8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Treasurer endeavour to have the annual report of the Auditor-General placed in the hands of honorable members before we are called upon to deal with the Estimates?
Mr.BRUCE.- I shall speak to the Auditor-General,and see what can be done.
Visit to Northernwaters
– Has the Minis ter for Defence been approached on behalf of public bodies in North Queensland, such asthe Charters Towers Chamber of Commerce and the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, with regard to the visit of the Australian Fleet to the northern waters? If so, will he agree to a request thathas been made to him, that the vessels of the fleet remain in Townsville Harbor for at least four days, so that people up country may have an opportunity to see their own ships? .
– I have no recollection of any such representation having been made, but shall inquire into the matter.
Mr.Bamford. - I have made representations on the subject.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that annual increments to public servants of the Commonwealth are this year to be withheld? It is reported in New South Wales that the annual increments to the public servants of that State have been stopped, and that similar action is to be taken with regard to Commonwealth public servants. Is there any truth in the report?
– I have not heard any such rumour. The Government is not cognisant of any such proposal, but I shall cause inquiries to be made of the Public Service Commissioner, and when I obtain theinformation will supply it to the honorable member.
-What does the Minister for Defence propose to do with the large number of unused buildings at Liverpool Camp? There are hundreds of tons of iron and enormous quantities of timber in buildings that are not being used. What is to be done with them ?
– The buildings that will be required from time to time for the permanent camps will be retained. We shall probably dispose of other buildings for which there is no possibility of use in the near future.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs had time to consider the request recently made to him by a deputation of maize-growers? If 80, is he in a position to state the result of bis consideration?
Mr.RODGERS. - I have very carefully considered the representations made by the deputation, which was accompanied by the honorable member, and placedbefore me the difficulties of maizegrowers. I have further conferred with the Tariff Board, and have taken a certain course of action, which, at present, I am not in a position to detail to the House. The matter is receiving the most earnest consideration of the Government.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation. During my absence from the House last weekowing to the illness of my wife, statements were made that certain honorable members had been refused pairs in connexion with the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in regard to the question of sugar control. I give the statements a direct denial. The . political position which developed in connexion with the motion was such that it was necessary for me to bring the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) a distance of 600 miles to attend the House, because 1 could not obtain for him a pair. It was stated by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) that a pair was refused the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), who was sick, and that it was also impossible to obtain a pair for the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), who was attending the burial of his mother. I. have only to . say that I was not asked for a pair for the honorable member for Swan, nor was I asked for pairs for the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) orthe honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter), who were also absent. It was not until the afternoon on which the divisionwas taken that I was asked for a pair forthe honorable member for Wimmera, who had been brought here from a sick bed to vote, but I could not be expected at that juncture to pair any member of our party who was actually in the House with the honorable member. I think advantage was taken of my absence last week to attempt to make political capital out of the situation.
.- I desire also to make a. personal explanation. In reply to the statement just made by the Government Whip, I have only to say that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) came here from a sick bed, on the day in question, andI asked the honorable member (Mr. Marr) to provide him with a pair. Thatrequest was refused.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.MAKIN asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorablemember’s questions are as follow: -
The amount raised from the Note Issue Fund to 30th June,1922, as represented by Australian notes in circulation on that date, is £53,556,698. 2 and 3. Such sum has been employed in the following manner: -
None. All the securities are held by the Note Issue Department of the Commonwealth Bank.
Particulars of the Australian Notes Account, and details of the investments, are shown on page166 of the Budget-papers recently issued.
Offers of Tenders for Purchase - Cancellation of Americancontracts
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to each of the honorable member’s questions is “No.”
Mr. j. W. ISHERWOOD. .
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questionsare as follow: -
Mr.GREENE. - On the 10th August, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) asked the following question: -
What was the total expenditure on Defence, including buildings, from 1910 to. the end of the last financial year?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Defence expenditure on ordinary services, including works, from 1909-10 to 1921-22 inclusive, was as follows : -
During the “ War “ years, and particularly during the period 1917-18 to 1919-20, ordinary Defence activities within the Commonwealth were suspended as far as practicable, and large economies in expenditure were thereby effected. The ordinary activities, including training of the Citizen Forces, were, to a large extent, resumed in 1920-21. This and the succeeding year also marked the development of the Air Force and Civil Aviation - the expenditure on these accounts being during 1920-21, £139,928; and during 1921- 22, £282,515. In previous years, the maximum expenditure was £46,804.
The following paper was presented: -
War Service Homes Act-Land acquired under, in New South Wales, at Waratah.
Payment in Goods.
That, in view of the following facts, viz. : -
That the undue massing of gold in any single country with its immediate corollary of great disturbances of exchange rates is not proved by experience to benefit such country.
That the present exchange rates of the United States of America place a handicap on production equal to a 25 per cent. export duty onthat country’s exports.
That the share of the indemnity allotted to Australia is approximately £50,000,000 in gold.
That on the 30th June, . 1921, the total Commonwealth debt was £401,720,024, including war debt, £359,606,000. On the 30th June, 1921, the total State debts amounted to £458,408,898, making a total debt of £860,128,922.
The German exchange on the 31st October, 1921, was in the ratio of 710 marks for the pound as compared with the pre-war exchange of 20 marks. This equals thirty-five times multiplied by 50,000,000,equalling £1,760,000,000 value in goods. (Note. -On 26th June, 1922, the ratio of exchange in Berlin was 1,525 marks to the pound) - it is the opinion of this House that instead of Australia insisting upon its share of the Germanidemnity, viz., about £50,000,000 sterling, being paid in gold, it would be better to accept it in goods (that are not manufactured in Australia, in order to preserve our manufactures and safeguard our Protective Tariff), which at the present rates of exchange would wipe out our war debt and also the debts of Australia, and at the same time provide payable freight from Europe for our nationally-owned ships for many years.
Honorable members will understandthat the figures mentioned in the motion are based upon the exchange values on the 17th November, 1921, and, with the. value of the mark rising and falling, as it un fortunately has been during the last few months, it is impossible “to bring the figures right up to date. This question is one of the greatest in finance, and will have to be faced. That the undue massing of gold in any country is injurious is demonstrated by the experience of the United States of America. The Commonwealth is a. gold-producing country; we do not wish to get gold into Australia if wecan get goods that will be of use to our citizens ‘ without detriment to local industries. Before the white man came to Australia there was between £500,000,000 and £600,000,000 worth of gold in the soil; but is there any educated man with a grain of common sense who will say that Australia is not 100 times richer to-day than when she had that gold? The bulk of it has left the country - a large part has gone to those two greatestsinks of the world’s gold, China and India. The exchange rates in the United States of America at the time when I gave notice of this motion were equal to a 25 per cent. export duty upon goods leaving that country. The Commissioner for the United States of America and other American citizens have told me that the exchange position was injuring trade. For instance, if a man in Australia desired to buy a car in the United States of America, the price would be quoted in dollars, but the exchange was so high that the quoted price was increased by 25 per cent. The Herald of the22nd August reported that sterling was la. 7d. below par in New York. It is remarkable to note how the exchange in the United States of America and Canada is rapidly nearing par. I have here a copy of the Economist of 8th July, which, amongst other things, shows the stabilizing of the bank rate of interest throughout the world. In finance banks are like a barometer, showing to the observant eye the dangers that beset nations whose currency is becoming too inflated. The bank rates in Europe on 8thJuly ranged from per cent. in Switzerland and the United Kingdom to 8 per cent. in Tokio, and even 9 per cent. in Helsingfors, Finland.
– Is the honorable member aware that on one Saturday morning recently money at call was quoted in London at 1 per cent. ?
– The honorable member’s information is more recent than mine, but on the 8th July the London rate of discount at sixty days was 2 per cent., and on loans from day to day 1£ per cent., and on deposit allowances, banks, 1A per cent. As an instance of the terrible inflation of paper money we find that1 in Vienna the krone, the par value of “which is 24.02 to the £1, has been quoted as low aa 94,000 to the £1, whilst in “Warsaw the Polish mark, which at par is worth 20.43 to the £1, was quoted on 7th July at 24,000 to tie £1. Germany, with the wonderful organizing talent of its people, is one of the wealthiest countries- in the world, and I quote from a statement made by one of the keenest legal intellects in Australia, Mr. Joseph Wolf, who, writing of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), says -
If Mr. Watt has still doubts as to the ability of Germany to pay, he is. referred to the Fortnightly .Review for June, where the net value (after payment of costs of recovery) of coal, iron, and potash, . is stated to be 238 billions of pounds sterling.
He also should see the references in the Argus of 2nd November, and headed, “ Raw materials of Germany,” and the note on the penetration of Germany to appreciate the German methods.
One. of the statements which Mr. Wolf makes is certainly accurate -
Germany has not been and will not be invaded .
I hope that all “he has prophesied will come as true as that. I have shown that the difference between our money and the money of the United States of America was 9 7-12 per cent., but is now become only 7 11-12 per cent. It will be seen that I have put the share of the indemnity allotted to Australia at, approximately, £50,000,000 in gold. Then I go on to say that on the 30th June, 1921, the total Commonwealth debt was £401,720,024, including war debt of £359,606,000, while on the 30th June, 1921, the total State debts amounted to £458,408;898, making a total debt of £860,128,922. If Germany were to. accept a proposal, if we made it, that she should, send goods for the whole of the money,- she would not be so foolish, and she might, in order to show that she is really honestly trying to pay her debts, endeavour to come to some arrangement with us.
– Do you think that Germany is really trying to meet her obligations 1
– I hope so, and at times I think so; but when I remember that in Germany, 330 men, all belonging to the Democratic party, have ‘been assassinated, while very few of those who crushed Germany in the past have been touched, I have my doubts. The honorable member will know to what I am alluding. The next paragraph in the motion declares that German exchange on the 31st October, 1921, was in the ratio of 710 marks for the £1, as compared with the pre-war exchange of 20 marks. This equals £1,750,000,000 in goods, and this would pay the whole of our debts, including our war debts. Of the 1,000,000 eligible men, over 730,000 offered their service^. The Government of Australia accepted 420,000 odd, and of. these latter 330,000 odd actually left our shores for the war. Honorable members will agree that those who offered their lives in this way are worthy of more than a paltry money reward ; and unless we do something to remove the curse of interest, their children, and their children’s children, will continue to labour under it in the future. From that large sum of £1,750,000,000 we’ may deduct £860,000,000. odd for the payment of our debts, leaving . something like £889,000,000, or, in round’ figures, £900,000,000 in our hands. With ‘that money we could carry out all our promises for the provision of railways and other public works. For instance, the NorthSouth railway would become an accomplished fact, and in Australia we could plant hundreds of Renmarks and Milduras. We could keep our word to the men who fought for us at the Front, though I .must say that Australia, in this respect has, according to .my reading of history, kept her word better than has any other nation. I can remember, when a medical student, collecting sixpences in order to provide “a Balaclava veteran with an invalid chair. He had had twentyfive operations on his legs, both of which he lost, and the Government of England would not provide him with the means of locomotion. The students at St. Mary’s Hospital made the collection, and got the chair for him. I remember that, when one of the students made a remark that the .old man was a little bit too fond of his beer, that ‘ great man, Professor Owen, looked down at him, and said, “Don’t you think after so many operations you would feel it very hard to be blamed for taking two glasses of beer?” How many of those heroes died, in the workhouse? All I know is that I have a list of no fewer than seventeen Balaclava heroes who did so; and we all know that Tennyson’s “ Charge of the Light Brigade “ has been applauded in every part of the world. We in Australia have done our work nobly, but I still say that we have not kept our full promise to the soldiers. If we had this money we could do so, and . one of the ways would be by as I have suggested, creating hundreds of Milduras. We could open up our backblocks for thousands of miles; and the uniform gauge problem would cease to trouble. Further, we could double bur population much more easily than we can under present circumstances. No nation that ever breathed the breath of life has ever had the opportunities we have in this Australia of ours. It is the only continent bound by the inviolate sea, that has one language and one set of laws; all men, north, south, east, or west, over vast distances, speak, write, and thinkin the same tongue. How are we going to show the Creator tbat we have taken full advantage of our opportunities ? Little .Switzerland, the schoolhouse of the world, with its -three nationalities of German, French, and Italian, has shown a wonderful example to the world. Only lately those nationalities were at each other’s throats, and what made it possible for them to keep their neutrality inviolate was their sense of the” just laws under which they lived - laws which are quite under the control of the people themselves.
I do not know whether honorable members will agree with me, but if I had the power I would place one man in charge of Australia, and leave him to work it as a co-operative concern: That man is the greatest organizing genius history has shown us. I refer to Henry Ford, of the* United States of America. I believe he would gladly take the post at a salary of $2 a yeaT, which would be 100 per cent, increase on the salary he asked for assisting his country in the war. He was an advocate of peace, but when war was declared, and he knew his country was in the right, he offered his factories and his services in their control, in order that our liberties might be defended. For these great services all he asked was $1
Dr. Maloney. a year. Often when youngsters ask me what book they should read, I say to them, “ If you love your country, get a history of Henry Ford.’’
I do not propose to detain the House . much longer. Germany, with the present awful rate of exchange, will not agree to pay us directly, but we are told that while, on the 17th November, 1921, there ivere 6,000,000 unemployed in the United States .of America,- and 3,500,000 in Great Britain, in Germany there were no unemployed, for. all were working night and day. I remember that the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) made some remarks, to which I took occasion to refer. I then said that if’ those remarks credited by the press to the honorable member, who represented Australia at the Geneva Conference, were true, in Germany everybody was indus’triously working, the factories not having been destroyed like those of France and Belgium. May I here say, to- quote the words of a lady, who was a competitor in the beauty competition, that if there was ever a beauty show for men, then, judging from the portrait that appeared in the Herald the other day, no one would “.be in the running” but the Treasurer; in fact, I would willingly vote for him myse’lf.
– Does the honorable member expect the German mark to remain at its present depreciated value if we get that huge sum of money he is anxious to secure for Australia?
– No. I. have, in my calculations, assessed the mark at 700 to the British sovereign, but we should be very lucky if we arrived at a settlement on a basis of 500 marks to the sovereign. I shall give one instance only in order to show what we might be able to obtain. Before the war a good piano could be obtained in Berlin for £20, after giving a good profit to the manufacturer and seller. At par value £20 wotild represent 400 marks. If we admit that the cost of production has increased 2,000 per cent., the cost of the piano at the present time would really be 8,000 marks. However, the present-day value of twenty British sovereigns in German paper currency is 120,000 marks; so that dividing 120,000 marks by 8,000, we find that at the present time fifteen pianos can be secured for £20 British money. In other words, a piano that would cost £20 in pre-war days can now be bought for 15s. British money. In such circumstances, what hope would our Australian piano manufacturers have of continuing operations if some protection were not enforced against the power of the depreciated German mark? The whole crux of the question is: What goods can weimport from Germany without injuring or destroying our own manufactures? I am a Protectionist to the hilt. There is no half-way house with me in that regard, and I (hold that if any arrangement be made by the Government it must be laid down stringently that they do not buy from Germany any goods which are capable of being manufactured in Australia. I wrote to the Department of Trade and Customs late in 1921, and on the 25th November of that year received the following reply: -
In reply to your letter of 18th November, I beg to forward herewith a statement setting out the value of goods imported into Australia duringthe year 1913, the value of which was over £50,000. Only goods which are not manufactured in Australia or of which the Australian production is very small, have been included in the list, which is based upon the list of imports included in the Departmental Statistical Classification.
