12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and offered prayers.
– About ten days ago I asked the Prime Minister whether the sales tax would be levied on imported shooks used in connexion with the canning and dried fruits industry.
– It is not permissible for an honorable member to base a question on one already answered.
– The question was not answered; the Prime Minister said that consideration was being given to the means by which shooks which were used for the purpose of exporting or marketing dried fruits in Australia might be excluded from the tax. I ask him now if the same consideration will be given to shooks used for the purpose of exporting or marketing canned fruits.
– The intention of the Government is not to impose a sales tax on articles for export or their containers. The details have not yet been worked out.
– Has the Treasurer received representations from traders in different parts of the Commonwealth regarding the confusion which is certain to arise through inability to learn the exact terms of the Sales Tax Bills by to-morrow, when they will begin to operate? Is he prepared to alter the date of commencement so that copies of the bill may reach important centres before the tax becomes operative?
– I have received only one communication suggesting postponement of the tax. If serious difficulties or confusion were likely to arise I would favorably consider postponing the date of commencement, but I do not anticipate any trouble of that character. Traders will not be required to make their returns until seven days after the conclusion of the first month’s operations.
– But they must know at once whether to pass the tax on.
– That is another matter. I have received no communica tions which would warrant a postponement of the date of commencement.
– As the Government has not seen its way clear to grant a bounty on the production of gold, will the Treasurer consider the exemption from sales tax of commodities used in goldmining.
– The list of exemptions is already extensive, and unless very strong reasons can be advanced, additions to it will not be made. The present state of the finances demands that the amount estimated to be yielded by the tax shall be collected.
– Having regard to the serious depression in the building trade, will the Treasurer favorably consider the inclusion of timber amongst the primary products which are exempt from the sales tax?
– The Government has given full consideration to timber, and cannot see its way to exempt it from the operation of the tax.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the sales tax as applied to goods sold by an importer to the public will be based on the landed cost, namely invoice value plus duty and other charges, or on a price to be fixed by the Commissioner? If the price is to be fixed by the Commissioner, how will it be arrived at?
– Details of this character may well be left to the committee stage of the bills. I cannot consent to an informal debate on the measure by means of a series of interrogations.
– An answer furnished by the Minister for Home Affairs yesterday, showed that Senator H. E. Elliott is a director of the Lariston Building and Investment Company, from which the Commonwealth leases premises for departmental use at a rental of over £600 a year. Has the Minister considered the legality of this contract between the Government and a member of Parliament? Having regard to the vacant Government buildings available, will the Minister take steps to cancel this expensive lease?
– The last Government leased various buildings at Civic Centre for an aggregate rental of £5,000 per annum. Among them is Lariston Buildings, which is owned by a company of which Senator H. E. Elliott is a director. In view of the fact that there is ample accommodation in government buildings for the departments which are now occupying leased premises, I have inquired as to the possibility of terminating the leases, and have ascertained that that cannot be done before 1933.
– Is the Prime Minister able to answer a question I asked some time ago regarding the proposed transfer to Canberra of the office of Patents, Copyrights and Trade Marks, and the estimated cost of such transfer?
– The Minister for Home Affairs has been investigating the matter, and I understand that his inquiries are not yet complete.
CUSTOMS DUTIES. Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL. - I ask ‘the Prime Minister whether it is the policy of the Government to impose duties amounting to prohibition on goods which are not being, and cannot for years be, manufactured in Australia ? Does he consider it right that no redress should be obtainable either in this Parliament or from the department by way of answers to correspondence?
– Questions are intended to elecit facts, not mere expressions of opinion.
Cost of Training in England.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being prepared, and will be made available as early as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s question are as follow : -
In addition an amount of £109,632 was donated for war purposes by a large number of persons, but the number is unknown, as in some cases the moneys were received through newspaper offices, associations or organizations.
Expenditure - Charges Against Ratings - Retrenchment - Imported Gun Turret
asked the Minister for De fence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questionsare as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Under the existing Naval Regulations -
What is the procedure when charges are made against ratings?
Has the accused the right to be defended by an advocate?
Is it permissible that the officer formulating the charge can conduct the prosecution and adjudicate thereon?
Have instances occurred of this: if so, does the Minister approve?
If he does not approve, willhe take the necessary steps to have such regulations made more democratic?
– The information will be obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– I shall have inquiries made, and furnish a reply to the honorable member as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Defence,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
New South Wales Tax
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The matter is receiving consideration.
Dairy Officer in London.
asked the Minister for Markets and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:-
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the total amount of the special (Canberra) allowance paid by all departments of the Public Service?
– Approximately £37,000 per annum.
– On the 11th July the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) asked me the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
With regard to parts (3) and (6) I would refer the honorable member to the statement made by me in this House on the 3rd April, 1930(Hansard, pages 821-823), and to the preliminary general figures as to the balance of trade for 1929-30, published in Hansard, 28th July. 1930 (page 4755).
The following Papers were presented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission for the year ended 30th June, 1929.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1930, No. 78.
Committee of Public Accounts Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1930, No. 84.
Motion, by Mr. Scullin, agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until to-morrow at 10 a.m.
WAYS AND MEANS (Formal).
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair - resolved in the negative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 30th July (vide page 4972)-
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed vote, £314,500.
Further consideration postponed.
Proposed vote, £77,620.
.- I move -
That the first item, namely “ The President, £1,300 “ be reduced by £1.
I move this amendment as an indication of the opinion of this Committee that the Government should introduce a bill to reduce the salaries of Ministers and members for the current year, and should also reduce administrative costs for the year by £1,000,000. I submit it as a matter of conscience and duty, and I am pleased-
The CHAIRMAN (“Mr. McGrath).I remind the honorable member that it is not competent for him to discuss the allowance of Ministers or members of Parliament under the item we are now considering.
– Is there any other item in this division under which I may discuss itf
– Nevertheless, I urge upon the committee the need for reducing Government expenditure as much as possible. All proposed expenditure, including the cost of Parliament, should be reduced by not less than £1,000,000. A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) moved on item 1 of the Works Estimates an amendment which, if accepted, would have brought about a reduction in expenditure of £4,000,000 for this year. That amendment” was rejected by the committee on what was, I think, a party vote. Various reasons were advanced by those who opposed the amendment. It was said that such a large reduction of expenditure would bring about dislocation of industry, and would result in unemployment. My amendment is not open to the same objection. I submit that £1,000,000 could be saved in the cost of administration without causing any diminution of Government efficiency, and without depriving a single person in this country of his employment. Such a reduction would lighten the burden of taxation by £1,000,000 at this time of severe financial stringency. So far from causing unemployment it would, by leaving in the hands of the taxpayers more money for the prosecution of industry, tend to provide more employment. It would not inflict hardship on any member of the Public Service.
I need not remind the Committee of the extraordinary conditions facing the Commonwealth to-day. The situation, if not critical in an economic sense, is at least desperately bad. The Australian people who send us to this Parliament, who pay us as members £1,000 a year to guide the nation’s affairs, and who furnish the millions of pounds which are necessary for the maintenance of the public services, are at this moment in a situation incomparably more distressful than any in which they have been placed since the early ‘nineties. Australian citizens of all ages, from the cradle to the grave, contribute either directly or indirectly to the cost of government.
– I remind the honorable member that the motion is for the reduction of the President’s salary, and the discussion must be confined to the terms of the motion.
– Every Australian citizen, irrespective of position or age, contributes directly or indirectly to the President’s salary, and that salary should, in the national interest, be reduced. I suggest that there should be a reduction of £1,000,000 in the cost of administration. I leave it to the Government to work but how that deduction can be effected in the most acceptable and economical way, and in a manner which will be fairest to members of the Public Service and to the President.
From the material point of view we must consider that there has been a reduction of the national income of Australia by at least £60,000,000. The national income does not represent the true spending power of a people. The spending power of the Australian people has diminished by approximately three times the amount of the reduction of the national income, which means that we have at least £150,000,000 less to spend this year than in a normal year. There has also been a reduction of hundreds of millions of pounds in the value of our national’ assets including land, live stock, town and city properties, and stocks and shares as reflected in market prices. In addition to these reductions the credits which are so essential to the carrying on of national industries have dried up, and the tightening of credit is probably the greatest factor ‘ in unemployment to-day. We must also consider the effect of our national credit in overseas countries, and particularly in Great Britain. At this moment we, as a nation, are seeking accommodation to meet an emergency overseas. So grave is the situation that the prospective lender whom we have approached has thought fit to send a gentleman to this country to investigate the soundness of our position.
I come now to the human side of the present depression - that relating to unemployment. According to the last official figures the percentage of unemployment was 18.5. During July unemployment increased more rapidly than during any previous time, so that it is reasonable to assume that no less than 20 per cent, of our workers are unemployed to-day. One out of every five of our men and women who work for their living - and they constitute 70 per cent, of the population - is to-day out of employment. Between 200,000 and 250,000 are thus without normal means- of sustenance. They are idle, and a burden upon the balance of our workers. They are all taxpayers; they all contribute to the salaries of members of the Public Service and of the President of the Senate. Many of them are suffering even from hunger. It causes one sadness to find, for the first time since the ‘nineties, people coming to one’s door beseeching, not money or clothes, but food. I know that that is so in the City of Melbourne, and I have no doubt that it is happening also in other cities. Thousands of homes that have been only partially paid for are in danger of being lost by their owners. Goods, chattels, and personal effects, the accumulation of years of labour and thrift, are being sacrificed by the unemployed for the purpose of obtaining sustenance. Tens of thousands of other workers who contribute to the cost of this Parliament, including the salary of the President, are being rationed, and are receiving only a proportion of their usual wages. I have no hesitation in saying that, by the 80 per cent, of tha people who are still in employment, including those who are being rationed, the deepest anxiety is being felt in regard to the future. I believe it to be a fact that, in the majority of the workers’ homes to-day, at least one unit of the family is out of work, and thoussands of homes are being maintained by girls who are clerks in offices or who work behind the counters of business houses. Taxation, of course, is a considerable factor in the existing unfortunate situation; it is probably higher in Australia to-day than in any other country in the world. Unhappily, too, as we all know, it is rapidly rising under State administrations as well as under the Commonwealth. In the Commonwealth it has increased by £4,000,000 during the last two years. A succession of new taxes has been introduced in this Parliament within the last few days, including an income tax, a sales tax, a primage duty, customs and excise duties, and additional postage rates. Thousands of greedy taxation leeches have been turned loose to suck the life-blood of this already pallid and unhappy community. Can we, who are responsible for the salaries of public servants, refuse to share in the dire adversity of our people? The position of the President and of members of Parliament) is unique. The President alone in this country fixes his own salary. As a member of this honorable Parliament, he has the power, not only to fix that salary, but also to exact it at the level at which he is pleased to place it. Can we, from the serene heights of Canberra, look down with unseeing eyes and unmoved hearts upon the welter of embarrassment and suffering which is the lot of the millions of people whom we represent?
