9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Et. Eon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Visit of the Postmaster-General.
– Will the Prime’ Minister give the House the reason why the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) has been sent to the Postal Conference to be held at Stockholm, in view of the fact that the Conference will be composed of officials of the different countries repre- sei) ted and not of Postmaster-General ? Would it not have been better to send to the Conference some man having a technical knowledge of postal matters?
– It will be within the recollection of the honorable member that at two previous Postal Conferences Australia was represented by a Minister. The present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman), when PostmasterGeneral, attended a Conference of this character. The Government considers that it is desirable that during the consideration of very important questions such as those which will be raised at the Stockholm Conference, the PostmasterGeneral should be present. He will, of course, be accompanied by a technical adviser, who will be in a position to supply any necessary technical information.
-Alleged Infringement. Mr. CV RILEY. - Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to a paragraph in this morning’s Sun News Pictorial dealing with an alleged infringement of the White Australia policy by the influx into the Commonwealth of a considerable number of Chinese students? Is it a fact, as stated, that a large number of Chinese students have been granted permission to enter the Commonwealth? Will the Prime Minister please explain the reason why the Treasurer and himself brought pressure to bear on the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) with the object of preventing the honorable member from ventilating m the House such an urgent matter of public importance?
– The notice-paper is the proper place for the honorable member’s question. It is neither necessary nor desirable that the last part of it should appear on the notice-paper, because the honorable member may be sure that neither the honorable member for New England nor any other member of the House could, in such an instance, be induced to give up any of his privileges by the Leader of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition, or any one else.
Contract versus Day-labour System.
– I wish to make a personal explanation bearing upon certain remarks which I made on the subject of the contract versus the day-labour system. J was reported in the Melbourne Ant of thu 9th May in the following terms: -
Mr. fenton said that owing to the collusion among contractors, many public bodies had lo revert to tho day-labour system. Among these waa the Victorian Metropolitan Board of Works, which has been advised by its experts that the tender prices in many instances were too high, and which had re-adopted the daylabour system to a large extent. These works wore proceeding at a satisfactory rate, and the engineers were more than satisfied with the class of work being done.
Following the. publication of that report, a letter written by a Mr. T. Starr, dated tins 12th May, was published iu the Age of Tuesday of this week. In that letter the writer says -
In Mie House nf Representatives lust Thursday Mr. Fenton, M.l’., in t,is advocacy of dayla bour against contract work alleges collusion among contractors and mentions the Melbourne, mid Metropolitan Board of Works as one of the public bodies that hud to it largo extent adopted the day-labour system. There is no collusion between the Board of Works contractors, and I am sure the Board is satisfied in regard to this matter. Mr. Fenton’s statement is slanderous and untruthful.
The expressions used by Mr. Starr in his letter are so striking and strong us to demand a reply. I propose, therefore, to quote from Ilansard what I really did say. Referring to the day-labour system, I said -
Tho Metropolitan Board of Works approved of this method. The Board consists for the must part of nien representing municipal councils throughout the metropolitan area, and in recent times it has carried out public works involving the expenditure of considerable suras oi money. I believe that on many occasions when tenders have been altogether too high - I do not suggest collusion between contractors - on the advice of its engineers the Board has carried out tho works by day labour, which is now ite recognized system. As tar as I have been able to gather, this is proving most satisfactory. The pace al which work is being carried on is as good, if not better, than under Hie contract system, and the Board’s experts arc thoroughly satisfied with the quality of the work that is being done.
I make this quotation from an uncorrected Ilansard proof, and honorable members will see that I purposely used the words “ I do not suggest collusion between contractors.” Mr. Starr, in hia letter, refers to u particular work undertaken by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, which he says has now been in’ progress for nearly. ..three, yearn, and at-, present not 10 per cent, of the work has been finished. I am informed on the authority of a member of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, and an expert, that the work referred to by Mr. Starr was commenced only in August last, and has therefore not been in progress for three years. I may say that in connexion with this work for which tenders were received amounting to over £100,000, when it was discovered that the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board’ of Works was likely to carry out the work by day labour one contractor was immediately prepared to cut his price down, by no less than £28,000. In the matter of house connexions, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, by adopting the day-labour system, have saved tho ratepayers many thousands of pounds, because when contractors carried out the work considerably more had to be paid for it, I have made this statement in order to correct Mr. Starr, who I understand is o rich contractor. His observations worn very personal, and my statement shows clearly that he, and not I, is the slanderous and untruthful person.
– In view of the fact that the special Committee of soldier members, appointed by the Government to deal with repatriation and pension cases, is to meet at an early date, I should like to know from the Treasurer if tho Committee is to be regarded as a court of appeal.’ and if recommendations made by it will be acted upon by him or the Government?
– The functions of the Committee were fully set out by me on a former occasion. The Committee will have authority to examine the medical history of soldier patients and report to the Repatriation Commission.
– Will the Prime Minister, in the interests of morality and British sentiment, give the House an early opportunity to discuss whether or not restriction to the extent of at least 50 per cent, of present importations shall be placed upon the importation of picture films from America,!
– The honorable member must, of course, know that I am not in a. position to give him any such undertaking, but he will have many opportunities to raise the question and have it fully ventilated. If he does that, the Government will consider what action should be taken .
Formal Motion of Adjournment.
– I have received from the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) an intimation that he proposes to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the prohibition of entry into Australia of persons of German parentage and nationality.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places -
. -There is no occasion for me to apologize for bringing this matter before honorable members. I have waited patiently for eighteen months, ever since this Parliament was elected, in the hope that, as there has been an introduction of fresh blood to the House, and a coalition Ministry has been formed, something would be done to remove this affront to a great nation. If any. apology be needed, it should be made by the Government in this matter. The entry of German nationals is prohibited by section 3ge of the Immigration Act 1920-
For the period of five years after the commencement of this paragraph, and thereafter until the Governor-General by proclamation otherwise determines, any person who in the opinion of an officer is of German, AustroGerman, Bulgarian, or Hungarian parentage and nationality, or is a Turk of the Ottoman race.
The provision was the product of war hysteria. It is on a par with legislation passed in South Australia altering the names of different towns which had sprung up as the result of German settlement. For example, we had a little town called Klemzig. During the war its name was altered to Gaza. Buchfelde was altered to Loos; Rhine Villa was altered to Cambria; Steinfeld was altered to Stonefield. That, of course, was ridiculous. Honorable members will notice that the alterations were made in compliment to other foreign countries, with which it is quite conceivable we may be at war some day. Legislation of this nature may have farreaching effects, so it is high time that we took a sober view of the situation. We are at peace with Germany. Therefore we should treat her people with reasonable respect. I am not foolish enough to endeavour to take honorable members into the higher realm of forgivenesss in national or political matters, butI submit that since we are at peace with Germany we should not continue this affront to her people. We should not place them in the same category, in regard to immigration, as harlots, criminals, idiots, and otherundesirable persons. No other part of the British Empire is treating German nationals in this way, and no part of the British Empire is in greater need of a virile white population than Australia. I am not worrying about the special interests of Germany. I do not want to be misunderstood. I am submitting the motion as an Australian, and as one who has the interests of his country at heart. Critics may ask why I have singled out German nationals in this way. I have done so because I have had long experience of people descended from German settlers, who have proved themselves good citizens. Any remarks I make to-day I desire to support by giving my actual experience. We are attempting to build up a nation. I. believe that it is still true that “ Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people “. Character must be at the very foundation of a nation if it is to be great. I do not argue that the German nation is a nation of righteous people, as I believe in the truth of the Biblical statement that “There is none righteous, no, not one “. I do not make that claim for people of German nationality, but I do say that my experience of them in South Australia is that they are a moral people, who observe the ordinances of their religion as closely as any other people I have met. I have memories of a similar occasion in this House four years ago, when, in 1920, I stood for justice for Australians of German descent who had been oppressed. At that time cries of “The honorable member for Berlin” were shouted at me. Some of the menwho uttered them are not now in this Chamber, but in case any members here consider that I am unduly prejudiced, I shall, as I proceed, back up my statements by quotations from various sources. In fact, I shall do so immediately in respect to the character of these people, the quotation being from a book entitled Early Experiences of Colonial Life, by John Bull, who arrived in South Australia in 1838. , The book was written 40 years, after that date. This is what the writer says -
The arrival pf Pastor Kavel, in the year 1838, with a flock of German Evangelical Lutherans, must not be forgotten as a valuable addition to our population. The influence of Pastor Kavel was very great, his personal exertions, on behalf of his countrymen were untiring, and with a perfect forgetfulness of self, so that he could not fail in establishing a community remarkable for probity and respect for our laws, as the annals of. the Supreme Court bear witness that there has bee.n no single instance in which one of his flock has been convicted of a serious offence.
At a later stage I propose to quote John Fife Angas, who will bear out the statements of John Bull with respect to the character of these people. There are no more law-abiding people in South Australia to-day than the descendants of these German pioneers. Intellect I hold to be the second requisite for nation building. I do not intend, this afternoon, to. give the names of the giants in philosophy, science, music, art, poetry, who have belonged to the German nation. X propose, however, to read from a recent issue of the River Murray Advocate, published at Murray Bridge, in South Australia, an account of a farewell gathering to the headmaster of the Tweedvale State School, Mr. Stone -
He believed he held the record for changes, 40 times since he had been in the Department - not through incompetence) - (Loud voices of “ Never “J but in many cases through relieving other teachers….. He classed the children as equal, if not superior, to any he ever before had under his control.
Two things in connexion, with that statement I desire to emphasize; first, that Mr. Stone had been in 40 schools in South Australia, and, secondly,, that the children, in the Tweedale school ..are certainly SO per cent, of German origin. The third requisite for successful nation building is a patient, persistent, plodding, pioneering spirit, especially in respect to agriculture. In this connexion I desire to quote an extract from an
Adelaide newspaper of 1838, which appears in Edwin Hodder’s George Fife Angas. The writer says -
The industry and quiet perseverance of the German character have been fully developed at Klemzig. Four or five months only have elapsed since the hand of man began there to efface the features of the wilderness, yet nearly 30 houses have been erected, and good and spacious houses some of them are. All are neat, clean, and comfortable. Considering that the season most favorable for gardening has not yet commenced, the number of vegetables which the Germans have at the present moment under culture affords strong proof of their- industry.
In my own district, and in other parts of South Australia, there is evidence of the industry of these people. I know that George Fife Angas was a conservative, hut having read his biography, I am glad that his name attaches to tie district I represent. If any m»n was able to speak of the Germans as colonists, it was he. The following extract is taken from an entry in. his diary for 18’52, when there was. a rush from all parts of Australia to the Victorian gold districts : -
I suffer less, perhaps, than any employer of labour, in consequence of the aid the Germans render mo as farmers, shepherds, sheepshearers, &c. Few of them have left the colony, and as the farmers who rent land from me have the right of pre-emption, they hope to buy their farms in time, and there-
Core stick to the soil with tenacity; while their strong regard for their religion, and attention to its ordinances, tends to depress the desire for gold digging.
When other people, were lured to tho gold-fields, these people patiently and persistently plodded on where they were in the hope that some day they would become the owners of the land upon which they were working. I desire to emphasize this characteristic, because, if we are to populate Australia, it is necessary that a great number of the migrants shall settle on the land. To-day 80’ per cent, of the people of German descent in South’ Australia are in rural districts. In tho metropolitan district of Adelaide, which contains more than half of the population of that State, I know of only two Lutheran churches; but there are dozens of them in the country districts. If the Government has sense enough to remove this prohibition, and will allow the nomination system to work in respect to these people of German nationality, the result will be that the German residents of South Australia will induce numbers of their agricultural friends to migrate te that State, in which case they will bc a decided asset to the community. They will go into the rural districts, just as: runaway. German sailors have done. They will go where they will be understood in their own langauge, and where they will have an opportunity of learning English. They can. do that in the country districts of the State of South Australia. It annoys me to read of a ship’s captain being fined £100 because a young, strong, healthy German sailor has nin away into the Australian bush. In many directions we are spending large sums of money to get immigrants to come to this .country, yet- if one member of the German race desires to settle on the land, and has sufficient initiative to rup away from his ship, we fine the captain £100. This Parliament, and the Government endorse that policy to-day. It is time we woke up to the real significance of what we- are doing. I know of a man who left his ship in 1914. When the war broke out he was interned. 1 make no complaint about the internment, for he was a German subject. I could say something about the internment of Australian subjects of German descent, with which I do not agree. This man was not deported, like some of his compatriots. Recently he came to me and said he wanted to be naturalized. He had acquired some land in the Mallee, and wanted to many. I am thankful to say that the Government gave the necessary permission, and allowed him to become naturalized. He is now well on the way to matrimony. I’ know of another German who came here in 1914. He went into the Mallee and remained there. For some reason lie was not interned. Perhaps he went so far back that the authorities did not find him. He wrote to me recently to ascertain whether he could get permission; for his sweetheart in Germany to come out to him. He left her there in 1914. I am glad to say that the Government agreed that the young woman should be allowed to come here, provided the British Consul would give a .certificate regarding her health, conduct, &c. That is the only case I can quote in which I have successfully tried to get permission from the Government for a person to come from Germany to Australia. A man who left Germany in 1914, battled in the Mallee for ten years, and still remained true to the girl he left behind him, is of the type we want in this country. I hope that he will secure the happiness he deserves. I speak feelingly, because I waited ten years for my wife. That is, perhaps, why I worked with more feeling than I might otherwise have done to see that this man had the opportunity to make the home he wanted and deserved. The fourth requisite for nation-building is courage, particularly courage for the purpose of defence. Some honorable members may say that that is a reason for excluding Germans, but I would remind them that history clearly teaches that the foe of yesterday may become the ally of to-morrow, and tha,t the ally of yesterday may become the foe of to-morrow. If we keep people out for that reason, we shall make’ a great mistake. Whatever may be our opinion of the origin of the war, or whatever nation we may blame for it, we must al! admit that the stand taken by the German people, with foes all round them, was evidence, at any rate, of courage. I believe it would be wise to encourage people of that type to come to this country. It may be that the day will come when we shall thank God for every son of white parents that we have in Australia. I hope that day will not come, but if it should we shall not ask whether a man is a German or an Austrian; if he is of the white race, he will be welcome. The intermingling of the German race with ours is no detriment to us. I make bold to say, although I shall probably be taken to task for it, that for courage the German race is equal to ours, and has proved itself so. The fifth requisite for nation-building is to admit into this country only those races which will blend with ours. I shall not attempt, because my knowledge is too limited, to give a lecture on ethnology; but there are no races in Europe nearer to ours than the German, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish races. No other nations are more likely to blend with ours in building up a strong and virile people.
– The Royal Family proves that.
– I noticed a few months ago that, the Returned Soldiers’ Association of Queensland passed a resolution on this subject. I have tried to obtain the newspaper cutting containing it, but have not been able to find it. , I think the resolution was forwarded to the Government. The text of it was that the association considered it desirable to encourage the entry into Australia of members of the Nordic race. The resolution did not say the “ German i-acc.” But the Nordic race certainly springs from the Germanic race. I do not know what the reasons for the resolution were. They may have been local. Something was said about the people who lived on the shores of the Mediterranean, but the Association made it clear that it preferred members of the Nordic race. I am wondering whether the Association had at the back of its mind the thought that the people most likely to blend with ‘ours in building up a strong nation are the members of the Nordic race. I have given what I consider to be the essentials for nation-building. I could extend the list considerably. There is another point that I would like to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister. The Act to which I refer is causing a misunderstanding in other countries, and in this connexion I wish to quote the opinion of two gentlemen whose views, I know, will be respected. When Mr. McCoy, Director of Education in South Australia, returned from a recent trip abroad he stated that in Sweden and Denmark the opinion was Held, even among intellectual sections of the *people, that they were banned from entry into Australia. I made it my business to have a chat on the telephone with Mr. McCoy before I came to Melbourne this week. He confirmed that statement, and said the opinion prevailed both in Denmark and Sweden. He advised me to refer to M.i Tate, the Director of Education in Victoria, and I did so yesterday. Mr. Tate informed me that he found that the erroneous impression existed in Denmark, and he gave me an account of a conversation he had with a highly placed professor in that country. I quote the conversation from memory. Mr. Tate said, “ I asked him ‘ Is there any surplus of agricultural labour in Denmark?’ The answer was, ‘ Yes, about 3,000 per annum.’ I said ‘Where do they go V and he replied, ‘ Mostly to the United States of America.’ I asked, “‘Why do they not go to Australia?’ and the Professor answered, ‘ You will not let them in.’ “ Mr. Tate explained to him that it was easier for a Dane to get into Australia than it had been for him to get into Denmark. I think he had had trouble over passports. Other nations are competing with us for the cream of the agricultural labour of Europe. It seems to me that because the Act which is on our statute-book applies to the nation which is next door to Denmark, and is a great customer of Sweden, that the- opinion has got abroad in both Denmark and Sweden that the peoples of those countries are shut out of this country. Our competitors for the agricultural labour of northern Europe are encouraging that view to our detriment. On that account I believe that the sooner we repeal the Act the better it will be for Australia. I do not ask that it shall be repealed so that there may be a tremendous influx of these people to Australia, but I ask that the barrier may be removed which is preventing us from obtaining a fair increase of population from the people of these countries, who, in my opinion, are very desirable immigrants. Last year, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) delivered a fine speech in this House, the text of which was a paragraph from the book, The Wanderings of the People, by A. C. Haddon. That paragraph was as follows : -
When reduced to its simplest terms, migration is caused by an expulsion and an attraction, the former nearly always resulting from a dearth of food or from over-population, which practically comes to the same thing.
I invite honorable members to consider that statement. I invite their attention also to a statement made by Professor Gustave Cassel, which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 1st May, 1924. It reads-
If France continues to press her demands upon Germany, 20,000,000 of Germans must migrate or die of starvation, and civilization in Central Europe will consequently crumble.
The Advertiser article also states -
This is the verdict of Gustave Cassel, of Stockholm University, Financial Adviser to the League of Nations, and generally recognized as Europe’s greatest economist.
