10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In reply to a question I asked last week, the Postmaster-General said that, to the best of his knowledge, the increases granted last year had been paid to allowance postmasters in South Australia. I have been advised to the contrary, and I ask the PostmasterGeneral to have prepared for me a list of the officers who received the increase.
– I ask the honorable member to place his question on the notice paper. The compilation of a long list of officers who have received the increase will occupy some time.
– Having regard to the difficulty always experienced in withdrawing a bounty, and the particular difficulty that is certain to arise in withdrawing a bounty on coal, because of the many manufacturing industries which will have taken it into account in their costs of production, will the Prime Minister consider the substitution of a straight-out grant of £200,000 a year, subject to conditions to be agreed upon, to assist the export of coal, instead of the proposed bounty of ls. a ton ?
– Negotiations are still proceeding, and no definite decision regarding the Commonwealth’s policy can be announced yet, owing to the fact that any action by the Commonwealth is dependent upon a reduction of 4s. in the price of coal for local consumption, but the suggestion of the honorable member will receive consideration.
– Has the Prime Minister received a communication from the Victorian Government in regard to the proposed coal bounty ? According to the Age of the 18th September, the possible effect of the bounty upon Victorian industries is causing considerable perturbation, and its constitutionality is questioned. I understand that the Minister for Railways (Mr. Tunnecliffe), Sir John Monash, chairman of the Electricity Commission, and the manager of the State coal mine at Wonthaggi, have conferred, and view with alarm the proposal of the Commonwealth Government. I ask the Prime Minister whether, in the event of a bounty being granted to the coal-mining industry of Now South “Wales, the Commonwealth . will consider the conditions of similar industries in other States, and extend the bounty to them if they need such assistance?
– I have not yet received from the Victorian Government any communication of- the nature indicated by the honorable member. In regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I remind him that the Commonwealth action is conditional upon action being taken by the coal-mining companies and the miners to reduce the price of coal to the consumer by 4s. a ton. If equivalent action were taken by those engaged in any other substantial industry, the Government would be prepared to consider the advisability of paying a bounty on production sent overseas or interstate.
Statement by Me. G. A. Julius.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the following statement, damaging to Australian industries, which appeared in the Times Trade and Engineering ‘Supplement of the 23rd June last: -
Mr. G. A. Julius, chairman ot the Commonwealth Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, who had recently returned from a trip abroad, said, in the course of an interview with a trade journal that in Mb opinion many Australian manufacturing industries were not of sufficient importance to warrant the great measure of assistance afforded them. The Tariff Board had not investigated very thoroughly the applications by the small and immature industries for protection against oversea competition.
In view of the fact that Mr. Julius is an official employed by the Commonwealth Government, and that he was in Australia when evidence was taken publicly on oath, commencing in Melbourne on the 3rd April, 1928, and continuing in Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales until the 21st May, and that he did not attend to be examined on oath regarding the damaging statement he had caused to be circulated, which statement has been refuted on oath by reputable citizens who did attend the inquiry, will the Prime Minister issue an order that no one holding an official position under the Commonwealth Government shall be allowed to associate with that position any statement likely to damage our industries, or to attack another government body, unless authorized by the Government to do so?
– The statement to which the honorable member has referred was a personal expression of opinion by Mr. Julius upon a matter of public interest. The Government certainly will not take action to restrain individual citizens from . expressing their own opinions. The fact that Mr. Julius is chairman of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research does not preclude him as a private citizen from stating his views on public matters. .
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories obtain from the
Federal Capital Commission, and make available to the House before it adjourns this week, a report regarding the recent appointment to the position of cadet superintendent of parks and gardens?
– I will obtain the information for the honorable member as early as possible.
Proposed TRANSFER to Commonwealth.
– Has the Prime Minister received a reply to the letter sent by the Commonwealth Government to the Western Australian Government in regard to the transfer to the Commonwealth of North-western Australia above the twentieth degree of latitude?
– The original proposal was that the Commonwealth should take over from Western Australia the country north of the 26th parallel. When I was in Perth recently, I discussed with the Premier (Mr. Collier), a revised proposal that the Commonwealth should take over the territory north of the twentieth parallel of latitude. The matter was to be considered by the State Cabinet, but so far I have received no communication regarding its attitude.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if duties are imposed upon agricultural machinery to enable Australian manufacturers to compete against similar machinery manufactured overseas?
– Duties are imposed upon agricultural machinery in pursuance of the accepted policy of Australia of protecting local industries.
– Is the object of the protective policy of Australia to enable manufacturers here to compete with overseas manufacturers?
– In answering the honorable member’s question I can express only an opinion. The object of a protective tariff, in my view, is to assist local manufacturers to compete with overseas manufacturers who may be operating under conditions - such as the employment of colored labour - which enable them to compete unfairly against local production.
– In view of the fact that the protection of agricultural machinery is to enable the manufacture of such machinery in Australia, thereby providing employment principally in the large cities and conferring benefits almost solely upon those centres; and whereas the burden of such protection, of necessity, falls upon only one section in the community, namely, the farmers-
– Order ! The honorable member must not argue the matter. What is the question he desires to ask?
– Will the Government consider the advisability of removing the protective duties to which I have referred, with a view to the substitution of an equivalent bounty, so that the added cost will be borne by the community as a whole instead of solely by the farmers?
– The first portion of the honorable member’s question is of a controversial and argumentative character, and I cannot follow him into the realms of debate that it opens up; my reply to the second portion of it is that the established policy of Australia is to protect Australian industries by way of either a customs tariff or a bounty. There are examples of both forms of assistance upon our statute-book. It is for this Parliament to decide which method shall be adopted in any particular- case.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether he has given further consideration to the request I respectfully addressed to him a few days ago in relation to the production of papers, including specifications and quantities, in connexion with the foundations of certain public buildings at Canberra? By way of explaining the urgency of this matter I remind the Prime Minister that as Parliament is shortly to be dissolved - the Prime. Minister gave notice of a new electioneering measure only this morning - we should have the papers available to us before Parliament is prorogued.
– I assure the honorable member for Batman that
I have given very careful consideration to his request. The matter is still sub judice, as it is being inquired into by a very competent board. I hope, however, to be able to make an interim report to the House before it rises; but I regret that I cannot see my way clear to table the papers, as he requests.
– As I understand that the quantity of radium required by the Federal Government is now in full use in hospitals and public institutions, I ask the Minister for Health if he will consider the placing of an order for at least two grammes with the Australian Radium Company, which is in a position to supply that quantity?
– The distribution of radium is now under consideration, and the arrangements should be completed at an early date. If a supply additional to the 10 grammes we at present possess is required, I can assure the honorable member that the obtaining of supplies from an Australian firm will be considered.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if his attention has been directed to the strongly-worded protest contained in the Australasian Manufacturer of the 25th August last,, which reads -
The Australian Manufacturer has published many exposures of trade intrigue, but the amazing story of the Postmaster-General’s boycott of Australian-made telephone parts is quite unique. The worst freetrade member of a rabid freetrade government never did anything more audacious.
The article goes on to say that when a local industry offered to manufacture certain ringing and listening keys -
– Order !
– I ask if it is a fact that when an Australian industry offered to make a ringing and listening key for 3s. lOd. - the material and labour of which alone would cost 3s. - because the importers sold it at that price, the department informed the manufacturers that it had another offer at 2s. 9d. Is it a fact that, when a strong protest was made on this matter, the Postmaster-General -informed the protesting parties that the dumping provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act do not apply to departmental importations.
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question. I may say, however, that the present Government has purchased £1,000,000 worth of Australian material. That has not been done by any previous Government.
– I have received a communication from the citizens of Cooktown, to the effect that owing to their isolation, due to the industrial trouble on the waterfront, there is an absolute scarcity of foodstuffs and other necessaries of life there. That being so, I ask the Prime Minister to make urgent representation to the Queensland Government to meet this emergency. Failing that, will the right honorable gentleman take the necessary action to relieve the situation at Cooktown?
– I received a telegram yesterday- -I think through the honorable member - from the citizens of Cooktown, directing attention to their isolation, and stating that necessary foodstuffs were not available to them. They mentioned two ships which were available, and which should be going up the coast to Cooktown, carrying necessary supplies, and asked me whether I could take some action in the matter. I thereupon telegraphed to the Premier of Queensland, stating the circumstances as they had been reported to me. It would be extremely difficult for the Commonwealth Government to move in the direction suggested, as a question of intra-state trade is involved, and the matter is, of course, under the control of the Queensland Government.
– Is the central administration of the Electoral Department in Canberra, or in one of the State capitals ?
– I shall have the necessary inquiries made.
– Some time ago the Prime Minister referred to the possibility of automatic telephone exchanges being installed in country centres in the near future. Has he any later information to furnish to the House ?
– Two of the new automatic equipments have arrived in Australia. One is being installed near Ballarat, but it has not yet been decided where the other shall be located. I feel sure that they will operate successfully, and so soon as they have been thoroughly tested and proved, an additional 100 will be purchased and installed in country centres, in order to give a continuous telephone service in places where it is not now being provided.
– When rural automatic telephone exchanges are installed in those country districts where the service now ceases at 6 o’clock in the evening, will a continuous service be provided ?
– That is the intention.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether consideration has been given to the constitutional aspect of thp conditional proposal to pay a bounty upon the export of coal from New South Wales to other coal-producing States - for example, Tasmania - and to the possibility of prejudicing the interests of the colliery proprietors and employees in those States?
– The legal aspect of the question has received the fullest consideration. The opinion of the Crown law officers is that there is no doubt about the constitutionality of the action proposed.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he state - (a)the names of the Governor and the seven other Directors nf the Commonwealth Bank since 1st July, 1027, to date?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Sir Robert Gibson, K.B.E., Chairman.
Sir Samuel Hordern, Kt.
C. Riddle, Esq., Governor.
Allowance to Colonel Thomas
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– I regret that I am not yet in a position to furnish a complete answer to the honorable member’s questions, but hope to do so at an early date.
Housing - Mason’s Contract
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Will the Minister have a return prepared showing the rentals charged for residences in the Federal Capital Territory from the lowest to the highest rates, the valuations upon which such rentals are based, and the number of houses at each rental rate?
– I regret that the information desired by the honorable member is not yet available, but I am taking steps to obtain it.
– On the 14th September, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) asked me the following questions: - .
I am now in a position to advise him us follows : -
Value of Importations
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the total value of all orders placed overseas for materials, equipment, machinery, armaments, &c, for the various Commonwealth Departments for the years 1926, 1927, and 1928?
– The matter will be looked into with a view to ascertaining if this information can be obtained at a reasonable cost.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 14th September, the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-21, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations, namely, the establishment of an automatic telephone exchange at Cairns, Queensland.
The proposal is to erect a building on a site which is Commonwealth property, at the corner of Spence and Abbott streets, Cairns, and install therein an automatic telephone switching system having an initial equipment for 1,000 subscribers’ lines and an ultimate capacity of approximately 3,100 subscribers’ lines. It is proposed that the initial equipment shall be capable of extension to the’ ultimate capacity named, and thus enable requirements iu the proposed automatic exchange area to be met for twenty years after the proposed date of opening. The type of equipment in the existing manual magneto nonmultiple telephone exchange is suitable only for exchanges of a capacity of 500 or 600 lines, which number has already been exceeded at Cairns. To extend an exchange of this kind is uneconomical. In the case of the Cairns telephone exchange, however, the equipment fully occupies the space available in an unsuitable old wooden building, and is in an unsatisfactory condition electrically. It is proposed, therefore, to install modern plant in a new building on portion of the existing site, in order to give efficient service to the existing and prospective subscribers in the area. The estimated immediate cost of the work is: -
It is proposed that the building, which will consist of two floors, shall be of simple design, and built on the latest fireresisting principles. The actual revenue for the year ended the 30th June, 1926, from an average number of 657 subscribers, was £11,230. It is anticipated that at the date of the opening of the new exchange, the 31st December, 1929, there will be 875 subscribers, with an estimated revenue of £.15,457, and that at the end of a further five years - by the 31st December, 1934 - the subscribers will have increased to 1,300, with an estimated revenue of £23,587.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move - “ That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1013-1021, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations : -
Establishment of an automatic telephone exchange at City West, Melbourne, and the conversion of the South Melbourne automatic exchange to six-figure working.’ “
As explained to the House when moving the reference to the committee on the 28th March, 1928 - vide Hansard No. 30, page 4290 - the proposal in regard to the City West Exchange is to erect a building on a site which is Commonwealth property at the rear of the existing central manual telephone exchange, Lonsdale-street, Melbourne, and install therein an automatic telephone switching system having an initial equipment for 10,000 subscribers’ lines and capable of extension in the proposed building to 18,000 lines, thus enabling requirements in the proposed automatic exchange area to be met for approximately twelve years after the proposed date of opening. It is proposed to add an additional story to the existing automatic telephone exchange building in Bank-street, South Melbourne, and to replace a portion of the existing five-figure temporary main exchange apparatus by equipment necessary to convert the exchange to a six-figure branch exchange at City West. The two proposals are estimated to cost £619,783.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 13th September (vide page 6696), on motion by Sir Neville Howse -
That the hill be now read a second time.
.- The alleged object of the bill is to give to the citizens of Canberra representation on the Federal Capital Commission. I say this because the measure does not redeem the promise made by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce a few months ago. When the original act was under discussion, in 1924, the then Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and many other honorable members on this side of the House, strenuously opposed the proposal to appoint a commission to be charged with the responsibility of developing the capital city area. One of our principal reasons for this objection was that the appointment of the commission would limit the authority of Parliament. Nominally, of course, the Federal Capital Commission, and the whole of its operations, are under parliamentary control, but actually the position is otherwise. When I was debating the original bill I emphasized that I did not wish to see a repetition of our experience with regard to previous commissions. Consequently, I strongly urged that Parliament should keep full control over the development of the Federal Capital Territory. I also warned the House that if the Federal Capital Commission were appointed, the machinery of the Government Printing Office would be working overtime in the printing of ordinances under which . the people living in the Territory would be governed. My anxiety in that connexion has been amply justified. Numberless ordinances have been made. Under these ordinances the Commission has set up legislative machinery which should have come before this Parliament for approval; because, after all, the responsibility for the development of the capital city lies, not in the hands of the Commission, but in the hands of Parliament. Honorable members on this side of the House opposed the appointment of the Federal Capital Commission on these and other grounds. No one can claim that Parliament now has effective control over the development of this city.
In voicing my objection to the Government’s proposal at that time, I stressed the danger of vesting too much power in the Commission. While no doubt that body has carried out a number of important public works, and while its engineers and other officials may be eminently suited to their respective duties, there was no guarantee at the time of its approval that the Commission itself would be possessed of the municipal experience so necessary for the successful development of a new city. My apprehension in that regard has been more than justified by events up to the present time. Though the persons responsible for the drafting of the ordinances relating to land, rentals, appraisements and valuations, may have had a certain amount of academic knowledge of the subject, most certainly they had no practical knowledge. Consequently the system and usages adopted for the control of the Territory have not been to the advantage of the people. One of the principal factors responsible for retarding development has been this lack of practical knowledge, plus au absence of sympathy by members of the Commission itself in administering the leasehold system. I desire that Parliament should assume full responsibility over the Commission’s activities. Honorable members on this side will oppose the bill. We object to the reconstitution of the Commission. We say that this bill, which is supposed to give the citizens of Canberra representation on the Commission, is a hollow pretence.
I am not one of those persons who constantly decry the Commission. Some of its officers are capable men and have done their work well, but others are incapable, and their inexperience has been the cause of many of the mistakes and discrepancies that have from time, to time been discussed in this chamber. Grave mistakes have been made in Canberra, and at present an investigation is taking place respecting the foundations of the administrative buildings. The Minister for Home and Territories has promised, to make, if possible, an interim report to this House before it rises. 1 should be happy to receive such a report, but I do not anticipate that anything definite will be made known in respect of those foundations until after Parliament prorogues.
– Not until the inquiry is completed.
– I should say that the report will not be completed in time, and will not be submitted to honorable members during the life of this Parliament.
– It could not be.
– The Minister is to blame to some extent for the delay, because there is no justification for the hushup policy that has been adopted in this case. The Commission was well aware of the facts before the subject was ventilated’ in this chamber; it was doubtful whether the foundations of the administrative building were up to the specified standard; so there was ample time for an investigation to be made and a report submitted before the House adjourned. I give the Commission credit for discovering that there had been certain discrepancies in connexion with this building, but I submit that the fullest publicity should be given to the investigation. The facts should not be hushed up merely for the purpose of protecting some individual or individuals.
I admit that the Commission has carried out many of its works under great disabilities, but the work done at Yarralumla House is an outstanding disgrace to the Federal Capital. A huge sum of money was expended in altering and extending that building, and it would have paid the Commission to build a new Government House altogether. The costing and general supervision of that job were faulty to an extreme, and additional expense was incurred because of the GovernorGeneral of Australia making drastic alterations to the plans after the work had begun. There have been many similar mistakes in and about the Federal Territory. There was lack of supervision at the Kurrajong Hotel and in other places.
– Who gave the authority to alter Yarralumla House?
– I do not know, and for the moment I am not dealing with that aspect of the case. The Commission has done, and is doing, good work, but its lack of experience and responsibility has been responsible for many of the mistakes at Canberra. Before the Commission’s regime the Federal Capital Territory was administered by the Works and Railways Department, the Home and Territories Department and the Federal Capital Advisory Committee. Those bodies were responsible for the development of the capital to a certain stage. The Works and Railways Department is responsible for the carrying out of works costing millions of pounds. It has a trained staff consisting of men who have grown up with the department, and their work has been particularly free from constructional errors, such as have taken place in the Federal Capital Territory. Not only does the commission lack experience, but it also suffers under serious disabilities because of the policy of the Government. The public servants arrived at Canberra in waves, and the commission’s organization was not sufficiently developed to cope with them. It had no conception of the housing requirements, and to-day it has a number of houses on its hands. I believe that the Works and Railways Department, had it been given control of the Territory, would have dealt with the position much more satisfactorily than did the commission. That body suffered waves not only of public servants, but also of economy. After its organization had reached a certain stage of efficiency and numerical strength, the Government decided to institute an economy campaign. That policy was disastrous to the organization, and proved to be false economy in the end.
– The commission knew what money it had to expend, and surely it could have arranged its programme of works accordingly.
– I am not defending the commission, but I certainly give it credit for the good work that- -it has done. I am not so one-eyed as to say that nothing good can come from the commission. Work has been done at Canberra that is just as good as, if not better than, that carried out in the capital cities of the States, and, allowing for freight and natural disabilities, the cost of construction compares favorably with that ruling elsewhere. Another adverse factor has been the desire of the Government to allow contractors full play in the Territory. Because of the lack of supervision, they have had full play, and great have been their profits therefrom. Much of the work that has been done by day labour has been good, but a great portion of that carried out by contract has been far from good. No=matter what the personnel of the commission, the fact remains that a bureaucracy or an oligarchy seems inseparable from such a system. The Government first contracted itself out of certain responsibilities by appointing a commission, but it has not achieved its desire, for it cannot escape its responsibility for the development of the city. The work which should be performed by this Parliament is now being done with the printing machine by ordinances. It is time that we returned to responsible government in the development of Canberra. To-day’s Canberra Times, referring to the investigations which have been carried out by the Public Accounts Committee in connexion with Canberra housing, suggests that the report which will soon be tabled will be critical of the commission; that the committee will recommend that independent experts should be appointed to investigate building operations in Canberra. I should not be surprised if the report is indeed critical.
– Judging by the published evidence, one cannot conceive of any other kind of report.
– That is so. The Canberra Times also predicts that the committee’s report will refer to other matters of great importance to persons holding leases of land in the Territory and others who may purchase blocks at future auctions. The procedure adopted in connexion with the disposal of leases in Canberra has been for an upset price to be fixed for each block, the lease being then disposed of to the bidder who offers the highest price in excess of the upset price. It is stated that the committee’3 report will probably include a recommendation that in future any amount in excess of the upset price offered at auction shall be paid in cash. That is an admirable suggestion. Much of the dissatisfaction felt by Canberra residents is due to the commission’s inexperience in municipal matters.
– The commission has no civic knowledge.
– That is so. I shall not discuss the constitutionality or otherwise of some of the acts of the commission, except to say that the sooner Parliament is placed in control of the Territory, the better it will be for all concerned. In the development of any city the first essential is sympathy with its citizens. The rentals charged for houses in Canberra are exorbitant, although, doubtless, they are fixed on a solid financial basis.
– A boom has been created.
– The residents of Canberra should not be expected to pay interest on the whole of the cost of establishing the capital. The handicaps suffered by them are such as to justify the greatest dissatisfaction. On the 13th June last the Prime Minister, as reported in Hansard, said -
The time has come when the general population of the Territory should hare some voice in its administration, and I think that this is a convenient time for taking some steps in that direction …. in the last session of this Parliament the Government will take action to ensure to the residents representation on the hody administering the Territory by an elected representative. That is undoubtedly a right to which they are fairly and justly entitled.
The representation proposed in this measure is far from satisfactory.
– It is a sham.
– The Government proposed that about 600 people out of an adult population of 4,600 should be given alleged representation on the commission. To that the citizens of Canberra rightly have objected, with the result that the Government has already signified its intention of amending this bill to grant the franchise to every person in Canberra who pays £15 a year in rental. I am far from satisfied even with that proposal. The days of the representation of bricks and mortar on municipal and similar bodies ought to have passed long since. If there is any parliament in Australia which should give alead towards an adult franchise in municipal matters, it is the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Does the honorable member not think that the experience of the Sydney City Council suggests otherwise?
– No. The adult franchise is not responsible for anything which might have occurred in connexion with the administration of that city’s affairs. Probably the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would approve the appointment of a dictator for Sydney, in which case there would be no franchise; and if a dictatorship is good enough for Sydney, why not for the Commonwealth as a whole?
The honorable member has himself shown how ridiculous his argument is. If this city is to be democratically governed the whole of the people, irrespective of their financial or social status, should be enfranchised. The Labour party proposes to vote against the principle of commission control, but if it finds itself in a minority, it will certainly endeavour to have included in the bill the principle of adult franchise. Irrespective of whether the residents are storekeepers, retired persons, workers or leaseholders, they should be given a vote.
– Would it not be as well to defer consideration of this subject until the new Parliament is elected ?
– I believe that it would. Of the 4,600 odd people enrolled in connexion with the liquor poll which has just been held, less than 4,000 would have a vote for the election of a representative on the commission under the proposed limited franchise. The disfranchised sections of the community would include all the civil servants resident in hotels or boarding houses. These persons are, doubtless, living under these conditions for very good reasons, but they are indirectly contributing to the revenue of the commission, and should be entitled to vote. After all, the air, the footpaths, the water and sewerage provisions, the electric light and other public utilities provided in the Territory are not for the exclusive use of leaseholders and others whom it is proposed to enfranchise. “When the ordinance authorizing . the taking of the poll on the liquor issues was being framed a vote was given to every adult resident; now that the question at issue relates to municipal affairs, the Government baulks, and says “ We will stick to the pre-historic method of a restricted franchise.”
What will happen if a representative is elected under the proposed conditions? He will be entitled to draw fees for attending not more than 47 meetings of the commission per annum, provided that he receives not more than £5 5s. per sitting and not more than £250 per annum. It would appear that 47 meetings would be a sufficient number for the commission to hold during the year, but if it should be necessary to hold more, the representative of the people would be excluded from attendance, unless he did so without remuneration. If he were not in attendance the commission would function without the slightest representation of the people. It is possible, though, perhaps not probable, that that may happen if this bill is passed. In any case, under the proposed conditions, one cannot conceive of the two full-time commissioners giving anything but the most cursory consideration to the views expressed by the proposed third commissioner. The very essence of commission government is intolerance of outside interference. I submit, therefore, that, as the people’s representative will be outvoted on every question of importance, he will be absolutely valueless.
– He will be told to mind his own business.
– He will have no say whatever in the executive or administrative work of the commission. He may place his complaints before his fellowcommissioners, but surely no one believes that they will receive adequate attention.
– Is that likely to happen?
– More than likely, I should say.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the three commissioners should be elected by the residents ?
– I have made my position quite clear. I do not believe in commission government. The commission should be abolished, and the development of the capital placed in the hands of our public departments. For the purposes of debate, I am accepting the proposed commissioner at his face value, and I say that he will be quite useless to the people. He will have no power and will receive very little consideration from the other two commissioners. Commission government is either a bureaucracy or an oligarchy. That has been demonstrated in the Federal Capital Territory during the four years that the present Commission has been operating. The cost of the commission, £5,700 per annum, is altogether too high. The New South Wales Railways Commissioners only receive £6,000 per annum, and the members of the Sydney Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board draw only £2,700 per annum. Who would dare to say that the work of the Federal Capital Commission is anything like as great as the work of either of those two bodies? If the Government is determined to continue commission control in Canberra it should withdraw this measure and bring down a bill which will give the people effective representation. The present measure is absolutely worthless, and will not be of the slightest use to the people, for the proposed representative will have no power whatever.
