9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday, I asked the Treasurer what is the number of pensions being paid to soldiers for varying degrees of incapacity. In the course of his reply the honorable gentleman stated that all statistics that are likely to serve a useful purpose are compiled regularly, and he hoped I would not press for the information I sought. In view of the importance of this matter I do press strongly for the information, and I ask the Treasurer to have it compiled, and not be bluffed by his officers.
– If the honorable member presses for the information it will be obtained, but the compilation will take some time.
– I hold a newspaper statement, which I understand is fairly accurate, that trouble has occurred with the 58th Battalion at Seymour Camp in regard to the quality of the food supplied. It is stated that the meat was very bad, the tea was like dirty water, and the rice was burnt and served without sugar or milk. The men refused to paradeuntil their grievance in this regard had been rectified by the officers. I ask the Minister for Defence whether arrangements cannot be made for the better victualling of military trainees when in camp, other than by depending on private caterers, in view of a possible mobilization on a large scale. Is there any reason why the various arms of the Australian Military Force should not be catered for by the same system as operates in the Royal Australian Navy, and sufficient permanent qualified members of the Army Service Corps made available for training camps?
– I have already ordered that the trouble be inquired into, and if the honorable member will put a question on the notice-paper, I shall supply himwith an answer on the next day ofsitting.
– I notice there has been no complaint by the officers, and I ask the Minister for Defence to consider the advisability of having only one mess for officers and privates. If that were done there would be no further ground for complaint regarding the food.
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration.
– Winter is approaching, and as the State Governments and State instrumentalities generally have had to discontinue current works and postpone the commencement of new works owing to the financial stringency, will the Prime Minister take immediate steps to improve the financial arrangements so that big public works may proceed ?
– The financing of State public works is obviously the concern of the respective State Governments, but this Government is anxious that there shall be no general unemployment in winter, and will be only too pleased to discuss the matter with the States if they so desire.
– A few days ago I asked the Prime Minister a question regarding a consignment of 3,000 dozen bottles of tomato saucesent to Japan to feed the starving people there. Will the right honorable gentleman, if possible, ascertain how much, if any, of that sauce has gone into general consumption?
– I will endeavour to obtain the information, but it will not be easy to do so, as the distribution of the relief food-stuffs is controlled in Japan.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the decline in the business of the Commonwealth Bank and the decrease of its profits? Is that result due to the policy of the Government?
– The business of the Commonwealth Bank has not declined.
– Has the Treasurer examined last year’s balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank and compared it with the balance-sheet of the previous year? Does he still say that there has been no falling off in the business of the Bank?
– There has been a falling off in the profits, but not in the business of the Bank.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral if there is any prospect of an early arrangement being made for the settlement of the differences between the State and Federal authorities so that the overlapping of Arbitration Courts maybe obviated ?
– Whatever differences exist arise out of the Constitution itself; but, as the Prime Minister indicated yesterday, this matter will receive his attention at an early date.
– Having regard to the fact that over 300 returned soldier settlers in New SouthWales have had to leave their holdings, principally owing to the land having been over-valued, will the Prime Minister arrange to have the valuations reviewed so that some relief may be afforded these men, and the original intention of Parliament for their permanent settlement carried out?
– The settlement of soldiers upon the land is primarily the concern of the States. The Commonwealth has, however, a very real interest in the settlements, for it finds the money for the States, and gives an interest rebate. It is also very much concerned in land settlement generally, and if at any time the States desire to discuss this matter with the Commonwealth we shall be only too pleased to meet their representatives. I ask honorable members to remember, however, that soldier settlement is not primarily a responsibility of the Commonwealth, and therefore the Commonwealth cannot accept blame for any troubles that have arisen.
– The reply of the Minister for Defence to a question I asked a few days ago regarding the crew and officers of H.M.A.S. Adelaide was that practically the whole of the personnel were Australians. On the 2nd. April this paragraph appeared in the Sun newspaper : -
Fifty per cent, of the present crew of H.M.A.S. Adelaide are Imperial men who have been loaned to this Navy for periods of two or three years. Some of these ratings have turned over to the Australian Navy, others may do so, hut the majority will complete their time and return home. Many Australians have tried for this trip and been turned down. Why not let Aussies go in preference to Englishmen?
I ask the Minister for Defence whether there is any truth in that statement?
– There is not. I gave the definite instruction that Australians are to man the vessel on the current trip with the Royal Navy Special Service Squadron, and of 420 ratings on the Adelaide, 410 are Australians. Every application I have received from an Australian to be transferred to the Adelaide has been granted.
– Will the Minister for Defence inform the House what was the reason for the delay that occurred between the adoption of the Washington Treaty, in December last, and the calling for tenders for the dismantling of the battle-ship Australia? As the time allowed under the Treaty for the disposal of the vessel expired four months ago, will he take steps to see that the sinking of the vessel is postponed until the thousands of pounds’ worth of very valuable material aboard has been taken out?
– The delay in calling for tenders was caused by the fact that the Department wished to take out of the vessel everything in it that was of use. Some £30,000 worth of material was removed before tenders were called. The time allowed by the Washington Treaty for the final disposal of the vessel will not expire until l7th February, 1925. The terms of the Treaty were that she should be rendered unfit for warlike service by 17th February last, and should be finally disposed of within twelve months of that date. No good purpose can be served, however, by delaying the sinking, because everything that can be economically taken out has been removed by the Department. The vessel is merely occupying wharfage space unnecessarily, and is not an advertisement for Australia in her present condition. The sooner the sinking takes place, the better.
– Will the Minister take steps to postpone the sinking of the vessel in order that public tenders may be called for its complete dismantling ? I have information from a leading shipbreaker in Australia that at least £50,000 worth of material will go down in the Australia if she is sunk next week.
– Tenders have already been called, but none of the ship-breakers tendered.
– The tenders were hedged round with difficulties.
– It was necessary to hedge them round with conditions. Any contract made would have to contain terms similar to those contained in the last contract. We desire to carry out the terms of the Washington Treaty as soon as possible, and no good purpose would be served by delaying the sinking.
– I have applied to the Manager of the Commonwealth Shipping Line for certain information, and although a couple of weeks have elapsed I have not received a reply. Will the Prime Minister ascertain, during the Easter recess, if there is any valid reason why the management of the Commonwealth Shipping Line should not accept tenders for the provisioning of any of the ships of the Line in a port where the prices are proved to be more favorable than those offered in other ports? I am given to understand that an offer was made in Hobart to supply fish at a price lower than was accepted in Sydney, and the only reason given by the Commonwealth Shipping Line was that it was not considered advisable to accept the Hobart offer.
– There is no Minister controlling the management and conduct of the Commonwealth Shipping Line; that Line was completely handed over by this House to the Board which was appointed under the Act. The provisioningof ships and other detail arrangements are solely the responsibility of the Board, and not the concern of a Minister.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether an invitation has been received from the Empire Parliamentary Association for a delegation from Australia to visit the Old Country? If so. have any steps been taken either to accept or decline such an invitation?
– The Empire Parliamentary Association has a branch in each of the self-governing Dominions. I understand that no invitation has been received by the Australian branch. I know privately that such an invitation is contemplated, and I have been asked - also privately - to indicate whether I think that Australia will be prepared to accept such an invitation. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that you are the President of the Australian branch of the Association, and possibly you could supply more reliable information than I.
– The visit to England, to which the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie), has referred, is merely in contemplation, so far as this branch of the association is yet aware. There is, however, a definite invitation to visit the neighbouring Dominion of South Africa during the spring of this year. Due notice will be given to the authorities of the association, and to members generally, before any arrangements are made with respect to that visit.
– Is it the intention to apply to the Government to pay the expenses of the delegates?
– I regret that I am not able to answer that question specifically at present. There is no immediate or pressing hurry ; and I shall search the records and inform the honorable member when the House resumes its sittings.
– On 27th March, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions upon notice: -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Commonwealth Meat Organization.
It is notified for general information that the following persons constitute the Australian Meat Council, the functions of which are those hereunder specified : -
Representatives nominated by Producers -
New South Wales. - J. B. Cramsie, A. G. Manning, and W. W.Killen.
Victoria. - L. J. Weatherly, E. Jowett. and T. J. McGalliard.
Queensland.- E. T. Bell, R. C. Philp, and R. H. Edkins.
Western Australia. - (Not yet nominated).
Tasmania. - B. H. Edgell and A. K. McGaw.
Northern Territory. - J. W. Durack.
Representatives nominated by Meat Works -
New South Wales. - T. A. Field.
Victoria. - W. Angliss.
Queensland. - W. P. Shaw.
Western Australia. - (Not yet nominated).
Tasmania. - Sir Henry Jones.
Northern Territory.- W. E. D. Copacher.
Representatives nominated by Commonwealth Government -
Commonwealth. - R. P. Allen (Chief Commonwealth Veterinary Officer).
New South Wales. - J. M. Davidson. (Chief Commonwealth Veterinary Inspector in New South Wales).
Victoria. - R. P. Allen (Chief Commonwealth Veterinary Officer).
Queensland.- H. O’Boyle (Acting Chief Commonwealth Veterinary Inspector in Queensland).
Western Australia. - (Not yet nominated).
Tasmania. - A. J. Simmons.
Northern Territory. - (Not yet nominated).
Representatives nominated by the State Governments -
New South Wales. - J. B. Cramsie.
Victoria. - R. Crowe.
Queensland. - W. H. Austin.
Tasmania. - T. Philp.
Western Australia. - (Not yet nominated).
Northern Territory. - (Not yet nominated) .
The functions of the Australian Meat Council are as follows : -
– On 27th March last the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following question : -
Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories been called to a report that appeared in the London Graphic of 8th December last, which contains an account of Captain Hurley’s recent exploration in New Guinea? The report reads - “ The victims of a head-hunting raid, when taken alive, are placed in screened structures, which are so jealously regarded by them that few dare approach them. In order that the unfortunate wretches can by no possibility escape unaided, their legs and arms are cruelly broken. The following morning, the victims are brought to slaughter, after which their bodies are cut up and seasoned with minced cocoanut, preparatory to being put into the pot for a cannibal feast. As has been said, the Sambios’ are not alone in this hideous custom. In war time, especially, it was widely, if not universally, practised on the island, and must still be prevalent in those wild regions where the influence of civilization has not yet penetrated. The ‘ Sambios’ are located 250 miles up the Fly River in our Territory.”
Will the Minister ask the Minister for Home and Territories to look into this matter, so that an early contradiction may be made if the statement be untrue?
The Minister for Home and Territories Department has furnished the following reply : -
I have to inform you that the article was brought under the notice of the LieutenantGovernor of Papua, a copy of whose radiographic reply is as follows: - “Your radio re Hurley and alleged atrocities FlyRiver. Hurley has never been up Fly beyond junction with Strickland. His statement almost certainly sheer invention. I have fairly good knowledge Fly Elver: for 500 miles from mouth,but have never heard of practice mentioned. Official Secretary and Keppie Engineer agree. Keppie spent five months upper Fly 500 miles from mouth. Hurley did not visit any portion of Papua that was not already well known. Practice mentioned is alleged to have existed in northern division 25 years ago. Hurley has probably heard of this and in order to stimulate interest has represented it as still in existence but changed location to Fly as northern division too well known. Of course, it must be realized that Government cannot be responsible for anything that takes place beyond limits of Government control. Within Government’s control head-hunting and other atrocities arc suppressed generally without much difficulty. Government control has been rapidly extended, especially during last ten years. See Annual Reports.”
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin. Chapman), the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page), Dr. Cumpston, and a number of officials some time ago visited the quarantine area at Manly with a view to considering its removal. Some decision has been expected, but I have not heard anything about the matter since. Has any decision been arrived at?
– I regret that I am not in the happy position of the honorable member, who says that he has not heard anything since the visit, because he has been most persistent in pressing this matter and has made certain suggestions into which I have had very careful inquiry made. I hope in the next two or three weeks to be in a position to give him a definite answer to the representations he has made. I recognise the importance of the matter, especially to a great city like Sydney.