If the Government take from Germany £5,000,000 worth of goods and the German Government are willing to give us those goods and delete £5,000,000 worth of gold from their indebtedness to us, the goods themselves could come to Australia in shipsowned by the Commonwealth Government, thus securing profitable freight for those vessels for ten years, or twenty years, or, if Germany would take up the whole proposition, for 100 years. I have no wish to convey the impression that the Australian Government should make a profit on these goods. On the contrary, I contend that they should bring them out at cost price, plus the freight, and then hand them over to the commercial distributing houses of Australia. I have no desire to injure the distributing firms or interfere with private enterprise in any way. All I want is to see that my beloved Australia wipes out its indebtedness and tears away that infamy of interest payments on war debts; which otherwise must be carried on for ever and ever, and towards which even the children of the fathers who died at the Front would be compelled to contribute. There must be some kernel of good in my proposal, even if it be only that it means giving the German workers a fair chance. We, in Australia, have been misled on many occasions, and how much more must the German workers have been misled by the lies and trickery of an autocratic Government controlling the press and the military machine of the country? A great argument that might be advanced against my motion is that if my proposal were carried out Germany would become the workhouse of the world’. Well, let it be -so. I have every reliance oh the genius of the white race in Australia. Japan sprang in a period less- ten years of my life, from the bownand-arrow ago to that stage of commercial and’ : manufacturing development which enabled it to manufacture goods which we, the heirs of all the European nations, have not been able to equal. I am sure Germany cannot leave us behind even with her inventive and organizing genius. If she will* not sell us her inventions or allow us to copy them, we can make a start ourselves in invention. However, I hope that my motion will do some good. Its intention is, first of all, to help Australia above all other countries, next the British Empire, and last, but not least, the German workers.
.- - I second the motion in the hope that an opportunity Avill be afforded later for honorable members to hear the opinions of the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce). With the consent of the mover, I would’ like to make an addendum. The subjectmatter of the motion is so gigantic, and bears so gravely upon. Australia’s interests, as well as1 upon those of many other countries, that I suggest the addition of words«to the effect that it be referred to a committee of experts to ascertain if there is nob some practical means of lifting the great financial burden which we carry to-day, and which Australians for generations to come will be called upon to bear. The report of such an investigatory body should be submitted to Parliament so that definite action might be based thereon. I have not had an opportunity to go into all the details embraced in the motion, and I do not accept all the propositions enunciated by the honorable member for Melbourne; but I am in accord with what may be described as the kernel of his ideas. In some form or other, and at an early date, we will be boxind to consider how best to handle our great national debt. Other suggestions than those advanced by the nonorable member for Melbourne may meet with more cordial approval. For example, is there not a possibility of the Government redeeming some of the giltedged stock so largely held by the public to-day ? Much capital is tied up in these securities, which could be far better devoted to developmental activities. The Treasurer, in the course of his Budget speech, called attention to the difficulty of obtaining capital with which to launch new enterprises calculated to provide considerable employment. That is due to the fact that there are so many attractive j loan propositions in which the public may invest. During the past two or three days, Commonwealth 6 per cent, stock has been offering at £103 10s., and Metropolitan Board of Works % per cent, stock at £105 to £106.
– Is the honorable member quoting Melbourne Stock Exchange prices ?
– These are the prices which are published in the papers from day to day. People naturally prefer to put their capital into gilt-edged securities rather than risk it in developmental enterprises. I repeat that the problem of our national debt is one which must be solved. We should lose no time in obtaining the very best advice possible in order that the burdens of the people may be lightened.
Debate (on motion by Mr.. Burchell) adjourned. - v
.- I move -
During a political life extending over . thirty-three years, I have met with many cases of destitution. As far back as 1889, I had brought under my notice the case of an old woman who. was asked to live upon 2s. 6d. a week. Out of that amount she paid 2s. per week for rent, but with the help of her neighbours, who provided her with food, she managed to exist on the remaining 6d. per week. I brought her case under the notice of the Legislative Assembly of this State, and the late Sir George Turner, who was then Treasurer of Victoria, made a promise that in this State no one whose only crime was poverty should be sent to gaol. Time after time, however, we read in the newspapers reports of Police Court proceedings showing that that promise which was made on behalf of the people has not been honoured.
Having the power, we increased our own wages, and the increase made by us was fairly substantial. If a proposal to increase the invalid and old-age pensions to 20s. per week were put to a vote to-morrow no honorable member would dare to vote against it.
– But honorable members opposite voted against a proposal of that kind only last week.
– If the issue were clearly put, I am satisfied that no honorable member would vote against it. If we had the power of tlie initiative, referendum, and recall, the people would never allow any man or woman whose only crime was poverty to be sent to gaol. They would see to it that all such persons were provided for. The Government pay 10s. 6d. per week to benevolent institutions in respect of every inmate who is a pensioner, and they allow each pensioner 2s, per week for his own personal use, but they retain the remaining 2s. 6d. Until Mr. McPherson, the present parsimonious Treasurer’ of Victoria, took certain action, we had in operation in this State a system by which 10s. per week would be immediately pro-, vided for any destitute person whose case was brought under the notice of the Under-Treasurer by a clergyman or any other person of repute. Inquiry would then be made, and, if necessary, further action taken to relieve the unfortunate individual. ‘ Mr. McPherson, however,, has abolished that system, much to the disgust of Sir Alexander Peacock, who was responsible for its introduction. If this motion be agreed to, a destitute allowance of 15s. per week will be provided to any person who makes a declaration that he is insufficiently fed, clothed, or sheltered. The penalties attaching to the making of a false declaration provide a sufficient safeguard against fraud.
.- I second the motion. It should appeal to the sympathies of honorable members generally. We ask, however, for something more than sympathy, and hope that the Government will be prepared to do something practical towards relieving the sufferings of destitute persons in the Common-‘ wealth. Despite our boasted prosperity there exists in Australia to-day a good deal of destitution, and it should be the duty of the Commonwealih Parliament to see that all people in such circumstances are immediately relieved. No one should be in want of food, clothing, or shelter.
– Why is it the particular duty of this Parliament to provide relief? Have the State Parliaments and Governments’ no responsibility in the matter?
– Surely we have a duty to discharge to such people all over the Commonwealth.
– Is it not rather the duty of the States? .
– That is in keeping with the old idea that we should shuffle our responsibility on to other people’s’ shoulders.
– But this is not the only Parliament in the Commonwealth that oan assist destitute people.
– I might say that I am not the only man in Australia who can assist a destitute person, but the fact that I am not does not relieve nae of my responsibility to assist such people. There rests upon the Commonwealth Parliament, in my opinion, the obligation of seeing that no person, in this country shall need food, clothing, or shelter. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is to be commended for his action, in submitting this motion,^ and so giving the House an opportunity to determine what shall be done. We need something more than .the expression of a pious hope. What we want 19 practical action on the part of the Treasurer. It may be said in opposition to the motion that an allowance of ‘this kind is unnecessary - that there are no destitute peoplfc in Australia. That objection can be met by inviting those who make it to visit any of the big industrial centres of Australia, where they will find’ that much poverty prevails. In the Sydney press a week or two ago we read of returned soldiers and their wives sleeping in the Domain, because they were homeless. These men, who risked their lives to preserve the liberties of their fellow citizens, should surely be provided for by this Parliament. If this motion were agreed to, we should not have the. spectacle of returned soldiers sleeping in public domains or on ocean beaches. We read quite recently of a returned soldier who, with his wife and young children, was found sleeping on the ocean beach at Newcastle. He was out of work, and could not pay his rent, with the result that his patriotic landlord turned him out of his home. The adoption of this motion would mean that the destitution of all such people would be relieved. I shall not labour the question. I feel sure that all those honorable members who desire to wipe out poverty, and to relieve suffering and misery, will support this motion, and I hope that a division will be taken without delay so that the people of Australia may know exactly who are their friends in this regard.
Mr.BURCHELL (Fremantle) [3.32]. - After listening to the speech made by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), and his references to what had been done in Victoria to relieve cases of destitution, I was naturally anxious to ascertain in what way this question of destitute relief particularly affected the Commonwealth Parliament.
– We are all citizens of the Commonwealth.
– Quite so; but this Parliament exists and: functions under certain definite powers laid down in the Constitution . Speaking off-hand, I am afraid that we have not the requisite legislative scope for active work of this kind. I say that with all respect to the honorable member for Melbourne, whose largeness of heart has been applauded over and over again; but it seems to me that when we are asked to give a direction to the Government to provide for this form of relief we must carefully examine the situation in order to ascertain exactly where such a proposal would lead us.
In my judgment, this is not a matter whichcomes primarily within the scope and functions of the Commonwealth Parliament as such. I am encouraged in that view by the fact that, in every State to-day, there is the requisite machinery, and, in most cases, legislation, dealing with destitution. The States as such have hitherto accepted the responsibility of providing for the relief of destitute persons. They are charged with the duty of attending to the individual needs of the citizens within their borders. They have sovereign powers, andthis question comes properly within their purview. Another aspect of the question is that when unemployment exists, as unfortunately it existstoday in Australia, in common with other countries, the State agencies are always used to provide relief. An illustration of that is contained in this Budget, which makes available to the individual States £250,000, to be augmented by them on a £1 for £1 basis, for coping with the unemployed difficulty. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) painted a vivid picture of the condition of returned soldiers in New South Wales, who, through lack of a home, were compelled to sleep in the open and suffer great hardships. One has only to read the Sydney press to find confirmation of that statement. I would not refuse work to any returned soldier who really wanted it; I would do everything in my power to assist the soldiers to get employment; but I am pointing out that the attitude ofthe Government and this Parliament has been stated in the form of an undertaking to assist the States financially in carrying our their responsibility to attend to the unemployed. Even if full details of the proposal were before us, and the motion were agreed to, I would not be prepared to hand over the distribution of money in the manner proposed. We must have regard to the experience of other countries in connexion with charitable doles. During the last twelve months) an unemployment, or destitute, allowance, somewhat similar to thatproposed in this motion, has been paid in Great Britain, and some extraordinary circumstances have arisen. Instead of the allowance being only a few shillings per week, it has amounted to many pounds, and eventually the municipal authorities operating the funds have been compelled to increase local taxation in order to meet this extra drain upon their resources. The result has resembled a dog chasing its own tail ; the amounts paid to the people in charitable doles have had to be collected again from the people in the form of increased rates.
– Does the honorable member imply that that would happen in Australia? .
– Even though I approved of the principle, I would object to the method of distribution proposed by the honorable .member for Melbourne. I am not prepared to allow this money to be handed over -to the authorities whom he has mentioned.
Dr.- Maloney. - The Bill to give effect to the motion would not necessarily embody the whole of this phraseology.
– If the motion were, agreed to by the House, w6uld it not I have to be acted upon and the terms of the Bill be governed by the terms of the resolution ?
– We propose to give the people bread. The honorable member is offering them a “ stone- wall.”
– That statement is not justified. Does the honorable member, think that if the motion were carged the Government would be in a position to finance this scheme immediately?
– Yes, out of the £7,000,000 in the Pensions Fund. -
– If the honorable member will study the Budget he will find that his statement is not correct. Primarily, it is the duty of the State authorities to deal with any form of destitute allowance. I remind honorable members that the Commonwealth is paying back to the States very considerable sums of money, and the responsibility of providing for the welfare of the people belongs to the States equally with the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) said that he would like to see the Australian people self-contained and contented, and that argument was stressed by the honorable member for Melbourne also. I have yet to find any honorable member of this House who does not desire to establish in Australia a self-contained and contented community. The whole of our legislation is dictated by a desire tq improve the general conditions of the people. But one is disheartened when he finds a great problem being nibbled at instead of its basic principles being tackled. The sympathies of honorable members are appealed to over and over again. We are asked to render assistance in this, that, and the other way. The honorable member for Melbourne referred particularly to the old-age and invalid pensioners who are quartered in the
State institutions. With any proposal to liberalize the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act I have a great deal of sympathy. I know from personal observation how hard it is for some of the aged and infirm quartered in the State institutions to purchase additional comforts, and even necessities. 1 have particularly in mind the old men’s home in my electorate, but I know that, so far as the necessities of life, at any rate,, are concerned, the general welfare of the inmates is studied, and they have little of which to complain. On the other hand, it is a real hardship that the amount of pension received by them should be cut down between the State and Federal authorities. I, and other honorable members, have for a number of years urged successive Treasurers to rectify what is considered to be an injustice in regard to the proportion of the pension which the State authority takes from a pensioner when he enters an institution. I think, however, after havinglistened carefully to the speeches of the mover and the seconder of this motion, that it. would be unwise to hastily dispose of a proposal of this kind. The House has not had an opportunity to go thoreughly’into the proa and cons of this proposition.
– It has been on the notice- ‘ paper for months.
– But the House has not had an opportunity of debating it. No figures were adduced by the sponsors of the motion.’ to inform honorable members as to what is likely to be the expenditure involved. We are asked to vote upon a proposal the details of which the mover did not even outline. I admit that it is very difficult for any honorable member to hazard an opinion aa to how many people would take advantage of the proposed allowance, but honorable members have certain responsibilities. In connexion with his motion relating to the German indemnity, the honorable member for Melbourne gave us this afternoon a wealth of detail, but in regard to the proposal now before the House we are left entirely in the dark as to its financial consequences. All that the honorable member did was to appeal to our sympathies. The charge- cannot be levelled at the Government that they have not taken some action. I know that . £250,000 cannot provide’ everybody with motor cars and expensive dinners, but the Government have shown that they are alive to the immediate pressing need.
– The Government have not spent anything yet.
– Is that their fault? Frankly, I am against the whole system of doles.
– That was the argument against the old-age pensions.
– If any one is capable of working and- refuses work when it is offered, I should absolutely deny him any dole. I am sure that the honorable member for ‘ Melbourne (Dr. Maloney)does not desire that such people should benefit.
– What facts And figures do you want?
– I want an estimate; at present, we have not been told whether this scheme is likely to cost £5,000 or £50,000. “We do not know where it will lead us. A motion of this kind ap-. peals purely to sentiment, an.d it is too much to ask the House to accept it without the presentation of any basic facts. If the honorable member for Melbourne has any information or statistics-
– I could not convert you. ‘
– I think that is rather a reflection on me.
– Well, I withdraw it.
– We ought to have some indication of what- this motion means, from the financial point of view. While the honorable member for Melbourne was . speaking, I suggested to- the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) that he might be able to give us some information of the kind, but the honorable gentleman, quite wisely, in my opinion, pointed out that no facts had been advanced on which he could express an opinion on behalf of the Government.
– It does not matter what it costs, distress should be relieved.