.- Unfortunately I have not had an opportunity to make myself familiar either with the bill or the proposed amendments, and I shall content myself with a few remarks upon the broad principles expressed by the bill. It does not in any way satisfy me that the people of the Federal Capital Territory will be granted adequate representation. This was dealt with at some length by the DeputyLeader of the Opposition (Mr. Blakeley) and I find myself in perfect agreement, with the honorable member in so far as that aspect of the bill is concerned. The commissioner elected to represent the residents of the Federal Capital Territory would not be able effectively to voice the opinions of those whom he represented. He would receive a remuneration of £5 5s. for each meeting that he attended, and his annual earnings from this source must not exceed £250. That would not adequately remunerate any individual for the time and trouble necessary properly to represent the people of this Territory, and the fact that he would not be granted the necessary power to take an active part in the administration of the Territory would absolutely stultify his efforts. I hope that the Government will reconsider and withdraw the bill, so that a more acceptable measure may be introduced in the next Parliament.
A great deal of criticism has been levelled at the commission, jointly and severally. With a great portion of that criticism I am not in agreement. I realize that the Federal Capital Commission had a unique and difficult task to perform, a task with which it was saddled at a moment’s notice. When this Parliament was in Melbourne honorable members on both sides of the chamber continually importuned the Government to make arrangements for its transfer to Canberra. The decision to take that step was made precipitantly, and it threw a tremendous task on the Federal Capital Commission.
– The request for a move to Canberra did not come from all honorable members on this side.
– Honorable members on both sides continually advocated that the seat of government should be transferred to Canberra. It has been claimed that undue extravagance has taken place in moulding and developing this city. Possibly that is true, but the job was rushed, and no doubt the same people who are crying out about extravagance would have been the first to upbraid the commission had the place not been ready when the move actually took place. I am as familiar with the activities of the commission as any other honorable member and, viewing the matter broadly, I believe that a big job has been done and done well. No doubt, had the commission possessed greater experience in civic matters, a certain wastage ‘ of public money could have been avoided, and a number of undertakings temporarily postponed; but on the whole I support the action of the commission and consider that the Government would be well advised to continue the administration of this Territory under a modified form of commission control for the next few years. I believe that the time is not yet ripe for complete municipal government. I urge the Government to re-ca3t the bill and give the people better representation. The present provisions can give no satisfaction to the inhabitants of the Territory. At the same time, if the Government will guarantee that this is merely the thin edge of the wedge, and that better provisions for representation will be made in the near future, I shall be prepared to accept such an explanation.
– Does the honorable member, who lives in Canberra, claim to represent the views of the people of Canberra in regard to this bill?
– I have discussed it with all sections of ‘ the community, and the general belief, is that it provides a hopelessly inadequate form of representation. I trust that the Government will endeavour better to meet the wishes of the people in this matter.
.- I register my strong opposition to this bill, first because I am absolutely opposed to commission government, and secondly if commission control of Canberra is to continue, because I believe that the representation proposed in it is entirely inadequate. The nonfulfilment of the Prime Minister’s promise in the matter of local representation, is on all fours with the nonfulfilment of his last pre-election promises. The Government has fallen down on its job in this instance. The bill denies the franchise to citizens in the Federal Capital Territory who have a right to participate in the choice of a representative. I regard the bill as a farce and a sham. The hand of the Chief Commissioner is apparent throughout it. The powers of the citizen’s representative on the commission are to be so restricted as to prevent a proper examination by him of all expenditure ‘ and administrative affairs. It is not so many months since this Parliament was considering the British Empire Exhibition Bill,’ which proposed to place the whole of the activities of the commissioner to be appointed beyond the reach of inquiry by either the Committee of Public Works or the Public Accounts Committee. An endeavour is made in this bill to give a sort of hotch-potch representation and to clothe the third commissioner with just sufficient authority to make him appear to be decently set up. Public servants and others living within the Federal Capital Territory who are not provided for in this bill will be denied the right to have a voice in the selection of a representative, whereas persons who are not residents of the Territory, but who happen to be lessees, will be allowed to vote. I do not support the proposal that the whole of the staff of the Home and Territories Department should be disfranchised. If it is considered wise to debar any public servants from the right to vote, it should be only those who are responsible for the administration of the act, although I am not even in favour of that. The bill provides that a sum of £250 per annum shall be available for the payment of fees to the local representative. This sum, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out, provides for the attendance of the commissioner at only 47 meetings per annum, the payment being fixed at £5 5s. a sitting. If commission control is to continue, and if a fair programme of constructional work is to be carried out, the commissioners should meet at least twice a week. In the past, too much has been left to departmental heads, and to men who, in my opinion, are absolutely incapable of the work with which they have been entrusted. The local representative should have full opportunity to investigate and cheek all administrative acts and executive proceedings. Here, again, I detect the hand of the Chief Commissioner, who is not at all anxious that residents in the Territory should know what is going on. The amount set aside for the payment of fees to the local representative is altogether inadequate. It should be doubled at least, so that there would be no clanger of its being expended before the end of the year, thereby preventing the local representative from attending further meetings of the commission. To pass the measure in its’ present form would be absolutely futile. It will merely allow the local representative to attend the commission meetings, and ask one or two inquisitive questions, but if he wants any other information, he will, like ordinary residents of the Territory, have to seek it at the inquiry counter of the commission’s office. If we are to have a local representative who will be of any use, one who will help to curtail the present unnecessary expenditure in Canberra, he should have access to all papers and files, and have a status equal to that of the other commissioners, the third commissioner will be looked upon, to a large extent, as a municipal or even a parliamentary representative, and will be inundated with correspondence and complaints from all parts of the Territory. He will not merely have to attend commission meetings, but will have to devote a great deal of time to other things as well, and for that reason should receive a greater remuneration than is provided for. Although the bill proposes to allow members of the Commonwealth Public Service to be nominated and elected, it provides that, in the event of an officer of the Public Service being elected as third commissioner - . . . he shall, from time to time, be granted by his department, without diminution of salary, such leave as is necessary to enable him to carry out his duties as third commissioner.
A record shall be kept of all leave granted in pursuance of this section, and the officer may, at the discretion of the permanent head of his department, be required to make up the whole or part of the period for which he has beenso granted leave.
If the Government is earnest and sincere in this matter, if it is anxious that residents of the Federal Capital Territory shall have the best man available as their representative, whether he comes from within or without the Public Service, why place this veiled threat in the bill? Why tell the public servant, in effect, that he may, if elected, be granted certain leave to attend meetings of the commission on condition that he behaves himself, and does nothing contrary to the wishes of the powers that be, but that if he makes himself a nuisance, the permanent head of his department may insist upon his making up the time he had off? If the Government proposes to do the thing at all, why not do it properly? If the third commissioner requires one or two days a week off in order to perform his duties as a commissioner, those days should be given to him unconditionally.
I am opposed to the continuance of the present method of control, and, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, who has spent a good deal of time during the last six months in inquiring into housing and building costs generally in Canberra, I say unhesitatingly that there has Deen a great deal of extravagance in the administration of the Territory. The present system of control is far from what could be desired, and is calculated to cause much discontent. Much ill feeling has been created by the failure of the commission to answer complaints addressed to it, and residents hare been unable to obtain redress of their grievances. To my mind, Canberra has reached that stage in its development when the retention of a costly commission is no longer necessary. Most of our main buildings are completed, and it is not proposed, owing to the financial stringency, it is said, to proceed with the building of the permanent administrative block. Therefore, it is not necessary to maintain the huge constructional staff at present attached to the commission. The control of the Territory should be handed over to two Commonwealth departments : The Works and Railways Department should control building activities, and affairs connected with municipal government and land administration should be placed under the control of the Home and Territories Department. Such a change would produce a very beneficial result. I object not only to the salaries paid to the commissioners, but also to the expensive and extravagant habits that they have acquired of gathering around them enormous staffs. I am sure that there is a considerable amount of over-staffing in the commission offices. The practice has been followed of creating positions, and paying high salaries to those who occupy them. It is a mistaken and wasteful policy for the Commonwealth Parliament to appoint a Public Service hoard, which is supposed to be responsible for creating positions arid fixing salaries in the Public Service, and then to allow the Federal Capital Commission, and the Development and Migration Commission, to create any number of positions without check, and to pay what salaries they like.
By handing over the administration of the Territory to the two departments which I have mentioned, we should be able to have matters conducted with that efficiency which is associated with .the Commonwealth Public Service. While the inquiry has been in progress into conditions in Canberra, I have come into contact with a considerable number of representatives of the Commonwealth Public Service, and I have been most favorably impressed with the calibre and ability of those officers. I consider that an enormous saving would have been effected in the development of Canberra had its construction been entrusted to the Works and Railways Department. But that sensible course was abandoned and the commission appointed to the control of this particular branch of its activities a man who had spent the whole of his time in private contract work, and he surrounded himself with those with whom he had been associated in his previous sphere- of activity. The result of this policy has been a neglect to plan carefully ahead, and a consequent unnecessary expenditure of the taxpayers’ money. In the Works and Railways Department we have many practical men, who have been associated with it as permanent” officers for more than 20 years, and would have been fully qualified to carry, out all the constructional work in the Federal Capital Territory. A considerable saving “would have been effected. had the development of the Territory been entrusted to a Commonwealth department, and the duties of supervising all works been carried out by members of the Commonwealth Public Service. I, say that because I realize that there .is among the permanent officers of our service more stability than is to be found among casual employees engaged by commissions; more dependence can be placed upon them. The Federal Capital Commission ‘. has Wen. gradually diminishing its activities; it Has been taking steps to lease its workshops, and for some months past has abandoned its policy pf building “construction. With this diminution in activities, there is no longer need for the costly organization the commission ‘has created ; nor, indeed, need for the retention of the commission itself. The tendency has been to make the job appear to be a huge ohe, and to gather together as many officials as possible, apparently on the principle that large staffs of employees and huge stores full of material are a justification for the continuance of the job.
In spite of the diminution of the commission’s activities, the value of the material in its stores amounts to from £110,000 to £115,000. The bulk of the stores have remained practically untouched during the last nine or twelve months. The taxpayers’ money has been frittered away by having stores lying idle over a long period. In quite a number of instances lack of economy has been displayed. It would appear that big gogetting merchants from the city have only had to tell a pretty tale to the commission or its buying officers for the latter to agree willingly enough to buy in very substantial quantities. That is a practice that should not be tolerated at the present time. The commission’s stores are crammed almost from floor to ceiling with articles which are no longer required. At the present time there are £4,000 worth of steam radiators in stock. As a matter of fact, they have been in stock for 40 months, and over that period show a loss in interest alone of £600, apart altogether from depreciation in value due to obsolescence. That is a condition of affairs which ought not to be tolerated, but is likely to continue if the commission form of control is maintained. There is on hand at the present time in the commission’s stores, £15,000 worth of cabling. The carrying of such an enormous quantity cannot be justified. For the construction of Parliament House, 780 barrels of white cement were purchased at a cost of £2,646, and of that quantity 280 barrels were returned to the stores and have been lying idle in the stores for the last three years. The value of that cement is a few pounds under £1,000. Economy and prudence have not been exercised in estimating the requirements, and as a result an enormous quantity of unnecessary material has been purchased. It is intolerable that material should lie unused in the stores for years. We are all familiar with the enthusiastic purchase by the commission of 700 sheets of celotex sheeting to improve the acoustic properties in this chamber and in the Senate, but that purchase was effected, as if there was money to burn, before it was satisfactorily shown that the material would be required. When the task of improving the acoustic properties of the chambers came to be undertaken, it was ascertained that all that was required was the hanging of a few curtains and the provision of a few more carpets. The purchase of this celotex sheeting was quite typical of the way in which other material was bought in large quantities. This sheeting is now in the store unpacked and in the condition in which it was delivered by the agents. A quantity of conduit ordered for Parliament House and valued at £1,500 has been lying in the stores, and the commission, having the material on hand, is now utilizing it for. cottage construction, for which it is far too heavy and too expensive. The commission seeks to justify itself by not loading the extra cost of the material on the cottage. The commission is also making an attempt to get rid of the £4,000 worth of steam radiators on hand, to which I have previously referred. Quite recently Mr. Murdoch, Commonwealth DirectorGeneral of Public Works, told the Public Works Committee, which was inquiring into the proposal to build a zoological museum in Canberra, that £5,000 could be saved by not adopting the commission’s recommendation . to install a steam heating system in the museum. Apparently the idea of the commission was to get rid of a few thousand pounds worth of the radiators lying idle in its stores, irrespective of whether their use was necessary or not. I could continue on the subject of the commission’s stores, but I regard with more gravity the policy adopted by the commission of encouraging the contract as against the day labour system. A great deal has been said on many occasions in this Parliament about the costliness of day labour, but a careful examination of the various contracts entered into by the Federal Capital Commission and an investigation of the work done by contractors on behalf of the commission, have shown me that there has been a great deal more extravagance on works done by contract than there has been on works done by day labour and that in some instances thousands of pounds have been saved by having work done by the commission’s construction branch.
– Would that be in the Governor-General’s residence ?
– I am referring to the additions to the Telopea Park School and many other buildings of considerable magnitude. The cost of the alterations and additions to the Governor-General’s residence provides a conundrum not only for the members of the Public Accounts Committee, but also for this Parliament. I am satisfied that some of the labour and material supposed to have been employed on that work has not been used for that purpose. In my opinion work done on various private jobs is being charged up to public undertakings. Men allow work to be done on their own homes or on houses the cost of which has been under-estimated, and they switch the cost over to a job that can stand it.
– That is an astounding indictment.
– That is the opinion I hold after having made inquiries.
– Has the honorable member any evidence of it?
– I think that if a thorough investigation were made it would be readily agreed by any person with experience of building that the amounts set down as having been expended on certain works could not possibly have been spent on them. Much money has been lavished on the houses occupied by favoured officials of the commission, who can get whatever they want. They can obtain the best of materials and there is no restriction of expenditure in their case. Where information has been sought regarding the cost of the homes of employees of the commission, honorable members have had instances of three or four different sets of figures being supplied by the commission. How can Parliament arrive at a proper conclusion when it is supplied with conflicting evidence? The whole position is unsatisfactory, and the best course to adopt 13 to sweep away the present method of control.
Dealing with, the subject of building contracts, I am reminded that the commission let a contract to a man named
Mason for a hundred cottages. The contract price, including extras, was £133,840. The contractor left the Territory before the contract was completed, and between 35 and 40 cottages had to be finished by the commission. Although a great deal of work remained to be done by the contractor, he had received -in progress payments the sum of £129,400. For the work actually completed he was overpaid to the extent of £5,000. I have had an opportunity to examine these cottages. Many of the walls disclose the use of shocking materials, and the workman- ‘ ship is of the class usually associated with contract work.
– The supervision was at fault there.
– Yes; some of the walls are in a very bad condition, and the workmanship would not do credit to a bricklayer’s improver who had not been at the trade for three weeks. It is a shocking state of affairs, and, as the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) says, it is due to faulty supervision. Furthermore, those responsible for it have been in league with the contractors, who are operating here, not for the advancement of the Territory, but for their personal ends. Those officials have been allowed to remain in the service of the commission. It is a serious indictment of the present method of control. Instead of appointing for supervisory work men specially selected because of their experience, the commission has employed “misfits” who are lacking in experience in the building trade. In the case of Mason’s contract, in which the total over-expenditure amounted to £8,931 and the contractor received progress payments in excess of the value of the work done in connexion therewith, there should be a searching investigation.
I could cite one case after another that indicate lack of supervision and inefficient work. The paths and carways contract provides ample scope for inquiry. Public servants who have been forced to live in Canberra have been charged £25 to cover the cost of paths around their cottages. That sum is far in excess of the amount that should have been charged. The committee of which I am a member made inquiries into this matter, and, with the official files before us, we found that over 70 per cent, of the work done was of a deficient character. It was learnt that the matter had engaged the attention of the internal auditor of the commission, who reported that about 1,200 cubic yards of metal intended for this contract had not been put into the work.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 p.m. to 2.80 p.m.
– The metal used on the paths and carways was deficient to the extent of approximately 1,240 cubic yards. When this matter was brought under the notice of the Public Accounts Committee, the commission, in its usual style, assured the committee that the interests of the taxpayers were fully protected, that the discrepancies were known, and that it was the intention of the commission and the contractor that the work should be done over again. The statement that the contractor intended to carry his gear on to 100 or more blocks to add two or three extra inches of gravel, and water and re-roll the paths, will not be accepted by any reasonable or thinking person. The work was not carried out according to the specifications, yet progress payments were made by the commission. It is admitted that serious errors occurred in regard to the measurements upon which payments were made. I understand further that payments were made to the contractor for works not included in this contract. Subsequently the same contractor, who seems to have several friends in the commission’s service, was given a further contract in connexion with which no tenders were invited. He was given also a contract for certain drainage work in opposition to the recommendation of the responsible head of the construction department. These instances reveal the existence of a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. Unquestionably, the taxpayers’ money has been extravagantly expended in the city. Contractors have been able to get payment for a great deal of shoddy work. They do not want their employees to do good work; consequently public money has been squandered carelessly, and many public servants who have acquired homes, have been called upon to pay for work that was not faithfully performed. Bruce, Eden and Griffiths were overpaid on their contract to the amount of £800. It is extraordinary that public money should be paid out for work that either was not done at all, or was not done according to specification.
I do not propose to refer to the contract for the foundations for the administrative block, because I understand that it is the subject of an expert investigation. But I remind the Minister and the Government that they have a duty not only to this Parliament, but also to the taxpayers. Apparently £50,000 has already been paid to the contractors for a job which was not done according to specification. The Government is very zealous in prosecuting persons under the Crimes Act for industrial offences, and it should lose no time in prosecuting contractors who have been guilty of fraudulent practices.
I am satisfied that when honorable members seek information from the commission, the answers they receive are not frank and true ; information given on different days in regard to the same matter varies considerably. The sooner the existing incompetent controlling body is swept aside the better it will be for all concerned.
In regard to the reconstitution of the commission, the Government is not justified in the dying hours of Parliament in providing for the re-appointment of two commissioners for five years. If such appointments were made, and the next Parliament decided to alter the system of controlling the Federal Capital Territory, the appointees would be entitled to compensation. At this stage, no appointments should be made for a period exceeding twelve months, and I hope that the Government will recognize the wisdom of deferring the proposals which are submitted to Parliament. If the provisions of the bill were likely to be acceptable to the residents of the Territory, there might be some justification for thus temporarily bridging the gap between the end of this Parliament and the beginning of the next. I hope that early steps will be taken in ‘ the new Parliament to rid the Territory of its present costly incubus. I would be the last to decry the
Federal Capital, but we who are custodians of the people’s money will fail in our duty if we remain silent while the present extravagance continues.
– It is the duty of every honorable member to take a practical interest in the affairs of the National Capital, and for that reason, although I am not concerned with the purely local affairs of Canberra, I feel bound to express briefly my opinion ofthis bill. I am surprised that the Government has at this late hour in the life of the Parliament introduced a bill to reconstitute the Federal Capital Commission for a period of five years. Because of that provision I shall hare to vote against the bill, much as I regret having to oppose the Government on a matter of policy. The Government would be wise to hasten slowly in this matter, and I approve of the suggestion that the term of the existing commission should be extended for twelve months only. Four years ago, when the proposal to create the commission was under consideration, honorable members were told that its main function would be to enable this Parliament to be transferred from Melbourne to Canberra in the shortest possible time. The proposed constitution of the commission was the subject of criticism, and many honorable members were opposed to handing over so much power to three untried men who were to have the responsibility of establishing the National Capital City. For several reasons, however, one being that some expert local control was necessary to stop the prodigious waste of money that had been occurring at Canberra, the majority of honorable members supported the establishment of the commission. I was amongst them. But having observed the work of the commission during the last two years, I am convinced that the future control of Canberra should be carefully re-considered by Parliament. The present Parliament has only a few weeks to live, and we shall be usurping the functions of the next Parliament if we saddle Canberra and the taxpayers of Australia with a costly body that has not given entire satisfaction. I have not joined in the incessant attacks upon the commission, and I have always thought that the practice of ventilating the local grievances of Canberra in this chamber is derogatory to the dignity of the Nation al Parliament as well as to the local government of the city. But the main factor in converting this Parliament into a municipal council has been the unsatisfactory working of the commission. I cast no aspersions on the character or ability of the gentlemen who constitute the commission. Every reasonable man will admit that they are handling a very big job, perhaps the biggest ever given to a similarly constituted body in Australia. Having achieved its main objective of housing Parliament at Canberra within the specified time, the commission has justified itself up to a certain point. But we are now asked to provide that for many years to come the control of this city shall remain in the hands of the commission, or a body differing only slightly in personnel from that appointed originally as a temporary expedient. I cannot support this proposal. The duty of the Government is to leave to the next Parliament the responsibility of deciding the future control of Canberra. We do not know how that Parliament will be constituted, and we certainly have no right, on the eve of a general election, to fix the method of control for five years ahead. If the Government will adopt what I consider a fair proposal, and allow the commission to continue in office for another twelve months, I shall be prepared to support the bill. It is necessary that we should be given more time in which to consider all the problems associated with Canberra. I do not think it is of much use complaining now concerning the large amount of money that has been expended and wasted here, but it is a very foolish procedure to perpetuate a system which has been largely responsible for all the complaints concerning Canberra, if it is possible to devise a better scheme. I do not think, however, that it is fair to ask Parliament to give proper consideration to this measure within 48 hours of the prorogation. It is unreasonable to expect us to undertake such a responsibility. The question of a local representative on the Federal Capital Commission requires more consideration than we are able to give it at this juncture. It is quite obvious that the proposals of the
Government are unsatisfactory to a majority of the residents of the Federal Capital Territory. The proposal embodied in the bill is really a stop-gap, as such a representative will not possess any real power, and will be more or less a thorn in the side of the other commissioners. If we agree to the proposal to give an elected representative a tenure of office for three years, possibly we shall be very sorry, as the work of the commission will be interfered with. The local residents will be prevented from having an effective means of exercising some control in local affairs which vitally concern them: The Government has made an honest attempt to pacify the local agitators, but I have no doubt that the people expected a representative to be able to do more on their behalf in the city in which they have to spend their lives. The measure has been prepared and submitted in a hasty and slip-shod fashion, and for that reason, if for no other, I think it wise not to extend the term of elected representatives or to re-appoint the Government representatives on the commission for a longer period than twelve months. I have expressed my opinions, and for the reasons given I intend to vote against the bill in its present form.
– Whatever course the Government adopts will not be acceptable to some honorable members. I understand that some honorable members would like the measure to be dropped; but if that course is followed, it will be disappointing , to a number of the residents of Canberra who were promised representation on the commission by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). On the other hand, if we go on with the measure, it seems that we shall not be providing representation in the manner desired. I intend to support the measure, although I should like to see it amended in several respects. In the first place, I agree with some of the previous speakers who have said that provision should not be made for the reappointment of the commission for a long period. I think five years is altogether too long, and I would like to see the measure provide for the extension of the period of the present commission for another twelve months, when the whole position could be reviewed by the new
Parliament. I have no wish to criticize to any extent the actions of the commission in the past. As the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) went exhaustively into the sins of omission and commission of the body controlling affairs in the Federal Capital Territory, there is no necessity for me to cover the same ground. The honorable member said a good deal concerning the quantity of stores which the commission has on hand ; but it must be remembered that it expected work of an important character to be undertaken during the last financial year, and that upon which we have just entered. If any one is to blame for a variation of the policy it is Parliament. Last year the original vote for the Federal Capital was considerably reduced, and it was’ expected that a much larger amount would be available for works at Canberra this year.
– Did the honorable member say that Parliament reduced the vote?
– The vote was much smaller than was anticipated.
– It was passed by Parliament without reduction.
– It was much smaller than was originally anticipated, and consequently there is a large stock of material on hand for works which .will eventually be carried out. It is not pleasing to hear the commission condemned, held up to ridicule and strongly abused when it has performed a lot of important work. I think it should sometimes get some meed of praise. After the appointment of the commission there was a strong desire on the part of some members to transfer the Seat of Government to Canberra, and, generally speaking, I think it has done its work faithfully and well. At the same time it’ is a question whether the commission having carried out the work in the initial stages of the establishment of the Federal Capital, it should continue to control the affairs of Canberra. Most of the important works have been completed, and when the commission’s term expires Parliament should consider whether the control of operations here should not revert to the Department of Works and Railways, which has a competent staff capable of undertaking most of the work associated with Canberra.
