9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent, after reservation, reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported .
– The following letter from the widow of the late Right Honorable William Massey, P.C., formerly Prime Minister of New Zealand, has been received, addressed to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives: - “ Ariki-Toa,” 260 Tinakori-road,
Wellington, 7th August, 1925.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th July, forwarding a bound copy and other copies of resolutions and speeches delivered in both Houses of Parlia ment of the Commonwealth of Australia relating to the death of myhusband, the late Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Will you please accept and convey to members of both Houses my family’s and my own sincere and heartfelt thanks for the very kind sympathy and condolence extended to us in our great sorrow, and also an assuranceof our very deep appreciation of the resolutions agreed to and the tributes paid to Mr. Massey’s services.
Railway to the Coast - Alleged Sly Grog Selling.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, in view of the proposed early removal of this Parliament to its eternal home at Canberra, and the early occupation of the permanent capital of the Commonwealth, if he will make inquiries, and advise as to the steps which are to he taken to open up the promised railway from a point on the railway near Yass, through Canberra, to the sea?
-I shall bring the honorable gentleman’s question under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories.
– I wish to refer to a matter affecting Canberra, and, perhaps, on that account, the question I desire to askshould be addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories; but as the matter with which it deals affects the good name of the Commonwealth, I think it should be brought directly under the notice of the Prime Minister. To explain my question, I propose to read a very short paragraph which appeared yesterday in the Sydney Sun. It is headed, “ Is Canberra dry - Baptist. Congress asks - Is sly grog sold?” and is dated from Adelaide. It reads -
Delegates to the Baptist Congress to-day suggested that Canberra is a happy hunting ground forsly grog sellers.
In urging that the Federal Government should keep Canberra dry, the Rev. Escourt Hughes said that sly grog selling was going on vigorously. He added that the New South Wales police were not concerned with the Fede ral Territory, and the Federal Government had no power to appoint police.
I ask the Prime Minister whether he will have these allegations investigated with a view to seeing whether they have any foundation in fact?
– I shall have the statements investigated. On the evidence we have now I think there is no justification for them.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed a statement attributed to Professor Sir Edgeworth David, made when that eminent geologist was recently being farewelled in Sydney, to the effect that there is great possibility of oil being found in Papua and the mandated territory ofNew Guinea? If so, will he again take into consideration the advisability of subsidizing drilling operations in the mandated territory of New Guinea, seeing that operations in Papua have already been subsidized through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company ?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration.
– In view of the change of the Government’s policy regarding the encouragement of boring for oil in Australia, will the Prime Minister take into favorable consideration the case of a company that has spent about £70,000 in trying to find oil? During its operations it has bored 15,000 feet in different bores. I believe that it is now very near to success.
– Order! The honorable member must not make a speech.
– I cannot ask the Minister to consider the matter unless I give him reasons for my request. This company has bored the last few thousand feet in consequence of the Government’s offer of £50,000 as a reward for finding oil.
– I trust that the honorable member will not endeavour to make a speech.
– I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me so much latitude. Will the Prime Minister consider such a case as this upon its merits?
– The Government’s policy is to subsidize boringon a £1 for £1basis if a responsible authority has furnished a report that the locality is one in which there is a reasonable prospect of oil being found. The Government is quite definite that it will not assist private attempts to find oil in localities which have not been favorably reported upon by a responsible authority.
– I presume that the Treasurer is cognizant of the fact that old-age. and invalid pensioners are at present being asked to answer, upon forms supplied, practically the whole of the questions which these pensioners were originally asked to answer. Will the honorable gentleman make some place available at which pensioners can answer these questions, and have the forms signed by some one in authority? At the present time the Labour offices in South Australia are inundated with work of this kind. Unfortunately, many of the old people do not understand the questions.
– Order ! The honorable member is making a statement. He must ask a question.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he will make officers available to attend to the filling up and signing of the necessary documents ?
– I shall have inquiries made as to the exact method adopted, and later on I shall make a statement on the subject to the House.
– Seeing that the Government’s policy is, in accordance with the budget statement, to increase the old-age pension by 2s. 6d. a week, will the Treasurer name the date from which the increased pension will be paid?
– I made it quite clear in my budget speech that the payment of the increased pensions would be simultaneous with the passage of legislation for national insurance.
Report by Sir George Buchanan.
– Was Sir George Buchanan, who, I understand, was invited by the Commonwealth Government to report upon Australian harbours, further instructed to report upon all matters affecting Australia?
- Sir George Buchanan was brought here to report upon the harbour and port facilities of Australia; in particular of the Northern Territory. He carried out a detailed inspection there, and after his return furnished a report which we were only too pleased to receive. Sir George Buchanan has spent a great deal of his life in tropical countries, and is therefore very familiar with the problems with which we are faced in the Northern Territory.
– Has the Prime
Minister noticed in the newspapers that “ job control “ still continues in Australia, and that the agreement between the ship-owners and the seamen has not been complied with ? If so, is it the intention of the Government to do anything further regarding the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act?
– I have seen the report in the newspapers, but having no knowledge of the facts I make no comment on it. Regarding the second part of the question, I would point out that it is not usual for a Government to announce its policy in reply to questions.
London Manager - Governor - Discount Rate - Cancellationof Notes
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Bank has been asked to supply the information desired.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– It is not the practice to comment upon reports such as that referred to.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, 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 : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Certain data with respect to the seaplane carrier have been received by the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board as a result of arrangements made by the Defence Department with the Admiralty. This has enabled material to be ordered, and the construction of the vessel will be commenced when sufficient material has been accumulated. Every effort has been and will continue to be made with a view to thecommencement of the construction of the vessel at the earliest possible date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Will he supply information with regard to the progress of oil exploration in Papua by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and the progress of the boring operations at Popo?
– Monthly reports on the operations of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company are laid upon the table of the House, the latest report being for the month of June, 1925. Later telegraphic reports regarding the progress of boring at bore No. 3, Popo, intimate that on the 8th July the tools became buried by cavings, at a depth of 2,375 feet. Attempts to recover the tools, and efforts to side-track them, failed. The hole was, therefore, filled up to 2,240 feet with rock and cement balls, and is now being redrilled.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to the successful candidates at examination 1,090 of 1922 for appointment to the clerical division of the Public Service - (a.) How many successful candidates have been so appointed?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Manufacture in Australia - Restraint of Trade-Federal Loan to States.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the very heavy losses now being sustained by new settlers in Western Australia, many of whom are repatriated soldiers, owing to the ravages of rabbits on growing crops, will he arrange to make available for the Western Australian Government, at the very earliest possible date, a portion of the proposed federal loan for the purchase of wire netting?
– The legislation authorizing advances to the states for the purpose of erecting vermin-proof fences foreshadowed in the budget will be introduced as early as possible, so as to enable advances to be made to landholders at the earliest possible date.
Artificial Limbs - Incapacitated exSoldiers.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
When does he expect that artificial limbs made from duralumin will be available at the various Commonwealth artificial limb factories ?
-It is anticipated that a commencement will be made with the issue of a light metal (duralumin) limb with a wooden foot and socket (bucket) to above knee amputees early in the new calendar year.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In regard to those incapacitated ex-soldiers who are granted pittance pensions and told they are capable of performing light jobs, is it the intention of the department to provide the light jobs ; if not, will the Minister state where such light jobs are to be secured?
– The existing method of assessing war pensions is based on the degree of disability due to war service. If an ex-soldier is so incapacitated as a result of his war service as to be capable only of undertaking light employment, his pension is assessed accordingly, and is equal to a substantial percentage of the full ordinary rate of pension provided under the act for total incapacity as a result of war service. Further, in the case of an ex-soldier who is 65 per cent. or more incapacitated, provision is made for the payment of a living allowance up to 20s. per week, in addition to pension, where the incapacity is of such a nature as to preclude him from engaging in regular employment or from earning a living wage. It may be pointed out that an important consideration in all cases is that the rate of pension as assessed continues over the whole period for which it is assessed, irrespective of the pensioner’s earnings, and may, therefore, be regarded as to that extent making up to him for time lost on account of his war disability. It is not possible for the Repatriation Department to ensure light employment for every pensioner described as fit for such employment; assistance in this direction is always given, but the securing of employment rests with the individual to a very great extent. The department has also subsidized the Returned Soldiers’ League, which desired to take a share in obtaining employment for the unemployed ex-soldiers.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the increase in the amount of trade between Australia and America for each year since the appointment of the Trade Commissioner to America?
– It is impossible to state what is the actual increase in the amount of trade with the United States of America consequent on the appointment of a Commissioner for Australia in that country. The following figures show the variations of trade with the United States of America for all years since the ap pointment of the first commissioner in 1918 : -
In this connexion it might be pointed out that the functions of the Commissioner for Australia in the United States of America in addition to the development of trade relations between the United States of America and Australia cover all matters relating to the Commonwealth Government’s interests in America, and to act for and on behalf of the Commonwealth in all such matters as he might be requested.
– On the 10th July, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) asked the following question: -
What is the approximate amount collected during the last financial year, under the entertainments tax, on prices for admission as follows: - On1s.tickets, for (a) pictures, (b) dancing, and (c) all other entertainments, together with the same information relating to 1s.6d. tickets?
I then replied that the information was being obtained. It has now been furnished by the Commissioner of Taxation, and is as follows: -
The statistics available do not enable the separation of the figures relating to dancing and skating respectively to be made.
The following papers were presented : -
Petroleum - Report of Investigations made in New South Wales by Arthur Wade, D.Sc. (London), &c.
Canned Fruit Bounty Act - Return for 1924-25.
Ironand Steel Products Bounty Act -
Return for 1924-25.
Statement setting out particulars relating to approval given for the use of imported materials in the manufacture of products upon which bounty may be paid.
Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired at Nyngan, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.
New. Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1925 -
No.. 20- Supply (No. 1) 1925-26.
No. 21 - Laws Repeal and Adopting (No. 2).
No. 22- Lands Registration (No. 2).
No. 23- Land (No. 2).
No. 24 - Interpretation and Amendments Incorporation.
No. 25- Land (No. 3).
No. 26 - Administrator’s Powers.
No. 27 - Sanitation.
No. 28- Pounds.
No. 29- Sale of Bread.
No. 30- Dog.
No. 31 - Slaughtering.
No. 32- Sale of Meat.
No. 33- Venereal Diseases.
Public Service Act -
Appointment of D. A. Tate, Department of Health.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 130, 135.
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 134.
Shale Oil Bounty Act- Return for 1924-25.
Sulphur Bounty Act- Return for 1924-25.
Wine Export Bounty Act- Return for 1924-25.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act- Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1925, No. 83.
Defence Act- Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1925, No. 132.
Distillation Act - Regulations AmendedStatutory Rules 1925, No. 111.
Naval Defence Act- Regulations AmendedStatutory Rules 1925, No. 133.
Navigation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 73, 80, 86, 87, 97.
Spirits Act- Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1925, No. 88.
– At the request of the Tariff Board I layon the table a revised copy of its report on agricultural implements, in substitution for that forwarded to me by the board on the 24th June last, and tabled and ordered by the House, on the 14th July, to be printed. The board advises me that amendments to the original report were found necessary, because of certain deductions having been drawn from the figures in the table published on page 51. There were also in the original report certain typographical errors which have since been rectified. I move -
That the report be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee ofSupply -
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote - £244,736.
.- Although serious complaints have been made from time to time of the tendency of the Navy Department to purchase stores from oversea, the local manufacturers and traders are still being overlooked by this department. I admit that there has been a considerable improvement in this respect in recent years, but many items that should be purchased in this country are still imported. As the Australian taxpayer has to pay for the defence of this country, it is only fair that he should be. given the opportunity to supply the stores required. I do not say that any price asked by the local manufacturer should be paid, but a substantial allowance should be made in his favour. We import naval officers from the Old Country - I shall not now raise the question whether it is advantageous to do so - and for a time they control certain departments of the Navy. They are appointed for two years, commencing, I believe, from the day they embark in Great Britain. Before their return they are granted leave in this country, and it. takes them a second six weeks to return to Great Britain. Thus the period of two years is reduced to a year and eight months, or a year and nine months. These men come to Australia with preconceived ideas, and many of them, because of their training and previous environment in the British navy, have a bias in favour of goods made in Great Britain. I understand that the previous Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) issued the instruction that, whenever practicable, supplies for the navy should be purchased in Australia. I should like to know whether that instruction still operates, because, in spite of it, goods that could be obtained in this country are being imported. I advise honorable members to visit the Com monwealth Clothing Factory in South Melbourne, where, under a competent manager, able workers are executing large orders for the military, naval, and postal departments. Even in connexion with clothing there are small items that some of the officers insist upon obtaining from abroad. As the Australian workers in this factory cannot be excelled in any part of the world, why should they, to say nothing of the private contractors, be ignored ?
– Can the honorable member inform me why protectionist Victoria imports more goods than any other state in Australia ?
– The honorable member is confusing whisky duties with other duties. New South Wales imports more goods per head of the population than anyother state, and it retains many of its free trade ideas. I admit that Victoria is bad enough, but some of the other states are worse. I shall deal with the tariff question later, and shall refer particularly to the unconscionable delay on the part of the Government in introducing the schedule - a delay which is in the interests of the importers. I am not asking for a disclosure of the Minister’s fiscal faith, but I am urging that whenever possible the Navy Department should give preference to articles of Australian manufacture. Many of the commodities required by the navy are given fancy names. For example, a. brush of British manufacture has a different trade description, though the Australian article may be quite as good, if nob better, for the purpose required. I am aware that in connexion with naval defence there is a certain association between Britain and Australia, bub there are far too many men and women out of employment in this country for us to tolerate for one moment the importation by Government departments of articles which can be manufactured in Australia for our naval establishments. I hope that the Minister will be able to give the committee an assurance that the policy laid down by his predecessor in office will be observed. If not - I do not. wish to say anything in the nature of a threat, because I do nob think a threat will influence the Minister - I am sure that honorable members having the interests of the Australian taxpayers at heart will have something to say in respect of the department ab the proper time.
– I can assure the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that not only has the policy laid down by my predecessor (Mr. Bowden) been endorsed, bub, as I pointed out when dealing with the cruiser contract recently, it has been tightened up since I assumed office. I became Minister fox- Defence early in January, and issued instructions for the purchase in Australia of all articles that could be made in this country in preference to importing them from Great Britain.
– Irrespective of price?
– -Since then ‘ the Navy Department has paid for articles of Australian manufacture from 150 per cent, to 200 per cent, more than the price at which such articles could be imported from England. This has been done to give effect to the Government’s policy to assist in every possible way the establishment of Australian industries.
– What articles has the Minister in mind?
– I have not the actual list., but I know that for a certain kind of nail-brush the price paid for the Australian article is 200 per cent, above British prices. Australian shaving brushes are also purchased for the navy at a much higher price than would have been paid for imported brushes. All requirements for the navy are specially reviewed by the contract board, and provided the price of the Australian article is reasonable, the local manufacturer is given preference. If the honorable member for Maribyrnong will specify any particular article that has been ordered from overseas since I came into office I shall have inquiries made and give him a definite reply in respect of it,
– I have to express very great regret at the announcement just made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse). We have been given to understand that the Government, in its desire to> encourage Australian industries, is paying as much as 200 per cent, more for articles manufactured in Australia than would have been paid for imported goods. This Parliament some time ago agreed to a high protectionist tariff, with the object of affording adequate assistance to Australian industries. As we are obliged to borrow money now from America, to enable us to carry out public works, we should insist on a little economy in expenditure for public departments.
– The money is spent in Australia.
– The honorable member for East Sydney protests against the borrowing policy of the Government, because he realizes that eventually it must press injuriously upon the taxpayers of Australia, but apparently he sees no objection to loan moneys being expended in Australia for the purchase of Australian made goods irrespective of the cost.
