10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Wharf at Garden Island.
Mr. MACKAY, as Chairman, brought up the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed construction of a new wharf at Garden Island Naval Establishment, New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed.
Agreement with States.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the fact that last night Mr. Gunn, Premier of South Australia, submitted a resolution to the House of Assembly of the South Australian Parliament in the following terms: -
That this Houseis of the opinion that roads construction is an encroachment on the State Government activities, and beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Constitution, and, therefore, emphatically protests against the roads proposals of the Federal Ministry, and urges membersof the Federal Parliament not to give effect to them.
Is the right honorable gentleman also aware that all parties in the South Australian Parliament supported that protest? Is he still of opinion that all the States will accept the federal aid roads agreement ?
– I have seen the press announcement of the resolution passed by the South Australian Parliament; but I have no doubt at all that the South Australian Government will come into line with the Governments of other States when the proposals of the Federal Government have been passed by this Parliament.
– In view of the fact that Mr. Allan, the Premier of Victoria, has denied having signed a roads agreement with the Commonwealth, I should like to ask the Minister for Works and Railways to whom he was referring when he made the statement that one State Premier had already signed the agreement ?
– The agreement has been signed by Mr. McCormack, Premier of Queensland.
” For the Term of His Natural Life.”
– Following upon a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), with reference to the proposed Australian filming of For the Term of Eis Natural Life, as I understand that some of the principals - Miss Eva Novak and others - to be employed in the production are on their way to Australia, and that the syndicate that proposes to make the film has purchased a ship in Sydney, and is altering it for use in the picture, can the Minister for Trade and Customs see his way to notify those concerned that the opinion of this House seems to be opposed to the production?
– Who says that?
– We say it.
– In order to avoid further, and, it may be, useless expenditure, could not some notification be made to the svndicate that operations for the production of the film should not go on, or that the film will be heavily censored ?
– I feel that I can add little to what I have already said on this subject. If the promoters of the proposed film are not already warned as to what the attitude of the film censorship is likely to be, should an attempt be made to export the proposed film, they can have no knowledge of what is going on in this Parliament. However, in consequence of the honorable member’s question, I shall send to the promoters of this venture extracts from Hansard recording the views expressed here regarding the proposed film.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the book For the Term ofHis Natural Life, written by Marcus Clarke many years ago, is in general circulation from almost every library in the world, and that a play founded on the book has been staged in Australia? If so, why should there be objection to the proposed filming of the story?
– I am aware that the book referred to is on sale. I am unable to answer the second part of the honorable member’s question.
Return of Consignment
– Is the Minister for Trade arid Customs aware that a large quantity of meat consigned to the home market has been returned ? It so, what is the reason?
– I have no information on the subject. Possibly my colleague, the Minister for Markets and Migration, will be able to supply an answer to the honorable member’s question.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of sending an industrial hygienist as one of the official delegation to America to study questions of efficient industrial hygiene and social welfare in industrial circles in America ?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will be given consideration.
Transfer of Public Servants
– I recently asked the Prime Minister what provision would be made by way of allowances to Federal public servants transferred to Canberra. The right honorable gentleman replied that the matter would receive consideration, and he would later make a statement about it. As the public servants have been notified that they must come to a decision regarding their transfer by the end of this month, I should like to know whether the Prime Minister is now in a position to make the promised statement regarding this matter?
– There are two questions involved in the transfer of public servants to Canberra. One relates to housing and the other to the granting of an allowance to meet the higher cost of living. A statement has already been made regarding housing. The question of a special allowance will be examined by the Public Service Board, and the board’s recommendation will be considered by the Government . I am not in a position at the moment to make any statement on the subject.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce this session legislation for the creation of export control boards in respect of apples and pears?
– The subject of export control boards, or other forms of organization, in the apple and pear industry, is at the moment engaging the attention of my honorable colleague, the Minister for Markets and Migration, and representatives of the industry. The consideration of the matter has not yet advanced so far as to indicate the introduction of legislation immediately.
“BUY AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTS.”
Stamping of Envelopes.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the fact that envelopes posted in New Zealand bear a stamp advocating the use of New Zealand products only? As a measure of protection, will the honorable gentleman see that envelopes posted in
Australia are stamped, “Buy Australian products “ ?
– My attention Has been drawn to the New Zealand practice to which the honorable member .’refers, and dies are in course of preparation to stamp in the way suggested all envelopes posted in Australia.
– I am informed that difficulty is experienced in obtaining leases at the new goldfield in New Guinea, and I should like to know if the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories can tell me if information has yet come to hand which enables him to furnish replies to the questions. I asked last week relative to this matter?
– The information has not yet come to hand, but I shall ask that the matter be treated as urgent, so that a reply may be given to the honorable member as early as possible.
Representation of Dominion Oppositions
– Has the Prime Minister seen a published statement that the British Government considers it advisable that the views of Oppositions in the dominion parliaments should be heard at Imperial Conferences, so that continuity of policy may be ensured ? If so, I should like to know the attitude of the Commonwealth Government towards the matter.
– I have not read any pronouncement by the British Government on the subject, but I have seen the cabled statement in one of the newspapers that Mr. Amery has> in the course of a speech, said something of the character referred to by the honorable member. I should require a confirmation of that statement, because two years ago the views of the dominions and British Government in reference to this matter were exchanged, and the Commonwealth Government and other dominion governments then indicated that they did not think that the representation of dominion oppositions at Imperial Conferences would tend to promote better results.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral tell me what is the practice followed by his department in letting contracts for the conveyance of mails in country districts ? I should like to know whether, in calling for tenders, applications are invited for services with motor vehicles and with’ horse-drawn vehicles; and, if so, what preference is given to ‘ motor vehicles.
– The practice generally adopted is to let contracts for three-year periods, motor vehicles being given a preference over horse-drawn vehicle.^ because they are much more expeditious.
– Beyond the 5 per cent, preference given to holders of existing mail contracts, I should like to know what allowance is made in favour of a motor vehicle tenderer as against a tenderer having a horse-drawn vehicle. Recently, in my electorate a motor service was replaced by a horse-drawn vehicle service.
– If the honorable member will supply me- with the particulars of the case to which he refers, I shall give him full information about it.
– In view of the increase of the duty on tires, and the repetition of the statement that Australian manufacturers are taking1 an unfair advantage of the protection given to them by this Parliament, I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs N> tell the House whether that industry Ls doing so.
– I am pleased to take the opportunity afforded to me, in replying to the honorable member’s question, to state that the tire manufacturers of Australia will not advance their prices as a result of the additional duty imposed on imported tires. The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited also has no intention of increasing the price of its product. This is further evidence of the fact that the development of the local manufacture of an article does hot mean an increase in its price. I am informed by the rubber manufacturer.: of Australia that, with an increased output of tires, their prices are likely to be further reduced.
Mr.WATKINS.- I should like to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is not a fact that the Australian tire manufacturers, instead of taking advantage of the new duty, propose to reduce the price of tires when certain economies havebeen effected by them.
– I have just indicated that as soon as the local manufacturers can increase their output the tendency will be towards a further reduction in prices.
– On several occasions recently I have asked questions relative to the sale of hotels in the Northern Territory, and I should like to know if the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories is yet in a position to make a further statement on the matter.
– I have had further inquiries made in connexion with the questions asked by the honorable member, but the Department is still awaiting advice from the Northern Territory to enable it to furnish the information which the honorable member desires.
Tariff Board Inquiry
-Some time ago a deputation, accompanied by several honorable members, brrught under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs the disabilitiesunder which our timber industry is labouring, and the Minister promised that the Tariff Board would be sent to NewSouth Wales and Tasmania to make investigations. Can the Minister tell me now if it is still his intention to carryout his promise that the Tariff Board will inquire into the position of this industry, which is very serious indeed?
– So far as I recollect, the promise I made to the deputation, at which my honorable friend was present, was that, if new evidence could be given, I would provide an opportunity for that evidence to be taken by the Tariff Board. In several instances, further witnesses have been examined by the
Board, and I shall provide the same opportunity to others who have new evidence to submit.
Duplication of Plant
– In view of the everincreasing demand for petrol, I should like to know if the Government has given consideration to the need for duplicating theplant of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited at Laverton?
– It is not at present proposed to duplicate the plant of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited in Victoria or to establish refineries in other States. If unfair advantage is taken of the people of Australia in regard to the supply of petrol, the matter will be further considered.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
These parts are now being manufactured in bulk at the Central Factory, and a large number of each part (excepting some of the shanks) has already been made. When the requisite number of shanks has been manufactured, supplies of the several component parts will be forwarded to the limb factory in each State for assembling, fitting, and finishing before issue to the ex-soldier amputees.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am advised by the Public Service Board as follows: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he state what progress has been made with the work of placing underground the telephone lines between Sydney and Newcastle?
– The whole of the technical details and specifications covering the provision of an underground telephone service between Sydney and Newcastle have been prepared, but the matter is being allowed to remain in abey ance pending completion of the formation of the road which is being constructed by the Main Roads Board. In the meantime, arrangements are being made to provide additional facilities by utilizing the carrier wave system of operation.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– It is not proposed to issue action clasps in respect of services rendered during the late war. A memorandum of the Secretary of State for War relating to the Army Estimates for 1926, as presented to the Imperial Parliament, . reads as follows, and will make the position clear : -
The issue of medals for the Great War to some 6,000,000 persons scattered throughout the world has been brought nearer completion; but there are still some 200,000 whose addresses, in spite of the ready assistance of the various agencies of publicity, cannot be traced. A proposal to issue battle clasps to these medals has been fully considered, but has had to be abandoned on financial grounds.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What quantity of bitumen or road-making material was imported into Australia during the last five years?
– Prior to the 1st July, 1922, this item was not recorded separately. The imports since that date were : -
Australian and New Zealand
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Drums from California.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
First grade, ls.9d.
Second grade, ls. 71/2d.
Third grade, ls. 6d.
Shipping Office Fees
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has any money been refunded by the Government to the Union Steamship Company for shipping office fees; and, if so, how much per head of the crew of each vessel, and from what date?
– The amount refunded to the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, as a result of the judgment of the High Court in the case of the Union Steamship Company versus The Commonwealth, totals £1,145 15s.0d. This represents the difference between the fees properly chargeable under , theBritish Merchant Shipping Act, as amended by the Fees (Increase) Act 1923, in respect of engagements and discharges of seamen belonging to ships registered in the United Kingdom, owned by that company, and the fees prescribed by the Navigation Act and Regulations, which had been collected. The fee collected under the Navigation Act and Regulations was 2s. for each engagement or discharge. The fees chargeable under the Merchant Shipping Act were varied by order of the King in Council from time to time, as follows : -
It is not possible to give separate particulars as to each vessel affected.
Pooling and Marketing
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The following information is furnished in reply to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Bank has been asked to supply the information desired by the honorable member.
– On the12th February the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following question : -
What is the total value of Government orders placed overseasby allFederal Government Departments for each year since1917 - (a) exclusive of the cruisers; (b) inclusive of the cruisers ?
The desired particulars have now been obtained and are furnished for the information of the honorable member. The delay in furnishing a reply has been occasioned by reason of the necessity for an examination of the records in the various departments for the years in respect of which the information was sought. The details are as follow: -
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Deter mination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 23 of 1926 - Commonwealth Medical Officers’ Association.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 100.
.- I move-
His Gracious Majesty King George through His Excellency the Governor-General.
The present is an opportune time for a motion of this nature. I believe that the granting of titles is contrary to the sentiment of the citizens of Australia. The Parliaments of South Africa and Canada, two important British dominions, have passed resolutions requesting that titles be no longer conferred on the citizens of those countries. In Australia the Parliaments of New SouthWales, South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia have passed similar resolutions. I do not know the attitude of the Tasmanian Parliament, but seeing that a Labour Government is in office in that State, I assume that it also is opposed to the granting of titles. That leaves Victoria as the only State whose citizens can, with the concurrence of the State Parliament, be granted titles. Revelations made during recent years as to the manner in which titles have been granted are such as to justify a strong protest being made by every democratic community against the granting of titles. In Great Britain a trade in titles is carried on, and has become a scandal. The man with the largest purse obtains the highest title. It is on record that one man who left England during the war period in order to escape the payment of income tax was granted a title because he contributed large sums to the funds of a certain political party. I do not intend to weary the House with the information that I gave in a former address, concerning the granting of titles in Great Britain; I shall confine my remarks to what has been done in Australia. We have a num ber of very estimable titled members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Perhaps it would be just as well if we examined their records. The first name that comes to mind is that of Sir Victor Wilson, until lately a member of the Senate. Why he was honoured with “ Sir “ is beyond the comprehension of any. member of the Senate or this House. He was well paid for any work that he did in connexion with the Wembley Exhibition, and yet, at the instigation of this Ministry, a title was granted to him. I notice that the honorable member for Denison (Sir John Gellibrand) had this question on the business paper for the day.
Has any decision been arrived at regarding the issue of action clasps to members of the Australian Navy and Military Forces in respect of services rendered during the late war ?
I do not know what answer he received, but I do know that he got a title. I say this in no spirit of disrespect to the honorable gentleman, or indeed to any other gentleman who has received a title, but we all know that there was no similar recognition of privates for services rendered during the late war. We all know that our generals had a heavy responsibility in the organization of the allied forces during the war, but my God! they did it many miles behind the lines. The privates were the men who had to face the real peril of the war.
– Many of the generals also were in the front lines.
– I did not see them, nor did I expect to see them there, because a general’s place is behind the lines directing operations. Sir John Gellibrand, in fairness, will admit that the most dangerous positions in any “ hopover” were those filled by the sergeants and second lieutenants. They were the actual leaders whenever our men had to go “ over the top,” but not many of them got recognition for services rendered. I doubt if they wanted it, I come now to the honorable member for Darwin -George John Bell, C.M.G., D.S.O. I doubt if many people in Australia know what those letters mean. The honorable member for Darwin may have been a most gallant soldier; I assume that he was; but his titles and other war service honours, as with the higher commands, were granted, not in recognition of anything that he did in the war, but, so we are led to believe, to please the forces under his command. All I can say is that I have never heard of any nrivate being particularly pleased at hearing of titles being conferred upon generals in the army. We have also Donald Charles Cameron, C.M.G., D.S.O. I wonder if the honorable gentleman cares for the D.S.O. decoration, because it was conferred upon so many men who were not on active service. Quite a number of men who received the Distinguished Service Order decoration never saw the firing line. It would have been far better if it had been confined to those who were behind the lines. I should like it to be clearly understood that I am not suggesting that the honorable member for Darwin was not in the front line. I hope he saw more of it than I did. I did not see too much, but I saw quite enough for my health. I notice that the honorable member for Boothy, John Grant Duncan-Hughes has the M.V.O., and the M.C. I do not know what M.V.O. stands for, but I understand that the honorable member was aide-de-camp to a governor somewhere. He may have been in the trenches during the war. I do not know. I do know, however, that thousands of men who were in the trenches did not get the M.V.O. or the M.C. decoration. I come now to the honorable member for Darling Downs, Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, K.C.M.G., K.C. You, Mr. Speaker, may have rendered distinguished service to this country in peace, but I am not sure that your services have been more valuable than those of the average member of Parliament, or citizen of Australia; and I am not sure that the privilege of being able to write the letters “K.C.M.G.” and “ K.C. “ behind your name confers greater honour upon you. I come now to the honorable member for Calare, Sir Neville Reginald Howse, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.M.G.
– The honorable member cannot saymuch against that.