When the bill is in committee, I am prepared- to join with those opposed to commission control, to see if we cannot reduce the term below five years, providing that the whole position be reviewed when the present term of the Chief Commissioner expires. I do not want Parliament to prorogue without provision being made for the appointment of a representative of the people, because I believe that such a representative will be able to do useful work. I am well acquainted with the requirements of the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, and know that there are a lot of matters which could be handled by a representative of the people. I receive a number of communications on matters concerning which I have to approach the commission, and honorable members who reside in Canberra probably receive more than I do. It is at times difficult to arrange an interview with the commission officials, and a representative of the people would be able to undertake all the work which some honorable members are now asked to do. I am sorry I am not an enthusiastic supporter of the bill; but, at the same time, I realize the difficulties of the Government. It cannot allow a representative elected by the people to have the same power as the two representatives on the commission appointed by the Government. The amount collected from the residents in the form of rates is very small, in comparison with that expended by the Government, and it is not right that the People’s representative in Canberra should have a voice in determining the manner in which revenue which is collected from taxpayers throughout the Commonwealth should be expended. The measure fulfils the promise made by the Prime Minister to give the people representation on the Commission, but the remuneration provided appears altogether inadequate. An elected representative, if a public servant, would have great difficulty in carrying out his usual duties and at the same time devoting his attention to the requirements of the people of Canberra. When the measure is in committee I should like to see the amount increased and also an amendment moved for an extension of the franchise. In the surrounding municipalities and shires the franchise has been extended in such a way that practically adult suffrage is provided for. I do not suggest that we should go so far as that, but I think that all occupiers should be entitled to a vote. There are many in the Federal Territory who are not actual leaseholders to whom the right to . vote should be extended. With these reservations I shall have pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- I desire to voice my protest against the manner in which the Government proposes to carry on the control of this city. I say at once that the Federal Capital Commission has proved an absolute failure. That opinion has been expressed not only on this side of the House, but by a number of honorable members opposite, who have protested against the manner in which the affairs of this city and territory have been administered. The way in which work has been carried out reflects very gravely upon those in authority. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley), who has been in a position to inquire into the administration of the commission, told us in a very informative speech sufficient to influence us to assist in sweeping away the present system of control. There is no reason whatever why a municipal form of government such as obtains in all other cities of the world should not be provided, and the Department of Works and Railways should control building operations in the Territory. The main point that strikes any one who knows anything concerning building construction, allowing for the difference in cost of material, is the immense amount of waste incurred and the excessive charges which prevail. One cannot overlook the faulty way in which work has been carried out. Some time ago the commission imported a Marshall or Mitchell ditcher from the United States of America at a cost of £3,000, which it was said would do the work of 200 men. This ditcher has not been in operation for a considerable time - to use an Americanism, the ditcher has been “ ditched “ - and the work which should have been done by this machine has been carried out by contract. I am a builder by trade. I have had cottages pointed out to me that cost £1,800 to erect, and I know that cottages pf the same size could be constructed in Melbourne for £1,100, and return a profit to the contractor. No good reason has been advanced to account for this difference between the costs in Canberra and those in other cities.
It has been argued that those persons who do not own homes ought not to be given a voice in the management of the city. It must be remembered, however, that in the first instance exaggeratedly high upset prices were placed upon the land, and speculators boosted values with the idea of making large profits out of the re-sale of leases. Consequently j the rentals are’ fixed not only upon an outrageously high valuation of land, but also upon the cost of the buildings themselves, which was greater than it ought to have been. I am well acquainted with a public servant who. pays as much as £3 a week in rental. ‘Even an officer on a fair salary cannot afford to pay such a sum. “I:have seen buildings the party “walls of which the bricks have been placed on edge. Even during the boom period in Melbourne, when the jerrybuilders ran riot, such a practice was not adopted. The sidewalks or footpaths also are radically different from those laid down in other parts of the world. I drew the attention of the Minister (Sir Neville’ Howse) to the fact by means of a series of questions, and was given to understand that the cost was about 9s. a square yard. The contractors in Melbourne and Sydney lay at a much less cost sidewalks and footpaths that are a credit to the community, and will last for 25 or 30 years without showing any signs’ of wear. But the most casual observer can detect in the sidewalks and footpaths in this city evidences of wear that would not be noticeable upon thoroughfares in the State capitals 30 years after they had been laid, though they carry ten times the - amount of pedestrian traffic. The man who is in charge of that- work does not’ know his job, and should . be replaced by; one does understand it. A similar state of’ affairs exists in all other branches of the commission’s activities.- “ Cletrac “ tractors are used. No farmer would dream of purchasing that type. The track wears ‘out. in a very short period, and has’ proved a failure. The “Holt” caterpillar tractor does remarkably fine work, but the “ Cletrac “ is the worst on the market. There are a score of other, makes from which the commission could have made a selection. Among them is the Ronaldson and Tippet, manufactured by Australians in Ballarat. It is. miles ahead of the “ Cletrac,” and ought to have been purchased for the work which had to be done in this city. Many years ago the Western Australian Government purchased a few “ Cletrac “ tractors for ploughing operations on the Peel River Estate. If the commission were anxious to obtain that make of tractor it could have obtained those which have been abandoned by the Western Australian Government, merely for the cost of having them transported to Canberra.
The establishment of a municipal form of government in the Federal Capital Territory would give the residents a civic pride. Of course, the Federal Government would have to exercise some form of control, because of the .large expenditure that is involved. At the present time, although the people here are right in the heart of our national life, they are practically outcasts. An altogether wrong principle has been adopted, and one to which no democrat can subscribe. It will not make for the advancement or the welfare of the Federal Capital city. The sooner the present arrangements are scrapped, the better for all concerned.
.- I am opposed to the bill - lock, stock and barrel. It is infamous that an Australian such as I, who loves his country, should have to plead the cause of other Australians in this community who are treated as helots. They are neither dogs nor slaves, yet they are deprived of the rightto a voice in the management of their affairs. I do not suppose that in any community. of 6,800 people the average of the educational attainments of the people is, so high as among the residents. of Canberra; yet forsooth they are, offered this paltry solatium, of a representative, upon, the commission. What will be the position of that gentleman? He will .receive £250 a year, and £3,000 and £2,0.00 a year respectively will be paid to the Chief Commissioner and the second commissioner. It would be in keeping with the position, which he will thus be made to occupy if he were dressed in the clothes of a flunkey, and merely said “ Yes, sir “ to everything that Sir John Butters proposed. Will his opinion carry any weight against that of the Chief Commissioner? Will he be able to impress upon that gentleman the gravity of any infamy that is being perpetrated?
Let honorable members consider for a moment how the work in the Federal Capital Territory has so far been carried on. Over £10,000,000 has been spent, the biggest part of which has been wasted. I have been unable to find three consecutive miles of good road in the whole of the Territory. I want honorable members to understand that I mean a road such as that which has been laid round this Parliament House. I have spoken to hundreds of residents, every one of whom has bitter remembrances of injustices done to him, mostly by Sir John Butters. I sought the opinion of one of the most qualified men in Melbourne, regarding the engineering attainments of that gentleman. He replied, “ He may be a very good electrical engineer, but he certainly has no knowledge of building.” On the 2nd November next, the tenure of office of two of the commissioners expires. I hope that the Government will not be so foolish as to re-appoint them. The appointment of Sir John Butters will expire on the 2nd of November, 1929. The bill proposes that the poor representative of the. serfs of Canberra shall receive £250 a year. True, he may be a public servant, and draw the fees fixed in addition to his ordinary salary. But I put it to honorable members, should not any person who is appointed to the position of third Commissioner devote the whole of his time to the correction of those infamies that Sir John Butters has placed upon the people of this city ? The complaints that I have heard remind me of those lines in Julius Caesar, spoken by Cassius -
Upon what meat doth this, our Caesar, feed
That he has grown so great?
May we not similarly ask -
What food does this John Butters eat
That he has grown so great?
The Department of Works and Railways issplendidly organized. Why should it not be placed in charge of the work of building this city? One square mile on the lee side of Capitol Hill, half a mile from Parliament House, was intended by the genius who submitted the prize design, Mr. W. Burley Griffin, to be the site upon which the initial population should be housed. As the population increased it could have extended into the suburbs. But, for the first time in the history of the world, a city is being built, not outwards from the centre, but on the edge of a circumference of 25 miles. I challenge any honorable member of this House, any member of the fourth estate, or any person outside, to point to a single city in the wide world that did not commence from a centre. If Sydney had not been so started, it would never have reached its present dimensions. In the first place, the population was concentrated in George and Pitt streets, and then extended outwards to the suburbs.
I have no hesitation in accusing the Federal Capital Commissioners of having destroyed the flat roof under which we sit, for the purpose of hiding the infamously bad work that had been put into it. In reply to questions by me, the Minister for Home and Territories has stated that the sum of £877 16s. was deducted from the amount due to the contractors because of the inferior roof placed on Parliament House. During the recess the commission incurred the expense of £2,125 for what they termed “ repairs and improvements.” I was informed, in reply to my question, that the object of withholding a certain sum from the contractors was to compel them to make the roof satisfactory. Evidently they preferred to forgo that amount rather than undertake the work. Then the commission placed on the roof over 80 tons of gravel, a specimen of which I now have in front of me. Honorable members can see for themselves what it is like. A lady wearing a dainty pair of shoes would not thank an honorable member if he caused her to walk upon it. What will be the quantity of absorption when the rainfall is heavy? Should I be incorrect if I said that 50 per cent. more weight will be added to the roof? All building engineers recognize that, providing the necessary strength is supplied, the lighter the roof the longer the building will last. Has any honorable member who has been on the splendid flat roof of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney found upon it rubbish similar to this that I have shown the House? There is not a pathway in the whole of the Territory the surface of which is as rough. I do not know whether the roof immediately over this chamber has had placed upon it similar material. One must climb a ladder to find out, and although
I was something of a gymnast 60 years ago, I do not at my present age feel equal to climbing a ladder placed in such a position. But the main roof is an abominationand a disgrace. The finest building in Melbourne is Temple Court. Has it upon its roof such rubbish as this? I have with me a splendid illustrated paper showing many styles of flat roofs, but I cannot see among them any that bear a resemblance to the roof of Parliament House. On the roof of the London Hospital is a children’s playground, and there one may see little children carried about in perambulators. That could not be done on Parliament House roof, covered as it is with 3 or 4 inches of rubbishy gravel. I have been upon the roof the Equitable Building, at the corner of Collins and Elizabeth streets, Melbourne. There I carried out experiments in connexion with dust. One can walk with comfort on that roof. Had I the power I should like to make Sir John Butters sleep on Parliament House roof, to awaken him by ringing the fire alarm and thus compel him to run over the gravel with his bare feet. Or he might be ordered to walk, with bare feet, three times roundthe roof, and I venture to say that if he did that he would not forget the experience.
– The honorable member is getting beyond the scope of the bill.
– It is time that the Government took a hand. Personally, I should be willing to scrap Canberra tomorrow. Its situation has been foolishly chosen, and the works have been foolishly carried out. There has been no real value given for the expenditure of £10,000.000. Mr. Walter Burley Griffin is building at the Castlecrag Estate perhaps oneof the mostbeautiful garden suburbs in the world. In that scheme flat roofs are being used, but they are not being covered with rubbish similar to that which has been placed on Parliament House roof.
I wish now to refer to a more serious matter, and that is the class of concrete that has been used in the foundations of the administrative building which,when completed, is to cost £800,000. This brings to my memory the waste of human lives because of the inferior cement used in a building that was being erected for the States Tobacco Factory at Melbourne. That episode was hushed up, although an inquiry was certainly warranted. I have with me a sample of the cement used in the foundations of the administrative building. It will crumple in one’s hands ; yet foundations built of that material have been laid to support a mighty building.
– Is the sample concrete ?
– It is supposed to be concrete.
– Is the honorable member an expert on concrete?
– My knowledge is sufficient to justify my statement that this concrete is inferior. I am sending the sample to Melbourne to be analysed by an expert. If it is true, as has been stated by men who are willing to give evidence on oath, that 600 tons of cement have been left out of the foundations, drastic action should be taken against those responsible for it.
The following is an extract from the report of a statement by Senator Elliott:-
Grave allegations were made by Senator Elliott. He said that it was by no means sure that the people of Australia had been given value for the money that had been spent at the Federal Capital. The amount involved by the provision of temporary accommodation for the Governor-General is so large as to suggest that if corruption has not been practised, at least we have approached very close to it. Otherwise, he said, I cannot understand how £70,000 could have been expended on these buildings.
His Excellency the Governor-General has been placed in an awkward position. He is artistic and a lover of nature, yet one of the finest views in Canberra has been hidden from the verandah of Government Houseby the erection ofa building costing £2,000. Any honorable member who has seen that structure must decry it. How an architect could allow such an abomination to be placed there passes my comprehension. The Governor-General himself would like it to be removed. That is only one of the mistakes that have been made in the Territory. I wish that the report of the Public Accounts Committee on Canberra Housing were available to honorable members, because I am firmly convinced that its contents will reveal a shocking state of affairs.
In view of the small population of Canberra, I must compliment the proprietors of the Canberra Times on publishing such an up-to-date newspaper. The issue of Friday, 14th September, contains an article with this heading - “People’s representative to act as dummy on Federal Capital Commission.” I cannot understand the attitude of the Prime Minister. He is a business man, and what would he think of the appointment of ‘a person as a director of a company at £250 per annum when the other directors were receiving from £1,500 to £3,000? The position is absurd.
– Directors of a company do not draw the same salary as the managing director.
– Not as a rule. The directors of many of the insurance companies in America receive greater salaries than the managers. The leading article in the Canberra Times of the 14th September reads -
Both the Prime Minister and his colleagues in Cabinet cannot have failed to realize that a drastic revision of the method of government in this Territory is necessary, both to protect the national interest in the city, and to create a feeling of security and goodwill among citizens. The Prime Minister now brings before Parliament a bill which neither represents the wishes of the citizens of Canberra, nor will protect the interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– What do the citizens of Canberra want?
– They want what the honorable member in his heart would willingly give them - proper representation.
– I want a clear statement of the position.
– As I have stated before £10,546,084 has, to date, been expended at Canberra.
– And a further expenditure of £3,000,000 has been voted.
– And many more millions will be required. When the Honorable Agar Wynne represented Balaclava, he proposed in the House that a referendum should be taken on the question whether the Federal Capital should be established at Canberra or Sydney. I regret to say that that proposal was not agreed to. It would have been preferable to establish the Federal Capital at Albury, which is situated on the banks of the . River Murray and surrounded by hills. In the vicinity is the Hume reservoir, which, when completed, will hold a quantity of water greater than that within Sydney Harbour.
– I remind the honorable member that the bill before the House does not deal with the situation of the Federal Capital City.
– Had the Capital City been established at Albury its population would have been 100,000. It would have been far better to establish the Federal Capital City on the beautiful northern shore of Sydney harbour. The Canberra Times of to-day’s date, forecasting the report of the Public Accounts Committee, states -
The report is understood to be critical, and suggests the need of further investigation by an independent expert, into certain building contracts. The committee is understood to be dissatisfied with the evidence delivered regarding Yarralumla House, and the explanations given of its cost.
On the subject of land tenure, the committee is understood to be of the opinion that leasehold has not had a fair trial under the present administration, and may suggest certain modifications in the present system of offering leases. It will probably suggest that the upset value of blocks be fixed prior to the sale, and that, on submission to auction, any increase in value be by way of cash premiums paid by the purchaser.
A splendid example of the working of that system is provided in Hong Kong, where there is no private ownership of land. The lease of all blocks, including those resumed from the sea, is auctioned on the basis of a rental which is fixed for 75 years. Each block is knocked down to the highest bidder, who pays his premium, but afterwards pays rent only on the sum previously determined.
Seeing that the proposed new commissioner will act only in an advisory capacity and will receive only a nominal payment, he will not be able to give effective service to the community. I urge the Government to withdraw the bill. If it should be returned at the election - I sincerely hope that that will not happen - it could give further consideration to the subject. This city should be under the control of a municipal council. If necessary, the services of one or more of the present commissioners could be retained, but they should be subject to the control of the council. “We have the cream of the public service in Canberra, and there would be no danger in allowing them to supervise, with reasonable safeguards, the development of the city.
– I regret that I cannot support the bill, for I was one of the strongest advocates of commission control for Canberra. Had the right type of man been appointed, the system would have succeeded. We ought to have had on the commission a man with wide civic experience. It is quite evident that public money has been roost unwisely spent in this place during the last three years. Some work has been well done, but a great deal has been scamped. It is proposed in the bill that commission control shall be continued for another five years. I had intended to move that further consideration of the measure should be deferred until the reassembling of Parliament after the elections, or that the provisions of clause 8 should have only a temporary application, but I have been informed that it would not be in order for me to do so. The only course open to me is, therefore, to vote against the bill or to move that it be read this day six months. I understand that the Government is now prepared to accept an amendment to the effect that the life of the commission should be extended for only twelve months. That would enable the new Parliament to give consideration to the matter within a reasonable time after it meets. I have quite definitely made up my mind that I will not support a continuation of the present regime for another five years. It may be thought that a little dispute which occurred last week between myself and the Chief Commissioner has caused me to harbour ill will against him. As a matter of fact, I hardly know the gentleman. I certainly was not offended until I received the letter from him to which I referred last week, and a paragraph appeared subsequently in the press to the effect that the letter was a private communication sent to me as a guest in a hotel. That statement was so preposterous as to justify me in saying that it was deliberately untruthful. It certainly has not increased my confidence in the Chief Commissioner.
Every honorable member has had a good opportunity during his residence in Canberra to form an opinion as to the manner in which work is being carried out here. If we had had as our Chief Commissioner a gentleman with wide municipal experience we should not have had half the friction that has occurred between the commission and the citizens, nor would the people have been subjected to such innumerable pin-pricks. A thoroughly experienced commission would have been able to employ suitable engineers and architects, and the work would have been done efficiently and well. It was a grave error to appoint to the commission men of the wrong type. One has only to look at the manner in which our roads and footpaths are being constructed to realize how money is being wasted. It will be remembered that clay footpaths were put down in the first place. They were satisfactory until rain came, and .then everybody had to leave them. The roads here are a disgrace, and almost every motor-driver complains of the short life of his tires. Some three months ago Mr. Beaumont, the roads engineer for the outer’ suburbs of Adelaide, gave me the opportunity to inspect the bituminous surfaced roads which are being constructed about Adelaide. I was taken over some magnificent highways. One could not help feeling that the engineers who were on that job knew their work. But that cannot be said of the engineers in charge of road-construction in Canberra. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley), who believes in day labour, uttered a serious indictment on the commission to-day. The trouble, however, is not that the contract system, in which I believe, has been adopted in preference to the day labour system, but that supervision has been lacking. If we had had proper supervision we should have had good work. This very building provides us with a notable example of the carelessness with which work has been carried out in Canberra. We began in 1914 to buy timber for the construction of this building. Mr. Murdoch, whose judgment is generally reliable, estimated that this building would cost £220,000, whereas its actual cost has been £660^000. I was informed in Melbourne the other day by a building contractor that bricks there cost the Government £3 ls. per 1,000, and private builders £3 3s. per 1,000; but in Canberra, where we have spent £70,000 on a thoroughly uptodate kiln, and where no charge has been made for the land and no rates aud taxes are levied, bricks cost £6 5s. per 1,000. How can it be expected, in these circumstances, that cottages will be erected at a reasonable price, or that other buildings will” be constructed at anything like what they would cost in other cities? It will be remembered that in the early days of Canberra we brought a 3ft. 6in gauge railway from the Henderson Naval Base to Canberra, to assist in the solution of the transport problem. After the main buildings had been constructed here, the line was pulled up and tenders were called for the purchase of the rolling-stock. It was then discovered that the locomotive had been left at the other end of the line.
– One would think that this place was being governed from a lunatic asylum.
– This kind of thing cannot be allowed to continue. So far we have spent about £10,700,000 in Canberra. The commission has not been responsible for the whole of this expenditure; but it is our duty to see that whoever spends the people’s money makes reasonably good use of it.
I cannot understand the honorable member for Eden-Monaro making the statement that the Government had not provided sufficient money for the commission to carry on its work. Only a few nights ago we passed a bill authorizing the raising of loan money, £3,000,000 of which is to be expended in this Territory. It is the duty of all honorable members to see that we get reasonable value for this money. As I said a little while ago, I was opposed to coming to Canberra at all, but we are here now, and it is our duty to make the place something of which we may be proud. I should be ashamed to vote against the spending of money in Canberra simply because I was at first opposed to Parliament coming here. I understand that the Government is prepared to amend the bill so as to extend the present commission form of government for a further twelve mouths only. The Chief Commissioner’s appointment does not expire until next year. I think that honorable members will agree with me that the question of civic representation should not be dealt with hastily. I should like to see a commission of about five members, something in the nature of of a municipal council.
– We want no more commissions.
– The honorable member may call it what he likes. I maintain,” however, that we cannot give any such body full control over the spending of the money provided by this Parliament. The Ministry must accept the ultimate responsibility for the spending of the money used. No Minister could reasonably come to this House and ask it to vote large sums of money to be handed over to an irresponsible body elected by local residents. Nevertheless, we should fully consider the granting of some form of municipal government, in view of the fact that residents are being taxed for the provision of roads, water supply, lighting, and other services. I strongly urge honorable members on the other side to let things remain as they are for the next twelve months, so that we may, in the meantime, give full consideration to the form of representation which will be granted. I hope that the Government will not, under any consideration, give the representatives elected here in Canberra full control over the money voted by this Parliament. We should take care that the body governing the municipal affairs of the Territory will have sufficient Government representation to enable the Government to determine the policy in regard to expenditure.
– I approach this bill from a different point of view from that of the majority of honorable members who have spoken on it. I do not propose to criticize the commission, or to say that it has not done good work. Everybody with any taste must admire the work done in the building of Parliament House. It is a credit to those responsible for it. Sir John Harrison is a practical builder, who devoted all his time to this building, and he deserves credit for the way in which the work has been carried out.
Mr.Gregory. - Mr. Rolland was responsible for the work on this building.
– He was acting under the instructions of Sir John Harrison. I do not wishto take away from any man the credit which belongs to him. It must be remembered that this was a rushed job. Sir John Harrison had the greatest difficulty in obtaining the men he wanted, because they were not prepared to come away from the cities and work on what was practically a bush construction job. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) complained about the cost of the building, but it is impossible to induce men to leave the cities and go into the country without paying them extra money. .
– It would be possible if houses were built for them.
– But we wanted to get Parliament here as quickly as possible. I do not cavil at the expenditure. It was part of the cost of the change over from Melbourne to Canberra. If the building did cost a lot of money, it must be remembered that it is a permanent building, and the expenditure will not recur.
– It is a credit to the Commonwealth.
– It is. On the staff of the Works and Railways Department we have one of the best architects in Australia, Mr. Murdoch. Everybody who knows him admires his modesty and ability. It was he who designed this building. All the big, fundamental work has been done in Canberra now, and the time has arrived when the control of future operations should be taken over by the Works and Railways Department. Attached to that department there are architectural staffs in Melbourne and Sydney, and we have another architect’s branch attached to the commission in Canberra. I believe that we are overstaffing our Public Service in that direction. By handing this work over to the Works and Railways Department we should save money, and the responsible officers would be under our eyes while Parliament was sitting. I do not wish to dwell too much on the work that has been done: Any one can be a critic. I could find fault if I liked, but the work is finished now, and cannot be undone. The question for our consideration is, what are we to do in the future? I am very pleased that the Government has not insisted upon the continuation of the commission system for another five years. It is a fair compromise to come down to twelve months. When Parliament reassembles there will be an opportunity to consider this matter fully, and to place the commission upon a proper foundation. If we placed building operations in the Territory under the control of the Works and Railways Department we should promote efficiency and save money for the taxpayers.
– I have listened with a good deal of astonishment during this debate to the speeches which have been made by honorable members on both sides of the House, and I should like to congratulate the last speaker upon bringing balance and sense of proportion into the discussion. I cannot agree with the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) in some of his statements. Even if the screenings on top of Parliament House are not all that could be desired, I, for my part, much prefer them to the blistered malthoid which was there before.
– Does the honorable member like to walk on those screenings?
– Yes; I was up there the other day. But even if the roof is not perfect, that, I contend, does not necessarily condemn the whole of the work that has been done, not only by the commissioners, but by all those who have worked under them for a long time past with very little thanks from anybody, I have not spoken on this subject before;but I felt that it was impossible to listen bour after hour to the disparagement of the work that has been done without raising my voice in protest. The criticism is all the more astonishing because this bill represents an attempt to carry out what was understood to be the desire of Parliament, namely, that a measure of selfgovernment should be given to the people who reside in the Territory. This bill has been introduced because it was believed that the residents of the Federal Capital Territory should have more say than hitherto in the conduct of affairs which are essentially municipal. Coupled with that, there is, it seems to me, an obligation upon Parliament to look to the future, and to realize that in Canberra we have a city being built, not merely for the inhabitants who happen to reside here now, but primarily to serve as the National . Capital for all time. We cannot entrust the building of such a city to a munipical council elected from amongst the comparatively few residents who happen to be here at the present moment. There are those who suggest that parliamentary representation should be granted forthwith to residents of the Territory. Personally, I do not hold that view ; the time is not yet ripe for it. The number of residents here is small - about 10,000 altogether - whereas some of the constituencies represented in this Parliament have a population of over 70,000. In any case, a parliamentary representative for the Territory would have no vote, and, in my opinion, a member of Parliament who has a voice but no vote is deprived of his chief value. Again, if such a parliamentary representative should be elected, I,’ like many others, think that he should be more properly a member of the Senate, which is regarded as essentially the State’s House. What are the qualifications set out in this bill for electors, or for the third commissioner himself ? So far as the commissioner himself is concerned, they are fairly wide. It is true that he’ may not be an officer in the employ of the ‘commission.- Certainly he’ may not be an officer of that section of the Commonwealth Public Service which is. directly concerned in the administration of this act; but otherwise the “range of selection is ‘ wide. ‘ I suggest to honorable members that the number of persons who will be eligible or prepared to offer their services in this capacity will not, in any case, be very large. The pay has been severely commented upon, but it is approximately equal to what is ordinarily paid to tho director of a first-class company in one of the capital cities. There is no certainty that the third commissioner will be expected to sit more than once a fortnight, although meetings may possibly be held once a week. A director of even a big company would not be dissatisfied with a fee of £5 5s. for an ordinary meeting. Something has been said on the subject of engaging experts in the building of cities. The honorable member for Swan has constantly referred to the fact that the Chief Commissioner is not such an expert. But who, I should like to know, can be said to be one? Has anybody else in Australia ever built a city? There is no person who has done so. There may be men who have planned and to a certain extent constructed cities. It is idle for us to say that, because we find things done with which we disagree, or instances of mistakes having been made, so and so is not a city builder. If the present Federal Capital Commissioners are not city builders, there are no others in Australia.