– The money does not go out of the country then.
– I submit that, in the expenditure of money for our public departments the margin of encouragement given to the Australian manufacturer should be, not a percentage preference fixed by a Minister, but the tariff imposed by this Parliament. It would appear that in this matter Parliament is not supreme. I say emphatically that members of the Tariff Board have been cognisant for a long time of what is happening, and I feel that the people of Australia should be informed of the facts. I am advised that there is only 2 per cent. of labour in the drawing of copper wire, and yet, notwithstanding that the rates of wages in Australia are not very greatly in excess of wages in Great Britain, and are considerably less than in the United States, in one year, without taking into account the protection afforded by the tariff, we paid the Mount Kembla Company £134,000 in excess of the British price for copper wire, and for the nine months of the following year the excess paid was £78,000. Parliament is being flouted when prices so much in excess of the imported articles are being paid for the requirements of our public departments. This course can only be justified by an announcement that the Government intends to give concessions over andabove the protection afforded by the tariff to Australian manufacturers. But it should mot be the policy of the Government to buy Australian made goodsirrespectice of the price asked. The policy is bad, because it leads to inefficiency. Moreover, I want honorable members on the other side to realize that the workers are not getting anyadvantage from this procedure, as the cost of living is con tinually increasing. Nor can I see how even those who are employed in these protected industries derive any advantage. I am sure that honorable members are not desirous of assisting any monopolist or manufacturer to obtain a higher price for his goods than is necessary. I hope that this policy will not be continued.
– The honorable member should deal with agricultural machinery.
– We shall be able to discuss that matter when the tariff is before us. It is a pity that the Tariff Board’s printed report is not yet available to honorable members.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the statement of the Minister for Defence.
– I hope that in the expenditure of money, especially loan money, the greatest economy will be shown, and that, if the Australian manufacturer cannot compete in the Australian market, unless a higher duty is imposed, the Government, before purchasing his articles at an excessive cost, will bring before Parliament the matter of the duty onthose articles. It is not fair that the people’s money should be expended to pay more than a fair price for any article required by the Government.
– It is the policy of this Government to send everything out of Australia.
-No doubt the honorable member himself purchases his supplies in the cheapest market.
– I believe in purchasing Australian goods, and in paying a fair price.
– While those who believe in a high protective tariff are justified in endeavouring to have the law framed according to their views, it is the duty of Parliament as a whole to say what the tariff shall be. The object of the tariff is to assist Australian manufacturers and workers; it should not be within the power of any Minister of the Crown to go beyond the schedule to the Tariff Act. While I wish it to be understood that I make no reflection on the present Minister, I point out that this policy opens the way for a Minister to say that he will grant a greater measure of protection to one industry than to another. From my experience of the decisions of the Tariff Board, that is what appears to be going on. I enter my strong protest against goods being purchased by the Government at prices in excess of those submitted to the Tender Board. If thu protection provided by the tariff is not considered to be sufficient, it is the duty of the Government to bring ‘in :m amending measure.
– I nin glad that we have in the House one such champion of economy as the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). The Minister has spoken of the action taken in connexion with the purchase of nail brushes and shaving brushes, but I consider that it is wasting the time of Parliament te discuss such things when matters of much greater importance demand our attention. I congratulate the Minister on having given preference to the industries concerned, as doubtless they employ a great number of people ! I wish to refer to the Lithgow factory, and should like some information from the Minister regarding the contemplated expenditure for machinery and plant. I have visited the factory, and formed the opinion that it is properly equipped for the manufacture of rifles.
– The manufacture of machine guns has been commenced there-
– If the expenditure is in connexion with the installation of machinery for the manufacture of machine guns I have no objection to it, but I should like the Minister to give us some explanation.
.- I notice that a portion of the .military stores given by the Imperial Government to Australia .has been disposed of. In answer to a question some time ago the Minister informed me that there was a considerable quantity of military equipment at Liverpool, and admitted that it was deteriorating. I now ask him whether it is proposed to dispose of further quantities of this equipment, as I understand that in addition to having deteriorated, a large portion of it is obsolete.
– We are asked to pass in connexion with division No. 1, the expenditure of £136,803. Of this amount the sum of £12,000 is set down for naval establishments - machinery and plant. In what naval establishments is this machinery to be installed, and why is it required ? Another contemplated expenditure is £117.803 for reserves of stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores, and coal and oil fuel. We should have some particulars of this amount, and should know whether the material is to be imported or made in Australia, and whether it is required for the Flinders Naval Base, Cockatoo Island, or Garden Island. Because of the action of the Government in relation to the construction of two cruisers I am a little suspicious regarding naval expenditure. The amount here is certainly less than for the cruisers, but the same principle is involved. If this expenditure is passed to-nigh t, the naval officers will tomorrow be able to commence spending the money. Where is it to be expended, and for what purpose? Much of the material may come from Germany. I do not ask for the dotting of every “ i,” and the crossing of every “ t,” but unless prevented by the “gag” or some other Unjust system, I shall not agree to thu passing of large sums for naval or military purposes unless I know the destination of the money and the reason for its expenditure. My request is a simple one : the information; which I desire should be made available to the committee. 1 am aware that honorable members opposite are prepared to swallow these estimates holus bolus. If the Minister will give the committee some information with regard to the larger items, I shall have no objection to letting the first, division of these estimates go through.
– The votes to which the honorable member has referred cover the following items: - The first item “Naval establishments, machinery and plant,” is for machinery and plant required for Naval establishments at Sydney, Swan Island Mine Depot, and Flinders Naval Depot. The votes for the Sydney establishments are for the extension of Sydney City Council mains to Newington, milling machine, tool griuder, vacuum cleaner, vertical milling machine, slotting machine, mercury arc rectifier, 300 k.w., undergrounding mains for submarine charging, fire engine, installation of machinery. drc. For the Royal Australian
Naval College one motor lorry is required. For Swan Island, electric motors, batteries, tools, electric trollies,coslettizing plant. For Flinders Naval Base motor converter, diesel engine, blower engine, machine tools and machinery, and plant for wireless telegraphy set. Item No. 2, “ coal hulks, yard craft, boats and launches,” is the vote for cost of yard craft for dockyards and establishments, and for boats and launches required for the Royal Australian Navy. Item No. 3 refers to reserve of stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores, and coal and oil fuel. A commencement was made in previous financial years in the building up of reserves of stores, and the amount proposed on these estimates will enable further steps to be taken in this direction.
– Is any of the coal referred to in the Estimates imported?
– A certain amount of coal is imported and is kept at Newcastle for special steaming purposes.
– Where are the slotting machines, and the other machines to which the Minister has referred, made?
– Everything required by the Naval Department that can be made here is being made here. I have gone through every item very carefully, and I can give the committee that assurance.
– Does that mean that tenders for the machinery are not called, but that it is made within the department ?
– Tenders are always called in cases where the machinery is not made by the department.
.- The Minister has stated that a quantity of coal is being imported for the Navy. I take it that it is imported from Great Britain. He cannot inform the House of the quantity or the price paid for this imported coal. This is a very serious matter. The whole coal industry of Australia is languishing, and in some mines men are working only a couple of shifts in a fortnight. We are told that this imported coal is kept for speeding purposes. A previous Minister of Defence told us that it was necessary to keep a reserve of this coal in the event of war. If the Defence Department is importing coal now for special steaming purposes during the next war it will be of no use when it is wanted. I personally prefer the opinion of coal experts in Australia to that of naval experts, and I have been informed that Newcastle coal is equal, if not superior, to some of the coal that is being imported. It is nothing short of a scandal that we should be importing British coal when many of our coal miners are idle, and many of our coal mines are not being worked. I suppose it is in keeping with the old conservative idea, that we must have British battleships and British coal to use in them. It is time that this kind of thing was stopped. We should give employment to our own coal miners, and use only our own coal. If coal is to be kept at grass it might as well be our own coal. Can the Minister tell the committee what portion of the £117,000 set down in the Estimates for reserve stores is spent on the coal imported 1
.- Now that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) is at the table I should like to hark back to a statement made by the Minister of Defence, that wherever possible, Australian made goods are used in the Naval Defence Department, and pursuant to that policycertain goods indefinite and undisclosed, both as to value and character, are being used, which cost the department from 150 per cent. to 200 per, cent. more than would have to be paid for similar goods if they were imported. I should like to know whether this is the policy of the whole Government or of only half of it. If it is the policy of only half the Government I should like to know which half prevails in this delicate matter. When the Minister made the statement to which I have referred I could not help noticing the ill-concealed indignation of members of the Country party. I naturally ask myself whether it is possible that the members of the Country party are supporting the Government in a matter of this kind. I am concerned to know what section of the Government is responsible in this matter.
– The honorable member takes up a neutral attitude.
– Not at all. I say at once that if the Minister’s statement is founded upon fact he should put further facts before us. He should say what goods he refers to, where they are manufactured, and in what quantity. He should give the fullest justification for the practice of the Department in this regard. I do not think there is an honorable member on either side who favours unlimited and unexamined subsidies to local manufacturers. We are all very anxious to promote and stimulate Australian industries, but I hope that no honorable member is prepared to do so blindly.
– Is the honorable member discussing any particular item?
– I am discussing a matter raised by the Minister at the outset. I want a little more light on the subject. Something should be done to allay the indignation of members of the Country party who are supporting the Government at the present time.
– That has nothing to do with the Estimates.
– Then I shall say no more.
– The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) asked a question with respect to the coal reserve. The war reserve is 30,000 tons. The present reserve stock is 17,000 tons, and this year the department proposes to add to the reserve 6,500 tons at a cost of £23,000.
– On a question of order. I understood that the committee was discussing division No. 1 of these Estimates, under the control of the NavalDefence Department.
– It was under that head that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) spoke upon the matter to which I addressed myself. In the circumstances I should like to know, sir, why you ruled my observations out of order.
– They were too general.
– Thismatter was discussed on the one side by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), and on the other side by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) with their characteristic vigour and eloquence. But when, with my customary moderation, I proceed to debate it I am told that my remarks are out of order. I rose not to create a diversion, but to express strongly my views, and I do not like to be told that my remarks are out of order, when, in fact, they are entirely relevant to the discussion.
.- Item No. 1 of Division No. 3 relates to moneys obtained from the sale of postbellum equipment received from the British Government, and I should like to know whether the Government intends to dispose of stores at Liverpool and elsewhere which are deteriorating owing to the fact that there is not sufficient staff available to recondition them as required. The committee should be advised of the intention of the Government respecting the gift aeroplanes received from the British Government. It has been said that owing to disuse and lack of attention certain equipment has become practically worthless.
– I can assure the honorable member that every effort has been made to protect the gift aeroplanes received from the British Government. I admit that they have undergone a certain amount of deterioration owing to insufficient protection from the weather; but a great number of them have been reconditioned, and are now in use. As none of them are obsolete, it is intended to recondition the remainder, and to place them under protection from weather at Laverton and at Point Cook, where extra accommodation is being provided under the estimates of last year, and this year. Obsolete articles will be sold.
– Such as leather equipment.
– Yes. All perishable goods will be sold at an early date.
– Does the Government intend to sell a lot of timber and galvanized iron that is lying about in the open air at Liverpool.
– The Minister dealt only partially with the matter raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman). I know that a number of aeroplanes, Leyland lorries, and a lot of important machinery were stored at Spotswood.
– They are war reserves.
– The PostmasterGeneral’s Department are using a number of these lorries. Can the Minister inform us how much of the machinery at Spotswood is or will be installed at Point Cook? Certain machinery has been installed at many valuable works at Maribyrnong. The estimated value of the machinery, aeroplanes, and Leyl and lorries received from Great Britain was over £1,000,000. I agree that it is just as well to dispose of material that is deteriorating, but I contend that it would be much better to put the Leyland lorries to use. I should like to know from the Minister what is being done with the equipment that was obtained from the British Government.
.- The value of equipment received from the British Government was, as the honorable member has said, £1,000,000. It included aeroplanes, motor vehicles, and other equipment. Much of this equipment is being reconditioned in Australian factories. Last year a large number of aeroplanes were reconditioned at a cost of about £450 each. Motor vehicles required as a war reserve cannot be kept in use. A certain number must be held in readiness for service in case of emergency. A number of Leyland lorries are being used by the Postmaster-General’s Department.
Mr.Fenton. - Private motor wagons could be commandeered in war time if needed.
– In a war a large number of makes of vehicles cannot be used. What is needed is cars of two or three efficient types. Cars of many types were sent to France, but many of them soon became useless, because there were no spare parts for them, and no machinery with which to repair them. The object of pushing on with the works at Laverton is to protect the stores to which the honorable member has referred. Unfortunately, the buildings at Spotswood were not rainproof, and if the Government had not decided to build a place at Laverton, much material would now be lying in the open, because the sheds at Spotswood were required by the Railway Department for its own use.
– Last year under this heading I made the following remarks: -
There is an amount of £15,263 set down for the construction of drill-halls, barracks, &c. Will the Minister for Defence tell me whether this item includes an amount for improved drainage facilities at Keswick Barracks? When the barracks were constructed years ago insufficient drainage facilities were provided. I and other honorable members have frequently brought this matter under the notice of the Minister. After a heavy fall of rain the drains are not able to carry off the water which is banked up, and floods neighbouring streets, in one of which are a number of soldiers’ homes.
The then Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) replied that “ this item includes an amount of £3,500 for Keswick Barracks.” The amount of £23,000 on the present Estimates includes a re- vote of £18,000, and I should like to know why it has been necessary to re-vote that amount, and why the work at Keswick has been delayed. I have brought this matter frequently before, not only the present Minister but also the last, Minister for Defence. I have had a far larger correspondence on this than on any other matter with which I have dealt since I came into this House. As I stated last year, a number of soldiers’ homes are situated in a street adjoining the barracks. These houses are now flooded inches deep on occasions. I personally inspected them after a flood, and found them a lamentable spectacle. Their occupants are by no means wealthy, and when the water floods their premises they have to pay for accommodation elsewhere, or stay with friends. The Unley City Council, in whose district this neighbourhood lies, has constantly brought up this matter. It has been twice mentioned in the South Australian Parliament during the last month, and I understand that the Government of the state has communicated with the Federal Government about it. The Minister, I am pleased to say, has shown an interest in the matter, and has made provision for the work to be proceeded with. An additional 5-ft. pipe is to be laid. Personally, I have grave doubts whether this 5-ft. pipe will answer the purpose. I understand that there has been a conference between the Defence Department, the Works and Railways Department, and the Unley City Council, and I have heard it stated that some arrangement has been come to between the various parties. I ask the Minister whether any definite arrangement has been made. Since I came into the chamber to-day I have been given a note stating that works to cost £3,800 have been started, and that pipes are now being delivered on the ground. The expense to which the residents have been put justifies me in protesting against the commencement of these works having been so long delayed.I should like a definite statement from the Minister as to when a commencement will be made.
– The delay that has occurred in the carrying out of the proposed drainage works is’ due to the fact that the municipal engineer and the engineers of the Defence Department were unable to agree upon a plan for avoiding the unfortunate flooding that has taken place each year. I am glad to say, however, that an amicable arrangement was arrived at recently, money for the carrying out of the adopted scheme has been provided, and the work will be commenced at a very early date.
– Can the Minister give me any assurance as to the date when the work will be completed?
– I would be unfair to myself and to the engineers if I were to set a date for the completion of the work. I ask the honorable member to be satisfied with my assurance that the scheme will be commenced at an early date, and finished as soon as possible.