– I have been told what the honorable member for Calare did in Gallipoli and in France, and I believe the reports to be true. I saw him on more than one occasion, but I doubt if he recognized me, although I was very close to him. I know that he rendered admirable service to his country, but I am inclined to think that he is a little bit ashamed to be associated with some persons who got similar titles out of the war. I do not think that he could have received a greater honour than was conferred by the King of Sweden upon Amundsen, the celebrated explorer, for his notable achievement in flying over and locating the North Pole. He received a special recognition for bravery which is given to few men. I have no doubt that it will be valued very highly by the explorer and certainly will be treasured by his descendants. Though Sir Neville Howse has rendered distinguished service to his country his family cannot look upon his knighthood with special pride, in view of the fact that in Great Britain knighthoods are bought openly in the market, and in Australia they are the result of political patronage. Apparently all that is necessary is to win the smile of the Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, and the title of “Sir” is forthcoming. We are shortly to have a visit from the Duke and Duchess of York, and it is remarkable that already bitter feeling is being imported into the contests among aldermen and councillors in the metropolitan area for the honour of being the Lord Mayor for the coming year. The obvious reason is that the occupant of that post may, a little later, have the privilege of writing “ Sir “ to his name and his wife may be “ Lady “ so and so. Such honours, it should be noted, will be conferred not forgood work, but simply because an accident placed those receiving them in favoured positions during the royal visit to Australia. Rumour says that Dr. Earle Page does not intend to be satisfied with the ordinary knighthood. When he sat in the corner as the Leader of the Country party, he bitterly denounced the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) He then strongly advocated economy and the reduction of taxation, but managed to secure sufficient support to enable him to become a minister in the composite Government. He was not appointed because he had performed any extraordinarily good work for his country ; that, I think, will be admitted by every member of his’ party, which as we have seen from the newspapers of late is diminishing in numbers almost daily, and, possibly, in a little while will be non-existent. The members of the Country party recognize that the Treasurer does not now hold the views which he expressed when he criticized the actions of the Hughes Government. As the honorable member will be occupying his present position when the Duke and Duchess of York visit- Australia, he is hoping that some title will be conferred upon him.
– What title does the honorable member suggest ?
– The greatest honor that could be enjoyed by a true Australian is the people’s recognition of honorable public service, such as has been rendered by some who are now dead and gone. There is, for instance, the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, who was at one time the member for the constituency which I now represent. He would not accept a title. The late Sir George Reid slipped by accepting a knighthood in the latter days of his life, but I do not think he accepted it of his own free will. I think that most members of parliament do not wish to be bothered with titles, but often consent to the honour, if it may be so described, being conferred upon them to satisfy their womenfolk, who desire to be known as “Lady “ so and so. Many great men in British history, such as the late Mr. Gladstone, for so many years the Prime Minister of Great Britain, would not accept a title ; they were content to be known only by the name given to them when they were baptized. Four of the five Labour Governments now in power in Australia have definitely pronounced their opposition to the granting of titles. Why should riot the Federal Ministry do the same?
– South Africa is opposed to the granting of titles.
– Yes, I have already stated that South Africa, Canada, and practically all the Dominions have said that they do not wish their citizens to b« insulted by the conferring of titles on them. Yet, the Federal Government, in defiance of the expressed will of the people of Australia, persist in recommending the conferring of titles. In saying that titles should not be granted to any one, I am voicing the opinion of 90 per cent, of the Australian people.
Besides those whose names I have mentioned, there are other members of this Parliament who have received titles. There is, for instance, the Honorable Sir Elliot Johnson, K.C.M-G-
– He founded Canberra.
– The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) would not like me to say all I know concerning his association with Canberra. We also have with us the Honorable Sir Granville de Laune Ryrie, K.C.M.G., CB., V.D., M.P.
– And J. P.
– I do not wish to underrate the excellent service which the honorable member has rendered to his country, but he must be ashamed to be associated with some of those who received titles during the war. I offer him my syjn.pat.hy for being associated with so many not half as worthy of a title as he. The honorable member is a man whom we all esteem, and as Mr. Granville Ryrie he would carry more respect among the people of Australia. If the honorable member should serve in another war, it will be difficult to find additional decorations for him. It will be necessary to use another alphabet to provide sufficient letters. There is also the Honorable Charles William Clanan Marr, D.S.O., M.C. The Honorary Minister was associated with the wireless branch of the army. I suppose he was as far up the line as I was, but there were tens of thousands of privates nearer the firing line who did not receive any such recognition as he got. During the war, we ridiculed the distribution of German iron crosses, which we said were being manufactured by the ton to encourage the German soldiers; but we cannot reasonably criticize the action of the German authorities when British military medals were balloted for by captains’ batmen. As for the granting of titles upon the recommendation of a government, that has become a huge scandal. Some of the political supporters of the Government who have received titles have not rendered service to the community to the extent that many others have who have received no such recognition.’ Titles have been conferred upon some who have refused to pay their taxes, and who have been associated with the construction of ships intended for the transport of troops, which, if they had been used, would have foundered before they had proceeded a hundred miles from the coast. We all remember the scandal in connexion with the non-payment of. land and income taxation by Sir Sidney Kidman, and also his connexion with the building of certain ships. Scientists, doctors, and others who have devoted their lives to the service of the community, and who have been granted titles in recogni-tion of their work, can not consider it an honour to be associated with many others who have received similar titles. Many of our citizens, particularly members of the medical profession, devote the whole of their lives to one branch of research. When medical men meet with success in such efforts as those for the discovery of a means of preventing or curing cancer or tuberculosis, they do not make a shilling out of it. They are pleased to think that they have done something for the benefit of humanity, and generally they freely place their discoveries at the disposal of the government of the country. These are the men of whom we are proud. The conferring of a knighthood on them does not benefit them; the recognition of the public is the greatest reward that they can have. I hope that this motion will be carried, and that His Majesty the King will be informed that it is not the wish of . the citizens of Australia to accept titles, since they are satisfied with the names with which they have been baptized. They believe that they cannot do better than live up to the teachings of their parents, and try to honour the names with which they have been blessed, thus emulating that great British statesman, Mr. Gladstone, who desired no other recognition of his efforts on behalf of his country than the esteem of the people.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has not made out a case for his proposal. On his own showing, he is opposed, not to the conferring of distinctions, but to the misuse of the right to recommend them. He has mentioned a number of individuals in this House who have titles, and I am glad that on this occasion he did not go so far as on a previous occasion in his criticism of them. His reason for mentioning the names of honorable members who have earned the distinctions they enjoy was not clear. His main objection to these military distinctions seems to be that they were awarded to officers; but he knows as well as I do that a great many distinctions were conferred on the private soldiers who served during the late war. The honorable member’s speech, however, suggested that recognition for war service was given only to generals and other officers of high rank. One remark of the honorable member which will be repudiated by practically all who served in the war was that the men were not pleased by the recognition that was given to their officers. It came under my notice, in many instances, that the men were more than pleased when distinction was conferred upon officers for whom they had admiration, who had led them well. The suggestion that that sentiment did not exist in the ranks was quite improper. I cannot believe that any ex-soldier shares the opinion expressed by the honorable member, if he, indeed, holds it himself. The Labour party, when in power in Great Britain recently, had honours conferred upon British citizens.
– It had to do that in order to obtain support in the House of Lords.
– Furthermore, every member of the British Labour Government accepted the ‘ designation of Privy Councillor.
– That was necessary under the Constitution.
– At all events, that Labour Government recognized the principle of honouring citizens by conferring distinctions upon them. Honorable members opposite say that titles were conferred by the Labour party in Great Britain to place its supporters in the House of Lords, and that under the Constitution all the members of the Government had to become Privy Councillors. But do honorable members recollect anything about a baronetcy that was recommended by that Government?
– Were titles conferred ?
– The honorable member knows that the conferring of other titles also was recommended by that Government. Now let us consider the attitude that the Labour party in Australia has adopted. Two Labour Prime Ministers accepted the honour of a Privy Councillorship, and no question was raised by their supporters.
– A Privy Councillorship is different from a title.
– The argument of the honorable member for Ballarat was not that there should be no recognition of meritorious public service, but. that proper care should be exercised in the conferring of honours. In that I think every sane man will agree with him. I ask honorable members to go through the list of the Australians who have received honours in the last three years. It will be noticed that it embraces men belonging to every section of the community. Distinctions have been granted to those who have rendered great service in the professions, in art, in literature, in the political arena, and in the commercial life of the country. Surely it is well that we are able to give recognition to great public service. Of course, great responsibility rests upon the Prime Minister in recommending the conferring of honours, and, for my part, I shall ever try to ensure that the prestige which should attach to the granting of those distinctions is maintained by seeing that they are given only to persons who have served their country meritoriously. Providing that proper care is taken in the granting of distinctions it is only right that recognition should be given to those who do great service to science, literature, philanthropy, commerce, or industry, or in the naval, military, or air forces. I think that the great body of our people desire that we should confer recognition for such service, but that the greatest care should be taken to see that the recipients are worthy of the distinction conferred upon them. I very much regret the honorable member’s reference to the title recently conferred upon the ex-Minister for ‘ Markets and Migration (Sir Victor Wilson). The honorable member sneered at this title and suggested that there was no justification for the conferring of the honour. He made the position worse by saying that Sir Victor Wilson was well paid for anything that he had done. No payment would express the appreciation of the people of great and distinguished service, and I venture to say that Sir Victor Wilson in the work that he did in Great Britain in connexion with the Wembley Exhibition gave great service to Australia, and that the honour that was conferred on him was well merited. The honorable member for Ballarat referred appreciatively to the conduct of the King of Sweden in conferring a distinction upon a great explorer who recently flew over the North Pole. He also referred to the Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse), who holds the highest military distinction - the Victoria Cross. While he said that he was quite sure that Sir Neville Howse had earned his honours,” he ridiculed the granting of such distinctions. But what difference in principle is there between giving recognition to a soldier for distinguished bravery and giving recognition to an explorer? Once the honorable member admits the principle of recognizing distinguished service he has really no case. In effect, it would appear that all that he is asking for is that proper care should be exercised in selecting the recipients of titles. If that is all that is behind the motion, then I am entirely in accord with the honorable member. I shall do everything in my power to see that distinctions are granted only in proper cases, and the honorable member may confidently withdraw his motion, knowing that while I remain Prime Minister of this country only fit and proper persons will be recommended for distinctions for meritorious service.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister ‘ (Mr. Bruce) has done himself justice. 1 cannot for the life of me follow his argument. He said that the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) had no case. He has only to read the Hansard of England to know that the infamous practice of selling titles is carried on in that country. The infamy of .selling titles in England is only surpassed by the viler methods by which the ancestors of some of the aristocratic families of Great Britain obtained their distinctions. History reeks with this infamy. In this country, a person who once sat in the chair which, you, Mr. Speaker, occupy, obtained a knighthood by paying a large sum of money for it. A little later many thousands of people were lamenting the fact that they had been persuaded by’ him to invest their money in properties that became worthless because of the collapse of the land boom When an at- tempt was made to bring Lady Loch’s presentation diamonds into Australia I asked in the Victorian legislature whether they were to be admitted free of duty. Sir James Patterson replied, “ No, the duty must » be paid.” Had the diamonds been unmounted, they would have been admitted free, because the jewellers in Victoria would have been employed in mounting them. The then Mayor of Melbourne, who initiated the agitation to bring in the diamonds free of duty, afterwards obtained a title. In one case a distinguished military title was granted to a man who had never smelt gunpowder, unless it was when he let a cracker off. I stated that fact in the presence of 10,000 … soldiers at a meeting in connexion with the South African monument, and no one denied it; yet that person became a general, and, subsequently, a knight. The Prime Minister cannot substantiate his statement that titles are granted only to fit and proper persons. The Herald on the 13th July published this statement -
The Lloyd George fund originated during the war. Without going deeply into a delicate subject, it may be said it was the chief cause of the post-war disturbance over “ the sale of honours.”
Does any honorable member deny thaihonours are for sale in England ? Years ago the members of the Victorian State Parliament ridiculed the granting of certain titles, and public indignation meetings were held. As a member of the State Parliament, I asked the Government of the day to bring in a measure to prevent any member of parliament from receiving a title unless he resigned his seat to face the electors on that issue, as cabinet members had to do in the old days. My suggestion was not accepted, because no man would dare to face the people on that issue. In those days a .title was held in more reverence than it is to-day. Titles have been abolished in many countries. It may be interesting to honorable members to learn the experience of South Africa in that direction. The following paragraph is taken from the South African press : -
Admiral of the Fleet. Lord Fisher, in his “ Records,” page 73, risks the wrath of the good old British Chamber of Mines Press, and permanent exclusion from the South African party, by supporting as follows one of the planks in the Pact platform : - “ Hereditary titles are ludicrously out of date in modern democracy, and the sooner we sweep away all the gimcracks and gewgaws of snobbery the better. The fount of so-called honours has become a deluge, and the newspapers are hard put to it to find room for even the spray of the deluge.”
There can be no place in Paradise for the great Admiral after that.
Let me read from the Sun Pictorial what is happening in Italy -
ROME, Tuesday. - Signor Mussolini, receiving the freedom of the city, said that he hoped that Rome would rise again to Imperial dignity, and become the glorious capital of thi; Latin world.
The Government has issued a decree denning legal titles, causing 200,000 nobles to lose their status.
These include 60,000 dukes, counts, marquises, and barons created by the Vatican, since 1870, and thousands who possess titles dating from the Middle Ages, but possess no documentary evidence of their creation.
Persons were claiming titles to which they had no- right, and which they had wrongly used. The impertinence of it ! Titles are becoming extinct ; they are the last refuge of the conservative school of politics. New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa have requested that no titles be conferred in those dominions, and readers of history know that one Government in Denmark refused to take office unless the King would pledge himself not to confer any more titles. Titles have been abolished in Norway. I am glad that Amundsen, the only man who has been at both the North and South Pole, was honoured by the King of Sweden, although I cannot see what good has resulted from the sacrifice of lives in expeditions to the Polar regions. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) spoke of the titles of the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse). I honour the distinction of V.C. which he holds, for it shows that in the war he displayed great personal courage; but he will agree with me that it is almost impossible to find a labourer who first won the V.C. and then a knighthood. “When a working man performs a feat that would entitle him to a second V.C, he is given a bar to the V.C. he already has. I know of workers who have won that great distinction twice, but they have not been granted a knighthood. If any honorable member knows of one working man who has received a knighthood because he earned a V.C. twice, I shall be glad to hear of it. In the early days of Queen Victoria thousands of army officers had their promotion delayed because of the red tape in +he Defence Department of Great Britain, which required the Queen personally to sign all the commissions - a task that was physically impossible. I have no doubt that the right honorable the Prime Minister believed what he said ; but I ask him, when has a constituency in Australia voted on the question of the granting of titles? I speak with 37 years’ experience of many public meetings, and I have never heard of a public meeting endorsing the conferring of a title on a member of Parliament or any other individual, or passing a resolution in favour of the granting of titles generally. If any honorable member can inform me of a public meeting that has done so, I shall be prepared to correct my statement to that extent when I speak again on this subject. The Prime Minister made a strong point about privy councillors, bat he did not metion a single instance of that distinction being sold. The Cabinet Ministers of England, by right and established custom, are members of the Privy Council. How’ could they give the King advice except in council, and how could they attend the Privy Council unless they were privy councillors? The Prime Minister’s argument is like a two-edged sword. He did not say that privy councillorships had been sold, and as they have not been sold they are, to that extent, purer than many other distinctions. Titles in England, including some of the highest, have been obtained by the vilest means, and men have even bartered their sisters and wives for them. I believe that the Prime Minister is a man of great ability; but I am sorry that he did not say that in a democracy like Australia no more of these paltry baubles, which have been used to purchase votes, shall be issued. ‘ It is said that “ Britain honours the brave,” but let us consider what happens to her heroes. Perhaps the bravest act in the awful European Avar was the attack on Zeebrugge, which was designed to prevent the German submarines from leaving that port. In the Guardian newspaper, published at Durban, South Africa, on the 2Sth May last, I read that 50 mcn who took part in that raid in 1918 were then almost destitute. No act of the British Army has been more loudly applauded than the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. How often has Tennyson’s poem on that historic event been recited on public platforms, and how often has the recital of it been received with great applause? How did the majority of the survivors of that charge end their days? Do honorable members deny that over 100 of them died in the workhouses of England, and that it was only by the action of the owner of a great English newspaper in collecting money that the last remnant of fourteen was saved from that misery. One poor old chap came into St. Mary’s Hospital, in London, when I was there. His legs had been amputated above the knees. He had undergone fifteen separate operations, as the disease from which he suffered crept up his body. I first attended him as a dresser, and he ultimately died after his eighteenth operation. The mighty Empire of Great Britain apparently could not provide that unfortunate man with a push-cart in which he could be wheeled about. The cart had to be purchased with sixpences collected from medical students. 1 have no objection to the conferring of marks of distinction on persons of great merit. Any person who saves life at the risk of his own is, in my opinion, entitled to wear a medal on the breast equal to any that may be worn by a general. I see hundreds of medals on the breasts of brave men who may have risked their lives in the war, but how many brave men and women are there who have risked their lives for others and are not decorated? On next Friday night, in Melbourne, there is to be a distribution of honours by the Royal Humane Society. These distinctions will honour the recipients and the society. One brave man, who at the risk of his own life rushed upon a lunatic who was shooting every one in sight, is to be given the gold medal of the society. A bronze medal is to be given to a little girl, Florrie Hodges. Her action was no less heroic than that of Grace Darling. Honorable members are aware that Grace Darling, a young woman of 21 years of age, living in a lighthouse with her father, saw a ship wrecked, and knew that possibly many souls were in danger of death. She wanted to go at once to their rescue, but her father, knowing the danger, was at first unwilling that she should do so. She said, “ Father, if you will not go I shall go alone.’” Then both father and daughter went to the rescue of those in peril of their lives, and brought back five persons from the wreck. The boat returned to the wreck later, and saved the remainder of those on hoard. The brave action of Grace Darling has been trumpeted throughout the world, and every civilized nation has translated her story into its own language. She was given a gold medal, and £100 was subscribed for her, and another £100 for her father. The little Australian girl is only fifteen years of age, but is entitled also to be regarded as a heroine. When driven out of her house by a bush fire, she took her little sisters to a creek and threw water over them and over herself until the heat became too great for them. She then took them to the only clear space near them, on the tramway road to a saw-mill, and, as sparks were still falling upon thom, she placed her body over the little -ones to protect them. To-day, the authorities of St. Vincent’s Hospital to which she was conveyed tell us that there are 100 scars upon her head and body. I am satisfied that if -the Government decided to bestow a decoration upon that little girl, its action would merit the encomiums of honorable members on both sides. But, of course, she belongs to the workers, and it is at least satisfactory to know that the public, not only of Victoria, but of every State in the- Commonwealth, has contributed towards a sum to secure the payment of a pension to her as long as she lives. A sum of £1,000 is necessary for the purpose, and those interested in the matter have already received £900. Parliament may some day see its way to grant more than honours and distinctions to those who risk their lives in trying to save the lives of others. In my opinion, where the breadwinner of a family loses his life in the effort to save others, a pension equal to the amount of his annual earnings should be paid to those he has left behind. I hope that the House will pass this motion. If it does not, those who vote against it may rest assured that some day the wisdom of a democratic country like Australia will do away with such stupid and silly things as titles.