Professor Cassel bases his statement on the fact that Poland and France have taken from Germany her coal and iron deposits, which were the basis of her heavy industries. Since 1871, Germany has become a great industrial nation, but with her coal and iron deposits taken from her, she cannot continue to maintain such a large population as she has done in the past. It follows, therefore, that there must be much greater migration from Germany or else that the Germans must die. Seeing that we desire white population in Australia, it seems to me that we shall be foolish if we allow to remain blocked the channels through which these people might come to this country. Some honorable members of this Chamber may say that the Labour party does not believe in immigration. I deny that. If the party to which I belong took up the stand that no people of the white race should come into this country under reasonable conditions, and in reasonable numbers, I should be one of the first to oppose its policy, and I would be quite willing to take the consequences. I know that we must have an increased white population. I believe that the races to which I have referred are the best outside the British Isles that we can get to come to Australia. Speaking as an Australian. I implore the Australian Government to remove this affront to a great nation, and to open those channels which have been too long blocked by the bigotry, panic and hysteria which followed on that period of war, born of hell, which is now behind us.
– The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) has directed the attention of the House to a question of great moment to Australia. The attitude of this country towards the German people must most seriously concern us in the near future. Does the honorable gentleman think that the whole of the restrictions at present operative should be removed immediately, and that the German people should at once be placed on exactly the same footing as they had before the war ?
– I believe that the nomination system of immigration should be permitted.
– I take it then that he believes that the nomination system which applies to the people of Great Britain should be permitted to apply also to the German people.
– I am not quite clear whether the honorable member for Angas thinks that at no time after the war should any restrictions have been imposedupon the immigration of Germans to Australia, but I shall not ask him to indicate his views upon that subject. This House must consider this question in all its aspects. I do not think that a single member will dispute the honorable gentleman’s contention that we desire to receive into Australia all persons of any white race which has as good a record as the German people had before the war. Any healthy, industrious, thrifty people of the white race should certainly be welcomed to this country. Honorable members must recollect, however, that the circumstances surrounding the re-admission of the Germans to Australia are complicated and difficult. Some five years ago we were engaged in a life and death struggle with the German people. During the war much feeling was engendered against those with whom we were engaged in hostile operations. Many episodes occurred which inevitably intensified the bitter feelings of the people of Australia. After the war, this Parliament deliberately placed upon the statute-book a measure which excluded Germans from Australia for a period of five years. All honorable members will agree that, in fairness to our own people, and in recognition of the sentiments and feelings of the nation which we represent, some such action as that had to be taken. The war ended some years ago, and we have experienced a change of feeling in many directions. Australia has resumed her trade with Germany, and we have in this country to-day a representative of the German people in the person of their consul. The Government recognize, and so do I, as fully as any one, that the atmosphere has changed during the years that have passed. Although we cannot dissociate the German people from many things that were done during the war, we recognize now that the war was caused by the governing classes of that nation. The German people supported the actions of their Government because of the spirit that had been engendered in them for a considerable time before the outbreak of hostilities. I believe it is now the wish of the Australian people that the war experiences should be completely forgotten; and, as a new spirit grows in Germany, and as new ideals inspire the German people, the feelings which have existed should entirely disappear. But we have to. determine the time and the manner in which normal relations shall be restored. This Parliament determined that during a period of five years during the immigration of ex-enemy nationals should be restricted, but the law does not absolutely prohibit the entry of Germans into the Commonwealth. The Minister has power to admit Germans, and he has exercised that power liberally. He is constantly receiving applications from Germans for permission to enter the Commonwealth, and very many of them are being granted. Some o»f them have to be referred to the Cabinet for final determination, but the spirit of the administration is that such applications shall be granted in the absence of any- special reason to- the contrary. All the circumstances of each case have to be considered. An application might be received from a German who throughout the war fought against Australian soldiers. In such a case we could not disregard the sentiments of our people. Let honorable members consider the feelings of a mother who lost three, four, and possibly five sons at the hands of the German people. lt would be a little inconsiderate to bereaved relatives of soldiers if we were to admit freely to Australia men who had fought against our men throughout the war. However, time has a softening influence, and as the years go by, the bitterness t.Kat arose out of the great world struggle will diminish. The Government considers that the statutory limitation should continue for the full period of five years, so that the bitter feelings which existed at the conclusion of the war may be softened. The restriction will operate only until next year.
– The provision is that the restriction, shall operate for five years and thereafter, unless Cabinet otherwise decides.
– The statutory period is for five years “ and thereafter until the Governor-General by proclamation otherwise determines.” When the five years has expired it will be opportune for Parliament to review the restriction. At the present time the Act is being administered as sympathetically as possible. Germans ave being admitted into the country. Many young men who have desired to bring their fancies from Germany have been permitted to do so. Whole families of Germans have been allowed to enter the Commonwealth, and, generally speaking, the permissive power of the Minister is exercised very liberally.
– What about Australian women in Germany who are not allowed to return to Australia?
– If honorable members are aware of individual cases of hardship the Government will sympathetically consider any representations they may make. We believe it to be essential that some time should .elapse before the free flow of the nationals of ex-enemy nations into Australia should be allowed. The Government does not subscribe to the sentiment that because Australia was once at war with the Germans our hostility to them should continue for all time. But I ask honorable members to- consider not only the claim of the German who wishes to> enter the Commonwealth, but also the natural feelings of our own people. This is not the proper time to .decide this question. Allow the healing influence of time to operate and to smooth over the present difficulties,- and then, reviewing the statute in a calmer spirit, we shall achieve much more than we now can when the embers of hatred are still alive. There are people who hold extreme views on both sides of this question, and a- discussion of it at this -stage will do very little to achieve what we all desire, namely, that -as soon as possible the .war and the hatreds it engendered shall be forgotten.
.- I support the mot-ion, and commend the honorable member for Angas for having submitted it. I expected to hear the Prime Minister promise that the Government would introduce an amendment oi the Immigration Act, to achieve- what the honorable member -for Angas suggested, and I still hope that the Minister for Home and Territories will appreciate the justice of the claim which has been made, and .recommend the removal of a very unnecessary embargo upon German immigrants. Although the Prime Minister says that the Act provides for the restriction of German .immigration for a period of only five years, I take an entirely different view of the provision dealing with the matter. Paragraph rye of section 3 of the Act says -
The period of five years after the commencement of this paragraph, and thereafter until the Governor-General, by proclamation, or otherwise determines, any person who, in the opinion of an officer, is of German, AustroGerman, ‘Bulgarian or Hungarian parentage and nationality- and so on. In my opinion, by the use of the word “otherwise,” the paragraph may be continued in operation after the period of five years has elapsed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) says that the war should be forgotten and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and I say the same thing. It terminated in 1918, and we should not keep up the war spirit until 1925. I remind honorable members that a Treaty of Peace was signed with- Germany, and was ratified by this House in 1922. Are wc, notwithstanding, to say to the people of Germany “ We are not prepared to allow you, with whom wc have concluded a Treaty of Peace, to come to our shores.” Many of those who would come to Australia fl:om. Germany now, if they had the opportunity, would not be persons who actively participated in the war. There are many young, men, now about 20 years of agc] who were too young to take part in the war, who would be glad to come to Australia. We were told that the war was to be a war to end war, to ensure the freedom of our people, the protection of small nations, and many other things, and just in the same way Germans who actively participated in the war were told by those responsible for it, and who conscripted their services, that the course followed by Germany was right. They were at least loyal- to their own country, and1 though they participated in the war, they did nothing to bring it about. The Prime Minister said that a. large number of Germans have come to Australia since the termination of the war. Only a few days ago, in answer to a question I put to the right honorable gentleman as to the number of immigrants who have come to Australia since the wax, and their nationality, I was informed that since 1920 only 407 people of German nationality have come to this country. These people came here largely for business reasons. Honorable members will no doubt be interested to learn the numbers of immigrants of other nationalities who have come to this country since 1920. According to the figures supplied1, in answer to my question, I find that since that year, 1,783 Greeks, 7,015 Italians, 593 Russians, 1,776 Scandinavians, 568 Swiss, aud’ 1,472 Dutch immigrants have come to this country. Only 407 Germans have been admitted to Australia in five years, and yet the Prime -Minister has said that the- Act has been administered in a liberal, spirit. I have said that the Germans admitted came here for business reasons, and not as immigrants. I wish honorable members to recognize that the immigrants of the other nationalities to which I have referred, as u rule carry on business here for a limited time, and having made some money return to their own countries. That doo* not apply to the German immigrants who came to Australia in the past. They have settled here permanently, and have been good citizens of this country. When the people of the other nationalities mentioned have made a certain amount of money in. Australia they can be persons of independent means in their own country, because of the conditions existing there. The Prime Minister has, on many occasions, emphasized the fact that what Australia requires is immigrants who will settle on the land and become producers. That has been the contention of many honorable members on the other side. I find that in the last report of thiMidland Railway Company of Western Australia, the chairman, referring to tho class of immigrants we require, said -
One thing must be borne in mind. What Australia has to offer is the opportunity of occupation on the land. While there is room and to spare, the real opening and inducement is for men and boys who are prepared to work on farms, even if inexperienced, and foc women experienced in household duties.
If the chairman of that company had bec-n advocating the immigration of German people, he could not better have described the qualifications of those whom we might expect to come from that country. Judging by the experience of the past, the Germans who will come here if the restriction upon their immigration is removed will be of the class he refers to. As the honorable member for Angas has said, the German people arc more like ourselves than are the people of other race?. In the district which I represent there arc many towns and. villages of which a large number of the residents are Germans. The farms occupied by Germans are ideal farms, and it should be remembered that German people were the first to go to many of the. districts in which they at present reside. They did the pioneering work in places to which other people were not prepared to go. Many of the farmers on Eyre’s Peninsula are Germans, and a>r» doing exceptionally well because of their great industry. They have proved ideal settlers and farmers, and the great majority of them have been loyal to Australia. I think that we might very well remove the restriction upon the immigration of people such as. these. Professor Cassel has said that the position in Germany to-day is such that a majority of the German people must starve or migrate. Are we going to say to these people that we shall prevent them coming to Australia, and, so far as we are concerned, they may starve in Germany, although we have signed a treaty of peace with their country ? Conditions were not normal when this restriction upon German immigration was proposed; I remind honorable members that it was said by- those responsible for the restriction that we would not in future trade with Germany. While supporters of the Government may be prepared to exclude Germans from Australia, the fact remains that we are to-day trading with that country. The Commonwealth Statistician, in his report dealing with exports, says -
The following tables show a decrease in proportion of Australian exports to the United Kingdom. This was not entirely due to tho relatively smaller purchases of Australian produce by the United Kingdom, but was in some measure the effect of an increasing tendency towards direct shipment of wool, skins, &c, to the consuming countries - notably to Belgium, France, and Germany - instead of distributing the trade through London.
Dealing with imports, I find that in 1917-18 we imported from Germany goods to the value of £18,055, and in 1921-22 the figures had increased to £85,976. Referring to exports., I find that in 1917-18 we exported nothing to Germany, In 1918-19 the value of our exports to that country was £1,608. In 1919-20 it was £16,520. In 1920-21 the value of our exports to Germany had increased to £1,457,199, and in 1921-22 it was £4,003,726. Whilst honorable members are not prepared to allow Germans to come to Australia, they are prepared to accept them as customers for our exports. It should be borne in mind, as the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, that our enemies of to-day may be our allies of to-morrow. In the Napoleonic wars we were with Germany against France. In the Crimean war we were with France against Russia. In the last war we were with France and Russia against one of our former allies. It may be possible that on some future occasion Germany will be an ally of Great Britain. The war has ended, and we have signed a definite peace with Germany. Let us honour that peace, remove tho restriction upon the immigration of Germans, and give them the same right to come to this country as we give to the people of other nationalities.
– I wish to say a few words in support of tile motion moved- by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) in favour of removing the present embargo which prevents persons of German parentage and nationality from entering Australia. I had hopes that there would be very little difficulty in carrying it. The Prime Minister stated very definitely that it is highly desirable that as soon as possible the war should be forgotten. In that statement he gives the very best possible reason for the removal of the restriction upon the immigration of Germans. The way in which to keep alive the spirit of war and hatred in Australia against the German people is to permit this restriction to remain upon the statute-book. If the Prime Minister were serious in all that he said this afternoon he should bo consistent and agree to the repeal of the provision. This blot on our legislation should not be allowed to remain any longer. Australia is practically the only country amongst the allies engaged in thelate war that has allowed legislation of this nature to remain on its statute-book. In Great Britain, I understand, the embargo was proposed for three years, and since honorable members supporting the Government have always expressed approval of British precedent, and a desire to follow slavishly the lead given by Great Britain - at all events, until recently - I suggest that we might very well do so in this instance. The Government would be well advised to follow the lead given by the Mother Country. Throughout her history Great Britain has shown an inclination to treat her former enemies generously. Witness her attitude towards the Boers after the war in South Africa. General Smuts, one of the most successful of the Boer leaders, has long since been admitted to the counsels of the Empire concerning Imperial problems. His advice is much sought after. Great Britain’s policy towards her former enemies is the direct antithesis of the policy of this Government. The lion- orable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) has just quoted significant figures showing the increase in German trade with Australia. If, in the interests of our primary and secondary industries, wo :i re prepared to trade with Germany, we should not allow this ban on her nationals to remain on our statutebook. The position is illogical. I remind honorable members also that, when the wool industry in Australia was in a very precarious position just about the time the Government here was placing this embargo on the German people, our low-grade wools were offered for sale to the Central European powers, and owing to strong competition from Germany the wool market was stabilized, to the great advantage of Australian wool-growers. I also direct attention to what has happened in Prance, which, since the war, has been pursuing a vendetta against the German people. The Government responsible for that vendetta has been practically wiped out at the ballot-box. The people of Prance, when they had an opportunity, clearly indicated that they wanted to forget the war, and to return to normal trade relations with their former enemies.
– The militarists have gone down before the will of the people.
– Yes; and the Prime Minister, in a speech this afternoon, indicated that he believed that the spirit of militarism is dying out amongst the nations. Yet he will do nothing to help kill ft.
– Iu the recent German elections the military party considerably increased its strength.
– That expression of opinion by the German people was probably prompted by Prance’s policy of hate.
– In any case, the militarists in Germany were beaten, and are in the minority.
– Certainly; but they have increased their strength.
– In the French elections, at all events, the militarist party were decisively defeated. The people have made it plain that they want to return to normal conditions. This legislation, unfortunately, will do more than anything else to keep alive the spirit of hatred between Germany and
Australia. We on this side of the House are not alone in our views concerning the value of German nationals as citizens. A. former Premier of New South Wales and a member of the party to which my honorable friends opposite belong, stated, prior to the wai-, that he looked upon the German settlers as most useful citizens of the Commonwealth. German settlers furnish a valuable object lesson as to. the manner in which farm work should be done.
– Do you suggest that the Act should be repealed, and German nationals admitted as freely as the nationals of other European countries?
– I suggest that German nationals’ should be placed in the same position as the people of other white races. In regard to land settlement, I would give first preference to Australian citizens who are willing and able to go up on the land, but after they had been provided for, there should be an opportunity for approved white settlers of other races. Who can say what may happen in the future ? We all know the possibilities, and therefore we should not close our doors to the people of desirable white nations. They should be encouraged to take up their position as citizens of this country, and share with us in its obligations. It is unfortunate that members of the Nationalist and Country parties cannot see the wisdom of doing what Great Britain has done in this matter. The people of Australia want to get rid of the war spirit. They want to get back to sanity. The Prime Minister has reminded us that parents of sons who fought in the war may take a different point of view on this subject. I submit that those parents are not unmindful of the possibilites of the future, and our greatest future safeguard against aggression is the peopling of this country by the” white races. It is folly to continue this embargo against people who may be most valuable allies in the future. We should not keep our doors closed against them any longer.
.- I am rather surprised at the interest taken by honorable members opposite in the Germans.
– Li Australia.
– Did any honorable member opposite lose a brother during the last war? Would they like to have amongst them the man who killed a brother? I do not believe in this motion. There is no maudlin sentiment about me. I remember that we ‘lost 60,000 of the beat of our manhood during the war, and that the Germans did not fight fairly. They sank the Lusitania; they murdered Captain Fryatt after a trial that was a travesty of justice. They also (murdered Nurse Cavell. Notwithstanding this, certain people in Australia are trying to boost the Germans, and are prepared to allow them to enter Australia again. I .do not want to see them for generations. As a matter of fact, I never want to see them in Australia.
– But you are using their soap.
– I use nothing from Germany. If I had my way, I would use the sjambok on them and keep them out. “We do not want them here. Once a German, always a German..
– Are you speaking foi- the Country party*
– I am speaking for myself. I do not want to see these people in this country. I would like to see the provisions and the Act renewed foi- another 50 years, or more. During the war we lost 60,000 of the flower of Australia in addition to incurring a debt of £400,000,000 for fighting these blighters. There was no fun in it. Shame on the men who advocate their cause !