– These estimates include three divisions relating to military and civil aviation. The Commonwealth subsidizes private companies to conduct aerial mail services in different parts of the Commonwealth. I cordially approve of the existing services, and advocate their increase wherever practicable, but I object to the Commonwealth giving a contract to private companies when it could conduct these services with its own airmen. One company in Western Australia is doing splendid work, and is giving to people in remote localities a weekly mail, whereas formerly they did not receive more than one mail a month. But the balance- sheet of the company discloses that the Government subsidy is practically the whole of its revenue, and out of that it is able to pay a considerable dividend. Having regard to the small capital invested in the company, it seems to me clear that the Government could economize by withdrawing the subsidy and instituting a Government mail service. I may be told that military and civil aviation are distinct activities requiring different machines and pilots, but what better training could a military aviator have than regular experience of the various air mail routes throughout Australia? I do not say that it was not necessary at the outset to subsidize a private company to institute the aerial services, but I do not think that this Parliament ever contemplated that the subsidy would be the only revenue of a contractor. Not only does the Commonwealth bear the burden of an annual subsidy, but it incurred all the initial cost of surveying routes and providing landing places, and in some places hangars also. Moreover, the private contractors have the privilege of getting trained men from Point Cook or sending men to that depot to be trained. These commercial services could be part and parcel of the training of our military aviators.
– I suggested that to two of the senior officers, and they would not agree to it.
– I know that the military officers make a distinction between civil and military aviation.
– The co-ordination of civil and military air services was contemplated three years ago.
– I understood so. Some of the young men at Point Cook have told me that the aerial mail services would provide ‘excellent training for them; they would not only be learning the geography of Australia and familiarizing themselves with the different air routes andlanding places, but they would be gaining experience of different climatic conditions which affect flying. These aerial services mustextend, and the Commonwealth has an opportunity to save many thousands of pounds per annum by conducting them with its own officers. Having regard to the amount of the national debt, no opportunity of economy, consistent with efficiency, should be neglected.
– Major - General Chauvel said that the commercial aeroplane is no good for military purposes.
– There may be structural differences between military fighting planes and commercial planes, but I cannot believe that a man trained to operate a military machine would not be able to pilot a commercial plane. The very fact that many young men who trained at Point Cook are now employed in the commercial air services, and that other men are sent by the mail contractors to Point Cook to be trained, proves that the military aviators could do this work. Though high officers may draw a distinction between military and civil aviators, in the event of war they would very promptly exercise their right to commandeer for defence purposes the services of the men engaged in the carriage of mails. I contend that the Government conduct of aerial mail services would not only give to military aviators valuable training and experience, but would also conserve the funds of the Commonwealth.
.- Being, like the honorable member for Maribyrnong, a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, I have had many opportunities of acquiring knowledge of the Australian air services, and I have formed the opinion that the Government must, sooner or later, take complete control of them. Only in that way can it secure efficiency, and provide for the possibility of war and the safety of the travelling public. Governmental control of all means of transit is, in fact, essential. That is an obvious truth to me. although honorable members may say that I am merely advocating socialization. The air services in the interior of Queensland have been of great value to the residents there, but to make them efficient, ground for landing stations must.be resumed, and, if journeys are to be undertaken at night, landing lights must be provided. The committee heard evidence from sources in which absolute confidence can be placed, and of which officers of the department should take notice. Many military officers maintain that all air services should be under the control of the Defence Department, and their point of view seemed reasonable to members of the committee. [Quorum formed.] We are now only on the threshhold of aviation progress, and the best resultscan be obtained only if the services are controlled by a government department. The payment of subsidies has created much jealousy between the different companies, and jealousy is inimical to efficiency. Those who manage the services complain that the officer in charge is too exacting, and has shown animosity to certain persons. The evidence in this respect was painful to hear. Air services are expensive, and I am unable to see how the cost of them can be reduced. While all taxpayers contribute to the subsidy, all cannot afford to pay the high fares charged for travelling by air. I do not mind whether control is by the Navy Department, the Military Department, or the Postal Department, so long as it is control by the Government. Some of the officers examined by the committee appeared to be of a fine type; they were enthusiastic, and would, if they had the opportunity, make the services efficient. The Defence Department must control the teaching of pilots in order to secure efficiency and discipline. Those in charge of the Civil Aviation branch should realize that Parliament desires the air services to be efficient.
-I should like the Minister to give the committee some information about the item, “ Machinery and plant for manufacture of munitions not now produced in Australia - towards cost, £51,523.”
– The vote for the Munitions Supply Branch includes expenditure of a capital nature which is a charge to revenue, and is under the control of the Department of Defence. The sum of £51,523 is for the purchase of machinery for the manufacture of tools and gauges for shop equipment, cranes, boilers, furnaces, and electrical plant for factories for high explosives and filling; cartridge cases and fuses; guns, carriages, and shells; and machine guns and pistols. The total estimated cost of the programme is £452,350.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs, £6,160, agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £14,180.
Mr. FENTON (Maribyrnong) [4.581 - The heading for this division is “ Department of Health,” and the subheading is, ‘ ‘ “Under control of Department of Works and Railways.” For alterations and additions to new buildings, the vote in 1924-5 was £66,487, but the expenditure was only £10,139, which was approximately one-sixth of the vote. For this year there is a re- vote of £3,320, and a new vote of £10,860, totalling £14,180. I presume that these votes are for the purpose of promoting the health of the people, and I should like the Minister to give the committee some further information about them.
.- Under the item £860, for new services, I direct the attention of the committee to the urgent need for provision for the establishment of a laboratory in which scientific investigations may be carried on for the treatment of tuberculosis. I regard this as a most important matter. It is well known that that dreaded disease is increasing throughout the world. I am frequently in receipt of letters from individuals in sanatoriums asking if anything is being done to obtain supplies of the Spahlinger serum and vaccines. Unfortunately, I have to reply in the negative. The subject is of such vital importance that it should be discussed at the earliest opportunity, and the Minister in charge of the department (Sir Neville Howse) should be impressed with the urgency of the public demand for action in the direction indicated. It will be remembered that, when the Minister returned from Geneva over twelve months ago, he reported to the House that he could not recommend the Government to take any action in connexion with the Spahlinger treatment. Since then I have had the privilege of meeting Mr. Spahlinger at Geneva, and I discussed this subject with him at some length. At the outset I should like to say that, not being professionally qualified to do so, it is not my intention to offer any opinion as to the efficacy of the treatment. Unfortunately, whilst I was at Geneva my time was so fully occupied that I had not an opportunity to visit Mr. Spahlinger^ sanatorium, but I met a number of patients who had been under his treat ment. A young man, named Mr. Lowe, was one. He informed me that, prior to leaving Australia, he had spent five months in a sanatorium at Wentworth, six months at the Waterfall Sanatorium, New South Wales, and then, following the advice of his doctor, he lived for several months in a tent on the mountains. As he was becoming steadily worse he decided to go to Geneva for treatment by Mr. Spahlinger, and when I saw him five months later he appeared to have been cured. He informed me that he hoped before long to be able to return to work. He was then in straitened circumstances, and I am pleased to say that the Commonwealth Government, at my request, rendered financial assistance to enable him to undergo another five months’ treatment. A photograph taken of Mr. Lowe when he left Australia shows him to be suffering severely from the disease, and a photograph taken after five months’ treatment discloses a remarkable improvement in his condition. This young man is now on his way back to Australia apparently cured. I expect to meet him in about four weeks’ time. I also met another patient, a young lady from New South Wales. She also appeared to have benefited considerably. Her mother informed me that she has been cured after twelve months’ treatment. She, too, was in a very bad state when she left Australia. On another occasion I met the High Commissioner for New Zealand (Sir James Allen) who informed me of the successful treatment of a New Zealand solicitor, an ex-soldier, who subsequent to discharge from the Army developed tuberculosis. He was so bad that his wife feared he would not live to reach Geneva. After five months’ treatment under Mr. Spahlingers supervision he was able to walk a mile to attend a luncheon given by Sir James Allen. His wife states that He is a different man now, and that she has every hope that he is permanently cured. I mention these cases as justification for my action in directing attention to the necessity for the establishment of a laboratory in which to carry on scientific investigations along the lines laid down by Mr. Spahlinger. It may be objected that, as the Governments of European countries have not become definitely associated with Mr. Spahlinger^ work, Australia should take no action.
That is a matter upon which I cannot offer an opinion. AH I can 3ay is that I conceive it to be my duty to place the facts before the Government in the hope that inquiries will be made and possibly some action taken to induce Mi’.. Spahlinger to come to Australia and establish a laboratory here for the production of the necessary serums and vaccines. So impressed was I with the remarkable results reported from the treatment, that I endeavoured to get a report from Dr. Cumpston the Director-General of Health, who happened then to be in London, I interviewed Sir Joseph Cook, the Australian High Commissioner, and asked him to request Mr. Cumpston to proceed to Geneva to confer with Mr. Spahlinger. Sir Joseph Cook promised that he would do so. Accordingly, I informed Mr. Spahlinger that Dr. Cumpston would call upon him, and requested him to give Dr. Cumpston the fullest possible information concerning his treatment. He said he would do so. I was unaware until I returned to Australia that, although Dr. Cumpston went to Geneva, he did not see Mr. Spahlinger. This information was conveyed to me in a letter from Mr. Spahlinger in February last. He informed me that he had seen Sir Joseph Cook, who had had occasion to go to Geneva in connexion with the business of the League of Nations, and had learned from him that Dr. Cumpston had been to Geneva but was unable to see him. It appears that Dr. Cumpston, upon arrival in Geneva, called at the secretariat of the League of Nations and, being unable to speak the French language, asked an official of the secretariat to telephone Mr. Spahlinger regarding an appointment. He was then informed that Mr. Spahlinger was away in the country and would not return for a few weeks. I wrote to Dr. Cumpston, stating that Mr. Spahlinger had assured me that he was at his laboratory during the whole of the time of Dr. Cumpston’s visit to Geneva, and was waiting to give him the fullest possible information about the treatment. I am not blaming Dr. Cumpston. All I say is that it is most unfortunate that the head of our Health Department was unable to meet Mr. Spahlinger.
– -How far is the laboratory from Geneva?
– About a mile and a half or two miles. It is well known that Mr. Spahlinger has expended his entire private fortune of about ?80,000 on research for the cure of tuberculosis. It is also an established fact that good results have been obtained. Nevertheless, many medical men appear to be somewhat antagonistic. Being a nonprofessional man, I can offer no opinion one way or the other; I can only go by results. Three cases in which there has been a remarkable improvement, if not an absolute cure, have come under my notice. Before I resume my seat, I intend to quote the opinions of several medical authorities in support of the treatment. It is only fair that I should place them on record. The first is that of Dr. H. S. “Wansbrough Jones. It appears in the Lancet of 24th February, 1923, and is as follows: -
Hie cases now being treated, mostly discharged from sanatoria, as incurable, “ could not fail to impress the most sceptical. They themselves describe their progress as miraculous. Independent investigation in England would hu welcomed by Mr. Spahlinger, but is impossible at present as there is no supply of the complete serum. Mr. Spahlinger has given all he has, and can do no more. Much of the work has been relinquished, and unless financial help is forthcoming he will have to abandon the work.
Dr. Leonard Williams, of HarleyStreet, London, writing in the Lancet of the 3r5 March, 1923, said-
I have nothing but praise for the man, his ethical- attitude towards the medical profession, his scientific methods, his singleness of purpose, and the clinical results of his serum and vaccines. … A large number of British physicians and bacteriologists have journeyed to Geneva to examine the possible value of the treatment, and I understand each one has been deeply impressed.
James A. W. Watts, in the same issue, stated -
I am in agreement with the editor of the Lancet in speaking of the lack of funds to produce the Spahlinger remedies as a tragedy. After what I have seen of the results, I am convinced that it would be a tragedy of the first ‘magnitude for humanity if the world is to be deprived of the benefits of Spahlinger’s discoveries. I have used the serum in various forms of “ t.b.,” and have been profoundly impressed with the results. I have seen and examined many patients in London treated in 1913-4 who undoubtely owe their lives to the success of the treatment.
Dr. J. F. Mackeddie, of Melbourne, according to the Lancet of 28th April, 1923, made this statement -
I am from Australia, commissioned to investigate for the Government of Victoria. I have investigated the treatment in action at a sanatorium and have spent some wonderful days in Geneva with Dr. Spahlinger. . . . Any further evidence I feel sure will onlyconfirm me in reporting to my Government that Henry Spahlinger’s vaccine and serum treatment stands by itself and that the medical profession should lose no time in taking a definite stand in the matter.
The next authority whom I desire to quote is Dr. Wyllie, of South Australia. His remarks appeared in the Lancet of the 16th June, 1923-
Last year, having been commissioned to report on the Spahlinger treatment, I visited Geneva, and by the courtesy of Mr. Spahlinger was allowed to examine his cases under treatment and discharged cured. I was given access to the clinical and photographic records, and shown in detail the laboratory, with its many original mechanical devices, for the production of serum and vaccine on a large scale.
On returning to London I examined a further series of cases which has been treated in 1913-4.
I believe that Mr. Spahlinger has discovered a means of dealing successfully with all types of tuberculous infection in any stage.
The method of preliminary disintoxication with serum enables us to be hopeful even of the most advanced cases, and by means of subsequent vaccination relapse is effectively guarded against.
By using both human and bovine bacillary strains, the infection, whether pulmonary or non-pulmonary, may be equally successfully treated.
Of even greater significance are the possibilities prophylactically (i.e., as a preventative of the disease). It has been shown by Mr. Spahlinger that vaccination produces a powerful immunity in cattle as well as in human beings. Are we not here shown a clear road to the ultimate eradication of this scourge?
The majority of medical men appear to be still either ignorant of, or uninterested in this treatment.
Amongst the interested who are not favorably impressed are those who condemn it as a “ secret remedy,” or who say that without knowing the minute details and technique of preparation, they are unable to express an opinion on its scientific value, from a bacteriological point of view. Mr. Spahlinger makes no secret of his theories, bacteriological principles, or laboratory methods. Surely this in conjunction with the clinical evidence is sufficient; the precise formula would not help most of us in judging its efficacy. We have already had many theoretically sound, but clinically useless, methods of treatment for this disease.
The other class of critic who impatiently demands further proof is unmindful of the number and high reputations of the men who, having only used partial sera, have shown such extraordinary results.
Ihave a number of similar statements, but there is not time to read them all. The following one, however, I regard as very important. It is extracted from News of the World, London, of the 24th April, 1921 : -
A BigOffer: Importantreport Expected.
This is the position to-day. Mr. Henri Spahlinger, a Swiss bacteriologist, claims to have discovered a cure for consumption. He was induced to come to London in 1913 and 1914, and whilst here 36 or 40 patients were treated with his remedy. With considerable difficulty 20 of those patients were traced by the News of the World, and when seena couple of months ago by our representative and by medical men eighteen were found to have no active trace of consumption, and were following their ordinary daily work without difficulty. At the time we published details of a number of these cases. When they were treated in a London hospital in 1913 and 1914, they were “third-degree cases “ : that is in the last stages of that fell disease. To-day they are strong, healthy, and robust. The nineteenth patient traced was found to have been killed whilst fighting in the trenches in France, and the twentieth died of another complaint. Four of those treated served in the Army. So far, no one can be found who. having undergone the complete treatment, has not recovered.
Dr. Lardy, according to the Lancet of the 7th April, 1923, stated-
In a report during October, 1915, I made this emphatic statement - “ As long as a consumptive is living, no matter how far gone his case, he can be cured by the Spahlinger treatment.”
The report of Dr. Williams, after referring to a report presented to the Academy of Medicine in Paris, stated further -
Exhaustive clinical work in England, France, and Switzerland, has established the curative efficiency of Mr. Spahlinger’s methods. Thanks to this method, the tuberculosis cases cured and vaccinated in hospitals under my care in 1913 and 1914, and private cases, are still living and in good health. They were cases of controlled surgical tuberculosis and of advanced phthisis with bacilli in the sputum. These old patients have received no sort of anti-tubercular treatment since 1914. During the last six years they have continued at their daily occupations, and have overcome all the effects and privations of the war without relapsing. The condition of their lungs in October, 1920, is remarkably good. No trace of active tuberculosis, no cough, no expectoration. Pending a more complete and detailed communication I am impelled to-day (October, 1920) to draw attention to the scientific importance of this anti-tubercular vaccination, of which the efficiency is established in a conclusive manner over a period of more than six years.