.- The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) is to be congratulated upon his courage in bringing forward a motion of this kind. I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in replying to the honorable member did not deal with the issue at all. He tried to defame the honorable member by complaining that, as a returned soldier, he had said something about officers which other soldiers throughout Australia would deprecate. That was not a fair attitude to adopt in the discussion of this motion. The Prime Minister further said that the honorable member for Ballarat is not against the granting of titles, but against their misuse. The motion does not indicate anything of the kind. It proposes the abolition of titles in Australia because they are against Australian sentiment. The honorable member pointed out that Amundsen, the explorer, was entitled to the medal he received for his geographical discoveries. I adopt an entirely impersonal attitude in discussing this motion. I recognize that there have been many men in Australia who have done good service for the country, and have accepted titles in recognition of their service. You, Mr. Speaker, have accepted a title, and you have my entire respect, although you would have had it if you were without a title. I view this question from a different angle, and I hold the opinion that the granting of titles is opposed to modern democratic thought in Australia. The Prime Minister is, I think, entirely out of touch with Australian sentiment in this matter, and with democratic thought throughout the world. The granting of titles is objected to in Canada, which is just as British as Australia, and also in South Africa, though perhaps there the influence qf the Africander has some effect. In these British dominions, and in some of the States of Australia, the granting of titles is against the law. I am opposed to any titles coming from abroad in recognition of services rendered in Australia. I hold the view that, in a crisis, and a clash of interests between- Great Britain and Australia, the Australian recipient of a title from Great Britain, just as very often is found to be the case with a man born abroad, would be likely to- consider first the interests of the Mother Country. But he would not be a good Australian if he did so. .What is the history of titles? Any one who has read the inner history of British kings need not go further back than to the time of George I., to learn that the giving of titles has been associated with acts for which the people concerned should hang their heads in shame.
George I. came over from Hanover to England with two paramours, and never bothered even to learn the English tongue. Writing of the conditions at the English Court at the time an oldJacobite poet wrote -
The very dogs in England’s Court,
They bark and howl in German.
Who has not heard of the Countess of Darlington, who was nick-named the “ Elephant,” and of her sister paramour who was known as the “giraffe?” Is it not common knowledge that some of the British nobility owe their titles to their descent from the paramours of British kings? No true Australian desires to perpetuate a practice which has had such results in the past, and the Prime Minister, if he desires to do so, has lost all sense of the true Australian spirit. The idea at the bottom of the granting of titles was the perpetuation of class distinctions. It has had the effect of keeping the classes apart in the Old Country, and even to-day, in the midland counties of England, there are still to be found indications of the lack of spirit which was responsible for the old prayer -
Bless the squire and his relations,
And keep us in our proper stations.
In the United States of America, it was never found necessary to bestow titles. The citizens of America gave of their very best to the great republic of the west without looking for such a bauble. There is no titled person in British history who could compare with Abraham Lincoln, and none who could stand beside Washington for service rendered to his country. Is there any one who can claim to have rendered more distinguished service to his country than men like Garfield and Wilson rendered to America? I believe that it is too soon after his death to appreciate properly the service rendered by the late President Wilson. All these men gave of their very best without looking for titles. In the Commonwealth of Australia, what greater names can we revere than those of Charles Cameron Kingston, the great democrat of South Australia; Alfred Deakin, the democrat of Victoria; Chief Justice Higinbotham, of Victoria; Dick Seddon, of New Zealand; and Fisher, of Queensland. Surely, we can say with the poet -
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.
The greatest of the poets, to my mind, though I have had some difficulty in reading his poems, was the great democrat, Robert Burns, and he finely expressed his thought when he wrote -
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp -
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.
These titles have a tendency to induce their holders to pay greater attention to matters abroad than to matters affecting their own country. Until we ha ve an Australian Prime Minister, whose ideas are all centred in Australia and who recognizes that the great mass of the Australian people consider that these titles are baubles and matters for contempt which should be swept away, we shall not have the true Australian sentiment among those who’ are guiding the destinies of the Australian’ nation.
– In his criticism of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), who moved this motion, the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said that titles were only given to men of great merit. As a matter of fact, it is thu exception for a man of merit to get a title. We know that in Great Britain men who pay huge sums of money into party funds obtain titles, and repeatedly in Australia mcn who have done good party service, men who are party hacks, always willing to do what vested interests tell them to do, have been given titles. Men who have been in control of large firms, whose money has gone into party funds, and controllers or editors of newspapers who have been fighting against the interests of the people, have been similarly rewarded. The honorable memberfor Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has told us that so corrupt has been the practice of granting titles in Great Britain that the British Government has recently been compelled to take drastic steps to put an end to it. Very often titles are given to placate political stormy petrels, for whom no room can be found in Cabinet. Notwithstanding what the Prime Minister has said, I venture to say that the prospect of obtaining a title is no incentive to a man to serve his country in the realms of art or science. What has aristocracy done for the world? What have the lords and barons of the past done for human progress? Nothing.
The things that have been done in the interests of the human race have always been done by men who have sprung from the ranks of commoners. It was Mr. Gladstone who said that he had yet to be convinced, after years and years of his long political life, that the people werealways wrong and that the aristocracy always right. When the right honorable the Prime Minister was talking of mcn who have served their country well and bravely on the battlefield, I could not help thinking that if titles had been given to all who showed bravery on the battlefield in the last war the “Sirs” today would be as common as the ordi nary “Misters.” But the real purpose in granting titles is to create a class superiority. In the old pagan days, the aristocrats were regarded as a class above the slaves. When an emperor died, his soul was supposed to go into some heaven, and he was worshipped as a god; but when a common man died, having no soul, he simply rotted on earth. It is to maintain the stupid caste sentiment of the past that titles are given today. In a democratic country like Australia, with its sunny skies and broad spaces, there is no room for narrow, antiquated class distinctions. They are not wanted. I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) that titles should be swept away, so that we may build up a proper and healthy Australian sentiment, and not one which is permeated with the servility of the past. We know the history of France. Before the revolution, it was not something to be proud of that one bore the title of lord. The aristocracy of France brought titles into such bad repute and into so much contempt that the people were compelled to sweep them away. I wish that titles could have been swept away in Australia long ago, because their purpose is to imbue our community with sentiments that perpetuate class distinctions. The motion submitted by the honorable member for Ballarat today may not be carried, but it is paving the way for a motion on similar lines which will be carried in this Parliament as similar motions have already been carried in State Parliaments. I hope that motions of this sort will be tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament year after year until finally the Commonwealth Government, speaking on behalf of the people of Australia, intimates to the British Government that it does not desire any further titles to be bestowed upon Australians.
– I support the motion of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr: McGrath). The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in referring to the conduct of the British Labour Government in regard to titles, was quite unfair. Although it is of no material concern to Australia, the mere fact that the British Labour Government took a certain course of action does not justify Australia in abandoning a democratic principle, especially when we know that Canada and South Africa have already offered strong objection to the retention of relics of barbarism in the shape of titles. The sentiment of Australia is so strongly opposed to the continuance of the distribution of these honours that if a referendum were taken on the question, I feel sure the decision of the people would be unquestionably against the continuation of this practice. I do not think any one would offer objection to the distribution of honours for gallantry, such as the Victoria Cross, and there has never been, so far as I know, any rooted objection to the bestowal of medals to indicate some peculiar distinction, but the Labour party objects to the class distinction of calling one man . “ Sir “ and another man “Mr.” The objection to this is as old as democracy itself. It goes back to the days when John Ball used the lines : -
When Adam dolve, and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?
The spirit of John Ball moves the members of the Labour party in this Chamber in offering objection to the distribution of titles. Returning to the policy of the British Labour Government, every one knows, or should know, that under the bicameral system of Great Britain it was necessary for that Government to be represented in the House of Lords. Although by the Parliament Act of 1911, the powers of the House of Lords were whittled down practically to the vanishing point, it exercises certain powers in regard to legislation ; it has to formally approve of measures. In these circumstances it is necessary for any government controlling a majority in the House of Commons to be represented in the House of Lords; and, faced with this problem, the British Labour Government, with a great deal of distaste, was compelled to recommend His Majesty the King to create certain members of the Labour movement peers, so that its legislation could be successfully manoeuvred through the shoals of the House of Lords. Every one also knows that for some centuries past the members of the British Cabinet have, as a matter of course, been Privy Councillors.
– What about the knighthoods bestowed upon Sir Patrick Hastings and Sir Henry Slesser?
– I do not know the reasons which actuated the British Labour party in recommending the King to make certain gentlemen knights. I disapprove of that policy, but our Prime Minister principally directed his remarks to the action of the British Labour party in appointing Labour peers, and mentioned the fact that certain members of the British Labour Ministry were Privy Councillors. They automatically became Privy Councillors when they became members of the Cabinet, and while the constitutional system as operating in Great Britain today is maintained a man who becomes a member of the Cabinet, whether he wants it or not, has to accept appointment to the Privy Council. I have no objection to a man being appointed a Privy Councillor. The principal objection of the Labour movement to the granting of titles is that a man upon whom a title has been conferred must be addressed as “ Your Lordship “ or as “ Sir.” After all, the most dignified title is plain “Mr.” Some of the greatest men in the history of the British Empire have been content to be called “ Mr.”
– Many Privy Councillors are still “Mr.”
– That is so. One of the greatest democrats of the Empire died plain “Mr.” Gladstone. The greatest of British Imperialists, Cecil Rhodes, whose memory is perpetuated by his endowments for educational purposes, died plain “ Mr.” Rhodes. . In the realm of literature similar examples may be found. When a title had been formally conferred on John Galsworthy, he said that he wanted no title, because literature was its own reward. The gospel that we should preach is that an honest name, the knowledge of having achieved something worth while, is a sufficient honour for any man. The Prime Minister referred to the granting of military distinctions, such as the V.C. and the D.S.O. No one objects to a man receiving some recognition of his gallantry in the face of the enemy. A V.C. or a D.S.O. is not a title, but a recognition of some deed performed by an individual. It is common knowledge that corrupt practices have been associated with the distribution of titles by various British Governments. In this enlightened age the granting of titles has become discredited. I realize that this motion will not be carried in this Parliament; but I hope that the day will soon come when the Labour party will be sufficiently strong to remove this stain on the fair name of Australian democracy. The preservation of titles will of course continue in England so long as the House of Lords exists. Those who havestudied British constitutional history know that in thatgreat crisis of 1911, when the House of Lords objected to the taxation measure introduced by the Asquith Government, the Government immediately sought, and obtained, the King’s approval to flood the House of Lords in a manner similar to that attempted recently by the Labour Government in New South Wales.On the occasion referred to, the House of Lords, being anxious to maintain its existence, agreed to the Asquith Government’s budget, and also to a subsequent measure which has reduced its power practically to the vanishing point. Yet we in Australia are perpetrating the system of granting titles, and in continuing in New South Wales that anachronism known as a nominee Upper House, which is a replica of an obsolete institution. I hope that the motion will be carried.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fenton) adjourned.
.- I move -
That, in order to eliminate the burden of eternal interest forced upon Australia by the late war, and thus to prevent the innocent unborn millions of Australians being saddled therewith, it is the opinion of this House that a Domesday Book be made, showing the full present value of all immovable property, with the names of the owners thereof, based where possible upon the present Federal or State land tax valuation, or both of them, and that any increase of value from the unearned increment during the next ten years be used for the extinction of the war debt.
I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Petroleum Prospecting Bill (No. 2).
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill. Loan Bill (No. 1).
Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill.
.- I move-
That consideration of order of the day No. 1 be postponed until after the consideration of orders of the day Nos. 2, 3, and 4.
The motion, which is now the first order of the day, was moved by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), who is now absentfrom Australia. In the circumstances I am of the opinion that the discussion on the advisability of constructing a railway through Central Queensland to the north-south line should not be proceeded with.
.- The Prime Minister has adopted an unusual course. Honorable members have been anticipating the discussion of this motion and the amendment moved thereto, and some of them have gone to considerable trouble to obtain information on the subject.
– Surely our only course is not to proceed with the discussion in the absence of the member responsible for the motion.
– It is usual for the Prime Minister to intimate to honorable members that certain business on the notice-paper will not be proceeded with. This business has beenleft on the noticepaper, and no intimation made until now that it is not desired to proceed with the discussion of it.What is the motive actuating the Prime Minister? The right honorable gentleman should come down from the clouds and give the House a reason for his action this afternoon.
– Why not face the question?
– I am game to face it; but I want it to be faced in a straightforward manner. There should be no backing and filling, no sitting over a cup of tea in a quiet room and deciding what shall be done in connexion with the business on the notice-paper. This is a subject which seriously affects the development of Australia. It is one in which the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who represents the people who would be directly affected by the construction of this railway, is keenly interested, and it is unfair that he should be deprived of the opportunity to express the views of his constituents.
– This is the first occasion on which the honorable member has spoken in the interests of the Northern Territory.
– I am always willing to speak on behalf of the people of the whole of Australia, and not of one section only. I am now objecting to the honorable member for the NorthernTerritory being deprived of his right to discuss this subject. Honorable members sitting behind the Government have expressed their views regarding it; but now the honorable member most concerned is to be deprived of his right to address the House on a matter which directly affects his constituents.
– He has spoken.
– He has not; but he is prepared to place his views before the House. If this motion is carried the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) will also be deprived of the opportunity to address the House on this subject. Will any honorable member deny that he has not first-hand knowledge to place before the House? He spoke recently upon the north-south railway proposal, and showed how that project would swallow up thousands of pounds of good Australian money. This, however, is a proposal to construct a railway to tap rich country, and it should be of lasting benefit to Australia. I do not propose to delay the House further. The Prime Minister may have his little tea party if he wishes, but I think the honorable member for the Northern Territory and also the honorable member for Riverina should not be deprived of an opportunity to express their views upon this most important project. I shall oppose the motion moved by the Prime Minister.
.- I rise to protest against the procedure that has been adopted by the Prime Minister. I was under the impression that, after a motion had been moved by a private member, it became the property of the House. The motion submitted by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) aroused a great deal of interest. I have no doubt that a majority of the House is in favour of it.
– Surely the honorable member admits that it is only fair that a private member should have charge of business submitted in his name.
– I can understand the desire of the Prime Minister to show the usual courtesies to the honorable member for Macquarie, but other honorable members should not be deprived of an opportunity to contribute to the debate. I endorse what the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) has said, but I take this opportunity to remind him that he knows nothing at all about Central Australia if he ‘ thinks that expenditure on the north-south railway will be a waste of money. Since it is probable that the motion would be carried, it appears to me that it is being postponed to prevent the Government from being embarrassed.