.- This question is one which should be approached by honorable members calmly and without prejudice. This Parliament stands for a fair deal to all, and its members have, or should have, the necessary ability and judgment to decide a matter of this nature. Great Britain was more involved in the war than we were.. Yet the British Parliament did not place the ban upon the people of the German race that has been placed upon them by this Parliament. Germans are gwen full freedom to enter England. Some people will say that a man who has the courage to suggest that people of German descent should be admitted to Ai>stralia is biased in favour of the Germains, but that is altogether an erroneous deduction to draw. We are not discussing the merits or the demerits of the late war; neither its causes nor its aftermath is before us. We are asked to consider whether it is fair and reasonable for this barrier to be maintained amy longer against the relatives of people who have, in many cases, been .residents of Australia for the last 30 years. Many of these people were pioneers in this country more than a generation ago, and had nothing whatever to do- with the junkerism and militarism of Germany in 1913 and 1914. Honorable members on both , sides know that the great majority of the requests which they have received from residents of Australia for permission to bring out their relatives have been from farmers of 25 to 30 years’ residence in Australia. In many cases their requests for permits have been made in respect of a younger brother or sister, or, in some cases, a sweetheart. Tn parts of Germany to-day there is great privation, and indeed starvation. Many of the young men of 21 or 22 yeaTS of age, who it is desired should be ‘permitted to enter Australia, had not even a vote in 1914. I agree with the ‘honorable member for Hume (Mr. Par kei- Moloney’) that the sons df Australian farmers should be our first consideration, but after they have been placed on the land we should consider people from other countries. We all welcome a, flow of immigration of the right sort from the British Isles, buwe on this side maintain that the nomination system should also be applied to people from Germany, whose relatives in Australia, are prepared to guarantee them an occupation a/nd a living, if brought out. It has been well said that the victor can afford to be generous to the vanquished. The Parliament of Great Britain has recognized, the wisdom of that, and has said that there is no necessity to continue the vendetta against the Germans. The people of Australia have no objection to trading with Germany. The Right Hon. W. M. Hughes, who, when Prime Minister, said we should never again trade with Germany, was induced to introduce a Bill to enable trade to be re-established with that country. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey; informed us that last year the value of out exports to Germany totalled over £4,003,000. Our wool and wheat are sold to the Germans, although, probably, much of it does not go direct: and we experience no difficulty in Australia in purchasing pianos, motor cars, and sundry other wares of German manufacture If the people of Germany .are good enough to trade with, why should we place a ban on them that England does not consider necessary ? The. honorable member for Hume referred to the magnanimous treatment meted out to the Boers in South Africa by Great Britain. Those people were entrusted with the right of self-government as a British Dominion, and they responded nobly to that generous consideration. To-day, “ General Smuts is looked upon as one of Great Britain’s most -loyal friends, and he ranks high among the statesmen of the. Dominions. As one who has travelled through the German settlements of Queensland - Milman, Ambrose, Baffle Creek, and Mount Larcom, I support the views expressed by the Brisbane Courier, one of the most conservative newspapers in Australia, in respect to the valuable pioneering work done by Germans in that State. In its issue of the 7th February, T’924, the Courier has the following article :–
As one tops the ridge leading into Hatton Ville a charming scene presents itself - a scene which reminds ohe of rural pictures of the Old Land. Surrounded by ft grove of trees, bunya pines, firs, topped brigalows (which make a beautiful ornamental tree), cabbage palms, almonds, pepperinas, poincianas, golden wattle, and other flowering trees, stands the German Apostolic Church. Through the foliage arose Iiic spire and turrets of- the church. Surely an artist designed the plan and a lover of Nature carried out the work.
The history of the settlement, as related by the son of one of the pioneers, is a record of perseverance and hard work. Thirty-seven years ago the tract was covered with brigalow scrub. The land - a light sandy soil - is not comparable with Ure black soil ‘flats for fertility, though it has proved good dairying country and excellent for the growing of broom millet. A few years earlier a few German settlers had been placed ou the land at Summerhills, in the ranges, about 3 miles from Grandchester. They had made homes there by dint nf hard work, but the distance from water - the nearest wit’s at Grandchester - and the steepness of the hills impelled them to look for a better site. In consequence the late Mr Neimeyer, who was the first settler on Summerhills, and who evidently had great influence with his countrymen, decided to try the Hatton Vale scrub. Again the work of pioneering was taken up, but the advantage of the experience already gained obviated many of the hardships of the first settlement. Others quickly followed, and the scrub rapidly disappeared before the axe and firestick.
A name that is well known in the district is that of Zischke. Mr. F. Zischke died some few years ago and left nine sons, all of whom are married and settled within a few miles of Hatton Vale. Councillor A. Schlct, oP the Laidley Shire, is another of the old pioneers of the locality. Mr. F. Born, who died some four years ago, endeared himself to the little community, and every one to whom the writer spoke mentioned his name in terms of affectional remembrance.
Some of the stories told of the hardships of the early days ‘are hardly comprehensible in these times of State assistance. One is that a man, his wife, and four little children were landed <m the edge of the scrub at Summerhills with a few sheets of iron, and some flour, tea, sugar, and a few tools. The iron was put. up as a lean-to until a hut was built, and at dawn, after the first night, they were stricken with horror at the laugh of the jackass, thinking the blacks were upon them. They carried water from Grandchester up the range to Summerhill, some § miles, in two finns on a yoke. The scrub was cleared, and the first crop of com planted; hut, as soon as it was up, it attracted every wallaby vithin miles, and was destroyed. Palings were split arid carried np steep hills along the line of fence to protect the little bit of cultivation…- Th’e pioneers were hardy and industrious, and deserve all the success they attained.
That is representative of all the German settlements in Queensland. In many cases these German pioneers pitched their tents on the side of the road, and hewed their farms out of the scrub. They have Wilt up valuable properties by sheer hard work. They played no part whatever in the great war. Had they been in Germany in 1914 they could not have influenced that nation against militarism. Many of them’ were induced to come out to Queensland in 1906, when the then Queensland Government authorized Mr. Neimeyer to bring out a number of German settlers. He was able to induce. 75 people to migrate to Queensland, and he kept, and fed them for six weeks, until they eventually settled down at Baffle Creek. To-day they are excellent citizens. In those days there was very little Government assistance, and those settlers had to endure many privations. But they won through because of their sheer determination to succeed. They are the type of people who now desire to bring out their relatives to take up the land first occupied by some who have now passed into the Great Beyond. In this matter honorable members on this side are not taking sides with Germany against Australia, or with Germany against England. We simply contend that, the war being over, it should be forgotten, and that all prejudice, bitterness, mid hatred should pass. During the last four or five years 400 commercial men have been admitted to Australia from Germany to carry on business in this country. We ask that no distinction should be made between them and Germans who are desirous of settling on the land. Requests have been made to the Government by some of the Germans in Australia for the admission to Australia of the Rev. 0. A. Bruckner, head of the Apostolic Church in Germany. Throughout the country there are thousands of adherents of that church, but the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), in a letter dated the 17th March last, stated that he was unable to see his way to vary the previous decision in this case. He added, “ It may be mentioned that my reasons for this action are substantial, but cannot be given.” I believe that; the reasons should be stated, or the man admitted. “We members on this side are all of British stock and are proud of the fact; but, nevertheless, we stand for a fair deal for people of all nationalities. Australians are essentially sports, and we claim to be representative of the people of this country. We ask for fair treatment. In making this request we are asking for no more than the British Parliament has been prepared to give to all those of German birth.
– I support the motion moved by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). Australia is the only country in the world to prohibit the entry of Germans into its territory. In the first year after the cessation of hostilities between tho nations more than 12,000 Germans were permitted to enter England, and no objection was taken. It is one of the proud traditions of the British race that we are always prepared to shake hands and make friends with those with whom we have quarrelled, and as one who loves peace, and is prepared at all times to extend tho hand of friendship towards the man or the people with whom I have quarrelled, I support the motion. Not only does the present restriction on the admission of Germans to Australia impose a hardship on people now in this country who desire to bring out their relatives, but we also prohibit the publication of their church journal, which is printed in the German language. There are many old German people in this country who cannot read English, and they wish to have their little church paper printed in the German language so that they may read it and comfort themselves with it. We do not allow them to do so, and I regard that- as a hardship on them. We ought to agree, here and now, to abolish that restriction, even if the Government cannot see its way to remove the prohibition upon the entry of Germans into this country. Is there any sense in continuing the blockade against the Germans in this country and preventing them from bringing their relatives out from Germany”? The British Parliament offers no objection to Germans entering Great Britain. It cannot be denied that Lord Milner, who was of German birth, and was educated in Germany, was a member of the British Parliament and the British Ministry during the war. Although the British Parliament admits into the Ministry a German-born gentleman, who was educated in Germany, this Parliament refuses to allow Germans to come to Australia six years after hostilities have ceased. Sir John Monash, who has charge of the great electricity works at Morwell, Victoria, had no hesitation in sending to Germany when he required experts to supervise the erection of. the briquetting plant. Those men are now here.
– Their wives and families were allowed to come here, too.
– There is a German Consul here. He has been here for six or eight months. We are trading with Germany. We .ask them to buy our wool, our wheat, and our butter, and we buy their manufactures. The Prime Minister said we could only wipe out the feeling of hatred in a long period of years. If the principle of admitting Germans into this country is wrong to-day it will not bp less wrong in 1925. I am Australian born, and am as good a Britisher as the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt), who made such a bitter and hostile speech. I can imagine how he would perform in time of war. No one can deny that the German population of South Australia and Victoria comprises the best pioneers we have had in this land. They understand the scientific treatment of the soil, and are splendid men in handling stock. They also make excellent citizens. A smaller percentage of Germans than of any other race in this country are brought before the police and law Courts. We allow Hindoos, Maltese, and almost any nationality that can be mentioned, except Germans, to take up land. The Hindoos are strongly entrenched near Swan Hill, but when the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) asks for a small measure of justice for Germans who desire, at their own expense, to bring their friends here from Germany, the honorable member for Darwin says, “ No, I would prohibit them for all time, or for 50 years at least.” The honorable gentleman cannot have read much history. The Germans fought with us - and fought well, too’ - at the battle of Waterloo. They helped us on that occasion, and the day may come when they will again fight side by side with us. I hope that neither Great Britain, Australia, nor any other country will ever be involved in war again. I belong to a party that stands for endeavouring, at any rate, to bring about universal peace. We ought at this stage, after the lapse of six years since the ending of the war, to do something to heal its wounds and forget the past. Australia oan afford to be generous. We can afford, if necessary, to take the lead in this matter. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we are following behind. I do not blame the present Government. The honorable member who was responsible for the malicious Act against which we are protesting was the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes).
– The present Government is perpetuating the Act.
– That is so, but like the ex-Prime Minister, they may see the light eventually. I hope the Government will take a lenient and humane view of the matter, and realize that no good can come from harsh restrictions against people who belong to one of the great white nations of the world, which has made great strides in the world’s history, and has been a leader in science, agriculture, and art. The Germans have been in the van nearly all the time, and we can now afford to say to them, “ The war has been over nearly six years, and, whatever our quarrels may have been, we are willing, as other nations have done, to shake hands with you.”
– As for my experience of the operation of this provision for restricting the admission of Germans into Australia, I have, on one occasion only, forwarded an application by one of my constituents for the admission of a German. He applied for one> of his parents and his brother to be admitted to Australia. The Minister for Home and
Territories (Senator Pearce) dealt with the matter with great expedition. He gave unconditional permission for the parent to be brought out to Australia, but in the case of the brother he stipulated - as appeared to me to be proper and prudent - that he should be admitted only if he could give satisfactory evidence that he was not engaged against us in the Great War. Any one who served in that war probably looks at this matter differently from those who did not engage in the fighting. One who wa3 actually in the field for three or four years cannot look at the subject from the unbiased view-point of the man who has not seen his companions shot down and wounded beside him. My mind goes back to the case of a boy I knew. He was, I think, nineteen years of age. He was actually at the Front for about six months. In that, time he was wounded twice, gassed once, and then killed. It is difficult to get rid of the feelings engendered by such experiences. Yet 1 am sure that the general attitude of Australians is that we do not want to perpetuate bitterness. For my part, I draw a very definite distinction between Australians of German descent and Germans proper. For the Australian of German descent, when he is a loyal man, I have the greatest admiration. We know that in some instances these men have expressed sentiments which have not been loyal: with them I personally do not wish to have anything to do, although I still regard them as Australians; but for those who must have been torn by conflicting sentiments, and came forward and fought as Australians in the war, I have the greatest admiration. I am glad of this opportunity, which is the first I have had, of paying my small tribute to the magnificent services they rendered to this country. But to say that, because certain men of German descent fought magnificently for us during the war, we should throw our country open to’ every German who desires to come here, whether he was our enemy in the field for three or four years or not, seems to me to be pushing the matter too- far. I see no reason why, because we are trading with this nation, we should invite Germans to. come within ou r portals. The two things are entirely distinct. Ordinarily you do not invite a man with whom you do business to come into your private house, and personally I stand by the Act of the ex-Prime Minister in that regard. I do not agree with everything, he did., butin that respect I am solidly behind him. The Act was a good Act. The Germans have shown no readiness to apologize, have shown no sense of responsibility or culpability for the war, and, as far as I can see, have made no attempt to pay off the indemnity imposed upon them by the Peace Treaty. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) says, “ Let us honour the peace:.” Have the Germans honoured the peace? Have they done anything to make it right for us to say to them, “ Come within our house and we will make you free of. it “ ?
– Has France done anything to “ honour the peace “ ?
– I say nothing as to that. But we are discussing the conduct, nob of Franco, but of Germany, and I shall not be drawn away from the subject by interjections of that kind.
– Why should we go further than Great. Britain ?
– We are dealing with this matter as the Parliament of Australia. I know that on a recent occasion the Opposition became practically the re-echo of the British Parliament, but we are now dealing with the circumstances of a case, as it appeal’s to us, on their merits. I am dealing with them as an individual, and giving my personal opinion. For that opinion, and that opinion only, I am responsible. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) wishes to compare everything we do here with what is done in the British Parliament. I am afraid he will not always find me in agreement with him.
– We do not prohibit trading with persons debarred from entering this country under the White Australia policy.
Debate interrupted wider standing order 119.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow 1and 2 Yes. Memorandum of agreement is now being prepared.
asked the Minister for Works, and Railways,, upon notice -
– The answers, to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Negotiations have been finalized, anda memorandum of agreement is in course of preparation. 2. (a.) Commonwealth, one-fifth plus the sum of the amounts which the States of Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, would have contributed had they been contributors.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
“Economic and Commercial Development
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as f follow : -
Mr. MAHONY (for Mr. M,u:xs’ asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice - 1’. Is it a fact that the boilers of H.M.A.S. Melbourne are unfit for further use?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House a return showing what ratings of the Naval and Military Forces, if- any, are supplied with railway passes to their homes and return when on leave?
– Free railway passes are provided as follows : -
Navy. - To boy3 and ratings under eighteen years of age proceeding to their homes whilst on Christmas leave, and to hoys from training ship on final leave. To officers and men of the Sea-going Forces given Christmas leave at Sydney, passes are issued in respect of th.it portion of the journey beyond Brisbane to their homes, and to those granted leave at Melbourne in respect of that portion of the journey beyond Adelaide. To Cadets at Royal Australian Naval College when proceeding on leave to their homes during vacations. Passes are also granted under certain conditions to members proceeding to complete unexpired leave after having been recalled.
Military. - To Cadets at Royal Military College when on leave between spring and autumn terms.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Has anything been done in connexion with his promise to a deputation that investigations would be made in the matter of the buffalofly pest in the north and north-west of Australia 7
– On the 11th January last, the Commonwealth Government offered to provide a sum of £1,000 per annum for three years, on the condition that the Western Australian Governmentcontributed a similar sum. The Western Australian Government has not yet replied definitely. A further letter on the matter asking for a definite reply has been sent to the Premier, Western Australia.
Value OF Saleable Material - Cost of Transferred Guns.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the contractors for dismantling H.M.A.S. Australia recovered considerably over £100,000 worth of saleable material ?
– I have no knowledge of the commercial value of the fittings removed by the contractors from the Australia.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mail and Passenger Service - Spending Power of Deputy PostmasterGeneral.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In view of the delay and uncertainty in the delivery of mails and arrival of passengers in Tasmania by the River Tamar, will he arrange for Burnie to be the first port of call from the mainland?
– The Postmaster-General sees no reason for disturbing the existing arrangement.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - 1.Whether it is a fact that the Deputy Post- mastor-General of Tasmania has, under regulations, authority to spend up to only £5?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Removal of Names - Prosecutions
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What amount was spent last year by the Electoral Department in each Federal electorate in Victoria for -
How many persons have been prosecuted in Victoria during the past year for failure to enrol or to notify change of address?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as practicable.
Darwin Wharf - Unemployment - Katherine River Bridge - Poison Weed on Stock Routes - New Stock Routes.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Veterinary Officer of the Northern Territory, and trial experiments will be made by driving a small mob of cattle through the infected area. The services of Professor Ewart have been secured for a period of three months for the purposes of these investigations. 2 and 3. Definite particulars have not yet been received as to the actual number of faith; lost on the stock route referred to.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– Nothing is known of any action being taken in the direction indicated by the honorable member’s question. It is anticipated that tenders will shortly be called for the erection of a new building.
Agreement with Ellerman and Buck- nall steamship Company-cost ok “ Bay “ Steamers.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I shall have inquiries made from the Commonwealth Shipping Board, and advise the honorable member of the result.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mi-. BRUCE.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– Action is awaiting the receipt of report of the Public Works Committee.
asked the Prime Minister, upon ‘notice -
Whether ho will ascertain the cost of the general manager’s motor garage, Cockatoo Island, by causing an examination to he made of the job cards headed “ G.M.’s Motor Garage “ - the total cost of same being charged up to a standing job number for offices and buildings ?
– I shall have further inquiries made regarding this matter, and advise the honorable member of the result as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What are tho intentions of the Government regarding the 12 acres of land held by the Department adjoining Sturt-street West, Ballarat?
– It has been approved, subject to the concurrence of the Department of Home and Territories, that the Sturt-street frontage of this area be sold. The remainder of the area will be reserved for future defence use, as a site for a drill hall and parade-ground.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
An allowance of 3 guineas per day while mi land, and 30s. per clay while at sca, has been granted to all Australian delegates to the next International Labour Conference.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - - ] . Whether ho has any report of the proceedings of the Conference held in Sydney recently in connexion with wireless and broadcasting?
Will he lay any papers in connexion with the same on the table of tho House?
– The answers to tho honorable member’s ques tions are as follow: -
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That leave of absence for three months be given to the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) on the ground of urgent public business, and for one month to the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) on the ground of ill-health.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following papers were presented : - Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial vear 1923-24- Dated 7th May. 1924.
Electoral Act and Eefcrenilu.ni (Constitution Alteration) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 19.24, No. 09.
Public Service Act - Appointment of W. S. Cook, Department of Works and Railways.
Radio-Broadcasting - Amendment of Wireless ‘Regulations - Report of Conference, held in Sydney, between tho Secretary of the Postmaster-General’s Department and representatives of Australian Broadcasting Companies, and of the Association for the Development of Wireless in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
. - I move-
That, in the opinion of this House, in view of the economic and financial position of the Commonwealth, and especially in relation to overseas exchange and credits., the Government should immediately initiate a policy calculated to rectify conditions which are penalizing our export trade and frustrating the beneficial effects intended to be produced by the National policy of Tariff Protection.