I know that, if honorable members opposite venture to debate this amendment they will refer to it as a move to reduce wages, and as the first step towards a lowering of our standard of living. Could anything be more absurd than the attitude which is adopted by them towards what they term wage reduction? Is it not true that wages throughout Australia have already been reduced by the ratio of unemployment which is approximately 20 per cent.? It is too late in the day to resist a proposal like this, on the ground that it means a reduction of wages. What has happened to temporary employees in different departments under this and the last administration? Is it not true that many hundreds of temporary employees have not merely had their salaries reduced by 10 per cent., reduction which the amendment proposes to make general; but have actually been turned on the streets in the interests of public economy? There is a very slender distinction between a permanent public servant and many of these temporary men who have been dismissed. There are temporary employees who have held their positions for periods ranging up to twelve years; and, as the majority of them are returned soldiers, they have a record, not only of what is called temporary service, but also of a sterner and a higher service. Yet they have been turned adrift, not only by this, but also by the previous Government, without a protest from honorable members opposite. Let us consider the retrenchment that has been enforced in the Defence Department in the name of economy. Except for a slight technicality, the officers of that department who were affected by the retrenchment proposals of the Government were just as permanent as the ordinary members of the Public Service. Arbitrarily, and without a single protest from honorable members opposite, they have had their salaries reduced by something like 16 per cent.
I do not suggest that, if the times were normal, either the President of the Senate or the members of the Public Service would be overpaid at the existing rates. I place on record my deep appreciation of the members of the Public Service as a body. I am proud that a large number of them are my personal friends. If the times were normal, I would say that many of them were being underpaid; but in a time of national adversity, when every other section of the people is being mauled, if not broken, it is neither right nor just that the Public Service should be provided with a break against the wind of adversity that is blowing over the rest of the community. Circumstances have placed them in the deepest dug-out that could be found, while every other section is exposed to a hostile economic barrage that is unprecedented in its violence. Surely they, like every other section, should share to some slight ex- tent in the misfortune that has come upon us! I ask the committee to consider whether the salary of the President, as well as the cost of Parliament generally, should not be accommodated in soma degree to the sadly diminished capacity of the people to pay it. The governing factor is the capacity of the people to pay the old rates to maintain this Parliament and the Public Service generally. There is no thought of reducing any public servant below the level that is necessary to provide proper and adequate sustenance. No real hardship is proposed. I suggest, not retrenchment, but a moderate measure of economy. If we do not move in this direction, sooner or later our overtaxed, impoverished people will compel us to enforce retrenchment in administration. A lowering of the cost of Parliament and of administration must be brought about, whether this committee wills it or not. I appeal to honorable members to accept the amendment, and thus do honour not only to themselves but also to this Parliament.
– I have not the slightest intention of supporting the amendment, although I agree that the expenditure under part 1 might be somewhat decreased, as has been suggested by the honorable, member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). I consider that to make this gesture in, the direction of reducing our own salaries would be a waste of time, and would have absolutely no value. Mention has been made of .temporary employees in the Public Service. I consider that I, as a Parliamentarian, am a temporary employee in the Public Service. I may be dismissed at any time, should an election occur. I accepted the position at the salary offering. When I was elected to this chamber there was no suggestion by the people that my salary should be reduced.
– I remind the honorable member that the committee Ls dealing with the President’s salary, and not with the salaries of members of Parliament.
– The President receives his salary in circumstances similar to ours. There can be no distinction between us.
– I rise to a point of order. I understood that you, Mr. Chairman, ruled that honorable members might discuss the items of all the divisions under “ Parliament.” The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) has moved for a reduction of the salary of the President of the Senate by £1. Is it your ruling that until that item hasbeen disposed of no other item may be discussed?
– No. But the divisions which the committee is discussing do not include payments to members of Parliament or Ministers.
– I understood that the arrangement was that we could discuss the whole of the divisions under “ Parliament.”
– That is so, but I would point out to the honorable member that the salaries of members and Ministers are provided in a special appropriation, and are not included in this department.
– I presume that the committee is dealing only with the Senate and not with all the items under “Parliament.”
– The committee is dealing with the total estimated expenditure of £77,620 under “Parliament.”
– I object to that procedure.
– I remind the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) that this committee has already agreed to take this department as a whole.
– I was unaware of that. It certainly greatly limits the discussion.
– I was appointed to a position in this chamber at a certain salary. I have apparently performed my duties to the satisfaction of my electors, because they re-elected me in 1925, in 1928 and in 1929. There was no suggestion on the part of my constituents that I was being overpaid.
– The honorable member would not like to make his salary the subject of a referendum to his electors.
– I would willingly do that.
– The honorable member forgets that he assisted in fixing his own salary.
– I did not. When I was elected as a member of Parliament in 1922 the salary for the position was £1,000 a year. It still remains the same.
The salary of the President of the Senate has not been altered since then.
– It has been increased since 1922.
– In that case honorable members have shown considerable self-restraint by not increasing their own salaries.
– The salaries were increased nearly 100 per cent. in 1920.
– That was before I was elected to this chamber. As a temporary employee of the Commonwealth, I consider that I am entitled to a salary of £1,000 a year. It may be that next year I shall get notice of dismissal.
– High rates of wages are usually paid to casual workers.
– That is so. I have not heard the people express any dissatisfaction with either the salaries of members of this chamber and of the Senate, or the salaries and allowances of Ministers. I have read certain criticism in the press, but the views of newspapers are seldom the views of the people. Special or leading articles are usually in keeping with the policy of the newspaper, and often convey the opinion only of the writer. The people generally read the newspapers for news. They form their own opinions on what they hear and read, and those opinions in many cases are contrary to those of the newspaper which they read. For instance, honorable members supporting the Government, although they read the Sydney Morning Herald, do not agree with its political views.
THE CHAIRMAN.- I have allowed the honorable member considerable latitude, and I ask him again to confine his remarks to the amendment and the items of the department under discussion.
– I consider that the President of the Senate is deserving of a salary of £1,300 instead of £1,299 per annum. I therefore oppose the amendment.
.-I rise to support the amendment. At a time of financial depression like this, everyone in Australia should be prepared to make sacrifices. The mover of the amendment has put the position clearly before honorable members. The revenues of the Commonwealth are not sufficient to meet its expenditure. Production has decreased tremendously, and the primary producers are feeling the pinch. The salaries of those holding sheltered positions, like ourselves, the public servants and many persons engaged in business throughout Australia, have remained unaltered although our income has decreased by between £80,000,000 and £100,000,000. I agree with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) that if no reduction of the salaries of members of Parliament is now made it will be made later by force of circumstances. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) said that he had been appointed to his position at a certain salary. The President of the Senate may hold a similar view, but I submit that our salaries were fixed by this Parliament. I did not hear in 1920 any great clamour by the citizens of Australia for increased salaries for members of Parliament. On the other hand, the increase in salaries that took place at that time caused a tremendous clamour of indignation and protest. It was quite possible for the Government to save £4,000,000 in the directions suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham). It is possible to save a considerable sum of money under this department. The wages and salaries of other sections of the community have been automatically reduced. The returns of the primary producers have by force ofcircumstances been reduced by 50 per cent. Unfortunately, they are not producing at a profit. Yet, we in our sheltered positions are asking them to produce more, so that we may continue in those positions. The thing is not cricket. If we are true Australians, and loyal to this country, we shall submit,at a time like this, to a reduction in salary.
– I do not propose to repeat the remarks that I made on this subject during the budget debate. I merely wish to support the amendment of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and to refer under “Parliament,” to Item 2, appearing on page 6 of the Estimates, which concerns an appropriation of £16,465. Under that item, there should be a 10 per cent. reduction in the salaries of members of Parliament and Ministers.
– What about the Public Service?
– The cost of the Public Service should be reduced by approximately £1,000,000. That sum could quite easily be saved out of a total pay-roll of £11,000,000. Like the Prime. Minister I could easily find reasons why this proposed vote should not be reduced; but I can also find reasons, though it will not be popular to do so, why a reduction should be made.. It was said during the course of the budget debate that honorable members of the Opposition felt safe in proposing the reduction of salaries in this way, because any such move would be regarded by the Government as a motion of censure. Speaking for myself, I intend to exercise my right to call for a division on this amendment. I desire to see lined up on one side of the chamber all honorable members who are prepared to vote for a reduction of the President’s salary, knowing very well that it will involve a reduction of their own, and, on the other side, those honorable members who are not prepared to take that course. In these distressing times practically every person in the community is suffering a reduction of income. Even small shareholders in various concerns are feeling the pinch; some of them as a matter of fact are earning no income at all. It has been said by some honorable members who are opposed to this amendment that honorable members who vote for it will indicate that they do not think that the President is worth the salary which he is drawing, and that, as the acceptance of the amendment will involve a reduction of the salaries of the private members, these likewise are not worth the salary which they are drawing. Such an argument is not worthy of notice ; it will carry no weight with thinking people; and I shall treat it with the contempt that it deserves.