– I intend to support the motion. The fullest information should be available to honorable members before coming to any decision with regard to railway projects. I have taken a great deal of interest in this subject, and I went so far as to submit an amendment to the motion in the hope that further inquiries would be made. If railway construction is to be carried out in the Northern Treritory, we should be quite sure that the route selected will ensure the proper development of that portion of Australia. I think it wise to stay our hand for another year. In the meantime, the Government should endeavour to get the fullest information concerning any railway proposal for the development of the northern part of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 8th July (vide page 3969), on motion by Sir Elliot Johnson -
That this House disagrees with that portion of the report of the Joint House Committee which advocates the retention of the refreshment bar for Federal Parliament House at Canberra, and considers that Parliament House should be subject to the same conditions as to the sale of. intoxicants which apply to the Federal Territory generally.
– This subject was debated at considerable length three weeks ago, and it is desirable that the Government should give some indication of its policy in regard to it. I should have spoken then but for the fact that the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath); had a great deal of valuable information which he desired to convey to the House, and, unfortunately, it was not possible for me to do so. What is to be the position in the Federal Capital now that its circumstances are being so completely altered by the transfer of the Seat of Government there, with the consequent increasing of the population, is a question which it will be for the Parliament itself to determine. The ordinance governing the Federal Capital Territory was made in1911, and has been in operation ever since; but when the population of the city has increased as it will have done when Parliament is functioning there, it cannot continue to be governed by an ordinance, and more definite action must be taken. As for the granting of liquor licences in the Federal Capital Territory, the Government takes the view that the residents of the Federal Capital should, like those in other portions of the Commonwealth, have the right to determine the issue for themselves by means of a poll.
-That will do.
– It is obvious that it is impossible to take a poll at present, because Canberra is still only in the making, and in some respects may be likened to a construction camp, with a large population of workmen engaged in the erection of buildings and the making of roads. The only people who have the right to determine the issue are those who will be the permanent residents of Canberra. In the circumstances the Government feels that the licensing question must be decided by the votes of the permanent residents, and that this Parliament must determine when the issue shall be decided. . The motion before the House does not deal directly with this question; it deals with a resolution of the House Committee. Obviously a wider issue emerges. I cannot believe that it was the intention of the committee to make different provision for members of Parliament from that for residents of the Territory. I say this because there has been a suggestion that members of Parliament are endeavouring to secure for themselves privileges which would not be accorded to ordinary citizens in the Federal Territory.
– No one believes that.
– I have heard that asserted, and I say that there is no justification for it.I presume that when the House Committee passed its resolution it had in mind the probability that by the time Parliament met at Canberra the existing ordinance would be rescinded, and desired that members of the Parliament should have the same privileges as ordinary citizens. It cannot seriously be believed that members would claim for themselves privileges that would not be extended to other people. I am afraid that the course proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is impracticable.
– Shall I amend my proposal by providing for local option?
– I have already announced that as the Government’s policy, so I do not think it is necessary for the House to pass a resolution with regard to it. If, however, honorable members are of a different opinion, the Government will be only too pleased to agree to such a motion.
– What will be the position if this House carries the motion and the Senate negatives it?
– I shudder when I think of what may take place in the House Committee then.
– If an amendment were moved to the effect that the whole question be referred to a poll of the people, it would receive general support.
– If the House does not carry this motion, the resolution of the House Committee will stand. The Government, however, feels that a poll of the permanent residents should be taken after the seat of government has been transferred.
.- I think the wishes of the majority of honorable members could be met by an amendment of the amendment of which I have given notice, and which I shall move later. On such an important question as the supply of alcoholic liquor, which is exercising the mind of thoughtful people throughout the world to-day, I should have preferred a vote of the adult population of Australia, but, in view of the statement of the Prime Minister, perhaps a referendum of the permanent residents of the Federal Capital Territory is desirable.
– Will the honorable member so amend the amendment of which he has given notice as to make it clear that the decision of the House Committee will not operate until after a vote has been taken?
– If such an amendment is moved the Government will accept it.
– I shall submit a comprehensive amendment later. Medical men have assured me that the total abolition of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic liquor would be a great blessing to the world. That may or may not be so, but as a humble, and, I hope, a sincere follower of the Christ, I do not believe that the good God intended alcoholic liquor to be a curse. I have known men to drink 20 or 30 pints of beer a day, but I have not heard of a man who could consume 30 lb. of beef daily. Men can be destroyed more readily by over-eating then by over-drinking, and it is the abuse of liquor that has to be avoided. I have often thought that if I held in my hand the world’s supply of alcoholic liquor, realizing the ruination its abuse has caused to men, women, and children, I would immediately turn my hand, and allow it to fall to the ground. I now submit the following amended amendment for the consideration of the House : -
That all the words after” Canberra “ be omitted and that the following words be inserted in lieu thereof, “ and is of opinion that the question of granting liquor licences in the
Federal Capital Territory should be submitted to a local option vote of the people of the Territory at a suitable time after the meeting of Parliament at Canberra.”
.- The idea of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is a good one, but his amendment will not achieve his purpose, and I am convinced that he does not realize what its effect would be. If the honorable member wishes the question whether liquor shall be sold at Canberra or not to be decided by a vote of the residents there, his amendment meets his purpose to that extent ; but I contend thar the residents should be asked to decide the whole question, and say, also, whether or not there should be a liquor bar at Parliament House. The amendment deals with an entirely different matter’ - that of liquor licences in the Federal Capital territory. I have no objection to .that issue being decided in a democratic way by the local residents ; but I ask honorable members who assisted the honorable member for Melbourne in drafting his amendment whether^ in the event of the vote of the people resulting in “no licence,” they will support the opening of a bar at Parliament House, -or whether, by a subterfuge, they are endeavouring to avoid that issue. The idea of imagining that we can make Canberra “ dry “ merely by means of an ordinance! We should not humbug ourselves. As much liquor is consumed in Canberra at the present time as would be consumed if licences were granted there.
– Possibly a good deal more.
– That is so. It will be impossible to prevent any honorable member from taking as much drink as he chooses to the Federal Capital when Parliament assembles there. Do my friends who are satisfied with a cup of tea hope to prevent other honorable gentlemen who desire something stronger from having it at Canberra? Do they wish to deceive the people into thinking that they are endeavouring to make the Federal Capital “dry”? If they are sincere, they will move that Canberra be made a “ dry “ area, and that a severe penalty be inflicted on anybody found in the possession of liquor in the ‘territory. Let them go further, and say that the seat of any honorable member who takes liquor there shall be declared vacant.
Members of the temperance party are arm in arm with the publicans at Queanbeyan, and are trying to “ save “ Canberra from the liquor traffic. They are fighting as hard as they can to prohibit the sale of liquor there. Too much piffle has been talked about this matter, particularly by those who refer to the privileges of honorable members. They ought to keep silent on that subject instead of posing before the public as paragons of propriety. They have certain privileges to which we need not allude at the moment, but, if necessary, we will refer to them later on. If they want the gloves off I am prepared to oblige them, and they can have the lid of the teapot off as well. We may as well ascertain whether the honorable gentleman who patronise the teapots always pay for what they have. They ought to be somewhat careful when they freely discuss the privileges that other honorable members enjoy. Many examples have been afforded of the absurdity and serious effect of attempting by law to make an area “ dry.” The foi- lowing paragraph appeared in a Melbourne newspaper recently under the headings “Drinks of Death - 30 Die in Agony from Wood Alcohol “ : -
Buffalo (U.S.A.), July 26.- Dozens of soft drink parlours in Buffalo, and the vicinity, have been closed by the police, following the death of 30 persons here, and in nearby towns, over the week-end, from drinking bootleg liquor impregnated with wood alcohol.
Many of the victims suffered terrible deaths, going blind before expiring in agony.
Two bootleggers have been arrested charged with murder. “Bootlegging” is practised to a serious extent to-day in the United States of America, and the health of the people of that country is undermined as a result of the sale of “bootlegged” liquor. If a person has money with which to pay for drink, he can obtain it in almost any part of Australia, and Canberra, will be no exception to that rule. Nothing will prevent liquor from being consumed there. I have in my possession some photographs that were taken in the main street of Queanbeyan about a month ago on a Saturday afternoon. They show hundreds of motor cars lined up in front of the hotels to take people- back, to Canberra with loads of liquor. A person well known probably to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) is making a fortune by running a motor lorry from Queanbeyan to Canberra with consignments of alcoholic drink. Do honorable members think that by carrying this pious motion they will make the Federal Capital “ dry “?
– It will be necessary to appoint excise officers.
– The ordinance merely prohibits the sale of liquor at Canberra; we cannot prohibit its consumption there. We are merely playing with the matter, since we know that a few miles out of Canberra - at Queanbeyan -liquor can be sold as freely as the law of New South Wales will permit, and that residents can proceed to that town, purchase as much liquor as they want, and take it back to Canberra.
– Would the honorable member prevent liquor from being taken into the Federal Capital territory ?
– No ; I do not stand for a “dry” Federal Capital. We should not curb the liberties of the people. Persons are incited to crime by interfering with their liberties.
– It is a great liberty to allow a man to get drunk !
– I extend this liberty to the honorable member, that I do not force him to drink. What right has he to force me to drink something I do not like? If he has the right to force me to drink ginger-pop, I ought to have the right to force him to drink something with much more pop in it. We cannot make men and women into saints by law. The people of Canberra ought to have the unfettered right to decide whether liquor shall be sold there, including whether liquor shall be sold in Parliament House. I do not know whether the Minister objects to allowing the people of Canberra to decide whether liquor shall be sold at Parliament House. If the amendment is altered to cover both issues - that is to say, the sale of liquor at Parliament House, and the granting of licences for the sale of liquor - I shall vote for it; but I refuse to be tricked.
– The amendment covers both questions.
– My point is that it does not. Will the Government agree to place the matter beyond all doubt?
– The amendment clearly applies to Parliament Houseand the whole of the Federal Capital Territory.
– Will the Minister agree to alter the amendment so that there will be no doubt about its meaning?
– It requires no alteration ; it is clear already.
– No honorable member wishes to shirk the issue ; we are all prepared to leave the decision with the residents of Canberra. If that is so, let there be no ambiguity about it.
– Until the vote of the people is taken, the ordinance remains.
– I recognize that that is so.
– Then we must differ from the House Committee’s recommendation.
-We should so word our resolution that the decision is not left with the House Committee, but with the people of the Territory. I am prepared to accept the decision of the people, whichever way it goes. I suggest the following further amendment: -
That after the word “ House “ the following words be inserted : -“ is of opinion that the question of granting liquor licences in the Federal Capital Territory should be submitted to a Local Option Poll of the people of Canberra at a suitable time after the meeting of Parliament there.”
The motion of the honorable member for Lang is to disagree with the decision of the House Committee. I am prepared to disagree with that decision, but contend that tha matter shouldbe referred to the people of Canberra.
– When the honorable member says “ Canberra,” does he mean the city of Canberra, or the Federal Capital Territory?
– I mean the Federal Capital Territory. To carry the motion of the honorable member for Lang would be to pre-judge the question of having a liquor bar in Parliament House. That ought to be as open a question as the issuing of licences for the sale of liquor.If the Government and its supporters are in favour of the whole question being decided by a poll of the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, why not say so in unambiguous language ? I do not believe that honorable members desire to force the people of Canberra to be “dry” against their own wishes.
– Does the honorable member suggest that in the event of its being decided at a poll of the residents of the Federal Territory that the Territory should be “ wet,” the Parliament can decide for itself whether Parliament House shall be “dry” or “wet”?
– No; I desire that the people of Canberra shall be given the right to vote upon the whole question. We might propose that the ordinance dealing with the matter shall be referred to a local-option poll of the residents, of the Federal Capital Territory.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the question submitted should be the sale or prohibition of liquor in the Federal Territory, including Parliament House?
– Would the Government accept such an amendment, and is the honorable member for Lang prepared to accept it?
– Does the honorable member suggest that in the event of a local-option poll deciding that the Federal Capital Territory shall be “ wet” the Parliament must be denied the right to say whether or not it will have a bar in Parliament House?
– No; the Parliament is, of course, always supreme. I say that if the residents of Canberra, at a local-option poll, decide that the Federal Capital Territory must be “ dry “ we should not make Parliament House “ wet.” If, on the other hand, the people of the Territory decide that it should be “wet,” Parliament should please itself in the matter; and, personally, my vote would go to make Parliament House “wet.”
– We cannot deprive the Parliament of the right : o decide the matter for itself.
– I admit the supremacy of Parliament. In an honest endeavour to arrive at a decision which will satisfy everyone, I suggest that the debate be adjourned until after the dinner adjournment. That would mean a delay of only about half an hour, and in the meantime the right honorable gentleman could consult with his colleagues and the honorable member for Lang, and endeavour to draft an amendment which will provide for the taking of a local option poll in the Federal Territory to determine the whole ques tion of the sale of liquor at Canberra, either outside or inside Parliament House. Is the Prime Minister prepared to accept that suggestion ?
– Yes. I am prepared to go on with the next business on the notice-paper, and postpone the further consideration of this motion for the moment, because I had not an opportunity to hear the honorable member’s remarks.
– In view of what the Prime Minister says, I ask leave to continue my speech at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Order of the day for the resumption of debate on motion in the name of Dr. Maloney, postponed until the 19th August.
Order of the day for the resumption of debate on motion in the name of Dr. Maloney, postponed until the 19th August.
Form of Application
– I move -
That, in view of the following facts, viz. : -
That the present series of questions addressed to applicants for the oldage and invalid pensions is unnecessarily vexatious and oppressive;
That such questions are not addressed to military officers or highly-paid public officials applying for pensions;
That all applicants for old-age pensions and invalid pensions, in addition to these exacting questions, are strictly examined by expert Governmental officials ;
That pensions are the right of aged and invalid citizens according to law, it is the opinion of this House that a simpler form should be adopted in the following or similar terms : -
I, A.B. (sex and address), hereby apply for the old-age or invalid pension.
I am a natural-born or naturalized British subject.
I am over 60 or 65 years of age.
I claim to be entitled to the pension according to law.
Witness : instead of the series of questions now required to be answered in writing and declared’ to.
In order that those who read Hansard may see the difficulty faced by every old person who submits a claim for that to which he or she is entitled by law, I propose now to read the extensive list of absurd questions to which old-age applicants for pensions must furnish replies. I think most of them must have been gathered from the oldtime work-house system of England. The list of questions is as follows -
Wihere were you born? (Name the place and country.) (If you have documentary proof of age, it should (if practicable) be attached to this page.)
When were you born? (Give exact date if possible.)
If not born in Australia, when did you first arrive in Australia?
From what port did you sail for Australia?
What was the name of the ship?
At what port did you land?
Were you a passenger or immigrant or member of crew? (State which.)
Since you first arrived in Australia have you visited New Zealand or any other country?
If so, how long altogether were you away from Australia? (Give full particulars, including dates of departure from, and return to, Australia.)
Are you single, married, widow, or widower? (State which.)
If you are married, what is the full name of your husband or wife?
Where and when were you married?(Give exact date if possible.)
If you are a widow or married woman, what was your maiden name?
What are the names, dates of birth, places of birth, &c., of all your children?
What are the names and addresses of your children now living?
Have you, or has your wife or husband, at any time applied for a war pension? If so, when and where?
Have you, or has your wife or husband, at any time applied for an invalid or old-age pension? If so, when and where?
Were you born a British subject?
Are you a naturalized British subject? If so, when and where were you naturalized? (Papers or other evidence must be produced to the magistrate.)
How much per week are you earning now? (If earning, give name and address of employer.)
By whom were you employed during the last twelve months?
How much did you earn during the last twelve months?
Did you receive board or lodging besides money wages? (If not received during the whole of the last twelve months, state how long received.)
How much did each of your children not living with you contribute to your support during the last twelve months?
How much did each of your children living with you contribute towards the maintenance of the home during thelast twelve months?
Do you keep a shop or lodging-house or boarding-house or conduct a business of any kind, or have you an interest in any shop or business?
What is the nature of the same, and what profit did you make during the last twelve months ?
Has any one agreed to maintain you in whole or in part or to make any payments to you in consideration of property you have transferred ?
During the last twelve months did you receive free board or free lodging or both ?( State which received, and for how long received.)
What other income have you received during the last twelve months? (Reply should include rents, after deduction of repairs, &c., dividends from banks or companies, interest on money lent or inbanks, and any other income. The nature and amount of the income in each case should be stated.)