– I have received from the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) an intimation that he proposes to-day to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the failure of the Government to give adequate powers to the Soldiers Committee, consisting of members of the House of Representatives, to enable that Committee to carry out its investigations.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places -
.- It is with a good deal of reluctance that I rise to move the adjournment of this House to-day. On the l2th July last I brought under the notice of honorable members the treatment which had been meted out by the Repatriation Department to a number of returned soldiers. In the cases which. I brought forward pensions had been refused, the. reason given by the Department being that the disabilities from which those returned men were suffering were pre-war disabilities. I, and the men concerned, held a view different from that of the Department. Realizing that a great injustice was being done to those men, who had given up all to serve their country, I, as a comrade, brought their cases before the House to endeavour to have justice done to them. I referred to the case of Mr. Seary, who was discharged as medically unfit. His certificate indicated that he was wounded, and suffering from gunshot wounds on the left of the spine. He has been unable to get any pension from the Repatriation Department since his return to Australia. I have visited his home, and have met his dear little wife and five young children, and I know of the severe trial through which they are passing. The wife is having great difficulty to make both ends meet, and to keep a. shelter over her husband and children. I had hoped that consideration would be given to this case, but no pension has been granted. I also drew attention to the experience of three tubercular soldiers. The Repatriation Commission considered that these men were not suffering from a war disability, although they were unquestionably tubercular. One tubercular patient at present in .the sanatorium at Bodington was recommended by the State Board for a pension, but the recommendation was rejected by the Repatriation Commission. I have waited patiently for nine months for something to bet done for these men I had hoped that the Treasurer, who was associated with the Australian Imperial Force, would give them some consideration. Another case to which I referred last year concerns a man named Veitch. He was supposed to be suffering from a syphilitic throat. Later on it was discovered that the real trouble was ulcerated tonsils. A certificate in his case was given by the officer in charge of the. Pathological Laboratory at Bulford Hospital. It is dated 2Sth February, 19 J 8, and reads -
This soldier lias been suffering from recurrent attacks of ulcerative tonsilitis for the past twelve months. His blood has been tested by Wassermann reaction three .times at this hospital since 10th November, 1917, and each time the reaction has been a clear negative; and I am of opinion that the condition of ‘the throat is not due to specific disease, viz., syphilis.
I had hoped that justice would be done to this mau, but no action has been taken. His experience was a very sad one. He was subjected to the greatest torture, because not only of the way in which the military authorities handled his case, but also of the attitude towards him of his own people, when they learned of what he was supposed to be suffering from. I did not introduce thi« subject last year to gain any party advantage, but from a keen sense of duty to my comrades; some of whom lie dead on the other side of the world, and others of whom are still living, but are really dying on their feet. I thought that the returned soldiers who are members of this Parliament would insist on justice being done to these unfortunate men. The case of a man who is dying from cancer was brought under my notice a few hours ago. The Repatriation Commission said that his trouble was not due to war service, and was not a war disability. But what are the facts? Immediately that man entered the military camp he was inoculated, and for a fortnight afterwards his right arm was paralyzed. He had trouble all through his period of active service, and since his return to Australia cancer has developed in the right shoulder. He has only a short time to live. The gentleman who brought his case under my notice devoted the whole of hi3 time during the war years to Red Cross work. He said to me, “I am not so much concerned about the poor man, for he has nearly gone, as I am concerned about his wife and children.” Surely it is quite reasonable to believe that that man’s disability was caused by the paralysis in his arm. He had no trouble until his inoculation. Since then he has not been free from trouble. I regret to say that I believe that the Repatriation Commission and the State Boards which administer the Repatriation regulations are absolutely unsympathetic. I do not say that in anger, but because I am forced to say it on account of the treatment that has been given to numerous cases which have come under my notice. I have seen the medical history sheet of the cancer case to which I have referred. I hope to have copies of many of these medical history sheets before long, though the Department say that they are not in their possession. This sheet shows distinctly that this man’s arm was paralyzed for a fortnight after his inoculation, and that he bad trouble with it all the time he was in the Australian Imperial Force. Now he is at death’s door. He is not likely to live ra month. But no pension ha3 been granted to him. What will become of his wife and children? The right honorable the Prime Minister told us the other day that he had visited the graves at Gallipoli, and that he was deeply moved by what he saw. I would be much more interested to hear from the right honorable gentleman that he and his Government and supporters intend to -show a little more respect for the soldiers who are still living, but who are, as I have already said, dying on their feet. Do honorable members suggest that the war service of our men helped them to combat tuberculosis? The experience that some of us had with the Australian Imperial Force leads us to say, without hesitation, that so far from making men immune from tubercular trouble, the exposures to which they were subjected actually caused the complaint. Many thousands of our soldiers were unnecessarily exposed to danger and disease through the bungling of military officers, and that exposure may have resulted in tubercular trouble twelve months or even two years after their return to Australia. I must complain of the manner in which the Government has neglected to carryout its promises. Neither the Treasurer nor the Government has shown, real earnestness in investigating the cases which have been submitted for consideration. After I brought this matter forward nine months ago, Dr. Earle Page said in this House: -
I have gone personally into each of the cases, and I have made the suggestion that a sub-committee consisting of soldier members of the House, one from each of the three parties, be appointed to make the necessary inquiries. If the suggestion is adopted we shall feel assured that the men will receive just and sympathetic treatment.
What consideration have they received, and what sympathetic treatment has been meted out to them ? I was astonished to hear a few days ago from the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), that though the Committee was appointed it did not meet until three weeks prior to the re-assembling of this House. Nine months were permitted to pass without a move being made, and in that time these men and their wives were at their wit’s end to know how to provide for themselves and their families. This should have been treated as an urgent matter. I suppose that when Parliament meets after the Easter adjournment we shall be asked to consider the defence proposals of the Government. How can the Government expect us to support its defence proposals while men who defended us in the last great war are so unjustly and unfairly treated? What encouragement is there for us to support defence proposals when we know their experiences ? It was a great war ! The more I learn about it the more convinced I am that it was a great war for certain people to make huge profits. I speak on this matter with intense feeling. On 10th August last the Treasurer said -
I do not think we are justified in discussing such cases on the floor of the House.
I was prepared then to accept his assurance that these men would be given sympathetic treatment. I really thought something would be done when the Committee of ex-soldier members was appointed, and I confess to great surprise at hearing what was told me by the honorable member for Ballarat. I thought that in the recess from which we have just returned the Committee would give consideration to the cases which had been discussed, and to other cases which would be brought before it. But no earnestness has been displayed. This matter demands an early statement from the Treasurer. So far as I can see we have little to hope for from the Committee as it is constituted. I believe that we would be justified in asking for the appointment of a Select Committee, or even a Royal Commission, to investigate these and similar cases. I am not favorable to the appointment of Royal Commissions, as a general rule, because I think that the Government should shoulder its full responsibility ; but when it fails in that a Royal Commission may be able to do something to remedy things.
– I listened carefully to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) to see whether he would offer any practical suggestion about the powers of the Committee of ex-soldiers or about the way in which its powers should be altered. I shall remind honorable members of the suggestion that I made last year, and of the exact functions of this Committee. It was appointed not to take responsibility from the Repatriation Commission, but to try to prevent the medical history of certain returned men from being discussed in this House, and put on permanent record in Hansard. It was felt that the discussion of some of these cases placed an unnecessary slur and stigma upon men who had fought for Australia. The intention of the Government was not that this Committee should have executive powers, but that it should investigate such cases as were brought before us last year. I, personally, would have a distinct objection to my medical history being recorded in Hansard. My private ailments concern no one except myself and my doctor. It is necessary for a Committee to function in the way I suggested, and we expected that this Committee would do so; but I hear that that has not been attempted. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hurry), and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), met in the first place, and examined certain of the files. Subsequently, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) joined them.
The whole discussion centred round the powers of the Committee, and not specific cases. Let me give some typical instances of what is to be found in the medical files. The case has been brought up in this House by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) - I shall not give the name, but am prepared to show the honorable member the file - of a man who has paralysis, and is unable to walk. His condition is due to excessive indulgence in alcoholic liquor, but the fact that he fought for his country, and that the medical advisers to the Commission consider that his case is not one for a pension, is no reason why his particular ailment should be placed on permanent record in this House. Even in a Court of law I would object to the medical details of a case being exposed, and members of this House should use some discretion regarding these matters. The Committee was appointed to enable that discretion to be exorcised. Another case referred to by the honorable member is that of a man who before the war contracted syphilis, and during the war developed tertiary symptoms. Symptoms of syphilis usually come on for two or three months, at least six weeks after infection, and then practically all traces of the disease disappear for a period of eight or ten months. The person affected may then for two or three years have secondary symptoms, which respond readily to treatment. In ten years time he may develop tertiary symptoms, which consist of huge ulcerations, or paralytic conditions.
– A man like that should have been tested before he was accepted for active service.
– Plenty of good soldiers have had syphilis. The honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse), will agree that many soldiers affected with syphilis did their work well, and there is no reason why the whole world should know their condition. One of the cases brought up in this House, - and to this I as a doctor object - was that of a man who had contracted syphilis before joining the Australian Imperial Force.
– Why was he accepted ?
– He was a good fighter. While in Egypt he developed tertiary symptoms in his throat, and was sent to the hospital and marked “ V.D.” Because of that, his pay was withheld, in accordance with the Army practice.
Within two or three months the authorities ascertained that he had not contracted syphilis oil active service, and he was then paid for the whole period of his absence from duty, in the same way as he would have been had he been frostbitten. I know of a case in Sydney where a man is suffering from serious joint conditions due to gonorrhoea. His case has been investigated by the Advisory Committee, and on the representations of members of Parliament and others, the man has been examined time after tune. At the first meeting of the Committee, Colonel Hurry, and Mr. R. Green, went into some of the files to see if the cases were such that they should be brought up for discussion in Parliament. No one will say that the Committee, and its medical advisers, should be the authority to. decide whether pensions shall bc granted or not; I submit that their real function is to examine the files. If we are not satisfied with the Committee we should alter its personnel, and if we object to the conditions laid down by the Repatriation Act with respect to pre-war disabilities, we should amend the Act; but we should not divulge in this House intimate medical information about returned men. As a medical man and a returned soldier, I strongly” protest against themere fact of a man having been a member of the Australian Imperial Force being considered a sufficient warrant for the most intimate details concerning him being broadcast throughout the country, and placed where his children and grand-children in years to come may read of the one slip he made. A Committee should deal with these cases and have access to the files.
– Who compiles the files?
– They consist of a man’s record from the beginning of his military career.
– Do the Committee examine the man himself ?
– They can if they so1 desire. Later in the session an opportunity will be’ given for the discussion of the law and its administration. Although the Committee has important functions to fulfil in saying whether the details of cases are such that they should be mentioned in this House or not. I admit that this is the proper place to bring cases forward, so long as intimate details concerning individuals are not divulged.
. -Although I was appointed a member of the Committee referred to, I received no notification of my appointment from cither the Treasurer or the Repatriation Department until five months had expired. I then received a letter from Colonel Semmens intimating that the Committee would be called together. I resented Colonel Semmens being in any way connected with the Committee, because we were inquiring into some of his decisions. I consider also that the Committee should have met at Parliament House, and nob at the Repatriation offices. When I first met my two fellow members on the Committee, they had already gone through two files, and they asked me if I desired to examine them. I inquired what authority we had. They said, “ We have nothing.” No authority had been received from the Treasurer, but we were informed by the officer -in-charge that we were to go through the files, after which we could inform some member of Parliament whether the cases were such that they should be brought up in Parliament. I said that if I was a member of Parliament I would resent any other member telling me what cases I should bring up in the House. I claim that if the Committee is to serve any useful purpose it should have authority to examine the men themselves. Piles can be made to prove anything. I recollect one case in which an officer said that a man had been examined by an outside expert, who confirmed the opinion of the military doctors, but it was afterwards found that the expert had examined the soldier in the presence of one of the military doctors. That is an instance of unfair influence being used. A Royal Commission or a Select Committee should be appointed to deal with this matter and to examine the actions of the Repatriation Department and the administration of the laws relating to venereal diseases. It ill-becomes the Treasurer, or any man whohas been in the Australian Imperial Force, to cast any stigma on a soldier because he has contracted venereal disease.