All sections of the community are suffering to-day because of the prevailing depression. Recently a secret ballot was held of the railway workers of New South Wales to ascertain whether they favored the dismissal of a certain number of men or the rationing of work, which would involve a material reduction of their wages, and the vote was in favour of rationing. The result is that many railway workers in New South Wales are at present receiving only £3 odd per week. Do honorable members desire in such circumstances as these to continue to live on a kind of oasis of wealth and opulence in a desert of destitution and misery? I do not think so. Of course every honorable member will have to vote on this amendment as his conscience dictates.
– Some honorable members may not have a conscience.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL Honorable members who vote against this amendment will indicate very clearly that they have no conscience. It is inconceivable to me that any honorable member should in our present circumstances attempt to justify the retention of salaries at the existing figure. A reduction of parliamentary salaries is being contemplated in practically all the States, and we should be prepared to make a similar s 3crifiice
– I remind the honorable member that the amendment applies to the salary of the President, and not to parliamentary salaries generally.
– There is no law to prevent an honorable member’s conscience from working.
– None whatever, and mine is still working.
– It seems reasonably safe for it to continue to work.
– I regard my conscience as safe so long as it is under my own control, and not in the keeping of the right honorable member. I should not like him to decide what I should do. I hope that the amendment will be carried, not only because it will serve as an instruction to the Government that the salary of the President should be reduced, but also because it will indicate that honorable members believe that their own salaries should be reduced.
– I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that the Ministers in charge ©f the various departments were making careful investigation with the object of cutting down expenses in every possible way. I do not believe that the President of the Senate would be offended if, in the present circumstances, his salary were reduced as part of a campaign of economy, with the object of reducing the expenses of government generally by £1,000,000, as proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett). The President enjoys the salary of £1,300 for discharging the duties of his high office, in addition to £800 for performing his other parliamentary work. I take it that Mr. Speaker is drawing similar emoluments. The Chairman of Committees in the Senate is being paid £700 a year for discharging the duties of that office, in addition to £800 a year as a senator for his State. You, Mr. Chairman, are, I take it, receiving a similar amount. I believe that the officers to whom I have referred would be prepared to make a sacrifice at a time like this in order to set an example to private members of Parliament, the Public Service, and the community generally.
I wish also to suggest that economies should be effected in the expenditure on the standing committees of this Parliament. I was a member of the Public Works Committee for eight years, and, during that time, advocated that the membership of it should be reduced. The committee at present consists of nine members. I believe that it could be reduced to five without impairing its eni,ciency in any way. This would result in substantial economies being effected. It would prevent unnecessary repetition in the examination of witnesses, and the printing of a great deal of unnecessary evidence. The proposed expenditure on this committee includes £1,540 in salaries to the secretary, clerk, and messenger; £2,000 in allowances to members of the committee, and £500 for travelling expenses. Similar figures in respect of the Public Accounts Committee are £1,035 in salaries to the secretary and clerk ; £2,000 in allowances to the ten members of the committee, and £480 in travelling expenses. I do not suggest that the Secretary of the Public Works Committee, Mr. Whiteford, with whom I have had a long association, is not worth the salary he is drawing. In fact, I regard him as a very desirable officer, whose abilities fit him to occupy a more important office than that he at present holds. I understand, that during the last twelve months the Government has made available to the Public Accounts
Committee an additional sum to that provided on the Estimates for the purpose of making certain special inquiries. I cannot believe that these committees are being profitably worked with their present large membership ; I believe that the time lias come when the personnel of them should be reduced.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member is disobeying your ruling in discussing at length the emoluments of members of standing committees.
– Most of the items referred to by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) are included in the divisions now before the committee under the heading of the Parliament; but others are provided for in a special appropriation.
– The next item to which I shall refer, namely, the proposed expenditure of £4,143 on the parliamentary refreshment rooms, is certainly included in the divisions now before the chamber. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) drew attention to this matter, and I hav.e pleasure in supporting his remarks. There is a duplication of the staffs at the Government hotels and at Parliament House which I consider is quite unnecessary. Most members sleep and breakfast at an hotel, and some have lunch and dinner at Parliament House. Therefore, the hotel managements must retain the same staffs that would be employed if the members had all their meals at those hotels. The Government ought to look closely into this matter with a view to effecting economy. Nobody complains of lack of efficiency of the staff employed at Parliament House; but it is unfair ,to retain a staff of thirteen at a cost of over £4,000 a year, and at the same time expect . the hotels to provide the necessary accommodation economically. In looking through the Estimates, one notices a large number of comparatively small items which, in the aggregate amount to a large sum, in which savings might be made.
.- I support the amendment. It casts no reflection on the President of the Senate (Senator Kingsmill), but implies thathonorable members on this side of the chamber are in favour of a reduction of the salaries of members generally.
– Why did honorable members opposite not make that reduction when they were in office ?
– I have not yet been h member of this chamber for a year. Months ago, before any party movement had taken place in that direction, I said that I believed that parliamentary salaries should be reduced. That was when the Government rationed the work of military officers, and did it inequitably, in my opinion, because those employed in the Defence Department on the civil side were left untouched.
– I point out that the honorable member is now dealing with retrenchment in the Defence Department.
– Honorable members opposite do not want the matter discussed.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the item under discussion.
– I am reiterating that I stand for economy in government expenditure, and I consider that the proposed reduction is essential. In ordinary business affairs, when a man finds thai he cannot carry on successfully, he reduces his overhead charges. Part of the overhead charges of government in Australia is the amount paid in members’ salaries. The question whether members consider that their services entitle them to the salaries paid is not raised by the amendment.
– I again ask the honorable member to confine himself to the matter-under discussion..
– Members of this chamber are lesser luminaries than the President of the Senate; but consideration of the need for a reduction in the salaries paid to us is involved.
– I have already ruled that the salaries of members and of Ministers are not included in the item under discussion.
– In view of the unparalleled unemployment prevailing at the present time, it must be admitted that the proposed retrenchment is necessary. Twenty per cent, of the members of trade unions in Australia cannot find employment, and their wages have, therefore, in effect been reduced 100 per cent. Members of Parliament should not quibble over t» slight reduction in their salaries that would help the country a little until better times are experienced.
I noticed in the Melbourne Age yesterday that the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) had made the following statement at Perth: -
It was only in the last resort that the Government would think of interfering with the basic wage or pensions. But, if necessity arose, as it might arise, for the nation to meet its obligations, then as a last resort nothing might be immune from the pruning knife of economy.
I submit that honorable members on this side do not stand for a reduction in pensions. I support the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) in his. statement concerning the necessity to reduce parliamentary expenditure generally. Perhaps, if members paid for their billiards, instead of having free use of the billiardroom at any hour of the day or night, it might also assist the position.
If excessive expenditure is incurred in supplying the comforts with ‘which we are provided in this building by a generous people, let it be cut down, so that these services may be supplied on sound lines. No business can be carried on unless the overhead charges are regulated in accordance with the revenue: There are many possible avenues of economy, and if the Government does not desire to practice it, it should call in an independent committee of business men to show how savings could be made.
– I had not intended to participate in this debate until I heard the honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) say that any member who was prepared to vote against the amendment had no conscience. I go so far as to say that any member who votes for the amendment, and continues to take the present parliamentary salary, has not only no conscience, but few scruples. I intend to vote against the amendment. Every member of the Opposition who supports it may regard it as a very good political gesture; but the suggestion of the honorable member for “Warringah that the salaries of members and Ministers should be reduced by 10 per cent, should be acted upon by all who favour this amendment. I do not pretend that I like the idea of having my parliamentary salary reduced.
– I am assuming that the amendment providing for the reduction of the salary of the President, if agreed to, would be likely to affect also the salaries of members.
– I know nothing about that.
– That would be its moral effect. It has been suggested to the committee that, in this time of national distress, a reduction in members’ salaries would be a good gesture for Parliament to make. But what is such a gesture worth unless some tangible result accrues that is beneficial to the distressed section of the community? I do not think that I have a harder heart than the honorable member foiWarringah, and if there were anything I could do to relieve the distress in the community, I would make sacrifices, according to my means, as willingly as that honorable member. Although I intend to vote against the amendment, if every one else on the Opposition side is prepared to surrender 10 per cent, of his salary, or any .sum agreed upon as fair, I am willing to make the same sacrifice. If we believe in the reduction, why should we not make it? If it were decided to reduce the salary of the President, we should, in voting for the amendment, also be indicating our willingness to have our own salaries reduced. Personally, I do not think that the salary of the President should be touched. The position of President of the Senate is much more responsible than corresponding positions in any of the State Parliaments. We have the prestige of the National Parliament to consider, and I do not take the view that the remuneration of members of the “Federal Parliament should be no higher than that of members of State Parliaments. They have their local spheres, while we legislate in the national interests. Until we have some direct evidence from the public that the salary of £1,000 per annum provided for Federal members is too great, we are entitled to say that it is a fair remuneration whether the times be good, or bad.
I am not influenced by the fact that the salaries of members of State Parliaments have been reduced. It has become a favorite political gesture in State Parliaments to make such reductions. But after a party has gone to the country, pledged to support a reduction in the salaries of members, there is often a movement to raise them. In New South Wales the salaries of members have twice been reduced, and twice increased, in the last ten years, and I think that similar action has been taken in most of the other States. Do we find that the so-called gesture has relieved distress, or influenced other sections of the community in any direction at all? It is good political propaganda, from one point of view, but does it accomplish anything? If my friends on this side can show that such a gesture as a reduction in the salaries of members, from the President downwards, is likely to benefit the unemployed section immediately, I will support it. The Estimates we are now discussing are not for to-morrow, but for twelve months ahead, and it is utterly absurd to suggest that the moment we decide to make a cut in our own remuneration, which would, no doubt, involve a reduction in salaries throughout the Public Service, the economic position will be improved. If it is thought that the reduction would have that effect, every member supporting the amendment should make a personal sacrifice by asking the Government to hand over portion of his salary to the unemployed relief fund. In my opinion, a country member has greater responsibilities, and a harder job than a city member; but I am prepared to make exactly the same sacrifice as is made by members of the Opposition.