What house or land property do you own?
Where is it situated?
What is the nature of the title?
What is the full capital value? (Where a valuation of the property has been made for any local authority, thelast notice of assessment or a letter from an official of such local authority, stating the capital value as assessed, must be sent, pinned to this page, to the Registrar of Pensions.)
If you own only one house, do you live in it?
If you own more than one house, which of those mentioned above do you live in?
Is any of the property mortgaged or otherwise encumbered? (If so, state amounts, also names and addresses of the persons to whom the mortgages or encumbrances have been granted. )
Have you a share or interest in any other property?
What is the nature and value of such property?
Do you own any horses, cattle, sheep, or other live stock? (Give particulars and value.)
Do you own any furniture, vehicles, &c.? (State nature and value of each separately.)
Have you any money in any bank, savings bank, building society, or other financial institution? (If so, state names, addresses, and amounts. )
Is your life assured? (If so, state name of company, policy number, amount, and age at which amount payable; also state by whom premiums are paid.)
Have you any money or property not previously disclosed? (The reply should include information as to money in hand, money lent, debentures, stock, bank or mining shares, or any other property.)
What property have you parted with during recent years?
There are double columns opposite 25 of these questions, so that a married claimant is obliged to supply additional information concerning the wife or husband as the case may be. There are thus practically 69 questions to be answered. Compare this extensive list with the simple form of questions suggested by me in collaboration with my honorable friend, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). No highly-paid public official or member of the military or naval forces is asked an interminable series of questions before getting a pension; nor am I anxious that he should be. My sole purpose is to simplify the questions to be answered by the claimants for a right which has been given by this Parliament, and which would be endorsed by a huge majority at any referendum of the people. Realizing that all claimants for a pension must appear before a magistrate or a duly appointed expert officer, there can be no possible danger in simplifying the form of application. Many of our aged people are unable to read and on that account will not submit claims. Others will not do so because they think that it is lowering to their dignity to accept a pension. A splendid sense of manhood or womanhood has prevented others from doing so. To show these people there is nothing dishonorable in drawing an old-age pension, I applied for one. I appeal to the Treasurer to take the first opportunity to simplify these interrogatories, if not exactly on the lines I have indicated, at any rate in some form which will make the task of the aged applicants for pensions very much easier than it is at present. T do not think that any one should be asked a lot of questions which, in my opinion, are really absurd.
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) [6.41.- I commend the motion moved by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) to the sympathetic consideration of this House. I do not think that there can be a single argument of any value against the acceptance of the motion in principle, and I know, as the result of very long experience that the form of application detailed by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is most oppressive and vexatious to applicants tor pensions. It would be vexatious even to the average well-educated person, in circumstances better than those of most applicants for pensions; but to aged persons, many of whom through no fault of their own are almost illiterate, or are feeble, or partially or totally incapacitated, it is trebly vexatious. While the honorable member for Melbourne was speaking I made a hurried note of some of the questions which are totally irrelevant to the validity of the aplicant’s claim. For instance, he is required to state where he lived during the twelve months preceding his application. That is totally irrelevant to the merits of his claim. The same remark applies to the questions, “ From what, port did you sail for Australia?” “What was the nam© of the ship?” “At what port did you land ?” “ Were you a passenger, or immigrant, or member oi crew?”
– I appreciate the reason for the questions; but they could be asked by the investigating officer should he doubt the applicant’s eligibility to receive a pension. Whatever little may he said for the questions to which I have referred, there are others for which less excuse can be offered. It is, of course, necessary to know whether the applicant is, or is not, married, because any property held by either a man or his wife is held to be their joint property; but the question, “When and where were you married?” is totally irrelevant.
– The applicant; might have forgotten where he was married.
– That may be so. Many applicants have only a hazy recollection of many of these details. For that reason honorable members are frequently called in to assist them in obtaining the information required to fill in their application forms - work which should be done by the staff of the department which deals with pensions. Another question relates to the names of the applicant’s children, the dates and places of their birth, and where such births were registered. The questions are not only irrelevant, but harassing also. Moreover, the information is frequently difficult to supply. Very few parents of large families could answer that question without a good, deal of consideration.
– I could not answer it with regard to the members of my family.
– An applicant’s case is not prejudiced should that information be not supplied; but if it can be supplied it helps his application. An applicant may be able to establish his age by the answers given to such questions.
– The reason for the questions is rather to subject the applicant to an inquisitorial examination with a view to testing him in details which can be used against him.
– If an applicant makes one slip he is gone.
– Yes, unless some friend helps him out of the difficulty into which he has inadvertently fallen; though I have no complaint against the persons who are administering the act in Victoria. All this mass of detail which is said to be required to establish identity, is a kind of inquisition which is designed to meet the case of the dishonest applicant, the presumption being that every applicant is dishonest; whereas it should be presumed that . the statements contained in his declaration are true. I admit that, should an experienced magistrate accustomed to assessing the value of evidence and considering all the circumstances of the case before him, think it desirable to put a series of testing questions to an applicant, he is entitled to do so. In many cases the appearance of the applicant is sufficient to establish his age to the satisfaction of the magistrate; and the existing law empowers a magistrate to accept an applicant’s appearance as evidence of his age. In other instances the genuineness of an applicant’s claim is so apparent that there is no need for these embarrassing questions. On the ether hand, where the investigating officer doubts the faith of the applicant, he certainly should be entitled to question him with a view to preventing the public revenue from being exploited by designing and dishonest persons. I have mentioned only a few of the questions which are not material to the qualifications of the applicant for a pension. There are many others. Under the pension laws of this country we are no longer concerned with an applicant’s family. Even though an applicant has children who are in a position to support him, the law has - I” think wisely - provided that his claim does not rest upon the lack of beneficence or generosity of the members of his family, or of any one else, but on his own in dividual position in the community. At one time a person’s right to a pension depended on the inability of his family to maintain him, and therefore some of these questions to which we now object as being in the nature of an inquisition, were necessary, Since then, however, we have taken a wider and a wiser view. An applicant’s claim now rests entirely on his individual merits, and not upon the want of generosity of his relatives, and is not affected by their assumed or actual moral obligation to maintain him. We are indebted to the honorable member for Melbourne for the painstaking manner in which he presented his motion, and for the motion itself. He was good enough to give me some credit for having collaborated with him. That I regard as a privilege, because in my opinon this motion is one of the most practical and sensible that we have had before us for some time. Every honorable member has at times been called upon to render assistance to applicants for pensions, and, no doubt, has wondered why so cumbrous a system is in operation. Were a simple form, such as that suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne, adopted, a great burden would be lifted from the aged and invalid persons whom by this measure we are presumably trying to help, and not to harass. A simpler form would not add £1 to the expenditure on pensions. . I take it that the honorable member for Melbourne is not wedded to the precise form of application which he has suggested, so long as that adopted is brief and to the point, Instead of an applicant for a pension having to submit to two or three examinations, one inquiry by a competent officer should be his only trial in order to establish what the mover of the motion has rightly described his right, and not his privilege. We should not approach this subject in the spirit that poor law relief has, unfortunately, been administered in other countries, and at other times, by persons less broad-minded and possessed of less humane feeling than our own. I hope that the motion will be sympathetically received, and that the office of the Treasurer, which deals with pensions, will treat applicants for pensions in the spirit of the motion.
– I am a good deal in. agreement with the mover of this motion, because I have, had considerable experience in filling in forms of application for old-age pensions.
– Applications numbering 4,500 have passed through my office.
– I regard many of the questions as inquisitorial. In many instances, much of the information asked for cannot be supplied. I am in favour of a much simpler form. I do not say that the form can be reduced to the simple one suggested by the honorable member, for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) ; if that could be done, so much the better. I agree with him that an applicant for a pension should not be asked to do more than to appear once before a board and supply all the information considered necessary, so far as he is able to do so. The administration of the act is not as I thought. it would bc prior to my entry into this House, nor is the Act the perfect measure I thought it was. Since I have been a member of this House I have made inquiries into many claims of applicants who’ have been unsuccessful, and in almost every case I think the pensions should have been paid. I received particulars to-day of a woman who, because she owns a small property from which she receives little or no rent, is unable to get the pension.
– Order! The honorable member is raising the whole subject of pension payments. The .motion deals only with the questions that may be put to applicants.
– I mention the case of this woman, Mr. Speaker, because she was asked whether she owned property, and as she replied in the affirmative, her claim ‘was disallowed, although, as I have shown, her property is really a handicap to her. I know the property, and consider it to be absolutely valueless. Another question put to her was, did she receive board from any of her relatives? She lives with her brother, who is about as poor as she is, and because she receives board from him she was disqualified. Applicants are also asked if they are living apart from their husbands or their wives, as the case may be. If they are, they are debarred from pension privileges. I am sorry that, because of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I cannot deal more fully with the subject. The act itself needs revision. It was never intended to be interpreted in the way that it is. The list of questions put to applicants could, with advantage, be curtailed. It should not be necessary to require applicants to establish their age. The other day I sent in an application form for an aged foreign person in my district, for whom the late Sir Austin Chapman had endeavoured to secure a pension. Possibly the applicant thought that I, being a new member, would be able to obtain, it for him. That man has been living in Australia for at least 60 years, but up to the present he has not been successful in his application for a pension. I intend to support themotion.
.- I commend the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) for bringing this matter forward, and I feel sure that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) will give it favorable consideration. It is not a party matter. The object of the mover is to assist aged persons to secure the pension. Many unnecessary questions are put to applicants. Some cannot be answered unless the applicants have relatives who are in a position to refresh their memories as to certain events in their lives. Many old people, as we know, are completely alone in the world. Some applicants, whose eyesight is faulty and whose memories are unreliable, find the questions so puzzling that they abandon the attempt to secure a pension. I am one of a family of eleven. My father and mother are both dead. Had they been alive and been applicants for the old-age pension, I doubt if unaided they could have stated definitely when and where each of their children was born, where .registered, and so on. It would be altogether too great a tax on their’ memories. Very many old-age pensioners have reared large families. Indeed, that very fact, in some cases, is responsible for their present position. They have been so busily engaged in rearing large families that they have been inable to make provision for themselves in their old age. Consequently they are obliged to look to the nation to help them. The pension is their right. I hope that the motion will be carried, and that the short list of questions suggested by the mover of the motion, but which may be amplified, will be adopted. I trust that the Treasurer will give the subject sympathetic consideration, and recommend the department to revise the list of questions. Prom my experience of the Pension Department’ in New South Wales, I am satisfied that the officials there will welcome an alteration, and will do their best to assist the aged applicants to get over their difficulties.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
– All honorable members will approve of the sentiment that has prompted the motion of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), who desires to simplify as far as possible the methods whereby the aged and infirm of the community are adjudged to be entitled to receive the pension that Parliament provides. I think that it is agreed on all sides of the House, and throughout the country, that the administration of invalid and old-age pensions has been sympathetic, and in every way satisfactory. In fact, during the early years of my parliamentary experience I remember regret being expressed that the war pensions administration had not continued to be carried on by the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Department. The Government has shown practical sympathy with the pensioners. Twice the pension has been increased by it, and. in 1923, eight or nine anomalies were removed by means of legislation. On several occasions since that time improvements in administrative methods have been made - once, I think, on the representation of the honorable member for Melbourne and on another occasion when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) introduced a deputation asking that the basis upon which statements may be declared should be widened. Attempts have been made to modify the form as far as possible in order to enable the pensioners to establish their right to the pension by simpler methods : but all anomalies cannot be removed until a system of national insurance is adopted. The questions submitted to pensioners are not of an inquisitorial nature, their sole object being to assist in the establishment of claims.
Many of the questions asked have to be answered sooner or later, and it is considered that, by placing them on the original form, the time that must elapse before the pension is made available is greatly shortened. If these questions were not submitted, and if correspondence had to be engaged in subsequently in order to verify certain points, applicants might be deprived of the pension for a longer- time than would otherwise be necessary. It is possible that some superfluous questions are still put to applicants, and if honorable members will inform me from their personal experience how the questions could be simplified, I shall consult with the officers of the department to see if modifications can be made. I asked the Assistant Commissioner of Invalid and Old-age Pensions to state briefly the reasons why the forms were drawn up in the present manner, and itwould be well to place his statement on record. That officer reports -
The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908, and the various amendments up to 1925, provide for the grant of invalid and old-age pensions under certain conditions. The act requires that applicants for pensions shall possess certain qualifications in respect of age, length of residence in Australia, income, property, good character, nationality, &c. In addition, claimants for invalid pensions are required to show that Uley are permanently incapacitated for work, and that the incapacity became permanent in Australia.
In order to properly administer the law, it is necessary that applicants for pensions should furnish the department with certain information regarding their various qualifications. These particulars are obtained by means nf the questions asked in the application form. These questions are of a simple nature, and in many cases the answers can be given in a single word. The claim forms contain explanatory notes for the guidance of applicants. With the object of assisting persons in the preparation of their claims the invalid and oldage pensions regulations provide that all officers in the Public Service of the Commonwealth shall, so far as is consistent with their duties, give all reasonable assistance to claimants in the preparation of pension claims. In addition a wide range of persons is authorized to take declarations under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. Recently, as the result of a deputation from the Port Melbourne Council, this list was extended to include all municipal councillors throughout the Commonwealth. It is obvious, therefore, that the department makes every effort to assist pensioners.
Several of the questions in the claim papers have been inserted with the sole object of assisting the applicants to establish their claims. For instance, it is frequently found that old people are unable to produce any proof of their age. The department, however, by means of the answers to the questions in the claim forms is enabled to make certain inquiries, and generally succeeds in obtaining conclusive evidence of the age of the claimant. Since the Pensions Act came into operation in 1909, more than 300,000 pensions have been granted, and up to the present, it has been found that the method of obtaining information from the claimants has. worked well. Experience has shown that the questions which now appear in the claim forms are necessary for the proper investigation of the claim, and if they were dispensed with, it would be necessary to obtain the information in other ways which would be less convenient both to the department and to the claimants.
– The questions are not inquisitorial.
– No. Take, for instance, the question relating to the date of the applicant’s marriage. It may not be possible to produce a birth certificate; but if an applicant can show that he or she has children about, say, 50 years of age, it is more or less prima facie evidence that the applicant is old enough to be entitled to the pension. Sometimes an applicant is able to establish the fact that he arrived in Australia by a certain vessel, and if his age at that time can be more or less substantiated it is proved, apart from a certificate of registration of birth. The Assistant Commissioner points out that if these questions were not asked they would in many instances have to be inquired into sooner or later, and that would result in greater inconvenience to the appli cants than if they were answered at the time of the original application. It is desirable that all those persons who are entitled by law to the pension should complete their applications as soon as possible to enable them to enjoy tbe pension at the earliest possible moment. The department is anxious to simplify the procedure, if honorable members can indicate from their own experience what questions could be eliminated.
Mr.West. - Why ask them how many children they have?
– I have already given one reason for that. It is helpful if applicants, who cannot produce birth certificates, can show the ages of their children. The ages of thousands who are receiving pensions to-day have been established, not from documentary evidence that they have been ableto tender, but by reason of the questions submitted to them. The desire of the department is to adopt the simplest and most convenient means possible for establishing the claims of applicants.
– Would the Government allow them to be examined privately by magistrates instead of in open court, as is done in some cases.
– I have been associated with many applications for pensions, and I do not think that I have heard one complaint on that score.
– Nor have I.
– In most cases the inquiry is made by the clerk of petty sessions. The questions contained in the income and property statement are of a simple nature, and there should be no difficulty on their account. No charge can be levelled against the magistrates for the manner in which they have carried out their work. Everybody will appreciate the fact that it is necessary to prevent pensions from being obtained by fraud, and if misrepresentations are made they should be exposed. One reason why the questions are submitted is to prevent fraud. Regarding the matter of review of pensions, the form in that case is now much simpler than it originally was. Review is necessary, because it is often found that the circumstances of aged persons alter, and if there were no reviews they would not receive the larger pension to which they have become entitled. In some cases, owing to the acquisition of property, the pension has to be reduced; but in the great majority of cases that are reviewed the pensions are increased by reason of the pensioners being found to be in poorer circumstances than formerly. If the application form were made as simple as the honorable member for Melbourne suggests, it would not accomplish his purpose; it would merely lead to correspondence and a certain amount of delay. There would be no provision on the form for information relating to income, property, residence in Australia, incapacity for work, etc. It would be necessary for the department to obtain this information, either by oral examination or by correspondence with the claimant, and no advantage, therefore, would be gained by the adoption of the honorable member’s proposal. If any suggestion is made whereby the form can be modified without eliminating necessary questions, the department will be willing to adopt it. I take it that the honorable member does not desire to press this motion to a division, since the form he has suggested is only tentative. I shall ask the officers of the department to examine carefully the remarks made in this debate, to consider any suggestions that honorable members may bring forward for the simplification of the form, and to see if any better method can be employed to expedite the consideration of claims and assist in carrying out the law as it stands.