– On the other hand, we have people demanding that taxation must be reduced in the case of lower-paid men. With that suggestion I have a great deal’ of sympathy, and I am pleased to see that it is the intention of the Government to grant further exemption. As I have indicated, it is too much to ask us to accept a bald proposal’ of this kind. Briefly, I regard this as a matter, not for the Commonwealth, but for the State Parliaments to deal with. Personally, my vote will always be cast, in favour of granting moneys to pay for work done, rather than granting them in any form of unemployment doles.
.- I am surprised that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) should misrepresent the case that has been presented to the House.
– I have not misrepresented the facts.
– What are the facts? The honorable member suggests that we have no machinery to carry out a scheme of this kind. But there is a branch of the Pensions Department in every State and in every large city, and that Department is under the control of the Government. All that we desire now is to pass a motion affirming that the State Governments, in cases of poverty and distress, may afford, relief, with the knowledge that the Commonwealth Government is- standing behind them. No man is more capable than the- honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) to deal with a subject of the kind, for in his professional capacity he daily comes into contact with persons in poor circumstances. I am certain he would not suggest the scheme unless he believed it to be absolutely necessary and practicable. We raised nearly £400,000,000, and quite justifiably, for the defence of this country-
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should raise a loan ?
– I have not suggested anything of the kind. In a country like this there are ways of raising money for the relief of our pioneer men and women who are not young and alert enough to be employed, are not invalids, but yet are too young for the old-age pension. Lai’ge numbers of people in that position are really a menace to a country.
– Do you suggest that these people are unemployable?
– They are too old to get work.
– They would draw the destitute allowance for life?
– There are times when these men and women cannot get employment, and’ I remind honorable members that the British Government are spending millions in order to relieve this class.
That relief is really a safety-valve, because society cannot last if there be a great army of starving people compelled to sleep in the streets. A married nian with a. wife and family, when he gets into such a position, knows no law at a certain point. This is a young country with enormous wealth and resources, and it is a scandal to the Government that there should be starving people without shelter. What is a -paltry 15s.. for the first week until inquiries are made 1 A few months ago, in New South Wales, tjiere were dozens of nien and women lying out in, the ‘ parks because they could not find shelter ; and, in face of that fact, the Government is spending over £250,000 to bring immigrants here. I believe in immigration, but surely we must first see to the welfare of the people who are already in the country. This motion is no mere political placard; it is based on ‘.’ the milk of human kindness,” which ought to be the base of all government. This is no party matter. The State Governments are doing noble work, but, of course, they have not the revenue at their command that the Commonwealth has. - I have received a copy of a Bill from New Zealand, showing that the Government there’ are providing for war pensions, widows’ pensions, miners’ pensions, and other grants of that kind, whereas the Commonwealth Government confines itself to invalid and old-age pensions. The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) told us in his Budget speech that there is a surplus of nearly £7,000,000 in the Trust Fund, and that he is going to devote £3,000,000 of that to relieve the well-to-do of taxation. Would it not be more charitable to devote this £3,000,000 to the relief of distressed ? To carry the motion to-day does not mean that it will come- into operation tomorrow; the Government will have to take action, and arrange for harmonious working with the States, and I hope the motion will be^ passed as an instruction that this shall be done.
.- This, motion is highly creditable to the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney). In every case where he feels he can possibly assist an individual he is ready to do so, either in his professional or his private capacity. In my opinion, the honorable member has not, on this occasion, given us anything like the wealth of detail he usually furnishes when- placing a proposal before us. I am inclined to think that his objective could be attained in a much better way. My impression has always been that every man and woman in the world has a personal responsibility, and that where there is too much dependence on the State the independence of the individual is weakened. I should prefer to see these old, destitute, and unemployable people helped by some system of insur-. anoe, such as we know are in operation in other parts of the world. The time has arrived when the Government should introduce a system under which every man and woman, over the ,age of twenty-one years, shall, in conjunction with employers and the State, contribute -to a fund, out of which such assistance as is now . proposed might legitimately be given.
– My motion can only be a- temporary, expedient.
– I do not- think it is practicable at the present time. There is an all-round desire to increase old-age pensions, and it is quite apparent that, if there are difficulties in the way of doing that, a proposal such as’ that before us needs a great deal more consideration than can be given to it in a two-hours’ discussion . The honorable member is to be. commeuded, as I have indicated, for bringing the matter before the House, and possibly it may be taken up later, when it is to be hoped more information will be afforded, with *a view to practical results. In the meantime, the Government might reasonably consider a scheme of national insurance which would preserve the selfrespect and independence of every person.
.- I am always’ ready to assist a member who endeavours to remove what we may call the^ anomalies in our civilization. Honorat>letmembers should ‘get rid of the idea that nothing can be done in such matters in a short debate such as we are having this afternoon.” We remember that when Samuel Plimsoll endeavoured to enforce a loadline on vessels, in order to save human life, he was told that it could not be done because it would interfere with certain interests. . He had actually to throw a- book at the- Speaker before he could get the House of Commons to realize that what he proposed could be dome. When people began to advocate the payment of old-age pensions, the reply was made that the payment of pensions would pauperize the citizens and make them lazy. All sorts of arguments were advanced in opposition to- the payment of pensions of any description. Again, when early closing legislation was first mooted the poor widows were dragged in, and we were told that the little children would be obliged to starve; yet nowadays no one would entertain a proposal to revert to the old system of ‘allowing’ shops to remain open for unrestricted hours. We were told, when we sought to improve the conditions of seaf aring men by the passing of a Navigation Bill, that ship-owners would be ruined, and that shipping freights would be enormously costly. I well remember the, time when an attempt was made in New South Wales to pass legislation to compel coal-owners to ventilate Jbhe workings of their mines. We were told that any interference with the proprietors of the coal mines would considerably increase the cost of coal. All sorts of opposition have been raised to progressive legislation, and ntow we have honorable members opposing the progressive proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney). I admit that the honorable member has hot submitted details, but he has laid down the principle that no one in Australia should be wanting food or shelter, and surely he ought not to be asked to prescribe the machinery necessary for carrying it into effect. We know from the press that during the last few years, probably as a result of the war, there have been many destitute, and I shall be proud if, in supporting the motion to-day, I help to bring about that state of affairs in Australia in which no one will be in the position of requiring food or shelter and being unable to obtain them. I know that in the State of New South Wales’ some provision has been made in this direction, but I .am not satisfied with all that ,has been done, because the recent change of Government has brought about a change of policy. No change of Administration should .affect any system adopted for relieving the distress acknowledged to exist in the community.
.- The honorable members for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) and Lilley (Mr. Mackay), in opposing the motion submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), admit that the honorable member is actuated by the purest of humanitarian motives, and that the principle underlying his motion is humanitarian, but they point .out that he has not supplied any facts which would indicate the effect the adoption of the motion would be likely to have upon the Commonwealth Treasury. The attitude of these honorable members seems to be that if the people to be [ affected were few, and. if the cost would not exceed more than a few thousand pounds, they would support the motion; but because they themselves are aware that distress, unemployment, and poverty are rife throughout the Commonwealth, and because they know that the adoption of the motion would,- therefore, involve the Commonwealth in considerable expenditure, they decline to support it. Their utterances are the strongest condemnation of our present civilization, ‘and the strongest proof of how necessary, it is to alter the prevailing conditions. Not one voice has been raised against the humanitarian principle underlying the motion, but honorable members will not vote for it because they are fearful of the cost involved. Their attitude is a complete condemnation of the administration of the present Government and of the condition of society prevailing to-day, and is only a further proof of the necessity for an immediate alteration.
.- I did not intend to speak on this motion, but after ‘ hearing the honorable- member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) assert that not one honorable member was raising objection to the principle underlying the motion submitted by the honorable member for. Melbourne (Dr. Maloney)’, I felt it necessary to say that I, for one, object to that principle. I hold that it would be improper to make provision by Act of Parliament that any person may go before a postmaster, a Customs officer, or other appointed Commonwealth official, a schoolmaster, a union secretary, a magistrate, or other appointed individual and make a statutory declaration that he or she is insufficiently fed, clothed, or sheltered, and be paid as soon as possible the sum of 15s. per week, and for each child 7s. 6d. .per week until ^relieved. The honorable member proposes that this dole should be given without any proper inquiry, and without any precautions save the penalties applicable to persons who’ make false declarations. If we are not to ascertain the causes which have brought about any one’s destitution we are to take something from the man who is earning and give it to another, whether he is deserving of assistance or not. I have every sympathy with those who are destitute and deserving of help, but I am not prepared to take from those who work sufficient to enable others to be, kept from . destitution, especially when I realize that the assistance thus given may’ simply be wasted by those who have arrived at their destitute condition by wasting what they formerly had. There are hundreds of such people in our. cities, and if we provided a dole of the kind suggested there would be thousands more who would make application for it.
Mr.Lazzarini. - That was argued before you were born.
– Yes; many truths were told before that event. As the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) has pointed out, even if the motion were carried, effect could not immediately be given to it.
Motion (by Mr.McGrath) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- That the proposal is impracticable is apparent, and no way has been suggested by which effect could be given to it. Anybody in different as to his circumstances might, by his own fault, become destitute, and receive the dole, if it were made available. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay). The best solution of the great question of providing for the destitute of Australia, of whom, unfortunately, we have a considerable number, is the adoptionof a system of national insurance. This would save indigent people from the odium of being the recipients of charity. Some able statesman needs to go fully into the matter. I realize that we have many hard-working and deserving people in a sorry plight, but I am’ not prepared to support a motion in this Chamber suggesting the provision of a dole which would be taken advantage of by many who were not deserving of it.
.- Every honorable member who has spoken on the matter has made it clear that he believes that the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is actuated by the most humanitarian motives in bringing his proposal forward.
Debate interrupted under sessional order.
Debate resumed from 3rd August (vide page1096), on motion by Mr. Bowden -
That in the opinion of this House the time has arrived to reduce the postal charges within the Commonwealth.
.- It would be very unwise to reduce at present the postal and’ telegraphic charges, because the employees of the Department could not suffer any reduction in wages. A fact not . generally known among honorable members and the public at large is that for years the Post and Telegraph Department has returned a surplus to the general revenue. I do not know of any instance where a sum has been taken from the general revenue to balance a deficit in that Department. Instead of the profit made by the Department being paid into the general revenue, it should have been devoted to improving the postal and telegraphic facilities. If that course had been followed in past years, the Department would not be in its present position of being unable to cope with the demands made upon it. For a period of ten years, until the advent of a progressive Administration in the form of a Labour
Government in 1910, the Department was virtually starved. Last year, according to figures supplied by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Poynton), there was a very substantial sura paid from the earnings of the Department into the general revenue, and now the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) proposes to borrow £9,000,000, spread over a period of three years, to be expended upon the Department. Heaven only knows at what rate of interest the Government will be able to obtain the loan. An enormous sum will be required for interest alone. It is high time that there was an alteration in the present system of finance, because it is positively brutal to the public. The telephonic materials used during the first twelve years in the Department’s history are now obsolete, and yet we are paying interest on loan money spent in purchasing those materials. We cannot continue under such a wasteful system indefinitely. The profits made by the Department should be expended in improving the services that it is rendering to the people. They should notgo into the Consolidated Revenue. The present system is One whichno honest individual can indorse; it will not bear investigation. The postal services have been starved. Work done in many country districts on behalf of the various branches under the control of the Postmaster-General has been inadequately paid for. The whole question of finance requires to be deeply probed. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members generally. There appears to be a dread on the part of some to make any reference to the financial position. I know the feeling of many residents of our cities. They are not anxious to bring about a reduction in postal rates. They agree that it would be far better to maintain the present charges and spend more money on the extension and improvement of services in the country. All departmental revenue over and above expenditure should be devoted to the improvement of the systems generally, special attention being paid to country requirements. We” ought to be able to establish and conduct full and efficient services; but there are innumerable complaints. A resident of Sydney, whom I know, has been waiting for two years for a telephone; I understand that he will have to wait for another twelve months, if not longer. Such a state of affairs in a capital city should not be tolerated.
When thehonorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Wise) was PostmasterGeneral I said some very strong things to him when Iwas told that much needed facilities, both in the cities and in the country, could notbe provided because materials were not available. I knew from my mechanical training that many of the requirements of the Department could be produced in Australia. We have both the raw material and the mechanically and technically trained labour. When a change of Government is brought about there will be drastic alterations in the personnel of the services under the control of the PostmasterGeneral unless they wake up. But it is madness for the Government to. continue their policy of” boom, borrow and bust.” I feel nauseated when. I discover that the money for every job, big or little - from the extension of a General Post Office to the building of a cow-shed on a country post-office property - is drawn from loan. I hope the motion will be rejected.
.- It is unfortunate that this debate should be continued in the absence of its originator, the honorable member for Nepean(Mr. Bowden). The motion was moved before the Budget had been presented. If the motion is carried it will materially interfere with the arrangements of the Government as foreshadowed in the Budget. The increased postal rates were introduced for taxation purposes, and not merely from a post-office point of view. People throughout the country are not complaining of the postal rates; but their desire is to secure as many facilities and as great an extension of present facilities as may be possible. This discussion should be adjourned. I feel confident that if the honorable member for Nepean were present he would seek to withdraw his motion, now that the Budget is before us.
Debate (on motion by Mr.Burchell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17th August (vide page 1489), onmotion by Mr. Austin Chapman -
That, in the opinion of this House, His Majesty’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth should, after the prorogation of the session of Parliament -in 1923, advise His . Excellency the Governor-General to summon the session to be held in 1924 at Canberra, the Federal Capitol.
– As with almost all other matters which are the subject of debate in this House, this motion, in its essence, is bound up with the consideration ofthe financial position of the Commonwealth. The resolution amounts to a mere expression of opinion. Australia is committed to the building of the Federal Capital at Canberra. It seems to me that not very much harm will be done byagreeing to. a motion worded as this is. It may be impossible, even after placing a sufficient sum of money on the Estimates, to expend it at Canberra. We may express pious hopes-, but beyond that we shall not be able to go very far. I am rather at a disadvanage in not having had an opportunity of hearing the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) when he moved this motion. In the light of the statement made by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) in introducing the Budget, I should think that even the most ardent advocate of the transference of this Parliament to Canberra must be satisfied that a sufficient sum of money has been provided for the present financial year. It is such a sum, at least, as could reasonably be spent in a year. How many buildings will be erected, and just what work will be undertaken as a result of the proposed expenditure, are questions upon which, perhaps, the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Richard Foster) might furnish some information at the present juncture. Weought to be told fully and definitely what the Government propose to do.
– There is provision on the Estimates for all the works at Canberra for which we can get labour.
– If there is a sufficient sum of money to construct all works for which labour can be secured, it is still only a pious hope for this House to express an opinion regarding the holding of a session in Canberra in 1924. Whether that hope can be realized is a matter for future determination. Having heard the emphatic applause of the honorable memberfor Eden-Monaro when the Treasurer was dealing with the Canberra proposals, I am inclined to think that if he were here he would be prepared to withdraw the motion, because he would be satisfied that the Government is doing everything in its power to fulfil his dream.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wise) adjourned.