The subject of the salaries of public servants generally is too wide for discussion under the present item. There may be a number of highly paid officers whose salaries might well be reduced; but who is to assess the value of their work? I do not think that Australia overpays its leading public men. Some of the public servants occupy positions that call for the highest degree of ability, and they are rendering splendid services to the Commonwealth; I do not begrudge them the £2,000 or £3,000 a year that they receive. We should not victimize members of the Public Service in any way. If we sub- scribe to the policy that salaries and Conditions in the Public Service should be regulated by arbitration tribunals, our course is clear. The arbitration authorities who fix the wages and salaries of public servants are also the authorities who should reduce them. Otherwise the arbitration system can have no stability or permanency. This Parliament should not constitute itself a special arbitration tribunal to deal with the salaries of public servants with every wave of depression.
Reference has been made to the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms. If we cannot tackle the important problem of financial adjustment in a bigger way than by the closing of those rooms, let us al any rate not make a cheap gesture to please the pernickety critics, who find the Federal Parliament a favourite target at the present time. Refreshment rooms are associated with every parliament ; those in this building are not maintained merely to spare members the inconvenience of walking a few steps to their hotels. They are an essential part of Parliament, and if they were abolished in a fit of hysteria and panic to please an incoherent section of the public, we would make ourselves a laughing-stock, and declare that this National Parliament is not big enough for its job. The finances can be straightened out only, by general policy; and I have my own ideas as to what that policy should be. I do not think that a mere reduction of the salaries of Ministers and members and of the public servants will substantially affect the position, although it might please some people. I shall vote against the amendment, but not to save my own pocket. If every member who supports the amendment will agree voluntarily to accept a 10 per cent, reduction of his salary I shall willingly do likewise.
.- I support the amendment to reduce the salary of the President, as an expression of my opinion that, unfortunately, the time has come when all salaries under the control of Parliament should be reconsidered in relation to the conditions prevailing outside, and to the action taken by the Government in the case of officers of the Defence Department and members of the Public Service, who do not belong to cer- tain organizations. It is hardly just to reduce some salaries, as the Government has done, and to leave others untouched. At the present moment we are dealing with salaries which are under the control of Parliament either by legislation, as in the case of members and Ministers, or through the annual estimates. Let us compare the relative positions of different persons in the Federal Capital Territory at the present time. There are 42 schoolteachers in Canberra employed by the Commonwealth; they are officers of the New South Wales Government, and their salaries have been reduced by the action of the State Parliament. The Commonwealth is receiving the benefit of that reduction and is reimbursing the State at the reduced rate. Those teachers are working side by side with employees of the Commonwealth, who are suffering no reduction at all. It is unpleasant and uncomfortable to suggest a reduction of salaries or wages, but unfortunately the financial position of the country is such that this Parliament should at once set an example by reducing those salaries that are within its power either through the Estimates or by legislation. For that reason I support the amendment.
– On many occasions the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), has declared that the policy of the Nationalist party was to reduce wages and increase the hours of labour. To-day the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), the Deputy Leader (Mr. Gullett), and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), have confirmed that statement. Their attack upon the salaries of the Public Service merely camouflages a general onslaught on all wages. At the last election, candidates supporting the- then Government denied that that was their policy. I shall watch the attitude of the honorable members who vote for this amendment, particularly some wealthy members who, in addition to their parliamentary allowance, draw fees for serving on committees. For my own part, I shall be: pleased to- record a vote for maintaining the present standards of living.
.- Whether the President or other official! of the Commonwealth are worth their salary is not the point at issue. Taxation, as a Crown debt, takes precedence of all other liabilities, and are we justified in using our privileged positions to maintain salaries which can be paid only by taxing other men out of employment ? I should be ashamed to increase taxation, which can be paid only by rationing or sacking men engaged in industries, in order to continue the existing salaries of a pampered and privileged class of which Parliament is the head and front. Nobody can view with equanimity the need for reducing wages or salaries, but those who are acquainted with primary production know that the funds necessary to pay the Public Service at the present rates can be found only by putting other men out of work. I am more acquainted with conditions in the pastoral industry, but what applies to it applies in varying degrees to other industries. A committee appointed by the Queensland Labour Government three years ago to inquire into the pastoral industry in that State found that of every 90s. of gross returns which the average pastoralist in Queensland received, 18s. was paid to the Government by way of rent, taxation, freight, &c. ; 52s. was expended on wages and materials the cost of which was largely represented by wages in their production; and 20s. was retained by the grazier as profit. I remind the committee that that was the finding, not of pastoralists, but of a committee appointed by a Labour Government. Since that report was presented the price of wool has dropped 50 per cent.
– What has that to do with the amendment before the committee? .
– We have to consider whence the money will come to maintain the present salaries of the public servants. The gross return of the pastoralist has dropped from 90s. to 45s. The Crown’s 18s. is a preferred debt, and must be paid - before any other charges. The. grazier’s profit has disappeared, and only 27s. is left to pay for wages and material on which three years ago 52s. was expended. In those circumstances added taxation can he paid only by rationing, or sacking men. The maintenancc of one large privileged class by taxation, which must be paid before any other liability of the taxpayer, is not public spirited, and honorable members would not sanction it if they fully understood the consequences. Some of them have said that the economy that would be effected by carrying the amendment would be small; the Government did not consider £50,000 or £60,000 too small an amount to screw out of the Defence Department, by rationing its employees. Even though the amount that would directly result from the carrying of the amendment would be small ; such a gesture would have important effects. I hope the proposed reduction will be made, if not now, at any rate at the first opportunity i
Silting suspended from lB.Ji-5 to 2.15 p.m.
.- Is it permissible for me on this item or on any other to move an amendment that the salaries of members of Parliament be reduced by £500? I desire to do so in order to test the sincerity and honesty of honorable members opposite.
– It is not.
Mi. BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) 1 2.16]. - On this amendment for the reduction of the President’s. sala.ry by £1, I wish to take the opportunity of expressing my views regarding the suggested reduction of salaries of Ministers, members of Parliament, and members of the Public Service. This is a subject upon which every honorable member is entitled to express his own views, and it is particularly desirable that I, representing as I do an electoral division whose area is one-tenth of that of Queensland, should make my position quite c-lear. The electors in country divisions realize the obligations of their representatives, and the expenses they have to bear.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing that subject.
– If one supports this amendment for a reduction of the President’s salary, it is an indication, at any rate, that he favours a reduction of Ministers’ and members’ salaries. If parliamentary allowances were reduced appreciably, it would not be possible for many honorable members now representing country divisions to be here at all. Many persons have suggested that parliamentary salaries should be increased in order to attract more able candidates for parliamentary honours. Conversely, if we reduce parliamentary salaries, it may have the result of lowering the standard of parliamentary representation. There is no demand from my State that the remuneration of the President, of the Senate should be reduced as an indication that the salaries of Ministers and members should also be reduced.
– The honorable member cannot proceed on those lines.
– There are members of this House or of the Senate who may bc aspirants for the office of President of the Senate. A candidate at the recent Lane Cove election in New South Wales offered to do the President’s job for nothing, but the electors turned him down. There may he honorable members in this House who would be prepared to take over the President’s work and do it for nothing, but I cannot believe that the electors of Australia desire that the holder of that office should not be adequately remunerated for his expenses. Probably some honorable members represent divisions, every part of which they can visit by tram car at very little expense, but there are other honorable members who, to visit the whole of their divisions, must travel long distances- by motor car, and incur heavy expense at hotels. For the electoral division I represent, the salary of their parliamentary representative costs each elector about 4fd. a year. If a 10 per cent, cut of parliamentary salaries were made, the saving to each elector would be about a halfpenny. If any elector thinks that such a saving should be effected, he can have his halfpenny returned to him. As for members of the Commonwealth Public Service, their salaries are fixed by a tribunal, just as are the salaries of public servants in Queensland. Parliament is not the authority to reduce the salaries of the Public Service. A general reduction of 10 per cent, in salaries would probably have the effect of inflicting hardship on many of the lower paid men and women in the Service. I am con- vinced that the people of Australia are prepared to pay the President of the Senate and members of Parliament a f air salary for the work they do, more especially as any substantial reduction in salaries would make it impossible for some country members to continue in Parliament. I shall oppose this amendment, which appears to me to be prompted by a feeling that the wages of everybody should be reduced irrespective of consequences, and that the cost of everything, including produce, foodstuffs. &c, should come down, regardless of the effect upon the community as a whole.
Mir. M. CAMERON (Barker) [2.21].- A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) moved an amendment similar to that now before the committee. During the ensuing debate the closure was applied, with the result that many honorable members, including myself, were prevented from speaking. Had I been permitted to speak on that occasion I should not have troubled the committee by speaking now. The amendment being a proposal for the reduction of the salary of the President by£1 it is difficult to discuss the wider issue and keep within the Standing Orders. We must consider the present amendment together with the intention behind it. I know of no reason why we should not be able to discuss this subject in the same impartial way, and with the same absence of heat, that we discuss other matters in this House. There is no reason why any one who favours the amendment should be charged with insincerity, and of desiring merely to make a political gesture. I deny that my support of the amendment is nothing but a political gesture. I know that any one who raises his voice in favour of a reduction of parliamentary and Public Service salaries will be branded as one who favours a reduction of wages generally, and is opposed to the maintenance of our present standard of living. I say deliberately that I am not in favour of such a reduction of wages as will interfere with the maintenance of our standard of living.
-The honorable member may not discuss that subject.