– I think that the honorable member’s judgment is bad.
– Can the honorable member for Swan name any others?
– We need a person who has had experience in building up a city; such as the Town Clerk; of Melbourne, who has civic knowledge.
– The ‘work of the commissioners has demanded ‘“forethought and powers of organization1 ‘ of no ordinary kind.. With all respect to the men who are performing’ the type of work to which the honorable member for Swan refers, it is essential that they follow the lines already laid down; they may not seriously interfere with the chosen design. It is- my sincere belief that those who have had to dp with the building of Canberra have achieved a great work. I was * astonished when I attended the opening of this building by the Duke of York,- to find . the arrangements carried out admirably and with so few hitches. Like other honorable members, I suppose, I expected that life here would somewhat resemble war conditions. I did not expect to find the hotel accommodation and other conveniences in Canberra equal to those available in cities that have been established in other parts of Australia for a century or more. It is impossible for a fully-fledged city to spring into being within a few years. I admit, of course, that mistakes have been made. Neither the present commissioners nor their predecessors - and there were administrators before them - would claim that the work done has been faultless. After all, the number of hours the commissioners can daily devote to their labours is limited. They cannot personally see that every job is properly done. I myself have noticed a certain amount of slackness among the workers in this Capital. It is impossible to see that every man does a fair day’s work; but is the slackness sometimes noticed here completely distinguishable from that observed in every State in Australia ? Are the employees in Canberra a lazier lot of men than those working elsewhere ? I should be sorry to say that, as a general rule, they are. The commissioners, and particularly the Chief Commissioner, who I think has done fine work here, do not deserve the constant criticism that has been levelled at them throughout this session; they should receive the congratulations of honorable members.
T hope, that the Government will appoint a commissioner to represent the citizens of Canberra. I am in favour of the ‘ residents having a voice in the control of their own. affairs, and, after all, one-third of the representation is a liberal share to begin with. I think that the result of the election will be either to justify or to condemn the action taken. Very much will depend on the person selected for the position. ‘ If he is an able man and shows tact, there is no reason why the proposed arrangement should not eventually result in a wider degree of control being accorded to the residents. “Whatever the pay of this commissioner may be, his powers will be equal to those of the other commissioners. -If he proves helpful rather than obstructive, and does not prevent the commission from operating as easily as it now does, I shall support the continuation of the arrangement; but if he proves otherwise I shall favour a reversion to the present system. I often notice a tendency in honorable members to criticize men who are in charge of big jobs, and have not an opportunity of appearing in this chamber to defend themselves. We do not obtain the best work from our big men by that treatment. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has suggested that members of Parliament are subjected to tremendous criticism in public life. I do not think that many honorable members have had so much criticism hurled at them during the last year as has been levelled against the present commissioners. The latter have no opportunity to reply to this criticism, whereas members of Parliament have every, opportunity to do so, and frequently use it; they would, of course, be foolish if they did not. I Jo not claim that the present commissioners are infallible. Their predecessors were not, nor will their successors be. Allowance must be made for mistakes, and’ these’ may have been greater than 1 have suggested; but having enlisted the services of the best men’ we could secure, we must give them something of a free hand, and we must support them. Many honorable members of this House come here week after week with little matters that are hardly worth mentioning in private conversation, and condemn the action of the commissioners, who are doing a great work. This seems to me to be grossly unfair, and will not result in the community or the nation getting the best results from the men chosen for the task.
– I have several times criticized the administration of the Federal Capital Commission, and I could speak in a similar strain for half an hour on this occasion. T believe that the discussions in this chamber regarding the commission’s activities have saved the taxpayers many hundreds, and probably many thousands of pounds. I, and other honorable members, have noticed things done by the commission that are ah absolute disgrace. Despite the encomiums that the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) has showered upon the commission, we cannot shut out eyes to the bare facts that have come under our notice. The rush to Canberra was practically the unanimous wish of Parliament. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), and myself, were practically the only honorable members who opposed the hurried transfer.
– If the honorable member refers to Hansard, he will find that other honorable members took exception to it.
– Members of the Labour party may have spoken in opposition to it; but with one or two exceptions they supported it by their votes. I admit that the commission has had a big task to accomplish, and that a man who never makes mistakes probably never achieves much. It is now proposed to re-appoint the present commissioners for the further term of five years, and my experience of them would not justify me in voting for their re-appointment for that term.
– The Government has practically announced its intention to alter this.
– That announcement was made in consequence of the opposition expressed by all sections to the present form of administration. I do not suppose there is a stauncher supporter of the Government than I am, and I trust that it will accept my present criticism in the spirit in which it is offered. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) in his remarks about the Works and Railways Department. Men such as Mr. Murdoch, with the assistance of outside architects, could satisfactorily carry on the work being done at Canberra. I favour the appointment to the commission of a representative of the local residents. If the present commissioners were re-appointed for a further term of twelve months, the new Parliament could review the whole position next year,- and take action that would meet the wishes of both the residents and the taxpayers generally^
– I voted against the appointment of the commission, and have been opposed to it from its inception. That opposition has been fully justified by our experience of its administration. I join issue to an extent with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes). I am prepared to give credit to any man who does his work well, and I do not wish to be a critic for criticism’s sake. It is well known that Parliament decided that a world-wide competition should be held in order to obtain a suitable design for the city. A considerable number of designs were received, and these were reduced to three, from which the plan submitted by Mr. Griffin was chosen. So far as I am aware, that plan has been followed with very little variation. Therefore, it seems to me that the commission has had very little to do, except to follow the plan, which shows the exact position of practically every building or group of buildings. I do not wish to speak in derogatory terms of the members of the commission, although I have had good reason to criticize their work, but I believe that the great bulk of the most important work in connexion with the building of Canberra was done before the commission was appointed. Everything was in train when it assumed office, and I regard it as an expensive excrescence. The expert officers in the Works and Railways Department could have discharged the duties that have been delegated to the commission. They are, in fact; the very men who are carrying out most of the work to-day. Had the work of constructing this city remained under departmental control Parliament would have been kept more closely in touch with it. Invariably, a person appointed to a high-salaried position gathers about him a large number of assistants until he gradually establishes a department; thus expense is increased. Undoubtedly, there has been unnecessary duplication of staffs in connexion with the development of Canberra, and between the employees of the commission and of the Department of Works and Railways grave mistakes have been made. In the criticism he offered to-day, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) spoke from a position of vantage as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. Unfortunately, a good deal of the work of that body is of a post-mortem character, but the investigations and reports of it and the Public Works Committee have saved to the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds in connexion with the building of Canberra alone. If some people had been allowed to have their sweet will, the Commonwealth would have been mulcted in considerably greater expense; these committees rejected from time to time proposals that were altogether too luxurious and expensive for our small population. As members of Parliament we have a duty to the people, and I hope that, without taking undue advantage of our privileged position, we shall not cease to criticize when faults come to our notice. Whilst an officer of the commission or a department may not appear personally on the floor of the House to answer criticism, he can always make his defence through his ministerial head, for he would be a poor minister who would not be prepared to state the views of his officers in order that Parliament might arrive at a just decision. I do not feel inclined to vote for this proposal to alter the constitution of the commission. If I had the opportunity to do so, I would vote for the abolition of that body. The complete plan of the city is on paper, the foundational works have been completed, and all that is required is good supervision of the gradual development of the plan. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to the timber used in Parliament House and other, buildings. 1 I am glad that years ago a minister had sufficient foresight, to buy timber and store it at Canberra so that it would be well seasoned by the time it was needed. I give praise to the architects who designed Parliament House, but even the greatest architect is helpless without the support of efficient workmen. The workmanship in this building is excellent, but things are happening in the Territory in regard to which no public man can remain silent. It is a well-known ‘ fact that in the commission’s stores is material that will not be used for many years, if at all. If we allow such waste to continue, what ‘ is the use of criticizing the Treasurer for extravagance? Some people accuse us of always complaining about details, but the sum of small items may be considerable. None of us is without faults and shortcomings, but sometimes when we criticize efficient workmen in regard to the quantity and quality of their labour, I wonder what they say of the quantity and quality of our work as legislators. In all construction works, whether carried out by contract or by day labour, the prime essential is efficient supervision, and I am afraid that in regard to some of the most important constructions in Canberra things will be disclosed in the near future that will not reflect credit on the supervisors. Although I admit that the majority of honorable members desired that the Seat of Government should be transferred from Melbourne to Canberra as early as possible, I do not think that even the most enthusiastic Canberraite anticipated that the Government would rush up here in such an awful hurry. For that no excuse can be offered; the Government knew the progress of the preparatory works here, and must accept full responsibility. I am confident that if a month after our first meeting here honorable members had had the opportunity to vote on the subject, an overwhelming majority of them would have declared in favour of this Parliament continuing in Melbourne until this city was at a more advanced stage. Had we done that, a great deal of expenditure would have been saved. I may be told that the transfer had to coincide with the visit of the Duke of York. I do not know whether the Royal visit could have been postponed ; .but, in any case, a delay of the transfer would have been to the advantage of the Aus: tralian taxpayer. I am opposed to com: mission management of the Territory. There should be no intermediary between the Minister and this Parliament; but.unfortunately, it has been the policy of the Government to appoint commission after commission, with resultant loss to the taxpayers. . For the big salaries; we . pay we should get good results; but I am . not satisfied . with the manner in which affairs in Canberra have ‘been managed. ‘ - The Government having promised that within twelve months the new Parliament will have an opportunity to review the system of control in .’ the Federal Capital Territory, this bill will no doubt be carried. But. I hope that the next Parliament, with greater wisdom than the present, will abolish the commission and re-vest control of the Territory in the departments which did such excellent work in laying the foundations of the National Capital.
.- The bill as originally submitted to the House did not meet with my approval, and I am glad that the Government has promised to submit an amendment which will bring the measure more into line with the views I hold. It would not he in the interests of the residents of Canberra if the present proposal were foisted upon them by a dying parliament. The interests of all concerned will be better served if a permanent proposal is deferred so that the new Parliament may have ample time to consider a matter of vital importance, particularly to the re’sidents of the Federal Capital Territory. I rose mainly for the purpose of saying a few words in regard to the past actions of the commission. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee which has been inquiring into building costs in Canberra, I have had an excellent opportunity to learn all the facts concerning the building of the city, particularly during the regime of the commission. Although much criticism has been directed against Sir John Butters, no man can truthfully accuse him of being lazy. On the contrary, he is an exceptionally busy man, and probably he could have given better service had he given less attention to minor details and more . closely supervised the officers immediately under his control. During the next few months I shall have some criticism to offer of the manner in which this Federal Capital city has been built up; but I hope that the manner of it will be such as befits a gentleman, and leave full opportunity of defence to the persons concerned. I shall certainly not take advantage of my position to attack any man under cover of parliamentary privilege. We have heard a good deal about the excessive cost of building in. Canberra. Any one who has inquired closely into the matter must recognize that a good deal of waste has occurred in the construction of the cit. In fairness to those who are responsible for the building of Canberra, we should endeavour to find the real reason for the excessive costs. The building in which we are now meeting has been cited as a specific case in which the expenditure has greatly exceeded the estimate. I understand that the original estimate was £175,000, but that subsequently it was revised by the Department of Works and Railways, which then had control of all works in the Federal Capital Territory, and that a new estimate of £220,000 was made. Before the commission came into existence over £100,000 had been spent upon the foundations alone; and if one examines closely the superstructure of the building one will realize the absolute impossibility of erecting it for £120,000.
– Who were responsible for the estimates?
– Comparisons have been made between the officers of the commission and those of the Department of Works and Railways, to the disadvantage of the former. Seeing that £100,000 was spent by the department upon the foundations of this building, there must have been something radically wrong with the balance of its estimate, and, apparently, it is not the efficient body that some honorable members would endeavour to make us believe. Unquestionably, there has been waste in the expenditure of public money in the Territory; but the responsibility for that waste must be placed upon the right shoulders. I cannot admit that either this Parliament or the commission has been entirely responsible. The blame for the excessive costs must rest largely with those who forced the Government of the day to transfer the seat of government to Canberra so quickly that sufficient time was not allowed for the necessary works to be carried out. In 1923, while the Parliament was still sitting in Melbourne, the then honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) moved that steps should be taken immediately to transfer the Commonwealth Parliament to its own home in Canberra. Any honorable member who cares to consult Ilansard will learn the names of those who voted for an early transfer. Upon them must rest a great deal of the responsibility for the waste that occurred by reason of the fact that the work here had to be rushed.
– The Victorian members did not vote for the motion because they did not wish to move from Melbourne.
– The Victorian members had a little more common sense ; they recognized that costs would be increased materially if the work was rushed. According to the evidence given on oath by officers of the Federal Capital Commission, hundreds of incompetent men had to be employed so that this House would be in readiness for the opening ceremony by the Duke and Duchess of York. The conditions imposed upon the commission by the people whom they employed were such as to add very materially to the cost of building operations. Are honorable members aware that because work had to be done at Government House, which was outside a . certain zone, an additional allowance of 3s. a day had to be paid to the workmen, although they were travelling in the commission’s time?
– That is not comparable with the allowance and fees which the honorable member receives while travelling with the Public Accounts Committee.
– My allowances are not greater than those of the honorable member. I have been sent to this Parliament to legislate in the interests of the people of Australia, and before they elect me they know exactly what allowances I am to receive. But when the work of building this Federal Capital was commenced we had no idea that allowances of that kind would-be demanded. Therefore, it is not fair to lay wholly at the door of the commission the responsibility for the excessive costs. I repeat that those members of Parliament who supported the early transfer to Canberra are largely to blame.
.- Honorable members who sit opposite never cease in their efforts to ‘place upon the working man the responsibility for the excessive cost of any work that is undertaken. Those gentlemen receive substantial emoluments, as well as generous fees and expenses. They enjoy the very best that this land has to offer. Yet they call to task the man who is upon the basic wage, because he seeks to obtain dues to which he is legitimately entitled because of the time spent in travelling to .and from the work upon which he is engaged. I marvel that the working man does not realize the type of individual they are. He is remarkably indulgent, because, despite the fact that he is slandered, he still in many cases gives his support politically to his slanderers. There is no justification for the mismanagement of the affairs of this Capital City by the Federal Capital Commission. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) referred to the work that was done at Yarralumla, and the travelling allowance drawn by the men who were engaged upon it. I should like him to say whether he considers that the excessive cost of remodelling, renovating, and generally preparing Government House for occupation by His Excellency was due solely to the fact that that allowance was paid?
– The amount in question is insignificant compared with the great rake-off obtained by either the contractors or other persons. The work at Government House is not the only one that can be called in question. Almost every activity associated with the establishment of the seat of government at Canberra has been characterized by either wicked extravagance and waste, or gross mismanagement. I am surprised that honorable members have not been sufficiently aroused by the revelations of recent weeks to at least demand a complete explanation from those who have been responsible. The indulgence of those who hold ministerial office is astonishing. They are prepared almost to condone what is generally regarded as one of the greatest national scandals associated with the system of government in Australia. Is it not a scandal that there should have been a shortage of 600 tons in the quantity of cement used in the foundations of the administrative block?
– Why not await the result of the public inquiry before passing judgment upon that matter?
– There is no need to wait. The responsible Minister has read in this House a statement prepared by the commission, which proved that tha facts given to honorable members in connexion with that particular matter were absolutely correct. Therefore, it is not wildly extravagant or speculative to describe as scandalous the conduct of affairs by the commission. But apart from the unfortunate circumstances associated with building operations and work generally in Canberra, it is not fair to the residents, who are required to pay excessive charges for community services, that they should be deprived of an effective voice in their local government. This bill does not seek to rectify that anomaly. The commission obstinately refuses to afford the residents of Canberra that relief which was promised them by the Prime Minister, and which should be theirs by right. The proposal contained in the bill is absolutely unfair, because it will not give effective representation to the people. I have always disapproved of the principle of appointing a commission to administer the affairs of the Territory. The Federal Capital Commission is neither economic nor democratic.
– Canberra should be under the control of the Department of Home and Territories.
– That would be preferable, because the Minister in charge of the department would be directly responsible to Parliament for the administration of the Territory. In the early stages of the development of Canberra the position was far more satisfactory than it is at present. The members of the commission are absolute autocrats. That is manifested in their attitude not only to the residents of Canberra, but also to members of this House. We should certainly relieve the residents by placing them beyond the dictation and control of the commission. The management of the Territory should be undertaken by a local government or civic authority.
– By a glorified municipal council.
– The residents should be given more consideration in respect of their domestic affairs. We have deprived them of the opportunity to select a representative to sit in this Parliament. They have been deprived of their rights of citizenship by being compulsorily transferred to Canberra at the dictation of the Commonwealth Parliament. We should, therefore, recognize their disabilities by giving them some form of local government or civic administration, and allowing them to elect their own representatives to the body in control. It would be futile to postpone the consideration of this subject for another twelve months, because that would certainly accentuate the trouble, and bring Canberra into greater contempt in the eyes of the people of Australia. I have been an ardent supporter of Canberra, and have spoken favorably of it to those with whom I have come in contact. The location and surrounding country, climate and conditions are beautiful. I have stated my views to many public men of South Australia. Most of them have hardly a good word to say in favour of this city. The subject is certainly not popular in South Australia. I am disappointed’ with the administration of Canberra. Not one permanent building has been established, although we have expended millions of pounds. The prominence that has been given to the maladministration of the commission has made it diflicult for any one to champion the cause of Canberra. I hope that wiser counsel will prevail in the future, and that the residents here will be given direct representation upon some local government body, that will not resort to the wasteful and extravagant methods practised by the Federal Capital Commission. Only by that means shall we obtain real value for the money expended atCanberra.
.- I have always held the opinion that the administration of Canberra should be undertaken by either the Department of Works and Railways, or the Department of Home and Territories. Since the present Government has been in power it has made a habit of delegating its powers to boards and commissions, and allowing them to expend huge sums of money without any prospect of a return. This money has been expended extravagantly, mainly because of the incompetency of the members of those bodies, who have no thought of conserving Australia’s interests. More responsibility should be vested in the Ministers, who are directly responsible to Parliament. While the Government pursues its present policy of appointing boards and commissions we must expect extravagance and maladministration to be rampant. We have an example of this at Canberra. While the Federal Capital Commission controls the destiny of this city, the present unsatisfactory position must continue. When federation took place, it was decided to establish a Federal Capital city, and the Government, in building Canberra, has only carried out the wishes of the people. Visitors to Australia have expressed the greatest admiration for our action in providing a centre of government control at which to deal with matters of a national character. The Government, in establishing numerous boards and commissions, has taken care to select carefully the members to be appointed to those bodies. For instance, the Arbitration Court judges are closely allied with the Nationalist party. The people of Australia are beginning to realize that the Government has adopted a dangerous practice. I certainly think that some form of municipal control at Canberra would be preferable to administration by the Federal Capital Commission. If Canberra were administered by the Department of Works and Railways the ministerial head of that department would be responsible to Parliament. At present Parliament has no control of Canberra, although the Government has taken care to appoint to the Federal Capital Commission men who are connected with the Nationalist party and who are therefore subject to its influence. The utterances of honorable members on this side respecting the affairs of Canberra have had little effect either on the Government or on the commission. The opposition is entitled to have some say in the affairs of the Federal Capital city. When I was a little boy, my father took me to the British House of Commons. At that time, Disraeli was in opposition and in that assembly he was just as important as the Prime Minister himself, the greatest attention being paid to his utterances. There is now too little regard for age and .experience. It would be a bad thing for this country if it had a parliament of boys. I suggest that the younger members of this chamber should pay a little more regard to the advice of those of us who have had a long parliamentary experience. Even if this bill is agreed to we can promise that many of the anomalies created by commission control will be removed after the election, for I am convinced that the people will not return this Government to power. The prestige of the Government has suffered seriously because of its maladministration in many respects, and particularly because of its delegation of its powers to commissions of one kind and another. It has done this to escape responsibility or else to provide lucrative positions for its friends. It is well known that one gentleman who is to-day a member of the High Court haunted Parliament House until he obtained an appointment. I object to persons receiving public appointments by such means. The British Government values its powers too highly to think of delegating ,them to commissions. I admire the Minister for Home and Territories as a man, and as a medical practitioner, but regret that I cannot compliment him upon his administration of this important department. It is high time that the people changed the Government, and I think they may be trusted shortly to do it.
– The bill, together with the amendments which have been circulated, fulfils the promise of the Prime Minister on the 30th June, that before the end of the session steps would be taken to give the citizens of the Federal Capital Territory representation upon the Federal Capital Commission. Consequently I regret that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that the Prime Minister’s promise has not been fulfilled. He is quite wrong in his statement, though I do not suggest that he made it for the purpose of misleading the House. I do not propose to make any lengthy reference to the honorable member’s quotations from the Hansard report of the proceedings of the date I have mentioned ; but I am justified in saying that the- bill, with its amendments, carries out in every respect the promise of the Prime Minister and provides a liberal franchise for the election of the people’s representative on the commission.
– Surely the Minister does not consider that the bill provides a liberal franchise?
– The bill, and its amendments, provide an extremely liberal franchise - as liberal, possibly as that of any local governing franchise in Australia except that of New South . Wales. The introduction of the bill has resulted in a most interesting debate upon the development of our Federal Capital. I am glad to say that while I have had to listen to much abuse of myself, as Minister, and of the Federal Capital Commission, no speaker, except the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has made any suggestion of dishonorable conduct. During the last three or four months I have been required to answer innumerable questions of the most trivial character. Many of them were more trivial than questions I was required to answer when I was mayor of a small, but important country town of New South Wales. It is to be hoped that after the people have elected their representative on the commission these trivial matters will no longer occupy the time of this Parliament. It appears quite clear that honorable members generally are not anxious to accept the bill and its amendments except as a temporary measure. I therefore propose to move when the bill is in committee to provide that the second and third commissioners shall be appointed for only one year. This will enable Parliament to review the whole subject during the coming year. It has been suggested that the control of the Federal Capital Territory should revert to the Works and Railways Department, and that the day labour policy should be adopted.
– The wish of the House is that the bill shall be withdrawn.
– I do not think that is the general opinion; but in any case the Government must honour the promise given by the Prime Minister in June last. Much has been said about the salary suggested for the third commissioner. I suppose many honorable members of this House have served for years on local governing bodies without any pay whatever. The position of the third commissioner will be, to a large extent, that of an alderman in a municipality.
– Except that he will not have the power of an alderman.
– He will have a great deal of power. He will bo able, for instance, to examine all the files in connexion with any matter which is brought before the commission.
– Will he be expected to do that while the commission is sitting?
– He will have every opportunity to do it. In the circumstances I consider that the remuneration is liberal. At any rate, in the next twelve months we can estimate the value of the kind of representation proposed.
I regret that there has been so much criticism and abuse of the commission. I say unhesitatingly that the work of the Chief Commissioner, Sir John Butters, and of the second commissioner, Sir John Harrison, has been of inestimable value. I shall not refer to the work of the third commissioner, Colonel Thomas, for he has not been connected with the commission, for very long. I amglad that, with the exception of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, no honorable member has attacked the integrity or honour of the commissioners or myself. That is satisfactory in view of what has happened of recent years in connexion with the civic administration of Sydney. The honorable member for Hindmarsh hinted that there was some scandal attached to the departmental administration which the Minister would have great difficulty in answering. Seeing that the same honorable member attacked the honour and integrity of the Minister some time ago in connexion with the purchase of radium, and we know how little foundation there was for his attack, we can put the proper value upon his present statements.
– Sworn declarations were produced on the former occasion to support the attack.
– The honorable member terminated his speech with the statement that he did not know how he would be able to defend his attitude in regard to Canberra.
– I shall make no attempt to defend it.