.- I have no criticism to offer in reply to the speech of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). He has been sympathetic in his remarks, and I. think that he has indicated what is the wish of every honorable member. I point out, however, that the applicant is required to sign his or her name twice on the application form, and once on the cards. Since one signature is sufficient for a will, if there are witnesses to it, it seems to me that that should be enough on an application for a pension. Some of the applicants suffer from cramped fingers, and have difficulty in signing their names. I ask the Treasurer to request the experts in his department to examine the questions as common-sense business men, and submit to- him a simple form with the fewest questions possible. Honorable members may say that they have heard no complaints from the old people, but if they had attended my office, particularly on Mondays and Wednesdays, they would know that complaints are made that a great deal of unnecessary hardship is inflicted upon the applicants. I realize that the magistrates are kind and courteous in dealing with them. I am grateful for the compassionate kindness shown by the officers of the department. I keenly regret that war pensions were taken out of the control of the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Department; had not that been done, much less heart-burning would have been caused to the applicants. As the Treasurer has replied so sympathetically, I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Leave granted; motion withdrawn.
Debate resumed (vide page 4711).
.- The granting of leave to me to continue my remarks had for its object the providing of an opportunity to Ministers and members to consult with one another with a view to solving this difficult pro- .blem. Consultation took place during the dinner adjournment, and, as a result, an agreement has been arrived at which, I believe, will be mutually satisfactory. I understand that the Prime Minister will move an .amendment, the terms of which have been agreed upon.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– (By leave.) - I am obliged to the House for the courtesy of permitting me to move an amendment, which will, I think, be acceptable to both the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), who is in charge of the motion, and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). I move -
That all the words after “House,” first occurring, he left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - “is of opinion that the question of the sale of liquor in the Federal Territory should he submitted to a local option poll of the people residing within the Federal Territory on a date to be fixed after the first meeting of Parliament at Canberra; and, further, that the sale of liquor at Parliament House should not be permitted until the local option poll is taken.
The amendment meets the ‘ view of the Government that this matter should be determined by the residents of the Territory. The date of the poll will be determined by this Parliament, because it cannot be taken until legislation providing for it has been passed. The amendment will also safeguard the right of the Parliament to be absolute master in its own house. No question affecting this legislature should be determined by the vote of an outside body; Parliament should be master of its own procedure. I commend the amendment to honorable members in the belief that it will meet their views.
– Will the recommendation of the House Committee defeat the purpose of this amendment?
– I direct the honorable member’s attention to the final words of the amendment - “ That the sale of liquor at Parliament House should not be permitted until the local option poll is taken.”
– Does that stand paramount ?
– Yes; the concluding words of the amendment answer the honorable member’s question, and are a tactful and graceful way of overcoming the difficulty.
.- The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), when moving the motion, used unfair and extravagant language. When approaching a serious subject like this, honorable members should use as calm and temperate language as possible; but I contend that the honorable member did not do that. A Minister in the year 1911 had a brainwave, and decided to do certain things, including the making of Canberra a dry area. Apparently, the Cabinet was very busy, and neglected that part of its business. The proposal was allowed to pass, and an ordinance found its way on to the table of the House, where it lay for 30 days and 30 nights. The fact that the ordinance lay on the table of the House for’ 30 days conveys to the mind of the honorable member for Lang that the House accepted it. At any rate, he places the responsibility for it on this Parliament as well as past Parliaments. To that extent he is wrong.
– No one is perfect.
– Quite so; not even teetotallers. When the ordinance was formulated the Territory had not been long in the possession of the Commonwealth. There were few people in the area. Even those who, with florid and well-rounded phrases, talked of fashioning a great and beautiful city, did not think that their expectations would be realized for many years; but although only a few years have passed, Canberra is now, in spite of the hostility of certain honorable members, a city with a population of close on 5,000. When the ordinance was made it was not contemplated that so many people would be living there in such a short time. No thought was given to making Canberra a prohibition area; the ordinance merely states that no licences shall be granted. Canberra has not been made “ dry “ by ordinance. During the progress of the construction works, with from 1,000 to 3,000 workers there, Canberra has been much less temperate than it would have been had licences been granted and the sale of liquor been permitted under proper supervision.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– It is. I am endeavouring to state my case temperately and moderately, and not to force my views down the honorable member’s throat, as he endeavoured to force his views on others.
– Not intentionally.
– I accept the honorable member’s apology. If liquor is permitted by law to be sold under the supervision of the police and the Government, there is some chance of checking the quality of it and controlling the conduct of those who sell and buy it; but once licences and supervision are eliminated, the traffic flows along questionable channels. The quality of the liquor is immediately affected, as well as. the conduct of the sale of it, and the fact that people buy in larger quantities than they need is an evil itself. I was at Lake Victoria about two years ago when 400 men were employed in carrying out a water conservationscheme. A chap came along in the coach one morning with a petrol-tin containing a liquid. He dumped it down alongside the works office, and then went around collecting bottles, and for an hour after his arrival on the job he was distributing whisky from the petrol-tin, at £1 per bottle. I tasted the liquid, and I should say that it was at least 70 per cent. petrol. This vendor of spirituous liquors, or petrol, carried on a very brisk trade until a few members of the committee, including a representative of the unions engaged on the job, decided to take a hand in the matter. They went along to the underground engineer, and ordered him to destroy the remaining contents of his petrol-tin. He refused, and a very spirited argument took place, in which the vendor of the liquor received the worst of the deal, and his remaining liquor was soon destroyed. That stuff was absolute poison. Three or four weeks prior to this occurrence, men had partaken of the same kind of stuff supplied by the same man, and it made them nearly mad. I am not saying that that kind of thing has occurred at Canberra; but what has occurred at Canberra is that very inferior liquor has been surreptitiously sold at prices 20, 25, and even 50 per cent, above the Queanbeyan price. “We allowed that to take place. To think that Canberra, the State of New South Wales, or America can be made “ dry “ is, in my opinion, an absurdity. Many years ago, when in New Zealand, I made it my business to go into the prohibition county of ‘ Invercargill. The boundary of the county was a mile or a mile and a half outside the city, and the position there was quite analogous to the existing position at Canberra. The law permitted liquor to be brought into the prohibition area just as the Federal Territory ordinance permits liquor to be brought into Canberra. I am speaking of what I saw at Invercargill in 1907. Carriers went about the city taking orders as low as 1 gallon of beer or one bottle of spirits. They did a thriving trade. They manufactured the beer within the county. There was nothing in the law to prevent that. Having manufactured the liquor within the county, they took it over the boundary, and then brought it back, daily distributing it to the people who, under ordinary conditions, would not have consumed anything like the quantity of liquor they did consume under prohibition. There would appear to be some imperfection inherent ii. human nature which influences laymen and lawmakers alike, where there is a law, to take a delight in breaking it. The New Zealand Railway Commissioners, aiding and abetting law-breaking, decided, to stop trains for Invercargill at a little wayside hotel 7 miles from the city.
– Outside the prohibition area?
– Yes. On two occasions I travelled by rail to Invercargill, and on both those occasions at least 50 per cent, of the passengers left, the train; walked about 50 yards to the hotel, purchased from one to ‘ six bottles of whisky each, and took the liquor along with them in the train. As a result of this practice, practically all that could be seen on both sides of the railway into Invercargill was the sun shining on broken bottles that were a positive menace to the permanentway men employed on the line. Exactly the same thing is occurring at Canberra. There prohibition has gone mad. If people are compelled to proceed to Queanbeyan, a distance of 8 or 10 miles, they cannot be expected to be satisfied with one drink. It is too great an effort for one tot of whisky or one pint of beer. Usually a man who has covered that distance in order to obtain a drink feels that he would not be justified in limiting himself to one or two. As a rule the ordinary man takes more, and, incidentally, brings back a bottle for himself and half-a-dozen for his mates. That, of course, is quite wrong. I am informed that on no less than three occasions officers at Canberra made representations to different governments for the establishment of a canteen in order that men employed at Canberra might, during the lunch hour, or when the’ knocked off work in the evening, obtain a drink of good beer or whisky. The canteen system has worked well. I a:n also informed that when the north-south railway is started, one contractor, if his tender is successful, will establish a canteen system in order to prevent bad liquor being distributed in his workers’ camps and affecting their health. Bishop Radford, of Goulburn, has charge of a very large diocese, of which Canberra is a part. He has stated in unmistakable language his objection to a “ dry “ Canberra. He has arrived at his opinio n on the subject, not after one or. two days’ deliberation, but after being in charge cf the diocese for something like five years, during which he has been in constant communication with the clergy of the diocese. He has come to the considered opinion that Canberra should not be “ dry.”
– He says it is not “ dry.”
– That is so, and he is of opinion that prohibition is a positive menace. In view of the responsible position which he holds, his opinion must carry vastly more weight than that of the average layman. I am assured that the. clergy of the Church of England within the prohibition area are of the same opinion as their bishop. There are four hotels at Queanbeyan. One of these hotels which I have in mind was sold ten years ago for something over £3,000. The last sale of the same hotel took .place some twelve months ago, and it fetched £25,000. All the hotels at Queanbeyan have been re-organized. Whereas some time ago the bars would accommodate from ten to twenty persons, it is now the ambition of the hotelkeepers of Queanbeyan to provide bar accommodation for anything up to 100 or 150 persons, and from personal inspection I can say that they have succeeded in their ambition. Quite 80 per cent, of the money spent over these bars is brought S, 10, and 14 miles from Canberra into the City of Queanbeyan. I believe that, because of the policy adopted by the Commonwealth Government in 1911, work at Canberra has been injuriously affected.
– There has not been much trouble at Canberra.
–Practically none at all, because of the calibre of the workmen engaged at that place. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) in submitting his motion, paid a tribute to the sobriety of members of the Federal Parliament. He might well do so. I am informed that the amount spent upon liquor, including soft drinks, by members, officers, and visitors at the refreshment bar of this House represents about 4$d. per head per week of the members of this Parliament. If that figure is correct, and from personal observation extending over nine years 1 see no reason to doubt its accuracy, it is clear that the quantity of liquor consumed by members of both Houses of this Parliament is very small indeed. If there is to he a “ dry “ Canberra, I venture to say that the quantity of liquor consumed in or about Parliament House there will be very considerably greater than that consumed here, because of the incentive to break the law.
– Does the honorable member refer to the law-makers?
– I repudiate that.
– It is quite a common and natural thing for men, even though they may be law-makers, to break laws which they consider harsh and inequitable. Any law which prevents a person who desires a drink from taking one is wrong. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) said that the amount expended in the parliamentary refreshment rooms might be spent by one man.
– If the honorable member desires to pillory me on the drink question, he should do so fairly, and quote what I said. I said, “ Presuming one man spent the lot.”
– I think I am entitled to refer to the honorable member’s interjection, and, accepting his correction, and presuming one man silent the lot, it would be a very fine record for 111 members of the Parliament if 110 of them drank nothing and one drank quite a lot. That would be a better record than, notwithstanding my view of the sobriety of members of this- Parliament, I should have thought possible. I support the amendment because the motion moved by the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) did not state the position as it should have been stated, and because it led the temperance . bodies of Australia to assume that the members of this Parliament were to have a bar at Canberra while the unfortunate people outside were to be Tirevented from enjoying the same facility. I have received from one temperance organization in Sydney a letter imploring me not to give way to my own selfish appetite, and concluding bv stating that if I do I will be a marked man. I understand that all honorable members have received that extraordinary letter. It is most extraordinary.
– Especially when the honorable member only drinks lemonade.
– Yes ; but it is not more extraordinary than the general tenor of letters I receive from the temperance organizations which are couched in most extravagant language. I resent any organization attempting to dictate what my conduct shall be in regard to the liquor question. I have always been an opponent of prohibition, because I believe that it is an impossibility to make a nation “ dry “ if it is surrounded by nations which are “wet.” One could sneak for hours upon the effect of prohibition in America. The fact remains that while there is money in that country it will continue to import and consume liquors of all kinds. It is only a question of the ability of the people of America to pay the increased price of the liquor which, notwithstanding prohibition, they have the means of procuring. It is an impossibility to make a nation “dry” while it is surrounded by “ wet “ nations ; but it is not only an impossibility, it is futile to think that Canberra, surrounded as it is by licensed houses for the sale of liquor, can be made “ dry,” or anything approaching that ideal.
– I have, of course, no desire to talk out this motion, the debate upon which must conclude at 9 o’clock, nor do I wish to debar other honorable members from an opportunity to speak; but, so far, it has been extremely difficult for a member to express his views. I, therefore, propose to occupy a few minutes in defining my attitude towards the motion and the amendment. I do not think that the issue raised by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) this afternoon is of any immediate urgency^ because it would probably follow, as a matter of course, that if licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors in the Canberra district were granted, the question of permitting the sale of these liquors in Parliament House would be decided in the affirmative. I do not think any material point was made by the honorable member in that respect, but it is upon the main question that I wish to offer a few observations. I am entirely in accord with practically every honorable member in this House in the view that it would be frankly and plainly impossible for honorable members to be conceded the right to have a bar in Parliament House while a similar privilege was denied the residents of the district. The position at Canberra at present is that, unlike any other portion of the Commonwealth, the sale of intoxicating liquors there is prohibited, but at the same time there is no prohibition against the consumption of liquor there by any person who has introduced it into the Territory. I cannot see why the edict of a Minister of the Crown fifteen years ago should be binding on the present Parliament. It appears to me that while this edict remains in force those who can afford to do so will have and consume their own liquor, and others-
– Who cannot afford to buy it will consume some one else’s liquor !
– The honorable member has suggested a third possibility. Others will consume their liquor at Queanbeyan, or some one else’s liquor, or bad liquor in the territory. In a sense, the question at issue is of considerable importance. It has created a great deal of interest’ in the country at large. I do not wish the people of my electorate, or any one interested in my views, to have any misconception as to where I stand in the matter. I am not a prohibitionist. I do not believe that prohibition effects the object it sets out to achieve. I believe in sound governmental control . of not only the quality, but also the sale, of intoxicating liquors. I do not believe that total prohibition will ever succeed. The sale of wines and spirits at Canberra will affect many others besides members of Parliament. It will affect, for instance, members of the Public Service and Government servants, who will be taken away from their present surroundings, and forced to live in a new city to which most of them have no particular call. I suggest that it is at least reasonable that they should be given the same opportunity of reasonable recreation and reasonable refreshment as they are accustomed to have in the other cities of Australia. I wish the Government had come forward boldly and stated that they would remove the edict of fifteen years ago. I admit that it is an unpleasant duty for Ministers, but I think they ought to have said, “ We do not consider that the edict of a Minister fifteen years ago is binding on us. We do not consider that a new form of liquor laws, which does not apply to any other part of Australia, should be applied to the Federal Territory.” The question of local option has been discussed to-day. So far as my knowledge goes, local option has always followed and has not preceded the establishment of the liquor trade; but we have been given no information as to when local option is to be brought into force in the FederalTerritory, as to how many years are to elapse before a vote is taken, and as to who are to be given the right to vote at the poll.
– Nor have we been told what majority will be necessary.
– No particulars have been given to us in that respect. Had the honorable member for Ballarat not failed to move the motion which he put on the notice-paper, I should have supported it, or an amendment on the lines of that motion; but, as it is, I shall support the amendment moved by the Prime Minister, not because I think it is the best way of dealing with the question, but because I believe it is an improvement on the motion moved by the honorable member for Lang.,
.- I have made no compact with any one on this question, and I would not have minded giving a silent vote but for the fact that very many things have been said and inferred by outside organizations to the effect that honorable members of this Parliament want privileges which they are not prepared to extend to others. I would not support a bar in Parliament House in Canberra with a dry Canberra outside ; but I am against a dry Canberra. I am one of perhaps very few honorable members who have declared themselves to that effect on the public platform. When asked the question, at the last general election, I declared that as Canberra could not and would not be kept dry under any circumstances, I was not prepared to continue the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquor there. We have heard honorable members talking about not having liquor sold under proper regulations in Canberra, but the astounding fact is that the Government’s own hotel at Canberra to-day is a sly-grog shop. There is sly-grog selling going on today in the Hotel Canberra, and some honorable members know it.