– The Treasurer did not do so.
– Certain men have been denied pensions. It is time there was some plain speaking. In London, I have sat day after day watching the drafts coming in from France, and I have heard the doctors say,, “ Now boys, you. are going to have a good time, but be very careful. The safest thing is not. to go with any woman at all, but if you feel that you must, there are french letters six a1s. over the way, and dreadnoughts’ for a bob. If you should get anything, come down to the red light to-morrow morning.” We all know that these things took place, yet we see these men who fell victims denied their pay, and entries in red made in their pay-books, so that they are unable to show these in Australia. It is hypocrisy. One man, after having been in the 39th General Hospital three times came out worse than he went in, and was then ordered up the line in that condition. It is time we had some consideration for these men. It is cruel for the Department to take the stand that because they contracted a venereal disease they must be denied pension benefits.
– They were exposed to temptation.
– That is quite true. Many who went to Egypt in the First and Second Divisions were only boys, who could have had no knowledge of what was before them. Those lads, who had never before been subjected to temptation, found themselves surrounded by vice in its most deadly form. Is it any wonder that so many of them fell victims, and so many died from this filthy disease?
– And yet the percentage of deaths was less than in the civil community.
– That may be the official view. At all events the death rate was very high. A search of the records in Great Britain will show that the position was most alarming. I say, therefore, that those lads, of the First and Second Divisions particularly, deserve every sympathy. I regret exceedingly that we have to mention these matters. When I hear people talking about the possibility of another war I wish to God they could realize some of the brutalities of the last. They would not then be so anxious to send Australia’s sons to take part in another war. The cases mentioned by the honorable member for Cook show the necessity for an amendment of the Act to make provision for the extreme cases. We should also have the fullest inquiry into the operation of the Repatriation Department. I believe that Colonel Semmens is a most unsympathetic administrator, and that he is backed up by an unsympathetic Treasurer. Since the present Treasurer has been in office every case that I have submitted to him has been returned with the same old story, “ The Board considers the disability is not due to war service.”
– What would the honorable member say when a State Board recommends a pension for the soldier and is turned down by the Federal Board ?
– I believe that is possible. I have never heard of one case in which the present Treasurer has reversed the decision of the Board. As a matter of fact, of late he has scarcely been in Victoria long enough to give an answer to a communication within a reasonable time. Soldiers applying for the living allowance have been kept for weeks waiting for a reply, to learn then that the request has been refused. I have in mind the case of one soldier who lost an arm, and has four or five children to support. As it is impossible for him to get work, he applied for an advance of £100 to start him in business. His application was refused. Then he applied for theliving allowance, and weeks, even months, elapsed before he received a reply in the negative. Among ray constituents I do not know of a single case of a soldier having had his application for a living allowance granted. Similar experiences are reported in connexion with the administration of the War Service Homes Department. I know of one soldier who had paid £200 off his home. On 1st January he paid the sum of £5, and on the 20th of that month he received notification that because he was £20 in arrears the Department could receive no more money from him, and that ho had to give up possession within five days. That letter was signed by Colonel Semmens. I took his case up, and wrote to the Department. After waiting five clays for a reply I telephoned to Colonel Semmens, who practically informed me that I was a liar, and that no such action had been contemplated against the soldier referred to. This, notwithstanding that I had in my hand the letter over his signature. Subsequently the Department wrote to this soldier apologizing, and withdrawing the notice of eviction. The excuse which Colonel Semmens gave was that he had no knowledge of the letter, and that the officer who had signed it was no longer in the Department. It was a pretty thin excuse. Much the same thing is occurring in connexion with the reduction of pensions.
– The Board made a mistake in Goodwin’s case.
– Goodwin’s solicitor threatened legal action, and obtained satisfaction for his client. All along the line there appears to be a move to reduce pensions. The practice of paying a man two-thirds pension because of two-thirds incapacity is cruel, for the simple reason that to a private employer such a man is totally incapacitated. We want a further inquiry into these matters because of a suspicion that is growing up in the public mind that certain high officials are in receipt of very big pensions. We want to know whether captains, colonels, majors, brigadier-generals and generals are having their pensions reduced. I heartily support the motion submitted by the honorable member for Cook. I hope that the Treasurer will agree to the appointment of an independent Committee with full power to inquire into the many grievances that have been reported, and make a recommendation to the Government. I do not want a Committee constituted in the same manner as the Committee already appointed, with no power to do anything. We received no instructions, and had no definition of our authority. As a matter of fact, we were practically told that we were expected to echo the views of Colonel Semmens and the other administrative officers of the Department. I, for one, refuse to carry on under those conditions, and I am now hoping that, in justice to our returned soldiers, about whose deeds we are everlastingly talking, the House will insist upon the appointment of an impartial investigation committee with the power to examine all essential witnesses, and make a recommendation to the Government for the rectification of the many injustices that are existing to-day.
– With a full appreciation of the difficulties confronting those responsible for the administration, of the Repatriation
Department, I think there is room for great improvement in existing methods. I am not prepared to go so far as some honorable members, who say that the Pensions Board administers ibo Act unsympathetically ; because members cannot have cognisance of all the circumstances, and have not available to them the evidence upon which to base a sound judgment. I must confess, however, that in respect of many cases that have come under my notice, I am at a loss to understand the reasons for the Board’s decisions. They seem to indicate a lack of sympathy. Whether or not this is due to the administration of the officials of the Department I am not in a position to say; nor can any one without a thorough knowledge of the whole of the facts in relation to each case. But it seems to me that something requires to be done. Either the Board should be given wider discretionary power, or the Act should be amended to meet certain difficulties which have arisen, if one may judge from the number of complaints continually being received by honorable members. I have in mind one case that came before me quite recently, that of a father who had been largely dependent upon a deceased soldier son. After the death of his son this man managed to eke out a living until his physical condition became, so impaired that he was no longer able to do so. His application for his deceased son’s pension was refused by the Board on the ground that it was not apparent that he had been entirely dependent on his son for his subsistence, and that he had adequate means of support. I questioned the man very closely as to his means, and was informed that all he had in the world was £6. If these facts were before the Board, then all I can say is that the decision in his case was in tha last degree cruel and ridiculous. I am under the disadvantage of presenting an ex parte statement. I have not corroboration of this man’s statement, but having known him for a number of years I am convinced that he is thoroughly reliable and upright. I have no reason to doubt him, so I can only come to the conclusion that the Department’s treatment of this application was unsympathetic. As his is only one of many similar cases, it would appear that there is something wrong somewhere.
The case which I have mentioned has gone back to the Board for reconsideration. There are also complaints about undue delay in answering correspondence, and in reaching finality concerning applications which come before the Board. This may not be entirely the fault of the Board, because we must remember that an immense number of cases come before that body for review, and naturally some must take precedence over others. But the fact that there are so many complaints, and that so many cases had to be investigated, suggests that something should be done either to insure more sympathetic consideration or amend the Act. This matter ought to be looked into by the Minister. I am not prepared to say where the blame lies, but certainly there is a very great deal of dissatisfaction in connexion with the administration of the Act.
.- It is just as distasteful to me as it must be to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to be obliged to speak in this House upon injustices that have arisen in connexion with war pensions administration by the Repatriation Department. But I remind the Treasurer that even in the cases to the ventilation of which in this Chamber he has taken exception, invariably the soldiers concerned have given honorable members authority to mention them with the view to inducing the Treasurer to intervene and insure a more liberal interpretation of the Act by the responsible administrative officers. A good deal of time would be saved and discussion avoided if the Treasurer would agree to the very sensible proposal, which is supported by all sides of the House, for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into these cases and ascertain whether an amendment of the Repatriation and War Pensions Acts is desirable. Such an investigation would do much to silence criticism, some of which, perhaps, is unfair. It would also save the time of this House, and enable us to get on with other very urgent public business. I am at a loss to understand why the Treasurer objects to this reasonable proposal. There is ample ability in this House to give. effect to it. The honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse), with his medical experience, would be invaluable- to the Committee in dealing with these matters. I do not want to bring up now a dozen or more cases which have come under my notice. I realize it would be useless, because the cases would be referred to the Commission, and no action would be taken. I would merely get the stereotyped reply which has been sent in regard to cases submitted previously. In the heat of debate the other day 1 attacked the Repatriation Commission. I have no desire to modify materially the criticism I offered, but I do recognise that doubtless in many of the adverse decisions given by the Repatriation Commission, the fault is due, not so much to the Commission as to the fact that the Repatriation Act does not give the Commission a sufficiently wide discretionary power to enable it to be more liberal. If that is so a Select Committee would very quickly find it out, and that is an additional reason why the Government should amend the Act, and thus put an end to the perpetual discussion, not only in this House, but in the press all over Australia, discrediting the Government, and doing more than anything else to belie patriotic declarations. This is not a party, but a national matter. Honorable members on both sides have had brought under their notice casesof rank injustice due to the action of the Commission. Their silence to-day indicates their view of the uselessness of bringing up particular cases in this House. Outside the precincts of this Chamber not one but dozens have discussed with me, and with other honorable members, cases of injustice, and, in some instances, cases of what appears to be absolute cruelty. The whole operation of the Act requires careful investigation. At present the assessment of the incapacity of a returned soldier is first of all dealt with by a medical man. That is quite proper; but, unfortunately, the doctor’s decision varies according as he is a generous or a hard-hearted individual. I have known one man to receive a pension because the medical man examining him took a generous View of his case, and admitted that his disability was attributable to his war service. The Treasurer must agree that there is a great deal of conjecture and theory in the determination as to whether a returned soldier’s disability is attributable to war service.
– Before rejection, all doubtful cases are examined by a medical committee, which investigates them as closely as it can.
-The method at present adopted is capricious and unsatisfactory, for the reasonsI have stated. Consciously or unconsciously the Repatriation Advisory Board is usually swayed by the etiquette of medical trade unionism to confirm the decision of the medical man who first examines a case.
– That is unfair.
– The fact that the Advisory Board deals with a soldier’s pension case in his absence, and that, in consequence, the applicant is given no opportunity to put his side, the determination being arrived at on written documents, is very unsatisfactory. No appeal is permitted, as in arbitration cases, to an applicant or his advocate. The matter is dealt with in a veritable star chamber composed of medical officers. I do not wish to attack the medical men. On the facts before them, perhaps, their determinations a,re quite honest; but the method adopted is unfair, and is inconsistent with the judicial procedure of this country. The right of a returned soldier applicant for a pension to appear in person, or through an advocate, before the tribunal deciding his case, in order that he may know whether any influences are used against him, should be conceded. The suspicion against the Repatriation Department is due largely to the fact that the returned soldier has no participation in the investigation deciding his claim to a pension. I know that the Treasurer will reply that the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League is represented on the Commission, but honorable members generally will agree with me, that the way in which positions on the Repatriation Commission have recently been juggled, is very unsatisfactory. Mr. Teece, who was formerly a Returned Soldiers’ League nominee, proved, on the Commission, such a staunch advocate of the Government’s interests, that the League subsequently refused to nominate him, and then, strangely enough, the Government placed him on the Commission.
– Mr. Teece was nominated on the last occasion by three separate returned soldiers’ organizations.
– I am surprised to hear it, and I should like to know the names of the organizations, and what influence they exercise in connexion with cases dealt with by the Commission. Certain organizations purporting to represent the returned soldiers really represent a few “ brass hats,” a privileged few who have the ear of the Government because they support the Government’s policy.
– The tubercular soldiers nominated Mr. Teece, and they are men whose cases must come up for revision.
– I am surprised to hear it. From reports received from branches of the Returned Soldiers’ League, from what I have read in the public press, and also from personal experience, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Teece had not been a satisfactory champion on the Board of the interests of returned soldiers.
– Why single out Mr. Teece? There are others to whom exception might be taken.