– This motion to reduce the salary attached to the highest parliamentary office may be taken as an indication that others in receipt of parliamentary allowances, and those associated with the conduct of public services, should also suffer a reduction of salary. I do not believe that either the President or any other member of Parliament is profiting from the allowance he receives. It is not a question of requiring a proportionate sacrifice from those occupying sheltered positions which give them an advantage over others outside; it is merely that, at a time like this, when tens of thousands of people have no salaries at all, we should do something to relieve the situation. Several of the State Parliaments have already moved in this direction, and if the National Parliament takes no- action we shall forfeit the goodwill of the people of Australia. It is better that all the people should be receiving a reasonable wage than that some should receive high wages, and others no wage at all. Seeing that the Prime Minister asked for suggestions from members of the Opposition, and from outside Parliament, I am surprised that, when honorable members on this side make perfectly sincere endeavours to assist the Government, they should be charged with insincerity. I have no desire to reduce any one’s salary,but at this time it is absolutely necessary that there should be a reduction, because conditions are so different now from what they were before.
– Why did not the honorable member make this suggestion when he was sitting behind the last Government?
– It was not necessary to raise this question at the time to which the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long) refers, because Australia then enjoyed prosperity. But the conditions to-day are entirely different from what they have been at any time during the last ten years, and the question is, can Australia afford to pay what it is paying to-day? If I thought that it could,I would not suggest the reduction of any person’s salary. But when tens of thousands of people are not receiving any salary, and are compelled to walk from door to door to get sufficient food to keep them alive, it is time that we took stock of the position.
– Does the honorable member subscribe to the relief of the unemployed ?
– A man who is not subscribing anything for the relief of the unemployment has no conscience and is not worthy to be a member of this House. Considering the calls that are made upon them, the salary that is paid to members of Parliament is not too high. But that is not the question. We must consider whether we and the members of the Public Service are not occupying what may be considered sheltered positions. Our position is different from that of many others, and for that reason I am supporting the amendment. I regret that it should be necessary to urge the reduction of any person’s salary. When salaries are high, the spending power of the people is greater than when they are low. But as prosperity has left us - for a brief period, let us hope - it is the duty of this Parliament to give serious consideration to the position.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) asserted that this was merely a political gesture. On my own behalf, I absolutely deny that that is so. The suggestion that that honorable member made to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) may be regarded as just as much political heroics as this may be regarded as a gesture on the part of members who support the amendment. I say again that I do not believe in the reduction of salaries in normal times, and that my attitude towards this matter has been forced upon me solely by the stress of circumstances.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) upon the honesty that he has displayed. When honorable members opposite found that there were a few of their colleagues who were courageous enough to save the President from the suggested reduction of £1, their faces lighted up. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) would be mean enough to take £1 from the President, whose duty compels him to travel all over the State that he represents. That honorable member himself enjoys the advantages of a paid position on the Public Works Committee.
He referred to the sheltered position of the President. If the country does not furnish that gentleman with means for discharging his duties, from what source are they to come? Honorable members opposite have supported the present salary of the President during the last six and a half years. They did not make a gesture in the direction of reducing it when they had an accumulated deficit of £5,000,000 after they had expended the accumulated surplus of £2,000,000 that was left to them by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). I was connected with a party that both increased and reduced the salary of a president, and I have known men who would excuse the action that they took on the ground that they had been whipped into line. When it was proposed to increase the salary of the President of the Legislative Council in the Queensland Parliament, 50 per cent, of the members of the Opposition were in favour of doing so, but they were compelled to oppose the proposal. Yet, when that gentleman’s salary was increased, and they also benefited financially, they were among the first to draw the increase. The honorable member for Barker said that, if the President lost his pound, that would not mean a reduction of his salary or of the salary of any other person. He has stated definitely that he does not stand for a reduction of wages. If this proposal does not mean a reduction of the salary of the President, what does it stand for? If the President loses a pound, how is it to be obtained from him if his salary is not reduced? If, on the other hand, this is a gesture, what is the object of it? The honorable member for Barker, with some heat, accused the honorable member for Wide Bay of having stated that he was not sincere ; and he went on to accuse that honorable member of insincerity. The President occupies a public position, and frequently has to travel in places where the parliamentary gold pass is absolutely of no use to him. He has my deepest sympathy. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) assumes that every one lacks sincerity except himself and those who sit behind him. Some honorable members opposite are courageous enough to refuse to shelter behind the Government, or to stampede it into taking action to reduce, by a miserable pound note, the salary of one of the highest citizens of the Commonwealth.
– The sandbag of the caucus.
– The honorable member may be accustomed to the use of sandbags; I have never had to carry one. I am always prepared to meet a man face to face or knuckle to knuckle. I am opposed to the reduction of the President’s salary. Surely his salary should be sufficient to enable him to travel throughout his electorate. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), aud myself have large electorates. In the Herbert electorate there are seven State electorates, and in my electorate, nine State electorates.
– There are nine State electorates in my electorate.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has been a member of the Public Accounts Committee for many years. If he considers that the President’s salary is too large there is nothing to prevent him from off-setting that by refunding portion of the payment that he receives as a member of that committee.
– The Public Accounts Committee is not now under discussion.
– There is nothing to prevent any honorable member, who has an uneasy conscience with respect to his salary, from returning a portion or all of it to Consolidated Revenue.
– I cannot understand why heat should be engendered in this debate. It is a simple question that we are discussing. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) in moving this amendment, stated, definitely, that if it were carried, it would effect a saving of approximately £1,000,000 in the Public Service of the Commonwealth. It may be asked why was not some such step taken last year instead of this year. I invite honorable members to read the Prime Minister’s budget speech, wherein he stated that this year our income in respect of our primary products, such as flour, wool and wheat, was less than last year by from £50,000,000 to £70,000,000. The position of Australia is deplorable, but it is nothing compared with what it will be next year. I cannot be convinced that better times are ahead, particularly in view of the decreased markets for metals, such as lead, tin and copper, and for produce such as wheat and wool. We cannot escape for many years to come the possibility of the continuation of very low prices for our exportable products. To-day, the employment of many of our workers is being rationed. Others are being thrown out of work. The amend-; ment has not been moved for any political purpose. If it is carried, the natural corollary to the reduction of the salary of the President will be the reduction of the salaries of members of Parliament, the Commonwealth public servants, and the Government must be responsible for fixing the percentage of reduction. Reductions of salaries, both in respect of the legislature and the Public Service, are being made in several of the States. Nearly every State Government is budgeting for a deficit this year. In view of that, there must be reduced governmental expenditure. This Government is increasing taxation and taking money from the people that would otherwise be .expended in assisting production. Only this morning I received a letter from the Department of Mines in Western Australia, objecting to the operation of the primage and sales taxes in respect of the gold-mining industry. That industry has for some years been a non-paying proposition. By increasing taxation, the mines will be- closed down and more people will be unemployed. During the last two or three years large numbers of people have been thrown out of employment at BrokenHill because of the low prices ruling for metals and the high cost of production. The gold-mining industry in Western Australia is suffering acutely.
– Is the honorable member in order in referring to the gold mining; industry ?
– I ask the honorable member for Swan not to pursue that line of argument. He must confine his remarks to the amendment or the department under consideration.
– If the amendment were carried, the natural corollary would be a reduction in . he E salaries of parliamentary officers, such as the Clerk of the Senate, the Clerk Assistant, and others coming within the parliamentary vote.
– The mover of the amendment stated that, if the amendment were carried, he expected that other savings in the Public Service would take place.
– That is so. We are not actually discussing a reduction of fi in the salary of the President. Such a suggestion would be stupid. The object of the amendment is to effect a saving of £1,000,000 in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The department under discussion covers an expenditure of £77,620. There is no mention of a specific sum of £1,000,000.
– I am surprised at the stand taken by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). When a similar amendment was proposed on the budget, the object of which was to effect a saving of at least £4,000,000, those honorable members voted for it. But on this occasion they are opposing an amendment which, if carried, would effect a saving of £1,000,000.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that it is difficult to discuss the amendment when we have to visualize to some extent what is in the mind of its mover. I agree also with the honorable member for .Henty (Mr. Gullett) that every person in the community contributes directly or indirectly to the President’s salary, and to the upkeep of government generally. I admit that the majority of the people have suffered a loss of income, and that the people generally mustmake some sacrifice in the interests of Australia, but I object to the method proposed by the honorable member for bridging the gap in our finances. The decline of income and the spending power of the people generally has been brought about largely by the continuation of our financial depression. I cannot believe that any miserable, cheese-paring and unscientific method of economy, such as a reduction of the President’s salary, would relieve the depression to any great extent. I am not in favour of the methods of taxation which are being adopted by the Government. We should endeavour to improve the financial position by means of the income taxation. Some reasonable exemption should be fixed, and, on incomes above that, the tax should operate on a sliding scale. Our system of income taxation should be established on a scientific basis, excluding, of course, incomes that are barely sufficient to keep a man in decency and comfort. Such a method of raising revenue would be infinitely preferable to the miserable mix-up of .taxes’ that are now being levied on the people. 1 have too great a respect for the ability of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) to believe that he desires only a decrease in the President’s salary of £1.
– The amendment involves a reduction in the salaries of honorable members.
– I object to that method of economy because it is based on class lines and is undemocratic in principle. There is no difference between the President of the Senate and the President of the Chamber of Manufactures.
So long as we attempt to tackle this problem by these patchwork methods we shall intensify the difficulties of it. If some of the pessimistic prophets in Australia, such as the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), are correct in forecasting that several more years of acute difficulty will follow this one - I do noi think that they are correct - the time i.a not far off when we shall have to consider the making of a levy on capita! or income in order to pay off at least a portion of our huge oversea debt. But it is of no use for us to attempt to meet the situation by the ineffective method now proposed.
– Under cover of this amendment, which proposes a small reduction, wc are asked to consider questions which lie at the very root of the great problems which to-day confront Australia, and, indeed, the whole world. It is most unfortunate therefore that the debate should be circumscribed. We must regret that the real object of the amendment was not placed before us iu a way that would permit us to discuss every matter at issue.
The amendment is obviously a means to an end, and, in itself, may be dismissed with a word. I need not add anything to what the honorable member for Kennedy (“Mr. Riordan) said. But its real object compels attention. It is something much more than the saving of a paltry £1; it aims at reductions in the allowance of members of Parliament and the salaries of the Commonwealth Public Service, which would aggregate £1,000,000. Regarded as a remedy for correcting the troubles from which we are suffering, the proposal is obviously inadequate. To-day Australia is in a position which is deplorable.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable gentleman should refrain from breathing even the softest “ Hear, Hear “, because the sound of his voice inevitably forces an analytical mind to consider how this position was reached.