Shortly before the recent adjournment of this House I had the temerity to place before honorable members the views I hold with regard to some phases of the economic position of the Commonwealth. Since then I have been much interested in the many communications I have received, and the many comments that have been made in the press, upon the subject. Many different points of view have been published, but it is fully evident that there is a considerable body of public opinion throughout the Commonwealth - especially amongst those who have professed to have studied the subject - which holds that many phases of our internal -and external finance are unsound. Some anonymous press correspondents have done their best to cloud the issues, but I desire to again encroach upon the time of this Parliament to emphasize that, in my opinion, our economic position and our economic problems overshadow all the other political problems with which we are faced to-day, as within the ambit of their adjustment and solution all other problems come, and without some effort towards their solution we are ostrich-like in our legislation, and will not face economic facts. It is obvious that our public debt, our production, our development, our population, and our international trade are all correlated, and a- further examination of our present economic position may take us a step or two- further towards getting a better perspective of the real position.
Going back a little in 0,ur history, we find that in 1840 we had no public debts; in 1860, they amounted to £12,000,000; and the summarized figures show that, on the average, they have doubled every ten years: that is to- say, in 1870 our public debts were, in round figures, £25,000,000, in 1880, £50,000,000; in 1890, £100,000,000; in 1900, £200,000,000 ; and in 1920, £800,000,000. Since 1929, the Commonwealth debt has increased by £30,000,000, and the States’ by £120,000,000; so that if borrowings are kept up at the same rate as during the last three years the increase by 1930 over our public debt in 1920 will be a further sum of much over £400,000,000, or a total during the current decade considerably greater than the whole of Australia’s borrowings prior to the outbreak of the war. Obviously, that sort of thing cannot continue. This is not a party question. We all know that the curtailment of governmental expenditure and the necessary imposition of taxation to keep the country solvent, is not popular, but it is the responsibility of those who hold the reins of government in the Federal and State arenas of Australia to carefully and seriously consider the position ; otherwise, we nsk a deterioration in national prestige, and ultimately- a. diminution of national credit that may bring us to the position occupied by some of the South American Republics, with the repercussion that it inevitably must have upon the whole of the work, production, comfort, happiness, and character of our people.
Some optimists argue that a rapid influx of people would considerably lighten the load of debt which the people of Australia are carrying to-day, and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has drawndown much criticism and ridicule upon his devoted head by making the suggestion that further borrowing should be limited to our present load per head of population - that is to say, that our present net debt of, say, £160 or £170 per head, is big enough, and an era of frenzied finance would be reached if future borrowings exceeded that amount. Fun has been made of the Treasurer’s proposal that every baby or immigrant arriving here should justify the borrowing of a.n additional £160; but the basic idea in his mind, I am sure, was that the extreme safety limit of debt per head had been reached, and I, personally, welcome any proposal that will set some definite limit to our financial orgies. The argument that a rapid increase in population -would partly relieve or spread our load of debt is admissible, but such a result is most improbable, in view of the facts. I have already shown that the public debt has about doubled itself in every decade since 1870, but the increase of population in the decade ended 1880 was only “35 per cent.; in the decade ended 1890, 41 per cent. ; 1900, 20 per cent. ; 1910, 17^ per cent. ; and 1920, 22 per cent.; so that, whereas the increase in our public debt from 1870 to 1920 was over 3,000 per cent., the increase in our population for the same period was only 235 per cent, It will be seen that our public debt has been, increasing more than ten times faster than our population. There is nothing, therefore, to’ be found in this direction that will give any consolation to those who consider that the prodigality of the past, and even the present, can be countered by an increase of population.
Viewing our enormous public indebtedness from another angle, however, perhaps we may derive a little comfort. From the stand-point of the national wealth of the country, created by the work and production of the people and aided by the many natural advantages that the Commonwealth possesses, the position is more hopeful, and a true perspective of Australia’s economic position cannot be given without taking into consideration this point of view. The only endeavour ever made to obtain reliable statistics concerning our national wealth was in the year 1915, when a census was attempted. I do> not regard the resultant figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician as more than, a very Tough approximation of the values of fixed and movable commodities owned by the people of this Commonwealth, nor does the Statistician profess that such figures as he published are more than that; but in order to1 probe the question of our national finance from this stand-point we have no other figures to start with, so I use them, with much reserve, as a basis upon which to give, in my opinion, some rough indication of the position. The partial census referred to, showed that the national wealth in 1915 was likely to be a sum approaching £2,000,000,000, and I believe to-day, in view of the rise in credit values, and the prices of our products, coupled with the increase in the value of production, that the total national wealth or credit of all Australia’s people, including Government assets, would be a sum very roughly approximating something approaching £3,000,000,000. It must not be forgotten that of this sum nearly half is in land values, and half of the remainder probably in fixed assets such as railways, Government works, buildings, factories, and machinery. There would not be many hundreds of millions of movable assets, and the gold in the Treasury, plus the amount held by private banks and individuals, is less than £50,000,000, so that the proportion of gold to national wealth is less than 2 per cant. Real wealth is only the stored up products of industry, and the standard of our national wealth is a credit valuation based upon- productive assets.
Out of a debt, Federal, State, and Municipal, of, say, £950,000,000, there are certain assets such as railways, tramways, and public works, which are a fair set-off against part. of it. The value of these assets, of course, depends .upon their ability to function in such a way as to return or give in value the yearly interest they cost. Assuming, they do, we should still have a dead debt of, say, £600,000,000, and on the figures. I have quoted, the Governments of the past have pledged, outside their reproduction assets, 20 per cent, of the present values of land, railways, buildings, machinery, gold, movable assets and national credit of all descriptions to the public creditor at home and abroad.
The figures of Commonwealth pro- ‘duction also justify some optimism if our economic position is faced now. Although the values of primary and secondary production have not been increasing in the same ratio as our public debt, there is a marked and marvellous increase, which largely explains how we have been permitted to arrive at the- present public financial position, a position, perhaps, of only evanescent prosperity without] feeling much financial dislocation, and with an avoidance of hard times for our people. Our agricultural, pastoral, dairying, mining, manufacturing, and minor industries produced in 1881, a total value of £71,000,000; in 1901. that value had increased to £114,000,000; in 1911, to £188,000,000; and in 1921, to the enormous sum of £393,000,000, although the figures in the following year fell considerably. I think it sounder, and a fairer comparison, to take the value rather than the volume of commodities produced in order to keep the line of comparison even. Summarizing these figures : Since 1881 our debt has increased sixteen times, primary and secondary production nearly six times, whilst our population has only just doubled itself.
Obviously, the great war has been responsible for, a large proportion of our load of debt. While it may be an excuse for the present position, the debt nevertheless is there, and the position must lie faced. Admittedly, we are not so badly off as other countries, but w.e would have
Australia healthy economically as well- as physically, and it is willi that idea that I pursue my subject. The basis, of course, of the whole of our credits; wealth, and ability to bear a- load of debt; with its annually recurring- interest; and our ability also to ultimately redeem it, is the work and production of the country. I think 1 have shown £ha£ from, every stand-point public borrowing has far outstripped development, whether from the aspect of the increase in population, or increase in national credit, in land values and other things, or the vitally important increase in the volume of our production.
What gives one most comfort in connexion with our economic position today are the figures for the last twenty years of Federation. Although in this period our public debt, including Avar expenditure, increased more than four times, and our population did not double itself, general bank deposits increased more than three times, Savings Bank deposits more than five times, Commonwealth and State revenue nearly four times, and primary and secondary production in value considerably more than three times the figures of 1901. Fortunately for us, too, the trend of public borrowing in recent years has been in the direction of co-opting the work and; production of Australia and the new wealth, created within our borders in order that we may ourselves supply the credits required for purposes of government, instead of seeking it abroad. The net result, of this is that £250,000,000 of the total Commonwealth debt of £410,000,000, or more than two-thirds of it, has been obtained in Australia, and less than onethird., or £130,000,000, is owing in London.
With regard to. the States., taking the aggregate indebtedness as, say, £540,000,000, about two-fifths, or £234,000,000, has been obtained in Australia and slightly under three-fifths elsewhere. An examination of the increase in States’ debts- during the last six years shows that, out of £145,000,000 in additional loans, over £100,000,00.0 has been raised in Australia, and less than £50,000.000 abroad ; and whereas in 1901, of the total State indebtedness 14 per cent, was owing in- Australia and 86 per cent, abroad, in 1923 43$ per cent, of the total owing than had been raised in Australia and 56$ per cent, elsewhere. Adding Federal and State indebtedness together, in order to get a tine perspective, and fixing it approximately at £940,000,000, over £500,000,000 has been raised by internal loans and the balance from abroad. The situation has been improving, as, since 1915 the addition to our loan indebtedness of £570,000,000 in all has, comparatively speaking, only increased our debt abroad by £185,000,000. The proportions, therefore, of internal and external borrowings, Federal and State, since 1915 have been 66 per cent, internal and 33 per cent, external. These figures indicate that in recent years, at all events, the much sounder policy has been adopted of seeking new loan requirements from our own people, who “have supplied Federal and State Governments with a credit of nearly £400,000,000 in a little over eight years. How much stronger, financially and otherwise, we shall be if we can continue that policy, and eventually owe no public debts to anybody but ourselves!
Another point of prime importance in the consideration of our economic position is the fact that the average rate of interest actually paid during this last decade has increased, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, from £3 12s. 6d. to £5 per cent., and for the States from £3 12s. to £4 7s. 6d. per cent. During the life of this Parliament, if we live our allotted term, about £200,000,000 of Federal and States’ debts will fall due, to be redeemed or renewed, and judging by the recent Federal loan the time is fast approaching when interest charges, as compared with our average of ten years ago, will have increased at least 75 per cent. Unless the money market alters, these charges will ultimately, on our present debt, be as great, owing to the increase in the cost of credit, as they would have been upon a debt of £1,750,000,000 ten years ago, so that, on the basis of cost to- the country, every pound borrowed now will cost us in permanent interest as much as £1 15s. of borrowed money did ten years ago. In my opinion, the rate of interest for some years on future internal borrowings and renewals, subject to taxation, has been set by the Federal Government in connexion with the late gratuity loan, and as we have been thrown back on our own resources we at least know where we are, and what we have to do. I submit that we must readjust our economic thought, otherwise the already heavy and extravagant load of taxation must be increased, the continued development of the country will be hampered, confidence will gradually diminish, and with the loss of confidence will come the diminution of credit and values, because credit and values are built upon confidence, and are nothing else.
Now comes the question : What are we going to do about it all? What policy can we adopt to’ enable the people of Australia to carry their present debt with safety, and to secure reasonably sane governmental finance for future years. Various sinking funds have been established - some with good intentions, others with pious aspirations, some suggested possibly by expediency, and some’ - I say it with bated breath - in a spirit of hypocrisy. The sum total for the six States does not show any serious attempt to face the question. New South Wales, for instance, with a gross indebtedness of £180,000,000, has a sinking fund, established many years ago, of £400,000. The Commonwealth has done better, and has provided a sinking fund of ^ per cent. ; but there is a danger that it may be at the mercy of a temporary majority in Parliament. Of course, the mention of sinking funds tickles the ear of the electors, and provides a muchneeded soporific in connexion with our financial outlook; but, in spite of the well-meaning efforts of the Government, I do not think that this question of a castiron and irrevocable sinking fund has yet been adequately discussed. Apparently jio sinking fund provision is mandatory upon future Parliaments unless incorporated in the Constitution. No matter how desirous we may be of placing the finances of the Commonwealth upon a better foundation; no matter how much we pay into a sinking fund, the fund, being outside the Constitution, will be subject to the will of a parliamentary majority from time to time, and consequently at the mercy of future impecunious Treasurers or extravagant Governments, backed by the necessary parliamentary majority. If the principle of the establishment of sinking funds were placed before the people for incorporation in the Constitution, and carried, it would tlo much to stabilize out most unsatisfactory public financial position, especially seeing that the heavy repayments due to the Commonwealth through loan expenditure to the States will come eventually to tho Commonwealth, and bc added to tho statutory -1 per cent, sinking fund already enacted.
– If provision for a sinking fund were incorporated in the Constitution, it could be taken out again by the people.
– Yes : but it would be much more difficult to alter the Constitution than to amend an Act. Clearly, the time for co-operation in connexion with State and Federal borrowings is overdue. If nothing can be achieved in this direction by mutual statutory agreement, the people must be called upon to decide how far we can continue this competition for further loans and dear money One outstanding feature of the figures I have quoted is the large comparative increase in -the credit that has been supplied to the various Governments by the people of Australia. These show that, since 1911, the total loans owing by the Commonwealth amount to £410.000,000, out of which £280,000,000 have been floated in Australia and £130,000,000 in London. Of the £270,000,000 floated by the States since 1911, £156,000,000 have been provided by the people of Australia, and £114,000,000 have been raised abroad. Summarized, the figures disclose that, since 1911, we have raised £436,000,000 in the Commonwealth out of a total of £680,000,000 borrowed, or an average of nearly £40,000,000 per year. , Since I last spoke in this House upon Australia’s economic position there has been some disagreement expressed with regard to suggested remedies for what is clearly an anomalous position. It seems to me clear that Government borrowings abroad waste the credit of the people of Australia, as Australian credits abroad cannot reach us in tiny other way than by the importation of goods. Experience proves that excess credits abroad always place a premium, through the exchange position, upon- the importation of goods into Australia, and automatically take an exchange toll from the whole of our exports. The absence of any co-ordinated banking authority here .precludes any credits owned by Australia abroad, through excess of exports, the high prices of her commodities in the world’s markets, Government borrowing, or from any other cause, being returned in any other form than as imported goods. If proof is required that Government borrowings abroad result only in the importation of more .goods, it is to be found in a detailed examination of our import figures and the increase in debts abroad. It will, I think, be generally acknowledged that, in order to keep out of further debt, our exports should exceed our imports to the extent of the interest on our debts abroad plus amounts spent by our people abroad, together with other services and remittances. For instance, we have to provide increasing amounts for interest charges on our debts abroad, according to the extent of those debts. At present, a sum of about £20,000,000 per annum is required, and, in addition to that, a large sum, on the average, is spent each year by travellers abroad on the purchase of pleasure and for dividends, remittances, and other things, and unless our exports exceed our imports to the extent of these factors together, we are incurring further indebtedness.
– Is that £20,000,000, Federal and State combined ?
– Yes. By the increased volume of imports over these factors, less any compensating factor, mathematical law would expect to find a corresponding increase in our indebtedness abroad. On a detailed examination of the position the evidence meets the expectation. Let us test the most recent period for which figures are available - the period 1918-19, to 1922-23- with only minor gold movements to complicate the figures. For those five years our imports were valued at £600,000,000. Add to that an average of £17,000,000 per annum for interest, and, say, a balance of, £5,000,000 per annum for money spent abroad and remittances from the Commonwealth, together with other invisible imports and services over and above those received, and we arrive at another £110,000,000 for the five years. That would give us a total debit figure against the Commonwealth - visible and invisible’ - for the five years’ period of £710,000,000. Our export figures during these five years amounted to £642,000,000, showing a net balance against the Commonwealth pf £68,000,000. The actual increase in the indebtedness of Australia abroad during this period was, £70,000,000, being, Federal, £28,000,000; and State, £42,000,000. There have been, also, during the last five years, apart ‘altogether from the visible import and export figures, a mass oE invisible exports .lot included in this table. These have arisen by excess prices and profits cn wool in England, which directly and indirectly account for the excess banking credits available there now. This afternoon, the Prime Minister, in answer to a question, stated that Australia’s share of the wool realization profits was £34,000,000. So far as I know, this sum has never been included in our export figures. That amount is over and above the flat rate of the export balance of our wool crop.
Further proof is not necessary to show that our bright and airy methods of borrowing abroad, and the professed inability of our present banking system to meet the exigencies of our international trade settlements, other than by the importation of goods, will, if persisted in, ultimately bring about our economic downfall, or will make us the bond-slaves of our creditors abroad. Owing to the present banking system in Australia, excess credits abroad now place a premium, through the incidence of exchange, upon the importation of goods into Australia, and automatically levy an exchange toll upon the whole of our exports. British exchanges to-day clearly indicate that the excess of Australian credits abroad has not only had the effect of forcing more imported goods on to the market here, but has enabled importers to land every £100 worth of goods nearly 3 per cent, cheaper than they otherwise could, while on the other hand, the exporter has had to take nearly 3 per cent, less than London parity for his products. One writer recently summed up the position in these words : -
Because Governments must get moneys from London for public works, and because investors desire to alter the location of their securities., primary producers get les”s for their produce, and the buyer of imported goods obtains some concession on his purchases.
Apart from statistical import and export figures, for some time large excess credits belonging to Australia have been owned in London. These excess credits are probably now mostly owned by the banks operating here. They have been built up by borrowing in London and by the excess prices obtained for our wool over export parity, together with Bawra operations. The flood of imports we have received during this last year or two is the only direct result of our good fortune. No attempt has been made through any banking organization to protect the true interests of Australia in this matter, because the British banking system, which the British manufacturers have built up, has provided tremendous monopolistic power. As I see it, the British banking system has been framed, designed, mid carried out for decades in order to swell British exports, to sell British manufactured goods, .and to facilitate the importation into Britain of raw materials. The shareholders or owners of these banks are wedded to British manufacturing supremacy; their whole interest lies in this direction. Consequently, the policy of the British banks - which, is largely in the hands of manufacturing and trading interests - is designed and carried out in order to continue and perpetuate this system. This policy has also been partially grafted upon Australia by the British registered banks operating here, and, iu my opinion, the Australian registered banks have found themselves compelled to follow suit, in order to protect their interests, trade, and customers. The only means we have of settling our interest bill abroad and of squaring the ledger is with the excess of exports over imports, and, as I have shown that we have not done this, the present position of Australian exchange is absolutely opposed to economic laws. The exchange . is against the exporter and in favour of the importer, although we are running further into debt, and the figures seem. to show that on the average we have not even been liquidating our yearly interest bill abroad. If a man goes to the banks here and wants an overdraft, it is much easier to get a substantial advance against the importation of goods from abroad into this country than one for the purpose of the development of the country by primary or secondary industry. We seem to be vainly kicking against the pricks. I again submit for the most careful consideration of the Treasurer that his urgent duty is not to allow such a state of affairs to continue. I am surprised that he has hitherto failed to tackle Australia’s most urgent problem.
With regard to the point that we cannot get any foreign credit balances to Australia, except in the form of goods - because Australia’s banking system is an appendage to that of Britain - I desire to draw the attention of the House to an illustration of my point. As most honorable members know, I am interested, and have been for many years past, in the development of Australian tin-mining enterprise in Malaya. I know that the whole of Australia’s trade with Java and the East, as well as Indian and all other Asiatic trade, has to be adjusted in London. There are no direct banking facilities between Australia and foreign ports only 500 miles north of our coasts. Bills of exchange, bank drafts, and remittances of all sorts have to be cleared through London. At the present time there is a startling and vivid illustration of this fact within my own personal knowledge which I think I should give the House.