– T recognise that it is unfair to embark on a campaign against private individuals under the cloak of privilege afforded honorable members in this House. I have referred to Mr. Teece, because of the fact that although he was formerly a nominee of the Returned Soldiers League he was not renominated by the League, and yet the Government thought fit to put him on the Board.
– I am disclosing no Cabinet secret when I tell the. honorable member that the reason why Mr. Teece was appointed in addition to Mr. Tindale was because of his nomination by various soldiers’ organizations, and in order that the soldiers might have two nominees on the Board.
– I should like to get a vote on the matter before the House, and I know that there are other speakers to follow me. I will, therefore, conclude by saying that I have a dozen cases here which time will not permit me to submit. I object to having to submit them here, and I object to having to write to the Repatriation Commission again. I say that in the interests of the returned soldiers a Select Committee of this House, or a Royal Commission, should be appointed for the purpose of thoroughly investigating all these cases, and, let us hope, bringing about a better and more sympathetic administration, thus silencing for all time the adverse criticisms which are being directed against the Department.
– I compliment the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) upon having brought this matter before the House, and on the way in which he presented his case. No one will doubt that my sympathies are with the soldiers who came back from the war maimed, crippled, or broken down in health. I can discuss this matter sympathetically and without any party feeling. I am not so much concerned about what the Advisory Committee has done, why it was constituted, or the powers with which it ia invested. Some honorable members have said that it has no power beyond that of going through the files. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has said that the Committee has the power, if it wishes to do so, to make an examination of the various cases.
– Yes 5 to prevent oases being ventilated in this House, and for no other reason.
– What I desire is that some method shall be arrived at by which it can be fairly decided who shall receive pensions and what the amount of a pension shall be. When I say that these matters should be decided fairly, I mean fairly as between those who apply for pensions and the general taxpayer; because we have to remember that the general taxpayer is interested in the matter. No honorable member will contend that pensions should be granted to all who apply for them. There must be some method of deciding who should receive pensions. . Honorable members would not agree that whatever men may halve asked for up to the maximum allowed by the Act should be granted, and that no means should be provided to determine what is a fair pension in each particular case. What system would honorable members opposite propose to enable a fair decision to be arrived at?
– Any soldier disabled at any period after the war should be provided for.
– If that were our decision we should have almost every returned mau in Australia, suffering disability through bad health in an.y shape or form, rushing for a Government pension, and somebody would get killed in the crush. It would be quite impossible for the general taxpayer to meet such a demand.
– The honorable gentleman will admit that there -are eases of hardship.
– I admit that there are some apparently very hard cases. I have myself written strongly to the Department in connexion with several cases. But on the general principle I say there is only one method which can be adopted to arrive at a> fair decision in these cases, and that is the examination of applicants for pensions by a competent Board consisting of medical men whose integrity i3 beyond question, and whose reputation is high in their profession. We must admit that many men who were at the war, and who on their return re-entered civil life, now suffer from disabilities that were- .not attri4butable to the war. If 300,000 men were sworn in ready to go to the war, and something happened which prevented them going, of that number there would to-day be thousands suffering from some disability or disease that was not apparent at the time they enlisted. Although they never went to the war they might have become disabled, be- crippled with rheumatism, or suffer from tuberculosis or other diseases not attributable to war service. There must be many returned men whose present disability is not attributable to their war service. It is, I admit, a most difficult thing for any Board to decide who i3 legitimately entitled to a war pension, and the amount of the pension which he should receive. Can honorable members opposite devise any better means of arriving at what pensions should be given in these cases than the decision of a properly constituted Medical Board ? I am prepared to. assist in the passing of any amendments of the Act which will relieve the hardships that I know to exist. I shall be agreeable also to any alteration in the constitution of the Repatriation Department if it is considered that the present administration is unsympathetic. But I differ from those honorable members who have said that the Chairman of the Commission is not sympathetic with the returned soldiers. I have known Colonel Semmens for a long time, and he is a3 suitable a person as could be obtained for the position he holds. Honorable members must recollect that his powers are defined by the Act, and no matter what his sympathies may be, he must administer the law. But I cannot see that any better method of dealing with these claims can be adopted. Honorable members are wrong in saying that the Treasurer is callous. He is a returned soldier, and I believe his sympathies are with the incapacitated men; but it is impossible to accede to all the requests of honorable members, and the demands of all sorts of associations which claim that their members are being treated harshly. No practical suggestion for an improvement has come from the Opposition other than an inquiry by a Select .Committee or a Royal Commission. My observation of Royal Commissions is that they draw fees for a few months, and bring in a report which does not lead to any practical result. The inquiry is generally a waste of time and money.
– Does not the honorable member think that a man’s own medical officer, who knows the history of the case, is most fitted to determine the extent of incapacity ?
– The man’s own medical officer may be more sympathetic with the applicant than he should be. I cannot see that he would be better able to determine the extent of the man’s disability than would a Board of competent medical men. This matter should be discussed dispassionately, and I object to the attacks upon the Repatriation Department, because I know that the officers are doing for the soldiers all that lies in their power. Colonel Teece was one of my officers at the Front, and I cannot imagine that either he or Colonel Semmens would think that he had anything to gain by treating these cases unsympathetically. It would be more in accord with their natures, and much easier for them, to grant everything that was asked. But they must honestly administer the Act as they find it.
.- I differ from the Treasurer in regard to his definition of the functions of the Parliamentary Committee. I remember the adjournment of the House being moved on a former occasion by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley), to allow of the discussion of pensions administration, and the general impression of honorable members was that the parliamentary Committee then promised would endeavour to get more sympathetic treatment for many men to whom pensions had been refused, or whose pensions had been reduced. The Act also was amended, and we were assured that special consideration would be given to a number of men whose applications for pensions had been refused. But the administration seems to be more unsympathetic than it was before. Apparently the policy of the Government is to build up a surplus, and in pursuance of its cheese-paring policy it will dock a shilling from anybody so long as it can reduce expenditure. I have had under notice the case of Kenneth McKenzie, No. 4498, of the 18th Battalion, who was discharged in August, 1919, He is a married man, and was granted in July, 1922, a pension of 10s. 6d. per week which was later increased to £2 2s. per week because his incapacity had become more serious. Since his discharge he hasreturned to hospital three times; on the last occasion from February, 1923, to September of that year. His pension is now reduced to 10s. 6d. per week. This man endeavoured to repatriate himiself. He selected a farm, but while at workhe would, without a moment’s warning, collapse in a fit and remain in thefield in a comatose state all night, and be found by his wife next morning. For days after these attacks he is completely irresponsible, and is then incapacitated for a couple of weeks. He has had to abandon his farm and is now without a meansof living. For a time his wife received a pension, but that has been taken away. This man, who is unable to work, has to keep his wife and himself, and his incapacity is assessed by the Department at only 10s. 6d. a week. While on active service he was wounded in the neck, gassed, and suffered from trench fever. Except for the periods of convalescence he remained with his unit until hostilities ceased. I brought his case under the notice of the Repatriation Department through the Treasurer, and this is the answer I received: -
Mr.McKenzie’scase has been very care fully considered by the Commission, but in view of the medical evidence it is considered that he is receiving a pension commensurate withhis war disabilities. Consequently, it is regretted that an increase cannot be approved.
That man’s condition is such that it is dangerous for him to leave his home, but Ihave tried in vain to have his claim adjusted through the ordinary channels. I cannot help contrasting the eloquence of honorable members opposite when they are discussing preparations for another war, with their calm and callous con sideration of the distress of the victims of the last war, the cheese-paring policy adopted by the Government, andtheparsimonious calculation of whether aman shall be paid a few shillings more or less per week. The Treasurer stated that he objects strongly to a man’s medical history being made public. So do I, and I object still more to the callous policy of the Repatriation Department, which compels the representatives of these unfortunate men to disclose in Parliament their medicalhistory in the endeavour to get justice for them. Does the Treasurer think that we ventilate these cases for the pleasure of so doing?
– No; for political reasons.
– I have no political interest in this case, because the man has left my electorate. Some things, I would scorn to do for political reasons. There are some issues too contemptible to be raised for party purposes, but the honorable member for Parkes is. not one to realize that. I did not go about the country urging men to go to the war, but in common with other members on this side of the House, I am determined to see that justice is done to those who suffer disabilities as a result of the war. I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) that a searching inquiry be made by a Select Committee or RoyalCommission. I believe that men who would sympatheticallyinvestigate the claims would get sufficient information upon which to base amendments which will do justice to men whose present circumstances are positively distressing.
– I understood perfectly when I consented to be a member of this Committee, that its powers would be merely of an advisory nature, and that it wouldnot in any way be able to override the determinations of the Repatriation Commission. If the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) thought thathe, as a member of the Committee, would have greater powers than that, he should not have accepted a position upon it. The Committee held two meetings, the first of which thehonorable member for Ballarat did not attend. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) and I held a preliminary meeting, at which we considered two or threecases that hadbeen submitted by the Commission. The Committee could have done quite useful work for the benefit of honorable members of this House. I agree with the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), that there are many cases which should not be brought up on the floor of this House. Such a case was brought undermy notice inmy own constituency. The man placed quite a plausible talebeforeme, but when his records were searched itwas found thatthere were circumstances which it would not be advisableto mention in this Housebecause they did net reflect credit upon him. Ifthe Committeehad beenable to donothing more than prevent cases ofthat naturebeing madepublic, it would have certainly justified its existence. Thesecond meeting was attended by the honorable member forBallarat. He then stated thathe was dissatisfied with the powers with which the Committee hadbeeninvested, and had decided to take no further part in its deliberations until itspowers were defined. Certainly, the powers of theCommittee were restricted, and whether they were sufficiently comprehensive to enable itto do any ultimategoodIcannot say. The honorable member forRichmond and I were satisfied to go as far as our powers would allow. There has not been a meeting since, as wehave been awaiting a more detailed definitionof ourpowers. It has been stated thatthere has been unsympathetic administration of the Act. I have known the Chairman of the RepatriationCommission - Colonel Semmensf or very many years. I worked alongside him as asoldier, and I know exactly what his attitude is towards the soldiers. To lay againsthim thecharge of unsympathetic treatment of returned soldiers is absolutelyabsurd. There is no more sympathetic man, sofaras his powers willallow him togo. The powers of theCommission are limited by law,and if there mustbe greater latitude thelaw willhavetobe altered. Any anomalies brought forward ought certainly to be considered, and if it isnot possibleto give a more liberal interpretation to the Act it should be amended.
. -In Tasmania I have come in contact with a number of cases which are very much on allfours with those which have been mentioned to-day. It appears tome that the trouble arises chiefly because of the differentopinions held by the doctors who represent the Repatriation Department, andthose whodo not. The latterfrequently have abetter knowledge of the merits of acasethan ispossessedby thedoctorsrepresentingtheDepartment. I have been supplied thismorningby theSecretary ofthe Returned Sailors and SoldiersLeague of Australia with particularsofacasewhichis typical of thousandsofothers in Australia. A certain soldier was wounded in France, losing his eyeandreceiving otherwounds. He wasreturned to Australia, and discharged.Lastyearhedevelopedacute nephritisanddropsy, and wasfor several months a patient in the HobartPublic Hospital. He isstill an invalid and totally unable to work, while his total pensionfor himself, wife, and child is only £2 3s. perweek.His application for a higher pensionhasbeen rejected on theground that the nephritis and dropsyarenot due to war service. Two Hobart doctors - Drs. Ratten and Gaha - who have attended this man, state that these diseases are due tohis war service. Hehas appealed against the rejection of his application, and his appeal is atpresent withthe Commission . Those two doctors, who had him under personal observation and are acquainted withthe wholeof the circumstances surrounding the trouble, have deliberately stated that his disability is due to war service. On the other hand, the doctor representing the Repatriation Department says that hisdisability is not due to war service. The honorable member forWarringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) last night treated us to avery eloquent discourse, in which he contended thatevery man should be ready to rush to fight for his country whether the quarrel were just or unjust. This morning, however, hehas asked us to give him some reasonablesuggestions for dealing with these difficulties. He has claimed tobe as sympathetic as any honorable member towards returned soldierswhoare sufferingfrom disabilities. Atthesame time, his speech led me to believethathe isinclinedto take sides withthe Department against the thousands of soldiers who are not getting the treatment to whichthey are entitled, because the doctors representing the Department state that their disabilities are not due to war service. The honorable member for Reid (Mr.Coleman) made what I consider to be a practical suggestion,
.- The honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe) said that we should not judge this matter in the light of a few cases of attempted imposition. I quite agree with him, but it seems to me that some honorable members this morning have been inclined to judge the efforts of the Department by the few isolated cases that have been quoted. I am not opposed to the holding of a public inquiry, but it must be remembered that something like 330,000 pensions are now in existence - including, of course, those paid to dependants - and in the light of that fact I do not think it can be said that the Department is as heartless as has been contended. I shall quote an isolated case that occurred in the city to which I belong, as an illustration of what has probably happened throughout Australia. I doubt if there were many men of finer physique who left Australia than this one to whom I refer. On his return to Australia he was given a clean bill of health, yet within six months he was stricken with paralysis. After having investigated his case the Department said that his family had suffered from venereal disease, and that his
– Did not the fact that he had to approach the honorable member and the ex-Prime Minister show that there was need for an alteration of the administration ?