Order of the Day called on forresumption of debate from 17th August (vide page 1504), on motion by Mr. Austin Chapman -
That, in the opinion of this House, old-age and invalid pensions should be increased to £1 per week.
Motion (by Mr. Marr) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided.
Majority . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) ;
Motion (by Mr. Rodgers) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the payment of bounties onthe export of beef and cattle from the Commonwealth.
.- Would this not be an opportune time for the Minister to explain the provisions of the Bill ? It is not fair to the Committee for him to move such a resolution without making any explanation.
.- The motion ought not to be passed as though it were a formal one.
– It is not proposed to proceed with the second-reading speech today.
– That statement is all very well, and the Minister puts it very nicely. The motion, however, is for an appropriation of money, and, if we agree to it, the question will arise as to whether we can alter it afterwards. -In my opinion, we cannot. I think, at this stage, the Minister ought to give the Committee an explanation.
– This is not the proper time, nor is it customary at this stage, to give an explanation.
– It does not matter to me whether this is the customary stage, but I think it- is the proper time to have an explanation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Bodgers and Mr. Greene do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented’ by Mr. Rodgers, and read a first time.
Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c
In Committee of Supply:
Proposed votes (Prime j&vnister’s Department), £160; and (Home and Territories Department), £17,500, agreed to.
Department of Defence
Proposed vote, £516,617.
.- I notice that provision is made in division 3 for an expenditure of £50,000 in respect of the item “ Construction of fleet.” Last year £300,000 was voted for this purpose, and the actual expenditure was £336,369. I do not know what other provision is made for the construction of vessels of the fleet, but £50,000 seems to be a very small amount to provide for the completion of the two vessels that are now being constructed at Cockatoo Island.
– The item is to provide for the completion of the Adelaide.
– Another item to which I would draw attention is that of £25,200 towards cost of erection of drill halls, and to provide ‘ other accommodation for the Citizen Forces. The estimated total cost is £100,000. I doubt very much whether we are. justified in increasing the expenditure on such works at’ the present -time.
– No new services are projected under the item to which the honorable member refers. The proposed vote is to meet expenditure on work authorized last year, but not completed. It is anticipated that a very considerable saving will be effected in respect of this vote.
– The point is whether we should go on spending money in this way at the present time, seeing that vve are cutting down the general Defence expenditure, and that the Government is reducing, to a large extent, the compulsory drills. I do not- know whether, in the circumstances, this particular expenditure is justifiable.
– Last year we voted £50,432 in respect of ‘ division 5, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has just drawn attention; but the actual expenditure was only £26,494. When it became obvious that the Government would decide upon a reduction of the Defence vote, and Defence activities generally, a general order was made suspending operations in regard to new. works until we could ascertain exactly what we would require to go on with and what would, in the natural course of events, be abandoned. As a result of that general order a’ number of works were held up for - the time being. I can give the Committee the assurance that included in the projected expenditure’ of £25,200 in division 5 there will be no new works in any of those areas where we have suspended compulsory training. The money is required for completion of works that were started last year. Honorable members will notice that the proposed vote pf £25,200, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, covers not only the erection of drill-halls, but the construction of a seawall at Point Nepean, buildings and engineering works for the Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong, rifle ranges, and fortifications. AH these works are grouped unaer the one heading. I feel confident that the item covers only expenditure that is absolutely required for the efficiency of the Forces. The greater part is for the completion of works that are now actually in course of construction.
.- In a number of country districts the only, available halls have been purchased’ by the Defence Department for compulsory, drill purposes, and the restrictions placed on the letting of them’ make it difficult for local residents to obtain the use of a suitable hall. The only hall in Derby, a town in my electorate, was pui chased some time ago by the Department, and those who wish to hire it for an entertainment have to pay a rental of £g per night. In addition, they have to pay a fireman to be in attendance during the performance, and have also to take out a fire insurance policy in respect of every night on which they want to use the building. I suggest that those conditions might very well be relaxed by the Department itself taking out a fire insurance policy in respect of the whole year, and adding to the rental charge a sum sufficient to cover the costs so incurred. That addition would not amount to more than 6d. per night, and the change would result in a saving to the people who want to uso the hall. As a result of the restrictions imposed by the Department, the’ ratepayers’ money is to be used in building a new ball. If the Department had been more liberal, the ratepayers might not have had to take this step, and perhaps their money could have been put to a better use than the building of a hall to compete with that now held by the Commonwealth.
.- In divisions 6 and 7, provision is made for an expenditure of £89,465 in connexion with the Royal Australian Air Force. My information is that large sheds involving heavy expenditure are being erected piecemeal by the Department. All such proposed works, where the total expenditure will exceed £25,000, should be submitted to the Public Works Committee. The military branch of the Department is building large sheds in a piecemeal fashion so as to avoid a reference to the “Committee. Now that the war is over, why should not all military works esti- mated, to cost more than £25,000 be referred to the Public Works Committee, which is supposed to be a safeguard against unnecessary public expenditure? Most of this £89,000 will be expended on the erection of sheds and hangars. If we are to have a reduction in the expenditure on certain other branches of the Military Forces, surely we should not go to the other extreme in connexion with the Air Service.
.- The position in regard to the item referred to by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) is that the amount proposed to be voted for buildings is not, as the honorable member suggests, £89,465, but £56,715. Last year we made provision for an expenditure of £200,260, but we held up works of this character until we knew exactly what we were going to do in the matter of the reduction of the Defence estimates. Of the total of £200,260 voted last year, only £28,526 was expended. Included in this total of £56,715 there is an item of £24,500 towards the carrying out of a work estimated to cost £31,000, and- that proposed work has already been submitted to the Public Works Committee. There is also an air craft depot to be erected at Laverton. That work will have to be referred to the Public Works Committee. It will cost more than the amount provided for this year, and, as the Public Works Committee will have to inquire into the proposal before it can be put in hand, it is not likely that there will be very heavy expenditure under this item for this financial yeaT. The total provision for the air services under this division is £56,715. This is a new force, the organization of which has only recently been taken in hand, so a great deal of work still lies before us. We have cut the expenditure down to the lowest possible point consistent with the maintenance of an efficient force capable of training aviators, not for military purposes only, but for civil aviation purposes also. These pilots will then be able to take up civil aviation; and, by reason of the fact that they will have received their training at Point Cook, will be a valuable reserve force upon which we may rely in time of war. I feel confident that the whole of the provision made will not he required this year, hut it is necessary to put a certain amount on the Estimates in. order that the Public Works Committee may begin their inquiries into the big scheme at Laverton itself.
– I am averse from heavy expenditure for aviation on the military side. On the last occasion when we were debating this question I remember raising a similar objection. The total amount provided for the Royal Australian Air Force this year is £89,465. Last year we expended £115,921 of a total of £576,245 voted. If we are not exceedingly careful, we shall find that this new arm of our Defence Force will have cost this country millions of money almost before we realize what we are doing. Is there any necessity for this expenditure? The Minister (Mr. Greene) stated, in reply to the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr.Riley), that most of the men trained at Point Cook will be available for the development of civil aviation. I have nothing whatever to say against doing everything possible to advance the science of aviation for commercial purposes. It is in the interests of the country that we should do this. I find, however, that the proposed expenditure on civil aviation is only £26,000, so it is apparent that the principal expenditure contemplated is on the military side; the item including provision for the construction of buildings, hangars, workshops, barracks, and earthworks, and preparation of aerial routes and landing grounds. This means, of course, that we are making preparation for defence in war time. I am one of those who believe that the time has arrived for a substantial curtailment of all military expenditure; that we should follow the advice tendered by Lord Cecil at the League of Nations Assembly - that no country, at this juncture, should increase its expenditure for war services.
Mr.Marks. - Does the honorable member know that the British Government are incurring very large additional expenditure on aerial defence?
Mr.CHARLTON. - I am not surprised that any of the European Governments should be spending additional money on air defence, because the Washington Conference did not place any restriction upon the development of aviation, on the assumption, apparently, that it might militate against the development of civil aviation. But we could still encourage aviation for commercial purposes, and, if necessary, the services of our air pilots could ‘be drawn upon in time of war. The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), in reply to a question put by me recently, said that the expenditure under last year’s vote had been incurred on account both of civil and defence aviation, but I have since ascertained that this is not so; that heavier expenditure has been incurred on the military side of aviation, and that the amount set aside for the development of civil aviation has not been all expended. This is only in keeping with everything that has happened in connexion with military matters. It is clear that if the military authorities are allowed any latitude they will involve this country in very heavy and unnecessary expenditure. This is a new branch of the Defence Force which they are endeavouring to establish in a large way, and if they can get the money there will be lavish expenditure just as there has been in connexion with the War Service Homes scheme. I do not know that the Committee would he wise in voting the amount asked for. I could understand the need for the money if the expenditure contemplated was for the development of civil aviation. At present we should do all we possibly can to bring about that good feeling between the nations of the world that will lead to peace, rather than proceed along the path that will lead to war. Whether we realize it or not, it is undoubtedly true that every country in the world is watching what every other country is doing. I have had this truth brought home very clearly to me quite recently. I know that Germany is studying our legislation very closely indeed, and knows exactly what we are doing in regard to the development of our iron and steel industry, and in other directions. If one country finds that any country is preparing for war there will be counter preparations, and this feeling of antagonism will eventually lead to open rupture, and finally to hostilities. We ought to do all that we possibly can to cut down unnecessary Defence expenditure. Every pound saved will be so much towards the redemption, or, at all events, the payment, of interest on our public debts. We are not justified in spending more money on the military side of aviation. I trust the Committee will give earnest consideration to what I have said.
– The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) has just put in a plea that some of our drill-halls should be used for public purposes, in view of the fact that some portion of the military training of our youths has been suspended. Very many fine halls in some of our city areas could be so utilized. In my own division, for instance, there is an exceptionally fine building conveniently situated for public meetings. If that could be made available on certain occasions the Government could obtain some revenue from its use. I had occasion recently to convene a meeting, and I was obliged to hire the grandstand in the football ground simply because I could not obtain another suitable meeting place. Why should not the Defence Department make these drillhalls available for election meetings, and thus derive some additional revenue from their use? When the ex-member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) was in this House, and was Acting Minister for Homo Affairs, I suggested that instead of flooring the drill-halls with asphalt, timber should be put in so that the halls might be made available for the social enjoyment of our soldiers and citizens. I do not know to what extent my suggestion was adopted, but I understand that many drill-halls are floored in this manner instead of with cold asphalt. The Government could obtain considerable revenue if the various drill-halls throughout the Commonwealth were made available for public meetings. This course would not interfere in any way with the Defence policy of the Government.
In regard to aviation generally, I find that the total provision for new works is £115,465, but if honorable members will turn to the general Estimates they will find that there is an item of £251,000, making a total of £366,000 of proposed expenditure for this financial year on aviation - military and civil. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has said that much of the training of air pilots will be with a view to the development of civil aviation. We have quite a number of trained air pilots at Point Cook and other places. Some of them, I believe, are in the barracks, but I do not know whether they are doing clerical work or not. From a return which I obtained from the Minister, I should say that there are between thirty and forty air pilots in the employ of the Defence Department. One aerial mail service is already being operated in Western, Australia over a long distance, and is proving a magnificent proposition. The people in a remote part of the State are obtaining their mails in two days, whereas previously it took three weeks to deliver them by boat. In connexion with these aerial mail services, I want the financial aspect to be considered. If we have our own trained pilots, and suitable aeroplanes, why should the Commonwealth pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum, as it will do in a few years, for the conduct of these services by private enterprise? Why should we not make use of our own pilots and aeroplanes for this work ? Such a policy would have something to commend it from the defence, as well as the financial, point of view. Give the Government pilots an opportunity of carrying the mails long distances in Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, and all the time they are studying the mail routes they will be marking out routes, and collecting data that will be useful fordefence purposes should the necessity arise. These men, instead of being kept in barracks, with only an occasional flight at Point Cook, or some other training centre, should be employed in carrying the mails through the interior of Australia. There are certain parts of an aeroplane which can be manufactured within Australia. I do not think we are able to construct aeroplane engines yet, but we shouldbe able to do so at an early date., One mail service is costing the Commonwealth £25,000 per annum. All the parts of these machines are being manufactured outside Australia, and some aerial services cannot be operated yet because the Commonwealth have been unable, up to the present, to obtain suitable machines from the Old Country., Here we have a splendid opportunity to utilize the services of the men whom the Commonwealth is paying. What a fine thing it would be if our pilots, by carrying mails throughout Australia, gained an intimate knowledge of every inch of the continent. I understand that the contract already let, and others proposed to be let, will amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum. The Commonwealth could, by employing its own trained aviators, save a considerable portion of that sum. Quite likely the Minister will tell me that the 127 aeroplanes given to the Commonwealth by the British Government are not suitable for the carriage of mails ; but whilst that may be an argument for not utilizing those machines, it is no argument against the utilization of the pilots whom the Commonwealth has trained. In these days, when economy of the right character is necessary, we should take the opportunity of saving money by giving this work to our own officers. Already the Commonwealth is doing the most important part of the work. Pilots from the Defence Department using departmental machines are marking out mail routes, landing places, and hangar sites throughout Australia,. If they can. do all that preliminary work, why should they rot also carry the mails? Only the other day I had a conversation with a youngaviator, who told me that he and some of hit, comrades are longing to fly to and fro in the wider tracts of the continent. They say that the occasional flights they get now are not a sufficientpracticaltraining. They are prepared to operate these mail services - indeed, they will be glad of the opportunity to do so, and by gratifying their wish, the Commonwealth would not only be making these men more efficient for defence purposes, but would be saving large sums of money at the same time. I believe that many of the Defence Department’s machines could be made suitable for the work. Why, therefore, after doing all the preliminary work, and training a staff of pilots, should we let these services to private enterprise at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds? The Commonwealth is projecting an aerial service from Sydney to Brisbane and right across Western Queensland into the Northern Territory. The service already Operating in Western Australia covers a distance of from 600 to 700 miles. Of course, the day will come when we shall have in Australia airships and aeroplanes that will carry both passengers and mails, but, in the meantime, my proposal would mean a saving of money to the Common wealth, would not clash with the material policy of encouraging private enterprise, and would give invaluable experience to young Australians who have been trained as aeroplane pilots.
.- I indorse a lot of what was said by the last speaker regarding the utilization, for mail purposes, of the Air Force which the Government is building up, but I do not agree with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the Government are spending too much money on this branch. The expenditure last year, plus that which is proposed for the current year, is not equal to the total amount voted to the Department by this House during last session. From these figures it would appear that the Government are going very slowly in this matter.
I understand that some Defence buildings have been erected in New South Wales recently, and that the plans have been considerably altered since they were submitted to and approved of by the Public Works Committee. I would like an assurance from the Minister for Works and Railways, and the Minister for Defence, that a work passed by the Public Works Committee shall not be altered until it has been again referred to the Committee.
Mr.Greene. - To what building does the honorable member refer? We know nothing about any such building.
– I shall get the information for the honorable gentleman.