AWest End physician, who does not wish his name to be disclosed, wrote in the following strain to The News of the World:-
I had my attention drawn to the several articles appearing in your paper respecting the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. In 1913 and 1914 I treated many patients at one of the London hospitals, always with the same beneficial results. The efficacy of the vaccines is made clear when I find that all the old patients that can be traced are in excellent health, and have had no relapse during the last eight years. Only one patient has died, and his death was not due to tuberculosis.
Dr. D. T. Stephani, of Montana, says ;
For the last four years I have saved the lives of many consumptives, who owe their lives to the Spahlinger treatment. I do not know of any therapeutic means which can in any way approach it in giving such excellent and rapid results.
I have already quoted Dr. Leonard Williams, a high authority in London. In a letter dated December, 1924, to a person in New South Wales, he said -
I am very pleased to reaffirm anything I may at any time have said or written expressing confidence in Spahlinger’s methods of treating tuberculosis. I am not concerned with the negative views of others. There are some people who express negative views without taking the trouble to examine the evidence; and other whom no evidence, however overwhelming, will convince. My own experience of the treatment in the cases which I have seen and examined, both here and in Geneva, is that it is successful in a vast majority of the cases - at least80 per cent. - and that the successful results, so far as I have been able to judge, are permanent. You are welcome to make any use you please of this letter.
I have many other statements corroborating what I have already said, as well as one by Mr. Spahlinger himself. Some soldiers from New South Wales have gone to Europe to undergo treatment, but, unfortunately, Mr. Spahlinger is not in a position to treat them, because he has not sufficient serum for the purpose. For that reason he requested me to make it known throughout Australia that it was useless for patients to travel to Geneva in the hope of a cure. I shall read a further quotation from the Melbourne Herald of the 10th July last, dealing with an interview with Mr. Spahlinger in London -
London, 9th July.
It may not be generally known that Mr. Spahlinger had his laboratory damaged by fire, and had to commence his work afresh. Honorable members are probably aware that, even when sufficient finance is available, it takes a long time to produce his serum. Horses and other animals have to be kept for the purpose of inoculation, and a period of four years must elapse before the serum can be produced. For the reason that he is an Australian, I desire to again quote Mr. Lowe -
I wrote to M. Spahlinger as the result of reading about him,” said Lowe. “ M. Spahlinger replied stating that he had no serum available, and warning me not to go to Geneva. I had the first hemorrhage in March, 1921. I tried the Queen Victoria Sanatorium at Went worth Falls for five months, and then the Waterfall Sanatorium for a year. At the beginning of 1923 I underwent tubercle injections at a dispensary in Sydney, from which Ibenefited, but was not cured. Then I tried the Dreyer treatment, but without benefit, and decided to go to Geneva. I landed there with ?40, and have been under M. Spahlinger since June, 1924. I feel completely cured. I have no symptoms.”
Mr. Spahlinger said that Lowe was clinically cured, but that he wished to retain him until he had obtained the complete serum. I desire also to read an extract from the Melbourne Herald of the 11th July, 1925-
He says ?125,000 would enable him to produce serum and vaccines within three years sufficient to test his method in every country.
The latest delegation of investigation of M. Spahlinger’s treatment, which has returned from Geneva, is that of the Ulster Government, headed by Dr. Trimble, the chief Belfast tuberculosis officer. The delegation describes M. Spahlinger’s isolation toxin as a revolutionary and epoch-making discovery.
Mr. Spahlinger does not propose to treat every person throughout the world who is suffering from tuberculosis, but to send to every country a supply of serum to be tested. While Australia cannot be expected to advance a large sum of money unless Mr. Spahlinger conies here, I consider that we should enter into negotiations with him to see whether he is prepared to establish a laboratory in Australia. A few thousand pounds would be a mere bagatelle if its expenditure resulted in a cure being found for this dread disease.
– It would be cheap.
– It has been said that Mr. Spahlinger refused an offer from the British Government; but he has indignantly denied that the British Government has offered him. anything. I did not visit Europe with any intention of seeing Mr. Spahlinger, and should probably not have thought of him had it not been for Mr. Lowe, who recounted to me his experience of the Spahlinger treatment. He told me that he had not been charged one penny by Mr. Spahlinger, notwithstanding that he knew that Mr. Spahlinger was not in a financial position to do the work for nothing. When I heard that, I naturally was interested, and anxious to see the discoverer of this treatment. I, therefore, invited him to lunch with me. Having conversed with him on several occasions, I formed the opinion that he is a man who is entirely engrossed in his work. That, I understand, is true also of his wife. Every day both spend their time in the laboratory. It is well known that they have experienced great financial difficulty. Some people in London are talking of going to their rescue, but such assistance can only be temporary. Mr. Spahlinger is so wrapt up in his discovery that he has refused large sums of money to commercialize it. He informed me that Rothschild had offered him £250,000 to .commercialize it, and share the profits with him 50-50. He declined the offer, because he held that whatever might be the outcome of his discovery, it should be used for the benefit of suffering humanity, and should not be commercialized. Many leading men from different countries to whom I spoke, said to me, “What are you to do with a man like that 1 He is no business man.” The same thing may be said of many of the greatest geniuses the world has known. They were so wrapt up in the matters with which they were concerned that they had no time for commercialism and the business side of their discoveries. There is very much to be said for Spahlinger in this regard. [Extension of time granted.) I asked him what he would be prepared to do if the Commonwealth Government invited him to come .to Australia. His reply was, “My object, in life is to complete my work. If I can complete my work, that is to say, provide the complete serums and vaccines that are necessary, I shall be prepared to consider an offer.” I asked him upon what conditions he would be prepared to come to Australia, and he said that, he had never made any conditions with anybody. I told him that he was considered by many people to be a very hard man to deal with, because he would not make conditions. He said “ I do not want to make conditions, but if I were to go to Australia I should certainly expect- compensation for my discovery.” Every one would concede that. Spahlinger has spent his own fortune in his researches. The only condition he would lay down in the event of the Government taking up his discovery would be that it should be supplied to the poor people free of charge. He says that there would be no need for them to go into public hospitals to receive his treatment, because they could be treated in their own homes by local doctors. He said that the Government, if it felt inclined, might make a charge foi- the treatment to wealthy people, or people in a position to pay, to recoup its expenditure, but he would have nothing to do with it. All that he desires is that the efficacy of his remedy shall be proved. I am satisfied about the matter myself. I have quoted many cases, and I might quote much more on the subject from Dr. Stephani, who has a sanitarium, and he claims that 90 per cent, of his patients have been reported cured of their disease by the Spahlinger treatment. I have mentioned the matter several times since I returned to Australia, and I have come to the conclusion that the time has arrived when I should publicly state what I know concerning it. Every mail brings me letters from people here who are suffering from tuberculosis, and are asking that Spahlinger’s serum should be. made available to them. I say that it is a thousand pities that no effort worth speaking about is being made in any part of the world to assist this man, who appears to be on the right track of a remedy for this dread disease. No one would give up the whole of his time tothe investigation of . a scientific method for’ treating this disease unless he felt that he was on the right track. Spahlinger has practically given his life to the business. I want to let honorable members know what sort of a man he is, and I may inform them that when I asked him whether he would remain in Australia if the Government succeeded in inducing him to visit this country he said, “ No. I might consider going to Australia, or sending my leading man there, but so far as I am concerned there are years of life ahead of me yet, and when I have completed this job I intend to follow up other branches of research work.” The man’s life’s work is the investigation of diseases to which human flesh is heir, in the endeavour to discover a cure for them. Whether the treatment finally proved to be successful or not, there would practically be nothing lost in rendering him financial assistance. The British dominions might, together with Great Britain, send him £100,000 or £200,000 to assist in his work. If it proves successful no one can estimate in pounds, shillings and pence what it will mean to save the lives of thousands of people throughout the world. If Spahlinger could establish a laboratory here, no one would say that the cost would be money lost if he succeeded in making the serums and vaccines that would cure the disease. I offer no professional opinion, it would be wrong for me to do so, but I say that the people to whom I have spoken, and who had suffered from the disease, claimed to have been cured by Spahlinger’s treatment. According to doctors who examined them they have been cured. In one case that came under my notice three doctors made a most careful examination of a certain young lady and stated that she was absolutely cured of the disease. The same is said of Lowe, who will be here in a few weeks, and I hope if he comes to Melbourne to be able to introduce him to some honorable members. The same claim is made in the case of a New Zealand solicitor. I have personally met these people. I have very much more evidence that I could submit dealing with many cases which have been treated with satisfactory results. The time has arrived when something should be done to help this man. He is not looking for a fortune for himself. He has spent his fortune in his researches. In an effort to relieve those who are suffering the leastwe can do is to give him a helping hand. I may have no right to talk of his financial position, but a statement appeared recently in the newspapers to the effect that he had executed a mortgage for £15,000, which some bookmakers and others in England propose to meet for him. I did not visit his laboratory, but my secretary did, and he informed me that it is a large establishment, and it must be costly to keep it going. In endeavouring to complete his investigation Spahlinger is always hampered by a lack of cash, and yet is so humane that every one who goes to him is treated without any charge at all. He is not endeavouring to make money out of his discovery.
– He might have done so if he wished.
– Yes. An agreement offering him £15,000 was put before him for signature, to say nothing of the offer made by Rothschild. I saw a statement to the effect that some Germans had offered him £250,000, and that he would have nothing to do with their offer. It may be said that he has a “kink,” but for some reason or another. I think the man is not being given . a fair chance. The same objections are urged in the case of Spahlinger that were urged in the case of Pasteur. If honorable members will carry their minds back to the time when Pasteur made his discovery of an anti-toxin for diphtheria they will remember the objections urged against him. What was the result of Pasteur’s discovery? I believe it is a fact, and the Minister will know better than I do, that since Pasteur’s discovery of his anti-toxin for diphtheria very few cases of that disease end fatally if the anti-toxin is used in time.
– I lost a boy about twelve months before Pasteur’s antitoxin was in general use. I know that he was hampered and unable to make a move because of financial difficulties and the objections urged against him. Similar difficulties have overtaken Spahlinger, who is devoting the whole of his time to the relief of suffering humanity. He is entitled tosome consideration from the governments of different countries. After all, it is the people whose health wc are anxious to safeguard that he is endeavouring to assist. It is said that Spahlinger is not a doctor. From what I could gather he gave some time in his earlier years to study for the medical profession, and after going, through the course a certain distance he gave it up. He subsequently passed as a barrister, but did not go on with that profession. Research work is his natural bent. He is so certain of the efficacy of his remedy that he is prepared to lose everything he has in life to bring his researches to a successful conclusion. When I saw him it was apparent that he was in’ a very depressed condition because of his financial position. When I was leaving by the train he said, “I am glad I met you; you have done much to raise my spirits. I was practically down when you came here, but my conversation with you has encouraged me to go on with my work/’ His good wife said the same thing to me. I mention the matter only to indicate the position in which the man is placed. Since I saw him he has been in ill-health, and went to the mountains to recuperate. He is now in London; and people there are endeavouring to find money to assist him. His anxiety is caused by his failure to finalize his work owing to lack of funds. The Government should investigate this matter, and should find out under what circumstances Spahlinger would be prepared to come here. If. it is not prepared to do this, it might communicate with the British Government to see what might be done in the matter, especially in view of the fact that the British Government recently sent a number of doctors to Geneva, who reported favorably upon Spahlinger’s treatment. Almost every one who goes to Geneva, and looks carefully into the matter, reports favorably on the treatment. I think that the British Government and the Governments of the dominions might take joint action to assist this man. It is a matter which concerns the people everywhere. We should not refuse to assist because Spahlinger resides in Switzerland and not in our own country. By assisting him we shall be doing something which will be of as much value to the people of Australia as to the people of Switzerland, because if Spahlinger’s treatment is found to be satisfactory it will be of benefit to humanity in every part of the world. I attach more importance to my own observation than to anything dealing with the subject which has appeared on paper. I did not ask to see the three cases that were brought under my notice, but my observation of them has satisfied me that there is something in Spahlinger’s treatment. I ask the Government to get into touch with him, either directly or through the British Government, to see if they can assist him, and in what way. They should also ask him whether he is prepared to establish a laboratory in Australia for the purpose of treating people in this country who are suffering from tuberculosis.
.- I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the Federal Government should take some definite action to assist in reaching finality regarding npi only Mr. Spahlinger himself, but also his treatment. The whole procedure has been unsatisfactory, and we seem to be playing a game of hide and seek. The only person who is clear on the subject is Mr. Spahlinger himself. When the present Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) returned from his visit to Geneva, he reported on the Spahlinger treatment. His difficulty was. and it seemed to be the difficulty of many of the medical profession in Britain and elsewhere, that Mr. Spahlinger would not divulge his method of treatment. I have with me a book compiled by the T.B. Association, containing, in addition to plates and photographs of wonderful value, a report made by a medical committee that visited Mr. Spahlinger’s sanatorium in Switzerland. That publication, dealing with the advisability of divulging the formula to the public, states -
Most of the medical experts who have visited Spahlinger have advised that it would be unwise to publish these formulae until sufficient supplies of the remedies can be produced for numerous demonstrations in all countries. Their advice was based on the fact that the toxins and antigens are very difficult to produce. If all the technical details were published immediately, people might put on the market hundreds of thousands of doses of sera and vaccines too hurriedly prepared, and thus ineffective. This might discredit the whole treatment, the future benefit of which would then be lost to humanity.
The committee came to the same conclusion as did Spahlinger himself, who insisted that before making the process public he must have sufficient supplies of serums, anti-toxins and toxins not only for test cases, but also for wholesale distribution throughout the world to test the efficacy of the cure. I shall now comment on Dr. Cumpston’s visit to Geneva, following on that of the present Minister for Defence. If I remember rightly, when the Minister made his speech on the Spahlinger treatment, he said that he was not a bacteriologist, and that it would be advantageous to send an experienced bacteriologist to Geneva to interview Mr. Spahlinger. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) some time afterwards, said in reply to a question, that Dr. Cumpston, while abroad, would be asked to visit Geneva to interview Mr. Spahlinger. When Dr. Cumpston returned I asked the Prime Minister the following question : -
Was Dr. Cumpston commissioned to inquire into and report on the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis; if so, will the Prime Minister make the report available for members?
The Prime Minister replied - _ Dr. Cumpston was not specially commissioned to inquire into and report on the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. He, however, took advantage of the opportunity during his visit to England to discuss the subject very thoroughly with the British Ministry of Health. As the result of this discussion it was apparent that there had been no new developments since the matter had been previously considered.
Before Dr. Cumpston departed the T.B. Association wrote to the Prime Minister a letter protesting against Dr. Cumpston being sent abroad to report on the Spahlinger treatment. In a letter dated 16th September the association stated -
The above Association desires to enter a most emphatic protest against the appointment of Dr. Cumpston to inquire into the Spahlinger remedy for tuberculosis.
On the 23rd September, the Secretary to the Prime Minister replied: -
I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 16th September, embodying, on behalf of the Civilian T.B. Association of New South Wales, a protest against Dr. Cumpston, Director of Health, being authorized to inquire into the Spahlinger cure for tuberculosis, and urging that an investigation of Dr. Spahlinger’s claims should be conducted by a lung specialist. The views of your Association on this matter have been noted.