– That was an isolated case. I quite agree with the reference of the honorable member for Denison to the few imposters. They are to be found in every walk of life, and one naturally expects to find instances in the ranks of the returned soldiers. I suggested to the Department some time ago that there should be an interchange of doctors between the States to enable these cases to be properly gone into. But the doctors would also be examining men who now have reached the full capacity to work, and are enjoying good health, many of whom are still in receipt ofpensions. With the honorable member for Warringah I feel that we must consider the taxpayer. Our liability for pensions now amounts to £7,000,000 per annum. Eventhough it were found necessary to increase the sum to £10,000,000, I should be quite prepared to bear my share of the burden.
– Inquiries by a Select Committee may result in deductions being made in certain pensions.
– I should like to see some Committee appointed; but I do not think it would be a good thing to have a Select Committee of honorable members of this House, because I am of the opinion that if it started its investigations in Melbourne, many months would elapse before it would be able to get away,as a large number of soldiers would consider that there was a possibility of increasing their pensions, and would apply to have their cases heard. I doubt whether the investigation in each State could be concluded in less than from three to six months. I hope, however, that the Government will take some action, particularly in the case of venereal disease. A great deal could be done in that direction, and much hardship be relieved.
Debate interrupted under standing orderNo.119.
Sitting suspended from 1 to2.15 p.m.
– On 27th March the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked me whether I could inform the House of the total cost of the Australian Delegation to the Imperial and Economic Conferences. I stated that I hoped to be in a position to supply the information in the course of a few days. The exact figures will not be available until all the vouchers have been received from London, but the cost of the Delegation will not exceed £10,250. The figure at present available is £10,123.
Consideration at Washington Conference.
– On Tuesday last, in this House, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) directed my attention to certain remarks stated to have been made by my colleague, Senator Pearce, in connexion with the Singapore Base in relation to the Washington Conference, and he asked me to ascertain the reason why Senator Pearce did not include in his report on the Washington Disarmament Conference, laid on the table of the House, the important statement recently made by him. As I promised the honorable member I would do, I brought his remarks under the notice of Senator Pearce, who pointed out that the report that he furnished on the proceedings of the Washington Conference does not purport to be a report of the discussions at the Conference, or of the committees of the Conference which led to the adoption of the various Treaties, but a report of the conclusions arrived at and the method by which agreement was reached. My colleague desires me, however, to invite the attention of honorable members to the statement of the position as to naval bases in the Pacific, as setout in the first paragraph on page 9 of the report, and also paragraph 2 of Article XIX. of the Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament, which indicate very clearly that the position as to the Singapore Base had been considered and was well understood by all parties to the Treaty.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-I have not been able to obtain the information desired by the honorable member, but will have inquiries made.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Representations for reciprocity in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions were made by the, New Zealand Government some years ago, but the matter was’ not proceeded with. It is not the intention of the Government to re-open the question, but if representations are renewed further consideration will be given to the matter.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether among the mental cases of returned soldiers within the care of the Commonwealth there are any whose identity has not been fully established(a) by the military authorities, amid (b) by relatives or acquaintances?
– I am pleased to state that there are nomental cases in the care of the Commonwealth whose identity has not been fully established.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to, the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Methods of Certain Electrical Engineering Firms
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Yes,I will look into the matter with a view to ascertaining whether any action can with advantage be taken by the Commonwealth Government.
Committee of Inquiry
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– It is for the purpose of obtaining this and other information that the present flight has been arranged.
Number of Applicants - Number of Homes Built - Sale of Clifton Hill Property
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
What is the total number of War Service Homes provided in each of the States of the Commonwealth, viz., houses built, purchased, and on which mortgages have been discharged?
– The following figures are compiled to 29 th February, 1924 : -
asked the Minister for Works and. Railways, upon notice -
In the case of the proposed sale by auction of the property, No. 40 Caroline-street, Clifton Hill, on the 22nd March, 1924-
Was it publicly announced by the auctioneer acting for the War Service Homes Commissioner that “ no sale on terms will be effected with any person who is an eligible person within the meaning of the War Service Homes Act “?
If so, why was this discrimination shown against the returned soldiers and dependants?
What were the precise terms of the condition referred to as supplied to the auctioneer?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Position of Secretary - Mail Delivery to Farmers
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Australian Competitions in Tasmania.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I am having the information prepared, and will furnish it to the honorable member when available. In the meantime, the following information may prove of interest: -
At the date of amalgamation there were 125 vacant positions in the Taxation Office, so that the number of positions has been reduced by 1,150, and the number of officers by 1,025.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Works Committee Act - Ninth General Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Round Hill Point, Tasmania - For Lighthouse purposes.
Railways Act - By-law No. 28.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the Report of the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth in England for the year 1923 be printed.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1921-1923 be amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the fourth day of April, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-four, at 9 o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the schedule as so amended.
The purpose of the motion is to alter the duty on imported brandy from 30s. British preferential Tariff, 30s. intermediate Tariff, and 31s. general Tariff, to 35s. British preferential Tariff. 35s. intermediate Tariff, and 36s. general Tariff. If it is carried it will increase the duty on imported brandy by 5s. a gallon. The action proposed is due to the position of the grape-growing industry in Australia, which has caused a great deal of concern for some time past. The production of grapes in Australia has increased very rapidly in recent years, chiefly through the soldier settlement schemes of the respective State Governments. In 1917-18 Australia had 67,862 acresunder vineyards, from which 6,865,101 gallons of wine and 195,097 gallons of proof brandy were made. In 1922-23 the vineyards totalled 105,476 acres, the wine production from which was 11,427,000 gallons. Difficulty is being experienced in disposing of. such large crops. There is a special difficulty in the case of Doradilla grapes, which are suitable only for the production of spirit, and are not used directly to produce wine. They are manufactured mainly into, brandy and fortification spirit used in connexion with the wine industry. The Government felt that an investigation was imperative, as there were indications that a great number of soldier settlers and others, particularly in the Murray Valley area, were faced with imminent ruin unless some better outlet for their grapes could: be found. They therefore, invited the Tariff Board to make an investigation. A conference of all the parties interested in the industry - growers, wine-makers and distillers - was summoned, and a very representative gathering was held in Melbourne. After deliberating for some time the conference adjourned to Adelaide, where it was continued. The examination by the Tariff Board confirmed the views previously held - that a very perilousposition was arising. Their report. I propose to lay on the table of this House for theinformation of honorable members. The conclusions arrived at by the Tariff Board were largely what we expected, namely, that some further outlet must be found for the products of our vineyards. They also considered that the industry should be protected against the very unfair competition to which it is being subjected. To a great extent, and, in the case of the Doradilla to a full extent, the grapes are used in the production of spirits of which brandy is one form. Australian made brandy is subjected to very severe competition from low priced, and low quality, imported brandy. Quite apart from the interests of these settlers and the disposal of their products, the position is one which requires the earnest consideration of this House, as there is no doubt that much of the imported brandy is of very inferior quality. It is of such a nature that; in the interests of the consumers, it should not be allowed intothis country. Australian-made brandy must be kept for two years before being put into consumption, and although there is a similar provision affecting im ported brandy, there is a strong suspicion that at times it is being avoided in the case of. the imported article. In view of that, the question arises whether action should be taken to insure that the brandy imported shall be kept in this country for a certain period beforebeing released, so that we can satisfy ourselves that newly distilled spirit is not going into consumption. That point, however, is not under consideration atpresent, because it is clear that an announcement of the Government’s intention should be made before such severe restrictions, which would inflict hardship on some engaged in the industry, are imposed. But I mention it because this Parliament may have to face the position in the near future. In order to meet the unfair competition of this inferior brandy the Government proposes to increase the preference given to Australian, brandy by adding 5s. a gallon to the import duty. In this a departure is being made from the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which suggested that the same terms should be given to the Australian industry by. way of a remission of the excise duty. Its proposal was that the excise should be reduced from 26s. to 21s. a gallon, but the Government considers that it is more desirable to attain the result by increasing the import: duty, particularly as we feel that that may be more effective in preventing this undesirable and cheap brandy from entering the country.
– How will this inferior brandy be dealt with ?
– We may have to pass legislation later, but that question is not now before us.
– Is there no legislative power to-day ?
– We have power in that the Tariff provides that all brandy imported must have been distilled more than two years before being entered for consumption, but we find it impossible to effectively enforce that provision. The Tariff Board also recommended that definite action should be taken to increase the export of Australian sweet wine and suggested that a bounty of 4s. per gallon should be given in respect of all sweet wines exported of a spirit strength of 34 per cent, and over. That is a very different proposal from an ordinary bounty, as it would not come out of the pocket of the general taxpayer, but would be provided out of the excise which is being collected from this industry itself. In pre-war days there was an excise duty of 6d. a gallon on spirits used for fortification purposes. That was subsequently raised to8d., at which figure it remained for a considerable period. That excise duty of 6d. or 8d. was designed to cover the cost of the inspection necessary in all the distilleries throughout the country, and was not for the purpose of obtaining revenue. When the financial pressure became very acute, because of the war, means were sought to increase the revenue, and the excise duty on fortified spirits was raised from 8d. to 6s. a gallon. On that basis the duty operated as a tax for revenue purposes. The tabling of the other recommendations of the Tariff Board will provide honorable members with an opportunity to study them.
– Will their recommendations regarding wine be dealt with later.?
– The Government thought honorable members should first have an opportunity to consider them. At present the Government collects 6s. on every gallon of fortifying; spirit. On each gallon of wine exported approximately1s. duty is paid in respect of the fortifying, spirit contained therein; it takes about 1 gallon of fortifying spirit to fortify about 7 gallons of wine. But 6s. represents the excise collected in respect of the fortifying spirit used in the wine consumed in Australia. The proposal is that instead of the bounty coming from the pocket of the general taxpayer, it shall come out of the excise duty on fortifying spirit. It is suggested in place of a reduction to the old basis., when we collected excise duty for the purpose of covering the cost of inspection.
– It will be the same as a reduction in Excise.
– Except that it will be for a more advantageous purpose.
– It will mean a reductionin Excise on exports.