– Are we never to get out of it?
– I have no desire to drag in King Charles’s head; but we cannot erase from memory the recent past, for the effects are too palpable. We are suffering from seven years of government - I do not say good, bad or indifferent - but we are undeniably suffering as a result of it. Before the last Government came into office, things were normal; trade was brisk, unemployment at zero. To-day,- black depression hangs over the land. The remedy of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will not help us, for, as I have said, it is hopelessly i inadequate
– We tried to reduce expenditure by £4,000,000 and failed, and we are now trying to reduce it by £1,000,000.
– This is a political gesture. I do not condemn it for that reason. As the representatives of a people who are groaning under heavy burdens and arc in the depths of depression, with their trade stagnant and their” credit gone, we should consider their position sympathetically and remember that it is by conduct, not by precept, that others may be led. I do not condemn this pro posal, even though it be a futile gesture. Of the sincerity of those who support it I say nothing. Without being necessarily insincere, some may take one view and some another on a subject like this. Had the proposal been made in a motion designed to give effect to its real object, or by a bill, it could have been considered on its merits.
– I do not mind what means are used to achieve my object so long as it is achieved.
– The honorable member knows that his amendment will not be carried. It is of little use to blame honorable members opposite for not accepting it. They are supporting their own Government, and should not be condemned for doing so. As for the reduction of the parliamentary allowance, I am prepared, for my own part, to make a gesture of the kind, suggested, and to do so without any such guarantee as was required by the honorable member for New England (Mr.- Thompson). But it would be ostentatious for one man to seek cheap popularity in a matter of this kind by standing alone. To stand alone would be odious. Had the principle behind this amendment been submitted in a way that would have permitted discussion on its merits, I say frankly that in my present frame of mind I should be inclined to support, it. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), proposes to effect a saving of £1,000,000, 99/100ths. of that amount to be taken from the public servants’ salaries. I say, without qualification, that I am entirely and irrevocably opposed to any interference by Parliament with the salaries and conditions of the officers of the Public Service. It is intolerable that, whenever we find ourselves in a difficult position, we should strike at those who are unable to strike back, singling out from the community this special class for such treatment.
– Others have been singled out already.
– We have not singled out any other class in the community. Long ago, we established in the Commonwealth the salutary practice of having the salaries and conditions of public servants determined by an impartial tribunal. I led the vanguard in this reform. For years the public servants were denied an opportunity to have their disputes settled by such, a tribunal. Then the principle of compulsory arbitration was introduced. Let the Public Service Arbitrator now decide the remuneration to be given to members of the Public Service, and if a case can be made out for it, let an award be given for altered conditions. If such an amendment as that submitted by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) were agreed to, we should have, hereafter, appeals to the electors for support, each side endeavouring to recommend themselves to the public servants by promises of increases. Thus the Public Service would become the shuttlecock of politics. Let us avoid the morass in which America finds itself to-day in regard to its Public Service.
So far from this amendment offering a genuine contribution to the solution of the most difficult problem we have ever had to face, it is utterly futile. On this matter, I desire to speak plainly. I do not say that Parliament should escape making a sacrifice at the present time; and if sacrifices are to be made by the whole community, it should perhaps lead the way. But I am not prepared to support an amendment which precludes discussion of the subject on its merits. If a reduction of salaries is good for Parliament and the Public Service, it must be good for the whole people. But I do not believe that a general reduction of wages will help us. Speaking as an individual, and as a member of Parliament, I have every sympathy with those who are suffering, and I am prepared to make my contribution here and now.
– I will join the honorable member.
– That would be something quite definite, insignificant though the relief thus given ; but the amendment, as it stands, is useless, and therefore must fail.
.-I regret that the Chairman (Mr. McGrath) has confined the discussion to the reduction of the salary of the President, because the honorable member for Henty, in submitting his amendment, has entered certain fields from which other members are debarred. I do not intend to vote for the amendment, because of the implications attached to it, and because it would not achieve the desired object. I regret that certain speeches have contained certain statements, because no honorable member should throw stones, or even bouquets, without having good reason for his action. If sacrifices are to be made, I do not intend to be one whit behind any other member. As I remarked in an earlier speech on the subject of retrenchment in the cost of government, country members of this Parliament already sacrifice £300 of their annual salary, compared with members from city constituencies; but, so far as the remainder of my salary is concerned, I am prepared to join in any sacrifice that city members are willing to make.
A report appears in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald commenting on the Queensland Government’s action in regard to salaries and wages in the Public Service of that State; but that Government, which is always charged by Labour members with being a wageslasher, . took the proper course. It referred the matter to the Arbitration Court, which is the only body that should determine the salaries and wages of public servants. I do not agree with any of the proposals of the Government for rectifying the present economic position.
.- I . have had considerable experience of proposals for reductions in parliamentary salaries. Honorable members often advocate a reduction in their salaries in order to gain kudos in the eyes of the electors’; but we should discover a more scientific way of effecting economy in governmental expenditure than by suggesting a reduction in the salaries of members and of the Public Service only. We realize that the amendment, which provides for a reduction in the salary of the President of the Senate by £1, would be. absurd, if it did not involve more than that. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) attaches to his amendment far greater significance; but why did he not suggest that the President of the Senate should pay into a fund for the relief of the unemployed, an amount equivalent to the sum that he would ordinarily pay in income tax? If that scientific method were adopted, all persons in the community would make an equal sacrifice. I am prepared to accept that system.
– All honorable members opposite will soon be compelled to share in the sacrifice.
– I should never follow the honorable member’s leadership, unless, when he said that £50,000,000 should be “spent bravely,” he had carried out that policy. But the honorable member was not sincere in that matter. Unquestionably, the present economic position demands a serious attempt to eliminate poverty and millionaires; but an amendment providing for a reduction in the salary of the President of the Senate by £1 is too trivial, coming from an honorable member whom I knew in past years as a good democrat. Why does not the honorable member withdraw his amendment, and boldly propose that men and women, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, should contribute the equivalent of the amount paid in income tax?
– If that method were applied to honorable members, it would practically serve the same purpose as the reduction of their salaries.
– I have already tried to distribute a considerable part of my parliamentary salary among the deserving section of the community. I started by giving away one-fifth of the salary, and, in later years, since it has been raised to £1,000, I can honestly say that I have distributed one-third of my income by way of assistance to the needy. I should be sorry to see any honorable member attempting to gain political notoriety by a pretence at an attempt to reduce the present salaries of members.
I am glad to be able to pay one compliment to Canberra by saying that there is no need for any person in this community to go hungry, and I wish that an equally good arrangement for the relief of distress obtained in other cities throughout Australia. The fact that nobody need go in want of a meal here is due to the relief arrangements made by the citizens, assisted by the Government subsidy. If the honorable member had the courage to submit an amendment providing that during the present depression all sections should contribute to a relief fund, in proportion to the amounts paid in income tax, it would lay a good foundation for a system of relief for the unemployed.
.- Various honorable members opposite have condemned the amendment, because of the means by which it is proposed to bring about a reduction in governmental expenditure. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that the gesture was inadequate ; the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Holloway) remarked that action was proposed along wrong lines, and the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) adopted practically the same view. I am sure that the party behind me does not mind how the reduction is made. We have no desire to embarrass the Government with a suggestion that this amendment is equivalent to a vote of censure. I am prepared to withdraw the amendment if the Prime Minister will give me his assurance that he will take steps to save £1,000,000 in the cost of government. If the salary of the President is included in the reduction, we shall know that all of us will be required to make a sacrifice. How the reduction is effected is immaterial. Let ministerial supporters name a better way of effecting it; any way which will save £1,000,000 on the cost of administration will be acceptable to me and other Nationalists. Some honorable members have said that the proposed saving is small and insignificant, but it represents a clear £1,000,000, and the definite relief of the oppressed taxpayer to that amount. By no other action on these Estimates could we save £1,000,000 as easily and without inflicting hardship or reducing the efficiency of the Public Service. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that the last Government was responsible for the present state of the finances. I do not say that it was never extravagant, nor could that be claimed of the ministries with which the right honorable member was associated; but the problems of the present are not to be solved by raking the past for scapegoats. The country is faced with financial stringency and widespread human suffering unprecedented in the last 40 years; industry is more oppressed by taxation and general adversity than at any previous time in Australian history. Attempts to allocate responsibility for this state of affairs are of no avail; the past we cannot recall; let us boldly face the present. I shall take my share of the responsibility for the sins of omission and commission of the last Government, but the only questions before us now are - (1.) Is it worth while in the present condition of Australia to reduce taxation by £1,000,000? (2.) Can that reduction be made without inflicting real hardship or unemployment on any individual? Unfortunately, I am only wasting my breath. This committee is this day plumbing a lower depth of personal selfishness than was ever previously plumbed by an Australian Parliament.
.- The complexities and contradictions of parliamentary procedure are such that although all honorable members desire to discuss a matter of very grave importance, owing to the proper ruling of the chair they cannot do so. The amendment before the committee is that the salary of the President shall be reduced by £1, and the mover has made clear that the carrying of it will be an instruction to the Government to reduce the salaries of public servants by £1,000,000.-
– And the allowance of members of Parliament.
– The proposal is farcical. I do not believe in the reduction of the salaries of the public servants. The remuneration of a few of them may be adequate, but I do not know how the majority of the public servants live. I am not in favour of a reduction of wages at a time of great economic and financial stress. Let us try something else first?
– Try members’ salaries.