These Australian tin-mining companies, after purchasing dredges in Australia with Australian credit or capital - the terms are synonymous - and getting to work, say, in the Federated Malay States, naturally, if they are well run, accumulate profits there from time to time. These profits are owned by the shareholders, who are partly Australian, and can be made available to them only by the following method : - The credit accumulated in Penang or Singapore is transferred to London at a banking charge, which is, comparatively speaking, small, owing to the stability of the Straits dollar currency. That credit in London is absorbed by some. Australian bank or importer with a London office, and is available in Australia to the shareholders in the profitmaking tin companies at the current rate of exchange, which, to-day, would make £100 in London worth £97 here. For every £100 worth of credit created in the Malay States the Australian shareholders, owing to the exigencies of exchange, receive £97. But even this depreciated credit must ultimately be settled by importing goods, because if the tin companies could not sell their drafts to Australian banks in London for the purpose of importing goods, or to London offices of Australian importers, the profi!s made by Australian capital on tin mining enterprise in Malaya could, under present banking conditions, be returned to shareholders only in the form of goods. Therefore, every £1 made by Australians iu tin mining in Malaya swells the volume of imports into Australia to a corresponding extent, and profits made there compel surplus imports into Australia from London. Whatever export or import trade may be done with the developing East, and whatever profits may be due to Australian enterprise abroad, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, owing to the grafting of the British banking system upon Australia, a toll is levied upon Australian production and a bonus is given on goods sent hero, even from countries not a thousand miles from our shores. The editor of the Australian Investment Digest truly said -
Perhaps none of the post-war conditions that are engaging the attention of the world today is so important or so little understood as international finance. There is such a mass of literature that the average business man lacks the time, and very frequently tho inclination, to study the subject. It is, however, as interesting as it is complex.
Many of my critics seem to lose sight of the fact that Australia is a debtor nation abroad. They argue academically, some in text-book phrases, that if we do not import we cannot export, and so on, while they lose sight of our enormous indebtedness abroad and the yearly interest required to keep us even out of further debt. It is quite obvious that to balance our national ledger there must be a difference in favour of our export trade over our import trade of at least the amount of our interest bill, plus the private spendings and remittances of our peopleabroad. There is one grain of comfort, however, and that is the unanimity that exists among those who have troubled to study the subject, in the appreciation of the fact that the further pledging of Australia’s credit abroad, and all favorable trade balances, are adjusted and returned to’ us under present banking methods by goods, and by goods alone. The problem of German reparations shows clearly and conclusively that such is the case with that question. Unfortunately some economists, ostrichlike, have failed entirely to read the lessons of the war, but if we fail to len ni these lessons, and do not see how wo can benefit by applying them, we deserve to continue, as we ave to-day, at the mercy of international financiers. This excess of imports, if continued, will cause serious trouble to us. An unfinancial storekeeper can appear prosperous, and even feel so, so long as he oan get plenty of credit. Stop this and his position is very much worse than, if he had had no kindly lender and had been compelled to live on his means, and balance at least expenditure and receipts. There are many kindly lenders in Britain to-day who know that whatever further credit we pledge with them must be taken but in their goods. We must have a favorable balance of trade, even to keep out of further debt. “Fortunately, we have the- products to sell. Surely, also, the reverse position appertains, and if we do not, or cannot, sell more, we must buy less. We want trade within the Empire, but we ought to do much less purchasing abroad than we are now doing. There is a “ nigger in the wood pile “ somewhere, and I believe that we see what he is like. Those who are satisfied with Australia’s present economic position deserve no better appellation than the “ SaireyGamps “ of the nation’s childhood. I have been much interested in reading the many and varied press comments that have been made recently in connexion with the problem under review. The financial editor of the Sydney Morning Herald recently said -
That we should find our wealth held abroad lui inconvenience would appear on anomaly, but the anomaly disappears when we discover that the trouble is caused not by our wealth, but by a clashing of the. Australian borrowing policy with Australian protective policy.
And to quote further -
If a Government raises a loan in London, there is a transfer of credit from the’ English lender to the Government borrower. That credit can be transferred here by means of imports only. .
If there were no Government borrowing abroad our imports would very greatly decrease. It would toko all our exports to pay for interest on our debt abroad and the import of goods which are not produced or manufactured in Australia. In fact, the probabilities ure that we would have to be content with a very much lessened consumption of imported goods which we now consider necessary. If wo stopped borrowing abroad we should have to develop our country more wholly by local capital. Wo can do it.’ The question is would it be more profitable to do it. . . .
To borrow abroad and develop with constructive material made locally is lunacy. . . .
Here, then, we have the clashing of policies in Australia. We borrow abroad in order to hasten the development of our land. That means purchase of. goods abroad for development. Yet when we bring these goods to Australia, we say “ we must encourage Australian secondary production,” and so we confiscate part of the goods for the service of the superior government. In other words, we use a considerable portion of the borrowed money, not as capital, but as revenue.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to by an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the honorable member to continue his speech .
– I thank the Treasurer and honorable members for their courtesy. I wish to bring under the particular notice of the Treasurer the concluding words of the quotation I was reading - “ In other words, we use a considerable portion of the borrowed money, not as capital, but. as revenue.” Our ability to pay our debts depends entirely upon our work and production, and the surplus we can create over and above the cost of reasonable food, clothing, housing, and the miscellaneous requirements of the people. It is all very well to talk about “ the great potentialities pf this glorious Commonwealth,” to call it “ God’s own country,” and to boast about the “ untapped wealth of our great continent,” and “ the magnificent destiny of the Australian people.” These, and other similar phrases, are heard frequently. While our financial position is not dangerous, or even unsafe, if we face it now, I am certain that, in fairness to young Australia, we ought not to leave legacies, of desolating debt without giving corresponding advantages to the next generation. We should not continue to cherish the illusions of the incurable optimist. There are many persons, of course, who do not think with me, but a judicious mixture of fact, as well as of faith and hope, is the tonic required for safe and permanent progress. The economic position, and the ramification of our debts and international trade, are a foundation upon which the solution of all other questions depends. They are the keystone of our arch of progress.. Unless we idealize their incidence, the foundation upon which we build is unsafe.
My friend, the Treasurer, talks about the proper balancing of primary and secondary industries, but without the balancing of our economic position such talk is unprofitable, particularly if no effort is made to stem the flood of imports brought about by the financial hegemony exercised -over us, particularly by British -banking institutions, especially as the weapon with which to solve them is in the hands of this Parliament. “ When you run into debt,” said Franklin, “ you give another power over your liberty, and unless there be economic freedom there can be no other freedom.” The Treasurer will pardon my saying that the economic question is infinitely more important than even the agitation for new States, an amendment of the Constitution, or an academic discussion upon the causes of people flocking from the country to increase the number of the denizens of the cities; and, in my opinion, it is really of more importance than the question of who is to govern Australia. The solution of this problem will solve many of the apparently greater, but really minor, problems that face us. It is for the majority of the people of Australia, and particularly the workers, to decide whether they import goods or manufacture those goods themselves, and so increase the wages paid in Australia. Among the problems we have to face there is not one I know of that is not more or less affected by the economic position. Defence, migration, and settlement are also wrapped up with it, and if we have a Protective policy, if we recognize that Protection is the policy believed in by the vast majority of the citizens of the Commonwealth, for Heaven’s sake let us take it to its logical conclusion, and stop borrowing abroad, and reform, if necessary, our banking arrangements, whereby we can mobilize what credits may from time to time be due to us abroad, and not allow international financiers to take us where we do not want to go. I have reason to believe that at least some of the sagacious, cautious, and patriotic men in control of our Australian registered banks would welcome some change in our economic banking position that would work out better for the Commonwealth. But I am afraid it is almost too late, in view of the rush of imports and also the great expenditure abroad by visitors to the British Empire Exhibition, to hope to salvage much, if any, of the excess credits Australia, has owned in London within the last twelve months. I had hoped that the Government would have before this realized the importance of the question to Australia, because twelve months ago, in this House, I drew attention to the economic position and the matter of exchanges. But nothing has been done. By a policy of laisser -faire it is being allowed to solve itself, and the splendid accretion to the national wealth of the community, caused by the world’s high prices for wool. &c. . will, I am, afraid, be dissipated through the importation of goods which Australians do not require and the absence of a. national banking policy. I do not wish to criticize any of my banking critics; but, in connexion with the probing of the problem, and in order to reach a practical solution whereby a repetition of our national economic dissipation can be prevented in the future, although it is hardly within my province as a private member to lay down hard and fast proposals for the consideration of the Government, which has the responsibility of solving the problem, I do venture to suggest some consideration of one or more of the following methods for the liquidation of Australia’s future credits abroad, if we are fortunate enough to get any, otherwise than by the importation of goods: - Bankers’ finance bills; Empire currency bills - a suggestion put forward some time ago by Mr. John Darling, but which has never been explored; Bank of England notes, legalized temporarily as currency here; the issue of more Australian notes against the cancellation of Government securities abroad. The last method, I am glad to say, has been approved by that responsible, careful, and sagacious journal, the Argus. We have not yet thoroughly examined the possibility of making our production of gold help towards the solution of the present difficulty. I do not desire to criticize the private banking position in Australia, but, if private bankers can do nothing towards helping the solution of our urgent economic problems, they must be reminded that banking liabilities in Australia increased during the ten years ending December, 1923, from £168,000,000 to £312,000,000, and that their liabilities at call, not bearing interest, increased from £71,500,000’ to £126,500,000; but the gold, bullion, and
Australian notes held against these liabilities at call only increased from £41,000,000 to £50,000,000 in the period under review. Most of the proceeds of our note issue have been lent to the States, and we have their security, as well as the security of the Commonwealth, and also nearly 50 per cent, of gold behind that issue, but the banks in December last held £3,000,000 less in notes than they did seven years ago, while the public held £11,000,000 more. The volume of banking business has nearly doubled during the period, and surely there is some strong, sound, substantial reason for securing more elasticity in our currency here, particularly as regards the position of om- credits in London. Alternative methods for the solution of our troubles have never yet been fully explored from the Australian stand-point. True, the Economic Conference in Loudon arrived at a milk-and-water conclusion that the time was not opportune, or something of that sort. The problem, however, will have to be faced by the Treasurer in no uncertain way. It transcends all other problems. “ Fine words butter no parsnips,” and to his national plan for Australian development - whatever that may be - must be added, in order to give full effect to any national policy that >ve may decide to carry OUt, an Australian national economic policy that will not abrogate our national policy of Protection; will not place a premium upon imported goods we do not want: will not force upon us importations that strangle our secondary industries; but will allow us to keep our international ledger square while attending to our own affairs here, in our own way, by our own people, with the surplus of their own wealth created by their own work, industry, and natural advantages. The present economic position places Australia under the tutelage of British financiers, who, amongst other things, are taxing the primary producer more heavily in exchange than ever he was taxed through the ‘ Tariff. The mathematical result of this position must trend towards the sterilization of Australian development.
In my opinion, all the evidence is thatBritish Free Trade finance is being used to break down Australian Tariff Protection. I have tried to tell what, in my opinion, the position is. Now comes the question what steps, should the Government take, and by what principles should they be guided in bringing amended banking legislation into this Chamber. It will not be enough, in connexion with our Commonwealth Banking Act, to ‘ merely change from the one-man control now existing to a Board or Commission. Tho functioning of our Commonwealth Bank to-day is the same as that of any other bank doing business in Australia. A true national banking policy, in mv opinion, should be directed to the creation of a banking position that will enable the national bank to force the mobilization of Australian credits abroad - brought about by excess exports, but not by public borrowing - for the development of Australia, and not for purchasing British or foreign goods. We should also have some banking authority to help in the co-operation and co-ordination of all public borrowing in Australia. A real national Banking Act should also be able to help in the discouragement and cessation of public borrowing abroad. Our political policy should make sinking funds real, and should ensure that the administration and care of the credit resources and revenues of the people are husbanded and expended with prudence and sagacity.
– In the few moments which remain before this debate must be adjourned, I shall not be able to deal with many of the matters which have been referred to in the lengthy speech of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten). Every honorable member in the House must feel grateful to that gentleman for the care and time which he must have spent in preparing that speech. Honorable members must also recognize that it was an importantspeech. I dare say that a number of the honorable member’s conclusions will be disagreed with ; but that will not prevent us from recognizing the sincerity of his convictions, and we congratulate him upon the manner in which he has expressed them. Very shortly the Government will place before the House a comprehensive banking Bill. I propose, therefore, to withhold my remarks cai his suggestions for the creation of a Bank which will be national in function as well as in name. When the measure to which I have referred is introduced, the views of the Government on currency and exchange will be placed before honorable members, and they will be asked to express their opinions on those matters. The honorable member for Martin made two suggestions with which I propose to deal now. The first concerns the control of public borrowing. This Government hae already taken a definite, step to control public borrowing, at least in some degree, for last year provision was made for the establishment of a statutory sinking fund. In future, all borrowing contracts will contain specific provision for contributions to a sinking fund. That will place an automatic check upon Treasurers, for it will mean that a definite sum will have to be taken from revenue each year and ear-marked for sinking fund purposes. Honorable members will recollect that when I presented the Budget last year, I stated that the public debt of the Commonwealth had been reduced during the year by £5,000,000. I hope that when I present the Budget this year I shall be able to indicate that, in addition to providing certain moneys for the sinking fund, a portion of the revenue will also be used for debt reduction. The Government have attempted also to secure some coordination between the Federal and State authorities in borrowing. We tried to fix a borrowing limit which should not be exceeded. In 1920-21, the total borrowing of che Commonwealth and States amounted to £47,000,000; in 1921-22. the figure was £38,000,000; in 1922-23. it was £36,000,000; and for 1923-24, it was proposed to borrow £48,000,000. I suggested that the Treasurers of the various State Governments should reduce their figures. I pointed out that if we maintained the. borrowing rate of the last few years, we should be borrowing at the rate of £320 per head.
– Were the amounts mentioned by the honorable the Treasurer new money?
– Yes. I urged that, if the borrowing policy were not cut down as far as I wished, it should, at least, be reduced to such an extent that the total debt per head of the people should not exceed the present figure of £160 per head. That would have meant borrowing only £20,000,000 this year instead of £48,000,000. The Treasurers could not agree to my proposition. When the Federal Loan Council, which is composed of the Federal Treasurer and the Treasurers of the various State Governments, met in January of this year, I found that each State Treasurer had large commitments. They told me confidentially in turn that they had made a good fight with their respective fellow Ministers to keep the Estimates down. I imagine that it is not 111]Usual for a Treasurer to do that. The Treasurers informed me that it was impossible for them suddenly to cut their loan policy in half. To do so would have meant the immediate dislocation of practically all the public works in progress in Australia. It would also have meant that the completion of large public works which were expected to be reproductive in the near future would have been delayed, and that instead of them providing revenue, extra expense would be incurred because of the money already spent on them continuing to lie idle. The Conference agreed, however, that borrowing should be reduced. We tried to determine the total amount that could be borrowed this year without unduly interfering with private enterprise, but that was not possible. For the first time in the history of Australia it was decided that the rate of interest to be offered for money by various Governments should be uniform. The Honorable member for Martin stated that the Tate of interest paid by the Commonwealth Government for the War Gratuities Conversion Loan would probably fix for some time the rate of interest to be paid on money borrowed for public works. I point out to him that the interest rate was fixed, not by the Commonwealth Government, but by the condition of the money market. It will be remembered that last year the first Commonwealth conversion loan was offered for 25 years at £5 ls. 9d. per cent., and the second at £5 9s. per cent, for five years. After that loan had been floated the various State Governments of Australia began an active competition against each other to secure the balance of money available in the Australian market. The rate then was 5^ per cent., subject to Commonwealth tax, which is considered to be equivalent to per cent. One Government came forward and offered 5J per cent., tax free. Another Government then offered 5£ per cent., tax free. Last December still another Government offered 6 per cent., tax free, and found it very difficult to obtain money even at that rate. The Commonwealth Government rate for the last loan was 6 per cent., subject to- Commonwealth tax, which is less than was paid by one of the State .Governments in December last, because our loan was subject to taxation. The rate which we offered was the market rate at the time. That was proved by the subscriptions to the loan. The Commonwealth Government has also tried to secure the appointment of one borrowing agency for all the Governments of Australia. The State authorities did not agree to this proposal, but some progress was made, for it has been arranged now, that instead of having seven different authorities borrowing money, only five authorities shall go on the market. This was made possible by the Governments of “Western Australia and Queensland, for they were able to state their commitments definitely, and to agree to the Commonwealth Government raising them. Thus in the latter part of the year, a lesser number of borrowing authorities were competing in the market. In the early part of the year we secured another measure of reform, for the various Governments agreed that no two of them should go on the market at the same time. While the Commonwealth Government was trying to secure the conversion of the War Gratuity Loan, it had an absolutely free hand. That was very different from the situation that prevailed when the previous loan was floated. Time will not permit me to deal with the other points which I had in mind, but I suggest to honorable members that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory. The experience of the United Statesof America, which is a highly Protectionist country, shows the necessity of obtaining outside capital for developmental purposes. I have a copy of a report presented tothe British Government in 1923 by the British Trade Commissioner in New York, which traverses the history of American development since 1820. I trust later to have the opportunity to inform honorable members of its contents. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That, in accordanee with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work : -
The erection of an additional block to the Seamen’s Barracks at Flinders Naval Depot, which was referred to the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations.
The proposal is to erect on the southern side of the existing barracks building at the Flinders Naval Base Depot a third block capable of accommodating 300 men. Thisextra space is required to eliminate the overcrowding now complained of, and to maintain the standard of training for 1,000 men, as laid down for the Flinders Naval Depot. The proposed building is to be a brick structure of three stories, harmonizing in design with the existing barracks buildings. In addition, there will be latrine and lavatory blocks of brick, also a dining block and petty officers’ dining room of similar construction. The estimated cost of the work is £33,000.