– It goes rather further-. There is at present a drawback on exports. It is proposed to give more than that, and to finance it out of the industry by taking the additional amount from the general Excise which is paid upon fortifying spirit used in Australian wines. In this connexion I may direct attention to the posi tion with regard to dry wines in Great Britain. The duty thereon wines of foreign production is 2s. 6d., and on Empire wines1s. 6d. When I was in Great Britain, I did my best to get an increase in the Imperial preference, but the British Government were immovable. I found it hopeless to getconcessionswith regard to dry wines; but fortunatelyI was more successful in connexion with sweet wines, the duty on which is 6s. for foreign wines containing over 30 degrees of spirit. The preference on sweet wines of Empire production is 2s. Under the arrangement which eventually I was able to make with the British Government; the duty on Empire wines will be reduced from 4s. to. 2s., thus increasing our preference to4s. It is possible that this proposal, which does not represent an increase in existing duty, but is merely an increase in our preference, may be accepted by the British Parliament. When I was discussing this matter in Britain, I realized the enormous consumption of this class of product in the Mother Country, and how small was Australia’s share in the trade. Britishimports of dry wines, that is, wines not exceeding 30 degrees proof, in 1922, totalled 5,485,088 gallons, andof sweet wines, that is, from 30 degrees to 42 degrees, 7,064,000 gallons. This is a very big market, and presents attractive possibilities to the Australian producer. At the present moment we really have the Australian market for wine for fortifying spirits, and I believe these proposals will give us the Home market for our brandy. But no substantial expansion in the industry can take place unless, we can secure a footing in the British market. We have the type of wine that is required, and the proposals I have mentioned should place us in a position to compete fairly with those near countries, such as Spain, Portugal, and France, which at present are in the enjoyment of the British market. Another difficulty is that the definition of sweet and dry wines really determines the amount of duty.On dry wines of foreign origin it is 2s. 6d, and on wines of Empire production1s. 6d. per gallon. On sweet wines the duty is 6s. to the foreigner, and 4s- 2s according to the present intention of the British Government - to Empire wines, on a definition of 30 degrees. Our difficulty is to get the
Australian product to Great Britain. Transport over the long distance and through the tropics is extremely difficult in the case of any wine under 34 degrees, whereas Continental fortified wines of between 26 and 30 degrees are easily marketable. Thus, while two wines, practically identical in character, are on the market, on one the import duty is 2s. 6d., and on the other it is 6s. The suggestion I made when in Great Britain was that the Government should either raise the definition to 35 degrees or else reduce it to 26 degrees. If it were reduced to 26 degrees, the foreign production could not be imported as a light wine, and we would then be in a position to meet competi tion fairly. If, on the other hand, it were increased to 35 degrees,we should be able to get our wines in, and again compete with the foreigner on fairly even terms. The market is there, and the proposal’ which I am submitting is the suggestion of the members of the Tariff Board to get over our existing difficulty. If we cannot secure a footing in that market, thus insuring the absorption of our tremendous output of Doradilla grapes, our growers will be in a serious position. The Government examined the proposal carefully. We appreciate to the full the importance of placing our products on the British market; but, as we could not get certain necessary assurances from the wineries as to the quantity of grapes which would be bought, or the price to be paid, we came to the conclusion that, at present, we could not give effect to the recommendation. But the position is so acute that I have invited members of the Viticultural Council to meet me on Tuesday next to discuss this matter. I will tell them that the Government realizes the necessity of getting on to the British market in order to insure the absorption of our grape production, and that if they can give me the assurances asked for, the Government will give most sympathetic consideration, and see what can be done for them. We want to be quite sure that a fixed quantity of grapes shall be bought at a fair and reasonable priceto the producer. Much will depend upon how they treat the situation. Our action will be conditioned by their attitude, and by the manner in which they treat the situation with which we are faced. If we are to take action to secure this great market for wines of Australian production, we shall expect the viticulturists to stand up to the position.
– Is the right honorable the Prime Minister going to bring forward this proposal for the 4s. preference now ?
– No. This proposition has been put forward by the Tariff Board. We cannot give effect to it, because we cannot get the assurances that we require. If the wine producing industry will stand up to the position with regard to the grape crop, and give us an undertaking as to the future, we shall be able to help them in securing a footing in the British market. We must have an assurance as to the quantity of grapes they will be able to take in the future, and the price to be paid to the growers.
– Is that for this season ?
– Yes. We hope to help the growers this season. The position with regard to grape production is exceedingly serious. Many of our returned soldier settlers have been obliged to grow a particular kind of grape. For example, the South Australian Government made it a condition that soldier settlers placed on the land in that State under the Repatriation scheme should grow a certain proportion of Doradilla grapes. I should like to emphasize that the Commonwealth Government are not responsible for the position of the wine industry. The State Governments settled these men on the land, and, therefore, must take the responsibility. I propose to see representatives of the States, and to give them an assurance that the Commonwealth are prepared to co-operate in assisting these grape-growers. The only question which honorable members are now asked is- Are they prepared to agree to this increase in the import duty on brandy by 5s.? I am very much obliged to honorable members for having given me this opportunity to explain this recommendation of the Tariff Board. I ask them to give it their earnest attention. What I have said will, I hope, assist them to form an opinion concerning the merits of the proposal, by which we hope to solve what is undoubtedly a very difficult problem.
.- This is a very important question, and it is difficult to understand why the Prime
Minister (Mr. Bruce) should bring it forward at this hour of the day, and when the House is about to adjourn.
– There is a motive in it.
– I do not know, but it deals with a very important matter, and it should have been placed before honorable members earlier in the day, so that it could have been debated and properly considered. There is nothing to be dealt with except the proposed increased duty on spirits. I am favorable to any proposal to assist the man on the land. We have to do all that we can to find markets for his products. It is better to protect the local market on his behalf than to encourage the importation of foreign spirits. It is absolutely necessary, as has been pointed out, that the making of brandy should be properly controlled, so that in cases of sickness we may be sure that only the very best product shall be available to patients. For this reason the Government proposal is worthy of consideration. Listening to the Prime Minister, it struck me as strange that the Government should have turned down the recommendation of the Tariff Board. There may have been good reason for their action ; but I remind the House that the Tariff Board was appointed for the purpose of inquiring into these matters. Evidently the Board made exhaustive investigations, and as a result it recommended that the excise should be reduced. Against that recommendation the Government have decided to increase the duty. It may be said that either course will meet the case, but I complain that honorable members are expected to deal with these questions without the fullest information being placed at their disposal. I should like to know where is the Tariff Board’s report. If we had before us the evidence upon which the recommendation of the Tariff Board was based we should be in a position to decide for ourselves which is the better course to take. It is of no use to have a Tariff Board and to spend money on inquiries if the recommendationof the Board is to be turned down by the Government without this House being informed as to the information upon which it was based. The Board recommended, in this case, that there should be a reduction of the Excise duty, and if upon consideration of the evidence upon which the recommendation of the Board was based we are of opinion that, in the interests of the wine-growers of the country, it would be a better proposal than that now before us, we should adopt it.
– Perhaps I can assist the honorable gentleman. The only point raised is whether there should be a reduction of Excise duty, or an increase of Customs duty. The Government took up that matter with the Tariff Board after its report had been presented, and the Board acquiesces in the Government taking action by way of an increase in the Customs duty instead of by way of a decrease in the Excise.
– I should like to know whether the Board acquiesced in the decision of the Government before or after the Government had decided to bring this measure forward. If the Board acquiesced in the decision of the Government after the Government decided to take action, and without good grounds, its members must be jelly-fish. I might just as well say what I mean. If they were induced by the Government, to acquiesce in a decision in opposition to their own, the members of the Board are not the men for their jobs. My personal experience of them has been very satisfactory, but if they are going to change their views to suit the Government, that is not what is expected of them. The Board should deal with each matter that comes before it on its merits and according to the evidence it collects, and, having come to a decision, it should be prepared to stand by it. If the Board is going to change its views whenever the Government of the day differs from it, it will be of no use to this House. Honorable members have to be guided to a very great extent by the Board. There would be no Tariff Board in the country to-day if it were not for the fact that the House is unable to obtain information it requires without some form of inquiry. I, of course, accept the assurance of the Prime Minister that the Tariff Board acquiesces in the action proposed by the Government in this matter. I shall not discuss the other questions referred to by the Prime Minister, but shall confine myself to the matter immediately before us. In my opinion, it would be preferable to fix the duty so as to enable our own grapes to be used, rather than assist the industry by a bounty, as we did yesterday in dealing with asimilar industry. So fax as this proposal provides a market here for the consumption of our own grapes, it is a step in the right direction. We shall require to follow itupby securing our own market for our own producers, not only of grapes, but of other kinds of fruit. I am not opposed to theGovernment proposal, but I repeat that such matters should not be sprung upon the House at a moment’s notice, oruntil we havethe fullest information beforeuson the subjects to which they refer. We should, in this case, have before usthe report of the Tariff Board and the evidence upon which it arrivedat its decision.
.- Thegrowers of grapes,not only for the production of brandy,but for other purposes, in common with the growers of stone fruits, have been having a very bad time. This has been duetothe inactivity of theGovernment and their refusal to actupon the facts placed before them from time to time. Thedifficultposition confronting the Australian grower of grapes and the distillers has existed for at least four years. Until the position hadbecome acute in connexion with the present season’s crop,theGovernment gave no attention tothematter.
– Production has been going on apace, andno provision has been made for the marketing of the crop.
Mr.BLAKELEY. - The Government, whilst proclaiming to the heavens that it wants to help the primary producer, never thinks ofhim untilruin stares him in the face. For the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to saythat this ismerely a State matter is so muchbosh. It is a question for the National Government. The production of grapes and their distillation intobrandy isessentially a national matter. An increaseof 5s. per gallon in theduty on brandy mayor may not achievethe purposeforwhich it is imposed. I should liketohave some evidence on the subject placedbeforeus by the Tariff Board. I protest,with my Leader,that a matterwhichvitally concerns avery important primary industry should not be brought before theHouse when we are notin a position togive an intelligent decision uponit, becausethe facts are not beforeus. The Prime Ministerhas hinted that a difficulty has arisenbetween the growers and distillers. Ifthe right honorable gentleman has any information that the distillers have refusedto pay an adequateprice tothe growers of grapes, honorable members, whowillhave to decide thismatter,should have before them all the information availableonthe subject. I should like to hear from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) just what are thereasons which actuated the Tariff Board in acquiescing in the Government’s proposal. As the honorable gentleman knows, I have been very much interested in this matter for a number of years, because there is a great quantity ofgrapes grown on the Murray, in the Darling electorate. We should have information which will indicatejust what will be the effect of the proposed increase of 5s. per gallon in the duty on brandy. The proposal will have no effectupon the importation of Hennessy’s Three Star and other high pricedbrandies. It must beobvious that an increase of 5s. per gallon on the more highly priced brandies will notafford anyprotection whatever to Australian brandies. I should likethe Minister for Trade and Customs to fillin the blanks in the Prime Minister’s statement. We have been told that the Tariff Board has madeanexhaustive inquiry into this matter. I know that several conferences with the Board took place, and a great deal of informationwas collected bytheBoard, before itarrived at its decision. After an exhaustive inquiry the Boardcomes to theGovernment and says, “ We recommend theadoption of this course asthe best possible means to protect the industry. Then theCabinetmeets anddecides upon something totally different. And then, apparently, a very complacent and surprisinglyobliging TariffBoard, like the Americanpoliticianwho said,”If you do not like my policyIwillchange it,” says tothePrime Minister, “ Very well, sir, ifyoudonot like our recommendation we willalter it, and willacquiesce in an increase in the Customsduty ,rather than adhere to our recommendation for areduction of the Excise duty.” ThePrime Minister has f oreshadowed a reductionin theExcise dutytoenable abountytobe paid on the productionof wineout of Exciserevenue . Ifit is possible to do that inthe case of wine, could not a similar coursebe followedin dealing with brandy . ?Honorable members should not be treated intheway theyhavebeen in connexion withthis proposal. We are entitled to information, which the Prime Minister ‘omitted to .give ns, and I hope it will be supplied ‘by the Minister for Trade and Customs.