– The honorable member said that he was so keenly interested in the progress of the Capital that he would have difficulty in defending himself. He would certainly have great difficulty in supporting his innuendoes and abuse of the Chief Commissioner and myself. I shall leave the matter at that.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . ‘ . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
After section six of the principal act, the following sections are inserted: - “6aa.- (1) The election of a Third Commissioner shall be conducted in the following manner: -
The persons qualified to vote at elections for the Third Commissioner shall be persons -
who are ratepay ing lessees of the commission, as defined in sub-section (2.) of this section; and
whose names are on the roll of ratepaying lessees prepared by the Chief Electoral Officer for the purposes of this act; and
Each ratepaying lessee who is enrolled on the ratepaying lessees’ roll shall be entitled to one vote at each election held under this act. “ (2.) For the purposes of this section a person shall be a ratepaying lessee if -
he is severally the lessee of rateable land, and under a lease in writing or other document of title relating to such land, liable to pay to the commission the whole or any part of any rates which may be made and levied in respect of any land ;
he is jointly such lessee as aforesaid; or
he is the person nominated in writing as an elector by a body corporate which is, or trustees who are, such lessee so liable as aforesaid:
Provided that the body corporate or trustees may not nominate at any one election more than one person for enrolment as ratepaying lessee. “ (3.) The Chief Electoral Officer shall prepare for each election a roll of the names and addresses of the ratepaying lessees in the Territory on the date of the advertisement by him of the notice required by paragraph (a) of subsection (1.) of this section.”
Amendment (by Sir Neville Howse) proposed -
That the words “ (i) who are ratepaying lessees of the commission, as defined in subsection (2) of this section; “sub-section (d), be omitted, and the following words inserted in lieu thereof: - “ (i) who are least twenty-one years of agc, and are natural born or naturalized subjects of the King; (ia) who are owners or occupiers as de fined in section three of this act; and”
.- This proposal to restrict the franchise has been already dealt with by myself and other members. By refusing to grant adult franchise, the Government will prevent a large number of citizens living in the Territory from voting in the election for the third commissioner.For that reason, I propose to move an amendment to the effect that the present clause be omitted, and that there be substituted for it one providing such qualifications as applyin the Commonwealth Electoral Act and its amendments. This will ensure that the same franchise as was used for the taking of the recent liquor referendum shall apply to the election of the third commissioner, except that the qualifications relating to employees of the commission and of the Home and Territories
Department will still obtain. I hope that Parliament will not perpetuate that very old and conservative practice of refusing to enfranchise boarders or lodgers, or persons who live in camps. Such persons are paying into the coffers of the Treasury large sums in the form of indirect taxes, even if they pay no direct taxes. A humble pick and shovel man living in one of the camps about the Territory pays quite as much in taxation as many of those who will be granted a vote under this bill merely because they happen to be the occupiers of dwellings the rental value of which is 5s. 9d. a week or more. The Government has discriminated between the man who lives in a hut and pays a rent of 6s. a week for it, and the man who lives in a camp which he has constructed for himself. After all, what is the difference ? The man who pays 6s. a week in rent is recognized as a responsible citizen, but the other, simply because he has not become a tenant of the commission, is denied the right to vote. Furthermore, under this provision, persons living as boarders will be disfranchised. Some of them are paying up to £7 a week for board and residence for themselves and families, and part of this money goes towards defraying the capital cost of the hotels in which they live. They are paying a direct revenue to the commission, and they also pay indirect taxes to the extent of about £9 a year; yet, because they do not live in a hut and pay 5s. 9d. a week rent, or in a house which costs £5000, they are not entitled to a vote.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Blakeley) put - .
That paragraphs (d)and (e) of subsection (1.) and sub-section (2.) of proposed new section6aa be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof - “(d) The persons qualified to vote at elections for the Third Commissioner shall be persons who, if they lived in- a Commonwealth electoral division for the period for which they had lived in the Territory for the Seat of, Government, would be entitled to enrolment, and to vote at elections for the House of. Representatives.”
The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Amendment of Sir Neville Howse again proposed, and agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir Neville Howse) agreed to.
That sub-section 2 be omitted.
That after sub-section 3 the following proviso be added: - “ Provided that, where any property is in the occupation of an occupier other than the owner, the occupier shall be entitled to be enrolled in respect of that property instead of the owner thereof:
Provided further that no person shall be entitled to be enrolled more than once in respect of each election:
Provided also that, subject to the two preceding provisos, where the owner or occupier is a body corporate or body of trustees it may nominate one person in writing as the elector in respect of all the property in respect of which it is either owner or occupier.”
Clause further amended consequentially and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 8 of the principal act is amended -
by omitting sub-section (2) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - “ (2) Thereafter each appointment of a Chief Commissioner, or a Second Commissioner, shall be for a. term not exceeding five years.”
By inserting, after sub-section (2) the following sub-section:- “ (2a) A person elected as Third Commissioner shall, subject to this act, hold office for a term of three years from the date of his election.”;
Amendments (by Sir Neville Howse) agreed to -
That in proposed new sub-section (2) the words “ or a Second Commissioner “ be omitted, and after the word “ years “ the following words be inserted: - “and each appointment of a Second Commissioner shall be for a term of one year.”
That in proposed new sub-section 2a the words “ three years “ be omitted and the words “ one year “ inserted in lieu thereof.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 14 agreed to.
Motion (by Sir Neville Howse) agreed to -
That the following new clause be added: - 2a. Section three of the principal act is amended by inserting after the definition of “commissioner” the following definitions: - “ ‘ Occupier ‘ means a person who, for at least one month immediately preceding the date of the advertisement referred to in paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of section six aa of this act, has been in occupation as a tenant or sub-tenant, or as one of several tenants or sub-tenants holding in joint tenancy or tenancyincommon, of the whole or any portion of any house, warehouse, office, shop or other building under a tenancy, the rent under which is at the rate of not less than Fifteen pounds a year for the tenant or sub-tenant (or, as the case may be, for each of the several tenants or subtenants) :
Provided that where any tenant or subtenant sublets the whole or any portion of his premises the rent payable by him shall for the purposes of this definition, be deemed to be reduced by the rent payable to him by his sub-tenant: “ ‘ Owner ‘ in relation to property, means the person, other .than the commission for the time being entitled to receive the rack-rent thereof, or who would be so entitled if the property were let to a tenant at a rack-rent, and where, on the date of the advertisement referred to in paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of section six aa of this act, the commission has granted a lease of land for a period of not less than one month or a person is entitled to be granted by the commission a lease of land for such a period, means the lessee or the person so entitled, as the case may he.”
– I move - .
That the following new clause be inserted: - 15. - (1.) After section twenty-eight of the principal act the following section is inserted: - “28a. Section twelve of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1010 is amended by omitting the words- ‘ Until the Parliament - makes other provision for the government of the Territory ‘.” (2.) This section shall be deemed to have commenced on the date of the passing of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1024.
– What is the reason for the retrospective provision?
– The act of 1910 gave power to the Governor-General to make ordinances “until the Parliament makes other provision for the government of the Territory.” It has been suggested that that “ other provision “ was made by the act of 1924, and that upon the passing of it the power to make ordinances ceased. A doubt upon this point having been raised in connexion with a housing ordinance following upon the creation of the commission as “ a prescribed authority “ under the Housing Act, this amendment to omit the limiting words is proposed.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report, (by leave) adopted. Bill (by leave) read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 18th September (vide page 6832) on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1. - The Parliament - namely, “ The President, £1,300 “ he agreed to.
.- Honorable members will agree with me that the budget speech of the Treasurer provides food for serious thought. Having given the matter careful consideration, T have come to the conclusion that the Treasurer is well advised in dealing with the deficit as he proposes; in fact he has adopted the only possible course. He has made provision against a repetition of the deficiency whilst at the same time avoiding drastic action which might cause serious trouble throughout the community. The period of financial stringency through which we are passing is entirely responsible for the deficit, for, inevitably, it has caused a curtailment of private expenditure. During the boom period which preceded the depression, many people not only spent their income but mortgaged their prospects. Promissory notes cannot be renewed indefinitely ; the day comes when they must be met. Consequently, private people and business firms whose outgoings were exceeding their income, were forced to resort to economy. We have had the benefit of a free criticism of the budget by the Leader of the Opposition. We have also had the advantage of hearing the Prime Minister in reply, and any unbiased person will admit that the right honorable gentleman’s answer to the Leader of the Opposition was most effective. There has been much talk regarding the increase of Commonwealth indebtedness during the last six years. The Leader of the Opposition did not explain that although the total indebtedness of the Commonwealth has slightly increased, the dead-weight war debt has been considerably reduced. On the 30th June, 1922, the dead-weight war debt amounted to £333,000,000. On the 30th June last it was £294,000,000 - a reduction of. £39,000,000. The works debt, on the o’ther hand, had increased from £32,000,000 on the 30th June, 1922, to £79,000,000 on the 30th June last, showing an increase of £47,000,000. Therefore the net increase of the total indebtedness of the Commonwealth has been only £8,000,000. ‘ A comforting fact is that a large proportion of the new debt is paying not only interest but sinking fund. The Postmaster-General’s Department is responsible for about £25,000,000 of it, upon which it pays interest and lj per cent, towards sinking fund. Generally, the position of the public debt is very satisfactory. We have been told that the increase of indebtedness is largely responsible for the adverse trade balance and financial depression, but the critics of the Government omit to mention what has happened in regard to the State debts during the same period. The following table is illuminating : -
As against a total increase . of £166,640,556 in the indebtedness of the States, the Commonwealth indebtedness increased by only £8,000,000. If there is any force in the contention of the Leader of the Opposition it applies to State borrowing to a much greater extent than to Commonwealth borrowing, arid during the six years under review most of the States were governed by Labour administrations. Recently, when the Leader of the Opposition was in Queensland, he criticized at a public meeting the folly of borrowing abroad. His chairman, the Premier of that State (Mr. McCormack) was most uncomfortable, because only a short time previously he had made a public statement justifying borrowing abroad as the only means of obtaining money without hampering local industries. I am told that after attention was drawn to this inconsistency of the two Labour leaders by a Queensland senator, the Leader of the Opposition refrained from alluding to the subject again during his tour of that State. It is always interesting to contrast the opinion of Labour in office with the opinion of Labour in opposition in regard to borrowing.
The Government is to be congratulated upon the financial agreement it has made with the States. That is one of the most important matters that has been dealt with for a considerable time. Some honorable members regarded the per capita payment of 25s. as sacrosanct ; but I believe that the new arrangement will prove beneficial not only to the Commonwealth, but also to the States. The
Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is to be congratulated, especially upon having made the stipulation that a sinking fund shall be provided for the liquidation of not only the present, but also future State debts. We have thus departed from the old Micawber practice of renewing our promissory notes when they became due, and exclaiming “ Thank God, that’s paid.” New South Wales furnishes an example of what happens when that practice, is followed. A metamorphosis is taking place in the city of Sydney and its suburbs, the system of propulsion by steam in the railways being replaced by -electric traction. New stations have had to be built and new lines laid; yet interest is still being paid upon the money borrowed to install the old system, because no sinking fund for the liquidation of the debt was established. Such a fund would have enabled it to be discharged long ago.
Justification for the action proposed by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) in connexion with the deficit is provided by the fact that, if drastic economy were practised the existing unemployment would be accentuated. Speaking in this committee only last week I quoted figures which proved the necessity for a radical alteration of the methods adopted for recording the number of unemployed persons. A large number of workers were called for, but not one in ten of those who had registered as unemployed responded. It is a fact, however, that the amount of unemployment is greater than is desirable. It is well known that some of those unfortunate people who are suffering through lack of employment have not registered, and that they are being exploited by the professional unemployed. I trust that this matter will be further investigated by the Government, and that it will endeavour to have provided a more authentic record of unemployment than that which is at present compiled.
There is a great deal of depression in the coal trade, the unfortunate miners working only one or two days a week. In the western district of New South Wales that is not due to a lessened demand for coal. A greater quantity is now being produced than has been previously produced in the history of those mines. The trouble is caused by over-production, a larger number of mines being now in operation.
There is a State mine which is producing fortnightly about 20,000 tons of coal for the use of the railways. Before it was developed to its present extent that quantity was supplied by the other mines in the district. Another cause of unemployment is the local rule which forbids any of the miners who are working part time in the other mines to accept employment in the State mine, which consequently is worked by miners from other centres in Australia and overseas. In the northern fields, unfortunately, the consumption has decreased considerably. Every honorable member must have listened with interest to the scheme outlined by the Prime Minister the other night to assist the industry. If, as a result of the negotiations that are proceeding between the Governments of the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales, and the mineowners, this industry can be placed upon a better footing, a very great service will be rendered to the community as a whole.
We must recognize that the majority of our primary products are just now realizing a lower price than has been the case for some considerable time. The seasonal prospects are in the balance. A little while ago it looked as though the future of the wheat-growers was very bright. It is earnestly to be hoped that before the end of the month beneficial rains will fall’ and save our crops; but there is no certainty that that will happen. The wheat-growing industry at the present time is not in a healthy position. With bumper crops, wheat-growing can be made to pay even if a comparatively low price is obtained; but if only average crops are garnered, the price we are likely to receive will not recompense us. I speak as a wheat-grower in a fairly large way. I remember making, ‘in this Parliament, six years ago, the statement that I was not despondent regarding the future, because we enjoyed advantages that are enjoyed by practically no other country. In the United States of America and in other countries in which wheat is produced, the land is put to a more profitable use when the price is not greater than the present world’s parity. We could adopt a similar policy. The land in our wheat-growing districts has been very much improved by cultivation. and if it were turned into pasture land and used for grazing purposes the return would be greater than that received from the growing of wheat at the present price. At the same time I am a strong advocate for the continuance of wheat-growing, because I know from experience what prosperity it brings to a district, even though the farmer himself does not benefit appreciably. I trust that, as the season progresses, we shall find ourselves in a much better position.
In a time of financial depression such as that through which we are now passing our troubles are accentuated by continual industrial unrest. There is at present in progress a strike in the shipping industry, and I congratulate the Government upon the prompt and firm action taken to deal with it. Whether it proves successful or not, that is the only sane attitude which could have been adopted. The Waterside Workers Federation has caused more trouble in Australia than probably any other union. It is led by men who do not desire industrial peace, but whose one wish is to create discord. That assertion cannot be contradicted. It is really the spoilt child of unionism. Every endeavour has been made to placate these men; they have been kissed, coddled and cajoled to such an extent that they consider they are a law unto themselves. The time has arrived for them to be cudgelled into submission by the stern arm of the law, and made to abide by the awards of the court. The one thing desired by the leaders of this union particularly is the scrapping of the arbitration system.
– That is not so.
– Before I resume my seat,’ I shall give substantial proof that it is so. It has been said that it is impossible to enforce an award against a large body of unionists; but it is not impossible to make the leaders suffer for their indiscretions. They, and not the rank and file who are being led blindly into an untenable position, are the men against whom we should direct an offensive. I compliment the AttorneyGeneral upon not being blinded by the attitude of these men, who always retire when trouble threatens.
– The honorable member would not make such a statement at Lithgow.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong does not know me, or he would realize that I am not afraid to express my opinions anywhere. That is why I usually obtain such a big vote at Lithgow. On only one occasion has the Australian Workers Union departed from the practice of accepting the awards of the Arbitration Court. They were misled then, but they quickly retraced their steps, and the leaders had to pay the penalty. As a result this union is in a remarkably strong position, and its members have benefited correspondingly. It is not right that the responsibility should be placed upon the employers in an industry to police awards. It would be much better if there were an independent staff to see that awards were obeyed. We have a police force which takes action to bring to justice offenders against our ordinary laws. A similar practice should be adopted in connexion with Arbitration Court awards. The penalty provided can be exacted from the men who lead unionists into trouble.
The other night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), following upon a statement by the Prime Minister, said -
The right honorable gentleman apparently does not understand the psychology of the great mass of the working men, and particularly of those who perform their arduous duties on our wharfs.
That is characteristic of the attitude of honorable members opposite. They assume an air of superiority in regard to matters in which, they consider, the opinion of the employees is the predominant one. I have no wish to be unkind, but I cannot refrain from suggesting that a comparison of the number of honorable members who sit opposite with the number of those who sit on this side, makes it fairly obvious that the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters failed three years ago to understand the psychology of the great mass of the electors of this country.
– The position will be no different when the next appeal is made to the people.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– If we are victorious, we shall win on our merits.
– It will be a very poor victory, because honorable members opposite have few merits.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The time has arrived when, instead of the Government studying the psychology of those men, they must consider the psychology of the majority of the people of Australia, who have shown in the past in no uncertain way that they have no sympathy with the leaders of the unions who are leading the rank and file into trouble. Last night when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was speaking on the adjournment of the House, in answer to an interjection of mine, he said that I had no right to speak on this subject because I had not served five years on the wharfs. I certainly plead guilty to not having that qualification, and there are other things that I have not done. I have not worked my way into a safe seat in this House either from the “cushy” seat of a unionist secretary or through being a union delegate. One thing that I can claim to have done is to have performed in one year of my life more genuine hard work than most of the honorable members opposite have done during the whole of their lives. I may have no knowledge of the psychology of working men, but let me inform honorable members opposite that I have employed a number of men in my time. I have worked with them and lived with them. I have entered into their sports, and I can claim to have had no trouble with them.
– Did the honorable member find that the psychology of the worker is different from that of anybody else?
– No. I claim that the working man of Australia has no compeer in the world. On some occasions I have employed wasters, but they have never returned to me asking for work. It may have been that they understood my psychology. On the other hand, men have worked for me year after year, and I am proud to say that someof the strongest friends that I have are men with whom I worked side by side for a considerable period.
Many people who do not know the industrial history of the past six years will find it hard to understand that every main strike in that period has been caused by the transport unions, or some other union’ closely allied to them. I made that statement in this House some months ago, and honorable members opposite took exception to it; but it is an absolute fact.. The reason for these strikes is in a plot for the overthrow, not only of the union democracy, which this Government has fought hard to preserve, but of the British Empire as a whole. In 1921 the second world congress of the Red International of Labour Unions met at Moscow and decided on a programme of action which was brought to Australia by the Australian representative, Mr. J. Howie, who, while at Moscow, sat on all the committees of the congress. The programme of action included the following paragraph : -
The direct actionof the revolutionary masses - by direct action we mean all actions, direct pressure of the workers upon employers and State, boycotts, strikes, street demonstrations, seizure of factories, uprisings, and every revolutionary activity which tends to unite the working classes in the fight for communism.
The interruption of transport and the coalmining industry on an international scale is a mighty weapon. The trade unions must attentively study the course of events all over the world, choosing the most appropriate moment for their economic action. These militant institutions should take the initiative by stopping all freight and products transported to their respective factories and all other enterprises, and the unions of transport workers ought to play a specially important part of the case.
The Labour Council of New South Wales adopted this programme of action, and, in the words of Mr. Howie, “Declared the unity of Australian labour with the programme of action of the Red International of Labour Unions.” Mr. Howie, in explaining his position, said the Red International of Labour Unions is “the general staff of the world’s workers army in the class war.” From then onwards the international trade unions set out to carry out their programme. It is of particular interest at this juncture to note the phrase “choosing the most appropriate moment for their economic action.” There is no period of the year to which that would apply more than at present. Every one who has the welfare of this country at heart is anxious to see the end of the financial depression, but there are certain members of the community who wish to prolong the misery and to extend the financial depression by bringing about industrial disorder and unrest.
– No one wishes that.
– I do not suggest for a moment that the honorable member wishes that, but unfortunately there are men in this country with no other object in view than to bring about industrial unrest.
– That is the element which honorable members opposite are trying to protect.
– That is so. Every week that this strike is prolonged means a loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds to this country. At present we have inquiries for wool, wheat, meat, maize, dairy produce and sugar, and those interested in these products feel a keen anxiety in respect of the existing dislocation of trade. In New South Wales there is a considerable quantity of old wheat. We have a reasonable prospect of a bumper harvest, and it is essential that that wheat should be placed on the world’s market before the new wheat is harvested. If this wheat is not shipped immediately it will help to glut the market later. Buyers will not operate unless they have a certainty of shipment. The export of maize is seriously threatened. It was anticipated prior to the strike that 7,000 tons would be carried overseas in one shipment. The value of the maize directly affected is from £90,000. to £100,000. The export of eggs is becoming a valuable industry to Australia. When in London only a couple of years ago I was pleased to find out that Australian eggs were in strong demand on the London market. One person told me that he would rather risk an Australian frozen egg on his table than a London new laid egg in the middle of winter. The export of eggs has already commenced, and it is anticipated that the quantity shipped will be double that of last year. There are awaiting export approximately 50,000 cases of eggs valued at £115,000. There will be a considerable loss if this shipment is delayed, because when it is ultimately taken overseas it will help to congest the market. Only three years ago a similar position obtained. The greatest demand for eggs in London is before Christmas, and if we miss that market lower prices must be accepted. There is not only the immediate loss, because of delay in shipment, but ‘ also the loss through congested markets later. At present it is anticipated that there are 750 tons of butter in transit. If that is delayed the quality will suffer. The dairying industry is one of the most important in Australia. For the year ending the 31st July last, Australia exported 44,250 tons of butter of an approximate value of £7,100,000. A cessation of supplies means the loss of our markets to foreign competitors. We have also a stoppage of meat and wool exports. At present we have the prospect of a good market for meat and lamb. A cessation of supplies will benefit our Argentine competitors’. Our seasonal prospects to-day are better than they have been for four years and the prospective values on the London market are better than they have been for eight years. To keep these markets we must ensure a continuity of supplies. We all know that old but true saying that Australia is carried on -the sheep’s back. Because of the shipping strike the wool sales have stopped. The buyers will not bid for wool if they cannot export and, therefore, millions of pounds a week are being kept out of circulation to-day. The sugar growers of the north are suffering acutely. Instead of shipping nearly 20,000 tons a week, representing a value of over £500,000, the mills between Mackay and Cairns are held up.
– The mills are closed.
– Let me review the position in respect of past industrial strikes. We find that subsequent to the return of Mr. Howie from the conference that he attended at Moscow in 1923, Mr. Garden, the President of the Trades and Labour Council and Secretary of the Communist party went to Moscow and there told the congress how 1,000 communists controlled 200,000 unionists in New South Wales, and how eleven out of twelve of the New South Wales Labour
Council were communists. He was accorded the right to sit and vote in the
Soviets while in Moscow, and on his return, in the LabourDaily, 7th October, 1924, he wrote an article ending: “ Forward to the new revolution ; forward to the world battle.”’ We know that Mr. Garden has recently been appointed to assist the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) in conducting the Labour campaign for the forthcoming Federal elections.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– My information came from the official organ of the labour movement. While Mr. Garden was in Moscow the international of the Labour unions met and further developed its programme for world conquest. I have in my hand a pamphlet entitled “ The Task of the International Trade Union Movement,” which is marked “Price1s.”. It was bought in Mr. Garden’s office for 6d. It purports to contain “ the resolutions and decisions of the Third World Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions, Moscow, July, 1924.” Article 14 reads -
An equal distribution of the forces throughout the various industries will not produce the best results. The attention of the Red International of Labour Unions’ adherents should be focussed upon the organization of the workers of those industries which play a decisive role in the struggle of labour against capitalism (transport, mining, metal, chemical, electrical industries, gasworks, telegraph, radio, &c. ) . Without the conquest of these key industries, the Labour struggle is doomed to ‘failure. Concentration of efforts along this line is dictated by the elementary consideration of the most effective application of revolutionary energies designed to strike at the most vulnerable and the most important points of the capitalist system.
I could read a number of other equally interesting extracts from this pamphlet, but I shall not do so at the moment. It will be seen that the aims of the new movement” are to cripple industry by holding up certain public facilities, the first of which are transport and mining; and to white-ant the old-established unions, the objectives of which are merely the bettering of working conditions and not world revolution, by settingup a number of shop committees or internal
Soviets. It is a singular thing that fol lowing the visit of this delegation, every delegate who went from Australia to Moscow was already associated with either our transport or mining unions, which were the first on the list. It is significant also that the Australian Railways Union was persuaded, almost immediately after the 1924 conference, illegally to pass over the applications of 49 Australians for the position of general secretary, and to appoint a British immigrant, a Mr. Chapman, who is one of the two greatest experts in the world in shop-committee organizing or internal soviet whiteanting. Mr. Chapman had just previously spent two years at Moscow. He is a syndicalist, and the founder of the British Shop Stewards movement, of which Mr.. Tom Mann is the head. He is a member of Mr. Mann’s National Executive Committee, and is ex-editor of the shop stewards’ journal Solidarity. He had only been in Australia a couple of months when he was made secretary of the Australian Railways Union.
– Dreadful !
– I am glad that the honorable member realizes that it is dreadful.
– In what part of the honorable member’s constituency is this speech intended to circulate ?
