The particulars in respect of the financial year 1920-21 are - 1. (a) £7,143,932.
7 s. 6d per cent.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. I am unable to say without making inquiries, the completion of which would involve considerable labour, which does not seem necessary in view of the fact that the status of an office is not conditioned on revenue only. It is based on the volume and nature of the work handled. The attainment to a revenue of £400 per annum is merely the starting point for investigation as to the status which is justified. 3 and 4. See answer to 1 and 2.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Is there any truth in the statement made in Sydney , that, with the view to economy and efficiency, steps are being taken to transfer all pensions and payments under the Repatriation Department to the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Branch of the Treasury Department?
– No. It is not considered to be in the interests of convenience, efficiency, and economy to do so.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Will he furnish particulars of prosecutions that have taken place and fines that have been inflicted in connexion with breaches of the Timber Workers’ Award No. 5 of 1915?
– Prosecutions of the nature of those referred to are instituted by the organization or other party concerned, and may be dealt with in any State in which the award operates. The Attorney-General has no cognisance of the initiation of proceedings, and there are no departmental records of the prosecutions in question.
Religious Denominations and Adherents
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What is the result of the Census of 1921 relating to religious denominations and the number of their adherents?
– The information is still in process of compilation, but will be made available as soon as the compilation is complete.
Mr.WEST asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether, owing to the unprecedented amount of loans that will fall due during the year 1923, being war loans that are unproductive, he will issue inscribed stock at lower ratos, or provide for such loans to be converted into consols at a lower rate of interest than their present rate, and permit of them being redeemed at such opportunitiesas will enable the war loans to be obliterated?
If not, will he submit any proposal to Parliament to deal with this matter?
With the view of steps being taken to deal with loans, will ho state to the House if, in his opinion, such business should bc done through and by Commonwealth Bank agency ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Commonwealth Government recommended or confirmed the recommendation made for the title that has been bestowed upon Sir Henry Newman Barwell, Premier of South Australia?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I would direct the honorable member’s attention to a statement made in this House on the 12th July last by the Honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs in reply to an inquiry by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell), explaining that the moat supplied for relief in Russia was purchased by the High Commissioner in London in consultation with Mr. J. M. Elder, from Vestey’s Limited, at a cost of £49,0701s.1d.
Appointment of Seventh Director
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follow : - 1.Clause 3 (sub-sectionIII.) and clause. 20 of the agreement provided for the selection of the seventh director by an arbitrator in the event of the other six directors failing to agree. An arbitrator was selected accordingly, and the matter was argued at length before him. all the six directors taking part.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In connexion with the migration agreement just signed by the High Commissioner in London on behalf of the Commonwealth, will he state -
For how much money is the Common wealth committed ?
For what period has this agreement been made ?
What portion of the money for which the Commonwealth is responsible will be recoverable, and from whom?
How many immigrants’ passage money will this cover?
Were definite arrangements for settling the men on the land made with every State before the agreement was signed ?
If so, what is the quota desired by each State during the period mentioned in the agreement?
– The answers to the honornble member’s questions areas follow : -
– On the 20th July, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the following questions: -
L What were the numbers from 1914 to 1918 of persons rejected from enlistment in. - (a) The Australian Imperial Force, (b) The Royal Australian Navy? 2. What constituted the chief reasons for such rejections?
I replied to the effect that the military records were not available for the period 1914-18. With regard to the Royal Australian Navy, 5,945 candidates were rejected from enlistment therein on account of medical unfitness during the years 1914-18. Others were rejected on account of unsatisfactory character and some on account of alien birth, but no record of the numbers in these cases is readily available.
The following papers were presented’: -
NewGuinea Act - Ordinance . of 1922-23 - No. 2 - Judiciary 1922 (No. 2).
War Service Homes Act - Agreement between the War Service Homes Commissioner and the Commissioners of the State Savings Bank of Victoria. Arrangement between the War Service Homes Commissioner and the Government of Western Australia.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. . J. Broughton, S. Irwin, and H. A. Smith, the Distribution Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said. State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day of June, 1922, and that the. names of the division? suggested in. the report and indicated in red on the maps referred to therein be adopted except that the name “Barten” he substituted for “Kogarah,” and. the name “ Reid “ for “ Granville.”
The Distribution Commissioners, who were appointed for the purpose of redistributing the State of New South Wales into electoral districts, ‘having furnished their report, and the report, in pursuance of section 23 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, having been- placed before Parliament, the present motion is now submitted, in- pursuance of section 24, for the purpose of enabling the House to pass a resolution approving of the proposed divisions. The distribution became necessary under section 25, sub-section 2a, which provides that whenever an alteration is made in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be elected for a State, a redistribution of the State into divisions may be proclaimed in the manner set out in the section. A census was taken of the population of Australia, and, as a result of that, a. redistribution of States divisions has been necessitated because an alteration has been brought about in the number of members in two of the States concerned. The last redistribution in New South Wales was made in 1912. Between the date of the census of 1911, upon which the previous redistribution was made, and the next census of 1921, considerable change has taken place. The population of New South Wales’ has increased from 1, 646,734 to 2,099,763 or by 27.51 per cent. The following, figures show the increase in population in the various States from 1911 to 1921:-
The foregoing figures reveal the necessity for a redistribution. I shall point out exactly the basis upon which we are acting, and the limitations by which we are bound. Section 24 of the Constitution states -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner: -
But notwithstanding anything in this section, five members at least shall be chosen in each original State.
I invite honorable members’ attention to the fact that there are throe or four distinct features in this section. In the first place it says that “ the House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.” So the first limitation is that the number of members in the House of Representatives is limited by the number of members in the Senate. At present there are thirtysix members in the Senate, and it means that the number of members of the House of Representatives shall, as nearly as practicable, be seventy-two. Of course there is power in the Constitution to increase the number of the members of the House of Representatives and the number of senators, but the principle is laid down as a fundamental one that there should be what is called the two-to-one ratio, and we have no power to alter it; it is fixed and determined by the Constitution itself. Therefore, in making all our calculations, we have to keep that limitation in view. We have not power to fix the numbers arbitrarily, or to choose some line of our own, to satisfy a passing condition of affairs, if it violate that fundamental principle.
– How was the number fixed at, seventy-five, in the first place?
– I am coming to that point. From Quick and Garran, at page 450, we read the following regarding the words “ as nearly as practicable “ : -
These words are not intended to allow the Parliament a discretionary latitude in fixing the number of the members. of the House of Representatives, but to provide for the slight variation that may be caused by the provision for the minimum representation of a State, and also by the provision for representing fractions of a quota. According to the mode provided in this section for determining the number of members, the “ quota “ of representation is to be ascertained by pure arithmetic. So far, the words, “ as nearly as practicable “ are unnecessary. But the quota so obtained, though it of course divides exactly into the population of the Commonwealth, is not likely to divide exactly into the population of each State. There will probably b e fractions in each State, arithmetically entitled to a fraction of a member; and whether these fractions are ignored altogether, or whether provision is made - as in this section - for assigning a member to any fraction greater than one-half the quota, the result may be to slightly disturb the “ twotoone ratio.” A further, and, at present, more considerable element of disturbance is the provision that each State shall have at least five representatives.