There is. in that letter, no denial of the statement that Dr. Cumpston was going abroad to inquire into the Spahlinger treatment. The Government’s attitude is not consistent. Dr. Cumpston went to Geneva, but, as the Leader of the Opposition stated, he did not get into touch with Mr. Spahlinger. I have with me a letter from a man named McDonnell’, who was (receiving . treatment at Geneva at the time Dr. Cumpston is reported to have endeavoured to interview Mr. Spahlinger. McDonnell is to-day in New South Wales, and can be produced to bear ‘out the .statement I am making on his behalf. Being an official of the T.B. Association in Australia, he was naturally interested in the visit of Dr. Cumpston, and sought to interview him. He was told that Dr. Cumpston, having failed to interview Mr. Spahlinger, had left Geneva the previous day. McDonnell had daily visited Mr. Spahlinger up to that time, and to say that Mr. Spahlinger was absent from his laboratory for a fortnight is absolutely wrong. I have nothing but good to say of the medical profession generally. I have said previously in this chamber that if it had not been foi- a very good surgeon I should now be in my grave. “But I cannot understand why the British Medical Association has adopted an unsympathetic attitude towards Mr. Spahlinger. There is certainly some opposi- . tion to his treatment. We are told that we have no evidence of its efficacy. I know that one woman, a daughter of a leading physician in New South Wales, was completely cured of tuberculosis by the Spahlinger treatment. That evidence is available for the medical profession of this country, Britain, and elsewhere. Apart altogether from the case of Mr. Lowe, mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, there is from this country a man named Atkins, who was under treatment at Geneva at the same time as Mr. McDonnell. Knowing McDonnell’s unsatisfactory financial position, Atkins endeavoured to keep him under treatment for a longer period. I wrote to the Prime Minister asking for funds to continue McDonnell’s treatment, but nothing was done. Yet this Government throws away thousands of pounds on the entertainment of visitors and other things.
The Spahlinger treatment has gone beyond the experimental stage. Surely the Minister for Defence, the Treasurer, or any other qualified medical man, will not lightly brush aside the testimony of eminent doctors and bacteriologists, who are well qualified to speak on this subject. I myself have the utmost respect for the Minister for Defence, as a medical man, but I contend that his report on the Spahlinger treatment is valueless to this country. I honestly believe that he exceeded his duty when he stated that he could not recommend this Government to expend any- money on the Spahlinger treatment. He admitted that he knew nothing of the treatment, and that, not being a bacteriologist, he could not judge of its merits.
– I said that I could not judge of the merits of the treatment on the evidence that was available.
– That is so. The Minister, no doubt, has all the evidence available on this subject.
– I have an accumulation of evidence since 1917.
– The Minister for Defence and the Leader of the Opposition, who has just returned from abroad, will appreciate the value of the following passage which occurs in a testimony by many well-known doctors -
During the latter part of the treatment there is usually no evidence of active tuberculosis. Physical signs become quite dry. The same method has given positive results in the treatment of tuberculous glands and cases of lupus which fail to respond to the usual treatments.
To that statement the following medical men subscribed their names: -
Drs. I. Williams; E. H. Croucher, F.R.C.S.. Edin.; Dudley Kennard, F.R.C.S.: Felix Vinrace, F.R.C.S.; P. R. Shanks; H. W. W. Cowan; D. Giordani (Surgeon to the Italian Hospital) : L. E. B. Beer; E. M. Martin; A. Allport, M.R.C.S.; D. Gordon Cheyne, Bacteriologist to the North-east Counties of Scotland.
That opinion was supplemented by Dr. Mackeddie, of Melbourne, who was commissioned by the Victorian Government to inquire into the Spahlinger treatment -
Any further evidence, I feel sure, will only confirm me in reporting to my Government that Henry Spahlinger’s vaccine and serum treatment in tuberculosis stands by itself.
Dr. Rice said of one case ; “ I can only describe the improvement as miraculous.” Those medical opnions are fortified by detailed records of cases treated and permanently cured. Until recently I did not realize the dread significance of tuberculosis. The Waterfall sanatorium is situated in my electorate, and a visit to the institute is a positive torture to any person who has capacity to feel for the sufferings of others. The Grim Harvester is so constantly at work amongst the patients that if you write to an inmate who three months before was honorary secretary of some little organization of the patients, you often learn that he is dead and that another has been appointed in his stead. The sanatorium is for many only a brief stopping place on the way to the cemetery. With such evidence before us one feels that no expenditure upon any treatment that offered even possibilities of success would be too great. We can spend ?5,000,000 upon cruisers, tens of thousands of pounds upon the entertainment of a visiting fleet, and thousands of pounds in the pursuit of our own pleasures, and surely the country can afford a few hundred thousand pounds in order to test a treatment that gives some hope to thousands of sufferers. I am convinced that money expended upon the Spahlinger treatment will- not be expended in vain; but even if an outlay of ?500,000 in that direction yields no beneficial result, the Commonwealth can better afford to incur that loss than to do nothing at all. The people of Australia will, I am sure, applaud any government that will incur the expenditure necessary to give a full and complete trial to Mr. Spahlinger’s treatment .
– I listened with great interest to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) this afternoon. The honorable gentleman recently returned from Geneva, and I know that he would not have spoken as he did without realizing fully his responsibility to those thousands of sufferers in whom hope will be re-kindled by his remarks. In company with the present Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse), I visited Mr. Spahlinger at his laboratory in 1923. As a layman I was impressed by his sincerity ; I felt that he was honestly convinced that he -had found a cure for the dread disease of tuberculosis. I was also struck by the magnitude of the work he was doing. His large and expensive labora- tory, with duplicate installations of water and electricity, involves a heavy and continuous outlay. I cannot help remembering^ however, that various British administrations, including that led by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, have shown themselves to be just as anxious as we are that Mr. Spahlinger should have an opportunity to complete his work, and, as the Leader of the Opposition admitted, they are closer than we are to the scene of his experiments. I understand that recently the British Government sent a committee of doctors to Geneva to investigate the Spahlinger treatment. I believe that that committee has reported favorably. No doubt the Commonwealth Government is in communication with the British Government, and will be advised at the earliest possible date of the nature of that report. I am certain that the Commonwealth Government is not deterred by monetary considerations from taking definite action to give Australian tubercular subjects access to this treatment. If a cure for tuberculosis can be found no member of this Parliament would hesitate to vote for the expenditure of millions of pounds in order to make the treatment available to our people. But we should await the receipt of a report from the British Government. It may be prepared to take the whole responsibility, of assisting Mr. Spahlinger to continue his investigations, but I am sure that the Governments of all the oversea dominions . would readily accept a share of the financial obligations involved.
– The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) has suggested that the Commonwealth should not expend money upon the Spahlinger treatment because certain British experts have not been convinced of its efficacy. Already there is a considerable body of medical opinion that is favorable to that treatment, and even if its success has not been completely proved the Commonwealth can surely afford to spend some money in assisting Mr. Sphalinger to continue his experiments. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has suggested that the Commonwealth Government might consider the advisability of establishing a laboratory in Australia for the testing of the Spahlinger treatment. Another proposal was that the Commonwealth should subsidize Mr. Spahlinger. I suggest as a third alternative that a number of tubercular ex-soldiers should be sent to Geneva, accompanied by Australian doctors, so that the Spahlinger treatment might be tested upon them. It might be better to bring Mr. Spahlinger to Australia. ,
– Even if he would come to Australia he has no serum.
– I understood the Leader of the Opposition to say that. Mr. Spahlinger has quantities of serum with which he has already successfully treated many patients. Of course, the establishment of a laboratory in Australia would occupy a considerable time. Therefore, I suggest the sending of tubercular soldiers to Geneva as a quicker and more satisfactory means of testing the treatment. We should then have tie benefit of an independent Australian investigation, instead of being guided by conservative medical opinion and prejudices in certain continental countries where tuberculosis is so prevalent that it is not regarded with the same degree of alarm as it is in Australia. I understand that the Labour Government in New South Wales is considering a proposal to send a number of tubercular subjects to Mr. Spahlinger for treatment. Perhaps the Commonwealth Government could co-operate in that enterprise. Something should be done promptly, because -tuberculosis is one of the worst diseases to which Australia is subject, the deaths from it in 1923 having numbered 3,544. An important aspect of the statistics is that of the total of 3,544 persons who died from that disease, about 2,200 were between the ages of 20 and 45 years. They had reached that period of life when their economic value to the community was greatest. Australia is borrowing millions of pounds to finance immigration, and it is admitted that the settlement of migrants on the land will cost at least £1,000 per head. Assessing each of those persons who died in 1923 from tuberculosis at the same figure, the loss to the Commonwealth in that year was £3,544,000. A further consideration is that many persons are drawing invalid pensions because they are incapacitated by tuberculosis, and possibly the annual loss to the Commonwealth on that account exceeds the amount that would be required to assist Mr. Spah- linger to complete bis experiments. I recognize that there is a difference of opinion on this subject, the importance ofwhich, however, should not be minimized. Admittedly, compared with other countries, the Australian percentage of deaths is low, but it already exceeds 6 per cent. of the total deaths. Of about 56,000 deaths over 3,500 were due to tuberculosis, and a number of other deaths directly and indirectly attributable to tuberculosis are not included in these statistics. ‘ While some other disease may be the immediate cause of death, tuberculosis is often the underlying cause. I once again urge the Government to do something concrete and tangible. There are thousands of civilians and ex-soldier sufferers from the disease in the various hospitals of Australia. I hope that in health matters, and particularly for the treatment of tuberculosis, a system of collaboration with the state governments willbe devised. I recently went through the Lidcombe State Hospital, which is in my electorate, and there I found a number of sufferers in various stages of the disease. They were accommodated in an unsuitable “ hut “ - it could not be called anything else - and the “ hut “ overlooked the Bookwood Cemetery. Some of these poor sufferers said to me, “It is a cheerful prospect, is it not?” We have a national responsibility to check the spread of this disease, and this national Parliament should do something to ensure more adequate treatment of the sufferers from it, instead of leaving it entirely to the states. I know that a commission is inquiring into national health, but these things are of great urgency, and call for immediate action.
.- Before speaking of the Spahlinger method of treatment and of other health matters, I wish to express my extreme disappointment that, although we have a doctor presiding over the Health Department, the benefit to the Commonwealth has not been noticeable. I have protested from time to time about the methods employed for promoting national health. When the Department of Health was under the Minister for Customs, it was a Cinderella department.No Minister for Customs in this country can possibly give to health matters the time and individual attention that they require. In the present Minister we have a man who has occupied a high position in the medical world, but who has, in the portfolio for Defence, a task which precludes him from giving adequate attention to health matters. If national health is to be handled properly, it must be kept separate and distinct from every other government department. The portfolio of Health is more important than that of Defence, which is generally regarded as the more important; it is, in fact, more important than any other portfolio held by a Commonwealth Minister. The extraordinarily heavy mortality in Australia - I donot mean extraordinary by comparison with other countries, because the mortality rate here is much lower than in many other countries - is far too high.
– That is due to the climate,not to the Government.
– It is due to the climate, rather than to the Government’s capacity to deal with health matters. Attempts have been made to co-ordinate the health legislation of Australia, but, up to date, the results have been disappointing. The Commonwealth Government alone is spending not less than £20,000 a year, and, in addition, is paying invalid pensions to many people who are suffering from preventable diseases. About 14 per cent. of the invalid pensions are paid to persons between the ages of sixteen and forty years, and it has been stated by the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, Dr. Cumpston, and other eminent medical men, that from 30 to 40 per cent. of the diseases on account of which pensions are paid is preventable. I have been hoping that the Commonwealth Government would take some practical steps to test the Spahlinger method of treatment, and I have, therefore, not taken up a critical attitude towards it; but, in view of the experience of my leader, and of the fact that cases are recorded in which not only benefit, but complete cures, have been obtained, I am compelled to come forward and appeal to the Government to do something tangible. Granting that there are two strong camps, for and against the method of treatment, the fact that some of the most eminent medical men of the world are on the side of Spahlinger seems to indicate that there is some value in his method. The Commonwealth Government should be prepared to spend whatever money is necessary either to help him in his laboratory., or to establish a laboratory in Australia. If it adopted the last suggestion, it could ask him to take charge of the laboratory, so that, unhampered by creditors and relieved of economic anxiety, he could pursue his researches in this country, even though they, might occupy him for five or ten years. Although it may be said that the evidence adduced to those representatives of Australia who have investigated the treatment has not convinced them, other people have been convinced, and the fact that there are distinguished medical men among those who are convinced seems to indicate that, those who are not convinced have not had the same opportunity of judging. I, in common with my colleagues, would like the Minister, in his reply, to indicate whether the Government is going to continue the “wait and see” policy, or intends to accept some of the responsibility of civilization and help Spahlinger to carry on his work. The alternative is to allow other people to accept a responsibility which we cannot lightly evade. I cannot help saying that the Health Commission is another excuse for putting off the day when the Government, together with the State Governments, must shoulder responsibility for the prevention, investigation, and cure’ of diseases. Valuable work has been done in preventing and treating venereal diseases. As the probable mortality in Australia, according to authorities which I accept as reliable, is from 5,000 to 6,000 persons a year, and. as venereal diseases are the greatest killing diseases we have in this country, a contribution by this Government of £13.000 a year to help the states is inadequate, and merely shows that successive Commonwealth administrations have not shouldered their responsibilities.
Sitting suspended from G.30 to 8 p.m.
– Because of the neglect by the Government of precautions to ensure the health of the people, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth are bearing an exceedingly heavy burden in the form of invalid pensions for persons suffering from preventable diseases. Up to the present, very little has been done. In 1922-23, we spent, on health administration, approximately- £122,000. In 1923- 24, the expenditure was £116,000, and in 1924-25, about £124,000. By far the greatest portion of this expenditure was for quarantine services instead of for investigations for cures for preventable diseases. The Tropical Institute of Medicine is costing us £5,800 a year. For the investigation of cancer, the Government is donating the paltry sum of £5,000 for the research bureau of the Sydney University. Deaths due to . cancer total over 5,000 a year, and for many years prior to their deaths sufferers from this disease, being recipients of the invalid pension, are a severe drain upon the revenue. Venereal diseases are responsible for between 5,000 and 6,000 deaths annually. Last year the sum voted for the treatment of these diseases was £15,000, and the expenditure totalled approximately £13,000. For the treatment of hookworm, Commonwealth expenditure, in round figures, is £6,000 a year. In this field of research, the Rockefeller Institute has done a splendid work in Australia and in the mandated territories. It has practically eradicated the disease’ in Australia, and it has placed the people of this country under a deep debt of gratitude to it. If the Commonwealth expenditure on the several diseases I have mentioned, bore any relation to the mortality rate, the sum expended annually would be considerably greater than it is. The infant mortality rate in Australia is a standing reflection upon our health administration. It is extraordinary that there should be so much indifference to this very grave and vital problem. In rho four years from 191S to 1922, there were no less than 41,462 deaths under the age of one year, and we have it on the hsst authority that more than 60 per cent, of those deaths were preventable. The royal commission on National Insurance stresses the importance of the work done by state clinics throughout Australia, and also emphasizes the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government in this matter. There is a vast field for research work in connexion with industrial diseases. Prominent among these, are miners’ phthisis, lead poisoning, and other diseases affecting the respiratory organs. It is true that a certain amount of work has been done already. Research laboratories have been established in a number of centres, but unfortunately, owing to political influences, certain industrial centres, where the mortality rate is high and the need most pressing, have been neglected for other centres where the mortality rate is lower and the need not so urgent. We have one such laboratory in Bendigo. Quite recently, another was established in Kalgoorlie. On several occasions I have urged the establishment of a research laboratory at Broken Hill where, owing to the dangerous nature of the miners’ avocation, the death-rate is exceedingly high; but up to the present I have been unsuccessful. I was hoping that provision would be included in this year’s Estimates for a laboratory at Broken Hill, but I have been informed by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) and also by the Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse) that nothing will be done until the report of the National ‘ Insurance Commission is presented. I do not begrudge Kalgoorlie its laboratory.^ Indeed, I think the Government should establish these laboratories in all the large industrial centres, so that research work may he carried out for the alleviation of sufferers from these preventable diseases. The royal commission referred to includes members of both ‘ Houses. It made a very careful investigation of the subject, and its first progress report was presented a few weeks ago. On page 37, in its references to medical research work, there appears the following: -
This commission took evidence from witnesses all over Australia. It is to be hoped,’ therefore, that the Government will lake some action to give effect to its recommendations; one of which is -
That a national health scheme be instituted which will provide adequate medical treatment for the people, and which will provide the requisite machinery for the prevention of sickness and accident.