.- There is an item “ Machinery and plant for manufacture of munitions, not now produced in Australia, towards cost, £70,000.” There is another item of £100,000 for the initiation and maintenance of munitions production. Do they signify that the Commonwealth is starting a small arsenal? If so, where is it to be located? I understand that the Public Works Committee recommended that any arsenal created by the Commonwealth should be at Canberra. I ask the Minister to explain those items.
– On these Estimates, and also on the Loan Estimates, are items for the erection of certain works at Maribyrnong.
– Do the Government propose to erect an arsenal there, piecemeal?
– No. One of the big questions that the Government hadto oonsider in connexion with our Defence policy was that of munitions supply. Obviously, if Australia is ever called upon to defend ‘ its shores its greatest menace will be at a time when our sea communications are either cut or interrupted. Therefore, it seemed to the Government that it was useless to train men for defence unless we’ had within our borders the means with which to equip and arm them. We have already in the Commonwealth a number of factories which can produce a considerable proportion of the munitions that would be required in time of war. For instance, the Lithgow Small Arms Factory is equipped for the production of rifles. It is the best plant of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and is wonderfully equipped.
– Is it turning out a serviceable article now?
– Of that there is no question. But we have created such a reserve of rifles - I do not feel called upon to mention the actual number - that the military advisers of the Government told us that the number was already a sufficient insurance against the risk of war, plus such small output as we shall get from Lithgow under the new conditions. Then we have the Acetate of Lime Factory in Brisbane, the Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong, and the Small Arms Ammunition Factory at Footscray, eoncerned in the production of small arms ammunition. These three establishments are closely associated in the production of small arms ammunition, and here we have also reached a point where our reserves of ammunition have practically approached the reserves which the Military Board considered it necessary for Australia to carry. All we have to do, therefore, in the way of production of small arms ammunition at present is to manufacture sufficient to meet current needs, and to replace old stocks.
– Deteriorated stocks.
– Yes. As honorable members are aware, cordite, which is the propellent in a cartridge, has only a limited life, as after a period has elapsed it deteriorates and has to be replaced. In that way, of course, enormous waste is incurred, but it cannot be avoided. The Government have felt that to carry on the small arms manufacture and the associated factories producing small arms ammunition on the old basis would be wrong, as we have reached our reserves. We have, therefore, decided to reduce those factories to a nucleus organization, and to keep them in operation with a small trained staff, so that if war broke out we could build upon the small organization, and devote the money which otherwise would have been spent in this direction to the establishment of factories, also on a nucleus basis, for the production of other ammunition supplies that Australia would require if thrown upon her own resources. For instance, we have not manufactured any machine guns, revolvers, field guns, or field guns’ ammunition. High explosives, apart from cordite, that is, T.N.T., and similar high explosives, have not been manufactured here, neither had we the means of making them. Further we have not had experience in manufacturing from the raw materials produced in Australia. At the head of this particular branch of our activities we have one of the best men to be found in the British Empire. I refer to Mr. Leighton, who is in control of the munition production and whose services were commandeered by the British Government during the war, when he was in charge of some of the most extensive and important explosive factories.
– In connexion with the manufacture of high explosives?
– Yes, at Gretna, one of the biggest factories, and we are fortunate in having at our disposal the services of such an experienced officer.
– The fact that the British Government commandeered him is sufficient proof of his worth.
-Exactly. He is * valuable man to Australia, and the Commonwealth is particularly fortunate in being able to take advantage of his experience. The amount we have placed on the Estimates-
– The Minister was going to mention the work which Mr. Leighton, is to undertake.
– It must be evident to honorable members that it is of first importance in approaching this question to be assured of supplies of raw material. One of the great difficulties encountered by Great Britain was that she had not all the raw material required, and with one or two exceptions Australia has all that will be needed in that direction.
– And the exceptions could be supplied under pressure.
– Yes; nitrates, for instance, could be secured, I believe, if the necessity arose. Mr. Leighton informs me that there is no raw material produced in any country which does not possess peculiar characteristics, and it is only by extensive experiments and investigation on a practical basis that we can determine exactly how raw materials should be used in the manufacture of the essential munitions of war. We are making special provision by establishing a chemical staff to undertake laboratory tests, so that in the event of an outbreak of war we shall have not only the material and a trained staff, but information as to the exact process to be followed. We are instructing a number of young Australians in high explosives chemistry and metallurgy, and certain manufacturing concerns in Australia, having discovered that we are training chemists, and that their services are extremely valuable, have promptly offered them from £ 100 to £200 or more additional salary for their services.
– They are still in the country : that is one advantage.
– Notwithstanding that they are employed elsewhere, we know where they are, and it is not altogether an unmixed evil to train a somewhat larger number of men, because, in the event of war, their services would be available. It is a little disheartening, however, to the men in control when their officers are taken away, because it means starting again on new material. The Munitions Department is doing good work for Australia. The £170,000 to which reference has been made, and an amount on the Loan Estimates, is to provide the means for building up these factories and carrying them on.
– Are they arsenals?
– Not in the ordinary sense of the term. We do not propose to do what we have done at Lithgow in the Small Arms Munition Factory, and, although we will have a factory equipped and capable of a certain output, we do not propose to establish it as a factory. We intendto create a nucleus organiza tion, to train a small staff, and to ignore from the point of view of cost the actual output of the factories. In the event of war the staff will be able to train others to use the machinery installed, and we hope in another way elsewhere. When the munitions staff is in operation, members of that organization will visit the large engineering shops in Australia, and determine which are suitable for any particular branch of munitions manufacture, and endeavour, in co-operation with those controlling those establishments, to train a number of menin the particular branch of munition manufacture for which that shop is suitable. For instance, it might be determined that the Harvester Works at Sunshine were suitable for some particular class of munition manufacture, and in that case we would ask Mr. Hugh V. McKayto allow us to have from his shop a certain number of men to be trained in the particular branch of munition manufacture for which his works were most suitable. If we were thrown on our own resources, the establishment would immediately be commandeered, and we would have in those works a small trained staff capable of teaching others.
– Is there any amount in these Estimates for building?
– There is an amount of £106,944 on the Loan Estimates. The whole is a related problem, and I think I should add that the intention of the Government - so far as the Government can govern what happens in the years to come - is that this programme shall be a continuous one, carried out on certain definite lines, with appropriations for munition purposes of about £500,000 a year. That will be to carry on the factories that we have as nucleus organizations, and to provide year by year for the equipment of other factories required. The object we have in view is that when all these factories which are in our programme are erected and working as a definite nucleus organization, we shall be able to carry on the whole arrangement for £500,000 a year.
– Including the cost of replenishing the existing stocks of ammunition.
– No, except in regard to small-arms ammunition. There is nothing in the programme to provide a large quantity of big-gun ammunition.
We are not aiming at that,but at manufacturing a small quantity of big-gun ammunition with the nucleus staff at these factories.
– In order to allow the men to learn how.
– Exactly. We are not considering output, but are endeavouring to train a small staff to turn our raw materials into practical use, so that in the event of war we will know how to utilize them.
– Will not works costing over £25,000 be referred to the Public Works Committte?
– It is not the intention of the Government to do that.
– It could, of course, be done secretly and confidentially .
– In the factories there are, of course, a large number of processes which, to all intents and purposes, are secrets; indeed, they are secrets - War Office secrets.
– We hope they are !
– We hope and believe they are. There are some matters that it is not desirable to have made the subject of public inquiry, and I think it would be unwise to submit these to the Public Works Committee in the ordinary way. They are all related; they all hang on one another. I doubt if there is any one single work the cost of which would amount to £25,000; but, as I say, all the works hang on one another. For instance the T.N.T. Factory stands by itself, and will not cost £25,000, but it is of no use having such a factory unless there is something more. So it goes on right through the piece; they all rest really one on the other, and the Government felt that in the circumstances it was not desirable that these works should be submitted to the Public Works Committee.
– But the group of buildings will cost more than £25,000.
– Of course, but we cannot deal with the group without telling to the world things that it is not desirable the world should now.
– You should teach the Committee the virtue of secrecy as part of the training.
– Yes; but we know quite well that that is not quite so easy as it appears. I was just about to say that I do not pretend for one moment that the world does not know about these matters, because of course the world does know; but I do not think it is desirable for us to tell publicly exactly what we are doing. That is the reason the Government have taken the steps they have.
.- It is a pleasure for me to congratulate a Minister on something he has said.
– It is a pleasure to hear the honorable member say that!
– It is unusual for me to be able to say that I am satisfied with a statement made by a Minister.
– It is not unusual for you to be able to say it, but it is unusual for you to say it!
– When I can I do say it; but on this occasion the Minister (Mr. Greene) has given a very clear exposition of a rather difficult subject, and along safe and sound lines. It may be that we are not able to go deeply enough into these matters to say what is at the bottom, but so far as we can know, the position seems to me to be quite satisfactory. The whole business is merely an insurance, and we do not want to either over insure or under insure. The Minister has talked about munitions, which after a few years must be thrown away; but that is also part of the insurance scheme, and it is far better for us to throw them away than to shoot them away. We must, however, have munitions there in case we do require to shoot them away.
– Not necessarily, if the world can agree not to go to war.
– The honorable member is a very cheery optimist if he thinks that within our time, or within the time of our children, the world is going to so settle down that there will be no necessity to put ourselves in a position to defend our country. There was never a time - except just before the Great War, when some knew what was coming - when it was more necessary to be in a position to defend ourselves; no man knows when war may come, and it is absolute madness to neglect any steps for the defence of our homes and people. Just as I believe that every man should be trained in the art of self-defence, so I think that every nation should be in a position to defend itself; and I am pleased the Minister has made that clear. We know that Australia cannot at the present time bear any undue burdens, and the carefulness of the honorable gentleman’s speech is, in my opinion, very marked in this regard. There are two or three different divisions in which it is essential we should keep up our strength, or the possibilities of strength, to the utmost. The first of these has reference to chemistry. The Minister has told us that the Department is training a number of men who, when they arrive at a certain stage, are drawn away into private ‘business careers because of the greater opportunities which are there offered. Personally, I think that is all to the good, though the Minister regards it as rather disheartening. It would be disheartening if the Commonwealth were carrying on a business for profit; but I take it that the idea of the Government is simply to put Australia in a position to defend herself. If those men go from the Department into private employment, they carry with them their departmental training, and gain, in addition, a wider and fuller experience; and they take with them all the possibilities of enabling the country to defend itself, just as much as if they had remained in Government employ. The Department will all the time be training new men, and neither the Minister nor those in immediate charge of the men should feel their departure as in any way disheartening, but, on the contrary, should regard it as one of the good things that happen under the present system. In. addition to chemists, we certainly must have men capable of handling high explosives, so that if the call coine3 - though we all hope it will not - they may be ready to do their work, and, at the same ‘ time, teach others to assist, in the output. The Minister talked about the British Government commandeering one of our men, and he regarded it as a proof that that man must be something exceptional. I do not think that the incident proves anything of the sort. X do not say that the man is not exceptionally good - I am not in a position to say one way or the other - but at that time, during the war, the British Government were commandeering everybody of any use at all. We desire to have men so trained that it will not be necessary to go outside to commandeer others from any other nation; above all, -we wish in defence matters to be self-contained. Generally speaking, I am opposed to the idea of making Australia “self- contained.” From my point of view it is utterly ridiculous for nations to entertain such an idea in these days of civilization. In the matter of defence, however, it is possible that Australia must become self-contained. As the Minister has said, our greatest danger will be when we are cut off from outside help, and we must be in a position to defend ourselves. The chief method of defence, it seems to me, is going to be in the air; and I hope the Government will do all in their power within reason to keep our airmen in practice. If, as a member of the Opposition suggested, we can train men for mail carrying, so much the better, but let us use every available avenue to keep our men flying. It stands to Teason that, as flying is a new adventure, men are not trained in it as they axe in other directions; and, therefore, they must be kept up to the mark by constant practice. The men thus trained will be in a position to train others who are coming on, and we shall have a constant supply of flying men, along with chemists, those capable of handling munitions and others. I think the idea that the Minister put forward - that all these bodies he is maintaining should be simply nuclei of the different bodies necessary to defend the country- is essentially a good one.
.- The Minister has brought it home to us very forcibly that, besides men and machinery for the manufacture of munitions, in the event of their being required, we must have supplies of the material for these men to handle. The honorable gentleman informed us that many hundreds of pounds are being spent in exploratory and experimental work; and I should like to know whether it is his intention to go outside and get employers and men to so direct their efforts that they may be useful in the event of war. There is another phase of the question that I regard as most important. The Minister, I think, ought to look round and see what Australia possesses in the way of nitrates, potash, and other material which are necessary in the manufacture of munitions. Will any of the money that is now being voted be used for the encouragement of men to go out and search for these essential materials? If that were done, we should, in the event of war, have our factories and machines ready, and also adequate supplies of the necessary raw products. We ought to be in possession of such materials, or, at any rate, know where they can be obtained in this country; and at the present time we know that they are not found in anything like sufficient quantities. Some small deposits have been found; but I hope that it is the intention of the Government to encourage the search foT further deposits. We should then, as I say, in time of need, be able to put our hands on the raw material, without which we cannot manufacture munitions with anything like the necessary promptitude.
– I will give that matter consideration.
– I thoroughly indorse the proposal of the Government to spend money on aviation, which seems to me to be our only line of defence at the present time, as the recent. British manoeuvres have proved. There will be nothing to prevent men trained by the Defence Department in aviation from being drafted into civil aviation, where their services may be utilized for the benefit of the country in opening up new routes. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) seems to have lost sight of the fact that Australia has a great undefended coast-line.
– I have not lost sight of the fact that aeroplanes have been used for the purpose of dropping bombs on defenceless people.
– The honorable member is of opinion that no one will interfere with us if we do not bother about arming ourselves.
– How could our aeroplanes be used for dropping bombs on defenceless people?
– Quite so; they could only be used for defence, and not for offence. I have yet to learn that human nature has so changed that there is no longer need for policemen. The language sometimes used in this House shows how essential it is that we should have some means of defending ourselves. Honorable members have frequently to appeal to the Chair for protection. One would imagine from the remarks of tha Leader of the Opposition that ‘-.all people were like sucking doves. As ‘a matter of fact, close to us, there are thickly populated countries. There is not far away from our shores one country, which, although it is only half the size of the State of New South Wales, has 60,000,000 people. Where they are to spread is a point to which we must all give. serious consideration. Yet men with the responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition -declare that we need take no measures for our defence.
– Do not put words into my mouth. I am opposed to our compulsory system.
– The honorable member criticises our defence system, but brings forward no alternative policy, and then he goes out to the electors and claims that he has saved them from heavy taxation by bringing about a reduction of the Defence expenditure, leaving others to accept the responsibility of telling the people that human nature has not changed, and that there are nations covetous enough to long to take possession of the valuable lands of Australia. I am in accord with the proposal of the Minister in regard to the training of chemists, and in this connexion I may point out that the chemists of the electrolytic zinc works, at Risdon, Tasmania, no doubt would give very valuable service to the Defence Department ar very little cost to the country. I urge that the ammunition in the control of the Defence Department should not be stored close to the cities. In other parts of the world great damage has been done by the explosion of magazines. The Minister bears a great responsibility. He should consider the matter carefully, and endeavour to have all this ammunition stored safely away from large centres of population.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) has told us about the supply of rifles available in Australia, and that so far we have not been able to make machine-guns, which are so essentially the queen of weapons for Australian defence.