On a population basis Tasmania, is at present only entitled to three representatives ; and her two additional members, not being allowed for by the quota calculation, go to increase the number of members beyond the “ two to one ratio.”
The Parliament, when it makes “other provisions “ for determining the number of members, will be bound by the constitutional provision to make their number “ as nearly as practicable twice the number of the senators”: and the clear intention is that the absolute ratio should only he departed from so far as may be necessary to adjust fractional and minimum representation.
Of course, there is provision in the Constitution for minimum representation of States. Each of the six original States must have five members; but those five are not to be taken into consideration in working out thearithmetical sum to determine the quotas under section 24. That section lays down clearly that the basis for working out the representation is seventy-two, and because fractional results are sure to be produced by dividing the population of the States by the quota, it provides that whenever there is a fraction of more than half of the quota the State shall be entitled to an additional member. We are absolutely bound by that quota. Section 24 provides further -
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people
That, also, is fundamental, and we cannot alter that. In working out the arithmetical sum, the populations of the States must be kept in view - and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined whenever necessary in the following manner: -
The remaining part of the section states how the arithmetical calculation must be worked out. The Constitution says that the representation of each State shall be determined “whenever necessary.” That is where Parliament’s discretionary power comes in. Parliament may determine the manner in which the representation shall be divided, within the limitation prescribed in paragraphs 1 and 2 of section 24, “ whenever necessary.” In 1905 the question of the allocation of members amongst the States first arose. There was then no Federal statute to regulate the procedure; it was dependent upon Executive action. The Government were faced with difficulties as to who should act, and what was meant by the “ latest statistics “ referred to in the Constitution. A great deal of controversy arose, and Parliament took definite action by passing the Representation Act of 1905. Parliament decided first of all that the determination of when re-allocation of representation was necessary should not be controlled by the Executive or the Parliament, because obviously such control would provide an opening for political engineering or the pressure of political exigencies. It therefore gave control into the hands of an independent authority. It defined, first of all, the times at which it should be considered necessary to make an enumeration, in order to determine the representation rights of the respective States. In the second place the Act set up an independent authority. Section 3 made provision for an enumeration day based upon the first census taken after the commencement of the Act, and at the expiration of every fifth year thereafter.’ A series of rules set out in the schedule prescribed the method for ascertaining the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth and of the several States where the enumeration day was not a census day. The statistics produced in that way constitute the official legal evidence upon which the Chief Electoral Officer acts independently, and quite irrespective of Parliament itself. That is as it should be. To the Chief Electoral Officer is left the duty of working out the proportion. The Statistical officers must provide the Chief Electoral Officer with statistical information, and, according to section 6,the Chief Electoral Officer, after ascertaining the number of people in accordance with the Act, must make and forward to the Minister a certificate. That certificate was forwarded and published in the Commonwealth Gazette of 29th August of last year. It constitutes evidence of the number of people of the Commonwealth and of the several States. The next step which the Chief Electoral Officer has to take is to determine the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States in accordance with the principles laid down in section 10 of the Representation Act. Section 24 of the Constitution says that the representation of the States shall be determined in the manner prescribed “ until Parliament otherwise provides,” and Quick and Garran say, in reference to those words:
These words empower the Parliament to alter the provisions of sub-sections (I.) and (II.), which deal with the manner of determining the number of members chosen in the several States. This power of alteration is, however, confined within very narrow limits by the permanent and absolute provisions of the section. The rules which are determined absolutely by the section, and which Parliament has no power to alter, are : -
That the whole number of members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators;
That the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people;
That five members at least shall be chosen in each original State.
The provisions for ascertaining the quota, and for dealing with the question of fractions, may only be altered subject to those absolute rules; so that the power of the Parliament to alter the basis of apportionment is very small.
However, acting upon that provision in the Constitution, Parliament passed the Representation Act, under which the Chief Electoral Officer is acting. Section 12 of the Act says: -
When in pursuance of a certificate under this Act an alteration takes place in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in any State, the alteration shall not affect -
Any election held before the State has been redistributed into electoral divisions pursuant to the certificate, nor
any election to fill a vacancy in a House of Representatives elected before such redistribution, but shall affect any general election nfter such redistribution.
That is a mandatory direction to Parliament that after there has been an alteration in the representation, certified in tihe way prescribed, such alteration, carrying out the terms, conditions and spirit of the Constitution, must affect the next general election.
– After it has been ratified by Parliament.
– No; the apportionment of members amongst the States is independent of Parliament. The Chief Electoral Officer has presented a certificate setting out tihe numbers of the people. Under section 9 he has determined the number of members to be chosen in the several States, and has made and forwarded, under section 11, a notification to the Minister of such determination. I have been furnished with figures showing how the quota has been worked out. The total population of the Commonwealth at the last enumeration day was 5,416,600. The Chief Electoral Officer has divided that total by seventy-two, because the Act says distinctly that the total population must be divided by twice the number of senators.
– The Constitution says “ as nearly as practicable.”
– The number of members to be chosen must be as nearly as practicable seventy-two, and we cannot add an arbitrary number of one, two, three, or four in order to work out a mathematical sum that will suit ourselves. If we do that we falsify the terms of the Constitution.
– Will the Minister accept seventy-one as being as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators?
– It is possible that the nearest practicable number of members arrived at upon a seventy-two basis may be seventy-one or seventy, but if we make the number seventy-three as the divisor we set up a seventy-three basis, and not a seventytwo basis, which the Constitution demands. As Quick and Garran point out, all we have power to deal witlh is the fractional difference; and the divisor must be as nearly as practicable seventytwo. Anything other than that will falsify the basis of the Constitution and make the redistribution unconstitutional and liable to be upset. Parliament can legislate only witlh respect to the fractional quota. Mr. Webster, in his report to the United States Congress, pointed out the absolute justice of the fractional basis, and said that by using the fractional basis and giving an extra member, we are going as near as practicable to the fixed number.
– Does the Minister suggest that we cannot alter the fractional basis ?
– I said we could alter it.
– Didthe Minister not quote something to the contrary?
– No, I said that Mr. Webster pointed out the absolute justice of working upon a fractional basis. The Constitution and the Representation Act lay it down that the number of people of the Commonwealth must be divided by seventy-two.
– It does not lay it down at all, but provides that the number must be as near as practicable to seventy-two.