This is probably the most far-reaching recommendation that the commission has made. The responsibility is on this Parliament to establish a scheme on the lines indicated. After a number of years of study of health matters, I have come to the conclusion that if any subject for legislation is national in character, it is the health of the people. State boundaries do not prevent the spread of disease. Ultimately this a matter which must be dealt with by a central body. At present we have six state governments- administering health matters in six different ways. Such treatment of an important subject cannot result in as much benefit to the people as would the work of a central institution under the control pf the Commonwealth Government. The report of the commission states further -
That the functions and objects of the Health Department be extended in such manner as will enable provision to be made as early as possible’ for the effective supervision of adequate medical services, especially in respect to maternity treatment.
Most of the states have fallen down on the job so far as maternity cases arc concerned. Owing to the nature of the government with which Queensland has been blessed for a number of years, this matter has been dealt with seriously in that state, with the result that maternity cases receive better treatment there than in any other part of Australia. In many of the large towns, and even in some of the cities of New South Wales, there is not a maternity ward at the hospitals. Many of the operations, and much of the mortality among mothers and children, could be prevented. It is true that money has been spent in connexion with health matters, but probably 80 per cent, of it has been spent on quarantine arrangements. So far, we have merely tinkered with venereal disease, and have’ done nothing except spend about £5,000 to combat cancer. Nor has anything been done to combat tuberculosis, diphtheria, or rheumatism. While admitting the mortality and suffering that they have caused, we have left these matters; to the states. I hope that the present Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse) will initiate a progressive policy in health matters, establish laboratories, and subsidize institutions, organizations or persons, if necessary - in this connexion I refer particularly to Mr. Spahlinger - in order that we may prevent or cure much of the preventable disease and suffering which now exists in Australia.
.- TUe Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has placed before the House certain statements with reference to the treatment of a very prevalent disease - tuberculosis - by a gentleman named Spahlinger, who is a scientist of some renown. The honorable gentleman stressed the prevalence of this disease in Australia, as did subsequent speakers. We all recognize that tuberculosis is prevalent in Australia, yet our position in regard to it cannot be compared with that of many other countries. I have arrived at the conclusion from a careful calculation made during the last few weeks that between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 people died last year from tuberculosis alone. Most authorities estimate that at least five times as many people are under treatment for that disease as die from it, and one American authority goes so far as to say that the number under treatment is ten times that of the number who succumb. If we accept the lowest estimate, there are 20,000,000 people now suffering from this disease. When speaking in this chamber, after my return from Geneva, I referred to the number of deaths in Australia as totalling about 3,200 in 1923. I estimated that about 15,000 of our people were then under medical treatment for this disease, and that most of them were unfit to perform their daily work. In view of those figures one has no difficulty in realizing that the disease inflicts enormous economic loss on the community. Yet, bad as is our position, it is much better than that of countries like India and China, where the economic conditions are much worse than ours. There can be no difference of opinion as to the prevalence of this disease and the immense mortality caused by it. The treatment of the disease is one above party considerations, and I believe that all honorable members so regard it. But in speaking on this subject we must be extremely careful that we do not raise in sufferers hopes that we ourselves do not share. There can be no question that tuberculosis is curable, and that its incidence is decreasing each year. Were it not so the world would soon be denuded of its population. During the last 40 or 50 years large numbers of people who suffered from tuberculosis have been cured. For twenty years I lived at Orange, a health resort some 3,000 feet above sea level, to which tubercular cases were sent, it being then believed that only at such altitudes could the disease be successfully combated. During those years I had experience of many cases of tuberculosis. Some of the patients came from the surrounding district, but most were visitors from other parts of Australia, principally the large cities. Of those affected a considerable number recovered ; indeed, it is remarkable how many sufferers do recover. The Leader of the Opposition said that he believed that this disease was spreading ; but I think he will accept my assurance, which has the backing of all the authorities on the subject, that it is definitely curable, and is decreasing.
– Is it decreasing in the slums ?
– I have just said that the better position of Australia in regard to the disease is due to our better economic conditions. Good food and housing, and open spaces, not only assist in curing tuberculosis, but tend to prevent it.
– Is tuberculosis curable even when it is hereditary?
– It is generally agreed by members of the medical profession that tuberculosis is not hereditary.
– May a person be predisposed to it?
– According to the best French and American authorities, that is doubtful, although that view is contrary to what I was taught and to what I myself taught for many years. When I left Australia, in 1923, as a delegate to the Fourth Assembly of the League of Nations, I was commissioned to inquire into the Spahlinger treatment of tuberculosis and into the treatment of cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. I went to Geneva with an open mind, and, indeed, with the definite hope that I would find in the Spahlinger treatment something of inestimable value, so that I might recommend to the Government the expenditure of money for its general adoption. Had I been able to do so I should have been a popular hero. On the other hand, when, after I had given the matter careful consideration, I placed the facts, as I knew them, before the House, I became the most unpopular man in my own state. Before my speech in the House, the many letters I received were mostly congratulatory, but when I had given my opinion of the Spahlinger treatment, most of them were full of abuse. One writer, an official connected with some organization in Sydney, went so far as to say that the evidence which he had placed before me as to the curative effect of this treatment was so clear and concise that there could be no reason for my failure to recommend it to the Government other than that I was in my dotage. That may or may not be true, but it does not alter the fact that I investigated this matter with an unbiased mind, and that my report was based on the information which I had been able to gather with reference to the treatment. I claimed, at that time, to be neither a bacteriologist nor a clinician. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has treated that admission as evidence that my report to the Government and the advice which I tendered was worthless. That is not a correct deduction, because, although neither a bacteriologist nor a clinician, I claim to have been able to weigh judi cially the evidence which was placed before me. The evidence I obtained about this treatment would not have been increased by an inspection of Mr. Spahlinger’s laboratory. No person, whether a bacteriologist or not, could, from a cursory examination of the laboratory, say more than that it was beautifully equipped. The best bacteriologist in the world, unless he worked with Spahlinger for months, could have no means of deciding that the work being done was of value. If, with other honorable members, I inspected a mine, we might be able to report that it was well ventilated and equipped, but we could, after a mere cursory inspection, give no reliable estimate of the value of the ore in it.. The information that I gained in regard to the Spahlinger treatment of tuberculosis was gathered from many sources. I lived in the same hotel as Mr. Spahlinger for a month, and had frequent opportunity of speaking to him. At Geneva, I saw. also, a number of Mr. Spahlinger’s supporters, who placed before me certain statements. When I returned to London.. I interviewed the Ministry of Health to ascertain what had been done by the British Government in connexion with this matter. Seeing that the British Ministry represent over 40,000,000 people, they must be as desirous as any member of this House that any benefit derivable from this treatment should be made available to sufferers from tuberculosis. The British Government sent men to Geneva to inspect Mr. Spahlinger’s laboratory, and I shall read their comments becauseI wish to repeat accurately the words in. which they expressed them. They say -
The Minister of Health, in England, sent an expert to Geneva, who reported that -
the laboratories were adequately designed and equipped.
at present the details and the technique adopted in the preparation of the serum and vaccine remain undisclosed by Spahlinger, and an. opinion cannot, therefore, be expressed on the scientific value of his work from the bacteriological stand-point.
so far as this expert was in a position to judge the clinical results of treatment both by the serum and the vaccine have in some cases been striking.
– Strikingly favorable?
– Yes, evidently that is what is intended. The Minister for Health, in commenting upon the situation, spoke as follows: -
In 1914, Mr. Spahlinger practically exhausted his supply of complete serum and complete vaccine. Since that date, under war and postwar conditions he has continued the preparation of partial serum in small quantities, and has used it for the treatment of a few cases.
At the present time Mr. Spahlinger is concentrating on the preparation of complete serum on a large scale for general distribution to the medical profession. The present stage of the work is chiefly confined to the preparation of toxins in bulk, which is a difficult and lengthy process. He is not undertaking any active work in the preparation of the complete vaccine on a large scale, beyond the collection of cultures of tubercle baccilli for this purpose. The preparation of the complete serum in itself appears to be a long and complicated process, and it is clear that at present Mr. Spahlinger can assign no definite date for the production of the serum in large quantities for general use.
The next action taken by the Minister of Health was to write to Spahlinger, and make him a definite and clear offer. This was made in April, 1923, before I left England. The department wrote to Spahlinger, saying that, it did not wish him to disclose his formula, but that money would be made available by the British Government for the further pursuit of his research if he would give a test of his serums with a certain number of cases in London which had been previously examined by well-known physicians, when he might have his own representative present. That was in May, 1923.
– Were not those tests carried out?
– No; the letter was never answered.
– Have there not been cases since dealt with in London ?
– I have no evidence of that. That offer was never replied to by Spahlinger, and never even referred to by him. I could find no evidence when I left England in 1923 that he had taken any action in connexion with it.
– What was the amount of money offered ?
– No definite amount was stated. I next interviewed the secretary of the Red Cross organization to know if it had taken any part in the matter. He said that it had taken action, and gave me the history of what it had done. It had paid £10,000 into Mr. Spahlinger’s account in Geneva for the production of a certain amount of serum and vaccine within a definite period - I think, one year. Lord Cowdray subscribed another £10,000, and the general public was asked to subscribe a further £10,000, but as a matter of fact did subscribe only £7,500. I have no doubt that the whole amount would have been subscribed if it had been required. The money paid into the bank remained there for a year, when Spahlinger returned it with interest at the rate of 5 per cent., saying that he was unable to complete the contract. He returned £10,500.
– That showed him to be a very honest man.
– I have never disputed that he is a very honest man. I have not impugned his integrity, his ability, or his desire to be of service to sufferers from tuberculosis. When I was leaving London in 1923 I saw Senator Wilson, who was there representing the Government on this question. He took up the whole matter at the Imperial and Economic Conferences. The representatives of all the dominions practically there agreed that if any advance were shown to have been made in respect of the claims by Spahlinger and his advocates their Governments should be immediately informed. So far from obtaining during these two years anything which support the claim of Mr. Spahlinger, I regret to say that the evidence in his favour is apparently getting weaker and weaker. It may be, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that this is due to the fact that Mr. Spahlinger has been financially hampered, and has not been able to produce either the serum or the vaccine which consists of 22 specific types of antidotes. Press statements appeared in July to i-he effect that certain members of the House of Commons had become interested in the Spahlinger method of treatment, and a cablegram was sent on the 20th July to the High Commissioner in London asking him to ascertain from the British Ministry of Health how the matter stood. He replied that the movement of the medical members of the House of Commons had no official recognition ; that there had been no change or further development of the negotiations between the British Government and Spahlinger ; and that, in reply to a question in the House of Commons on the 9th July, the Minister of Health stated that he was anxious to arrange for the scientific investigation of this method of treatment in England as soon as opportunity was available, but that it was understood that there is yet no assurance that the treatment would soon be available in England. For the last four or five months honorable members on both sides, and particularly the honorable member for Brisbane. (Mr. D. Cameron) have been pressing me to send a certain number of tubercular soldiers who had been previously carefully examined, and of whose condition we had. clinical notes and X-ray examinations, to Geneva for treatment by Mr. Spahlinger. The suggestion has been made that a bacteriologist should be sent with them, who could examine them weekly, and that they could be examined again on their return to Australia, so that we might have some definite information, not only of their condition if cured, but of their condition when they commenced the treatment. Honorable members will recognize that such data is absolutely essential. If I said that I had been cured of cancer or tuberculosis, and honorable members were investigating my case on behalf of a government, they would naturally ask, “ “What is the evidence of your condition when’ you commenced the treatment.” That is the difficulty in regard to the claims of Mr. Spahlinger. He says, “ Here is a man who was broken down with tuberculosis. He had a large cavity in his chest.” “ Yet there is no evidence of that.
– Has he not supported such statements by X-ray photographs of patients who have undergone his treatment.
– Not by X- ray photographs “showing the condition in which they were when they commenced the treatment, but by photographs showing their condition when they had finished the treatment. But I have said that tuberculosis is a curative disease. I have given statistics which prove that. If it were not, the whole community would be killed off by it.
– Has the case of the daughter of a Sydney doctor who was cured after undergoing Spahlinger s treatment, come under the Minister’s notice ?
– She was in Geneva when I was there, and was under Spahlinger’s treatment at the time he personally informed me then that he had no serum and no complete vaccine available for treatment. More than that, he said, “ Whatever your recommendation to your Government may be, will you send a cablegram asking your Government to publish in Australia my urgent request that no one suffering from the disease shall come to me for treatment, because I. have no serum or vaccine.” That was in September, 1923.
– Since then he has asked me to make it known that no serum or vaccine is available.
– It is quite clear that he has none available. Let me answer something said by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) before I go further. He spoke of sending to Geneva returned soldiers suffering from tuberculosis. Let me say that Mr. Cann, the New South Wales Minister for Health, stated in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on the 12th August, 1925, that -
It had been suggested that four patients accompanied by a bacteriologist should be sent from New South Wales to obtain the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. The ‘Premier (Mr. Lang) had cabled to the AgentGeneral (Sir Timothy Coghlan), who had replied that he had interviewed Mr. Spahlinger, who had informed him that he had been hampered in the manufacture of serum by lack of financing. Mr. Spahlinger had added that he would be prepared to place the formulas with various Governments throughout the world at the right time. No serum was available at the moment. It would be worse than useless to go to Mr. Spahlinger for treatment at present.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has made it quite clear that, whatever hope might be held out, it is inadvisable for sufferers from the disease to waste money in proceeding to Geneva now in the hope of getting specific treatment from Mr. Spahlinger, because he does not possess the necessary serum or vaccine to carry it out. So far as the sending of tubercular soldiers abroad is concerned, a report appeared in the Argus of the 30th July, 1925, to the following effect : -
Lord Stanley (Lord of the Treasury) stated that the Spahlinger treatment had been given in certain cases of tuberculosis to ex-service men sent to Switzerland as part of the sanatorium treatment, but evidence of the value of the treatment did not justify the sending of. patients at tlie public expense expressly for this treatment.
Great Britain is only a comparatively short distance from Mr. Spahlinger’s laboratory, and the Government of Great Britain, which is as anxious as we can be to benefit returned soldiers suffering from tuberculosis, has arrived at the conclusion that to send men to Geneva for treatment is useless, and is no longer justified. Could anything be more condemnatory of the treatment than that statement? “Will it be said that every country except Australia is biased against this man? We cannot assume that attitude. The League of Nations is composed of from 50 to 55 nations, which between them have an annual death-rate from tuberculosis of at least 4,000,000. Will any one tell me that the people of other nations are not equally interested with us in combating this disease? That is inconceivable. We know that America has for months been attempting in every way to obtain some serum from Spahlinger. Every effort has been made to get something definite from him, but without success. No man has ever got anything definite from him, either before he was in financial straits or since. He is a delightful and charming companion, but it is absolutely impossible to get any serum or vaccine from him. He uses it himself, but no one else, except a few of his particular supporters, is able to procure it. I say with extreme regret that I cannot hold out any possible hope, on the evidence that is now available, that this, or any other Government will subscribe one penny to assist Mr. Spahlinger out of his financial straits, until he lays his cards on the table. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) must give me credit for being as anxious as he to relieve the sufferings of the world.