– The programme I have outlined makes provision for their manufacture.
– With others, I am against the expenditure of one penny more than necessary, and at the same time I realize that there must be in Great Britain, after the war, tens of thousands of machine guns, which the British Government would probably be only too willing to give away. I have no doubt the Minister’s advisers know more than I do, but my idea as to the best means of defending Australia, and of insuring a sense of security in that regard, is to endeavour to obtain these machine guns from Great Britain. I should imagine that a full supply of these weapons could be obtained almost as a gift. I have great faith in the citizen soldier, and if we have a plentiful supply of both heavy and light machine guns, their use, and a knowledge of them, could be encouraged throughout Australia by means of the rifle clubs.
.- As I rise I notice that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) expresses dissatisfaction. As a matter of fact I am not prepared, just on the dinner hour, to go on.
– That is just what the honorable member wants the country to be - unprepared - judging by some of his remarks.
– That is a most provocative remark to make at the beginning of a pacifist’s speech, and just at the moment when I was impressed by the attitude of the Minister, who seemed to think that the vote was about to be agreed to without further discussion. As a matter of fact, it is a meet subject for quite a lengthy address, and I have several amendments to propose. In these Estimates provision is made, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has pointed out, for the creation of new departments, and I join with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) in protesting against the voting of large sums of money for the manufacture of munitions of war without the details and the purpose of the proposed expenditure being disclosed. At a time when the world is hoping to see some useful and practical, result from the recent Conference at Washington it is unbecoming on our part to create a kind of secret machinery at very great expense for the purpose, not of decreasing or delimiting expenditure on defence, but rather of increasing it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– The revival of the item, “ Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c,” in its relation to the Department of Defence,” reminds me that it was in connexion with this matter that on the last Estimates we gave the Government some salutary lessons in the true spirit of economy. It will be remembered that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), being frequently summoned to support the them Acting Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie), invariably took up a strong position as soon as he discovered that he had the numbers with him, and made a gracious compromise on those occasions when the numbers appeared to be against him - an evidence of true statesmanship. Now the portfolio of Defence has passed to other shoulders. The mantle has fallen on the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Greene). Certainly the honorable member for North Sydney (Sir Granville Ryrie), if he knew nothing of political tactics, has some claim to a knowledge of military tactics and strategy. As to the present Minister for Defence, he may be a good judge as between Shorthorn and Jersey cows, but I doubt whether he knows the difference between gelignite and ginger. I, must express my profound pleasure, tinged with warm gratitude, in the knowledge that’ the Government have made concessions in these Estimates to the popular feeling which has sprung up, and which has grown from day to day, in protest against wasteful expenditure in the name of defence. It is gratifying, to see a proposal for a general reduction in expenditure of >this character. I do not suggest for a moment that it shows any change of heart on the part of the Government, but it does indicate a change of feeling in the country, and it affords conclusive proof of a change in the strength of parties in this House. I notice, however, that while there has been a considerable reduction in the money proposed to be spent, and the time to be wasted on what is known picturesquely as the military training of our youth, this business has not yet been completely abandoned, as it deserves to be. We owe our system of military training to no less distinguished ai person than the Prime Minister, who inaugurated it at a time when he was a prominent member of the Labour party. I well recollect attending a meeting at Carlton, where I first met the Prime Minister. It seemed almost like rank blasphemy when an ordinarylooking man in the audience remarked, as the Prime Minister rose to speak, “You are the bloke that wants to make soldiers of us all.” I have often reflected since upon the superior acumen of that tradesman in assessing the amount of mischief that one public man could do in the community. As a party we are pledged to the abolition of this so-called military training. I look forward to a time when it will be no longer the fashion to take the youth of this country at a period when they should be bending their minds to acquiring a knowledge of the elements of some useful trade or occupation, lining them up in the streets in the dark, and impressing upon them the view that they are to be the defenders of their country.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the Works Estimates now under consideration have nothing whatever to do, either directly or indirectly, with the system of military training, and that this matter cannot be discussed.
– ‘Such a reference would be apropos in considering the Estimates-in-Chief, but it is not in order in connexion with the Works Estimates.
– Is it not relevant to proposed expenditure upon drill halls? I submit that it is.
– The honorable member was dealing with compulsory training which is not the question of drill halls.
– We are asked to spend, money in the erection of buildings for the purpose of carrying on this training against some imaginary enemy.
– Not necessarily.
– My argument is that that is one of the purposes for which the buildings are intended. I leave the matter with the single observation that the time has arrived when this training should be abandoned. I understand that the Minister (Mr. Greene) was asked to receive a deputation on the question - and a very representative deputation, too - and he replied that, whatever might be said, the Government had determined to go on with this policy. I have no specific for curing obstinacy on the part of the Government; but, as a Labour man and as an individual, I record my protest against the expenditure of a single penny for the purpose of this odious teaching being administered to the youth of our country.
There is an item before us relating to the Fleet, and there is a proposed expenditure of £50,000 upon a battleship- the Adelaide, I presume.
– That is so.
– I wonder how long it may be after we have spent this additional sum of £50,000 before the Adelaide will be scrapped like the Australia. Is there a single member of the House who believes that this vessel will ever be engaged in war-like operations? Is there a sane man amongst us who does not realize that in the next eight or ten years at the most - I have expert opinion for saying ten years at the outside - this vessel will have been scrapped? We shall have taxed the people; we shall have paraded the fact that an addition to our Fleet is on the’ water ; the “ cocked hats “ - not the “brass hats” - will have held many functions on the vessel; there will have been many big dinners, many perfectly harmless and perfectly useless manoeuvres, many sailings up and down the coast in safe waters; and then, after all this glory, the vessel will be scrapped. The expenditure will have been added to the general taxation of the people, and will be carried forward as part of our national debt. We shall have produced nothing, saved nothing, defended nothing, lost much, and the vessel will be scrapped. We shall have many happy, well-paid people upon this vessel, but it will never perform any useful function. Although I do not profess to be a prophet in a matter of this kind, or to have any expert knowledge, I know the history of our Fleet. It is a curious thing that the great Australia, the pride of our people, has now gone out of commission for scrap-iron, with the millions that were involved.
– You supported the Government who were largely responsible for that.
– The interjection is a fairly just one. I did support the Government led largely by the honorable member’s leader. I admit myself that I was deceived by the right honorable gentleman; but it is a long time since he deceived me. I have exnected nothing in recent years, and I have received nothing. I have, at least, learnt something, while the honorable member does not seem to have learnt anything in this regard. We have not ceased the work of ship construction. What a fine lot of useless ships it was determined should be sunk as the result of the Washington Conference! We are told that the militarists of Great Britain made a great sacrifice when, they determined to reduce the Fleet inthe way that was then decided. The simple truth was that the British militarists, who had set out to preserve the two-Power standard, had fought with Germany long before the war in a kind of hostile competition for supremacy, in the course of which they declared that it was simply arrogance on the part of Germany to pretend to a fleet of greater tonnage than half that of the British. Those days have gone by; Germany, as a naval Power, has become negligible. But at the very time that the German Fleet was wiped out, so statistics inform us, we were within a few years - ten years at the most - of the time when the Fleet of the United States of America was to overtake the British; and, in any circumstances, the British Fleet was to pass into second place amongst the navies of the world.Then, as an act of grace, the British militarists decided to join in the work of the Washington Conference for the reduction of naval armament. And all the taxation that a long-suffering people in Britain had to bear, and all the poverty they endured that these engines of destruction might be reared among them in order that all this vaulting ambition might be satisfied, is to be sunk in the sea, because the futility of the proceedings was discovered and admitted at the Washington Conference. They learned slowly, but it is something if, even now, they have learned their lesson well. The curious thing is that all the “ cocked hats “ and all the “ brass hats” who admit their reformation, who do not deny that they are changed men with a changed outlook, do not acknowledge that they learned their lesson from their political opponents many years ago. They appear to claim that the inspiration is recent. They forget that members of the Labour party preached these . principles to them in and out of season during the past twenty-five years, when their only answer was to cover us with ridicule. Now, having accepted the principles which we laid down, they are careful not to acknowledge those who taught them. So much, then, for general principles.
I observe that, in regard to aviation, the Government propose to spend in 1922-23 £89,000 upon military aviation- or aviation for defence - and £26,000 for civil aviation. What is all this money to be spent upon in times of peace? Why this outlay upon aeroplanes for defence purposes? There will be no movement to hurl bombs and poison gas from aeroplanes for many a day to come. Why should there be useless expenditure in this regard? Would it not be wiser to spend a little more upon civil aviation, upon something useful and progressive, something calculated to benefit a long-suffering people, rather than that their burden of costs should be piled still more heavily as an outcome of the policy of expanding military aviation?
There are two items under “ Factories, Munitions Supply Branch,” of the Department of Defence to which I call attention. The first deals with machinery and plant for the manufacture of munitions not now produced in Australia; and towards the cost of these things £70,000 is allotted. The second has to do with “Preliminary and experimental work, raw material and stores, temporary assistance and other expenses in connexion with the initiation and maintenance of munitions production,” and the sum set down is £100,000. Now, what is all this experimenting in regard to the manufacture of munitions?
– Was not the honorable member present when the Minister (Mr. Greene) explained?
Mr.BRENNAN.- I heard the Minister say that there were good reasons why the Government should not disclose what was being done. Possibly, one of the reasons is that we can claim shortly in Australia to have discovered something similar to that which an American Minister of State was recently reported to have claimed for his country, namely, a kind of poison gas which is so much more deadly than anything used on the fields of Flanders, that it could be relied upon to wipe put a whole battalion. Have we in contemplation some secret process towards just such a desirable end? Is that the reason for our secrecy? Are we making chemical experiments with a view to outdo the Hun, so-called? Or shall we be content to imitate him on the lines that he has chosen. Do we hope to outHerod Herod in respect of this branch of war-like preparation ? Is there some new torture-chamber, some new method of human destruction, which we can devise? If there is, let us keep it secret and appropriate necessary money for the purpose. But I would not vote one penny to be devoted to such ends. It is true that possibly I would not vote even as much as one penny if the purpose were disclosed. The secrets of defence are like secret diplomacy. I thought we had left the days of secret diplomacy behind us; those unhappy days when the destinies of nations were decided behind closed doors. If the Government would spend half as much money in proposals for preserving, maintaining, and assisting in the development of human life, they would perform some real service to this country. But I suppose that would be too much to expect.
– When discussing the Budget honorable members will be afforded an opportunity of dealing with matters of general policy. But there are some items before the Committee which now require explanation along the lines of policy. For instance, there is the matter of expenditure on Williamstown Dockyard. Behind that outlay there is the general principle. Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with shipbuilding? Now is the time when Parliament is being committed to expenditure in that direction, and it is at this stage that that principle itself should be discussed. We build ships, and after they have been launched they are anchored and are put to the unprofitable task of gathering barnacles.
– There is nothing in these Estimates which deals with the building of ships.
– There are items having to do with shipbuilding yards, and if shipbuilding yards have nothing to do with the building of ships, I must admit that my remarks are irrelevant. I call attention also to the matter discussed by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). Before we agree to authorize the expenditure of £1 upon naval works, the policy of Parliament and of the Government should be decided as applied to the whole of the Australian Navy. I have spoken regarding the cruiser Adelaide over and over again. She was out of date before she had been launched. She was on the stocks throughout the war. She was not launched until the war was over, and she cost more than double the amount that should have been spent upon her. One of the objections I have always taken, when honorable members are called upon to pass Estimates piecemeal, is that after having committed ourselves to specific expenditure we are required to consider general principles. The procedure is wrong. When the Budget is under review, honorable members will be met with the argument, “What is the good of discussing the principle now when the money has been voted?” As a fighting arm, the Commonwealth Navy is an obsolete and absolute farce. Even apart from the Treaties drafted at the Washington Conference, any one who has studied the world’s happenings must be aware that the class of vessel in the Australian Navy is useless as a fighting machine. With the exception of the submarines which were presented to us by the Imperial Government, not one of our vessels would dare to venture outside the Heads if enemy ships approached. There is not one craft in the Australian Fleet which could steam within half range of any up-to-date battleship. This is not the time to indulge in useless expenditure. There is not an honorable member present who is not aware that the Australian Navy is useless.
– I, for one, do not know that it is useless.
– Does the honorable member know what is the fighting range of the Adelaide, compared with a modern cruiser?
– The honorable member might just as well say that the 18-pounder gun is useless because it has not the range of an 80-pounder.
– The gun firing a lighter shell would be useless against a heavier battery. Our Navy is a farce, and we should spend no more money on it. The same matter of principle applies to the proposed expenditure upon shipbuilding yards. Policy should be first decided. Let honorable members go down Port Phillip Bay, or to Sydney Harbor, and they will see these idle vessels, which are lying there useless. Yet similar vessels are being built at an enormous cost, amounting to at leastthree times as much per ton as they can be bought for in the British market. I want to raise my protest against that unnecessary waste. It is not right that this Committee should be asked to pass even £1 for these works until we have had an opportunity to decide, first, what is to be the guiding principle of the Government and this House in regard to the Australian Navy, and, secondly, what is to be the policy of the Government and this House in regard to the building of ships which, as soon as they are launched, are anchored, and become barnacle gatherers.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote (Department of Trade and Customs), £5,013, agreed to.
Proposed vote, £250,000.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to one or two matters, in connexion with the Postal Department. I find that the proposed expenditure in connexion with the construction and extension of telegraphs and telephones, construction of conduits, and the laying of wires underground, is £168,232. Last year we voted for this purpose £750,000, and we expended £893,166, which was £143,166 in excess of the vote. I am not complaining of that, because I believe that we ought to do everything possible to provide telephonic and telegraphic facilities for the people. I have urged from time to time that such facilities should be given. In the footnote on page 381, which is explanatory of this item, I find that while we expended £893,166 last year, we estimate this year that we shall spend £168,232. In other words, we are going to spend £724,934 less from revenue this year than we did. last year, while at the same time we are proposing to borrow a large amount of money for the purpose of giving the people of this country the additional facilities I have referred to. It seems strange that we should be depriving the revenue of the Department of no less a sum than £724,934 more than we took last year. If I remember rightly, the Postal Department provided us with a handsome surplus last year of about £1,500,000. As we are maintaining the same postal charges this year, we may expect that the revenue will be about the same as it was last year, and, if that is so, where is the justification for allocating so much borrowed money for providing these services? Whilst it is necessary to borrow money for this purpose, I do not think it is wise to borrow it, and pay interest upon it, while we are getting an advantage of £724,934 in other channels of revenue. I would like to hear an explanation from the Minister (Mr. Poynton) on this point.