– The number of members to be chosen must be as near as practicable seventy-two. What does “ near as practicable “ mean ? It means what it says, and surely does not mean that it should be as far away from seventy-two as possible.
– We get as near as practicable in all systems of proportional representation.
– We can deal with that when the honorable member submits his proposition ; but I do not intend to anticipate argument at this juncture. I am endeavouring to set out the conditions under which we are working and give reasons.
– Do the Minister’s arguments affect the position in New South Wales?
– I am pointing out why New South Wales is to have an increase in the number of members. The Census returns show that the population of the Commonwealth is 5,416,600, which, divided by seventy-two - which is twice the number of senators - produces a quota of 75,231, and gives the following result:- NewSouth. Wales, 27.911; Victoria, 20.358; Queensland, 9.938; South Australia, 6.584; Western Australia, 4.366; and Tasmania, 2.843. Under the provisions of the Constitution, and of the Representation Act, New South Wales is entitled to twenty-seven members, but there is in addition, . 911, which, being more than half, gives the State twenty-eight. Victoria is below the onehalf and, therefore, the number of members in that State is twenty. The Queensland figures show a surplus of . 938, which is over one-half, and that State is therefore entitled to ten members, while South Australia shows a surplus of . 584, which is also over one-half, and is therefore entitled to seven members. Western Australia has a surplus of . 366, and, according to the provisions of the Constitution, apart from the special conditions, is entitled to four members, while Tasmania is entitled to three. Under the provision which requires each original State to have a minimum of five members”, Tasmania and Western Australia are brought up to that number. The number of members to which each State is entitled is therefore: - New South Wales, 28; Victoria,, 20; Queensland, 10; South Australia, 7; Western Australia, 5 and Tasmania 5. Obviously this will at times cause a variation in the representation of the different States, and the position, which affects all States, ought to be decided upon an independent basis, so that the figures shall be given effect to, irrespective of party, political feelings, or local agitation. For this reason this scheme of representation was decided upon, and in accordance with the law the Chief Electoral Officer has submitted his certificate in the following words : -
Pursuant to the provisions of the Representation -Act of 1905, 1 hereby notify that I have determined the number of members of the House of Representatives, to be chosen in the seven States to be as under. - New South Wales, 28; Victoria, 20 ; Queensland, 10; South Australia, 7; Western . Australia, 5; and Tasmania, 5, a total of 75.
– Does the Minister consider that equitable ?
– Yes, and it works out fairly to all States. It is not only my opinion, but the opinion of the Convention, which, up to date, has never been questioned. After a lapse of years the systemis now being criticised for the first time ; and we must expect that whenever one State’s representation is reduced, there will naturally be a feeling of dissatisfaction.
– The shoe will be sure to pinch at times.
– And it will always pinch those in country districts.
– In this instance, I am. dealing with the whole of the States and not with country or city representation. We are endeavouring to adjust the number of members to the State equitably in order to secure a fair and just proportion of representation for every partof the Commonwealth, irrespective of party.
Mr.Fenton. - But you are not doing’ that.
– The honorable member will be able to put his case later.
– The Minister has already shown that two States have more than their fair share of representation. .
– I have not. In apportioning the number of members among the States we must have fractions, and. if we did not allow for fractional figures claims would be made for additional representation. For instance, New South Wales . has a fraction of . 911, which clearly indicates that there is a substantial number of electors in that State entitled to representation. The figures for Queensland are . 938, which are higher even than those of New South Wales and which show that we must make due allowance for fractions After having enumerated the population as shown by the census figures, the Chief Electoral Officer determines the representation to be given and notifies the Minister under section 11, and upon that basis New South Wales is . entitled to twenty-eight members.
We now pass to a different principle. Having determined the number of members on a population basis, the next step is to divide the State into constituencies based upon the electoral population - the electors in the State and not the number of people. Of course-, there is a. variation in the electoral population in the different States, and I find the percentage of adults to the total population in respect of the census of 1911 to be as follows: - New South Wales, 55.80; Victoria, 57.12; Queensland, 54.33; South Australia, 56.17; Western ‘ Australia, 59.05; and Tasmania, 52.63. The returns on the 1921 census are not yet available. With such a fluctuation the percentages must be reflected in the electoral population. From the first time an Electoral Act was considered in this House it has always been considered a permanent principle that the distribution of electorates should not be done by Parliament nor by an executive act of the Government of the day. Originally in the 1902 Act one Electoral Commissioner was provided, and later, in 1909, the number was increased to three. Speaking from memory, I think the Bill introduced in 1909 was when Sir George Fuller was Minister for Home Affairs. The Commissioners are instructed under section 15 of the Electoral Act, which provides -
Each State shall be distributed into electoral divisions equal in number to the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the State, and one member of the House of Representatives shall be chosen for each division.
That lays down the principle of single electorates. Section 18 provides -
For the purposes of the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer shall, whenever necessary, ascertain a quota for each State as follows’: - The whole number of electors in each State, as nearly as can he ascertained, shall he divided by the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for that State.
Section 19 provides that -
In making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to - (a) community or diversity of interest; (b) means of communication; (c) physical features: (d) existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions; (e) State electoral boundaries, and Subject thereto the quota of electors shall be the basis for distribution, and the Distribution Commissioners may adopt a margin of allowance to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall such quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-fifth more or onefifth less.
That has been the continuous direction of Parliament practically since the establishment of Federation. The Commissioners are bound to proceed upon that basis.
– If that is the direction of. Parliament, why has it not been exercised ?
– It has been exercised.
– As the quotas have re mained the same it could not have been exercised.
– The quotas have varied from time to time.
– I am referring to the one-fifth margin of allowance. That has never been exercised.
– It has been exercised in all distributions. The margin of onefifth is the limit. In nearly every instance the quota has been departed from, but the Commissioners have not gone to the full one-fifth margin mainly because of section 25, sub-section 2, paragraph b, which provides -
Such proclamation maybe made -
If the Commissioners brought up their margin to the full one-fifth permitted, the distribution of seats would be out of joint in a very short time. The fluctuations of population in Australia are such that if in half the electoral divisions the margin of one-fifth were adopted the observance of the requirements of section 25 would very soon necessitate a fresh redistribution.