– I can quite understand that the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) does not appreciate these home truths. At the annual conference of the Australian Railways Union, which contains 11,000 members, Mr. Price was in the chair. When the business of appointing “ Comrade “ Chapman was reached Mr. Price, surrounded by the organizers and the petty officials, who sat with becoming meekness, in the presence of the tyrant said- I quote from the report of the proceedings which appeared in the official organ of the. union - “Comrade Smith, Grady (who was then your president), and myself, from a number of applications - I think it was 50 - decided to appoint Mr. -‘Chapman. I am not going to throw bouquets at him, and I am not going to make any apology for our appointment. . . Under ordinary circumstances, it is the duty, of the annual conference to appoint the State secretary, but we have to take into consideration the amount of money spent by this particular branch - thousands of pounds which has come, not out of your pockets, but out of the pockets of members of the Australian Railways Union, in other States. . . . You recognize that you owe us something, and that we have the right to be masters of this particular branch for some time to come. . . In the ordinary course of events you would appoint your State secretary to-day or to-morrow, but the Australian executive has decided, in view of the circumstances prevailing at the present time, to make the appointment. This may seem to you a high-handed action, but you have to visualize what has happened in the past. … I do not know who you have in your mind, but we are going to do the job on this occasion.
I do not know whether you want Chapman, or otherwise, but I want an expression of opinion, and that will be considered by the executive, who will make the appointment.- . . We are not doing this for the purpose of electing Chapman to the job, but we do want an expression of opinion, and if Mr. Chapman has the confidence of this conference, it will receive the consideration of the Australian executive. If you show by your vote that Mr. Chapman has not the confidence of this conference, that also will be considered.”
In reply to a question the speaker pointed out that the Australian . executive had power to override a decision of the conference if it thought, it in. the interests of the union.
Is it any wonder that in these circumstances the conference gave Mr. Chapman an overwhelmingly favorable vote? It was told it must.
Since these events took place, it is strange that every strike of importance in the Commonwealth, . and for that matter in the world, has been in either transport or coal mining, and the strike leaders have been directly connected with Moscow. . This has been so beyond all question in Australia. Some of the stoppages that have occurred have been the Port Littleton strike, the “ ham and egg “ strike, and the British seamen’s strike. At the back of all of them we find Mr. Garden, the apostle, as we have seen, of world revolution, and an official of the Communist party. The same gentlemen is the driving force of the Council of Trade Unions.
In the coal industry we have had endless trouble. At the back of it is Mr. “Willis, of the Labour Daily, of which, too, Mr. Garden was also a director in 1924-25, and a most ardent collector of funds for it. In the background has been Mr. Emil Voigt, who visited Russia and Germany four years ago, and wrote the preface to the programme of action which I quoted earlier in my speech. Incidentally Mr.: Voigt was the head of the
Labour Council Propaganda Bureau. Of course, the miners had very little dealing with him, but he was secretary to Mr. Willis, and during his secretaryship the views of Mr. Willis changed. He became more of an Internationalist than ever, and the northern miners were induced to become an international trade union directly affiliated with Russia.
There were at least two serious strikes in the Railways Union in Queensland, where there was a Labour Government and where the Moscow leaders believed there would be least resistance.
In the first of these strikes the chief leaders were Mr. George Rymer, who had been to Moscow in 1924, and Mr. R. J. Carroll, who, for his lawless activities in conjunction with .Russians in Brisbane, could not be saved from imprisonment in 1919 by even the Labour Government.
I need not express an opinion on that strike, because the views of the then Labour Premier of Queensland, Mr. Gillies, which are on record in the Queensland Hansard/ are so very definite.” ‘-Mr J Gillies said in the Queensland Parliament on the 9th September, 1925 -
I want to say here that the strike was illegal and unnecessary. The strikers could have obtained all they asked for without striking at all - there were certain influences at work in the community which the workers alone could deal with - I admit that these revolutionaries could harass the Government and that they can destroy what it has taken the Labour movement 25 or 30 years to build up. If they do that it will be in defiance of all right thinking people.
Since that time there, has been another railway strike in Queensland, and again Moscow delegates, Messrs. Rymer and Moroney, were the leaders. I do not need to quote from Mr. McCormack’s speech, for we all remember it very clearly. I have no doubt that all right-thinking people agree with what he said.
Of other strikes, three stand out. One of these is the British seamen’s strike, which occurred before the last election. Of that, the Workers’ Weekly said in September, 1925, when it was in progress -
The present world-wide crisis in the British Mercantile Marine constitutes a. mighty blow to the much-vaunted supremacy of” British shipping interests,’ and., marks a definite ‘.step. in the growing militancy of the British working class, which is pointing to the dismemberment of the robber Empire.
The same newspaper referred to “ striking at British transport “ as “ cutting the artery along which the life blood of modern society must travel.”
The second strike which stands out is the British coal strike. I was in England while that unfortunate conflict was in progress. The leaders of it were in the closest contact with Russia. It was stated at the time, and not denied, that of the £1,300,000 contributed to the strike fund, more than £900,000 came from Russia. The only regret that I have is that the whole of it did not come from Russia. This strike caused indescribable misery throughout Great Britain. The number of unemployed was increased from 1,000,000 to more than 2,000,000, because the coal-miners refused to work. It is extremely regrettable, in my opinion, that funds from Soviet Russia should have been used to keep the strike going. When the strike failed, as it inevitably had to fail, the leader of the miners, Mr. A. J. Cook, visited Russia, and was feted as an honoured guest. At the time it hurt me more than I can say to think that this man, who had caused so much misery in England, should have been treated as a hero in Russia, and afterwards allowed to return to Great Britain.
The third strike that stands out is the present one. I have already dealt with that fairly fully. The object of it is, of course, perfectly clear. It is designed to discredit absolutely our compulsory arbitration system. When I made a statement to that effect earlier in my speech, an honorable member opposite challenged it accuracy. I propose now to quote the Workers Weekly, of Friday, 14th September, in support of my assertion.
– Who publishes that newspaper ?
– It is a Communist publication. It announces what it calls “A programme of immediate demands for Queensland State election.” Incidentally one must admire the discretion of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) in leaving Queensland for New South Wales before Labour politics reached the crisis at which we now find them in that State. One of the “ immediate demands “ to which the Workers’ Weekly referred is -
Abolition of the Arbitration Court and the elimination of State interference in industrial disputes.
An article on the front page of the newspaper is headed, “ Watersiders’ special conference; A big blow at arbitration; Beeby award repudiated.” The following paragraph appears in the article: -
The decision to repudiate the award does not mark a very big step forward for the watersiders, because the implication is that a new award might be regarded as satisfactory by the men. This will mean a continuance of the Arbitration Court as a fetter on the actions of the workers.
No time should be lost in forming industrial committees of action in all ports for protection against any attempt of the ship-owners to force any obnoxious condition on the wharfs.
The Attorney-General pointed out last night that the watersiders apparently had no intention of obeying the award. After Judge Beeby had drafted the terms of his proposed award, he followed the usual custom of calling the parties together to consider the minutes of it. The representatives of both sides attended, and the attitude of the watersiders was shown clearly, for they took exception to every item in the proposed award which was not in accordance with the claims that they had made. They showed their impudence by again reasserting every claim that they had made. Then, when an award was issued, the first thing they did was to repudiate it.
– With them it is a case of “ Heads I win ; tails you lose.”
– That is so. The question is: Are we going to scrap our arbitration system, or are we going to stand by it? The only way is to exact every penalty we can against those union leaders who are responsible for the trouble, and whose object is not to benefit the members of their organization, but simply to make trouble. Personally, I applaud the Government for what it has done. We must show those who caused the trouble that we are not concerned with their point of view, but with the welfare of the people of Australia..
Mr. BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) on the budget which it has brought down. The realization that we have a government in office whose history is so full of achievement as is that of the Bruce-Page Government should give us a feeling of confidence. The present Administration has, by its legislative record of the last six years, earned the gratitude of the people of Australia, and, I am sure, has also earned the confidence of those to whom we have to look for loan moneys. The budget is the record of a period of very careful administration, and it is a creditable statement of the results of a period of six years of office.
As a new member of this Parliament, I am under a considerable disadvantage in dealing with the problems which confront it, although I have had considerable experience of State politics. I understand how the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Graham Pratten) felt when he addressed himself to this chamber the other day, and I congratulate him upon his maiden speech. I am sure that he will agree with my statement 1 that we have both reason for thanking the members of the Cabinet for the kindness shown to us since we entered this Parliament, and for their ready assistance in regard to the affairs of our electorates. I realize, too, that by honorable members on both sides of the House there is shown a genuine courtesy to new members which is both pleasing and helpful, and which we appreciate greatly.
During the Government’s term of office it has put into operation a progressive developmental policy, for which it deserves the support of every one who desires the advancement of this country. The assistance, by way of duties and bounties, which the Government has always readily given to our primary industries has been of the very greatest advantage to those engaged in those industries. The work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has done much to solve many of the difficulties which confront the men outback, as well as those engaged in industries in and about the coastal towns. The Rural Credits Department, which has been set up by the present Government, has been of tremendous benefit to the primary producers, by financing the marketing organization established in the various
States. I trust that the day is not far distant when these marketing organizations will be placed, not on a State, but on a Commonwealth basis. Until our marketing arrangements have been organized on such a basis the primary producers will not receive the full value for their labour. Every one will agree that the primary producer is entitled to receive the full return for his labour without taking from any other section that which belongs to it. I hope that the Commonwealth Constitution will be altered to permit of the Commonwealthwide organization of rural industries and marketing arrangements, so as to ensure an adequate return to the men on the land. In this way the primary producer will be fully rewarded for his time and Labour, and the consumers may not necessarily be charged more than he pays at present. The Commonwealth Government has established a very high standard of administration, and it will have my assistance and support to continue and extend its policy of the past six years. I trust that the reasonable requests which I may place before the Ministry on behalf of the Wide Bay electorate will meet with that fair and impartial consideration with which the Government has already treated such applications.
The Commonwealth of Australia is faced at the present time with serious industrial trouble on the waterfront. It seems to me that this continual trouble on the waterfront is due to something more than a desire on the part of the men to enjoy good conditions and high wages. The Arbitration Courts which have been set up have made it impossible for the men to be deprived of a fair return for their labour. The workers have secured all those things which they could reasonably desire, and yet they continue their strikes and pin-pricking policy. This makes it clear that the objective of their leaders is not to secure better conditions for the men, but to realize the ambition of the Labour party, which is to break down the capitalistic system under which all civilized countries are working. This policy is a step towards bringing about the abolition of the wages system, and of the capitalistic system of society, together with the destruction of democratic government. The Government is only doing its duty when it insists that’-‘the
Arbitration Courts must be respected, and their awards obeyed. No half measures can be accepted at this stage. Too long has industry suffered as the result of Labour’s present policy, which has imposed hardships, not only on the employers, but on the working people as well. The Government’s action is not directed against the workers, but is intended merely to ensure that industry shall be carried on. When we realize that right throughout Australia great quantities of primary produce are awaiting shipment, and that the producers are running the risk of serious loss, it will be understood how grave the situation is. Great loss may be suffered by the maize producers on the Atherton tableland if they cannot get their products shipped to market. They have had to contend for a long time past against low prices for their commodity. For three or four years they received an average of £8 a ton for their maize. In 1926 the price was £12 14s. 6d.; but in 1927 it fell to £5 10s., whereas it cost £6 a ton to produce. This year there is a large quantity of maize in Queensland and throughout Australia, and it was hoped that by arrangement through the pooling board much of this would be shipped. Now, instead of the farmers being able to get a satisfactory return for their product, which may enable them to make up for previous losses, their maize is being held up at the waterfront by the action of men whose desire is not to better themselves, but merely to subvert law and order. The representatives of Labour claim on the platform that they uphold the principles of arbitration. Yet they obstruct the Government in every way they can when it endeavours to put the arbitration system into operation. Not only are the maize-growers of Queensland suffering as the result of the present trouble on the waterfront, but loss is also being occasioned to the producers of butter, wool, beef, sugar, and cotton. The women and children belonging to those who are unemployed as the result of the present trouble, are also suffering, and to a greater extent, probably, than is realized by those who are the cause of it. The time has come for the Government to act firmly, and I shall support it in whatever action it may take to enforce the awards which have been made by the court. We are faced with very serious danger, and the trouble must be met now. The workers throughout Australia enjoy good conditions, which have been given to them by the Arbitration Court awards. If they are not satisfied with those conditions, let them get out into the back country and take up ‘ land themselves. The Government’s duty in the present crisis is clear, and I am pleased that it has determined upon its line of action. The people can decide during the next election whether they are in favour of an administration that is prepared to uphold law and order, or whether they favour those who are prepared to overthrow the Constitution.
We find from the budget that the Treasurer is faced with a deficit of £2,630,237, chiefly due to a decline in customs and excise revenue to the extent of £2,105,748. This drop may be attributed to a falling off in the imports of luxuries) principally motor cars, tires and musical instruments, the duties on which declined to the extent of £1,413,000. This was probably due to the advocacy of those who believed that these commodities should be manufactured iri Australia. If that be so, every advocate of the manufacture of goods in Australia, as far as possible, is necessarily a supporter of a principle that results in a reduction of imports and customs- duties. We find also that there has been a decline of £181,000 in the excise duties on spirits, but the local production, may have caused that drop. In the State Parliaments, Commonwealth Governments are twitted from time to time with increasing customs duties and causing the workers and other consumers to pay increased prices for their commodities, but on this occasion the Labour party can only say that under the existing Government there has been a decline in the importation of motor cars and spirits.
Every Australian realizes that the improvement of our home market is the objective at which we should aim. A scientific tariff must be framed. It should be so flexible that unusual conditions could be met and altered duties could be brought into operation when needed at the earliest possible moment. Steps taken by the present Government have brought about a flexibility of the tariff that did not exist when it came into office. If anything can be done to expedite the operation of the Tariff Board in cases of necessity it would be advantageous to do it. The tariff should be of such a nature that economic assaults could be successfully countered as soon as made. Australia is suffering at the present time, to some degree from such an assault on its trade. If we have to go to other countries as we must for some of our requirements, it is evident that the Government must take every possible action to ensure, so far as lies in its power, that the goods we import come from countries that are trading with us. Wot only is Government action necessary in that regard, but a healthy public sentiment on the matter is also essential. We must trade with the countries that trade with us. Over a period of years, 50 per cent of our export trade has gone to British countries, and 50 per cent, of our import trade has come from British countries. But we are faced with anomalies in that regard. Thirty per cent, of our primary products is exported, and of our dairy produce 21 per cent is exported. Over a period of years 50 per cent, of the total imports, as I have already said, have come from Great Britain, but no less than 25 per cent, has been obtained from the United States of America. Unfortunately, Australia pays annually to that country no less than £38,000,000, and the United States of America does not take our products to a corresponding value. If the Government could induce the countries with which Australia trades to reciprocate by trading with Us, by threatening a trade barrier against them, it would enable us to increase our exports,’ instead of having to send away our gold in payment for goods received, from countries that refuse to take our commodities. The primary producers of Australia are not helped by the United States of America. That country does not take our butter, it buys little of our wool, none of our meat, and very little of any other commodity; but it takes as much of our gold bullion as it can lay its hands on. We must endeavour to balance our trade by exporting more primary products and less gold. It is most desirable to secure a better trade balance ‘ with such countries as the United States of America, instead of importing motor cars that are rendered obsolete in a couple of years by small changes of design.
One of the most valuable services that the present Government has rendered to the people is the increasing of the postal, telegraphic and telephonic facilities. I notice that the annual cost of these services has been increased from £8,189,000 to £12,8S7,000. These improved facilities have been of the utmost benefit to the people living in the back country. It is satisfactory to know that these services are paying their way. Since this Government has been in office, it -has not only doubled the telephonic services, chiefly in country districts, but has also reduced the cost of the postal services. In travelling through country districts one is impressed by the large number of new telegraph and telephone lines that have been erected from the smaller towns to the little villages, and from these to the homes in the backblocks. This has brought the out-back settlers nearer to their markets. The womenfolk feel that they are closer to their friends, and that they are within nearer reach of medical and hospital assistance. These increased benefits were denied to them prior to the advent of the present Government.- I find from the budget that it is proposed to make provision in the Estimates for the year 1928-29, for a further increase in these facilities by an additional loan of £3,800,000.
When we consider what has been done in other parts of Australia we realize that it is good to be able to support a government that has accomplished something with its loan expenditure. The Leader of the Opposition compared the administration of the present Government with that. during the five years prior to its advent. I shall compare the record of this Government with that of a ministry of another kind that has been in office in Queensland for a long period. In 1914 the Queensland’ railways were paying. Since that time the administration in that State has increased the freights from 10 to 50 per cent, and a deficit of £16,127,000 has been brought about.
For invalid and old-age pensions the present Government has provided £4.620,000. Of the £1 per week paid to-day to each pensioner the Labour party, although it was in office for five or six years whilst the Pensions Act was on the statute-book, has been responsible for only 2s. 6d., the present administration having provided the greater part of the remaining 17 s. 6d. The provision of the large sum required for these pensions is responsible to some extent for the present deficit. The State enterprises in Queensland have been carried on at a loss, which includes uncharged interest to the extent of no less than £3,000,000.
One can visualize the position that the Commonwealth would be in if a Labour administration were in power. Labour members profess to have ideals similar to those of Ministerial supporters, and declare that when they get into office they will put an end to public borrowing; but their promises are not fulfilled. The Labour .Government in Queensland made similar statements to those I have heard from members of the Opposition in this Parliament since I have been a member of it; but during that Government’s term of office it has increased the indebtedness of Queensland from £56,000,000 to £106,000,000. The Commonwealth Government, on the other hand, has reduced the war debt by £39,000,000 during its period of office, and its general indebtedness has been increased by only £8,000,000 for public works.
As it has been stated that the Commonwealth Government has a deficit of £2,600,000, and the Queensland Government a surplus of £10,000, I ought to draw attention to what has been done by these respective administrations. The Commonwealth Government decided that there should be no increase in taxation to meet its obligations. It has had to provide £7,610,000 for war pensions, and £10,000,000 for invalid and old-age pensions, while the Queensland Government obtained its surplus of £10,000 as the result of re-imposing the super-land tax, proving that there is something radically wrong with the financial control under Labour regime. The WarTime Profits Tax which in 1921-22 yielded £1,306,708, has been abolished, and direct taxation has fallen under the Commonwealth Treasurer’s administration from £4 to £2 4s. Id. per head of the population, or 45 per cent., while the per capita payments by way pf taxation in Queensland have increased from £1 8s. 2d. to £5 9s. 6d. It will be realized that if the affairs of the Commonwealth were administered by a government similar to the extravagant Labour Government of Queensland, Australia would be in a very unfortunate predicament. Instead of that, we have been able to carry on our institutions, and so enjoy the increased benefits that have resulted from the administration of the present Government, and it is to be hoped that it will continue in office ‘for many years.
There has been a reduction in direct taxation in the Commonwealth of about 45 per cent., while during twelve years of Labour rule in Queensland the taxation of that State was increased by 425 per cent. During the five years up to 1927 it increased 32.50 per cent. The policy of the Commonwealth Government has encouraged the investment of capital ; people have been able to come to Australia with an assurance that they would not be unduly taxed” as far as the Commonwealth is concerned in order to pay for losses on State enterprises and other foolish ventures. On the other hand, the Labour Government in Queensland by its maladministration brought about a reduction of the number of factories in that State by twenty in 1927 alone, a decline in the output by £4,500,000, and a reduction of the number of employees by 2,363. The long sufferings of the people of Queensland under Labour rule should be a sufficient warning to those people who might be tempted to support a Labour Administration in the Commonwealth sphere. Although the Federal Budget shows a deficit for last year, the five years’ administration by the present Treasurer has resulted in a net surplus of £266,155. During the same period the Labour administration in Queensland has been responsible for a deficit of £507,671. The Commonwealth Government has reduced the dead weight war debt, and direct taxation, and has managed public expenditure in such a way as to ensure a maximum return from it. Although critics of the Government have emphasized the recent increase of loan expenditure, the Prime Minister has shown convincingly that such expenditure has been incurred upon reproductive works and not upon State enterprises that cannot pay their way. No exception can be taken to the expenditure of loan moneys upon enterprises that are of advantage to the people and are at the same time earning interest on the capital invested.
Throughout Queensland an agitation against the Commonwealth Government by certain politicians has been engineered on account of its attitude towards the cotton industry. It is likely to be one of the greatest industries in the Commonwealth, and it exists to-day solely because of the help it has received from the federal authorities. It has had no other assistance, and I deplore the efforts of certain politicians to make political capital out of misrepresentation of the Commonwealth Government’s policy. Admittedly certain anomalies exist, particularly in regard to percentage yarns and customs, duties, and evidence in regard to them will be furnished in connexion with the request for an extension of the bounty and greater assistance for the secondary industry. But whatever may be done to help the manufacturers, I trust that the growers of raw cotton will be assured of “a reasonable price for their product. I have already said that the only assistance received by the industry is given by- the Commonwealth. When the seed cotton is sent to the ginneries and graded the grower immediately receives a cheque representing the first payment from the Rural Credits Branch of the Commonwealth Bank, and the bounty of l£d. per pound provided by the Commonwealth. Further assistance is given in the form of a bounty to the manufacturer who uses Australian cotton. I hope that the existing anomalies will soon be. remedied as the result of the forthcoming investigation by the Tariff Board. An agitation was commenced in Queensland recently to get a preferential hearing of this application by the board; unfortunately that could not be arranged, and . the board’s report will not be before Parliament until it reassembles after the general election, but the Prime Minister has assured honorable members that the report will be considered by the Government as early as possible. I accept that assurance, and am confident that the majority of honorable members will support the Government in honouring its promise so that anomalies in the cotton industry may be rectified for the next crop. Those politicians who are responsible for the present agitation say nothing of the jeopardy in which the industry was before the Commonwealth came to its assistance. They do not tell people that the industry was doomed, and that the privations of the growers were such that they asked the Prime Minister to remove it from the control of the State Government and practically take it over by the instiltution of a bounty. The agitators do not remind the cotton-grower that the State Government^ by act of parliament, commandeered the whole of his crop, compelling him to sell it through Government channels, or render himself liable to a fine of £1,000 or imprisonment for twelve months. That was the treatment the grower received from the State Labour Government, which also introduced into the Queensland Parliament a bill, based on an agreement with the BritishAustralian Cotton Association, providing that the whole of the seed, which represents two-thirds of the weight of the cotton crop, should go to the British-Australian Cotton Association free of charge in the first year, for £1 per ton in the second and third years, and for 30s. per ton in the fourth year. In the fourth year cotton seed was selling in Great Britain at up to £13 15s. per ton ; yet the State Government made that valuable byproduct of the boll available to the British-Australian Cotton Association for 30s. per ton, instead of permitting the grower to receive the full value of his commodity in the open market. The Offal was sold to dairymen at £7 during the drought. So badly did the industry suffer under the control of the State Government that it appealed to the Prime Minister to rescue it. The State Government prohibited the marketing of the rattoon crop, and the product of thousands of acres had to be used to feed stock. Because other countries were not permitting the marketing of rattoon cotton the State Government claimed that it was not a serviceable product, but expert evidence showed that owing to the mild Queensland winters it .is possible, to produce rattoon cotton of .good quality. When the Commonwealth Government instituted the bounty it provided for payment for both annual and rattoon crops, and thus conferred a great benefit upon the growers. The . producers have reason to complain because the Commonwealth Government has not increased the bounty from 1½d. to 2d. per lb., but they have been granted something for which they did not ask, that is protection of the secondary industry which is now recognized to be essential for the development of primary production. This should have meant an extra Id. per lb. to the growers, who were assured also that hundreds of thousands of pounds were available for investment in extensions of the cotton manufactories. Everybody was satisfied with the conditions offered by the Commonwealth Government, and even the Queensland Minister for Agriculture said that the industry was operating under conditions that would develop both cultivation and manufacture, and that the growers were assured of a good return. The conditions of which he spoke so approvingly ‘ were the same as those which exist to-day, and have proved, to operate contrary to expectations. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has not been able to make headway, and the expectations of the. Government and the Tariff Board have not been realized. To-day further protection of the industry is necessary, and I am glad to know that the Government has asked the board to conduct a further investigation of the industry , at th-~ earliest possible, date. ‘
The Commonwealth Government has assisted also the sugar-growing industry. Its embargo on the importation of sugar, the preference it obtained from .” the British Government, and the assistance granted in other ways have greatly improved the growers’ returns. Last year the sugar production in Queensland was a record.
Another industry which exists solely because of the help given by the Commonwealth is peanut cultivation, which is likely to ‘extend considerably. Last year 9,000,000 lb. of peanuts were produced. The growers claim, that further ‘ assistance is’ necessary, and evidence may be adduced that the embargo on imported peanuts should, be reimposed. The embargo was originally imposed at the request of growers who feared the introduction of plant diseases into Australia. When that argument was broken down, imports were again permitted, and last year the quantity imported was 5,000,000 lb. It is desired that the Commonwealth Government shall take action to see that better varieties are imported, with a view to protecting the industry still further. I admit that the duty on the imported article is up to 6d. a lb., and that therefore this is the most highly protected of our industries. I feel sure that the present Commonwealth Government will afford the protection and assistance that are essential to it in its infancy.