.- This is an -extremely important proposal. It affects the grape-growing industry, which has been developing on the Murray River, -particularly as a result of the labours of returned soldiers, whose crops for the first time have come to maturity there. This season’s crop is a record one. The -returned soldiers have begun harvesting their crop, and they have no assurance that they will be able to dispose of it unless they are given relief in the form now proposed to- the Committee. I remind the honorable -member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that the acute position ! Ot the industry has not existed for two or three years. On the contrary, three years ago there was a big crop, but a big price was paid for grapes, and the growers made a very good thing out of their .business. Again, last year, there was another record season, and, as the distillers had more abundant stocks, the price paid for grapes came down, but the crop was disposed of. The position to-day is that, with .a record crop two years ago and a better record in the following year, the distillers have their premises filled to the roofs, and they, have no inducement to buy this season, because they ‘hold such very large stocks. The growers of Doradilla grapes .have had their position rendered more difficult by reason of the fact that there have recently been importations of cheap and very bad brandy. The brandy is imported not only from France; some time ago quantities were being obtained from South Africa. Some of these imported brandies are the rottenest stuff that was ever offered for human consumption. The Government has found it impossible to enforce the condition that the imports must be accompanied by a certificate that they have been in wood for two years, and the result is that some absolutely “ green “ liquor is placed on the market. In this way the market for the local product is being destroyed. Only recently one of the biggest hospitals in this country advertised for a supply of brandy for medical purposes, and accepted a tender for imported brandy at a price only ls. per gallon below the price of the very best Australian article.
– Was the imported brandy inferior 1
– I do not know what its -character was. But .medical men will tell you that Australian .brandy has the merit of coming from the, grape, whereas Hennessy -and Mar tell, .and the other foreign brandy-makers, have not enough grapes to produce the brandy they sell in the United Kingdom alone. Australian brandy, being a pure grape spirit, should be infinitely better for -medical [purposes than the imported. I do not profess to understand this business, but I think that the compromise between the Government and the Tariff Board is a distinct improvement; it will accomplish what is desired by the distillers and wine-growers on the one hand, .and will keep -the cheap, wretched imported liquor out of Australia, especially if the Government insists that all imported brandies shall .be put into wood in Australia for two years. “By increasing the duty to the extent of 5s. per gallon outside competition will ‘be destroyed for ever, and ‘by applying 3s. of the ‘Excise- duty to bounty purposes, Australian producers will be given an opportunity of placing ‘their brandies and wines in the British market. I believe this proposal will be received gratefully by the distillers and growers, and to the people along the Murray River it “wil] be the happiest message they have received for many years.
.- I have long thought that more attention should be paid by the Government to the duties on wines and spirits and .narcotics. Last year, out of the Customs and Exicse duties of £32,SS2,128, £15,000,000 was raised from this source. The duties were substantially increased during the period of the war in order to meet .the abnormal expenses of the country at that time, and I hope that the Government will realize the justice of reducing this heavy extraction f.rom the pockets of the industrial classes. Those people who drink the higher class wines and spirits are- not so seriously affected. Australian brandies have not been able to compete with the French article, and distillers have assured me that their needs would be best met by reducing the Excise duty by 5s. a gallon. That would give assistance to the winegrowers also. Instead, the (Government has proposed an increase in the Tariff duty, which will enable the local producers to raise the price of their product. A reduction in the Excise duty would not have affected the price of locallyproduced brandy.
– Willnot the Government’s proposal have the effect of restricting importation ?
– I do not think so.
Mr.Pratten. - If imported brandy is made more expensive, the consumption of the local article must be increased.
– The existing duties on wines and spirituous liquors are too high, and a revision is overdue. I believe a reduction in the Excise duty would advantage the local wine-growers, because if the price of Australian brandy were lowered it could be used for fortifying purposes. The colonial brandy is even better for medicinal purposes than is the imported.
– The standard of Australian brandies is not as high as it was a few years ago.
– It cannot be denied that the Government is increasing the protective duty, and the silence of the members of the Country party, and the absence of many of those who are free traders, are significant. I indorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the Tariff Board. If the Board is to be allowed to vary the Tariff passed by this Parliament, we’ should be acquainted with the reasons for its decisions. I honestly believe that the proposal submitted by the Board in regard to the duties on brandies was better than that which the Government has submitted to the Committee. Some influence must have been brought to bear on the Government to induce it to depart from the recommendations of its expert advisers. I hope the object of the variation is not to produce more revenue. It may be that the Board has revised its original recommendation; if so, this Committee should be informed. All recommendations of the Board should be accompanied by the evidence on which they are based, in the same way as are the reports of the Public Works and Public Accounts Committees, and the Government should not depart from such recommendations without very good cause. A supply of good brandy is essential to the health of the community. Brandy ought to be drunk to a greater extent. Many a life would have been saved but for the stupid belittling of its medicinal properties. The ambition of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to have Australia become a large exporter of wine will receive encouragement from every honorable member. Brandy produced in Australia is made from the grape, but we do not know what are the constituents of that made on the other side of the world. I think the Government are tackling this matter in the wrong way. If brandy were kept at a reasonable price it would assist the wine-growers.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) hinted that a reduction of Excise would not protect the growers; in other words, that the distillers only would benefit. I have been informed quite recently, on very reliable authority, that, if the Excise is reduced, the distillers are prepared to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government under which a guarantee of not less than £6 per ton for Doradilla grapes will be given to the growers.
– Some of them have said that.
– That channel should be explored by the Government.
– That is what is intended.
– It would be much simpler to reduce the Excise duty than to resort to this hotch-potch method of dealing with the problem.. I protest against this late proposal of the Government. Other matters of equal importance, in relation to the Tariff and the administration of the Tariff Board, require investigation. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) say whether an opportunity will be given shortly to discuss the decisions of the Tariff Board in regard to textile and other industries, and particularly in regard to the remissions of duties on materials to be utilized in the construction of the North Shore bridge? I have received from Messrs. P. J. Firth and Company, cardboard boxmakers, a letter asking why the Commonwealth Government proclaimed strawboard under section 4 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and increased the duty by about 30 per cent.
– The time for answering questions has passed.
– In a conversation with me just now the Minister agreed, in view of the great dissatisfaction that exists amongst manufacturers because of this action, to reply to the question before the House rises. I hope that he will do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended and resolution adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Mr. Austin Chapman do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
.- I move-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 7th May next, at 3 o’clock p.m.
As honorable members are aware, the visiting British squadron will be in Sydney next week. Easter is close upon us, and I think that it will meet the convenience of honorable members if we adjourn over Easter and resume on the date I have mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Canned Fruit Bounty: Conversion Loan : Dumping of Hosiery : Sinking of H.M.A.S: “Australia”: Vote for Wire Netting: Seaplane Flight round Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I have received from Taylor Brothers (Sydney) Limited, jam manufacturers and fruit canners, a letter which is worthy of some consideration. They confirm the following wire, which they had sent to me: -
Strongly protest McIlraths given wholesale terms under canning bounty to detriment other retailers advantage1s. dozen ask Department our letter 3rd January.
The letter proceeds -
The Henry Jones’ factories have placed McIlraths Limited on the wholesale list in connexion with the distribution of canned fruit, and this means that other grocers have to pay 1s. a dozen more for their canned fruits than this firm, which places them in a very unfair position to compete. We have endeavoured to get the Department to fix a fair definition of a wholesaler and to restrict it to wholesale distributing firms, caterers, and manufacturers who do not sell over the counter. You will realize that the small grocers in business near McIlrath’s stores will not have any chance of selling canned fruits against them except at a loss, and this kind of thing should be stopped.
The letter of this firm to the Department of Trade and Customs, on 3rd January last, contained the following paragraph : -
As we foresee trouble amongst distributors unless a clear definition is given of a “ wholesaler,” can your Department give us such definition, same to be binding on all firms canning under the bounty scheme? We would suggest that a wholesaler be defined as one who does not sell over the counter, or, in other words, it be restricted to bona fide merchants, caterers, and others who do not do a retail trade in grocery lines.
I draw attention to this matter because the Canned Fruit Bounty Bill is to remain in abeyance until we re-assemble. Why should certain persons be given an undue advantage over other traders under a measure that is to be subsidized by this House? It seems to me to be very unfair. I hope that the Minister will look into the matter.
– I desire to inform honorable members of the exact amount of the subscriptions to the conversion loan. The loan has not been finally closed, but the amount received yesterday was, approximately, £12,000. The total cash received amounted, in round figures, to £7,452,000, and the conversions to £3,754,000, the grand’ total being £11,207,098. Apart from the £6,000,000 which was advanced by the banks, the amount of bonds outstanding is £12,778,000. I thank the banks and the investors, soldiers, and press for the very active support they have given to this conversion loan, enabling a satisfactory result to be achieved.
– The matter of the sale of canned fruits to McIlwraiths Limited was brought under my notice yesterday by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). I shall read a letter which I have written to him which will explain the position. It is as follows: -
Sale of canned fruits to McIlwraith’s Limited.
In connexion with your inquiry to-day regarding the above, I am informed that a certain canner has sold canned fruits to
McIlwraith’s Limited, of Sydney, at the wholesale rates. This gives McIlwraith’s an advantage ranging from 6d. to ls. a dozen over the ordinary shopkeepers.
Under the Canned Fruit Bounty Bill now before the House, no power is taken to control in any way the price at which canned fruits are sold. It is not possible to do anything in this direction, because the Commonwealth law authorities advise that Parliament has no power to include in the Bounty Bill any provision relating to the sale of the fruit after it has been canned.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) respecting the Sydney hosiery industry. The Tariff Board should protect it, or the Minister should exercise in its interests the powers he has under the Anti-Dumping Act. In consequence of (.he dumping of foreign -manufactured hosiery in Sydney, about a thousand men and women who were engaged in the industry are out of work. The local manufacturers have spent large sums of money in building and equipping their factories, and have provided good conditions for their workers, aud now they find that the iudustry is being overwhelmed because foreign goods are- pouring into the country. I urge the Government to show some energy in this matter, and I trust that relief will soon be afforded those connected with the local industry.
.-^1 support the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley). During the recess, I made it my business to visit many of the establishments engaged in our secondary industries in New South Wales. I gave some attention to the hosiery industry. It was demonstrated clearly to me that unless definite action was taken at an early date to protect this industry it would go out of existence. I went through some of the establishments from the engine-room to the packing-room, and I was appalled to see so much machinery lying idle when it ought to have been at work. This industry is really a war bay. and it should be given relief. We have already seen the effect of dumping foreign goods into New South Wales, and I assure the Government that the industry is in a serious condition.