I come now to deal with the result of the redistribution in New South Wales. Honorable members know the details of their own constituencies much better than I do. The Commissioners, who are outside the control of the Executive and Parliament, were duly informed by the Chief Electoral Officer that the State of New South Wales was to be distributed into twenty-eight divisions, and that the quota for the State had been ascertained to be 39,478. Allowing for the margin of one-fifth more or one-fifth less, they could give a maximum number of electors in any one division of 47,373 and a minimum number of 31,583. Since the last distribution in 1912 the number of electors in the State of New South Wales had increased from 935,744 to 1,105,380. The Commissioners proceeded to divide the State into two parts - metropolitan divisions and extrametropolitan divisions. They allotted to metropolitan divisions thirteen members for 535,171 electors, an average enrolment of 41,167. The extra-metropolitan divisions they fixed at fifteen for 570,209 electors, an average enrolment of 38,014. The twenty-eight divisions thus fixed have an average enrolment of 39,478. In the city electorates the average enrolment, 41,167, exceeds the average quota for the State, 39,478 ; the average enrolment for country divisions, 38,014, is below the average quota for the State. There were eleven divisions in 1912 in the metropolitan area as against thirteen divisions in the present distribution. There are fifteen divisions in the extra-metropolitan area in the present proposals us against sixteen in the distribution of 1912.
In 1912 the enrolment in the metropolitan divisions was 412,675. At the present time it is 543,276, a net increase of 130,601, or 31.6 per cent. In. 1912, the enrolment in extra metropolitan divisions was 523,069. The present enrolment is 562,104, a net increase of 39,035. or 7.5 per cent., as compared with the 31.6 per cent, increase in metropolitan divisions.
The necessity for redistributing the State of New South Wales is manifest in the fact that the number of electors in existing divisions runs from 72,439 in Parkes, to 23,635 in Barrier, a range of 48,804. Under the proposed distribution, the number of electors will run from 43,265 in West Sydney to 36,546 in Darling, a range of only 6,719. The Division of Barrier, whose enrolment has dwindled from 29,269 in 1912 to 23,635 at the present time, disappears, and has been to a large extent merged in the adjacent Division of Darling. The Division of Nepean also disappears from the list of extra metropolitan divisions, and has been absorbed in Macquarie, Parramatta, Werriwa, Granville, and Martin. The Parramatta Division, which will consist of the outlying portions of the present Parramatta, Nepean, and Illawarra Divisions, becomes an extra metropolitan division. The Commissioners propose to change the name of Eden-Monaro to Monaro.
– What for?
– I have not the slightest idea. I can see no reason for not adhering to the old name, and I leave the matter to the House. Other alterations in the extra metropolitan divisions consist of necessary adjustments as between the divisions. -
In the metropolitan area the greater portion of the existing Division of North Sydney will constitute the new Division of Warringah, whilst the remainder of North Sydney, with portion of the existing Division of Parramatta, will be known as North Sydney. A new division, Martin, will be constituted from portion of the existing Divisions of Nepean, Parkes, and Parramatta, which lastnamed division will disappear from the list of metropolitan divisions. Another new division, designated Granville by the Commissioners, but which it is proposed on my motion to call Raid, will be created from the existing Divisions of Nepean and Parkes. A new division which- the Commissioners suggest shall be. called’ Kogarah, but to which it is proposed the name Barton shall be given, is constituted by portions of Illawarra and Lang. Illawaira will no longer remain as a division, inasmuch as it is divided between Kogarah, or Barton, Monaro, Parramatta, and Werriwa. The remaining alterations of the metropolitan divisions are merely adjustments to more nearly equalize the number of electors in the divisions.Full details of the constitution of each proposed division, appear in the Commissioner’s report.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– On a point of order. I have already given notice of an amendment to the Minister’s proponal. Will it take precedence of any amendment which the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) may submit ?
– Precedence will be given to the amendment tobe submitted by the honorable member for Cowper, whose proposal is to delete all the words after “that” first occurring, in the motion. The amendment of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro seeks to add words to the motion.
– On a point of order. If the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper is defeated, will honorable members be precluded from moving for the deletion of any other words in the motion?
– When the amendment to be submitted by the honorable member for Cowper has been dealt with, the Chair will give a ruling as to whatever point may then arisen.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Earle Page) adjourned.
– I move -
That this House approves the Treaty between the United States of America, the British Empire, France, and Japan, relating to their insular Possessions and insular Dominions in the .Pacific Ocean, signed at Washington, 13th December, 1021, the declaration signed on that date accompanying that Treaty, and the Treaty between those Powers supplementary to that Treaty, signed at Washington on the 6th February, 1922.
Honorable members are aware that four other Treaties in addition to this were signed on behalf of the Commonwealth at the Washington Conference, and due notice has been given of my intention to move their approval by this House. All these Treaties bear one upon the other in such a way as to make it. convenient and proper that the debate on this motion shall cover the whole range of the work done at the Washington Conference. The motions can be put to the House separately.
Honorable members will recollect that, in July, 1921, the Government of the United States of America issued invitations to the great Naval Powers to attend a Conference to be held at Washington with a view to arriving at some understanding concerning the limitation of armaments. As it was considered that success could not be hoped for unless the Pacific and Far Eastern questions had been previously settled, it was suggested that these matters be dealt with at the same time. This suggestion, happily for mankind, was acceptable to the Powers interested, the invitations were accepted, the Conference took place, and the Treaties now before this House, and which I am asking the House to approve, are the result of its labours. Before dealing with the provisions of the Treaties, a few preliminary words may be permitted.
Honorable members will recollect that, ou my return from the Imperial Conference held in London in 1921, I made a. report on the position as it then stood. It is well known to honorable members that the chief reason for summoning the Imperial Conference was the Anglo- Japanese Treaty, which.it was then thought would expire, by effluxion of time, some time during the summer months of 1921. The attitude of this House and the Commonwealth towards the AngloJapanese Alliance was stated by me in the discussions that took place in this chamber before- my departure for England, and l. may venture to remind honorable members of what I said -
Speaking broadly, we are in favour of its renewal, but there are certain difficulties which must be faced. One of these arises out of the attitude of America towards this Treaty. I am sure I state the opinion of Australia when I say the people have a very warm corner in their hearts for America. They see in America to-day what they themselves hope to bo in the future. We have a country very similar in extent and resource, and it may be laid down as a sine qua rum that any future Treaty with Japan satisfactory to Australia must specifically exclude the possibility of a war with the United States of America. In any future treaty we must guard against even the sub- picion of hostility or unfriendliness to thenited States.
These words express the view generally shared by the people of this country. During the course of the debate which preceded my departure, I said the ideal would be a tripartite Treaty satisfactory to Japan, the United States of America, and the British Empire. The representatives of Empire met in London in June, 1921 ; the question of renewal of the Japanese Treaty was discussed at great length. Before a decision was reached the invitations to the Powers to attend the Washington Conference were issued. This invitation had an immediate and profound effect upon the Imperial Conference debate on the subject. The Lord Chancellor’s opinion that the AngloJapanese Treaty did not lapse, as had been thought, and that the notification to the League of Nations was not a notice of determination as provided for in . the Treaty cleared the way of all difficulties, and by general consent a decision on the question of renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty was postponed until after the Washington Conference had concluded its labours. Meanwhile the Treaty stood, and would continue in force until twelve months’ notice of its determination had been given by the parties to it. That was tho position when I returned to Australia.