I sincerely trust that during my association with this Parliament I may be able to advance the interests of Australia. I shall always endeavour to support measures that will assist both the primary and secondary industries, and benefit both employers and employees by rewarding thrift. We shall bring comfort and prosperity to all sections only when we see to it that our primary and secondary industries are prosperous. I, and others who belong to the Federal Country party, do not stand for any sectional gain; but have at heart the general good of the whole country and the prosperity of the primary producer is essential to that end. We- wish to uphold the dignity of this democratic Parliament, and to see that its laws arc obeyed.
.- I shall not fail to observe the courtesy that is invariably extended to a new member, by criticizing the speech that has just been delivered by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), although with the greater part of it I disagree; but I can assure him that he will have many listeners in the future. My only retort to the long list of faults of the Queensland Government that he enumerated, is that the people of that State have continued to return it to office. The honorable .member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) read a number of reports relating to Russia and other countries. In reply I shall make only one quotation. It is not from a Labour newspaper but on the contrary from one that was a strong supporter of the Nationalists at the time when the article was printed. I quote from the Melbourne Age of the 27th October, 1922. In an exposure of what is known as the National Union, it made the following statement: -
This inner circle …. receives almost fabulous cheques from shipping, pastoral, commercial, importing, mining and financial concerns, and in dark secrecy it allocates the money to various branches of the Nationalist party for expenditure along definite lines, carefully laid down by the union itself. The main avenues of expenditure may be set out us follows : -
Publicity in support of the Nationalist party.
Advances to cover the election expenses of candidates.
Provision for conveyances for speakers and organizers before election day, and for voters going to the polls on election days.
Payment of the salaries and expenses of huge organizing and publicity staffs, who spend money like water at election time.
Provision of consolation prizes for men who consent to run in the Nationalist interest in electorates where there is no possibility of success. This is a devict to keep opposing candidates busy in their own electorates and prevent them from assisting others who need their help.
From the same sources comes the money to pay the stool pigeons who stir up a witch’s cauldron in Sydney about the time when an election is to be held.
– The Russians have bought a lot of their wool.
– I understand that that is so, and that they paid for it in cash, possibly in gold. If that be so, it is the only gold that to my knowledge Russia sends to Australia.
The Melbourne Herald of the 17th instant published the followingparagraph : -
The following pointed comparison of the expenditure upon Australia House and Canada House in London appeared in a recent issue of the Ottawa Journal: - “ Statistics now show that whereas it costs Canada only 335,000 dollars (£16,750) a year to runCanada House in London, it costs Australia over 3,000,000 dollars (£150,000) to run Australia House in London. Australia House has a staff of 341, Canada House has a staff of 148. And Australia has but a population of six millions, compared with nine and a half millions for Canada.
What have we received for that expenditure upon Australia House? Only about one-sixth of the officials are Australians. Does it advertise Australia ? Some honorable members have complained of experiences similar to that which I have had from migrants. On the other hand, others have told me that they have been well attended to. But will any honorable member or any person outside this chamber assert that Australia has benefited to the extent of £5,000 as the result of the existence of Australia House? I know that ladies and gentlemen of means are presented to His Majesty the King. I offer no objection to that, unless it be asserted that that is the principal business that Australia House has to transact. To those who have had the privilege of witnessing a presentation at court, the back kick which the ladies manage to give to their trains is a wonderful spectacle. I am glad to say that in recent years the trains have been considerably shortened. If I had the power I should close down Australia House and dismiss every AgentGeneral. The cry that rang from every platform when federation was being advocated was “Why do we want six representatives in London and six governors in Australia?” Let us have one Governor-General and one representative in London.” Now we have seven at each end. I enter my protest against it, as I have done on many former occasions, and will continue to do so long as I am permitted to speak in this chamber.
I notice that there is a large audience in our galleries to-night. When we recollect the scanty attendances at our proceedings in Melbourne, it is a pleasure to see the large attendance from such a small community as that which we have in Canberra. It appears to me that they are making a study of politics. I hope they will remember that at the present time they are only helots, and have no more political power than slaves. I ask them not to overlook the fact that they are Australians, and should have the full rights of Australian citizenship. But will this Government confer those rights upon them? If we had the initiative and referendum they would quickly obtain them.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Order ! The honorable member is not in order in addressing the gallery.
– The following motion was carried unanimously by the Commonwealth Parliament on the 16th September, 1902. It was moved in a slightly different form by Mr. King O’M alley, but as passed embodied an amendment moved by that great statesman. Sir Edmund Barton, the then Prime Minister: -
That in the opinion of this House it is desirable, in the interests of human progress, that the Government secure as Federal Territory an area of land, well watered, healthily situated, and large enough to fully meet all probable requirements, and secure to the Commonwealth the benefits to accrue from the position of the capital; such area, when secured, to remain forever the property of the Commonwealth; the ground only to be let to utilizers: all buildings to be erected under strict regulations with due regard to public health and architectural beauty.
Accordingly there has been tried an experiment in land tenure which has never previously been tried in countries that fly the British flag. The idea was to abolish private landlordism. I commend to those who may be listening to me, or who may read Hansard, the wonderful virtues of the Jewish jubilee year, when every member of a family returned to his home and lived under his own fruit trees. If every mother and father of a family lived in their own home, and had no fear of landlords, there would be more peace in Australia and every other country in the world. But what has happened in Canberra? I accuse the Chief Commissioner of the Federal Capital Commission of an endeavour to break down the system of state ownership of land in Federal Capital Territory. Had he not the colossal impudence to introduce to a Minister of the Crown a deputation which asked that the principle of private ownership of land should be re-introduced in Canberra, although he is a paid officer in receipt of a salary of £3,000 a year? When I drew attention to the matter the Minister tried to save his face by saying that he. had attended in his private capacity.
According to the Age of the 16th August, 1912, the Honorable Agar Wynne - then member for Balaclava, the constituency now graced by the Right Honorable W. A. Watt - moved* in the
House of Representatives the following’ motion >-
That in the opinion of this House a referendum should be taken to decide whether the capital of the Commonwealth should be established at Yass, Canberra, or Sydney.
More than £10,000,000 had already been spent at Canberra, and there is little to show for it. I have not seen in the Territory 3 consecutive miles of roadway equal to that passing Parliament House. The roads generally need repairing. In reply to a question asked by me in this House, the Minister for Home and Territories (Sir Neville Howse) informed me that the total cost of the building known as Canberra House was- £7,488. It was erected in 1913, and to build a similar building to-day would cost considerably more than that. I am informed that the panelling in one room, a lady’s boudoir, is of Queensland maple, and cost £300. The present valuation of the building is £6,300. The outlay of the grounds and the provision of a tennis court are estimated to have cost £2,000, making a total value of £8,300. Yet the rental paid for that building is only £300 a year, and that includes electricity and other services. Why should not the rental of that building be fixed on the same . basis as that of the rentals charged for the houses occupied by public servants? A house of onetenth of the value of Canberra House would cost £830. The rental fixed on the basis of the Chief Commissioner’s rental would be only £30 per annum, including electricity and other services. A house of one-fifth of the value of Canberra House would cost £1,660, and the rental fixed on the basis of the Chief Commissioner’s rental would be £60 per annum, including electricity, and other services. I have heard numerous complaints from public servants respecting the high rentals charged for their homes. The tenant of one of the little shops near the picture theatre at Manuka has informed me that for a six-roomed house he is paying a higher rent than that paid by the Chief Commissioner, who, in addition, is being supplied with electricity and other services free. I bear no ill-will towards him. I am too old to carry illwill. Far beyond the allotted span of life, I have given up the hates and strong feelings of the past; but when my country is wronged, when members of the community are treated unjustly, Imust raise my voice in protest, particularly at a time when we are suffering financial stress.
Sir John Butters, when before the Public Accounts Committee, not only gave evidence but also made numerous comments. Had there been on that committee a member with a knowledge of the law of evidence, Sir John Butters would not have been allowed to comment as he did. I propose to place on record in Hansard some of the evidence and comments of Sir John Butters as contained in a sworn statement by Dr.F. Watson, a gentleman who has written the history of Australia. His work will ultimately be in every library of the world, and will be of great value to students of Australian history. It is a colossal work, and I take this opportunity of complimenting that learned and cultured gentleman upon it. Dr. Watson, in his statement, says -
On the 21st of June last, Sir John Butters gave evidence as follows: -
One witness before this committee has abused the commission for not adopting a suggestion of his made two days before the sale. All I will say in this regard is that, so long as the prices realized did not greatly exceed those in the 1926 sale, a departure from the established procedure was unjustified, it being borne in mind that one of the intended conditions of the leasehold system was to enable the man with limited capital to establish himself on an equal footing with the man having unlimited capital, and, in any event, to bring such a proposal forward a few days before the sale, to publish an article in the local press, condemning the established methods, and urging a brand new one, could not be considered a helpful action.
Part of this statement by Sir John Butters is not in accordance with the facts and the other part is too ridiculous for enunciation by the Chief Commissioner. The facts are as follow: - (a)I advocated reform in the land policy towards the end of the year 1926, four or five months, not two days, as Sir John Butters states, before the land sale in April, 1927.
In February, 1927, I wrote to the Prime Minister on general questions of the land policy.
On the Wednesday before the 27th of February, 1927, I interviewed Sir William Glasgow, then Minister for Home and Territories, and enunciated the alteration necessary, and, on the 27th of February,
I wrote to him that “there were two matters of extreme urgency requiring adjustment fct Canberra: (1) the postponement oi the land sale next April, or the settlement of a definite land policy prior to the sale, and (2) the details of the royal visit.
In March, 1927, Sir John Butters wrote to me stating that I had “ been making a number of extreme and extraordinary statements to various Ministers of the Crown lately.” He thereby admits that he was aware of some of my statements, and presumably that for the reform in the land policy weeks before the sale, not two days, as he alleges, if he had not known of my advocacy months before.
I have never published an article in the local press as Sir John Butters alleges. On the6th April I wrote a letter to the Canberra Times, which the editor did nos publish, and the first time the said letter was published was when I read it to this committee last May.
I am informed that, in the correction of his proofs, Sir John Butters desires to alter “local press” to “Sydney and Melbourne press.” This alteration will correct the inaccuracy of Sir John Butters’ statement about publication. But it will make other statements by Sir John Butters erroneous, because the letters in the Herald and Argus contained no suggestion for any new method, as was contained in the letter to the Canberra Times.
I published the letters in the Herald and Argus, a copy of which I tender, after I found that the Governand the commission would take no action to prevent the disaster, which was inevitable, and has happened. The letters, I think, were successful in preventing many buyers outside Canberra from purchasing at the April land sale, and thereby saved a bigger disaster than has occurred.
I may say that dozens and dozens of Canberra lessees, with whom I have come in contact, seriously regret having purchased leases. Dr. Watson continued -
Sir John Butters makes his administration ridiculous by stating “that so long as the prices realized did not greatly exceed those in the 1926 sale a departure from the established procedure was unjustified.” How was it possible for Sir John Butters to realize that the prices did greatly exceed those in the 1926 sale until after the sale and after the mischief had been done.
Sir John Butters also asserts “that one of the intended conditions of the leasehold system was to enable the man with limited capital to establish himself on an equal footing with the man having unlimited capital.” If this is the intention, Sir John Butters has absolutely failed to develop it by maintaining the policy of the disposal of limited areas of land by auction, the amount of the hid determining the ground rental for twenty years.
I am not speaking only after the results of the land policy of Sir John Butters are evident. I foresaw them, and issued warnings. On the 20th September last I published a last letter on the subject in the Sydney Morning Herald, containing the following: - “When the inevitable reaction takes place, it is probable that many improvident purchasers at auction will find that their leases, loaded with an excessive ground rental and inequitable taxes, will be unsaleable liabilities, instead of assets.” That is the position to-day, eleven months after publishing that letter, a copy of which I tender.
It is an axiom among architects and engineers that if a city having a diameter of 1 mile is enlarged to a diameter of 2 miles, the cost of the public services is increased four-fold, those services being water, electric light, telephones, telegraphs, kerbing, guttering, roads, and footpaths. There is no gas in Canberra because it would be too expensive to install it. Dr. Watson continues -
In his evidence on the 22nd of June, Sir John Butters, in reply to my statement that the commission has “antagonized the banks,” has produced Setters which ho states prove the contrary. I have not seen the letter which was written to the banks, nor the replies from the banks, and I do not know whether letters have been produced from all the banks. The letters submitted must depend on the interpretation of the word “ antagonized.” I made my statement for the following and other reasons, which I think that the committee will agree justify the use of the word “ antagonized.”
At the land sale in December, 1924, before the commission functioned, the banks were restricted in choice to four allotments only, one on each side of two rights of way in the present Sydney buildings.At the land sales in 1926 and 1927 the commission altered this policy, and gave the banks, and rightly so too, the choice of any allotment in the present Melbourne buildings; but the commission did not offer any concession to the pioneer banks, who suffered by the change of policy. Yet, Sir John Butters states that, what he calls, “ the little argument, which developed with one or two of the banks some time ago, arose from the fact that, at the 1924 sale, before the commission was appointed, an undertaking was given that no banking sites would be made available except in the city, and the commission felt compelled to honour that’ undertaking.” It must be noted that, in one instance Sir John Butters alters the policy of the 1924 sale, and, in the other, Sir John Butters states that he must honour it.
Further, by stating that he must “honour an undertaking “ at the 1924 sale, Sir John Butters has enunciated his policy that the banks must be restricted to a small area in the city of Canberra, the city containing approximately 12 square miles ; whereas in the City of Sydney proper, that is, that part between the waters of Darling Harbor and Woolloomooloo Bay and bounded on the south by Liverpool-street, banks have head offices and innumerable branches -in an area of a little more than 1 square mile. By these decisions of Sir John Butters, the banks are antagonized.
Pending the erection of a building at Civic Centre, the Commission granted one bank permission to open a branch at Eastlake, which was against the interests of the other banks.
Many petty restrictions have been imposed on the banks, of which one may be quoted: - The proposed embargo on the use by the Commonwealth Bank of Gothic lettering, which is in general use by that bank elsewhere in the world, and
In every place except Canberra, the Commonwealth Bank uses Gothic lettering; but here it is not permitted to do so. The statement proceeds: -
In reply to my evidence with regard to my application for land, Sir John Butters states that I “ started off by desiring 5 to 10 acres of land within more or less a stone’s throw of Parliament House.” This is not so. The facts are: - In May, 1926, I accompanied the late Mr. Gorman to Canberra, and he drove me to Mugga Heights, which are on the southern limit of the gazetted plan of the city. He showed me the land, which he stated would shortly besubdivided in 3- to 4-acre allotments. Some weeks later he gave me a blue print of the proposed subdivision. In September, 1926, I brought Mrs. Watson to Canberra, and we selected an allotment of, approximately, 4 acres. I was then told byMr. Gorman that I would have to wait until the next auction sale, although, as I now know, the Commission had the power to lease me the land forthwith.
Eight months after being shown the land by Mr. Gorman, no progress was made. On the 22nd of January, 1927, I wrote to the Secretary of the Commission as follows: - “ Since the 20th of May last, I have been desirous of obtaining an allotment of a minimum area of 3 acres.
On the 25th of January the Secretary replied officially as follows: -
The Commission has had in mind the subdivision of such an area, and the members of the Commission recall the fact that you have, at times, discussed the question with them. There is no record, however, of your previously having submitted any formal application.
To sum up, on my first visit to Canberra under Commission control, I agreed to accept a suitable block of 3 or 4 acres on the boundary of the city, and not 5 or 10 acres within a stone’s throw of Parliament House,” as Sir John Butters states. Eight months later, I am told officially that I had made no “ formal application.”
Sir John Butters also states in his evidence that I “was offered - at intervals - blocks of land.” This is absolutely untrue.
– There must be perjury somewhere.
– That is so. One or other of them is not telling the truth, and from the casual way in which Sir John Butters gives his evidence, I am prepared to back Watson. The statement continues : - 1 was never offered a block of land prior to April this year, except in common with the general public at the auction sale on the 9th of April, 1927, and the largest block then offered for residence was 2 acres 1 rood 21¼ perches, or more than½ an acre less than the minimum, which I desired.
Sir John Butters then states that I “ after a series of insulting letters to the Commission was eventually offered a choice of three or four blocks of about 3 acres each, which I curtly refused to accept because I refused to be party to an illegal action.” The correspondence commenced on the 13th and terminated on the 30thApril this year. If it is insulting, after applying for land for nearly two years without success, to draw the attention of the Commission to their evasion, utter neglect or ineptitude, then my letters were insulting. However, the letters forced the Commission on the 26th of April to make the first and only offer which was ever made to me during 23 months, of blocks of land, three in number or 3 acres in area. I submit the plan that was forwarded tome with the offer of the three blocks. Block A had recently been surrendered, presumably as worthless, by the trustees of the Foy Estate, and yet the Commission offered it to me with a ground rent and building covenant more than double the original ground rent and building covenant.
Block B is unsuitable on account of contour. Block E, as you will see on the plan, is marked outside the limit of the gazetted plan, and, therefore, in my opinion, it was an illegal offer, and I refused to entertain it. This was all the land with a minimum of 3 acres that I was ever offered in the whole City of Canberra, with all its empty spaces, after twentythree months of waiting.
In reply to my statement that “ large sums of money were spent in unnecessary preparations for the Royal visit,” Sir John Butters states that, “as a matter of fact, the Commission carried out the directions of the Cabinet Sub-Committee controlling the Royal visit.” I must draw the attention of this committee to the discrepancy between the statements by Sir John Butters on oath and by Sir John Butters in his annual report, dated 1st November, 1927, and presented to Parliament. On pages 70 and 71 of that report, the arrangements for the Royal visit are detailed, and therein it is stated that these arrangements were under the “ Royal Visit Section “ of the Commission, and that a number of committees were appointed. On page 71, it is stated that “the committees functioned in an advisory capacity, their recommendations being developed subject to coordination by the secretariat of the section.” Now, specially note the following words - the report continues - “ The successive directions of the Chief Commissioner (i.e., Sir John Butters) following his consideration of these recommendations, and subject to policy direction from the Royal Visit Cabinet Committee, which was sought as occasion required, were executed by the departments of the Commission.” You will note that it is stated that the arrangements were subject only to “ policy direction “ by the Cabinet Sub-Committee, which was consulted only “ as occasion required,” and that all arrangements generally were under the “ successive directions “ of Sir John Butters.
Is the statement of Sir John Butters on oath or the statement presented by Sir John Butters to Parliament the correct one? They cannot both be correct, and I relied in my evidence on the official statement to Parliament as confirmatory of other statements received by myself at various times.
Sir John Butters also states in his evidence that “the only expenditure, which proved to be unnecessary, was a provision which we were directed to make for a certain number of campers, only a portion of which turned up.” On page 75 of the report presented by Sir John Butters to Parliament, it is stated that, “ in December, 1926, it was tentatively decided to provide camping areas for 30,000 cars, and a parking area (for motorists who might visit Canberra for one day only) for the same number of cars,” that is, a total of 60,000 cars. Does Sir John Butters swear that this was the direction of the Cabinet sub-committee? What was the result? The report does not give definite figures, but states on page 75 that there were “only about 500 applications for camping tickets and the same number of parking tickets.” You will note that this is only 1.6 per cent. of the original estimate.
As in the question of the land sale in April, 1927, I forecasted the results of the administration of Sir John Butters with regard to the Royal visit. In February, I warned Sir William Glasgow, and, on the 12th April, 1927, I wrote to the right honorable the Prime Minister, as follows: - “ At present there are two alternatives only, the first is 2 to 1 on a disaster, and the second is 2 to 1 against a muddle through. The policy adopted by the five bodies in control has been “to hell with the public,” and, in a democratic Australia, this policy will not be tolerated.”
What was the result? The 9th of May was a fine day, and there was no disaster; but, in my opinion, the Royal visit was an absolute debacle as a great national function, and, as far as the public was concerned, was little more than a glorified Sunday School picnic, which result, inmy opinion, was largely due to the administration of Sir John Butters.
May I say, in passing, that the concert which was given as part of the entertainment of the Duke and Duchess of York was most absurd. It is true that some fine vocalists gave items. Mr. Alfred O’Shea, for instance, sang magnificently. But a so-called comic singer contributed an item which was utterly ridiculous. The burden of the song was “What is a man? He is nothing compared with a hen.” The singer then waggled his nose andwent on “ Can Bill Maloney lay an egg? No. Can Stanley Melbourne Bruce lay an egg? No.” It was with such ridiculous rot that the second lady and gentleman of the Empire were entertained. I believe that the Duke of York was most anxious to meet the Australian public; but he was guarded so carefully that some of us were able to get only a glimpse of him from the distance. I shall probably send a copy of this speech to his chief adviser, who asked me to keep him au fait with happenings in Canberra.
– He will sure to be entertained.
– For the information of the honorable member may I say that I have received more letters of commendation from members of the House of Lords and House of Commons than any other politician in Australia. Dr. Watson’s statement continues : -
Sir John Butters denies my statement that “ the results of the land sale on the 9th April, 1927, gave Canberra the biggest reverse in the eyes of the public.” That is a mere expression of opinion by Sir John Butters, which ‘
I think the majority will contradict. Nevertheless, I forecasted the results before the sale, and it is a disaster to Canberra for people to forfeit their leases and to lose money thereby: Sir John Butters continues to state, and excuses his administration thereby, that “the Commission is carrying out the land policy laid down by Parliament.” The only policy “ laid down by Parliament “ is leasehold tenure. The development and administration of that policy, which are the vital issues and are creating many of the present troubles in Canberra, are by ordinances originated in the department or by the Commission. Most certainly Parliament may disallow an ordinance; but this has never been done. Sir John Butters has secured amendments of the lands ordinances and is responsible for their shortcomings and the restrictions which they place on progress; and it is hard to reconcile this with the statement that he is merely carrying out the policy of Parliament.
The committee will note that Sir John Butters refers the responsibility for the Royal visit to the policy of the Cabinet subcommittee, and for land administration to the policy of Parliament.
Sir John Butters then contradicts my evidence with regard to the production of bricks in 1925. This was the one portion of my evidence which was given on uncorroborated hearsay. In the first report of the Commission it is stated that the production of bricks for the half-year was 2,377,645, which is slightly less than 5 per cent. under the maximum output of the kiln then working. This is the one point in my evidence on which the contradiction of Sir John Butters is justified. I can only express my regrets to the committee for giving evidence on hearsay, and it is my opinion now that that part of my evidence was incorrect. .
In reply to my criticism of Civic Centre, Sir John Butters makes a series of misleading statements. The committee will note that Sir John Butters states that the design was selected by the Committee of Public Taste “ from a number of designs “ (Now, mark the following words) “which were developed in the Commission’s offices.” Thus the Commission was responsible for the final design. The Commission also made other alterations. As I have already mentioned, at the 1924 sale, the banks were prohibited from corner allotments, whilst at the 1926 and 1927 sales, the banks were allowed to purchase any allotment, corner or otherwise. This demonstrates the power that the Commission had to alter the conditions. Sir John Butters further states that, “ in any event, there was no reason in the world why any one wanting a bigger frontage could not have secured as much as he liked.” Sir John Butters has entirely missed the shortcomings of the plans developed in the Commission’s offices. Civic Centre is the proposed centre for retail shopping in Canberra. The majority of the allotments are 20 feet frontage by 94 feet depth, or 1,880 square feet. Under the compulsory building clauses of the Commission’s plans, the rear main building wall is 44 feet from the frontage, thus enclosing 880 square feet of floor space. Thus, a firm like J. B. Young Limited could not obtain the ground area and the floor space, which they possess at Eastlake, except by purchasing seven adjacent allotments. The problem of purchasing seven adjacent allotments at auction would be difficult, would surely increase the capital cost, apart from the increased cost due to the compulsory building clauses of the plans “ developed “ in the Commission’s offices.
Sir John Butters alleges that I stated that the Commission forced the Queensland National Bank to build on a 20 feet frontage. Any one conversant with the facts cannot read that construction into my letter.
In reply to my statement that the Commission has omitted to provide areas suitable for large residences. Sir John Butters states - “ We have land still available from the 1924 sale, up to as much as three acres in area, and in fact offered Dr. Watson three areas of this size to choose from.”
I ask the committee to compare this statement by Sir John Butters with the facts.
In January, 1927, in reply to my application for a minimum area of three acres, I was officially informed that “ the Commission has had in mind the subdivision of such an area.” Yet, in June, 1928, seventeen months later, Sir John Butters implies that the land has been available since the 1924 sales.
Further, in April, 1928, after nearly two years of application and three years and four months after the 1924 sales, I was offered three blocks only, two of which were unsurveyed, and had never been offered publicly; the third was the only block, which was included amongst the blocks at the 1924 sale, but which was surrendered only a few months ago by the trustees of the late Mr. Foy as worthless.
Sir John Butters later states that “ he (meaning myself) then proceeds to tangle himself up properly by mistaking a natural history museum for an institute of comparative anatomy.”