– The Minister must give us credit, too.
– I do, and I am trying to place before honorable members the evidence that I possess, recognizing that they have the ability to judge of its value. The whole question turns on the value of the evidence. All medical men are not of the same standing, and do not charge the public the same fees, although medical practitioners who are not first class men sometimes extract a considerable amount of money from the public. The evidence of any doctor would be taken into consideration before a jury, but I am placing evidence before a body of men much more intelligent than the usual jury, and I leave it to them to come to a decision on it.
– The Leader of the Opposition holds a totally different view from yours, and he has investigated the treatment.
– It was with regret that I found that I could not recommend the Government to take action to advance one penny to finance Mr. Spahlinger. It has always been drummed into me that one should not buy a pig in a poke, but if we took action, as things stand in this particular case, we should be buying a poke in which there is no evidence at all of the presence of a pig.
– That is the Minister’s opinion.
– That is the opinion of every clinician and bacteriologist of repute in the world. To-day, there is no bacteriologist or clinician of any repute in his profession who will support Mr. Spahlinger’s contention that his treatment has been of any benefit at all.
– What about the twenty noted London physicians who support Mr. Spahlinger?
– They are not noted London physicians. No physician, clinician, or bacteriologist of any repute in any of the 55 nations that are members of the League and have a death rate of 4,000,000 a year from tuberculosis, is prepared to say that he believes this treatment to be of any benefit and would recommend his Government to subscribe to it. The honorable member for Darling hoped that I should be able to say what is the intention of the Government. I have said in this chamber, in answer to questions, that the Government cannot announce its public health policy until the recommendations and reports of the royal commission on health, and the insurance commission are to hand.
– When will- they be ready?
– I hope that they will be ready within a short period.
– Before Parliament prorogues ?
– I hope so. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Reid both suggested that Mr. Spahlinger might come out here. I think that that is impossible. He could not leave all his interests in Geneva to come here to pursue his researches. They must be pursued where he is located. I have no doubt that his main and natural anxiety is to get rid of his financial difficulties.
– He could have obtained £250,000.
– Mr. Spahlinger and one of his supporters both made that statement to me when I was at Geneva in 1923. I thank the honorable member for Melbourne for his interjection, because it reminds me to refer to a statement made in perfect good faith by the Leader of the Opposition. I made very careful inquiries in reference to the offer of £250,000 of a well-known firm of chemists in America, of which Mr. Spahlinger’s special secretary told me.
– The offer was made by Rothschild.
– I am speaking of another offer. The firm in question assured me that its offer was made conditional upon the production of certain information, and that it had no intention of offering one penny to Mr. Spahlinger until he was able to fulfil a contract.
– The statement of the Leader of the Opposition was that Mr. Spahlinger was offered money if he would sign a contract, and that he refused to do it.
– If Mr. Spahlinger really believes that he could effect an enormous amount of benefit by his treatment, and if there is no other way of perfecting it except by commercializing it, he should take that course, and let the world receive its benefits. Now, no one is getting any benefit from it.
– If the treatment were commercialized, a lot of people would make a fortune out of it.
– What would that matter if some of the millions now suffering from tuberculosis were cured ? It would pay us to expend £50 or even £500 each for every person cured by the treatment.
– Some person other than Mr. Spahlinger would receive the benefits of the commercialization of the treatment.
- Mr. Spahlinger might be the loser financially, but he would obtain the name of a great benefactor of the human race. The Leader of the Opposition referred to Pasteur. What has been the action of scientists like him ? They have given their discoveries to the world. Recently two gentlemen who had been experimenting in regard to cancer have made known their discoveries, and have said to the community: “Goon with the work; progress beyond the stage which we have reached, so as to obtain something definite in the way of a cure for this appalling malady.” They have placed their cards on the table, and have said : “Our experiments are not. complete.” Dr. Gye himself said -
Years of hard work will be necessary before we can hope for a cure for this disease, but we have laid the foundation upon which great result should be built.
That was the attitude of Pasteur and of other great men. It has been suggested that because Mr. Spahlinger does not belong to the medical profession he receives no support from the British Medical Association. That is not the case. Does Mr. Bernard, the colleague of Dr. Gye, belong to the medical profession? No. The medical profession of the world is ready to accept the work of any one’s brains, be he black or white, so long as it benefits the community. I cannot agree with the honorable member for Werriwa that it would not matter if we spent £500,000 of public money and received nothing in return.
– I said that that would be better than making no effort at all.
– We must have reasonable grounds for spending public money, and for holding out the hope that sufferers will benefit by any specific treatment.
– I wish that the public could vote on this question.
– Before the MacDonald Government came into power in Great Britain there were a number of speakers in the House of Commons who stated that a Labour Government would accept the Spahlinger treatment. But when such a government came into power it made the most careful inquiries through the Ministry of Health, and then had to adopt the same attitude as that taken by every scientist who has investigated the treatment. The British Government says now, “We do not know if there is anything in the treatment, but we have asked Mr. Spahlinger to give us some evidence of the value of his discovery, and to place his cards upon the table so that we may carry on from where he has left off. If he can show any efficacy in his treatment, or prove one or two of the many cures that he claims he has made, then any money he requires will be made available to him.” No one regrets more than I do that I am not able to recommend the Government to advance money towards securing this treatment. I feel, apart from financial considerations, that if I did so I should not be acting rightly towards those suffering from this disease.
,- There is one remark that I am sorry left the lips of the Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse), and it was that we should not buoy up the unfortunates who are suffering from this disease with a greater hope than we ourselves possess, or words to that effect. I disagree with that. The first thing that I was told when I went into a. ward where there was an unfortunate suffering from cancer was, “Never, so long as you practice, frighten your patient by mentioning the word cancer.” The London public, at least, understood the word carcinoma. I am sorry to say that there are medical men who tell patients that they have cancer, and must be operated upon. The Minister will know that that takes the fighting power of the patient away. I want the Minister to understand that I have not the slightest desire to hurt his feelings, but while he was speaking I could, imagine myself in a court of law with a very gifted barrister for the defence doing his best to make the jury look upon Spahlinger as a criminal. If I had been requested, as Dr. Cumpston was, to go to Geneva to report on the Spahlinger treatment, .nothing but death would have prevented me from so doing. In that case we had clear proof that for some reason, no matter where the influence may have- come from, Dr. Cumpston failed to interview Mr. Spahlinger. If another medical man is sent to Geneva I hope it will be some one of the type of Dr. Mackeddie, who would not permit anything except death from making a full inquiry. I am reminded of a time when a very clever discovery wa3 made by the Japanese for the cure of small- pox. The use of the treatment left not a mark on the arm. I introduced a clever doctor to Dr. Cumpston, and then persuaded him to give evidence before the Vaccination Committee that was appointed by the State Parliament. I am sorry to say that I have heard nothing further from the department in that regard. That treatment should be further investigated, for the Minister will admit that the scientific genius of Japan takes a prominent place in the discovery and cure of disease..
– Two. of the leading Japanese bacteriologists are investigating ihe Spahlinger treatment very carefully.
– Sometimes experts will see only as much as they desire to see. I notice that the Minister did not refer to the difficulties experienced by Pasteur in his early days. In a little publication that was placed in my hands before the dinner adjournment there appears an excerpt from the Lancet of 7th April, 1923, containing a statement by Dr. E. Lardy, ex-president of the Swiss Federal Examinations of Medicine, Geneva University, in appreciation of the work of Mr. Spahlinger. He may not be a bacteriologist, but if he was fit to be an examiner of. candidates for the medical profession in Switzerland, which is one of the most highly civilized countries in the world, surely he is competent to express an authoritative opinion upon the Spahlinger treatment. The publication contains portraits showing an unfortunate young woman with tubercular glands disfiguring her neck, and later portraits of her with a healed cicatrice - a comely and apparently healthy woman. I am. sorry that the Minister refused to accept the statement that has been made in this committee regarding an Australian doctor’s tubercular daughter, who went to Switzerland and was cured by the Spahlinger treatment. Her father, being a doctor, had the right to take his daughter to any medical man and: receive advice free of charge, and if he is not qualified to declare that the girl is cured of tuberculosis he should be hounded out of the profession. I cannot understand why the Minister should cast suspicion upon the doctor’s statement that his child has been cured. The Minister spoke of the large sum of money that would be involved in securing the Spahlinger treatment for Australia. Unfortunately considerations of filthy lucre are allowed to obtrude into even the most sacred subjects. We spend millions of pounds upon the murder of our fellow men, and will not find a few thousand pounds for the saving of human life. For 39 years I have advocated the nationalization of medicine, in order to obviate professional opposition to new discoveries and inventions for the cure of human ills. Engineers, as a body, have not been prominent in mechanical invention ; the new discoveries have been made by men in every calling and profession. So when I am told that a man is not an expert in a particular science I am reminded of a witty saying by a great Scotch professor, that “ medicine is a science of experiment punctuated by murder.” Having regard to the composition of the medicines that were dispensed 40, 50 and 100 years ago, I have no hesitation in saying that they poisoned more people than they cured. Queen Victoria would not have ascended the throne of England but for the blundering of the men who, in 1817, stood highest in the medical profession, in England. When Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV., was giving birth to a child that-, had it lived, would have been King of England, and was experiencing the pains incidental to the expulsion of the child from the womb, the doctors took from her a pint of blood, and, because the pain continued, another pint of blood. That treatment caused the death of both mother and child. In his memoirs Baron Stockmar, who was a medical man, said he could not understand why a healthy young woman, when her body was performing a natural function, should be bled and bled. If the highest lady in the land lost her life through the ignorance of the most eminent acconcheurs of that day,, we can readily understand what might happen to ?? p?????. I have faith in Dr. Mackeddie. of Melbourne, the only medical man who, so far as I know, interrupted a large and lucrative practice in order to go abroad for further study. He was commissioned by the Victorian Government to inquire into the Spahlinger treatment, and he said in a letter published in the Lancet of 28th April, 1923-
T am from Australia, commissioned to investigate for the Government of Victoria the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. I thought it best to go straight to Switzerland, and, before seeing Mr. Spahlinger, 1 went up the mountains to investigate his treatment in action in a sanatorium. I then came down and spent some days with Mr. Spahlinger at Geneva at his wonderful laboratory and experimental farm of horses, cows, goats, &c. During this time I was constantly examining patients who were being or had been treated along Spahlinger lines, comparing old and present conditions, examining old and recent X-ray pictures of chests, listening to histories, &c. I then read the reports of a number of cases in journals and in manuscript ready for publication that had received this treatment at the hands of chestmen of repute. I understand I have yet to see cases in England that had undergone this treatment. Any further evidence I feel sure will only confirm me in reporting to my Government that Henri Spahlinger^ vaccine and scrum treatment in tuberculosis stands by itself, and that the medical profession should lose no time in taking a definite stand in thi3 matter. But the production of these remedies, and prophylaxins is almost at a stand-still. The Spahlinger family, once in affluent circumstances, ave now almost penniless. They have spent all they had in this self-imposed search for potent antituberculous vaccines, and sera. Henri Spahlinger loathes publicity, lives in an atmosphere of patient and cheery altruism, has spurned repeated offers from firms and private individuals to “ commercialize “ his work - offers that would have resulted long ago in retrieving his family’s fortune. There is still another serious matter. The long strain of work and debtcarrying is beginning to tell on Mr. Spahlinger. There have been for some time unequivocal signs of nerve depletion. Truly there are the makings of a tragedy here.
My appreciation of Dr. Mackeddie will be endorsed by every student who has had the honour of studying under him. In bringing before the House to-day the need for further action by the Commonwealth Government in regard to the Spahlinger treatment, the Leader of the Opposition has performed a great public service. I deprecate any suggestion that he has introduced this matter for party purposes, but I deeply regret the unsympathetic attitude of the Minister for Health. Let. us consider for a moment some of the things that a Department of Public Health might do. No doubt the Minister will agree with me that many of the diseases of which our people are victims are due to the use of improperly prepared foods and infected water. Has the department ever issued simple brochures explaining to the people how to detect unwholesome water, and how to prepare food ? If school children were given simple instruction not to drink standing water which had not been boiled, and were taught a few other elementary principles of hygiene, the whole community would automatically benefit. At one time half the medical world said that tuberculosis in cattle was different from tuberculosis in humans, and the other half declared that tubercular disease in humans and in animals was the same. We now know that unhealthy cattle frequently convey disease to healthy humans. Many experts hold that cancel is caused by the eating of diseased food and the improper preservation of tinned foods, especially jams and fruits. I have endeavoured to induce this Parliament to insist that each tin of preserved food shall be stamped with the month and year in which it left the factory.Under present conditions a tin of preserved fruit may remain on the back shelf of a store for years before being sold. In Egypt even packets of cigarettes have indelibly stamped upon them the date of their manufacture. Why does not the Department of Health specify the maximum percentage of preservatives to be used in butter ? Foster butter, which is sold in the Melbourne shops, and also exported to America, contains no preservatives. If one locality can produce a commodity that can be exported without recourse to preservatives, surely the whole of our butter production could be free of adulteration. Any one who takes enough preservatives will soon be lying under the daisies. Huge sky scrapers that exclude light are being built. Why has not the Department of Health issued the instruction that every room shall have direct daylight, and that no human beings shall be required to work in artificial light? No other Minister has as good an opportunity as the Minister for Health to serve humanity. I am astonished that the department has not taken notice of the hideous noises that afflict modern humanity. It is known that a high explosive shell may destroy the organs of hearing, and other organs as well, and that harsh noises may injure the nerves of men and women in advanced years. Is it not obvious that the strong headlights of motor cars injure the eyes? Why has not the Health Department issued a simple instruction to people to wear coloured glasses, or to take some other measure to prevent injury to tho sight? I have found it necessary, when on the St. Kilda promenade at night, to wear coloured glasses, and have advised my friends to do so too. The Chief Health Officer of Victoria before federation, the late Dr. Gresswell, who was provided with only £1,000 a year, did more good than all the medical men in the state, for, with the government’s support, he prevented the plague from reaching Victoria. I would gladly vote twice as much money to the Health Department as it now receives if I could have the assurance that it would be spent in promoting health. My appreciation of the Minister may be unknown to him, but I assure him here, publicly, that it is very great, and that I regret having to voice these criticisms. It has been said that Mr. Spahlinger refused £250,000 from Rothschild or some advertising American firm. It is true that the acceptance of the offer might have done good, but is it not to the credit of the man that he refused it? I admire him for his action. I am glad that lucre could not buy him. He returned £10,000, with £500 interest, because he could not complete a contract, and for a man who is in financial difficulties to do that is unusual. Could there be higher testimony to his honour and credit? I feel certain that if honorable members were here without the crack of the Government whip they would vote to give Mr. Spahlinger up to£150,000 to start his treatment in Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to. department of markets and Migration.
Proposed vote, £410.
.- Is it correct, as reported, that there is to. be a reconstruction of the Institute of Scienceand Industry? If so, I should like the Minister to give the committee some information regarding the intended changes.
– The Government two montbs ago called together representatives of practically all the scientific bodies of Australia to consider the wisest way to re-organize theinstitute. That conference submitted several alternative proposals, which are still under the con- sideration of the Government. As soon as the Government has completed its plan, it will submit proposals to honorable members. The question will be discussed in connexion with the vote of £100,000 which has been set aside, and will be appropriated in proper form.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £57,800.
.- What is the reason for the increase of £41,187 in the expenditure on the Northern Territory? Is it the intention of the department to undertake extensive boring operations? Is the increase connected with the proposal to appoint two commissions to govern the Territory?