.- It is true that the question of undertaking this work has been submitted to the Public Works Committee, which has submitted a favorable report, but I do not know if this House is justified in agreeing to the motion without giving it very careful consideration. The proposed building is to provide additional accommodation at the Flinders Naval Depot, and the question naturally arises why should we duplicate our training depots. If this were the only training centre in the Commonwealth, the proposal is one which we could probably support; but we have at least four such establishments in the Commonwealth. We could in all probability do with fewer, and if the number were induced the efficiency would possibly be greater. At present, we have the Military College at Duntroon, the Naval College at Jervis Bay, a training depot at Flinders, and an aviation school at Point Cook. It is well known that considerable economy could be effected if the work done at Duntroon and the Naval College were conducted at the one establishment. At the moment, I am unable to say to what extent the work at the Flinders Naval Base and Point Cook could be amalgamated, but there should be some inquiry as to why it is necessary to have four different training depots, as pointed out in the Committee’s report. The Minister, in submitting the motion, should have explained whether the trainees to be accommodated in the proposed building could be trained at any of the other bases, as there may be more than sufficient accommodation at one centre and overcrowding at another. Whatever may be said as to the necessity for providing adequate defence for Australia, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that we are authorizing the expenditure of a large sum of money without being told if there is sufficient accommodation elsewhere.
– It is only fair to say that a different form of training is given at each establishment.
– That may be so, but surely it is possible for different kinds of training to be given in the one building. If we have a structure capable of accommodating the whole of the trainees, although they may be in different branches of the service, could not each particular section be trained under expert officers in a separate portion of the building? The head of every branch of the Defence Department thinks that his particular section is the most important, and that is causing unnecessary expenditure. We should insist that whatever has to be done in regard to defence is carried out in the most economical manner possible.
– Hear, hear !
– The Minister agrees with me.
– Every one does.
Mk-. CHARLTON. - I am glad that that is the case. If we have more than sufficient accommodation in any of the other three depots, is it fair to say that merely because each particular branch wants separate training quarters, we should erect additional buildings. The report of the Public Works Committee, which I received this afternoon, deals only with the particular question submitted to it by this House. It was not within the province of the Committee to go into any other aspect of the question, but it is the duty of this House to ascertain whether there is not accommodation available at Jervis Bay, where heavy expenditure is incurred in training students.
– It costs £1,300 per annum for each student.
– That is a staggering statement. I do not think any honorable member will regard it as economical to construct additional buildings when the accommodation at Jervis Bay is not used to its fullest extent.
– Although the building can accommodate 160, there are only 40 trainees there.
– If -that is the case, there is accommodation for 120 which is not utilized. Parliament should realize that it is necessary to concentrate all those engaged in different branches, whether in the Defence Department or another, in order to reduce expenditure. It is useless to urge in support of additional buildings that another structure is necessary, because those to be accommodated are in a different branch of the Defence Department. Why should they not all be instructed and trained in the one building ? The honorable member for. Martin (Mr. Pratten) showed us very clearly this afternoon the direction in which we are drifting, and notwithstanding this, we are still authorizing expenditure which in very many instances could be avoided. It is possible that before very long some of the buildings which have recently b]een ‘erected will not be fully occupied, and we should make some inquiries in order to ascertain where savings can be effected. Instead of that we are following the old practice, and leaving it to the heads of various departments of ‘Defence to do practically what they wish. It is only natural that each departmental head wishes his branch to be regarded as the leading arm of defence, but we should decide such matters, instead of being guided entirely by the .representations made from time to time by what ons might term interested persons. They are not purposely misleading us, but they think that the particular department of which they are the heal should be supreme. We should decide which is to be the first arm of defence, lay down the basis upon which co work, and thus reduce expenditure. The Minister has given the House very little information, but he is fortified by the recommendation of the Public Works Committee. That Committee, however, investigates and reports upon only the particular project that is referred to it. It does not bother to investigate other aspects of the question.
– That is not so. The printed evidence clearly disproves that statement.
– I have not had an opportunity to peruse the evidence; it has been tabled only within the last few minutes.
– It is a pity that the Leader of the Opposition was not supplied with a copy of the report yesterday.
– I agree with the honorable member. I have on several occasions complained of being asked to deal at short notice with business brought before the House without having had an opportunity of seeing the reports relating to it. These reports should be made available to all honorable members several days in advance of any motion upon the subjects with which they deal, so that we might peruse the evidence and ascertain the facts. It is unfair that business should be rushed through the Chamber before honorable members have had an opportunity of studying the information upon which recommendations of Committees and subsequent motions in the House are based. I am glad to have the assurance of the honorable member for Bass that the Public Works Committee did consider the aspect that I have mentioned. Nevertheless, I am opposed to the proposed expenditure. The present Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), before he entered the Ministry, and other members on the Government side of the House, urged the concentration of defence training by the amalgamation of the various establishments. The suggestion was made that Duntroon Military College should be closed, that the houses connected therewith should be utilized for the workmen at Canberra., and that the cadets should be transferred to Jervis Bay.
– That is absolutely impracticable.
– Others differ from the honorable member upon that point. It is our duty to conserve the taxpayers’ money, but I am afraid that on too many occasions unwarrantable expenditure is incurred by vote of this House. I must know more about the position of the Naval College at Jervis Bay before I can support the motion.
– The Public Accounts Committee is investigating that matter now.
– If that is so, tlie Minister would be wise to postpone this motion until the House is in possession of the report of that Committee.
– I do not think the report will affect the subject of this motion.
The proposed accommodation at Flinders is for naval ratings to the number of about 300. The Jervis Bay College is for the training of naval cadets.
– The investigation by the Public Accounts Committee might prove that the Jervis Bay establishment is not utilized to its fullest extent, and that it might be practicable to use it for other forms of training. The Public Accounts Committee has a roving commission; its investigations are not limited by any specific reference from the House, and it is in a good position to make recommendations upon any subject for the guidance of the House. I therefore move -
That all the words after “ That “ be struck out with a view to inserting the following : - “ the motion before the House remain in abeyance until such time as the Public Accounts Committee reports on the Jervis Bay Naval College.”
.- The motion before the House relates to the provision of additional accommodation for the men at Flinders Naval Depot. At the present time the Flinders establishment is carrying more than its regular complement of men. They are crowded in the dormitories, and with additional men coming in the congestion will become even more serious. The only purpose of the extension of the existing buildings is to provide the proper accommodation to which the men are entitled.
– To what class of men is the Minister referring?
– The naval ratings. The number of men in the schools varies according to the size of the classes taking special courses in torpedo, wireless, gunnery, and other special subjects. Flinders, whatever its disabilities may be, is the establishment provided for this purpose by Parliament, and already more than £1,000,000 has been expended there. The suggestion that the men at Flinders might be transferred to Jervis Bay is impracticable, because the instruction given at the two places is altogether different. The trainees at the Jervis Bay Naval College are cadets aged from thirteen to seventeen years, and the greater part of their training is the ordinary school curriculum. That is supplemented by special training in mathematics, engineering, and other technical knowledge that is necessary to the boys as future officers of the Fleet. The training at Flinders, on the other hand, is designed to qualify men for petty officer ratings, and is in various technical subjects which are not taught at Jervis Bay. It would be impossible to transfer a dozen or 50 men from Flinders to Jervis Bay for instruction without transferring the Flinders instructors also.
– Somebody is humbugging the Minister..
– The honorable member sometimes attempts unsuccessfully to do that, and he also makes statements that cannot be verified. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has suggested that the Aviation School at Point Cook should be transferred to Flinders. If that were done the special instructors at Point Cook also would have to be transferred. The aerodrome would not be nearly as satisfactory at Flinders as it is at Point Cook. It would be located a good deal further from a town than it now is, and, generally speaking, there would be nothing to gain by removing the establishment to Flinders. The necessary buildings and other accommodation have already been provided at Point Cook, and there would be no justification for the expenditure that would be involved in reestablishing it elsewhere. The amalgamation of the Duntroon and Jervis Ray Colleges was carefully considered by me at the beginning of last year, and I was satisfied that there would be no economy in adopting that idea. At Duntroon we are training boys for a military life, and the Jervis Bay students are to become sailors. The lads enter the latter institution in their thirteenth year, and remain until their seventeenth year, while at Duntroon the ages range from seventeen years to twenty-one years. The trend of educational development throughout the world is to separate the younger boys from the older ones, and, if possible, to place them in different institutions. This feature is to be noted in every college of importance in Australia. The Duntroon boy starts his training at the age at which the Jervis Bay lad completes his course. A youth who has finished the course at Jervis Bay can enter any of the universities of. Australia, except the University of Sydney, and will be recognized as having matriculated, while Duntroon students, on completing the course there, can go into any of the universities as third-year students for an engineering degree. An amalgamation of the two colleges would fail to effect economy, and would prejudicially influence the training of the students. It should be realized that the Flinders Depot is already firmly established.
– It ought to be clumped.
– It represents an expenditure of £1,000,000, and it is the recognized naval training establishment. Accommodation is already provided for the officers, awl it is surprising to me to find that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), to whom I looked for support on this motion, objects to provision for the necessary accommodation for the naval ratings. He is usually anxious concerning the welfare of the men.
– I have given further consideration to the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). In July of last year, during the currency of the present session, I was called upon to rule on a proposal of this kind, in connexion with a motion to give effect to a recommendation of the Public Works Committee, with regard to the construction of portion of the North-South Railway. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) then submitted an amendment, which, after due consideration, I was obliged to rule out of order. I have since consulted that ruling and the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act, and I feel that I have no option on this occasion but to adopt a similar course with respect to the present amendment. If honorable members will consult the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913, section 15, and they will realize that, in the absence of any standing order governing our procedure in these cases, that Act is the only guide we have to follow, they will see the course laid down. In the first place, the proposed work is to be referred to the Committee for report; secondly, there is the report to the House; and, in the third place, there is the action which the law requires the Minister to take on the report of the Committee. Then occur the following words in sub-section 6, which, I think, bind this House: -
After the receipt of the report of the Committee, the House of Representatives shall, by resolution, declare, either that it is expedient io carry out tlie proposed work, or that it is not expedient to carry it out :
Provided that the House of Representatives may, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, resolve that the report of the Committee shall, for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the Committee.
Therefore, the Act, in the absence of precedent or a definite standing order on the matter, leaves three courses open to the House - to affirm the expediency of carrying out the proposed work; to declare that it is inexpedient to carry it out; or to refer it back to the Committee for further consideration and report. The amendment provides for the adoption of none of these courses, but seeks, by a proposition which it is hoped will find acceptance by the House, to put aside the proposal of the Minister, and to allow it to remain in abeyance until another eventuality occurs.
– Can the Leader of the Opposition move that the matter be referred back to the Committee 1
– An honorable member may not submit two amendments, but, as I explained in July last, it is competent for any honorable member, other than the movers of the motion and the amendment, to propose the adoption of one of the alternatives provided for in the Act.
– Could we not move the adjournment of the debate 1
– At the proper time. I am now discussing the proposed amendment of the Leader of the Opposition, and I rule it out of order.
– I move -
That all the words after the word That” be left out with a view to insert the following : - “ the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, regarding Flinders Naval Depot, of 1024 be referred back for further consideration, so that the matter may be considered in conjunction with the results of an investigation now being conducted by the Public Accounts Committee in regard to the Jervis Bay Naval College.”
If we adopt the course I suggest, the Public Accounts Committee will, in the meantime, have completed its labours, and the House will have the benefit of the two reports. The Minister (Mr. Bowden) will lose nothing by accepting my amendment. I have had the pleasure of seeing the Flinders Naval Base on several occasions. I was chairman of the Public Works Com mittee for three years, and in that capacity I saw a good deal in connexion with its establishment. If there is one place in the Commonwealth where public money has been wasted, it is Flinders. A dozen places could be found in Port Philip where the Base could have been established to greater advantage than at this spot. On the first occasion that the Committee visited the place a wharf big enough to berth H.M.A.S. Australia was being erected on dry land, and an attempt was being made, by means of dredging operations, to bring the water to the wharf.
– Did the honorable member tell the House all about it at the time ?
– Yes. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was on the Works Committee at the time, and we spoke against the expenditure of money there. Building after building was erected, and water was laid on from the Melbourne supply at a cost of £50,000 or £60,000. The Minister has not informed us how many men are now located at Flinders. When I was there the buildings were half empty; two of the wings were scarcely occupied. I am given to understand that a couple of large wings at the Jervis Bay College are vacant, although they are capable of accommodating nearly 200 men.
– There is not enough room.
– No; because the officers are there. Jervis Bay is their happy hunting ground. The class distinction in the Navy is so great that the officers do not want to go to Flinders. The Leader of the Opposition submitted a very sensible proposition when he moved that this matter should be allowed to remain in abeyance until we had received the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Jervis Bay College. We can repose the fullest confidence in that Committee, because there is a naval man upon it who will see that no injustice is done to representatives of the Navy.
– The honorable member should remember that the party to which he belongs was responsible for the waste of over £1,000,000 at Flinders Naval Base.
– As one of the members of that party, I objected to the expenditure at the time, and censured
Senator Pearce, who was then Minister for Defence, for allowing it to go on. The present Government came into power with the support of the members of the Corner party, whose slogan was economy and Ministerial responsibility. The Government took to sea and sank the Australia-, which could have accommodated and properly housed for training purposes, 2,000 men, yet now they oropose to spend £30,000 upon the erection of additional barracks at Flinders Naval Base.
– If the Government had proposed to use the Australia for the purpose, the honorable member would have been one of the first to complain of the accommodation provided for the men.
– I do not think so. I understood that the Australia was an up-to-date ship. I think the House should refer the report before us back to the Public Works Committee. If the members of that Committee have not visited Jervis Bay recently, they might pay it a visit for the good of their heatlh If the Labour party comes into power - and nothing will stop us - we will show honorable members how money can be saved by concentrating in one place such institutions as the Duntroon Military College, the Jervis Bay Naval College, and the Point Cook establishment. That can be done, and it is what any business man would do. No business man would attempt to carry on sections of the same business in different parts of the country. The Minister for Defence has not saved ls. in his Department. Dealing with Jervis Ray College, he takes the advice of the Admirals, and with Duntroon College he takes the advice of the Generals, and “ then says everything is quite all right and things must go on as they are. We are given to understand that another disarmament conference is to be held at Washington, and if further curtailment of armaments is decided upon, it may be quite unnecessary to spend £30,000 in erecting additional barracks to train men for the Navy. In view of the spirit apparently animating the people of different nations at the present time, it is quite possible that we may have no Navy in the future.
– It is quite possible we may have no Australia.
– The honorable member did not defend Australia. He took no part in the last war. If there is to be further curtailment of naval armaments we shall have everything to gain by delaying the consideration of this proposed work. I am not criticizing the Public Works Committee in this matter. It reported only upon the proposition submitted to it, but this House should consider the possibility that after the next disarmament conference it will not be necessary for us to go in for so much naval training and preparation for war as is now proposed. The amendment I submit is not a vote of censure on the Government, but merely a request that the report should be referred back to the Committee, and should not be dealt with until the report of the Public Accounts Committee on Jervis Bay has been received. When does the Government propose to proceed with the erection of the additional barracks at Flinders Naval Base?
– What is the reason for the haste? Has the Government enlisted more men ?
– Because the accommodation at Flinders Naval Base is not sufficient for the men who are there now.
– If there is not room for them at Flinders Naval Base, the Government should shift some of them to Jervis Bay, where there is plenty of room. There are six professors and two technical advisers for the instruction of 40 boys at Jervis Bay, and we might utilize more fully the services of the professors and advisers by sending men to Jervis Bay to be trained. I asked a question on the subject of the cost of trainees at Jervis Bay last year, and learned that they cost over £1,100 per head. This is due to the excessive overhead charges of the institution. Flinders is an unsuitable place for training men, because it is so far from Melbourne. They are practically isolated there, and I would prefer to see these buildings, if the accommodation is really necessary, erected at Point Cook.
– Accommodation is already provided at Flinders, and we cannot remove the buildings which have been erected there.
– I do not propose to shift the buildings erected at Flinders, but I think it is not advisable to erect additional buildings there. I intend to vote against any more money being spent at the Flinders Naval Base.
.- Before I deal with the motion under discussion, I should like to say something in reply to a gibe hurled at me by the last speaker. When the honorable member first asked what I was doing when the Great War was on, I took his remark, as I believe most other honorable members did, as a joke; but when he referred to the matter a second time his remarks were not jocular. I wish to tell him that I would not at any time cast a gibe at any one without knowing the full facts of the case. I would suggest to the honorable member, although he is much older than I-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Bass raising a point of order or making a personal explanation, or do his remarks represent, as appears to me, a little gratuitous self-advertisement?
– The honorable member must be aware that three questions put to the Speaker do not necessarily involve a point of order. I was waiting to see the application of the remarks of the honorable member for Bass. So far I have assumed them to be relevant, and in answer to remarks made by the last speaker.
– I was saying that I would not, without knowing all the facts, say anything to any man who, perhaps, had sons who failed to enlist, though more eligible than I was for enlistment. For the satisfaction of honorable members, and in order that I may not have to submit to similar gibes in future, I may mention that I did offer to enlist, and was rejected. I shall say no more on that matter. With regard to the proposal before the House, I direct the attention of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the last speaker to the fact that two of the three representatives of the Labour party on the Public Works Committee voted in favour of the proposal. The fact is that there are more men at the Flinders Naval Base than there is reasonable accommodation for.
– What are these men?
– I am very sorry that the honorable member for Cockatoo shows such a lamentable ignorance of the subject.
– Order ! That is not a proper parliamentary remark. There is no member for Cockatoo in the House.
– I withdraw the reference to Cockatoo. The members of the Labour party claim to be the only persons doing anything to help working men. The proposal now before the House is to provide accommodation for some of the lower ratings of the Navy. Captain Sneyd, who is in charge at the Flinders Naval Base, gave this evidence to the Public Works Committee -
Sufficient space has notbeen provided in the existing building for reading and writing rooms, particularly for the ratings below those of petty officer, but in the proposed building this defect will toe overcome by providing sufficient space for recreation. The additional space in the proposed building could he utilized by occupants of the existing buildings. The petty officers have sufficient room for recreation, but from 400 to COO men have only the canteen, the billiard room, and the dormitories in which to do their writing and reading. ,
That evidence supplies a reason why this proposal should be gone on with. The Leader of the Opposition said that this House should decide what number of men should be employed in the Navy. I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. This Parliament should define its policy, and should take the advice of competent advisers as to how best to carry it out. I do not think there are many members of the House who would claim to be naval strategists. At the present time there are something like 570 men at Flinders Naval Base, in quarters providing accommodation for 501. Honorable members will see that the eighth paragraph of the report of the Public Works Committee says -
Evidence was tendered that if normal development is to be maintained the number of men tobe provided for at Flinders is estimated to ‘be not less than 1,000, which number is based upon the minimum requirements to maintain the personnel of the naval services at present in existence.