The Imperial Conference understood that the United States of America Government would not favour an invita- tion being extended to representatives of the Overseas Dominions. But. happily, as the result of diplomatic conversations, this difficulty was overcome, and the British Empire Delegation included., representatives of the Overseas Dominions, who went to the Conference as representatives of EEs Majesty the King, and sat at the Conference on a footing of absolute equality with the representatives of the United Kingdom. So much by way of- preface. »
I now come to a statement of what was done by ‘ the Washington Conference. Honorable members know that as soon as it was made clear that Australia could be represented, my right honorable colleague, Senator Pearce, was appointed as its representative. He attended the Conference and rendered great service to this country and to the Empire. It may be fairly said that he served with distinction to himself and credit to the Commonwealth. The Conference met in Washington on 1.1th November last. As is well known, tho original purpose of the Conference was confined to the limitation of naval armament. This was dealt with by representatives of the five great naval Powers, the British Empire, the United States of America, France, Italy, and Japan. But other questions which were responsible for the naval rivalry of the Pacific were also discussed. As I pointed out in this country before my departure for England and subsequently in England, upon the solution of the Pacific problems depended the satisfactory settlement of the limitation of armaments.
The other Powers represented at thu Conference were Belgium, China, Holland, and Portugal. These Powers, while not taking part in the discussion of the limitation of naval armament, were represented on matters concerning the Pacific and the Par East.
I propose to deal with the Treaties in turn. Honorable members have had placed in their hands the report of my right honorable colleague, Senator Pearce, which deals with these matters at great length and with admirable lucidity. There are six Treaties with which we are concerned. Two others arc Treaties which affect Japan and China inter se, but do not affect us. There are also a number of “ Resolutions “ to which I wish to direct the attention of honorable members, because, although they are not covered by the motion I have submitted, they are of very great importance. I want honorable members to note them, because if they have any objection to their acceptance, it ought to be stated, otherwise it will be taken for granted that by our silence we approve them. Honorable members will of course acquaint themselves with the purport of these resolutions, but I think they will, without exception, agree with me that they are such that we can Approve without discussion.
I turn now to the Treaties which concern us. As I have said, they are six in number, and they may be grouped under four headings. The first is the Quadruple Treaty relating to the Pacific, the Declaration made at the time of the signature of the Quadruple Treaty, $nd the supplement to the Quadruple Treaty. The second is the Treaty relating to naval armaments. The third is the Far Eastern Treaty, and the fourth the Chinese Customs Treaty. The Quadruple Treaty was made by Great Britain, the United States of America, France and Japan. By this Treaty the parties agree to respect each other’s rights to insular possessions and rights in the Pacific. This is a Treaty which concerns us very nearly. I would remind honorable members of the position when the Conference met. The rivalry between Japan and America had been growing for years. The prospective combatants had been at the outset so far separated as to make naval hostilities, in fact, impossible. It is well known that naval operations cannot be conducted unless the bases are so situated as to enable vessels to refit, to coal or obtain oil fuel, and, generally, to obtain those things necessary to keep the sea. The position may be shortly summarized : The navies of Japan and America were growing with alarming rapidity. , The position of the British Empire was vitally concerned, although the stage on which this great naval struggle was to be fought was remote from Britain herself. The interests of the British Empire in the Pacific arc very great, and the maintenance of these depended upon sea power. It had been an axiom for two centuries that the British Navy must be maintained at a two-Power standard. It became obvious, therefore, that every increase by America and Japan involved not only a corresponding, hut a greater increase by Great Britain. The possibilities of active naval hostilities between Japan and America depended on the establishment’ of naval bases sufficiently near to one another to enable the rival fleets to operate. As time .progressed, each one of these rivals was pushing her naval stations further and further out, along the two sides of a triangle, converging upon a point which was Australia. At length they had stretched out almost within striking distance of each other, but where each of the combatants would have been actually nearer to Australia than to one another. We were in deadly peril. Whatever may have been the consequences to the respective combatants, about our danger there could be no doubt. That was the position when the Washington Conference assembled. Of all those countries whose representatives sat around that Conference table, Australia was the most vitally concerned. None had so much to lose. We have a coastline to defend which is far beyond the powers of five and a-half millions of people.
The causes of naval rivalry between America and Japan were evident. They arose out of their circumstances in the Pacific. Honorable members know the position of Japan. Her geographical circumstances are such that it is almost impossible for her to maintain an economic equilibrium. There is, in Japan,, a group of islands whose soil is, to a large extent, unfertile. It has been estimated that perhaps not more than 40 per cent, of Japanese soil is arable. Yet those islands maintain a population of 50,000,000 - and this huge population, was living on an area of land much less in size than the Mandated Territories which we have lately taken over. Almost (irresistible forces were pushing the Japanese people out into the lands of the great ocean of the Pacific. That was the position of Japan. On the other hand, America viewed with jealous apprehension the now Power rising in that ocean, and it was clear that, unless an equilibrium could be established there - one which would give Japan opportunities for that inevitable development which is the only alterna- tive to her extinction - a struggle must take place. The parties met the other representatives of the Great Powers and those other nations having interests in the Pacific. The Quadruple Treaty is the result of their deliberations. The subjects covered by the Treaty were debated independently of the limitation of naval armaments.
China was vitally interested in this discussion. Time will not permit me to sot out at length China’s position; but honorable members, no doubt, are familiar with the results of those movements by Japan during the war, which, to say the least of it, embarrassed China and menaced her territorial integrity. There was, for example, the attitude of Japan towards Shantung. There was an ever-present menace to China’s territorial integrity arising from the very circumstances of. this island empire which has sprung up within the memory of living man, and which has evolved from a race of primitive people to one of the greatest and most powerful of the nations in the world.
It was clear that if wc were to have peace in the Pacific - which concerns us more than anybody else, because we have most to lose, and are the least able to hold what we have - an equilibrium had to bo established. That has been achieved, and the Quadruple Treaty lays down in clear and unambiguous language what are its conditions. They are, briefly : -
That, the parties agree to respect each other’s rights in relation to insular possessions and insular dominions ‘ in the regions of the Pacific Ocean.
That any controversy arising out of Pacific questions and involving rights is to be referred to a conference of parties for consideration and adjustment.
That there is to be full and frank communication as between the parties.
That the Treaty is to remain in force for ten years, and, after the expiration of that period, is to continue in force sub-, jet to the right of any of the contracting parties to terminate it at twelve months’ notice.
This Quadruple Treaty is to be ratified as soon as possible, and is to take effect from the deposit of - the ratifications at Washington, whereupon the agreement between Great Britain and Japan is to terminate.