– That is a serious statement.
– It is a serious statement, but it is true. The wealthy tourist who can pay the price can get whisky at the hotel, and he does not need to carry it with him. When I was at Canberra at theland sale I went over the Hotel Canberra. I did not see any slygrog selling, but, in every room I entered, there was a bottle of Johnny Walker or King George.
– That was brought into the Territory by the people occupying the rooms.
– Exactly; but that is what is occurring in the Hotel Canberra under the control of the Government. No resolution of this House will make Canberra dry. I am prepared to support the amendment simply because it seems to meet the wishes of honorable members, but I am convinced that, whether there is a local option poll or not, Canberra will not be dry. It is quite possible that if there is a local option poll the hotelkeepers of Queanbeyan will spend hundreds of pounds in organizing an effort to keep the Territory dry. I want to know what the Prime Minister means by “ the permanent residents of Canberra.” Who are the permanent residents of Canberra who are to have a vote ? Will they include the working men who are living in camps?
– That matter will have to be decided by Parliament.
– If the matter has to be decided by Parliament, we are wasting our time, to-day, by passing a resolution that will carry us nowhere.
– Members of Parliament will not have a vote at the local option, because they are not permanent residents.
– I am not asking that members of Parliament should have a vote.
– Order !
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the time for the debate be extended until the determination of the question.
– On a point of order I desire to ask whether the proposed extension is permissible. Should the motion be agreed to, the discussion on this question might continue for another two hours. That would not be fair to members who want to discuss other matters on the formal supply motion.
– While I think that a vote ought to be taken - I, personally, am prepared to vote now - I submit that the Prime Minister was out of order in intervening during the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini).
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that under the sessional order the debate should have terminated at 9 o’clock.
– The Prime Minister rose as I rose and called “ order “ at 9 o’clock. Under the sessional order, the debate, on a motion of this nature, closes at 9 o’clock, unless the House otherwise- orders. The Prime Minister has proposed that the House should otherwise order. Should it not do so, the debate must terminate.
– On a point of order I think that a bad precedent would be created if we allowed this debate’ to continue in the circumstances. I have never previously known a Prime Minister to intervene while an honorable member was addressing the Chair in order to move that the time for the discussion of a motion be extended. It would have been competent for the Prime Minster to move “ That the honorable member be no longer heard,” or “That the question be now put “ ; but to allow him to intervene in this way is, in my opinion, wrong. I hope that you, sir, will not rule that the Prime Minister can do that. Such a ruling would establish a bad precedent.
– I am as anxious as is any honorable member that a vote be taken on the subject, but I submit that when the honorable member for “Werriwa was speaking, and you, sir, called him to order ; as the hour of 9 o’clock had arrived, the business then under discussion should have terminated. The Prime Minister should have moved his motion before 9 o’clock.
– I saw the, Prime Minister rise simultaneously with yourself, Mr. Speaker. I cannot understand the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), at whose request the debate was adjourned on a previous occasion. He knows well that a situation has been created - I do not say purposely - which could have been avoided. The Prime Minister rose at the only time open to him, namely, when you, sir, rose to intimate that the hour of 9 o’clock had arrived. We should get away from this camouflage. Honorable members, no doubt, have made up their minds; and should not attempt to prevent a vote from being taken. Let them register their votes in accordance with their convictions.
– The position is that I rose and called “ order,” to intimate that the time allowed for the discussion of the motion then before the Chair had ter minated. The Prime Minister rose simultaneously, and I called upon him, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) having resumed his seat as soon as I rose.
– Did you not say that it was 9 o’clock?
– The Prime Minister and I rose simultaneously. The House is master of its own procedure. I rule that the Prime Minister was in order in moving that an extension of time be allowed for the discussion and determination of the question before the Chair.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to-
That the question be now put.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, which side has won, the “wet” or the “ dry”?
– The honorable member must interpret for himself the resolution of the House.
WAYS AND MEANS (Formal).
Question. - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means - proposed.
.- It is rarely that I avail myself of this opportunity to submit grievances, but I think honorable members will agree, after hearing the statement that I am about to make, that I have a substantial grievance, which calls for immediate attention. Last year an application was made by those engaged in the timber industry for increased protection. The matter was referred to the Tariff Board, which took evidence and submitted a report. The report was not in favour of increased protection being granted. “J am not now stating the case for the timber industry, although, as I have said previously, it is in dire need of further protection in view of the impossibility of competing against the competition from overseas. Timber is being dumped into Australia. Early this year I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to again refer to the Tariff Board for inquiry the case for the timber industry, in view of the fact that those engaged in it claimed that they could submit * further evidence in rebuttal of certain statements that had been made. Those statements, they said, could be proved to be incorrect if the board would visit Tasmania and New South Wales and see for itself the conditions which obtained in the industry. By no other means could their incorrectness be revealed. I also advocated the claims of the potato industry for further protection. That matter was also submitted to the Tariff Board for inquiry. In reply to my request that the Tariff Board should visit Tasmania and takeevidence in relation to both these matters, I received the following letter from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Prarten) dated the 20th May, 1926-
Dear Colonel Bell, - I have arranged with the Tariff Board to visit Tasmania next month; the subjects to be inquired into in the North-West will be : -
Range of present bounty on shale oil.
Any new evidence that may be put forward in connexion with the timber industry.
Throughout the negotiations the Minister has always said that those engaged in the timber industry would be permitted to submit additional evidence. I am certain that new evidence could be given. I find on the file supplied to me by the secretary of the Timber Association the following letter to Mr. J. L. Moore, secretary of the timber tariff executive, from Mr. Pratten, Minister for Trade and Customs, under date the 12th June : -
In connexion with your personal interview withme last night regarding the promised reopening of the Tariff Board’s inquiry on timber duties, and the procedure to be adopted and the places to be visited, I will consult with the chairman of the Tariff Board on its return to Melbourne, I think about the end of next week, and will write you further regarding the matter. It has been arranged that the board will visit Tasmania at an early date, and any new evidence that can be given regarding timber in relation to that State can be submitted to the board when there. I have already intimated to my colleague, the Treasurer, that a visit will be paid to Woolgoolga, New South Wales, later on.
At the invitation of the Minister, I sought an interview with the chairman of the Tariff Board, and asked him if ho could tell me when the board was likely to visit Tasmania, so that I could inform those concerned. He told me that the board could not visit Tasmania until about the last week in June, or possibly the first week in July, but that he would advise me later of the actual date so that I could pass on the information to the people interested. The chairman’s intimation, it will be noted, confirmed the statement of the Minister that the board would visit Tasmania. After some time had elapsed, I asked the chairman about three weeks ago if he could fix the date of the board’s visit. He replied that he would put the matter before the board that day and inform me definitely the next day. Receiving no intimation the following morning, I rang up the chairman in the afternoon, and was then informed that the board had decided not to visit Tasmania, but that it would take evidence in Melbourne, which, in its opinion, was. the most central place for the inquiry. This intimation came as a surprise to me, because the Minister had definitely told me, and those interested in the timber industry, that the board would visit Tasmania. The people concerned had prepared their case in anticipationof a visit from the board. If the Minister’s promise is not to be honoured, my own position will be somewhat embarrassing, because I have advised the people of Tasmania of the board’s intention to visit that State, and they could be forgiven if they came to the conclusion that my information was not to be relied upon. I emphatically protest against this change in the board’s plans. I told the Minister what the chairman had said, and he promised to look into the matter. As I could get no further information, I asked the Minister on the 9th July if he was in a position to state when the Tariff Board would make the promised visit to commence the inquiry into the need for greater protection for the timber and potato industries. The Minister, in his reply, stated that ho was unable to give a definite date, but he would do so as early as possible. Yesterday I received the following letter from the secretary to the Tariff Board: -
Referring to the request made for increased duty on potatoes, I desire to inform you that it is proposed to hold a public inquiry into the request in the board room, Victoria Cricket Association building, Flinders-street and Collins-place, Melbourne, on Tuesday, 3rd August, 1926, commencing at 10.30 a.m. The inquiry is being held at Melbourne, as it is considered that place is most central, and, therefore, the most convenient for those in the different States concerned desirous of tendering evidence. If you will let me have the names and addresses of any parties who may be known to you as interested in this matter, steps will be taken to immediately notify them of the inquiry.
I informed the people interested in the potato industry of the proposed inquiry, because they could not afford to miss the opportunity to present their case. The need for further protection on potatoes is just as great as is the need for further protection for the timber industry, owing to huge shipments from New Zealand to Sydney. I know that they are coming along to give evidence, although I have not seen thom. Naturally, they will protest against having to come to Melbourne. I do not know whether the Minister can direct the Tariff Board to hold an inquiry in Tasmania, or whether the board is master of its own movements. All I know is that the Minister made a definite statement in writing to mc, and those interested in the timber industry, that the board intended to visit Tasmania, and that the chairman of the board informed me to the same effect. Apparently the board has no regard for its own promises. I presume it does not now want to go to Tasmania. I know that it visits the other States to make inquiries into various industries, and it is only reasonable to expect it to visit Tasmania when the occasion arises. The definite promise given by the Minister, and also by the board, should be honoured. Nobody will be able to rely upon statements of responsible Ministers if promises given in that way can be ignored at a later date.
– That is pretty hot.
– I do not think I am using extravagant language. It is clear that the promise is being ignored, presumably because Melbourne is more central and convenient. Had the board declined at the outset to visit Tasmania to inquire into the industries concerned, there would be no ground for complaint. But a promise having been given, it should be regarded as sacred. The trouble, I believe, is in respect of the timber industry, The Tariff Board, I imagine, does not want to re-open the case for further protection for that industry. Whether or not that is so, it is no reason why the board’s promise to visit Tasmania in respect to the potato inquiry should not be honoured. The other question mentioned in the Minister’s letter, the shale oil bounty, was dealt with last night. It might be said that there is not the same need now for the board to visit Tasmania, as only one or two industries are concerned. But that is not the issue. For the sake of the board’s reputation, and because of the Minister’s definite promise, the board should visit Tasmania. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a satisfactory explanation that will make his position clear in the eyes of the public generally, though I doubt if any explanation will clear the position of the chairman of the board.
.- As this will probably be my last opportunity this session to discuss grievances - the Government, I believe, will get the Estimates through very shortly - I wish to mention again the unsatisfactory mail steamship service with Lord Howe, Norfolk, and New Hebrides islands. When I was in Bridge-street, Sydney, I made inquiries as to the prospect of booking a passage to Lord Howe Island, and was informed that I should have to wait for six weeks or two months, because all berths had been booked. I believe that the tenders have expired, and that the Government is inviting fresh tenders. My complaint is that the whole of the shipping in Australian waters is controlled by the Inchcape Combine I have not been able to obtain any information from the department as to what action is intended regarding the new tenders. When they were called on a former occasion I directed attention to the unsatisfactory nature of the service, and made efforts to induce the Government to insist on the provision of vessels fit for the accommodation of civilized persons. The company now conducting the service has a monopoly of the shipping and a monopoly of the business on the islands. The vessel nrovided travels at the wretched speed of 6 knots ah hour, and if there happens to be a head wind blowing it moves backwards instead of forwards. For a journey lasting two days and a night a fare of £4 10s. is charged.
– That is probably because the ship, as the honorable member says, goes backwards and forwards, and therefore does a double journey!
– No; the extra distance travelled on that account is given in.
There are a few good cabins on the upper deck, but those down below I dubbed ‘the hell-hole of the Pacific.” I could not comfortably enter them. I had to take ray coat off, and go . in sideways. Into cabins intended for four passengers six have been squeezed. Residents of both Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island have drawn up petitions asking for a better service, and these I have presented to the department. When the steamer travels direct from Sydney to Norfolk Island, the residents of Lord Howe Island are deprived of all means of communication with the outside world for over five weeks. I made this trip on one occasion and was stranded on the island for that period. I should have felt like Robinson Crusoe if the inhabitants had not treated me hospitably. This is the last opportunity I shall have for some time to make a plea on behalf of the residents of the island, because when the Parliament goes into recess for eight or nine months, I propose to take a trip to Great Britain and America. I trust that in the meantime the department will not be unduly influenced by the shipping company concerned. I believe that it is doing well out of the present subsidy. Only one steamer is used, and it nearly always carries a full complement of passengers. At certain periods in the year there is no possibility of obtaining a passage. 1 visited Lord Howe Island about the beginning of March, and I was told that on the following voyage there were fifteen passengers occupying “ shake-downs” on the floors of the- cabins. I am afraid that the ^resent contract will be renewed. Yesterday I was informed in reply to a question that only one tender had been received. I should not have thought that any shipping company in Australia would be so lacking in business enterprise as to neglect the opportunity of developing a large passenger traffic with this island, which is the gem of the Pacific. The climate is most invigorating, and if a proper service were nrnvided tourists would be attracted in large numbers. I have done a good deal of sea travelling. In my young days I had a cruise in the Mediteranean with my father, but a trip to Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the summer is one of the most enjoyable that a tourist can take. Some time ago I received a stronglyworded protest from two residents of Melbourne concerning the service provided, and I forwarded it to the department; but evidently it is impossible to make any impression upon it.
The Naval Department and the Weather Bureau admit that they cannot understand why Lord Howe Island has not been provided with wireless communication. It is 450 miles from Sydney, 390 miles from Port Macquarie, and- 450 miles from Norfolk Island. Several shipwrecks have occurred in that vicinity. It is situated between Willis Island and Samarai on the route of shipping to New Zealand, the Panama, and Canada, and I am informed that a wireless station there would be of the utmost value to the mercantile marine. I ask the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) why the residents should not have the benefit of wireless communication? I understand that the cost of erecting weather stations is borne by the Government. The islanders, who number several hundred, are as much Australians as those born on the mainland. Many of them are from Melbourne and Sydney, and there are several Tasmanians among them. They have sent thousands of pounds worth of palm seed to Australia, and a considerable portion of their income is derived from that source. The seed is sold to nurserymen who use it in raising the palms’ supplied for decorative purposes. I understand that only seed obtained from the island will germinate. The money that the islanders obtain in this way, and from the growing of fruit, is spent in Australia. Although they are mv constituents, I arn not bringing their grievances under notice in order to secure their votes. .My majority in East Sydney is so large that I have no need to worry about the votes of the people of Lord Howe Island.
– How many of them are there?
– About 200 adults. The island used to be used as a whaling station, and the original families mostly came from Tasmania. The Government should pay for the shipping service to these islands. Means of communication are provided for the inhabitants of other parts of the Commonwealth, and there is no legitimate reason why the people of these islands should be penalized. The fact that so few votes are involved, and that the islands are connected with New South Wales, may account for it. The present Ministry is almost a Victorian Ministry - five of its members belong to the State of Victoria - but I do not know why they should wish to punish people who belong to the State of New South Wales. There is something strange about the shipping contract, and also about the failure to provide wireless communication. If the Labour party had been in office, a ship, and probably two, would be running under the control of the Government. Many of the disabilities under which Tasmania suffers would have been removed if the Government had taken the advice of the Labour party and made a proper shipping connexion between the mainland, Tasmania, and the Pacific Islands. The island trade is worth fostering. The inhabitants are primary producers, but they purchase all their requirements of manufactured goods from Sydney or Melbourne. I doubt whether honorable members realize thp disabilities under which they labour. I should like to compel the Prime Minister and his wife to take a trip in a Tower cabin to Lord Howe Island. They would not want to repeat the experiment. A Queensland senator has been placed in charge of the Home and Territories Department, and he may have a liking for the Burns, Philp Line. I shall visit the Minister’s office tomorrow, and see if I can elicit any sympathy from those in charge there, but I do not expect much. The position is intolerable. Influences are at work that do not appear on the surface. The day is not far distant when something will have to be done to end the shipping monopoly on the coast of Australia. The Shipping Combine is fleecing the people. It would not be so bad if they met the needs of the people, but they do not do that. Every male inhabitant of Lord Howe Island has to give one day a week to catching rats, which, in the first instance came from a ship that was wrecked there. Rats are in the hollow trees, and they behave like opossums. They run up the trees and jump from branch to branch. The people are law-abiding, and do not need even a policeman. A jail was sent there from Sydney, but the inhabitants would not take it off the ship. It was taken back, but on the next trip six wharf labourers landed it. It was placed on the cricketground, and the last time I was there it was in use for storing cricket materials. The mail service is the joke of the Pacific.
– I have heard the company called “the pirates of the Pacific.”