– The Chairman has ruled that they cannot be discussed, but I am prepared to discuss a reduction in that direction if a special measure is introduced. If the amendment means no more than it says, viz., a reduction of the President’s salary by £1, I do not know that I am prepared to support even that. I am reluctant to see that charming personage begging from door to door because the economical member for Henty has reduced his salary by £1. It is interesting to note that President Hoover, through his Secretary for Labour, Mr. Davis, declared only a few weeks ago that a large population on a low wage would not make any nation great, and that Mr. Businessman would be wise if, after collecting a reasonable profit for himself, he put the balance intothe pay envelopes of his employees. The statesmen of America, even when 5,000,000 workers are unemployed, are not resorting to the expedient which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has proposed. The Public Service is one of the finest bodies in Australia, and a reduction of its salaries by £1,000,000 will cause chaos in the commercial community, and particularly will stagger the great departmental stores which are kept going mainly by the small, but regular spending of the public servants. As the amendment will achieve nothing, and is really a court attack on the civil service, I shall vote against it.
.- I dislike very much to shirk the responsibility of recording a vote on any matter, but the amendment is so worded that it is impossible for me to vote for or against it. If it implied nothing more than it literally means - a reduction of the President’s salary by £1 - it would be futile. But it involves very important questions, all of which should be thoroughly discussed before this committee comes to a conclusion. Such a discussion is impossible under the Standing Orders. Whether I vote for or against the amendment, I shall be misunderstood.
– We all have to chance that.
– I shall take no chance. I do not act on impulse; I like to act on principle, and to be able to give a reason for the faith that is in me and for the votes I record. Not knowing exactly what the amendment involves, a vote either way would lay me open to misunderstanding ; and, unfortunately, there is too much of that sort of thing. Even during this discussion charges of insincerity have been bandied across the chamber. I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), that each one of us should give to the other credit for sincerity of motive. 1 am reddy to concede that Ministerial members who are opposing the amendment are sincerely convinced that it is a covert attack on the basic wage and the standards of living.
– There is no dispute about that.
– There is, because the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), has specifically denied that that is intended. He said that he would withdraw the amendment if the Prime Minister would give an assurance that he would save £1,000,000 on administration. That request is not reasonable. The honorable member for Henty did not state how the £1,000,000 was computed.
– It is a 10 per cent, cut of administrative costs.
– Unfortunately, owing to the restrictions imposed by the Standing Orders, I am not able to discuss the salaries of the public servants. I have always said that it would be disastrous for Parliament to take upon itself the responsibility of dealing directly with the salaries or wages of any section of the community, including the Public Service. That is why I voted as I did in the last Parliament when we were discussing the advisability of amending the Constitution with a view to fixing the wages and salaries of members of the community. At that time I favoured the creation of authorities which would make it impossible for Parliament to deal directly with the fixation of wages, and my opinion has not altered. I hope that I have said sufficient to make my attitude quite clear.
– The honorable member has, at any rate, adopted the safe course.
– It is true that I intend not to record my vote on this amendment, but it is not because I desire to follow the safe course. If I could see clearly the way wherein I am walking, and could understand the effect of this amendment, I should be prepared to record a vote upon it. I take leave to say that- no honorable member of this House has a clear idea of what the amendment of the honorable member may involve, and I for one refuse to vote on it.
.- - The issue before the committee is as plain as daylight. Those who vote for the amendment express their desire to join in the general wage-slashing competition that is going on in the Commonwealth. Those who vote against the amendment vote to maintain our Australian standard of living. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat is a rail-sitter, who is not prepared to declare his attitude on an issue that is agitating the community at the present time. The only pleasing feature of this debate is that it has shown in their true colours those who support the amendment. They stand revealed as persons who desire to reduce wages, and depress the living conditions of the workers. We now know their real opinion, and we shall make them stand up to it in the future.
Representative employers throughout the world to-day, men who have earned reputations as sound thinkers and successful entrepreneurs, have declared themselves against any movement for the reduction of wage3. Men like Henry Ford and Edward A. Filene are among the apostles of the new business philosophy. They advocate high wages, not out of kindness of heart, but because they believe it to be necessary for the preservation of the capitalistic system itself. They say that employers must exert all their intelligence, and every ounce of their strength, to reduce prices and increase wages. They have been converted to this belief by the prospect of ever increasing production, without a corresponding expansion of markets. If this Parliament, allows itself to be guided by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and takes this decisive step towards a general reduction of wages, we shall merely be forcing the nation a little bit further into the bog of depression. That being so, it is absurd for the National Parliament to waste its time considering an amendment of this kind. The honorable member’s amendment, however, is part of the general campaign which has been conducted by the press and the employers of Australia for months past to create a psychology which will permit of a general reduction of wages and living conditions. So successful has this campaign been that even men on the basic wage are getting into that frame of mind when they are ready to accept a reduction. Edward A. Filene, of Boston, addressing a conference of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in Philadelphia, stated recently that business crises and unemployment were as preventible as smallpox. The old idea that wages came out of profits was all wrong. He continued -
What pays is to make prices as low and wages as high as possible. The “new capitalism “ understands that business can prosper only when employees and the public are prosperous. High wages pay - and they don’t come out of profits!
Only 20 per cent, of American business understands the truth of the “ new capitalism,” but the other 80 per cent, will be put out of business if .they don’t learn it.
– Is that why the honorable member’s party proposes to tax cornsacks?
– The honorable member’s interjection is as stupid as usual. He can think only of his own particular interests, and those he represents. I have quoted the opinion of a man enormously more wealthy than the honorable member, and one who has developed a wide outlook upon economic problems. He views the world as something other than a place in which he may grind out greater and greater profits. The contribution of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) to this debate was characterized by its personal note. He desired the wage earner to accept a little less in order that his own taxation might be reduced. He said that the present depression was a legacy of the war. He is one of those who desire that the workers, having first fought; the war, should work like the devil to pay for it.
I desire to register my strong opposition to this amendment, whether its chief purpose be to reduce the salary of the President, of members of Parliament, or of members of the Public Service. I cannot believe that members of this committee will be so foolish as to give the amendment any consideration.
.- I am loath to prolong this debate, but I am compelled to express my regret that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) has seen fit to move this amendment. It involves issues which, under your ruling, Mr. Chairman, we are not permitted to debate. That is most unfortunate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred in the course of his speech to two matters, the first being a specific reduction of fi in the salary of the President of the Senate. That, if carried, would necessarily involve the reduction of the allowance of members of Parliament, but that is a phase of the subject which we are not permitted to discuss. I agree with the views expressed by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) who, during the budget debate, stated that the issue of a reduction of parliamentary salaries should be brought before Parliament in a manner to permit of its being dealt with on its merits. It should not be introduced as a side issue.
I do not hesitate, as did the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), to express my views upon the subject of deflation. I am of the opinion that we are in for a period of depression in this country, extending from the highest to the lowest. I believe that economic circumstances will enforce such a deflation; it is world-wide in its effects, and while we remain part of a world-wide economic system we cannot hope to escape it.” Knowing as I do how acutely the present depression has affected primary producers, and particularly the dried-fruit growers and wheat-farmers, whom I represent, I realize how serious must be our financial position if it is true, as has been said, that the prosperity of a nation may be gauged by the economic position of its primary producers. I believe that we are in for a bad time; I regret it, but facts must be faced. The whole question of whether we shall impose more taxation to meet the growing expenditure, or whether we shall reduce expenditure, was debated at length and decided the other day. I regret that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, on an amendment to reduce by the paltry sum of £1, the salary of the President, should have re-introduced the subject. He knows, first of all, that his amendment will not be carried. He and every other honorable member who is supporting it knew before it was moved that it would not be carried ; and that, even in the unlikely event of its being carried, it would mean, not that the President would receive fi less, but that this country would be plunged into the turmoil of a general election. That is an illustration of a very unsatisfactory state of affairs in connexion’ with our parliamentary procedure. The honorable member stated specifically that the result of the acceptance of the amendment would be a reduction of the salaries of the public servants of this country.
– By 10 per cent.
– I believe that he specifically mentioned 10 per cent. Therefore, every honorable member who votes for the amendment supports the principle that the salaries and conditions of the public servants shall be made the football of party politics on the floor of this chamber. That is inescapable; and on that one point alone the amendment stands condemned. I am opposed to the salaries and conditions, the bread and butter, of the public servants of this country being made a political issue on the floor of this Parliament. For that reason alone I shall vote against the amendment.
.- The honorable member who moved the amendment that the proposed vote for the President of the Senate be reduced by fi knew when he did so that he had no more hope of securing its acceptance than I have of being crowned King of Rome. It is deplorable that in this National Parliament there are so few men who realize the importance of the position that they occupy, and are prepared to employ whatever ability they may possess in solving the problems with which this country is faced. Those problems cannot be solved by reducing the income of our people or by lowering their standard of living. Unfortunately, we are creatures of circumstances; and we are under the domination of the press at the present time. We fear the press, and have not sufficient courage to tell it that we intend to govern Australia without its dictation. I can appreciate the sincerity of those who are always conservative, and who do not lay. claim to being anything else, but I cannot understand the outlook of those who are conservative and yet endeavour to convince the people that they have liberal ideas and believe in the democratic principles which the free and enlightened people of this country have been advocating for the last fifty or sixty years. The most conservative members of the Parliament of Great Britain would not associate themselves with such a proposal as this. They are men of high calibre, and their knowledge of the world is extensive. The amendment is deception pure and simple, and is unworthy of men who claim to have any honour. The real motive behind it is to “ get at “ persons whose hands are tied.
Let us consider the economic consequences of a 10 per cent, or a 15 per cent, reduction of the salaries of public servants. If that reduction were made, what would be the position in this Capital City? How would the tradespeople fare? The effect would be similar throughout Australia.
It may be asked, How would I set about solving the problems that confront us? Instead of restricting our currency, I would make it more elastic. So soon as that idea receives general acceptance, the prosperity of Australia will be restored. When honorable members opposite went before the electors last October, did they tell them that, if they were returned to power, they would take action along these lines? Of course they did not. Had they done so, none of them would have been returned to this Parliament. The ideas of Lord Melchett in regard to the steps that are necessary to deal with economic problems such as those that now confront us, are the opposite of those which are held by honorable members opposite. He lays down the following principles
The tendency now appears to be to seek the salvation of industry by endeavouring to extend hours and reduce wages. This tendency is diametrically opposed to the social tendency which has been working for two generations in the opposite direction. . . . Long hours and low wages tend to want of efficiency, to increase rather than to diminish costs. . . . The greater the industrial strain, the less the industrial efficiency. The great exertions required in modern industry themselves preclude longer hours. The higher standard of intelligence and observation required in modern factories could not be achieved by a stinted and stunted industrial population.