That is sufficient to show that the proposed additional buildings at Flinders Naval Base are necessary.
.- I think it is a pity that the Standing Orders do not permit us to consider the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I hope this will be a lesson to members of the House to be very careful in considering Standing Orders not to curtail the liberty of honorable members in such a way as to prevent the proper discussion of a serious matter.
– The Standing Orders do not deal with this matter.
– It is governed by the Public Works Committee Act.
– Then those who passed that Act certainly made a mistake. I do not think the members of the Public Works Committee would be very greatly put out if this were referred back to them, because in that report they make reference to the very matters to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has drawn attention. The report states -
Disregarding the policy which led to the establishment of Flinders as a naval sub-base, and the later decision apparently arrived at to abandon that idea and to retain the establishment as a naval training depot - both of which were outside the scope of the Committee’s inquiry - this proposal was approached purely from the point of view of further accommodation being required for the personnel at this training depot.
Flinders is not an ideal place for a naval depot. It is very expensive to train troops there. It is isolated, far removed from the centre of shipping, and there is not a sufficient depth of water to enable ships to come in and go out when necessary. I have visited the place on two or three occasions. When I was last there all the vessels were lying on the mud. That is not a good thing for any vessel. Another paragraph in the report states -
– That the Committee is of opinion that the defence establishments at Flinders Naval Base, Jervis Bay, Duntroon, and Point Cook should be investigated, with a view to the efficient and economic coordination of these sections of the Defence Force of Australia, and that for the time being the proposal to extend the barrack accommodation at Flinders Naval Depot be postponed.
If honorable members were well acquainted with the cost not a member would decline to refer this back for further consideration. It would make some honorable members nervous if they knew what we are spending there. We are not getting the results we should obtain from that expenditure. The regulations governing the conduct of some of these institutions are opposed to what I consider to be the correct thing. We are told that because a certain practice has been followed by the Navy for centuries we must necessarily abide by it. I am not endeavouring to lessen the value of the Navy, and have never expressed sentiments of that nature, but as a representative of the people I have a right to see that we get adequate service for the money that is expended, and if the expenditure is not justified by the results I feel bound to state what I consider would be a better course to pursue. Jervis Bay no doubt, is an ideal spot. If honorable members of this House could go down there for a fortnight every year while the fine weather lasted they would thoroughly enjoy themselves and improve their health. Those who chose it evidently possessed judgment. It may Le thought that I am trying to defeat the object of the Defence Force in Australia. I am doing nothing of the kind. It must be remembered, however, that it costs the Government £1,325 a year to maintain and train a cadet aged thirteen or fourteen years in the Jervis Bay College. That is pretty stiff. Every teaching establishment in Australia is jealous f the College, and one cannot wonder that that is so. I think that if the age were increased and the boy were given further primary education the costmight be materially reduced and accommodation could be found for th.> lower ratings. Jervis Bay College was built to accommodate 160 cadets, and it has only 41. I believe I am justified in asking the House to allow this matter to stand over. Once these buildings are erected they cannot be pulled down, and Flinders is such an out-of-the-way place that it would not be possible to use them for other purposes. We cannot proceed along the lines* followed 25 years ago to make up a deficiency between revenue and expenditure. I remember that in New South Wales, when revenue was short, the Government would sell 200,000 acre3 of Crown land at £1 per acre, and place the proceeds to revenue account. If that did not balance the accounts they would place a duty of 2s. a gallon on whisky. Such methods are not possible to-day. The amount which -we can alford to set aside for defence is limited. I hope the House will take the same view as I do. I feel confident that in another week or two we will have a report from the Committee, and be able to discuss the matter with all the facts before us.
.- I do not know what object would be gained if this matter were referred back to the Public Works Committee. So far as I can judge, it has been very fully investigated by that Committee. Unfortu- nately, I was in the hospital when a division was taken, but I was present when the report was finalized. If honorable members look at the division list they will find that Senator Barnes, Senator Lynch, Senator Reid, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Mackay, and Mr. Mathews voted for the motion to carry out the work, and Mr. Blakeley voted against it. The evidence clearly showed that if the training depot was to be continued, this accommodation must be provided. As one of the principal witnesses said, if the Navy is to be continued, in order to give proper accommodation to these men, the extensions must be made. The question at once arises, are we to continue our Navy t If honorable members opposite are opposed to its continuance they will vote against the motion. If we are going to continue it and have sufficient ratings there, surely we must take care to see that the accommodation at the depot is at least reasonable. The Minister (Mr. Stewart) asked that reasonable accommodation should be provided for the complement of men required there. It is for *;he House to decide whether that work shall be carried out or not. This cannot be now regarded, as was originally intended, as a sub-naval base. I do not think the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) was quite fair in -raking a charge of extravagance. He was Chairman of the Public Works Committee at the time, and he knows that when we went down there the question of extravagant work did not come before the Committee. The Committee had no voice whatever in regard to one of the most appalling pieces of extravagance I have ever seen - the building of a wharf on dry land. The honorable member for South Sydney was silent about it in this House. He did not mention it in any report. It was never dealt with; it did not come within the purview of the inquiry by the Committee. He can tell honorable members that we curtailed a lot of the proposals that were made for extensive buildings, particularly the workshop. To some extent we must class the whole of the work as extravagance. It was I who then drew attention to the extravagance, probably because I was sitting in opposition . This work was initiated by Admiral Henderson’s report. A Labour Administration made the appointment of the engineer, and was carrying out the work when we vent there. Honorable members are aware that I have been a member of the Public Works Committee for a very long time, and have had a good deal of experience on it. In defence work we have the Naval Department, the Defence Department, and the Aviation Department, carrying out very big schemes, involving the expenditure of enormous sums of money. Each is working as a separate Department. I suggest that it would be advisable to have the whole of this work under the control of an expert Board subject to the Minister. I would prefer the Board to’ be inside, rather than outside, the Department.
– There is one already.
– There is a Council of Defence, it is true; but that body would not meet the requirements of the situation. A great deal of expenditure is being incurred at the present time in connexion with various activities of the Department, and it seems to me that information concerning them might well be gathered by a group of experts for the guidance of honorable members. There is waste under the present system. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) was in error when he said just now that a Labour Government was not in power when the Flinders Naval Depot was started. It was a Labour Administration that started the work at both the Flinders Depot and Cockburn Sound. I well remember, two years after work had started, getting evidence from Mr. Settle, who had been brought out to. draw up the plans. Large sums of money had already been expended. The idea then was that Flinders should be converted into a sub-naval base. As a matter of fact, it is useless for that purpose, but is quite suitable for a naval training depot. If we are to continue the Australian Navy we must have the additional buildings to give reasonable accommodation for the men to be trained there. I ask honorable members to look at the proposal in this light. Are we going to continue the Australian Navy? If so, we must have ratings properly trained, and must give the men reasonable accommodation. If we are not going to continue our present naval policy, then the motion should be rejected.
.- Reference has been made, during the debate, to the fact that members of the Public Accounts Committee- are at present preparing a report dealing with the Royal Naval College at Jervis Bay and the Royal Military College at Duntroon, and it has been suggested that the report may have some bearing upon the proposal before the Blouse. It is quite true that we are taking evidence concerning the two institutions mentioned, but the investigation has no bearing at all upon this proposal to erect additional buildings at the Flinders Naval Depot.
– Nobody said that it would.
– The fact that the Leader of the Opposition asked that consideration of the motion should be held over pending the presentation of the Public Accounts Committee report on the two College;: referred to, suggested that it had.
– I thought that the report of the Public Accounts Committee as to the accommodation at Jervis Bay might help honorable members to come to a decision in regard to this proposed work.
– It is well known that the present enrolment at Jervis Bay is only about 40, whereas there is accommodation in the cadet barracks for 120 naval cadets. The lads there are undergoing special training to prepare them for certain positions in the Australian Navy, while the naval ratings at the Flinders Depot are being trained for other positions in the Navy.
– “Why could they not undergo that course of training under the same instructors?
– If 120 men were sent from the Flinders depot to Jervis Bay, it would be necessary to duplicate the instructional staff there, for the training of the lower ratings. No economy would be effected at all. At the Flinders depot there is a staff for the training of 500 ratings. I want members clearly to understand that nothing will be gained by waiting for the report of the Public Accounts- Committee on the Jervis Bay Naval College. The question to be decided to-night is whether sufficient accommodation is to be provided for the naval ratings at the depot. The evidence attached to the report shows that, at the present time, it is below strength. Cap tain Sneyd, who is in charge of the training of the ratings there, has stated that, if we are to maintain the Australian Navy on an efficient basis, we should have at least 1,000 men in training. There is accommodation for 500, and at present there are 598 at the depot. The accommodation, therefore, is quite inadequate. Unless it is extended, further appointments cannot be made. More men should be entering the depot for training to take the places of men who leave the ships on the completion of their time. What we do to-night will probably affect the efficiency of the Australian Navy in two, three, or four years’ time. If, by postponing consideration of this motion, we delay this urgent work, much valuable time will be lost. I hope that no honorable member will vote against the motion in the belief that the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Jervis Bay Naval College will clarify the position. This proposal must be judged on its merits.
.- I quite agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that it is not reasonable to expect honorable members to digest at such short notice the evidence attached to the report of the Public Works Committee. The proposal involves the expenditure of £30,000. It is advisable, therefore, that honorable members should have an opportunity of studying the evidence. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition on this point, but I disagree with his suggestion that consideration of the motion should be postponed. We have to look at the facts and, if possible, find out where we stand. It is a pity that the admiral who recommended that Flinders should be a subnaval base did not, on the way down, slip on a piece of orange-peel or a bananaskin, because Flinders is the last place in Australia for such a purpose. I understand that the high official who made the recommendation that committed this country to heavy expenditure there saw Flinders at high water. It is very fine at high water, but quite a different place at low tide. You cannot float a vessel up to the wharf at low water. Just fancy 1,000 bluejackets being deposited at a place where the ships could not enter! But, like the Capital City proposal, there has been so much expenditure at the depot that we cannot very well turn back. It is an established fact. I do not know exactly what amount of money has been spent at Flinders, but I understand it is well over £1,000,000. Captain Sneyd, in his evidence, states -
My personal opinion is that it would not be advisable to spend very large sums of money in endeavouring to make this place suitable for large vessels to enter.
They cannot enter the depot at all.
As a training establishment, however, I consider it entirely suitable, and one which ought to be maintained even at considerable expense.
Further on in his evidence he says -
We must train our own men, and this is the only place available for the purpose. To interfere with its natural growth, supposing naval service is to extend, would be suicidal. As the service increases, so must the training opportunities be extended. The extensions proposed are not necessitated by an increased service, but are merely to meet the requirements of the present complement as provided for by .the current Estimates.
As the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) has pointed out, there are 598 men at the depot, and accommodation for only 500 . With the two new cruisers, which I hope will be built, we shall require extra complement. These men must be trained somewhere. Captain Sneyd says that the depot is an excellent training establishment, and I submit that, as so much money has been expended there already, we must go on. The Chairman of the Public Works Committee (Mr. Gregory), in presenting the report, states -
After carefully considering all the evidence laid before it, the Committee is of opinion that to eliminate the overcrowding now complained of and to meet future normal development of the depot, further accommodation is required, and recommends that the erection of the building proposed be proceeded with.
In the circumstances, I ask the Opposition to withdraw their amendment. Very great harm will be done to tho men of the lower deck if the additional accommodation is not provided. All the evidence I have been able to read to-night clearly points out that the men have no place in which to read or write. There are 70 men in excess of the space available, and therefore the extra building recommended by the Public Works Committee, after an exhaustive investigation, should be provided. The amendment that the proposal be referred back to the Public Works Committee for further consideration would serve no real purpose, and I shall, therefore, vote against it.
.- I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) respecting thf- excessive cost of the Flinders Naval Base and the inefficient method of carrying out the work, but it must be remembered that the Labour Government, from 1910 to 1913, and the Cook-Irvine Government, from 1913 to 1914, were both responsible for its construction. Unfortunately, as has happened in many cases where new works have been established, an absolutely unqualified person was appointed to carry out this work. I wish to give the honorable member, for Swan the credit that is due to him. When the Public Works Committee visited Flinders Base, the honorable .member was the first to draw attention to the unbusiness-like method adopted in constructing the wharf. Members of the Federal Parliament represent not only their particular constituencies and States, but the whole of the Commonwealth. It is not right for an honorable member to libel any portion of Australia, more especially its ports; The leading admirals and other qualified experts contend that Westernport is one of the finest ports in the British Empire.
– If a jetty were built 100 feet out from the shore, a depth of water of 40 feet would be obtained.
– The honorable member is speaking of Hann’s Inlet. It matters no? whether Admiral Henderson was right or wrong in recommending Flinders as a sub-base. A parliamentary paper, dated the 22nd April, 1914, and presented to this House during the regime of the Cook-Irvine Government, contains a report on the Flinders Naval Base by Sir Maurice FitzMaurice - one of the greatest engineers, I suppose, of the world, and a member of a famous firm which has supervised the construction of many of the great docks of the British Empire and Europe. Sir Maurice FitzMaurice stated in his report -
I have, after roughly estimating the works at each place, come to the conclusion that Hann’s Inlet has been wisely chosen as the cheapest site for a naval base in Port Western, assuming that it is used for destroyers and submarines only.
At the time this report was presented to the House, Admiral Henderson and other admirals considered that a submarine base should be situated in still water. Since then, we have had! the experience of the war, and comparing the submarines of the two periods is like comparing a giant with a pigmy. The report continues -
Quite apart from the question of the work at the Base is the question of railway communication, mid in this connexion Ha mi “a Inlet gives better facilities than any other site. I have gone into the question of tho position of the Base at possibly some greater length than necessary, and I feci sure that the same points as I have mentioned have been carefully considered by others, but I felt it necessary to satisfy myself that thu best situ had been selected.
I admit that when the tide is out, 1 Faun’s Inlet does not present an attractive appearance, but, at the time we were seeking a training base for submarines and destroyers, the experts agreed that Harm’s Inlet was the best site. There has been considerable criticism of Flinders as a training base, but, credit for economy must be given to the Labour Government. Admiral Henderson recommended five or six different places in Australia as being suitable for bases and sub-bases. These included Sydney, Port Stephens, Hobart, Port Lincoln, Henderson, in Western Australia, and Flinders, in Victoria. Over £1,000,000 has been spent at Flinders Naval Base, and some of it, I admit, was wasted during the term of office of both the Governments I have named. Yet a considerable sum of money has been saved in the training of men by concentrating at the Flinders Naval Depot instead of establishing bases at tho different places recommended by Admiral Henderson. At Jervis Bay there is a college for the training of naval officers, and at Flinders the training of naval ratings is undertaken. I find myself in a rather peculiar position because the members of the Committee that investigated this question were practically unanimous in their recommendation. There was one dissentient, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley). Senators Barnes, Lynch, and Reid, and Messrs. ‘ Jackson, Mackay, and Mathews recommended the provision of extra accommodation at the Flinders depot for the lower ratings of the Australian Navy. Judging by the accommodation at Flinders depot, and at other places under the control of the Commonwealth, I should say that, if the premises were subject to the provisions of the Factories Acts existing in the various States, the Government would be prosecuted for overcrowding. I hope the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) will not press the. matter to a division. As the lower ratings of the Navy will be benefited by the increased accommodation at Flinders, this House might, well allow the motion to go through without calling for a division.
– In view of the trend of the debate, and particularly in view of the speech of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), I suggest that, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) will be well advised to withdraw his amendment. This is not a question of the suitability of Flinders as a Naval Base, or as to which Government commenced the work. We have now to decide whether suitable accommodation shall be provided for the men already training at Flinders. If the men concerned were in the gallery listening to the debate, I feel sure that they would agree to very little of what has been said by honorable members opposite. The proposal has been investigated and reported on by a responsible Committee representing both sides of the House, and, with one exception, every member of that Committee is satisfied that the work is necessary. I appeal to the honorable member for South Sydney to withdraw his amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 14th May, vid.e page 645) :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
.- This clause deals with the definition of “ Commissioner “ and “ Commission,” and on it we should test the question of whether or not there should be a Commissioner or Commission. If it is agreed to without argument, we shall tacitly agree to the appointment of a Commission. A good deal of discussion has taken place on this question. Some honorable members desire one Commissioner, some three, and others want no Commission at all. The Minister stated last night that it was necessary to make this change in the interests of economy, and he stressed the point that the administration of the Capital by two Departments was unsatisfactory. If the proposed alteration is agreed to, the Department of Home and Territories, which is administered by a Minister in another place, will be in control. The Bill makes no provision for ‘ this Parliament to be consulted. The very fact that the Minister whom the. Board must consult will not be in this House will debar honorable members in this Chamber from questioning him about matters connected with Canberra. If the administration of the Federal Capital territory is to be under a Minister at- all, that Minister should be in this Chamber, as it is this House which is supposed to have charge of the pursestrings. I doubt very much whether we shall be given an opportunity to deal with matters pertaining to Canberra in any circumstances, although the Minister said last night that many of the provisions of the Bill would necessitate this House being consulted from time to time. If appointed, the Commission will have powers as great as those of the Melbourne City Council. The Bill requires that they shall report quarterly, but such reports will be made to the Minister, and not to this House. The Commission’s annual report has also to be furnished to the Minister, and although the Bill provides for it to be placed before honorable memhers, that may not be done until the report ls a year or more old. We all know of annual reports which have been presented to Parliament months after the close of the financial year; the same thing might occur in this case.
– The Bill requires that the report shall be presented to Parliament within 30 days of the receipt of it by the Minister.
– Parliament may not be in session when the report is received. The Commission may alter the plans of the city. Work in accordance with the altered plan may be in progress for six months before this House has an opportunity to disallow the modification or variation which has been made. What would be the use of disallowing an alteration after so long a period had elapsed? In those circumstances it is idle to say that this House would have control. Throughout the Bill the word “ Minister “ occurs. There is to be no obligation on his part to bring these matters before Parliament, so that the administration will rest entirely with the Commission.