The declaration which was made at the same time as this Treaty - to which I have just referred - stated -
Tho Treaty shall apply to the Mandated Territories in the Pacific, Japanese and Australian, but the Treaty shall not be deemed to be an assent by the United Status to the Mandates, and shall not preclude agreements between the United States and the mandatory powers in relation thereto.
Controversies referred to in Article 1 of the Treaty shall not embrace questions lying within domestic jurisdiction.
The original Treaty included the mainland of Japan and excluded America. This wounded the amour propre of the Japanese, but by the supplement to- tho Quadruple Treaty Japan proper has been excluded, and she now occupies the same position as America, Australia, and New Zealand. The Mandated Territories, Japanese and Australian, are included, but the mainlands of the United States of America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded from the provisions of the Treaty. Honorable members will not, I hope, be under any misapprehension as to what this supplementary Treaty means. The object of the main Treaty was to establish an equilibrium, and it was agreed, after discussion, that that could best be achieved by the acceptance of the status quo. The present rights of tlie parties were to be respected. The Mandated Territories were to be- included as covered by the scope of the Treaty, and the rights of the parties in respect to those Mandated Territories were such as were prescribed by the Treaty of Versailles, which, amongst other things, prohibits the fortification of the Mandated Territories. That prohibition remains. In regard to the mainlands, the position is otherwise. Japan is able to fortify her mainland, America is able to fortify hers, we in Australia and New Zealand may fortify ours. This Treaty does not limit our rights in this respect. This Treaty establishes an equilibrium in the Pacific. As far as any action of man can do go, it insures peace for the next tcn years for Australia. This is a great thing for this young Commonwealth. Nothing has been done at any Conference, or by any Treaty, which means so much to us in Australia as that done in Washington and embodied in this Quadruple Treaty. It has to bo noted that the Quadruple Treaty is to bc substituted for the AngloJapanese Treaty, and so soon as it is ratified, and the ratifications by the various Powers have been deposited at Washington, then, ipso facto, the AngloJapanese Treaty merges or disappears, and the Quadruple Treaty takes its place. That Treaty will continue, as I have said, for a period of ten years, and thereafter as the parties may determine. I have said that it is a substitute for the Japanese Treaty. It yet differs fundamentally from it in one important respect, which it is as well that honorable members and my fellow citizens generally should understand. The Anglo-Japanese Treaty was a Treaty of alliance, and - subject to a modification which was made in it in 1911, whereby it was provided that no obligation should lie on either of the parties in regard to any dispute with any nation with which one of the parties had a Treaty of arbitration - imposed upon the Empire an obligation to give armed assistance to its ally. Great Britain and’ ihe Empire having a Treaty of arbitration with America, uo provision of the Japanese Treaty could involve us in war with America; but, subject to that, -there was an obligation on each of the parties to give armed assistance in the event of the other party being attacked. That was our position under the Anglo- Japanese freney. Under the Quadruple Treaty we find ourselves in a very different case. There is no obligation on the part of any one of tho Powers to go to the assistance of any of the others. Tho force behind the Treaty is a moral one; it is world opinion, the moral force at the disposal of these four great Powers. We ought not to underestimate the value of world opinion, and we should indeed have reason to despair of civilization if, after these ages of man’s progress upon earth, we had not advanced some little way towards an abandonment of recourse to arms to settle our disputes. But the fact remains thatthere is nothing in this Treaty that guarantees us any protection if we are attacked. The position of Australia under this Treaty is this: The Quadruple Treaty has cleared away all, those difficulties that made for war in the Pacific; it has, SO far as human effort can achieve such things, brought about peace -where there was war, and it has given us for, at any rate, ten years, an assurance of peace. If we require assurance to be doubly sure, if we are not satisfied with this, as, indeed, some of us may not be, then there is only one sure and certain defence for Australia, and that lies in a virile and sufficiently numerous population. Our present safeguard’ lies wholly where it has always been - in the fact that we are a partner of the British Empire. That is the beginning and end . of our safety.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I turn now to the Naval Armament Treaty, for the consummation of which the Conference was particularly summoned. The position created by naval rivalry- has already been outlined, and I shall now deal with this matter very shortly, setting out the provision of the Treaty, what it does, and its effect upon Australia, and the world generally. The first thing to be noted is that the limitation of naval armaments is mainly confined to what are known as capital ships. The Conference agreed to the principle of limitation in naval armaments and the disposal of capital ships built or building, the abandonment of capital ship building programmes, or the acquisition of capital ships, and determined the ratio of such capital ships amongst the various powers, thus: - Great Britain, 15 ; United States, 15; Japan, 9; France 5; Italy, 5. Expressed in terms of metric tons this means: - Great Britain, 525,000 tons; United. States, 525,000 tons; Japan, 315,000 tons; France, 175,000 tons; Italy, 175,000 tons. In addition to determining the number of capital ships to be retained in commission by the several powers, the Conference also specified that the maximum’ tonnage for each capital ship should be 35,000 tons, that no capital ship should carry guns in excess of 16-inch calibre, and that no other ship of war should exceed 10,000 metric tons or carry guns in excess of 8-inch calibre. The Conference further prescribed the number and tonnage of aircraft carriers; it prohibited the completion of capital ships in course of construction in any belligerent country at the outbreak of any future war, and provided for the scrapping of vessels not specifically named in the schedule. The schedule to the Treaty set out in detail the warships that may be retained and those that must be scrapped within twelve months from the ratification of the Treaty. Included in the list of vessels to be scrapped is the battle-cruiser Australia. It is provided that no ship ordered to be scrapped may be thereafter converted into a vessel of war. It is provided that no nation shall build a war vessel for any noncontracting Power without furnishing full particulars of such ship to the other parties or Powers. The status quo regarding fortifications, naval bases in specified Territories and Possessions must be maintained, and no steps may be taken to increase the naval facilities or coastal defences. The Treaty will remain in force until 31st December, 1936, and if none of the contracting Powers gives notice to the United States Government, one year before that date, of its intention to determine the Treaty, it shall continue’ in force until the expiration of two years from the date of such notice to determine it.