– They are worse than pirates, for pirates only steal, while they take £20,000 or £30,000 a year from the Government without fulfilling their part of the contract. They place four or five passengers in a space intended for two, and eight where there ought to be six. The ship was originally a cargo vessel, but it has been converted for the carrying of passengers, and no proper ventilation is provided. The residents deserve the sympathy of every honorable member. They have not a very great income. They produce palm seeds and fruit, including bananas and oranges, and they are now trying to. attract tourists as another source of revenue. Lord Howe Island is a beautiful holiday and health resort. There are no (newspapers, no worrying telegrams, and no one who wants to borrow a half-crown or solicit a job. Bathing ispermitted at all hours, and there is plenty of fishing.
– I support the vigorous protest of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) regarding the real or apparent breach of faith by the Tariff Board. A deliberate promise was made that the board would visit Tasmania to inquire into certain industries there, including potato-growing and saw-milling. After all the arrangements had been made for bhe reception of the members of the board and the presentation of the facts to them, they calmly said, without giving any reasons, that they had decided not to go. What position does that place the Minister in ? The Tasmanian members have told their constituents that the board would visit the island, and I went so far as to make a promise that they would call on a certain man who owns a small factory, and look into his grievances. Can the board, after the Minister has made the promise, calmly say, without giving any justifiable reasons, “ We are not going to Tasmania “? If they do not think that it is the right season of the year, they should say so. If they had gone last month they would have experienced beautiful weather, and probably at any time of the year Tasmania has as good weather as Melbourne. The action of the board has placed Tas.manian members in a very awkward position. It is a question whether we receive the treatment we should from boards appointed by the Government. I hope that pressure will be brought to bear on the board to induce it to visit Tasmania in fulfilment of its promise. Unless it does so it will be in an absolutely absurd position in dealing with the timber industry. Any one who has visited Tasmania or who has read the reports of Mr. Lane-Poole and other experts, must know that there is a quantity of excellent timber in that State.. The industry is, however, languishing at the present time, and almost every sawmill in the island is closed down. The board has presented a report which is of little use to the timber industry. It has been guilty of an absurdity in saying that Australian timber is so valuable that it ought to be reserved. As a matter of fact, there is a great deal of timber which, if not cut now when it is properly matured, will have greatly deteriorated a few years hence. It is, in my judgment, necessary that the Tariff Board should visit the timber districts in Tasmania and the other States and obtain some personal knowledge of their atmosphere. It cannot properly understand the timber industry by merely listening to evidence given in Melbourne, though it may be given by those well versed in the conditions of the industry. The Tariff Board should go into the bush aud meet the men who are actually responsible for carrying on the industry. It should meet the owners of sawmills, who find the money to employ labour in the industry.
I shall take but a minute more to address a, few words to the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) upon a matter of which he knows the details. I refer to the sad condition of the apple industry at the present time.T. want the honorable gentleman to realize that what is proposed is not that those engaged .in the apple industry shall be subsidized for all time, but that they shall be given some assistance to tide them over , the difficulties at present confronting them. When .everything was looking bright and prosperous .for them the worst disaster of all has befallen them, and they are in need of assistance to enable them to carry on their operations for another season. Owing to the war and its aftermath,- the apple industry has had a very bad time in the last ten years. First of all, those engaged in the industry could not get their fruit to market, and when they could do so freights went up from 2s. 6d. and 3s. to 8s. per case. Then, owing to regulations in force in England, their apples could not be sold for more than £1 per case. There has been a good crop of apples in Tasmania, but owing to the strike in England the fruit remained so long on the wharfs as to become practically unsaleable, and it brought prices which did not cover the cost of production. I ask the Government in this matter to rise to the occasion and view the industry, as a whole. It is worth a good deal of money to Australia, and is worth preserving. It is not the fault of the apple growers that they are in the unfortunate position in which they find themselves to-day. There is no reason why the Government should not do for the apple industry what itdid for the meat industry in Queensland a few. years ago. It agreed to the payment of a small bounty on the export of meat in order that the meat works might be kept going and the industry preserved. I strongly supported that proposal, and said that if an industry were worth millions of pounds to the Commonwealth it was worth the while of the Commonwealth to make some sacrifice to tide it over a difficult time. The apple industry has been established for 40 years, and is one which can be properly conducted in Australia. If the apple growers are given assistance even for one year, so that they may be able to carry on the industry next season, much will be done to preserve it. I know of a- man who took up orchards that were fast going back to the bush. He spent a great deal of work and money upon them, and obtained an excellent crop; but now finds himself practically ruined. All. his working capital is involved. Surely he is entitled to a Little assistance to enable him to get on his feet after next season. If the Minister for Markets and Migration will take a broad view of the matter, and will ask himself whether the apple industry is not worth preserving, I am satisfied that he and the Government will have the courage to do the right thing by it.
– I had not an opportunity of hearing the preliminary remarks of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell), but I heard most of what he had to say, and also the remarks of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) in connexion with the timber industry and the Tariff Board. The honorable member for Darwin read the correspondence aright. At the time the letter he quoted was sent to him by me, and also at the time he received a distinct promise from the chairman of the Tariff Board that the board would visit Tasmania, there were four matters under consideration that particularly concerned that State. Since then, the questions of carbide and shale oil have been reported upon by the Tariff Board, without the necessity for visiting Tasmania. I believe that, in dealing with carbide, the board was able to examine, on the mainland, the principal witness whom it expected toexamine at Hobart. In dealing with potatoes, it has been decided by the Tariff Board to hold its inquiry in Melbourne, as being the most central and convenient place for the potato-growers, not only of Tasmania, but of South Australia and Victoria as well. Three out of four of the matters which it was intended by the Tariff Board to deal with in Tasmania have been dealt with in Melbourne quite as well as they could have been dealt with in Tasmania. I regret that, in its previous investigation into the timber industry, the Tariff Board did not visit Tasmania, but, in fairness to the board, it should be stated that at least one, if not more of the witnesses examined was presumed to represent Tasmania, and gave evidence in Melbourne. As the honorable member for Darwin has rightly said, I have always taken up the attitude that further investigation can only be made if additional new evidence is tendered. During thelast six months, the Tariff Board has been interviewed by several representatives of the timber industry regarding what purported to be new evidence, but, in the opinion of the board, it was not. Only to-day I was interviewed by representatives of the Tasmanian and Victorian timber industry, and I asked them to furnish me with what they considered would be new evidence with a view of submitting it to the Tariff Board once more, if it was not merely a repetition of evidence already given. As the responsible Minister, I direct what inquiries the Tariff Board shall make, and from time to time I refer various applications to it, but I do not direct how it shall make its inquiries, what witnesses it shall examine, or how it shall carry on its work. It is a statutory body, and I think it will be generally accepted that sometimes, in a continental inquiry, it is more convenient for the witnesses to come to the Tariff Board than for the Board to go to the various States.
– The board goes to other States, and, in fairness to Tasmania, it should have gone to that State.
– I have already said that it is regrettable that the Tariff Board did not visit Tasmania last year, but evidence was taken in Melbourne from persons who purported to be representative of the Tasmanian industry. As responsible Minister, I am prepared to direct the Tariff Board to inquire into any new evidence, and the board is also prepared to inquire into it, but the responsibility for getting that new evidence is on the industry, and not on the board. It is not my desire to direct the Tariff Board to hear all over again evidence that has already been given.
-Yes; but the board ought to visit Tasmania, and see the industry there for itself, so that it may get the right atmosphere.
– Will the Minister say that the Tariff Board will visit Tasmania if if re-opens the case ?
– It depends on the nature of the alleged new evidence. Today, I told a representative of the Tasmanian timber industry that he would submit new evidence, I should refer it to the Tariff Board at an early date.
– The Minister is aware that freights have gone up again ?
– Yes; and there are statistics which, if brought up to date, might somewhat change the whole aspect of the position. As honorable members are aware, all connected with the Trade and Customs Department have been working lately at very heavy pressure, and there has been no time to spare to go over evidence already. given. “When the Hansard reports of the speeches of the honorable members for Darwin and Wilmot are available, I shall forward them to the Chairman of the Tariff Board for his comments, and if I am justified by the circumstances, I shall try to meet the wishes expressed by those two honorable members.
– I wish to address a few remarks to the Minister for Markets and Migration in reference to a request made to him by the pearlers of Broome and Thursday Island to assist in the marketing of their pearl shell. Although the pearl shell industry is confined to the sparsely settled tropical coastline of Australia from Cape York to Shark’s Bay, a distance of over 2,000 miles, and therefore may not appear to be of importance from a national point of view, it is nevertheless a highly important industry to Australia. In Thursday Island, it is, I regret to say, almost entirely in the hands of Japanese, and it is remarkable that, although the experience in Western Australia is that pearls themselves form one-fifth of the total value of pearls and pearl shell obtained, the returns from Thursday Island are exclusively, pearl shell. The inference, of course, is that the Japanese, in order to escape taxation, furnish no return of the actual pearls secured. The pearlers of Australia have been in a pretty bad position since the war. Prior to the war, London was the great distributing centre, and Central Europe the great market for Australian pearls and pearl shell. Vienna, Berlin, and Paris were wealthy capitals, whose people indulged in an ostentatious display of jewellery in which pearls were a prominent feature. After the termination of hostilities, London was no longer the market for pearls or pearl-shell, and the master pearlers had to look elsewhere for a suitable market. Some time ago arrangements were made with a firm in the United States of America for the purchase of pearls and pearl-shell, but the prices they received from these distributors were very much below those which they had previously obtained. They have, therefore, gone on, season after season, carrying thousands of pounds’ worth of pearl-shell on their hands, which has involved them in very heavy losses. In order to show how the operations of the industry have decreased I may mention that in 1920 the number of pearl luggers engaged in pearl fishing in Australia was 515, but in 1921 it had fallen to 334. In 1920 the number of - men engaged in the industry was 3,738, but in 1921 it was only 2,403. In 1920 the value of the product was £400,000, and in 1921 it was only £250,000. Owing to the unsatisfactory prices obtained, the number of men engaged in the industry, as well as the number of luggers, decreased to a remarkable extent. The wheat, wool, and dairying industries have received assistance in different forms, but the pearl-shell industry is so far removed from the centre of governmental activities and so little understood that it escapes the attention of the authorities. The position became so unsatisfactory that the pearlshellers engaged in Torres Strait and the vicinity of Broome decided to pool and market their product as has been clone with other products. With the assistance of a Perth solicitor, a bill was prepared and presented to the Minister’s predecessor, but, owing to insufficient time and the number of other requests of a similar nature which had to be considered, it has not received attention. As the session will terminate within a few weeks, I have taken this opportunity of pleading for those who are so removed from civilization, and who are being robbed by the middlemen in the United States of America who are handling their product. As these hard-working men at Broome and Thursday Island, which are probably 1,500 miles apart, have been able to agree upon some scheme to stabilize the industry, the Government should give them assistance. Fully twothirds of the boats engaged are on, and two-thirds of the product of the industry are obtained off the Western Australian coast. It is true that a certain amount of dummying has been carried on, and that some of the boats are in the hands of Japanese ; but many patriotic Australians are also to be found amongst the pearlshellers of Broome who are determined to control their boats, although they are manned by Japanese. It is hoped that eventually the Queensland Government will consider the question of controlling the industry at Thursday Island in such a way that it will be in the hands of white nien rather than Japanese, as it is at present. If this question is given early attention those engaged in the industry may, at least, be able to obtain a fair return. I appeal to the Government to treat the matter as urgent..
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) the “treatment meted out to certain casual returned soldier employees in his department, many of whom have been notified that their services will not be required after a certain date. For the information of honorable members I quote the following letter I have received from the Post- . master-General (Mr. Gibson): -
With reference to the letter recently presented by you from the Reverend Samuel R. Blair, The Manse, Chiltern, relative to the desire that Mr. W. Collier, who is acting in the capacity of postman at Rutherglen, be retained in the Department’s employ, I may say that appointments to the Commonwealth Public Service are within the province of the Public Service Board. In view of the fact that Mr. Collier has been continuously employed for so long a period and has given satisfactory service, .and of the expressions of appreciation by residents of Rutherglen, representations in the matter were made to the Board, but, owing to his age and the definite provisions of section 40 of the Public Service Act, the Board regrets that it is impracticable to proceed with action for the appointment of Mr. Collier.
Mr. Collier, who is a comparatively young man, is one of many whose services are to be dispensed with. The request which I submitted has been supported by all the influential men of Rutherglen, and a lengthy petition asking that his services should be retained was submitted to the- Minister. We must remember what these men did for their country in its hour of need. Many of them, like Mr. Collier, are in good health, and have many years of service before them. It is not right to treat them in this way. If necessary, section 40 of the act should be repealed. I stand always foi- preference to returned soldiers, other things being equal. That is my reason for bringing this case forward.
.– -I wish to draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the mail arrangements in many of the hill towns in my electorate. The town of Harrowgate is situated about 30 miles from Adelaide. A letter posted in Adelaide for Harrowgate on Monday night reaches Woodside on Tuesday night where it remains until the next morning, reaching Harrowgate on Wednesday. A letter posted in Harrowgate on Wednesday leaves Woodside on Thursday night, and is not delivered iu Adelaide until Friday morning. That is typical of many other towns in the district. Woodside, although only 4 miles from the main Adelaide to Melbourne railway, has a very unsatisfactory postal service. The people in these towns are worse off than they were many years ago, so far as postal facilities are concerned. I received to-day a petition from the residents of Harrowgate praying for better postal facilities. Their case is not an isolated one, as all the towns in the hills district to which I have referred, with the exception of a few which have direct motor communication with Adelaide, are in a similar position. It has been stated that a better service cannot be provided because of the small’ revenue derived from the post offices in these towns. I point out that the inadequate service is largely the cause of the small revenue, because, rather than post letters which take so long to be delivered, the residents forward them by friends travelling to the city.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) referred to the fact that returned soldiers were being dispensed with by the Postal Department. There are about 4,500 of these men at present employed. The .individual case to which he has referred is dealt with by section 40 of the Public Service Act which prevents the person referred to from receiving a permanent appointment. The Government has treated these returned soldiers most sympathetically and where dismissals must be made men who are not returned soldiers are put off. The reason for the dismissals is that the work for which the men were appointed has been completed and that no other work is available in the locality. The honorable member suggested that there were many cases similar to that of Mr. Collier, but that is not so. As many as possible of these returned soldiers are being appointed permanently. Section S6 of the act, which sets out the preference which shall be. given to returned soldiers, is being carried out in its entirety.
– Is it a fact that men who have been in the service for years are being dismissed to make room for soldiers ?
– We are dispensing with the services of men in districts where the work for which they were appointed has been completed. Practically, the only method of entering the postal service is to to do so as telegraph messengers. That avenue is now partially closed, because for every boy appointed permanently a returned soldier is also appointed. The returned soldiers who have been employed in the department for some time are given every chance to obtain permanent appointments. Examinations are held from time to time, which, for the most part, are open to returned soldiers only. Permanent appointments are made from the successful applicants at those examinations.
– Will the Minister make personal inquiry into the case I mentioned ?
– Yes. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) will realize that there are details in connexion with the working of the department with which I cannot be familiar. If hewill bring the case to which he has referred before me, I shall have inquiries made. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) referred to the need for wireless communication with Lord Howe Island. I do not know whether, as mentioned by him, great difficulty is experienced by the residents of that island in receiving messages broadcast from Sydney. The honorable member said also that the establishment of a wireless station at Lord Howe Island would assist shipping. I point out that all boats over a certain tonnage carry wireless installations, and that, while boats thus equipped are at Lord Howe Island, they are in direct communication with Sydney. Nineteen Australian coastal stations are equipped with wireless installations. That number should be sufficient for the requirements of shipping. The people at Lord Howe Island are not worse off than are many people in the interior of the mainland whose services are not as regular. The honorable member stated also that Victorian Ministers were giving greater consideration to Vic toria than to the other States. To that I reply that the whole of the wireless communication services initiated have been in other States than Victoria. No concessions have been given to Victoria that are not given to the other States of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the negative.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to inform honorable members that to-day I receiveda cablegram from the Prime Minister of Great Britain advising me that a request had been received from the Canadian Government for a short postponement of the opening date of the Imperial Conference, in consequence of the impending general election in Canada, and stating further, that all the Governments of the Dominions and the Government of India had been communicated with, and had agreed to the request. The opening date of the conference will now be the 19th October instead of the 5th October as previously arranged.
Question resolved in the affrmative.
House adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 July 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260729_reps_10_114/>.