– What has all that to do with the definition clause?
– If we allow this definition clause to pass, we tacitly agree to the appointment of a Commission.
– Let us deal with that on the clause referring to the appointment of a Commission.
– We shall adopt whatever procedure we consider necessary or desirable. If the honorable member desires to raise a point of order, he may do so. The definition clause states that “ Commissioner “ means a member of the ‘ Commission,- and that “ Commission “ means the Commission under this Act. As we on this side are against the appointment of a Commission, we desire to register our protest now, and not allow the matter to reach a later stage. It would save time if the question were settled now. As this matter was fully discussed on the second reading, I do not desire to reiterate the arguments then put forward, except to say that the work at Canberra is now proceeding satisfactorily. That is admitted, even by members in favour of the appointment of a Commission. If that state of affairs exists while the work is under the jurisdiction of this House, why should we appoint a Commission at additional cost ? The salaries of three Commissioners would total £7,000 per annum. That amount, although considerable, includes no provision for any additional staff. If a Commission were appointed, it would not then be a question of three men only, as it would gather around it a big staff, and add to the cost of Canberra by probably £20,000 or £30,000, instead of £7,000 a year. In order to test the question of the appointment of a Commission, I ask the Committee to negative the clause.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 - (3.) A copy of the instrument by which any modification or variation of the plan has been made shall be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within fifteen days of the making thereof if the Parliament is then sitting, or, if not, then within fifteen days of the next meeting of the Parliament.
.- In addition to laying on the table of the House a copy of the instrument by which a modification or variation of the plan is made, it should also be compulsory upon the Minister to submit the original plan. The House should have an opportunity to vary the original plan if it thinks fit to do so.
– I have no objection to the adoption of that suggestion.
– I move-
That in sub-clause 3, after the word “ of,” first occurring, the words “ the plan or “ be inserted.
– I point out to the honorable member that sub-clause 2 provides-
The Minister may at any time, by writing under his hand, modify or vary the plan so published, but no such modification or variation shall be made until after the expiration of thirty days after notice of intention, published in the Gazette, so to modify or vary the plan has been given.
A copy of the instrument by which any modification is made must be laid on the table of the House. A copy of the actual writing by which the Minister makes the modification must be submitted to honorable members. The instrument will show how the Minister intends to modify the plan. He must publish in the Gazette a plan of the lay-out of the city, and that plan is supposed to be accepted as fundamental.
– Suppose the House should desire to modify or vary the plan ?
– The plan should be the permanent foundation of the whole scheme. We know from experience that the plan has to be adapted to the contour of the country. Already slight modifications have had to be made. The intention of the clause is to ensure that alterations shall not be made unless Parliament has proper notification of them. The Minister must give notice of his intentions. They must be published in the Gazette; and a copy of the actual instrument must be placed before Parliament. Every possible information must be given to the House. I suggest that the clause as it stands will carry out the intentions of the honorable member.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) For the purposes of this Act there shall be a Federal Capital Commission, which shall be charged with the general administration of this Act.
– I desire to move an amendment, because the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) said that I offered no opposition to the Bill. I oppose the construction of the Capital, and object to the site, because of what I saw there. At the conclusion of my previous remarks I said that I did not believe in Parliament leaving to any one else the duty of “ carrying the baby “ it had brought into being.
I did not discuss the clauses of the Bill. I did not deal, with all the powers proposed to be vested in the Commission, of which we, as yet, know nothing, except that which we can gain from conjecture. We do not know whether the Commissioners will be capable of doing the job. I have no doubt that we can find men capable of doing it, just as the electors have found a man capable of acting as Minister for Works and Railways. The Minister is doing the job very well, and members on both sides of the House appear to be satisfied. The Bill is an attempt to shelve the responsibility of Parliament for the continuation of the Capital. It will remove that responsibility to the shoulders of an outside body. That is the kernel of the Bill. Whether an honorable member will be able to bring before the Commission a question relating to the rates levied on the humpy he will never occupy is beside the question. Most honorable members will live in Sydney. As Canberra develops, there will probably have to be a city council and many administrative bodies. It will be many years before we need incur the expense of appointing a Commission. It will be many years before anything more than a district council will be needed. My opposition to the Bill is expressed in the few remarks I am now making, and those I made previously. I think the Minister was talking with his tongue in his cheek. He knows full well what the crux of the position is. I am informed, and possibly it can be verified, that before he became Minister for Works and Railways, he made a speech embodying the same ideas in regard to Canberra that I have. Possibly, if he had not been a member of the Composite Government, and if he had not been engaged in an attempt to get Ministers out of their troubles, he would have been heard making a similar speech from the cross benches to-day, and, so to speak, throwing bricks at Canberra, where there is now an over supply of bricks. There is nothing at Canberra to make us proud of it in the belief that we can set up a city to the glorification of Unified Australia. Not one scintilla of what was promised, when the people were asked to adopt Federation, has been carried out. We were told that we were to have ‘ ‘ one people, one flag, one destiny, and one big city.” But the “big city” is nothing but wattle and daub, bricks and rough-cast buildings. Honorable members speak with their tongues in their cheeks when they declare that they will inhabit it. They talk about the 5,000 people who will be there within the next few years. Will any honorable member say who those people will be? The majority of them will be public servants who will raise a big row about the salaries they are to be paid up there, as compared with what they are now drawing in Melbourne or Sydney. Thus additional cost will be imposed on the taxpayers. The real object of this Bill is to meet the troubles that will arise when we meet at Canberra in 1926. We are not honest to the general community when we conceal the facts. The idea of having a big city would be all right if it had arisen out of a general Federal spirit to create a capital instead of out of the petty spite of some people of Sydney, who demanded the building of the Capital in. New South Wales as the price of accepting Federation. Perhaps then we should have something worthy of the great continent we are supposed to govern. But we are not getting it now. My opposition to the Bill is based on the fact that it is merely shifting the responsibility from the Minister to a Commission, and involving us in an additional expense, the details of which I need not repeat, more than to say that the salaries to be paid to the Commissioners by no means, represent the whole of the expenditure involved iri appointing a Commission. There is no side-stepping the issue. Had I, on the second reading, occupied the whole of the time allowed to me by the Standing Orders, and dealt with the Bill, clause by clause, I could not have said more than that it was unnecessary, except to enable the Government, who have found the job too big for them, to side-step their responsibility and evade the criticism that may be levelled against them because of their inability to control the situation. I shall move an amendment to meet the case.
– Does the honorable member propose to appoint another Board?
– The honorable member need not worry. There will be plenty of
Boards’ at Canberra, there will be a Health Board, a Markets Board, and possibly a Gas Board, although, for many years to come, the only gas we shall have there will be that supplied by honorable members when they meet for the shortest sessions possible. I know that the “ gas “ to which I refer is not inflammable, and that it is merely hot air, but it can be classed in the category of gas. However, if the expression gives offence I shall substitute for it “ outbursts of wisdom.” I anticipate that my amendment will be supported, not only by those honorable members who opposed the Bill on the second reading, but also by others. I move -
That after the word “ which “, sub-clause (1), the words “ shall be the Minister for Works and Railways who “ be inserted.
Further on, the clause provides that the Commission may be sued. I want the Minister to be sued, particularly in this House, for want of practical application to his job, and kicked from pillar to post if he has taken on a position he is not qualified to hold. The electors send us here to see that those who are commissioned by the Governor-General undertake their duties properly, and do not “ fall clown “ on them as promptly as the Composite Government have “ fallen down” in regard to the Federal Capital. My amendment, if carried, will improve the Bill out of all knowledge and place the responsibility where it should lie. It will show to the people of Australia that the worst spot in the whole of the continent has been chosen as the site of the Federal Capital, and will enable posterity to lay the blame upon the right shoulders.
.- For several days the Bill has been debated, and last night an important division was taken on the second reading, the result of which shows that the majority of honorable members are in favour of the appointment of a Commission. With a few other honorable members on this side of the Chamber I was opposed to the appointment of a Commission, but I am now prepared to accept the decision to which the House has come.
– The Chamber has not agreed to have three Commissioners.
– We are prepared to discuss that issue, but as it has already been decided, that there is to be a Commission we should not waste any further “time on that issue, but should try to carry out the wishes of the House and make the Bill as good a measure as possible.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 - (1.) The Commission shall consist of three members who shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral. (3.) The Chairman of the Commission, and any member of the Commission remunerated solely by way of salary, shall devote the whole of his time to the duties of his office.
– It is my intention to move to have the words “ and any member of the Commission remunerated solely by way of salary” omitted from sub-clause 3. The next clause provides -
The reason for inserting paragraph 2 in clause 7 was that the Government considered that in the initial stages it would probably be unnecessary to have three full-time Commissioners. Theamendment which I have foreshadowed is to provide that the remuneration of two of the three Commissioners shall be by way of fees as prescribed. It will mean that we shall have one full-time Commissioner on a salary, and two part-time Commissioners who shall be paid prescribed fees.
.- The amendment foreshadowed by the Minister certainly makes an alteration, but it maintains the principle of three Commissioners .
– And the Minister intends that they shall be paid at a rate which nobody knows.
– The amendment will lead us nowhere. I believe that it is to be proposed for the purpose of satisfying those honorable members opposite who committed themselves to vote against the appointment of’ three Commissioners, but it will not get them out of their difficulty.
– We shall provide that the fees as prescribed shall not exceed a total amount of £2,000 a year each.
– The only alteration which will be made by the amendment will be that the two men who under the clause as drafted may receive a salary up to £2,000 a year, will give only part of their time to the work of the Commission, and will receive fees.
– There is a distinction without a difference.
– The Minister’s proposed amendment is simply a subterfuge behind which honorable members on the other side who committed themselves to vote against the appointment of three Commissioners may shelter. If I know those honorable members, they will not agree to a proposal of that kind. I am surprised that the Government has attempted to place them in such an awkward position. The Minister’s proposed amendment certainly modifies this provision, but it still leaves three Commissioners.
– With the important difference that only one of them can be employed on full time, and that the other two shall be paid prescribed fees according to the time they devote to the work.
– But their fees may amount to £2,000 a year each, which is the amount of salary mentioned in the Bill.
– We might just as well have three full-time men.
– The Minister has put a poor sort of a proposition before us. . I do not think that it will justify any honorable member who spoke in favour of the appointment of one Commissioner altering his mind. Surely honorable members who are against three Commissioners will not agree to a proposal of this description. If they vote for the Minister’s amendment, they mill undoubtedly be voting for three Commissioners. ‘ Honorable members know that I am opposed to the appointment of a Commission. The House, so far, has decided against my view. I now want to know whether honorable members desire one Commissioner or three to be appointed. To test their feeling on that matter, I move
That the word “ three,” line 1, be omitted with the view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ one.”
.- I would have been content to continue the masterly reticence which I displayed in the early part of the discussion on this Bill but for the appeal the Minister (Mr. Stewart) made last- evening in concluding the second-reading debate. He then said something which seemed to me to be akin to an expression of deep regret that I had not thought fit to speak. It must therefore, be understood that this speech, short as it must necessarily be under the Standing. Orders, is in the nature of a contribution by special request. The Minister, looking over at me with that appearance of modified friendliness which lately has distinguished his attitude towards me, said that, evidently, I was bewildered about what should be my bearing towards this Bill. I was bewildered by nothing except the attitude of the Minister himself. I was bewildered by the fact that when we first heard him deliver an eloquent address on this subject, he was a whole-hearted opponent of the policy of Canberra. When next we heard him upon the subject, he spoke with a new and friendly concern for his position as a docile supporter of his erstwhile enemies over the Canberra project. My only concern now is to know what his attitude is likely to be during the Committee stage of the Bill. I hope I shall have no difficulty, Mr. Chairman, in convincing you that my remarks are not is the nature of a second-reading speech, but are peculiarly germane to the clause and the very important matter of the appointment of three Commissioners for the administration of the Territory. When many years ago- not so many years, after all, in the history of a nation - this Parliament was established, you, sir, were practically in your swaddling clothes. Nobody had thought of you associating with such signal success in the occupancy of the chair the qualities of ease and dignity. The great men who were then in this Parliament thought it an honour to be the chosen of the people. The dignity of their position added lustre to their reputations. You, sir, are no doubt beginning to wonder precisely in what way these remarks are germane to the clause. I will have no difficulty in showing you, and even, I believe, in getting a sense of their relevance into the understanding of the Minister. Times have changed,’ or, as it is said in the classics - and said wisely - tempora mutantur, though I must not speak a foreign language in this Chamber. When I listened to the debate on this subject last night I was pained to hear the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron), and the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), taking a view of our Parliamentary positions and responsibilities calculated at least to remove that guid conceit of ourselves, which we certainly ought to have. A guid conceit of ourselves is a Scotch phrase, and I commend it to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), a distinguished and economical representative of his race. The honorable member for Oxley recommended that the administration of the Federal Capital Territory should be handed over to three Commissioners, and said that the main reason for doing so was that we as a Parliament, with the honorable and distinguished gentlemen who are now members of tho Cabinet, would be making roads and bridges in the Territory for ourselves. Without putting it in the harsh language which the honorable member evidently meant, he said that there would be at Canberra a venal and corrupt Parliament and a Government that could not be trusted to administer the Territory honestly in the interests of the whole people of Australia. The honorable member for Barker, as the most glowing testimonial he could give to himself, said, “If I thought for a single moment that this Bill was designed to create a position for a member of this Parliament or. for an ex-member of this Parliament, or for any politician, I should be wholeheartedly against it.” While we on this side persist in the view that members of Parliament - at all events, of the Labour party - are as honest and consistent in their patriotism at least as are average gentlemen: outside this Parliament, it scorns to be the special practice of honorable members opposite, with their ears to the ground for what the press will say about them, to re-echo the statements of the press, that, being politicians, they are not to be trusted. Honorable members on this side do not share that view. If honorable members opposite, including you, sir, in your exalted position as honorable member for Oxley, the honorable member for Barker, and others, do take that view of the Government as administrators, arid of themselves as members, I meekly accept their judgment of their own character and capacity. They speak of what they know better than I do. But I do not propose to associate honorable members on this side of the House with any such opinion of members of Parliament in their representative capacity.
– An excellent secondreading speech.
– I call your attention, sir, to the fact that the Minister is reflecting upon you in a grossly improper way, when, if I may say so, you are discharging your duty so admirably.
The’ TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley). - The honorable member must address himself to the clause.
– I will do so. It is proposed that we should have a Commission of three members to administer the Federal Capital Territory, and this is the clause under which they are to be appointed. The honorable member for * Kooyong (Mr. Latham), in his learned, legal way, said that he would not be favorable to the appointment of an extra parliamentary commission having no Ministerial responsibility if this were a business proposal. Apparently, the management of the Federal Capital is not. a business proposition. When I heard the honorable member for Kooyong use these words I looked at the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) to see if he required a stimulant. I wondered what would be the effect upon members of the Country party when they learned that, according to the honorable member for Kooyong, the Federal Capital was to bc run by three Commissioners on nonbusiness lines. They have accepted that. What would they not accept, I wonder, in their new position as members of the subservient wing of the Nationalist party?
They accepted it upon the grounds of economy ! We ave appointing these’ Commissioners for economical reasons. We. are proposing to pay them salaries aggregating £7,000 a year in tho interests of economy ! Wo are to have new Commissioners, a new- Department, and a new branch of the Public Service, in the interests of economy! If that is so, I call upon the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) to discharge from the notice-paper that Bill of his which deals with the salaries of Honorable members, and I ask the Committee, iu .the interests of economy, to double the emoluments of honorable members. It is obvious that if we are to be efficient we must be adequately paid. Prom the arguments to which Ave have listened it follows logically that it is only by paying out further moneys oil round to all of us that we can secure efficiency and economy . I would ask the members of the party of economy what hole they can pick in that argument. This is the- clause upon which they should take action. In following the debate on the second reading, I heard encomiums passed upon the gentlemen who ore administering the Territory to-day. Even from this side, rare as such phenomenon is, I heard words of praise addressed to the Government for their success in administering the Federal Capital Territory. We are agreed that they are doing well. Ali! rarer than the most precious gems that have been yielded to longing mankind by reluctant mother earth is a good deed on the part of this Government! That being so, why have they taken away their one gem - the one bright spot which stood out upon the dark smudge of their sordid record? Why have they obliterated this one bright spot from the page of their dismal history? It was the only one. Having done one thing well, why should they seek to undo it? The Minister in his second-reading speech paid a glowing tribute to his officers. He said that we have a surveyor-general doing his work well. I know that it is true. He said we have an architect who is second to none in the world. We have a working staff operating industriously and successfully. We have a man at the head of the -great sewerage .undertaking in the- Capitals who is: ‘almost;-‘ by ; his success, converting honorable members on this side to the contract system. All this the Government are doing in the Capital Territory, and because they are doing it, they would rob us of the fruits of the’ only thing that they have successfully accomplished. They wish to make a change. Let it bc so. In the interests of economy let them pour out these extra thousands of pounds. Let them create a new Public Service, and show to Australia and. to tho world that they have not done anything successfully except that they have established uniformity in practice and policy. Let them remove from the statute-book any measure which- prevents us continuing to do well.. It is their funeral. I have said the few words which I was required to say, aud I trust that I have entirely satisfied the Minister. I have spoken words of wisdom. Ho one can deny that, and if they wish to go their own gait I oan only say, “ Amen.” Progress reported.
Australia’s Representative at Washington.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to inform the House that Mr. J. A. M. Elder has accepted the position of Australia’s representative in the United States in the place of Mr. Donald Mackinnon, whose term expires on the 31st of this month.. Mr. Elder, as I think most honorable members know, has occupied a very prominent position in the commercial world of Melbourne. He has been the representative of the Chambers of Commerce upon the Commonwealth Board of Trade. He has also recently been very actively engaged on .the Empire Exhibition Commission, and has been acting chairman of the Commission since Senator Wilson has been abroad. Mr. Elder will leave for America at the end of August, or early in September, and Mr. Donald Mackinnon will continue to act until he arrives in America. The term of the appointment is two years. Question.. resolved . in the , affirmative.
House adjourned at’ 10.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 May 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240515_reps_9_106/>.