These are the conditions, set out very briefly, of a Treaty which profoundly affects the destinies of mankind. It is, perhaps,’ the most hopeful sign that the world has seen that man has learned something from the late war, and is prepared to turn his faceresolutely towards the Star of Peace, and his back against the God of War. It is a substantial contribution to the world’s demand for a limitation of armaments. There has been throughout the ages much talk about beating our swords into plough-shares, but honorable members know that hitherto these castles of peace have been built upon foundations of sand. Nothing has come from the high-flown and ambitious projects of the Hague Tribunal, or from any project which preceded it. Nor has the League of Nations itself been able to take any definite step towards disarmament. This Treaty marks the definite abandonment by Great Britain of the two-power standard. It will not be out of place for mo to remind honorable members what this means, and to pay some tribute to Great Britain for her great sacrifice in the cause of the peace of the world. No nation depends so much as we do upon’ seapower. Our Empire has been built upon sea-power. Its splendid history rests upon that solid and. enduring foundation. Other nations of the world, and particularly the United States of America, are continental nations’. Their seaboard may be attacked, but the foundations of their temple cannot be undermined by attacks from the sea, whereas to our Empire, scattered as it is over the four quarters of tho earth, sea-power is essential to its very existence. This being so, we may well, take legitimate pride in the thought that Great Britain, being confronted with this proposal at the “Washington Conference, accepted it not only without demur, but has the proud satisfaction that her delegates zealously strove tj widen its scope. It is to the eternal credit of the representatives of the British Empire that, they sought to apply the principle of limitation to submarines. Unhappily for the welfare of mankind this was found to be impossible, owing to tho attitude taken tip by certain Powers.
The effect of this Treaty is to give an assurance of peace to a world weary and sick of war. It is true it does not go so far as some of us would like, but it is a step farther than- has ever been taken before in the history of mankind. Its application, as I have already stated, is limited to capital ships - that is to say, battleships of the first and second class. As to all other vessels, light cruisers, and the like, the Treaty is silent; but as in the opinion of those best qualified to judge, naval battles are now, as ever, decided by capital ships, it. gives to the world an assurance of peace. It is a Treaty full of hope to the peoples of the world. It fixes the ratio amongst the various naval nations, and puts an end, for ever,- to naval rivalry. I emphasize that point. It is an underlying feature of the Treaty. War begets war. Warlike preparations by one nation compel others to a like effort. Before this Treaty we saw confronting us the possibility of inevitable war begotten out of the rivalries of the great naval nations of the earth. These rivalries are for ever set at rest, so far as this can be effected by any human instrument. In its provision for the scrapping of capital ships, the Treaty presents to the world a spectacle the like of which we have never seen. Magnificent ships, some of which are newly taken from the stocks, are now to be destroyed, and thus will disappear, for ever, a. menace to the. welfare of the civilized world.
I have said that the Treaty does not apply to submarines ; but that the British Empire Delegation used every effort to endeavour that it should so apply. In what is known u? the Submarine and Poison Gases Treaty there are imposed upon submarines prohibitions which revolutionize our concepts of submarine warfare. Honorable members remember very well the shape that submarine warfare took in the Great War. We remember the Lusitania and those other vessels whose number is legion. We remember the women and children who were sent unwarned and unprepared to the bottom of the ocean. The day of such things is gone, so far as this agreement between the great naval nations can banish it, for ever. Submarines now are prevented from attacking a merchant vessel in time of war until there has. been an inspection and search to ascertain the character of the vessel, and if it be found, after inspection and search, that the ship comes within the rules of warfare which render it liable to destruction it cannot be destroyed until all the passengers and crew have been placed in a position of absolute safety. If the Washington Conference had done nothing but this we should hail it with glad satisfaction.
The Treaty provides also for the maintenance of the status quo of fortifications and naval bases in the Pacific. It puts a period to that growing menace of which’ I spoke in the earlier portion of my speech, where naval bases were gradually being pushed out farther and farther, converging on each other, and upon a point of which we were the very apex. , As I have mentioned, however, these limitations do not apply to the mainland of Japan nor to Australia nor New Zealand. The Treaty leaves us free to make what preparations we like in our own defence, but prevents us from, pushing, under; any pretext at all, into that wide expanse of the Pacific outside the Commonwealth and its unmandated Territories, in which every advance we make is an encroachment upon the rights and liberties of others. What it does to us it does to all others. It respects the status quo and makes provision for its maintenance.
This Treaty, too, with that which is subsidiary to it - the Submarine, and
Poison Gases Treaty- endeavours to prohibit the recourse to barbaric methods of making war. It prohibits the use of poison gases. Any nation, whether a party to the agreement or not, that wages submarine warfare, except as prescribed, may be treated as a pirate by the civilized nations and dealt with in the Courts of those countries. Provision is made that should any differences arise between the parties a conference may be summoned in order to adjust those differences, . and that, in any case, a conference shall bo held in eight years from the ratification of the Treaty. _ This Treaty states clearly the rules of civilized war. It does more than any other instrument which has emanated from the brain and hand of man to prevent war; but if war takes place, then the rules under which it shall be waged are laid down. How great an advance this is upon the conditions under which war was waged by the Central Powers will be appreciated by honorable members on a perusal of the provisions of this Treaty.
I do not think that I can dwell usefully at any greater length on this Treaty, which is a veritable milestone in human progress, a beacon light in a dark place, over-illuminating a sky covered with gloomy and menacing clouds. It is a sweet satisfaction to us that, in the making of this Treaty, the representatives of the Empire supported and aided to the uttermost the Government of the United States of America. If the Treaty falls somewhat short of those ideals which we all cherish, the fault lies not- upon the British Empire, nor upon its representatives.
I turn now from the Naval Armament Treaty and the Submarine and Poison Gases Treaty to two relatively subsidiary Treaties. The first of these is the FarEastern Treaty, and the other the Chinese Customs Treaty. The Far-Eastern Treaty, relating to China, represents an earnest effort to assist China to recover from her present state of disintegration and weakness. It guarantees the territorial integrity of China. This is a notable achievement. It is the first outward and visible sign - of the power of world opinion. These Treaties are the manifestation of that moral influence which the civilized world is determined to exert in order to protect weak nations from the aggression which threatens them. That great world - for China is a world in itself - will now be able to develop its wonderful resources under the aegis of the protection of the great nations of the Western world, and with the co-operation of Japan herself. The Treaty provides that no contracting Power shall take advantage of China’s weakness. We are to remember that China, among all the nations of the earth, has been the only one that has relegated the art of war to the position which it ought to occupy in the minds of civilized people. It has always exalted peace, and regarded those who desired and preached peace as worthy of respect and honour, and has turned its back upon war and those who resorted to or advocated it.
The Treaty establishes1 the principles of the open door. These are enunciated and clearly laid down, while the rights of all the parties to the agreement are set out in unambiguous language, and with greater particularity than ever before. The Treaty prevents the partitioning of China by individuals for trade purposes. It encourages the development of railways and trade It preserves and protects Chinese neutrality in future ware to which she is not a party. When we recall what happened to China in the late war, we must recognise that this is no small gain. It provides for the full and frank communication of matters arising under the Treaty.
This Far-Eastern Treaty is of vital importance to Australia. The problems of the Pacific were intimately bound up with China and with the differences between her and Japan. These are now settled. The terms of settlement have not been forced upon either party by the sword, but have been mutually accepted as the outcome of frank and open discussion. If anything can insure this country peace for the next ten years - and, let us hope, for many more - these Treaties will do so.