Loan expenditure this year for the same purpose is set down at £2,245,435, as against £750,000 last year. Thus we are proposing to spend £1,500,000 more from loan moneys this year than last year. While the total proposed vote under this heading is given on page 377of the Estimates, one has to turn to a footnote on page 381 to ascertain the details and discover how the item is made up. The expenditure of £1,500,000 more from loan moneys, and £724,934 less from revenue, will be of considerable assistance, I should say, to the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) in balancing his accounts. But is it fair to charge to a business Department of the Commonwealth the whole of this borrowed money, when we are deriving from that same Department a very large amount of money over and above what is necessary for working it? I do not mind a fair thing, but unless a further explanation is forthcoming, a very strong protest is called for.
– The Treasurer has referred to the matter in his Budget speech.
– Yes, and we are asked to pass this proposed vote before the Budget is dealt with. I would prefer to reserve my remarks for the Budget speech, but when the mischief is done it will be too late.’ With the exception of the item to which I have referred, I do not think that there is much to object to in the Postal Department’s Estimates, but that particular item is a very important one upon which we ought to have some further information. We do not want to borrow any more money than is necessary, and we do not want to charge up against a Department that is selfsupporting and returned us over £624,000 last year, interest on borrowed money. Assuming the Department this year derives the same revenue as it did last year, it should be able to hand over at the end of the year, in addition to the £624,000, a further sum of £724,934. These two sums together would be equivalent to over £1,300,000 profit.
– If we allowed the Post Office to use its own revenue, it would probably not be necessary for it to borrow at all.
– I believe that statement is correct, but the fact remains that increased facilities are necessary at the earliest possible moment. The present situation is due largely to the fact that we have starved the Postal Department in the past. During the war period the Government alleged that it could not obtain the material required, and, since the war, when the material has been available, we have not had the money. Now Ave are going to borrow the money and saddle the Department with it at a charge of 5 per cent, or 5-J per cent. While we are putting borrowed money into the Department, we are taking from it a greatly increased amount of revenue for the purpose of balancing our general accounts. That is very unfair. Notwithstanding that most nonorable members are desirous of expediting the provision of necessary facilities by the Department, they also want to do justice to the Department. A loan of £2,000,000 is a large amount for the Department to carry, and it will always be credited to that particular Department.
– There should be a sinking fund.
– That is so. I have said here on former occasions that the Department ought to be put on a business footing. Whether honorable members agree with that view or not, I still say that they cannot justify taking a lot of money out of the Department with one hand and lending to it borrowed money with the other hand, and charging it interest thereon.
In compiling the Estimates I would suggest that any references to an item should be printed on the same page as the item. When one turns to a certain page one finds items with nothing of an explanatory character accompanying them, but perhaps two pages farther on the information is provided in a footnote. I suggest that the information should be printed where one can see it. If the item to which I have referred is as it appears to be, I think the Committee will be acting very unwisely if it allows it to pass.
– I am astonished at the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). Speaking as one who has taken a very keen interest in the affairs of this House for some years past, I know honorable members have made persistent demands upon the Post Office.
– Hear, hear! I have done it myself.
– Then why take exception to it now?
– I am not taking exception to the Department carrying out the work.
– There has been a persistent demand on the part of honorable members, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), that all new works in connexion with the Post Office should be paid for out of loan moneys, and not out of revenue.
– I have not taken that attitude.
– It has been urged that we should copy the practice’ adopted in other parts pf the world, and I challenge honorable members to point to any other Postmaster-General’s Estimates where such expenditure is borne out of revenue. It is quite true that we propose to set a large sum aside out of loan. We also propose to set aside a certain sum - I think, a little over £250,000 - from revenue. In so far as the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) has done that, he has gone beyond my ideas of what ought to be debited to loan and to revenue. It is that policy which has brought the Post Office to the position it finds itself in to-day. It is that policy which has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds more than we would have had to spend if we had borrowed the money, obtained the material, and gone on with the - work.
– I am complaining of the Government taking more money from the Post Office revenue this year than last year, and at the same time borrowing more than last year.
– Of course we are borrowing more. We are taking £2,700,000 from loan moneys this year. That is considerably more than the amount taken last year. Let me briefly review the position of this Department as I found it when I became Minister. In any remarks I make I do not wish to reflect upon any of my predecessors; my desire is rather to show the unenviable position they were placed in as a result of the policy of having to pay for everything out of revenue, and being limited in their expenditure by the Treasurer of the day to such an extent that the whole service was starved. The average annual expenditure on new telegraph and telephone works for the four years before and at the beginning of the war, namely, from 1911-12 to 1914-15, was £1,016,285. During the war period, namely, from 1915-16 to 1918-19, it was only £430,761 per annum; and from 1919-20 to 1920-21, it was £683,735 per annum. Reduced expenditure, coupled with the lower purchasing power of the funds provided and the inability in many instances to obtain essential supplies, resulted in large arrears accumulating. In 1921 the demand in Parliament and by the public for something to be done to improve the position was insistent. An amount of £1,500,000 was accordingly voted for such works for 1921-22, and early in 1922 a further sum of £200,000 was made available by the Treasurer to enable work to be given to returned soldiers, who would otherwise have been unemployed, and to assist in coping with the arrears. As a matter of fact, but for the action of the Treasurer in thus coming to my relief, I should have had to put off over 500 returned soldiers. Of that £200,000 we spent about £180,000, and gave employment to about 700 returned men. The Government, after consideration, came to the conclusion that a new policy would have to be adopted. The effect of the old policy may be gathered from the fact that on the 31st January last we were 12,027 telephone subscribers’ lines in arrears. That, surely, was not good business. The Telephone Branch is one of the most payable that we have, but expenditure had been cut down to such an extent that our stacks had become depleted, and the Department could not keep pace with the demand. Then, again, on the 31st January last, under the policy of starving the Department, we were 303 telegraph trunk lines in arrears; 50 telegraph lines in arrears, and 148 approved country telephone lines in arrears. On the 30th June last, notwithstanding that 8,492 new services had been connected since 31st January, fresh applications had come in to such an extent that instead of having overtaken the arrears we were actually 14,459 to the bad. The arrears of telegraph trunk lines had been reduced from 303 to 278; the arrears of ordinary . telegraph lines from 50 to 41; and the arrears of approved country telephone lines had increased- from. 148 to 182. In these circumstances it was obvious that a drastic change was necessary. Some set system had to be introduced if we were to make any progress with the departmental works, and it was necessary also that steps should be taken to have funds made available promptly. The Estimates furnished by my predecessors to the Treasury were in accordance with the requirements of the Department, but they were cut down ruthlessly, and practically one-half of the financial year expired before they knew what amount would actually be available to them. They could not. place their orders until practically half of the financial year had expired, because they did not know what would be the final decision of the Parliament. Many things, such as cables and switch-boards, have to be purchased abroad, and frequently the financial year closed before such goods arrived here, with the result that the votes set apart for their purchase lapsed. Then, when the Postmaster-General sent his Estimates to the Treasury in the following year, he was asked, “ Why have your Estimates increased as compared with those for last year?” The Treasurer of the day failed to realize that provision had to be made for payment for goods that were ordered in the previous financial year but had not arrived in time.
Mr.McWilliams. - Surely the Treasurer of the day should have had enough brains to know that that had to be done.
– The honorable member imagines that he has more brains than any other member of the House. Those who have held office as PostmasterGeneral know that I am telling of actual facts.
Mr.McWilliams. - Previous Treasurers practically crucified them.
– I made up my mind when I took office as Postmaster-General that I would not submit to such treatment. I took the view that the Department was a revenue producing one and should be conducted on business lines. The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) and I conferred, and we had the advantage of the expert advice of a conference of engineers as to what expenditure would be necessary to work off the arrears and also to enable the Department to keep pace with the times. Three programmes were submitted; one covering a period of four years, one providing for an expenditure over three years, and a third providing for an expenditure over two years. It wasestimated that, on the basis of a fouryears’ programme, £12,000,000 would be required to enable the Department to work off arrears and keep pace with the demands made upon it. I may say, in passing, that it is anticipated that within three years we shall have 135,000 additional telephone subscribers. The telephone is not a luxury ; it is a necessity to both small and large business men. After much deliberation we decided to adopt a three-years’ programme, involving an expenditure of £9,757,845, of which £8,498,073 will be in respect to telegraph and telephone works, and £1,259,772 on buildings. I shall not give all the reasons set out by the conference of experts in support of their conclusions, but they showed clearly that, unless a substantial amount were provided, and an opportunity afforded the Department to proceed with its work without having to wait nearly six months for the decision of the Parliament as to the amount which should be allotted to it in respect of any one financial year, we should get further and further behind.
The Treasurer has been good enough to allocate to the Department a total of £9,757,845, to be expended, as I have said, during a period of three years. This year we propose to expend £2,956,693, of which £2,536,769 will be for new telegraph and telephone works, and £419,924 for land and buildings. In 1923-24, we shall expend £3,655,981, including £419,924 for land and buildings; and in the financial year 1924-25 we shall expend £3,145,171, of which £419,924 will again be spent on land and buildings. We expect that that will be a normal year. This year’s expenditure of £2,536,769 for new telegraph and telephone works has been allocated to the several States as follows : -
I felt that this provision would be useless unless the money was made available in time to enable the Department to expend it, within the financial year, in obtaining the material that it required. I made representations to that effect, and the Treasurer was good enough to allow me to invite tenders in anticipation of parliamentary approval of this programme, so that orders for material could be executed within the year. As the result of that arrangement I have invited tenders and placed orders for 14,200 miles of copper wire at an estimated cost of £206,000. That material is to be delivered during the year, and some of it is already coming to hand. The bulk of it will be made in Australia. Then, again, I have ordered 29,000 miles of bronze wire, some of which - although most of the material has to be imported - is now being delivered ; 5,850 miles of galvanized wire; 1,100 miles of insulated wire; 1,070 miles of cable; 1,684,500 insulators; and 36,600 telephones. The cost of this material alone will amount to £982,800.
The £2,536,769 provided for 1922-23 will be allocated as follows: -
During the year 1922-23 the Department anticipates providing the following new services: -
There will be then no arrears in Tasmania or Western Australia, because the smaller States have hitherto been in a much better position than the larger States. If we are able to carry out the programme I have outlined, we shall add, this year, 28,499 new telephone subscribers, construct 166 telephone trunk lines, 38 telegraph lines, and 185 approved country telephone lines. Though the programme is a fairly large one, there will still be 2,145 telephone applications in arrear, chiefly in Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales, because we shall not have the automatic exchange switchboards ready; but it is hoped that these will be available at the earliest possible date.
I should like the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to note the position in the Mother Country. Prior to the war, works there were constructed out of loans, and during the war the British services were starved to a considerable extent. In the year 1919-20, the expenditure in Great Britain on telephone works amounted to £2,647,000; in 1920-21, £5,866,000; in 1921-22, £7,438,000; and for this year (1922-23) it is proposed to expend £9,250,000. The capital expenditure on telephone works up to the end of April, 1924, is estimated at £15,000,000, and a five-years’ programme for the development of telephone, telegraph, and postal services will involve an expenditure of £35,700,000.”
I have no hesitation in saying that the proposal of the Government is a wise business proposition, and I am quite certain that my predecessor (Mr. Wise) will agree with me that we have lost a considerable sum of money through not being able to provide intending subscribers with telephones. If the profit on the working of the services goes to the Treasury, it certainly relieves the Treasurer of the need to impose taxation in any other direction to make up for it.
– But the Post Office is not a taxing machine, you know.
– As the Department is a paying concern, why do you not sell it, as has been done in the case of some other Departments!
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mi1. Mathews) is now raising quite another question. I feel satisfied that if the revenue of the Department could “be so utilized, there would be very little need to borrow money in the near future for the purpose of carrying on these important services. But if. the Treasury is denied this extra revenue, we should have to borrow in other directions to find money to carry on.
I have made it my business to visit every State in the Commonwealth, and have been pleased with the appreciation shown for the work of the Department, and amazed that we have been able to render so good a service in view of the difficulties and handicaps that confronted my predecessors. I am now endeavouring to get cheap telephone lines for certain country districts. We have a stereotyped line which must be installed for main telephone trunk lines and in metropolitan areas; but if we can install cheap spur lines in some of the country centres, it will be possible to provide telephone services at a reasonable rate, and I am sure these facilities would be much appreciated by country people. That is the policy of the Government, and I make no apology for saying that we are doing it out of loan.
.- My words upon this subject will be very few. I appreciate all that the Minister (Mr. Poynton) has . said in regard to extending the facilities of his Department. This is the policy which I have urged on many occasions. I have also emphasized that the Government should borrow money to carry out reproductive works, and thus provide employment for our people. But the Minister has not answered the point which I have raised. If it is the policy of the Government to borrow money to extend our telephonic, telegraphic, and postal facilities, then surely it is reasonable to expect that any profit derived from those services shall be utilized for the purpose of paying off the capital cost, and not be paid into the general revenue. - According to the Estimates the Government this year will get £724,934 more than they received last year from the Postal Department, and as last year’s surplus was £600,000 the total will be £1,300,000. I have nothing to say against the policy of borrowing money to carry out reproductive works, but I repeat that the profit on the working of the services should be credited against the cost instead of being paid into revenue. The Minister has not answered that point at all. He talked all round the position, and tried to make it appear that I was inconsistent. No sound business man would borrow money, pay interest on it, and utilize any profit that accrued from a particular service for some other purpose. It may be necessary to borrow £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to carry out the Government’s programme. Why should we not be able to apply the surplus of last year to lighten the load? That is a sound proposition.
– Surely that is what the Government will do.
– That is the very question which the Minister has avoided answering. I do not think that we ever had a better man as Postmaster-General than his predecessor, if only he had been given a fair chance. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Wise) knew that all this work was urgently required, but for some reason or other he could not fet the money. It was only after members on both sides of the House had complained about this particular Department being starved that the Government faced the position, and as a result the present Minister is in a much ‘better position to satisfy the demands of the people. I give him every credit for doing his work very well so far but the testing time will be at the end of next June. He has told us this evening what his programme is. I hope he will see that it is carried out in its entirety.
– The commitments are already made.
– On other occasions commitments have been entered into, and still the announced policy has not been given effect to. We take the stand that profit derived from this expenditure should not be paid into the general revenue, but should be applied to the reduction of the capital expenditure.
.- I was pleased to hear the Minister (Mr. Poynton) say that he intends to run the Department on a business basis. Previous PostmastersGeneral have been very much hampered in providing telephone facilities for the opening up of the country. What pleased me more than anything was the Minister’s statement that he con templates the construction of cheaper telephone lines for the country districts. I have been endeavouring for the last three or four years to persuade the Department to accept some other scheme than the one that obtains for country telephone lines. The departmental estimate of £60 per mile for a line 20 or 30 miles in length is simply an absurdity. There is no necessity for 20-ft. poles in country districts. We should endeavour to conserve our forests rather than destroy them by drawing so heavily on the big timber for telephone poles. If I were a member of a State Government I would refuse to allow these poles to be taken by the Federal Government. I understand that the life of a pole is estimated by the Department at something like seven years, though in the northern districts, where there is good box and ironbark timber, the life may be somewhat longer. A very much cheaper service for country districts can be obtained by bolting 6 in. x 6 in. ironbark, box or red-gum to a 4-in. x 4-in. pole, 12 feet or 14 feet long, the total costing lis. complete, whereas the ordinary telephone pole costs the Department 25s. It takes five men to erect any one of the poles utilized by the Department at the “present time.