I must now draw the attention of the committee to the discrepancies between the statements of Sir John Butters on oath before the Public Works Committee and of Sir John Butters on oath before this committee.
On the 24th of April, this year, I gave evidence before the Public Works Committe about the breach of the Seat of Government Administration Act by unauthorized alteration of the Griffin Plan in changing the site of the museum and the allocation of a site to the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Two days later, Sir John Butters stated in evidence before the same committee that he was definitely of opinion that there was no contravention of the act in altering the allocation of the site of the museum; he did not then call it an Institute of Comparative Anatomy.
Further facts may be noted.
For more than two years anofficial notice board has stood at Acton marking the site of the National Museum of Australian Zoology. On the16th February, 1927, I protested to thePrime Minister’ against the alteration of the Griffin plan by the location of the museum at this site. In his annual report to Parliament, dated 1st November, 1927, Sir John Butters, on page 12, devotes a lengthy paragraph to what he designates the Australian National Museum of Zoology. On the 22nd of June last, Sir John Butters swears that I have mistaken this museum for an Institute of Comparative Anatomy.
The climax came seven weeks after the sworn evidence of Sir John Butters before this committee. On the 9th of August last, the press of Australia was informed that the Federal Government had decided to change the name of the National Museum of Australian Zoology to the Australasian Institute of Comparative Anatomy.
For whatever reasons this change has been made it is a tragedy. The great MacKenzie collection, instead of forming a part of a great national Australian museum, will be relegated to the status of the Nicholson Museum of Antiquities and the Maclay Museum of Natural History in the Sydney University. Has this change been made to cover the blunders of Sir John Butters, which I have exposed ?
I say here that Dr. Mackenzie is without a peer throughout the whole world in his special branch of study. Australia should be proud of this great collection, for which authorities in the United States of America would probably be glad to pay £250,000. He has presented that collection to the nation, and I enter my protest that the site for the building in which it is to be housed has been changed. The statement continues -
Sir John Butters also states in reference to myself as follows : - “ Then on page 87 he allows his animus against the commission to outweigh any regard he might have for the truth. He swears before the committee that the cost incurred in connexion with providing cam ping places at the time of the Royal visit will be a charge against the Federal Capital funds, and will ultimately fall on the land. This is bunkum. All costs of this nature, in connexion with the Royal visit werepaid forout of Commonwealth revenues under the directions of the Cabinet Sub-Committee controlling’ the visit.”
In reply, I must compare this statement by Sir John Butters with the estimates of receipts and expenditure presented by the Federal Treasurer, and with the statement presented by Sir John Butters with his annual report to Parliament.
The estimates of receipts and expenditure on page 263 record the expenditure on the Royal visit and opening of Parliament at Canberra, as £95,462 during the year 1920-27, and an estimated expenditure of £15,000 during the year 1927-28. These estimates are dated 28th September, 1927. The annual report by Sir John Butters is dated 1st November, or nearly five weeks after the Estimates. On page 71, in an appendix to this report, a statement of expenditure of ?46,881 on tlie Royal visit is given. In this statement the expenditure on camping areas is included and also the sum of ?009 as interest on the expenditure to the 30th of September, 1927, so, presumably, the accounts were made up to that date, which was two days after the Estimates were presented to Parliament. On page 72 of the report, it is stated that “the incidence of this expenditure was not settled at the date of this report. The only portion which was recoverable from other sources, was that expended upon the establishment of the naval, military and air force camps.” Further, a statement in parenthesis in the accounts notes that the expenditure recovered from the Defence Department presumably on the naval, military and air force camps, is not included and that sundry payments to the commission have been deducted.
Thus, as far as the papers presented to Parliament at tlie date of my evidence disclose, at least the sum of ?31,881, that is, tlie difference between the expenditure of ?40,881 reported by Sir John Butters as paid from commission funds, and ?15,000 voted in the Estimates for the year 1927-28 remains a burden on the Federal Capital funds.
In the estimates of receipts and expenditure presented by the Federal Treasurer last week, the estimated expenditure in the last financial year on tlie Royal visit is shown to have been exceeded by ?6,082, and that there is an estimated expenditure for the- year 1928-29 of ?4,360. If these two sums also are deducted from tlie balance as presented by Sir John Butters to Parliament, there still remains the sum of ?21,439 as a charge on Federal Capital funds.
Again, the committee must decide whether the statement by Sir John Butters on oath or the statement by Sir John Butters presented to Parliament is incorrect.
In reply to my statements with regard to the traffic arrangements for the Royal visit and the errors that were then made, Sir John Butters swears that Mr. Mitchell “ was responsible for all the traffic arrangements from beginning to end.”
Again, I ask . you to note the direct discrepancies in the statements of Sir John Butters in his annual report to Parliament and of Sir John Butters on oath. On page 71 of the report, it is stated that Mr. Mitchell was a member of the committee of four for “parking, traffic and police arrangements “ ; that this committee functioned in an advisory capacity only; and ‘that the successive directions of the Chief Commissioner (i.e., Sir John Butters), were executed by the departments of the commission. On page 75 of the report, it is stated that the detailed arrangements were completed under the direct supervision of Mr. Mitchell. This statement is made towards the conclusion of the section, as I stated in my evidence that Mr. Mitchell came into action towards the end, and does not imply that Mr. Mitchell “was responsible for all the traffic arrangements from beginning to end.”
Since the evidence ‘of Sir John Butters, I wrote, for the purposes of confirming my memory, a personal letter to Mr. Mackay, asking him to confirm or deny the statement that Mr. Mitchell “ was responsible for all the traffic arrangements from beginning to end.” My personal letter was answered officially by Mr. Mitchell on the 30th of July, and he stated “ that the police authorities have no desire to offer any comment with regard to the particular matter referred to in your communication.” Surely, if he had been “responsible for all the traffic arrangements from beginning to end,” as Sir John Butters swears, Mr. Mitchell would have acknowledged it.
Sir John Butters states : “ Dr. Watson’s temperament may be gauged from the fact that, three days prior to the last land sale, he felt it necessary to write a letter to the Canberra Times, telling all and sundry what folly it would be to bid at the sale.” I have already detailed to the committee that my reasons for writing the letter, which was never published until read to the committee, were that I foresaw the bad effects on Canberra which would result from the policy of Sir John Butters; that I was willing to denounce them publicly; and that, when I found the Minister would not interfere and Sir John Butters would not see his error, I attempted to warn the public.
Sir John Butters swears that, “ according to’ myself, the Commission introduced the leasehold system, whereas the committee knows it did not.” This statement by Sir John Butters is not in conformity with the facts. In my evidence on the 4th May, I detailed the history of the development of the leasehold system from 1899 to 1924.
Sir John Butters states that I am “ astray by insisting that the valuation for taxation purposes is always the same as the capital price upon which the rental is based.” This is incorrect, as I would be one of the last to assert that the policy of Sir John Butters would be the same in two consecutive years, and I know that values at Canberra are not fixed for a term of years for rating purposes as in many places in Australia, and the result is chaos in Canberra.
In reply to my statement comparing the shopping frontages of Goulburn with those of Canberra, Sir John Butters produced a letter from the Town Clerk of Goulburn, presumably refuting my statement. Sir John .Butters has omitted to state that shopping frontages in Canberra are compulsory and are leaseholds, subject to various restrictions such as the prohibition of residence above or behind the shop, except under special circumstances; whereas in Goulburn, similar restrictions are not imposed, the land is freehold, and any frontage may be -used as a shop.
Since the evidence of Sir ‘John Butters I have written to the Town Clerk and received his reply. He states that, in reference to the frontage mentioned in the letter given to this committee by Sir John Butters there are certainly some hotels, motor garages, and public buildings included in this area, whose total frontages would be approximately- 16 chains. In addition, there are possibly half a dozen private buildings.” ‘ If Sir John Butters de- sires this committee to consider the letter of the Town Clerk, Sir John Butters must add to my figures for the shopping frontages in Canberra the frontages of “ some hotels, motor garages, and public buildings,” and “possibly half a dozen private buildings,” which are specifically excluded from my figures. Sir John Butters will then expose to this committee the comparative results of his foolish land policy in Canberra.
The production to this committee by Sir John Butters of the letters from the banks and the Town Clerk at Goulburn, may be compared with the production of two estimates before the Public Works Committee by Sir John Butters showing that the costs of building in Canberra were 20 per cent, less than in Sydney and Melbourne.
I have done my duty to an honorable gentleman who has been wronged by the Chief Commissioner.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), like myself , stays atone of the commission’s hotels. Unfortunately, he has offended the susceptibilities of the Chief Commissioner, of whom I have heard it said that if he were as big a man as he considers himself, and if his feet were in Hades, his head would reach the clouds. This Commissioner has had the impertinence to tell the honorable member that he had no right to criticize a member of the commission. Every honorable member has a perfect right to criticize any public man if the criticism is founded on truth. The Chief Commissioner told the honorable member for Swan that a letter to which the honorable member had referred in this chamber was a private one; but the honorable member demonstrated that it was not. This man then had the colossal impertinence, according to a newspaper report which has not been contradicted, to say that he was “ surprised Mr. Gregory had read. a private letter in Parliament, sent to him as a guest at an hotel, asking him merely to refrain, for obvious reasons, from criticizing the Commissioners in the hearing of their employees.” The public should be informed that honorable members who stay at the commission’s hotels are not guests of the commission, but pay well for the accommodation provided. The use “ of the word “guest” is insulting to honorable members, and I hurl the slur back at the Chief Commissioner. Since we pay 8s. for a bed, a piece of toast and a cup of tea, I think we are charged a fairly substantial sum for what we have. >
I compliment a certain lady residing in Canberra for the British pluck she displayed in refusing to allow the commission to turn her away from the Hotel Canberra, where she had been staying with her husband for seventeen months at a cost of £64 every four weeks, and paying well for the accommodation provided. This incident occurred prior to the visit of the Duke of York to Canberra, and I am sure that His Royal Highness would have been the last man in the world who would have wished this lady to be turned away from the hotel. For three days she was ordered to give up her room, and, like the stout-hearted English woman that she was, she maintained her rights in the matter, until, eventually, drastic steps were taken to compel her to comply with the demand of the commission. I believe that the Chief Commissioner is entitled to use the letters M.B.E. after his name. I prefer to interpret those letters in his case as meaning “ Master of the Barton Eviction “. If he cares to debate this matter in Canberra, I shall be pleased to meet him. I have always been prepared to give satisfaction when challenged.
I hope that some day a statesman will arise in our beloved Australia who will wipe out the terrible menace of unemployment. When we were surrounded by the horrors of war, and brave men offered their lives to defend our liberty, there was no lack of employment; but now that we are at peace, unemployment is rife. For over 40 years I have taken part in the campaign against this cancer of our civilization.
– If the electors give the Labour Party an opportunity it will find a remedy.
– I believe that it will. Every Englishman hates the thought of poverty. Widows and mothers of families who fear the landlord’s knock, suffer most from unemployment. The wealth that is. lost to the community on account of it can never be regained; like time mis-spent it is gone for ever. If the electors return the Labour Party to power, I shall urge the Labour Government to do at least as much as Germany did for her unemployed before the late war. If the present Government is placed in office again,-. I shall appeal at a suitable time for a friendly conference between the opposing political parties, who should vie with one another in an endeavour to evolve a scheme by which this evil may be remedied.
The land laws of Great Britain, unfortunately, result in large areas remaining in the hands of a few persons; and Australia has adopted a similar system of land tenure. Napoleon, who was the greatest friend of women and children, the world has even seen, decreed that large estates should be subdivided. Owing to the attitude of the Radical and Labour parties, the land laws of England are now less harsh than they have been in the past. I read in the Sunday News of the 9th September last that when applications closed at the Gunnedah lands office in New South Wales, for one block of 4 acres near Premer, 1,577 applications had been received. When the lands of Australia are made fully available to the people, the sons of our farmers will not be refused blocks as they now often are. One landlord recently told me that he had to send his son to New Zealand in order to secure land.
I approve of the efforts of the Government in the direction of borrowing on behalf of the six States and the Commonwealth in order to have only one borrowing authority for Australia. On the 28th August, 1912, I endeavoured to bring such a system about. At that time the debts of Australia amounted to only £267,000,000, but to-day they total over £1,000,000,000. The speech that I made on that occasion contained what amounted to almost a prophecy of the late w.ar, and it attracted a good, deal of notice. I received letters of commendation from a large number of judges, and from every officer commanding -a naval ship on the Australian coast. I had 139 such letters in all, including twenty from the British House of Lords, a similar number from the House of Commons, and some from, the House of Representatives in Canada. Most of them approved of . my proposal; only one disagreed’ with it. Amongst those who wrote approving of the scheme were Lord Congleton, the Earl of Derby, the Marquess of Allesbury, the Marquess of Winchester, Baron Harris, R. Hazelton, Spencer Clay, James Craig, Austin .Chamberlain, Lord Edward’ Cecil and Ronald M’Neil. Mr. Lloyd George was too busy to help. Some of the’.many correspondents were not very complimentary to Germany, and others said that they were not very sure of Japan. Earl Morton wrote -
It would be a good thing if it could be managed. We are running a great risk by not having a larger navy in proportion to the Germans. We should find it very hard to protect the trade routes in war time. It is very hard to” get our Government to do anything unless they can get votes for it, and Mr. Churchill seems to have a good deal of trouble to get enough money for the navy.
I estimated - and my figures were checked by an actuary - that the saving would be at least £20,000,000, which I proposed should be devoted to the building of cruisers to protect the roadways of the Empire between the dominions and the homeland. I pointed out that if the command of the sea passed from Great Britain, it would be in difficulty in six weeks, and in three months would be on the defensive. England is the heart of the Empire, and, if unable to buy food from abroad, would be unable to hold out against a siege, whereas if supplies could be sent from the dominions she could stand four-square to the world. Had these cruisers been provided, even in war time, the Austraiian farmers would have been able to send their produce to the homeland. I believe also, that if one dominion, with a population of 5,000,000, could have given the homeland a sum of £20,000,000 for the protection of the roadways of the Empire, Germany would have been impressed, and even tlie madcap Kaiser may have resisted his desire for world conquest. Be that as it may, if. the Commonwealth Government succeeds in instituting a common bond for all Australia, the moneyed kings of the world will place a higher value upon it than on the stock of seven Governments borrowing separately. The axiom of Euclid that the whole is greater than Lis part, would apply, and the stock of the whole of Australia would be a more valuable investment than that of any individual. State. Victorian bonds, issued at £92, could- have been purchased at £82, and if. a Commonwealth bond in lieu had been issued at par, there would have been a profit of £18. It is possible, however, that the Commonwealth bonds would have been- worth more than par, and, in that event, the profit would have been still greater. However, apart from a general appreciation of the scheme, and complimentary references by Mr. Deakin, we did not get very far. Although the unification of Commonwealth stock is a colossal work, I urge the Government to be of good cheer, and if returned at the next general election to persevere with the scheme. If Labour is returned, we shall endeavour to institute one simple borrowing system so that Australia will enter the money market as a single entity, having behind its stock the security of the whole continent.
.- I probably should not have intervened in the debate but for some remarks made by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) when dealing with the jam industry. The honorable member became mixed up with sugar, and got himself into such a sticky mess that it was difficult to distinguish jam from sugar. He was good enough to assure the committee that he was not actuated by any hostility to the sugar industry, and said that if effect were given to his ideas, advantages would accrue to the growers of sugar as well as to the manufacturers of jam. He seemed to be under the impression that by the existing sugar agreement fruit processors in Tasmania are obliged to accept refined sugar, whereas they could get mill whites for £21 10s. per ton, if no agreement was in existence. Unfortunately, the honorable member does not realize the difference between mill white sugar and raw sugar. His remarks would lead the committee to believe that mill white sugar is produced to-day by almost every refinery and sugar mill in Australia, and that it is pre-eminently’ suitable for the manufacture of jam. That is not so. The sugar that is being imported is rawsugar, -riot mill white. The latter is commercially made by only one country in the world, namely, Java, and the comparatively small quantity produced there was originally developed to meet the religious susceptibilities of the Hindus, who will not eat any food in the production of which parts of dead animals are used. Refined sugar is produced by filtration through bone or animal char, but mill white sugar is merely treated with sulphur and water, and so does not offend the Hindu caste. In the course of his remarks the honorable member for Franklin said that if the manufacturers of jam in Tasmania could obtain mill white sugar at £21 10s. a ton, they would be enabled to utilize it in the manufacture of jam, and would thus be in a position to process an enormous quantity of fruit that is now allowed to go to waste because of the exorbitant price that has to be paid for refined sugar. There is no reason why they should not obtain mill white sugar if they desire it, but from inquiries I have made, I have ascertained that Henry J ones and Company, the largest manufacturers of jam in the Commonwealth, have not made application to the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government, or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the distributing and financial agents for the sugar crop, to be supplied with any quantity of mill whites. The agreement between the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government, and the sugar-producing interests, whichcame into operation on the 1st September, 1925, provides that the jam manufacturers of Tasmania, by giving definite orders to the Queensland Government or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, may obtain their sugar for export purposes at a price which is the Australian equivalent to the world’s parity for mill white-r-about £15 10s. a ton at the present time. The price for home consumption is £32 10s. 6dL a ton. The honorable member for Franklin conveyed the entirely erroneous impression that the price which has to be paid for sugar used in the manufacture of jam for export is that which has to be paid for refined sugar. The true facts were stated on the 23rd December, 1924, in the Prime Minister’s official announcement of the Government’s policy in regard to sugar, but evidently they need to be repeated so that the people of Australia, and particularly the people of Tasmania, may know exactly what they are. So far, no Tasmanian manufacturer has lodged an order for mill whites with the Commonwealth Government, or, at any rate, not until a few months ago with the Queensland Government. Each month the sugar board takes into consideration the equivalent to the world’s parity, and fixes the price of sugar. If a Tasmanian manufacturer cares to do so, he is at liberty to obtain the beat prevailing price for any particular month, and fix upon that as the basic price to be paid by him for the ensuing six months; or, he may pay the ascertained Australian equivalent to the world’s parity month by month. The Australian equivalent to the world’s parity means that Australian sugar is supplied to the manufacturer at the cost in his store of the cheapest sugar of equal quality obtainable anywhere in the world at normal shipping freight conditions. In other words, the Commonwealth Government’s policy is to place the Australian manufacturer for export in the position he would occupy if there were no embargo on the importation of foreign or sugar grown by cheap coloured labour ; and he had full liberty to buy his export requirements abroad, and manufacture it into the finished product without the payment of customs duty. The jam processor of Tasmania is, therefore, in an excellent position. The price he pays for sugar is fixed by a board, which is not composed entirely of representatives of the sugar industry. On that board there is a representative of the manufacturers and, at the present time, he is the senior executive officer of the manufacturer who uses over 70 per cent, of the Australian sugar that is employed in the manufacture of goods for export from Australia. Surely it is in the interest of that gentleman to obtain his sugar at the best possible price. It is very significant that at 37 consecutive meetings of the board, there has been unanimous agreement on 35 occasions as to the price of sugar. The honorable member for Franklin declares that the jam manufacturers would be perfectly content to utilize mill whites. Eight years ago the Australian Government, in order to keep faith with the United States Government, which it had contracted to supply with jam, used a certain quantity of Java mill whites. The product was an inferior type of jam that would not keep, and became what is known among the jam processors as “ blown “. Owing to the fermentation of impurities in the mill whites, the shipment was so unsatisfactory that the Government of the United States of America made repre- sentations to the Commonwealth Government, and Sir Mark Sheldon, who was appointed as arbitrator to deal with the matter, came to the conclusion that the Commonwealth Government should recompense the Government of the United States of America to the extent of £12,000. That amount had to be paid solely because mill whites had been used in the manufacture of the jam. These facts are well known, and I am surprised that the honorable member for Franklin, who professes to know something about the processing of jam, should claim that mill whites are suitable for the manufacture of jam. It is an essential in the manufacture of jams and in the canning of fruit that there should be no mineral or fermentation impurities in the sugar used. In the case of canned fruit there must be a clarity in. the syrup. Mill whites make a cloudy syrup, and, when used, cause rapid deterioration of the fruit. They cannot safely be used in the manufacture of condensed milk. As a matter of fact, no manufacturer of condensed milk would utilize mill whites in his process. What better argument can we have to support our contention than the opinion of the late Sir Henry Jones, who was managing director of Henry Jones and Co., Ltd., the largest manufacturers of jams in the Commonwealth? He said it did not matter what the local price was, so long as the export price was fixed upon the basis of world’s parity. The price which the Tasmanians are paying to-day is based on world’s parity. If Sir Henry Jones were alive to-day he would be confirmed in that opinion, because the price of refined sugar has dropped from £46 ls. 6d. a ton to £30 6s. 8d. a ton in the years that have elapsed since he made that announcement. A simple calculation will show that the jam manufacturers have benefited to the extent of £175,000. We know that the prosperity of the jam industry in Tasmania is not dependent upon its obtaining sugar at a price lower than that which rules today. The sugar used in the manufacture of jam for export is supplied at world’s parity ; and the British Government gives to the purchasers of Tasmanian jam in Great Britain a rebate of £4 5s. 7d. a ton upon every ton used in processing the fruit into jam. I, therefore, suggest that no body of jam manufacturers is on a better basis in relation to its supplies ofsugar than axe the Tasmanian processers. The manufacturers of canned fruits are entitled to a similar rebate. If the Tasmanian producers of fruit are not obtaining the benefit of the rebate, their agents in Great Britain are solely to blame.
– It is made available through the Customs Department in Great Britain.
– That is so. Itwill be seen, on the authority of no less a personage than the late Sir Henry Jones, that the lean times experienced by jam manufacturers has been caused by the over-production of fruit and the absence of better organization in producing and marketing the commodity. For the reason that no industry in the Commonwealth is contributing to a greater extent than the sugar industry in the tropical north, to the progress and prosperity of this country, it is necessary that these small misunderstandings of the position should be cleared away. Time and again we have to submit to ignorant attacks upon that industry. I have had placed in my hands the following letter which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, over the signatureof “J. A. Burke”, of Neutral Bay. He seems to have a nodding acquaintance with the sugar districts, probably having passed- through them once or twice : -
Recently I visited North Queensland after an absence of some years, and, as a native of that State, was appalled at its retrogression. From Thursday Island to Mackay progresshas woefully slipped. Grass is growing in the main street of Thursday Island. Those once prosperous centres Cooktown and Port Douglas, are practically deserted; Cairns has many shops to let, Chillagoe and Mount Mulligan (thriving placesof my last visit) have almost died down. Kuranda is less prosperous than it was 30 years ago. In Townsville “ To let “ signs arc frequent, Ravenswood and Charters Towers are waiting for the undertaker, while Bowen has made no progress for many years, and a recent Government go-slow edict is crippling the timber industry along the Barron Ranges, making it impossible for timber-getters and teamsters to make a living, so several of the latter informed me.
Certainly the sugar industry in the Cairns, Innisfail, Tully, Ingham, and Mackay districts is flourishing, owing to the millions of pounds contributed annually by taxpayers in the way of a sugar bonus to bolster up our absurd white Australia fetish, which enables canecutters to make from £12 to £20 per week, and increased sugar land prices up to £130 per acre.
In the days before the advent of the RyanTheodoreMcCormack fatuous experiments, the places mentioned were flourishing; they now recall Goldsmith’s lines: -
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where labour rules and wealth decays.
Should taxpayers refuse further to boar the sugar burden, the North Queensland coastline will practically become deserted, as no industry can possibly carry the present burdens of ii hours, high wages, high freights, and the go-slow strike methods so marked at Cairns, Townsville, and Bowen (especially). These coastal lands are more prolific than Java for sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, cocoa, vanilla, and other tropical and semi-tropical growths. Yet under present conditions their use is economically impossible.
I quote that letter to indicate the balderdash that is sometimes printed for the edification of people in the southern States, some ofwhom will clutch at any excuse to belittle, if possible, the industry which, above all others, is proving conclusively that a white Australia is possible in the tropical north. One cannot pass through those areas without beiug impressed by what one may term its romantic development. Port Douglas was never prosperous industrially. In the early days it was merely a port and clearing house. Cooktown, like many other towns in Australia, was dependent for its prosperity upon mining activities. Both of those places have fallen upon evil days. But there have been similar occurrences in other parts of Australia. Bendigo does not now enjoy the prosperity to which she was accustomed in the heyday of her mining development. So it is with Ballarat and other mining towns. Look at the melancholy picture thatis presented by the decline of the mining industry in Western Australia. That is not an indication that the whole of the north is “slipping,” and on behalf of a very prosperous and thriving people I protest against the tone of that letter.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Dr. Earlepage) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
Mr. C. RILEY brought up the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on Housing and Building Costs Generally in the Federal Capital Territory.
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 25 of 1928 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 26 of 1928 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks andTelegraphists’ Union.
No. 27 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 28 of 1928-Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 29 of 1928 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union and Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association.
No. 30 of 1928- Federated Public Service Assistant’s Association.
No. 31 of 1928 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 32 of 1928 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement for 1927-28.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Ordinance of 1928- No. 20- Education.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1928/19280919_reps_10_119/>.