.- I make a final appeal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) not to have the battle cruiser Australia sunk next week. I base my appeal on common sense rather than on sentiment. The Government should not throw away thousands of pounds’ worth of material as it proposes to do. In common with most other people in Australia, I was under the impression that this vessel had to be sunk next week in compliance with the terms of the Washington Treaty. As a matter of fact, my reading of the Treaty is that the vessel should have been sunk last December, but the Minister for Defence stated to-day that the time does not really expire until next February. It is> a remarkable absurdity that the Government should wish’ flagrantly to waste so much -public money by sinking the vessel next week when she need not be sunk until next year. The Washington Treaty was adopted by this Parliament in June, 1922. when it automatically came into force in Australia. The Government did not lift a finger to dismantle the Australia until December, 1923, in which -month public tenders for the dismantling of the vessel were called. The public announcement calling for tenders was made on the 12th December, and tenders closed on the 20th December. One of the, conditions was that the dismantling should begin on the 2nd January, 1924, and should be finished by the 5th April. The Government’s obligations to the contractor cease tomorrow. It must have been impossible for the successful tenderers to dismantle the vessel properly in the time at their disposal. The conditions of the tender were most restrictive. This prevented the people who were really accustomed to dismantling vessels from submitting any tender. I have received a letter on this matter from Messrs. W. Waugh and Company, a firm which has been engaged for thirty or forty years in dismantling ships. At present the firm is= dismantling the Psyche, one of the obsolete cruisers of the Australian Fleet. That indicates that it knows its business. The letter I received states that the firm was in negotiation with the Government with a view to the purchase of’ the Australia. Mr. Waugh assured methat his firm made an offer of £15,000’ for the boat. I ask, therefore, why the Government accepted a tender of £3,000 ?’ I realize that I have made a startling statement. The honorable the Ministerfar Works and Railways, who is sitting opposite me with a smug smile on his- face, prattles about economy, but he has taken no practical steps to prevent the Commonwealth Government from losing thousands of pounds over this transaction. What happened in connexion with the accepted tender was that a little syndicate of Collins-street doctors was formed by Dr, Kent Hughes, a member of the Melbourne Club, a prominent’ Collinsstreet practitioner, and also a selected Nationalist candidate in the next Victorian elections. It is just as well for the people of Australia to know these things. This little group got together at the Sorrento Golf Club, and decided to tender for the dismantling of the Australia. The members got their “ pals “ in the Department to draw up the form of tender, and so many strange conditions were included in it that firms whose legitimate business it is to dismantle vessels would not tender for the work. Among the conditions were that the vessel must remain moored a.t Garden Island Naval Repair Depot in Sydney, that the gear of the Garden Island Depot must be used in dismantling her, that the hours to be worked by those engaged in the dismantling must be the hours worked by the employees at Garden Island, and that the work must be under the absolute control of the officer in charge of the Naval Depot at Garden Island. The firms that usually undertake this work were really stopped from tendering because one condition of the tender was that the officer in charge at Garden Island was given the right to claim at any time any piece of metal or armament upon the ship. The successful tenderer might have spent hundreds or thousands of pounds to disconnect some portion of the vessel’s machinery, only to have it claimed by the naval officer immediately it landed on the wharf. I challenge the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) to deny the truth of what I have said. What sensible, practical business man would submit a tender which had that condition in it? No one, unless he had “inside knowledge,” .would give 2½d. for the vessel if he knew that an onlooker could claim any part of it. The Minister for Defence will probably say that the boat has been effectively dismantled, and that everything has been taken out of her. In that boat were thirty-one Babcock and Wilcox boilers, which are worth £2,000 each to-day. If those boilers have been removed, I ask why the successful ten derers were permitted to acquire for £3,000 boilers worth £62,000? That does not take into account anything else of value in the vessel. Why were so many unusual conditions attached to this tender? It is important that we should know, because those conditions prevented legitimate business firms from tendering, How did the peculiar circumstances arise that a little syndicate formed by Dr. Kent Hughes at the Sorrento Golf Club undertook this work, although it knew nothing whatever about the dismantling of vessels ? Dr. Kent Hughes doubtless knows something about dismantling a human body, but he knows nothing about dismantling a battle cruiser. How did his syndicate succeed in obtaining the contract for £3,000 when the boilers alone are worth £62,000”? I suppose it is useless for me to appeal to the Minister for Defence, so I shall address myself to the Prime Minister. He is the Leader of this business Government - big business Government I should say. I appeal to him to stop the sinking of this vessel next week, and to do the common-sense thing. Let him call foi- tenders for her complete dismantling within a reasonable time and under reasonable conditions, so that every legitimate business man engaged in this class of work may submit a tender. It is common knowledge that thousands of tons of valuable material will go to the bottom of the ocean if the Australia is sunk next week. The Minister admitted this morning that the terms of the Washington Treaty do not require that the Australia shall be sunk until next February. If that is so, why sink her next week and lose that valuable material ? The decision to sink the vessel was arrived at twelve months ago in order to- make a naval “ flare up “ while the British Squadron was in Australian waters. The idea first was that the squadron was to line up in battle array and sink the Australia by gunfire, but when the authorities found that the people of Australia were rising in resentment against that proposal another method of sinking the ship had to be found. They decided then to sink her by opening her sea-cocks. On this occasion the Minister, who is the Admiral of the Fleet, has delegated his authority to the Captain, and it will be the Captain, and not the Admiral, who will stand on the bridge and stick to the sinking vessel. No harm could result from a postponement of the contemplated, action. If the Minister’s intention is merely that there shall be a great naval display, let him say so, and the people of Australia will understand his motives. The common-sense thing should be done: public tenders for the dismantling of the vessel should be called. If the conditions be fair and reasonable, and the tenderer is permitted to use his own gear, the Government will get thousands of pounds for the right to complete the dismantling of the Australia. The Minister may say that it would cost thousands of pounds to completely dismantle the ship, but I am not asking the present Government to do the work, as they would be sure to make a bungle of it. A private contractor would give thousands of pounds for the material.
– Are you advocating private enterprise ?
– I am advocating the saving of public money in this matter. I am appealing to the Minister as a member of the so-called “ Economic party “ to stop this ruthless waste of public money. If the vessel is first dismantled as a result of public tenders being invited, the Government may then sink her if they so desire.
.- Through you, Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) a question. He said that the officer in charge of Garden Island has the right to claim any material landed on the wharf there as salvage from the Australia. Does he know of any case in which that right has been exercised ?
.- (By leave.) - There may have been cases, but I do not know of any.
.- I cannot recall a case where any other nation has sunk a battleship in the way proposed in connexion with the Australia, although I understand that America has made use of obsolete vessels as targets for the guns of other ships. If the Minister were to place his proposal before the people of Australia they would reject it wholeheartedly. I am sorry that the Minister proposes to follow the despicable action of the Germans in sinking their vessels at Scapa Flow.
– The British authorities lifted those vessels and obtained valuable material from them.
– During the recent election campaign in Western Australia one of the Nationalist candidates is reported to have said that if the Hood ran aground in the Fremantle Harbor, and could not be refloated, the value of the vessel would clear off their State deficit of between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000. That statement is as absurd as will be the action of the Government in sinking the Australia, which cost this country £1,800,000. For five weeks I assisted in the Western Australian election campaign, and at every meeting I alluded to the proposed action regarding the A us tralia. In no case did I meet any one who approved of the action contemplated by the Government. I can assure the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) that his name will go down to posterity as one who completely failed to understand Australian sentiment. Does the Minister think that Japan would waste the special steel contained in the Australia^. I understand that, in order to make the steel plates for that vessel, iron bad to be imported from Sweden or Malta, as the iron from the English mines would not make steel of the necessary quality.
In a generous mood this Government made available £250,000 to assist settlers in protecting their crops and flocks by the provision of wire netting, the advances being repayable in ten or twenty years. When iu Western Australia I was approached by many farmers in connexion with this matter, and I know that both the honorable’ member for Perth (Mr. Mann) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) did all they could to assist them. The honorable member for Forrest, who has had a large experience in wheat growing, knows that the earlier the farmers obtain their netting after the crop is planted, the better it is for that crop.
– You are on right lines now.
– Because of the paltry action of the Western Australian Government, this wire netting, which is urgently needed by the farmers, cannot be obtained. When I wrote to the Western Australian Minister, forwarding a copy of a letter received from a settler, he replied, “ What security can be given for the advance?” It took the Stat* Department over two months to write to that unfortunate farmer. It is infamous for such ‘ action to be taken by the State
Government when this Government has been so generous. Regarding the question of security, many of the properties were mortgaged to either the Western Australian Agricultural Bank or the Industrial Assistance Board of the State. I am not attacking this Government, as it made a generous offer. I ask the Minister if he has received any applications for wire netting from the farmers of Western Australia.
– This matter should be probed to the bottom. I am willing to assist the farmers in every way possible. I suggest that the Minister should circularize the various State Governments, advising them that the wire netting is available, and if possible, stir them up to help their farmers get it. One farmer told me that his return from wheat off 1,000 acres was £600 clear, but he estimated that he had lost . £400 owing to the damage caused by rabbits. The farmers want this wire netting, and it is extraordinary that owing to red tape restrictions, it should be withheld from them. I trust that the Minister will impress on the State Government the necessity of taking prompt action.
– There seems to be some misunderstanding among certain honorable members concerning the proposal to sink the battle-cruiser Australia. Under the Washington Treaty there were only three ways in which the vessel could be disposed of. If honorable members objected to that agreement the time to raise the question with regard to the sinking of the A ustralia was when the Treaty was under consideration; not now, after it has been ratified. There are, as I have said, only three ways in which the Australia may be finally disposed of. One is to sink her beyond the possibility of recovery, another to convert her into a battle target, and the third option is to have her broken up. To do this, it would be necessary to remove all the plates, and that would be a very costly undertaking. As to the second course, there is provision in the Washington Treaty that each power shall have the right to convert one war vessel only into a battle practice target, and as Great Britain had already reserved one ship for that purpose, Australia being part of the British Empire, could not destroy the
Australia in that manner. I made very careful inquiries whether, within the time limit fixed in the Treaty, we could break up the vessel, and found that it was not possible economically to do so.
– Is it not a fact that the New Zealand is to be broken up?
– That vessel, a sister ship to the Australia, was held in England to be broken up and brought £23,000 with binnacles, compasses, and everything as she stood. We took off the Australia about £30,000 worth of material, at present value, representing about £80,000 in original cost, before we called for a tender at all. There was a suggestion that the vessel might be converted into a break-water, although the sentiment of the Navy was against that fate for the Australia. It was pointed out by the British Admiralty, when this matter was referred to them, that the Vindictive which had been sunk at Zeebrugge, had since been raised, though she had been filled with concrete; also that contracts had been let to raise the German Fleet which had been sunk in shallow water at Scapa Flow.
– Have we in Australia appliances to do that work ?
– It is an international, not a purely Australian, question, and the interpretation of the Washington Treaty by the Admiralty was that the A ustralia could only be sunk in deep water. That being the only course open to us, we made arrangements to sink the vessel in deep water.
– Is there anything in the statement that the vessel is to besunk with £60,000 worth of boilers in her ?
– I am coming to that point. After we had taken off the vessel all that we could get, we invited the governing authorities of the universities and technical schools of Australia to make applications for some of the machinery, realizing that it would be of extreme value to them. Accordingly, a clause was inserted in the contract providing that the successful tenderer should, under the direction of the captain of Garden Island, remove certain portions of the machinery which were mentioned in the schedule to the contract. Our estimate of that cost was £10,000, and we reckoned that we saved £10,000 by getting a contractor to do it. This machinery will be sent to the different universities that have asked for it. Those were the only conditions in the contract. The onus is upon the Government, not upon the contractor, to see that the conditions of the Washington Treaty are observed. The work had to be carried cut by the contractor by 4th February - 17th February was the time allowed by the Government - and the captain at Garden Island supervised the contract. In regard to the fittings or other material left on the vessel I can only say that the Government have no desire to throw money into the sea. Mr. Wright, the original contractor before the syndicate referred to was formed, is a business man of very great experience in salvage work. The syndicate has the right to take anything out of the vessel before she is handed over to be sunk. The contractors have taken out certain of the boilers, and although they had the right to use the machinery at Garden Island for that purpose, they found that it would not pay, them to take out any more machinery. The statement that £62,000 worth of machinery is left in the vessel is absolutely wrong. We have at Cockatoo Island three or four boilers that were taken out of other ships, and we have been unable to sell them at any price. They are old-fashioned, they have nob an automatic feed, and they are practically only of scrap value. Seeing that a number of people who had the right -to take material out of the Australia have declined to do so, because it would not pay them, what is the use of calling again for tenders? Four or five tenders were received, but the firm referred to by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) did not trouble to submit a price. We accepted the highest tender, and,considering the material we have saved for the universities, we have done very much better with the Australia than was done with any vessels scrapped by other Powers.
.- Before this Parliament re-assembles one of the most momentous aeroplane journeys in the history of flight will have been undertaken by Wing-Commander Goble and Flight-Officer McIntyre. The proposed flight of some 9,000 or 10,000 miles, if successfully accomplished, will be one of the greatest aeroplane journeys in history. On behalf of many honorable members on both sides of the House who have spoken to me about the matter, and on my own behalf, I offer these avia tors our best wishes for a successful flight and a safe return. In doing so, I believe I am expressing the sentiments of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and ‘ the’ other members of the Government.
– I am very glad the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) has mentioned this matter. It had been my intention to refer to it to-day, but I think the expression of good wishes to Wing-Commander Goble and FlightOfficer McIntyre comes very much better from a private member than from the Government. I associate myself with all that the honorable member has said, and I am sure that we all hope that the journey will be successful. If so, it will be a very great performance, and it should be the means of gleaning valuable knowledge of the coast-line of Australia, as well as of other matters to be investigated during the flight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 April 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240404_reps_9_106/>.