– Not when a private person is doing the work.
– A private person could not do the job at much less cost, because of the weight of the poles. Any fencer can put up a six-by-six red gum base with a four-by-four top,- and the construction would be only £25 per mile, as against the Government’s cost of £60 per mile; whilst the life of the cheaper article would be three times as great as that of the larger pole. The height across roads would be the standard height of 20 feet, but other poles need not be higher than 14 feet. That is the proper method of erecting these long lines when they carry only one or two wires, and it is possible by doing that to give twice the number of services for the same amount of money. T understand that the trouble in the past has been with the engineering branch, and I was glad to hear the Postmaster-General say that he intends to run the Post Office on business lines. I hope he will also see that the engineers erect country telephone lines on the principle I have suggested. I have in mind a line of 14 miles erected on poles with a six-by-four base, and a four-by-four top. It ran on one side of the road and the departmental line was on the other side. The cheaper line will last longer than the Government line, and it gives a service quite as good as the other. That line was a practical test of the merits of the cheaper system of construction. If the PostmasterGeneral will erect lines of this character in country districts he will render a great service to the people who live outback, whilst at the same time helping to conserve our forests.
.- Let me congratulate the Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton) and the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) upon their proposal to put the Postal Department upon a business footing. I am safe in saying that every member of the House has more trouble over telephonic and telegraphic facilities than over any other public business. I am pleased to notice that these Estimates contain a number of new works for my constituency, and .1 .assure the Committee that the proposed alterations and additions to Branxholm and Lilydale Post Offices, and the alterations to the Launceston Post Office are well warranted. Launceston is the centre of three-fifths of the population in Tasmania, and there is no doubt that in the future it’ must become the centre of the population of the island. At the present time the administration is in the south, and that is most unsatisfactory to three-fifths of the population. The proposed expenditure of £3,000 on the Launceston Post Office will certainly help to get it in readiness for the time when the postal administration will be controlled from that place. In regard to the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) about the utilization of the surplus estimated for the current year, I srould point out that during this year, with all these proposed new works, particularly those in the country, which we know will not be payable at first, it is doubtful whether we shall get as much profit as was earned last year. The amount of the profit will depend upon the rapidity with which the outback lines are constructed. During the last few months I have seen a good deal of the outback country, and I know that there are places in Queensland which are 240 miles from -a telephone; those are the disabilities which we have to overcome. An estimate was prepared some time ago for a telephone line from Newcastle Waters or Powell’s Creek to Camooweal, and I understand that the cost -was computed at something like £60,000. If the method of construction advocated by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) were adopted, that figure could be reduced considerably. I look forward with a great amount of pleasure to the time when the people in those outback portions of the Commonwealth will no longer have the same cause to grumble that they have had in the past. If those causes of discontent are removed the Commonwealth generally will benefit.
In regard to the construction of additional lines, there are scores of lines in Australia, as the Postmaster-General knows only too well, which have been duplicated, whilst the traffic justifies a third, .and even, a fourth, line. The postal regulations provide that when a line is earning a certain amount of revenue it shall be duplicated. From Launceston to the north-west coast .there is one telegraph line, and a second one is/ now being provided. But the traffic is* such as to justify a third line, and unless we put the Postal Department on a business .footing and raise loan money for new works, as the Government advise, there will be no possibility of overcoming these troubles. The country is entitled to a great deal more than even the Minister has indicated to-night.
I should like to say a few words in regard to the proposals for the Northern Territory. It is proposed to spend at Daly Waters telegraph station £2,150 for a bore, tanks, and windmill. I hope the Committee will agree to that item. IThe Daly Waters station was established about 1870, and in its early history women, as well as men, were -living there. During all the intervening years the ‘officers have been obliged for three months in the year to cart water a distance of 10 miles. When the Public Works Committee was at Daly Waters, in April, we enjoyed the pleasure of a wash, but on our return in September there was barely a drop of water for us to wash in ; the water was not expected to arrive until the next day. Is it fair to ask those officers to live 200” miles from the nearest railway station, and for three months in theyearcart water a distance of 10 miles, when, for the expenditure of a couple of thousand pounds a permanent water supply could, be provided? I understand that this supply has been promised, every year for the last fifteen or twenty years. When we stayed at that station we noticedthat the floors werein a disgraceful condition, and I warn the PostmasterGeneral that if they are not repaired promptly the Department will have to pay a big bill for compensation for the accidents that must inevitably occur. I urge the Minister to get a report on this subject. Although the station buildings are so poor, I understand that the Department charges at least one officer a rental of 5s. per week and this for living 200 miles from a railway station. The proposed alterations and repairs to Katherine office also are needed, and I recommend them to the Committee.
.- I approve of the policy of the Government to construct new lines and works out of’ loan money. On previous occasions I have said that if we are to wait until we can get the facilities that are needed by the Postal Department out of revenue, we shall never overtake the arrears of necessary work. But I agree absolutely with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the revenue derived from postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services should be set aside to pay interest and sinking fund on liabilities incurred with borrowed money. I gather from statements made by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), that this Department is to be placed on a different footing in future, and is to be operated on business lines. If the revenue from the Department provides interest and. sinking fund on loan liabilities, that is as much as we can reasonably expect, and I feel sure that such a policy would meet with the approval of people generally. It is no use reiterating the fact that the country needs all those extra facilities which have been urged upon the Government from every side of the Committee. I have consistently urged the provision of these facilities, because for the last fifteen years I have been associated with the back portions of Tasmania, and earlier lived in the back portions of the mainland. With others I have experienced the urgent need for improved means of communication. People who live in. the cities cannot fully realize the great necessity that exists for the provision of better telephone! services. Weall appreciate the fact that better conditions are promised to those wholivefar from big centres; but I am not perfectly satisfied. On different occasions I have expressed my approval of what the Postal Department is doing;but I disapprove absolutely of the policy of requiring people who are far removed from towns to contribute, portion of thecost of construction in connexion with new services. The conditions upon which the Department will provide new lines have been liberalized during the last two years; but I. am not satisfied yet, and I expect the support of the Committee in urging that the policy of asking people who require new services to contribute portion of the cost shall be discontinued. Thepractice is unfair, and on numerous occasions I have directed the attention of the Postmaster-General to the fact that it is not only those who have been given a new telephonic service who benefit, but every one else who is in a position to get into communication with that subscriber. When a subscriber is connected he is able to converse with others in his district, and also keeps in touch with the business people, and,, consequently, others who are also connected can communicate with him, so it seems grossly unf air that a new subscriber in a country district should be asked to contribute to the cost of new lines. In some instances a new subscriber is asked to contribute 25 per cent. of the cost; but if a line is estimated to pay immediately he is not called upon to contribute anything.. Even if it is anticipated that a proposed line will be a paying proposition within a short period, the policy of the Department is to ask the subscriber to give a guarantee. A guarantee is not altogether an objectionable feature, but to ask for a portion of the cost in cash before a line is constructed - it would not be built if it were not warranted - is altogether unreasonable.
– The Department is responsible for. 75 per cent. of the loss.
– I admit that; but I do not think the individual should be called uponto contribute any part of the cost because if every new line had to show a profit before it were constructed, we would never develop the outlying districts as we desire to. New railway lines are not expected to pay immediately. A suggested line in Tasmania has been brought under the notice of the Postmaster- General (Mr. Poynton) by myself and others, and which I shall use as an illustration of the difficulties experienced in some districts. I interviewed the PostmasterGeneral in connexion with this proposal, and he informed me that the Department had estimated that the loss would be fairly substantial. The district desiring connexion is 9 miles from any telephone line, and approximately 20 miles from the nearest town; and although we have been asking for connexion we have been informed by the Department that as .the estimated loss per annum would be so heavy it could not be erected unless the people in the locality to be served contributed £85 towards the cost. It is unjust and absurd to ask the residents in an outlying portion of a State to contribute that amount before the Department will undertake the work.
– How many people would be served? .
– I estimate the number at about 300, but the estimate of the departmental officers is less. In dealing with this matter I do not wish to create a wrong impression, as the district to be served is a mining and not an agricultural one. Although it is generally admitted that a mining district is not as certain as an agricultural one, hundreds of men have been working in the, locality for a number of years, and the people are as much in need of telephonic communi- cation as those in any agricultural district I know of. My chief complaint is that the people are called upon first of all to contribute towards the cost, and because the Department cannot give us the basis on which the estimated revenue has been arrived at. The amount they will have to contribute, of course, depends upon the estimated revenue, and in this instance the Department has estimated it at only £7 per annum. I trust the PostmasterGeneral will understand that I am using this merely as an illustration, because he has said that further inquiries will be made to see if assistance can be given in the direction I have indicated. Similar conditions exist in many other districts, and until the present policy is altered I shall not be satisfied.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) submitted a good suggestion for reducing the cost of posts. I know from what the Minister has told me that he has in mind the great necessity of cheapening the cost of telephone poles, and also of devising some new system under which the poles when erected will be more durable. I believe consideration has been given to the question of concrete bases for wooden poles which would make them more durable, and, therefore, cheaper in the end. A suggestion was made to me a week or two ago by a gentleman in Tasmania, and. it is one which I think is worthy of consideration by the Postmaster-General. It was that, on roads leading into new districts, where there is a plentiful supply of timber, it would be advantageous if certain trees were allowed to remain standing, which could be used later for carrying telephone wires, even if it were notproposed to construct a line along that route at an early date. Obviously such trees, if allowed to remain, would be more durable than saplings, which are frequently used. Such a scheme would perhaps necessitate a little trouble in the first instance, but it would save a fairly large sum of money, particularly if the life of a telephone pole in the southern States is only seven years, as was suggested, I believe, by the honorable member for Corangamite. Many of the posts in a line in my constituency which was erected fourteen years ago have been renewed during the past twelve months. When we consider the awful cost of £60 for constructing a mile of telephone line, every effort should be made to experiment and ascertain in which direction costs can be reduced. I am quite in accord with the policy of expending money from loans, and I desire to impress upon the Postmaster- General that, although he claims to be doing a great deal, provision has not yet been made for all country lines, neither has he given the service that we claim that we are entitled to.
– I listened with a great deal of interest to the informative speech of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Poynton), who was referring to the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) as if ho were a bosom friend. On perusing the Estimates, however, I could see his reason for adopting such a friendly attitude, because I find that the amounts obtained from the Treasury are somewhat large. No wonder the Postmaster-^General has such great regard for the Treasurer, when we find that sixteen post-offices are to be provided for South Australia, at a total expenditure of £66,199 odd, out of a total expenditure of £81,768. “We all remember the last reconstruction of the Ministry, and how two Ministers from that State were appointed. Just then there was a kind of electrical disturbance in the political world, foreshadowing a possibility of an appeal to the country in a short time ; and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), with his usual sagacity, no doubt, took stops to secure the support of the Liberals, and also of the renegades of the Labour party, in South Australia. As a result, wo soc how nicely South Australia is treated on the Estimates. When another change is made in the Ministry representatives of New South Wales will take care that two of their number are made members, with a view to favorable treatment in the expenditure of public money. The Postmaster-General gave us a vast array of figures, hut I doubt whether a single member understood them, or whether, indeed, the honorable gentleman himself did. ‘He spoke with enthusiasm of the borrowing of millions of money for postal works; and yet we find loan moneys spent on such structures as telephone-boxes and telegraph poles, which, in some parts of Australia, are eaten by ants in very short time. Really better security should be givon_for borrowed money than such works. It will bo noticed that the electorate of the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Richard Poster) is to be given a postoffice, and I suppose that this is done with the idea that “Charity begins at home.” .Some reference was made earlier to tfhe provision of tanks and windmills in the Northern Territory, which are to be purchased out of loan money. Surely such flimsy things as these might be bought out of revenue. I hope that, by constantly calling attention to matters of this kind, I shall eventually educate honorable members into taking broader national views and throwing over the petty idea of securing little works in order to please some local bodies. We here are so accustomed to deal with the expenditure of millions that we apparently take little or no notice of the expenditure’ of a few hundred thousands.
.- I do not wish to touch on the main question of borrowing large sums of money for postal works, beyond saying that there is this other side, to it. When we borrow such sums we require good, sound business management, and full value for every penny expended. We want no War Service Homes mismanagement in regard to this £9,000,000 ; I do not wish to read in the newspaper some morning that the Government has bought a sawmill for cutting telegraph poles, or anything of that sort. One thing we also require to be clearly informed about, and that is the sinking, fund of which the Treasurer (M« Bruce) spoke. I hope I am a goo*, enough Australian not to say anyiMni invidious of the different States, but 1 draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Poynton) to the fact that, in hie own State, where naturally hig sympathies lie most strongly, it is proposed to spend about £66,000, while the State a constituency of which I represent is to benefit tq the extent of only £29,000. Queensland has a population of something like 750,000, as against one of 500,000 ia South Australia.
– The PostmasterGeneral said at the same time, that Queensland had very few arrears te make up.
– That depends o what the honorable gentleman call? arrears, of which, in my opinion, we ais*, have many. I ask the Postmaster-General, on behalf of my State as a whole, and of the constituency I represent, not to let vt_ be a ease of “ out of sight, out of mind.” It should be remembered that Queensland is a big and a’ new State, and I should like to feel sure the PostmasterGeneral is considering her interests, equally as well as the interests of his own State.
Proposed votp agreed to.
Proposed vote (Department of Health), £40,740, agreed to.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Bbucb) -
That the following resolution be reported to the House: - “ That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1922-23 for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c, a sum not exceeding £830,030.”
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted. ,.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Mr. Richard Foster do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing; resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bbugb, and passed through, all its stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Qsssctb) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- I have been waiting far reference to be made to the expenditure incurred by Senator Pearce upon his delegation to the Washington Conference, but. as it seems that no such move is intended, I take this opportunity of placing on record a protest forwarded to me by a corporation in my constituency. I have received from the Town Clerk of Kapunda the following letter and copy of resolution: -
Dkab Sib, -
At a meeting of tho above corporation held on Tuesday last; the matter of the expense incurred by Senator Pearce whilst visiting the Washington Conference, and as reported in the daily press of 17th July, 1922, was considered, His Worship the Mayor and councillors, as representing the citizens of Kapunda, expressed their displeasure at such extravagant expenditure in the face . of the statements by the Prime Minister for economy, and ‘ the fact of . the enormous taxation imposed by the Federal Government, and I was instructed to forward you the enclosed resolution, which was carried unanimously at our council meeting, and to ask you to bring the matter before the Prime Minister in the Federal Parliament to show the Government that such a- waste of public money is disapproved by the general taxpayers of Australia, . and . also by the citizens of Kapunda.
The following is a . copy of the resolution proposed” -by Cr. Hawke:- “That this council representing the. citizens, of Kapunda note with alarm the extravagant expenditure of . public money, as shown by the cost of Senator Fearce’s visit to the Washington Conference, and that this council enter its . protest against such extravagant expenditure, viz., £8,500.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220824_reps_8_100/>.