.- The increase has nothing to do with the appointment of commissions. The money is to provide for necessary works. Of a sum of £40,500, £28,386 is to meet, liabilities on works in hand, but not completed at the 30th June, 1925. The balance of £12,114 is towards the cost of the f ollowing new works : -
No. 1 Bore. - On Victoria River Downs Holding, Pastoral Lease, No. 2184, at the southwest end of Gill’s Creek.
No. 2 Bore. - On Limbunya Holding, Pastoral Lease, No. 2412, about 4 miles north of G.B. Lockhole, on the Wattle Creek.
No. 3 Bore. - On Pastoral Lease, No. 2116, Inverway Holding, between Inverway Homestead and Swan River.
New Bore “A.” - On stock route in vicinity of site of Bore No.8, about 20 miles northnortheast from Mill’s waterhole, near Illawarra out-station, on Victoria River Downs Holding. Pastoral Lease, No. 2184.
New Bore “ B.” - On stock route, about 20 mites south-west from Melly’s waterhole, on Victoria River Downs Holding, Pastoral Lease, No. 2184.
New Bore “C.” - On stock route, about 20 miles south-west from proposed new Bore “ B,” in the vicinity of Mr Wallaston.
New Bore”D.” - On stock route, about 20 miles south-west from proposed new Bore “ C,” in the vicinity of Barry’s Knoll.
Two Now Bores. - It is also proposed to construct two new bores on Northern Territory Pastoral Leases 2291 and 2292, for the lessees, Messrs. McDill Bros., at sites to be selected by Mr. Keith Ward.
One New Bore. - Renner Springs.
One New Bore. - Barrow Creek.
Two New Bores. - Additional to the above, it is proposed to construct two experimental bores for wells on the Burt Plain, north-west of Alice Springs, and on the northern fall of the Macdonnell ranges. The suggested new bores on the northern side of the ranges would give valuable indications of the geological formation at depth, and of possible water supplies, and also be of great assistance in determining the relative value of this area for settlement purposes.
Proposed vote agreed to.
That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1925-26, for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings,&c., a sum not exceeding £323,286.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means based on resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Hill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 13th August (vide page 1425), on motion by Mr. Hill -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I deeply regret that the Government has introduced this bill. Later in the session we shall have before us railway proposals of considerable magnitude, involving the expenditure of large sums of money, and in respect of which it is essential that we should have the benefit of the most expert advice available.
– What is wrong with the present Commissioner?
– If the honorable member will be patient I shall explain the position as I see it. I trust that any remarks which I may make concerning this measure will be regarded as made, not from a party stand-point, but from a deep sense of public duty. In view of the extensive railway works in prospect, it is important that the Government should secure the services of the most competent railway commissioner to be found anywhere. Those honorable members who were in the House dur ing the period when the east-west railway was under construction will recall the many complaints of inefficiency and shocking waste that were then made. The Hansard reports teem with evidences of inefficiency in connexion with that work. Of the 75 members in the 1914-17 Parliament there remain only 24 in the House to-day. I am quite sure that if Parliament were constituted to-day as it was in 1914-17 this bill would not have been presented. I have been looking up the Hansard debates of the period referred to. On the journey from Adelaide yesterday I studied carefully a very bulky volume. I perused my own speeches, and I say with a certain amount of pride that I would not eliminate a single word of what I said on many occasions about the east-west railway construction difficulties.
– The honorable member surely is unique if he does not wish to eliminate some of his statements.
– Probably, as the right honorable the Prime Minister says, my position is unique. My prophecies have been fulfilled almost to the letter. In the circumstances is it fair for the Prime Minister now to expect me to vote for this bill? The object of the measure is to raise the salary of the Commissioner, presumably because everything hitherto has been highly satisfactory. I do not think it has been. In this view I am supported by many statements made in the public press concerning the awful waste and inefficiency displayed during the construction of the east-west railway. I was instructed by the previous Government to give the Commissioner notice that his appointment would not be renewed, and to make the necessary arrangements to secure the services of the most uptodate railway expert to take charge of important railway works in contemplation, including the standardization of gauges. The bill proposes to authorize the payment of £3,000 a year to the Railways Commissioner, on the assumption, according to the Minister, that as the Commissioners in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia get not less than £5,000 a year, the position of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner should be worth £3,000. The Minister (Mr. Hill) has indicated that it is not intended to pay this sum to the present Commissioner, whose services are valued at £2,600 a year. The comparison is an unfortunate one, because on the Commonwealth east-west line, there are three trains a week each way, whereas the Commissioners of the states referred to control busy railway lines representing a capital expenditure of very many millions of pounds. When these motions, involving the expenditure of millions of pounds, are submitted to the House, we ought to consider them carefully from every point of view. We should regard not only the engineering and financial aspects, but should look at them from the point of view of organization. In the absence of proper organization, losses which are incalculable are frequently caused. The weakest part of the Railway Department is at the top, where there is no proper organization. The records for the past proclaim that fact eloquently. In order that we may obtain the best advice procurable, these proposals should be submitted to the Public Works Committee, whose investigation into the proposal to construct a railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs has been carried out most thoroughly. In a matter of such importance no stone should be left unturned in an endeavour to obtain the best advice possible. If we look back over the past-
– Rather should we look to the future.
– From the past * we should learn what ‘ to do in the future. Honorable members will remember that some of the most shocking revelations in the history of Australia were revealed in connexion with the administration of the Defence Department, particularly in regard to some of its public works. I would remind them also of what occurred in connexion with the underground telephone cables in the cities of Australia. Did any one ever hear of anything more reckless on the part of a national parliament ? There is also the example afforded by Canberra in the initial stages of the work there. The present great- champion of Canberra, Sir Austin Chapman, has at times spoken very strongly regarding the atrocious mistakes committed there in the early stages. In the Northern Territory similar shocking examples of loss and waste were revealed. For these things the country has had to pay. In the light of the past, honorable members should realize that a great responsibility now rests upon them. At the invitation of the Federal Ministry, Sir George Buchanan has visited Australia to report on our harbours, and, even if his advice is not acted upon for ten years, it is well to have his report available when required.
– Sir George Buchanan recommended that the Northern Territory should be dropped entirely.
– He said nothing of the kind. I am prepared to place before the honorable member some facts which, if he will read them, should widen his vision. If a man is needed to advise us in relation to our rivers and harbours, there is greater need for some one to advise us in railway matters. When the papers are before us, I shall have more to say on this subject, but, in justice to myself, I feel compelled at this stage to say that the proposal is neither fair nor businesslike. This bill should be held over until the matters to which I have referred are dealt with. No honorable member on this side of the House who was here in 1917 can vote for it and be consistent. I cannot and will not.
.- It is my intention to vote for the second reading of this bill. I was somewhat surprised at the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), as I maintain that in dealing with the salary of the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways, we should have regard not to the present occupant of the office (Mr. Bell), but to what is a proper remuneration for the office. In saying that, I do not suggest that the present Commissioner is not worthy of the salary provided in this bill. At present he has not a great mileage of railway under his control; there is the line between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, while from the beginning of next year there will be also . the line from Quorn to Oodnadatta. In the following year we hope that the lines from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs and from. Port Augusta to Adelaide will also be under his control. I maintain that if We ate to have a competent officer in charge of the Commonwealth railways we should pay him an adequate salary.
– With that view I agree.
– If many departments to-day are administered by officers who are not as successful as they should be, it is because of the parsimonious, policy adopted by past governments, which have not been prepared to pay a salary commensurate with the work undertaken. On every hand we hear from travellers complimentary references to the facilities provided on the eastwest railway.
– I know who provided them.
– The honorable member for Wakefield in his speech- said that the very best man was required as head of the Commonwealth railways. With that view I am in hearty accord; but I maintain that such a gentleman should receive a proper salary.
– So do I.
- Mr. A. W. Robinson, who until a year or two ago was the chairman of the Railways Standing Com.mittee of South Australia, and a member of the same political party as that to which the honorable member for Wakefield belongs, submitted to the South Australian Parliament, in 1920, a report in which he showed that the present Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways had .saved the people of Australia many thousands’ of pounds.
– Does the honorable member know what became of that report?
– Yes; it was adopted by the South Australian Parliament. Mr. Robinson said -
In 1914 tenders were called for earthworks and certain waterways from about 122 miles to about* 260 miles west of Port Augusta. Four contractors tendered. Mr.- Joseph Timms was the lowest, his price being: £130,626. The Railways Commissioner represented to the Government that, he could do the work more cheaply by day labour, and his recommendation was accepted. A most careful record was maintained of the actual cost of this section, and a -saving of £37,137 was effected on Mr. Timms’s tender.
As by this bill the Commissioner’s salary is being increased by only £600 a year, the saving on that one item alone would pay the increased salary for a term of 60 years.
– The trouble with the honorable member for Wakefield is that he is opposed to the day-labour system.
- Mr. Robinson’s report continued-
If the whole df the earthworks arid the concrete work in the waterways from Fort Augusta to Kalgoorlie had been ‘ carried out at Mr. Timing’s price, on additional expenditure above the departmental cost Of at least £300,000” would have been entailed.
Because of the saving effected by the adoption of the Commissioner’s recommendation in that case, there is justification, not only for increasing his salary, but for regarding him as a competent officer. By the passing of this measure consideration will be shown to the Commissioner of Railways, a consideration which, I contend, should also be extended to the workmen engaged on the east- west railway. The working conditions along the transcontinental line are not as satisfactory as along lines adjacent to large cities, and the employees along that line should be given as much consideration as possible. The Government would be well advised to take into consideration the housing accommodation provided for employees along that line, and also in Port Augusta. I believe we have a right to increase the salary of the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways because of the work he is called upon to do, and I think we should at the same time do justiceto the employees of the Commonwealth who are rendering efficient service on the transcontinental railway. I make no apology for supporting this measure to increase what may appear to be a large salary. The South Australian Railways Commissioner is paid a salary of £5,000 a year and has a large staff of officers under him. During the next few years I do not think he will be in control of any more construction work than will have to be undertaken by Mr. Bell. “We are considering really not the salary to be paid to Mr. Bell, but the salary to be paid to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, and I believe that, owing to the complications which will arise through Commonwealth railways coming into competition with State lines, the time is not far distant when the whole of the railwaysof Australia will be taken over by the Commonwealth, and will be under the control of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, with deputy commissioners in each of the states. I think that possibly the time when that will take place is nearer than some honorable members may imagine. We are to have the north-south line and I do not suppose that any honorable member will object to the other sensible propositions for railway construction in South Australia. There is also the Hay line and the Kyogle to Brisbane line to be constructed. I believe that there will shortly be an agitation for the taking over of the whole of the railways of Australia by the Commonwealth. We shall then require the services as railways commissioner of the best man who can possibly be obtained, and it may be necessary to consider a further increase in the salary of this office. I shall vote for the second reading of the bill for the reasons I have stated.
– I made it clear to the House in moving the second reading of the bill that the object of the Government in introducing it is to enable the salary paid to Mr.Bell to be increased from. £2,000 to £2,600 per annum, and to fix the maximum salary for the position at £3,000. The reason for this is to place the Government in a position at the close of Mr. Bell’s term of office, which will expire in about two years, to pay such a salary as will induce a good man to apply for the position. I doubt very much whether a salary of £3,000 would induce any of the State Railway Commissioners to accept the position and discharge the duties which devolve upon Mr. Bell, who is not only Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways, but is also Engineer-in-Chief of the Common wealth Railways. I very much regret that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) has on almost every possible occasion seen fit to make what I consider a personal attack upon Mr. Bell.
– I never did anythingof the kind. I did my duty in the interests of the country. No public servant in this country can say that I have done him an injury.
– The honorable member became so heated in his remarks that one was led to believe that he was making a personal attack. The Government is satisfied with the services rendered by Mr. Bell. The honorable member for Wakefield was only recently Minister for Works and Railways, and if he was so dissatisfied with Mr. Bell as he would make the House believe he is, why did he not protest against his continuance in his present position, or take steps to remove him ? Did the honorable gentleman take any such step?
– Yes, of course I did, and the Government agreed to it.
– No, the Government would not agree to it.
Mr.Foster. - I tell the honorable gentleman that the Government did agree to it.
– The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) used very effectively some materia] which I proposed to use and I thank him for what he had to say. I should like to read the following short extract from the report of the Railways Standing Committee of South Australia, presented to the South Australian Parliament by Mr. A. W. Robinson -
We had the same experience with regard to the estimates for the Long Plains to Port Augusta railway. In 1913 itwas estimated to cost £7,833 per mile. The present estimate is for £10,000 per mile, yet between these two estimates the transcontinental railway was constructed at a total cost when completed of £5,800 per mile.
The transcontinental line was constructed mainly on the day labour system. If honorable members will read the report presented by the South Australian Railways Standing Committee, they will bo convinced that under the system adopted by Mr. Bell scores of thousands of pounds were saved to the Commonwealth in the construction of the transcontinental railway. As regards the operation of that line all who have been over it in the transcontinental train have been loud in their praise of its smooth running and the service rendered on the train. I have not travelled the world over, but I have spoken to gentlemen who have travelled in every part of the world, and they have made it abundantly plain to me that in their opinion it is absolutely the best train they have ever travelled in.
– The honorable gentleman knows that it is a surface railway, and is not ballasted at all.
– It is all the more credit to Mr. Bell and those associated with him that such things should be said of trains running over an unballasted line. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), in a very neat speech on the second reading of this bill, suggested that an increase of salary should apply all round, and he asked whatthe Government proposed to do for the lower paid men in the service of the Commonwealth Railways Department. It is right that I should say that Mr. Bell has not had any increase in salary since 1917, when he was appointed Commissioner at a salary of £2,000, but since that time the wages of employees on the transconti nental line paid by the day have been raised by from 31 to 50 per cent.
– I can say for Mr. Bell thatunder his management there has never been any trouble with the men.
– That is so. There was a district allowance of 12s. 3d. per week paid to employees on the railway, and that allowance has been considerably increased since October, 1917. I think it was suggested by some honorable members that the deficit on the working of the line has reached an enormous sum, and in this connexion 1 should like honorable members to know that at the present moment we are carrying livestock on that line at rates about 25 per cent. lower than the rates in force on the South Australian railways. This is with a view to opening up and developing the country adjacent to the railway. The Commissioner ofRailways has the power to make concessions, and he has used his power to the fullest extent with the object of opening up and developing the country along the line. The honorable member for Wakefield made some references to the north-south line, but I am not. at present able to refer to that matter. I hope the House will agree to pass the bill, so that the increase to Mr. Bell’s salary, which is well-merited and long overdue, may be made.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 42
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hill) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
. -I wish to make clear my reason for voting in the division with the honorable member for Angas (Mr.Gabb). I have no objection to any public servant receiving the salary that he merits, but I do object to the people’s money being paid away in large sums without their having the right to say yea or nay in the matter. I agree with an interjection which was made from this side of the House that the Commonwealth railway employees have no complaint to make about the control exercised over them by the Commissioner. He has been a very fine employer in the sense that he has wisely avoided turmoil and friction by giving the men a fair deal. An increase in salary from £2,000 to £3,000 represents a considerable sum.
– The increase in the Commissioner’s salary is really from £2,000 to £2,600, although we have the right to pay him £3,000.
– I do not say that. Mr. Bell is not worth the increase. I maintain that there should be a clause in every bill making large increases in the salaries of ‘ public servants temporary until the next election, and then, if the Government were again returned by the taxpayers, it would have a perfect right to make those increases permanent. For that reason I have always endeavoured to obtain a form of government that will give the people control not only of Parliament and its members, butalso of legislation. I have a keen memory of very large increases paid to public servants who have been unduly and unfairly promoted. I take this opportunity not to delay the bill unduly, but to registermy protest against the procedure at present adopted in increasing the salaries of public servants.
Questionresolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 August 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250819_reps_9_111/>.