The last one to which I desire to refer is the Customs Tariff Treaty. This is complementary ‘“to the Far-Eastern Treaty. It increases the revenues of the Chinese Government. It abolishes the internal Tariffs of China, about which I need not trouble honorable members, because I am sure that they are quite familiar with such questions. The Treaty will give China vastly increased Customs revenue.
I have dealt hurriedly with the Treaties that arc now before honorable members. Some of them are covered by the motion I have submitted. The others are dealt with in the various motions set out on the business-paper. I ask the House to ratify all. I direct the attention of honorable members again to the resolutions set out on page 35 of Senator Pearce’s report. These resolutions are not Treaties; and, although they have not to bc ratified, they will, nevertheless, be held to be binding upon us, and upon all other nations, unless they declare their intentions to the contrary.
One word in conclusion. The “Washington Conference has achieved great things. Its decisions are very material to us. They guarantee peace in the Pacific, as far as any effort of man can guarantee it while human . nature remains unregenerate. We may rely on the moral support of the signatories, but there is no force behind the Treaties, and I should do wrong if I did not point out to honorable members, and to the people of Australia, that these Treaties aro not in the nature of an alliance. They do not guarantee to us material support if we are attacked. They insure merely moral support and the public opinion of the people of the contracting countries. [Extension of time granted.] Tho policy of the United States of America Government is opposed to interference in the differences of other States, and that, in itself, has precluded any attempt to establish anything in the nature of an alliance. In any case, no promise of material support by any nation that did not possess a naval base within striking distance would be of service, and no nation is in that position except England herself. ‘ It follows, therefore, that, so far as material support is concerned, we are as dependent as ever on the Navy of the Empire. We welcome these Treaties, and will loyally abide by them, but wo must not overlook the fact to which I have just directed attention. We rejoice at the success of the Washington Conference. The Conference has borne fruit abundantly, and has achieved much more than even its most ardent advocates believed possible. To us in this great island continent the Conference has brought great material benefits. It has enabled u3 to achieve immediate and substantial savings. Were it not for these Treaties we should now be contemplating additional naval expenditure rather than be comforted with the positive assurance of a substantial reduction in our Naval Estimates. War begets war, and peace begets peace. With this assurance of pease wo must hope that all the world will follow the good example set by these Treaties, and that, although the Washington Conference stopped short, and did not attempt to limit war in the air, or war upon land, it has taken a substantial step forward. We hope that that example will not be lost upon civilization, and that we may yet have .an opportunity of ratifying Treaties which will be complementary to these, and which will give still greater assurance of lasting peace to us and to the whole world.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1’913-191-i. it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work: -
Federal Territory - Distributary Works - Extension of Water Supply, which 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 investigations.
I ask the House to approve the report of the Committee, and give authority for the construction of this work. As honorable members are aware, the main water supply works have been carried out for some years, and water has been delivered to tho service reservoir, within the city boundary, at Red Hill. Temporary distibutary mains of small dimensions have been installed from Red Hill to the Military College, Molonglo Camp, Acton Settlement, brickworks, afforestation area, &c., mostly in 4-in. and 3-in. pipes. The scheme submitted for the consideration’ of the Public Works Committee was for the distributary works recommended in appendix C of the First General Report of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee, as follows: -
Twelve-inch main (121/3 miles in length), commencing fromRed Hill Reservoir; thence by way of Melbourne-avenue, National-circuit, to Federal-avenue; thence two 9-in. mains are taken, one(13/4 miles) via Federal-avenue and Station-place to a reservoir of 1,000,000gallons (with capacity to increase to 3,000,000) ; the other,9-in. main (two-thirds of a mile) to go along Government-terraces to Commonwealthavenue, near the proposed hostelsite. A 6-in. branch (three-fifths of a mile) also to be taken from, the 12-in. pipe at . its intersection at Brisbane-avenue, and proceed thence to Interlake-avenue to command the settlement near the power-house. From the reservoir to be constructed at Mount Russell a 6-in. main is to be laid along the road parallel to Capitalterrace, a distance of 3 miles, to Ainslie-avenue, to supply the settlement at Civic Centre.
The estimated cost is as under: -
Honorable members know, from previous statements in the House, and also from personal observation, that the main water supply is pumped from the Cotter River to the Stromlo Reservoir. Honorable members may smile, but the time has come when we should look upon this question as a very practical one. If my friend the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) will accompany me ona visit to the Federal Capital, I shall bring him back a convert to the undertaking. Ho will then admit that Canberra is not a bad place atall, and that the Almighty has done, at least, one-third of what is required for a site on which one day there will be raised one of the finest cities in the world.
– All new converts are enthusiastic.
– Like Saul of old,I was blind, but I have had a vision.I had never previously seen Canberra. Iwas influenced against it by the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Barker (Mr, Livingston), and others. Having seen the place, I want to get to work on sane and unprejudiced lines.
– Are the works that are now proposed covered by money already voted by the House ?
– Not entirely : but the votes represent much more than could have been undertaken within the financial year.
– Do not votes that remain unexpended at the end of the financial year lapse?
– I remind the honorable member that the votes for these works were appropriated from loan fund, and, unlike appropriations from revenue account, do not lapse if unexpended. This is a necessary continuation of the original scheme recommended by the Advisory Committee, and already recognised by the House- in the reference to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report. The water is lifted to the Stromlo Reservoir which consists of three sections, and holds 3,000,000 gallons. There is a similar reservoir within the civic centre at Red Hill which also has a capacity of 3,000,000 gallons. The time has arrived for a further distribution of the water on permanent lines, and it is proposed to construct at Mount Russell a reservoir to consist at first of only one chamber containing 1,000,000 gallons, but to be extended as necessity arises to two and three chambers. This will provide for the distribution of water to meet all requirements for some years to come.
– Two hundred years!
– Not even ten years. But there is at the source of supply enough water to provide for all requirements for 200 years.
– What is the estimated cost?
– The aggregate is £48,000. The Public Works Committee has given careful consideration to this project, and recommended it. It was previously recommended by the Advisory Committee, by the Commonwealth’s own officers, including the Chief Engineer. Mr. Hill, and by Mr. de Burgh, the Chief Engineer for Water Supply and Sewerage in New South Wales. It has metwithpractically complete and unanimous approval.
Question - That the motion be agreed to- put. The House divided.
Ma jori ty . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1013-14, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work : -
Sewerage, Federal Capital - Construction of Main Intercepting Sewer from centre of city to connect with Main Outfall Sewer, which 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 investigations.
The main intercepting sewer that is proposed, and has been approved by the
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 July 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220726_reps_8_99/>.