That is a reply to the arguments of those who support the amendment. The professors of Cambridge University also lay it down emphatically that the cause of our present difficulties is the inelasticity of our currency. Those gentlemen are not merely bookworms; they study economics from the outside as well as the inside of the university. The true economist is one who associates himself with the outside world. A man who is merely a book economist is the most narrow-minded person one could find. I regret that, in this Parliament, there are so few men who study the economic position from the angle from which I view it. I have never met a professional man, a manufacturer, a trade union leader, or any other person who, if he reads more than his prayer-book, will not admit that in the policy which I advocate lies our only hope of salvation. The chairmen of directors of two of the largest banking companies in Australia - the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney and the Australian Bank of Commerce - have advised the people to beware of using the credit of Australia for the benefit of Australia. The inference to be drawn from their statement is that such a course would deprive them of opportunities to invest their capital. I feel keenly the fact that nothing of a practical nature is being done to right our financial position. If, instead of attempting to reduce salaries, honorable members opposite had put forward a constructive proposal for the relief of the unemployed, they would have done something for the benefit of the nation. No benefit would result to Australia by the passage of this abstract amendment, which has been introduced for political purposes, and with a view to trapping the Government and providing ammunition for the Opposition to fire at the next election. I warn honorable members opposite that if they think they are likely to place me on the shelf at the next election they are making a damnable mistake. We should give some consideration to the women and children of this community who are practically on the verge of starvation. This National Parliament has been lenient to the States in granting them assistance, but, unfortunately, that has encouraged them to engage in an orgy of extravagance, which, to a large extent, has been responsible for the unemployment existing to-day, and the consequent sufferings of the community. I oppose the amendment.
Question - That the item proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Gullett’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed vote, £314,500.
.- I wish to secure, if possible, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) an undertaking with regard to an attempt that is being made to establish an Australian tourist industry, with the object of attracting foreign money to this country. About eighteen months ago a sum of £5,000 was made available by the BrucePage Government for the stimulation and development of what is known as the Australian National Travel Association. That sum represented the Commonwealth’s donation over a period of five years, at the rate of £1,000 a year, and was given to this organization to enable it to begin its activities. The object was to raise money by contributions from those persons and bodies immediately and directly interested in establishing the tourist industry in Australia. Similar industries in other countries have attained considerable proportions. For i instance, last year the net gain of foreign money from tourists, to the dominion of Canada was no less than 300,000,000 dollars; or £60,000,000. It is estimated that, in the United Statees of America, t,he tourist industry produces more revenue than did the manufacture of iron and steel in that country. In Switzerland the tourist industry accounts for two-thirds of the total national wealth available for governmental exploitation by way of taxation. Despite the fact that we have for many years been providing roads and railways to our tourist resorts, we have done little up to the present to attract tourists to these shores, and to sell to them the scenery of Australia at a profit. The Australian National Travel Association has approached the big shipping companies, motor companies, hotel people, and those engaged in transport generally, such as railways commissioners, for the purpose of raising the sum of £100,000 and has already raised a sum of £87,000. The organization has already taken steps to send to New York and London specially qualified men who are experienced in publicity work in Australia and other countries, so as to give wide publicity to the possibilities of Australia as a tourist resort. Unfortunately, these officers have found that they have insufficient local data available to do their work as effectively as it could be done. They are unable, for instance, to satisfy some inquirers as to the adequacy of the accommodation provided at our various pleasure resorts. They have not adequate information, letterpress, pictures, &c, to show the wonderful beauty and attraction of Australia. A travel promotion and development association has consequently been formed with the specific object of collating all available information for tourist purposes in a suitable standardized form for use both at home and abroad, and also to attempt to improve, to the highest standard, local accommodation and facilities. This organization is at present attempting to develop this phase of its activities. It is confining its operations to the area between Brisbane and Sydney, although it is hoped that other units will shortly be formed to operate between Sydney and Melbourne, and Melbourne and Adelaide, and subsequently in Northern Queensland and other parts of the Commonwealth. Tasmania has already done something in this direction. The chief work of this association is to co-ordinate the various sporadic attempts that have been made by local tourist associations in various towns and districts to stimulate travel in Australia. Tourist leagues operating in various towns and cities in Australia have been spending amounts varying from £50 to £1,000 a year in advertising their particular attractions; but whereas one town would publish a booklet, measuring, say, 12 inches by 8 inches, of pictures and letterpress in relation to its interests; another would publish a similar booklet measuring 10 inches by 6 inches. The pictures and letterpress in these various publications are thus of little use for inclusion in a larger standardized work containing information likely to be attractive to overseas travellers. In Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, and some other countries, the various local tourist bodies, in fact .all tourist activities, do their advertising and publicity work on a uniform basis. Letterpress used in a publication in one town may be inexpensively used in a similar publication in another town, or in a general publication covering the attractions of the whole country. That remark also, applies to illustrations. To enable this work to be undertaken, various local governing bodies have now agreed to vote certain sums from their funds, usually in proportion to their total revenue to establish and maintain this travel promotion association. I desire the Commonwealth Government to consider earnestly the advisableness of doing something to help these organizations which have shown so much initiative. An instance of the assistance that can be given is the preparation of films of these districts for distribution to mail steamers and to exhibitors generally. During the last ten or twelve years the Commonwealth Government has employed certain officers to make picture films illustrating various industries and beauty spots of Australia. These officers have been under the control of different departments at different times; but their work has been most valuable. It is desired that their services shall be available in different parts of Australia to assist the organization to which I have referred, in co-ordinating and increasing the dissemination of information likely to prove attractive to- tourists. There are former Australian residents living in different parts of the world who would gladly undertake, in an honorary capacity, to use effectively any material supplied to them with the object of increasing interest in Australia’s beauty spots. I have in mind as an instance two gentlemen living in America who are already doing a considerable amount of work in this way. One of these is a Congregational minister, the Reverend Mr. Perdriau, and the other is Colonel Bailey, of Pasadena, One of them secured some picture films from the Development and Migration Commission and the other a set of lantern slides. They are using these at their own expense in different parts of America to stimulate interest in Australia. A good many of the tourists on the American tourist ship Malolo, which has visited Australia on two occasions, were interested in’ the Commonwealth by these .means. The Commonwealth officers who prepare these picture films and other suitable publicity matter, have at their disposal excellent equipment for the purpose; and the organization to which I have referred desires that their services shall be made available in particular localities to produce picture films which would take, say, ten or fifteen minutes to show. Such films could be used on mail boats travelling in different parts of the world and also in different countries where persons qualified to explain them are willing to use them. The making available of the services of these officers would not involve the Commonwealth in any additional expense, for their salaries would be payable even if they were not doing this particular work. The Association in whose behalf I am making this suggestion is so keen on doing its work well that it would be willing to bear the transport expenses of the officers from the main lines. I pointed out that Canada had last year an income of about £60,000,000 a year from overseas tourists, and I feel sure that if we went about the business in the proper way we could soon .build up what might well be called an export trade in this direction which would be worth between £20,000,000 and £30,000,000 to us. The New South Wales Government and the Queensland Government, and such transport bodies as the New England Motor Services, have shown an interest in this work by granting free passes to the officers of the Australian National Travel League and the Travel Promotion Association to enable them to visit different parts of their respective States to collect information of value to tourists, and to arrange itineraries and disseminate information. I believe that the Victorian Government is doing something of a similar nature. It must be apparent to every honorable member that if we could increase the interest overseas in the tourist attractions of Australia, it would mean a considerable addition to our national income. I trust, that the Government will give earnest consideration to the suggestions that I have made in this regard.
.- I notice that the proposed vote for the Public Service Board is £47,320, in addition to which we have £4,500 for the Public Service Board, and £2,000 for Public Service arbitration. Originally we had three public service com mission ers, but one has retired through having reached the retiring age, and I understand that another is approaching the retiring age. I trust that the Govern- ment will, therefore, consider earnestly the practicability of placing the Service under the control” of one commissioner. I directed attention several years ago to the desirableness of doing this. In my opinion it should be easy for the Government to effect such an economy, for the Board has on its staff four inspectors who receive an aggregate salary of £3,57S. In view of the fact that the salaries of the Public Service are fixed by the Public Service Arbitrator and that the classification of the Service has now been practically completed, there seems to me to be no reason why three commissioners and a large staff should be retained to perform the functions which the board discharges. Mr. D. C. Mclachlan, the first commissioner, had the sole responsibility of administering the Service, and in our present circumstances, the duties should again be placed in the hands of one officer. I well remember the late Sir Henry Parkes saying that when a new branch of the Public Service were established by the placing in a room of an officer with one chair and a table, it was marvellous how quickly officers, tables and chairs multiplied in the room. I urge the Government to give careful consideration to the possibility of effecting economies in the way I have suggested.
The proposed vote for the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is £5,998. A year or two ago I tabled a motion in this chamber for the establishment at Canberra of a Bureau of Biology, Entomology, and Zoology, as well as animal laboratories. [Quorum formed.] By contributions to the press, I drew public attention to the national importance of this subject. When Mr. Bruce, the late Prime Minister, attended the Sydney show some time ago, he impressed upon the graziers the fact that £10,000,000 a year was being lost to the Commonwealth owing to ravages of insect pests, and that a similar loss was attributable to noxious weeds. The Graziers Association took the matter up, and proposed to raise £200,000 for the purpose of encouraging improved treatment of their stock. A donation of £20,000 was made by Mr. McMasters for the purpose of establishing an animal laboratory in the Federal Capital Terri tory. This proposal lay dormant for a while: but when Senator Sir George Pearce got into touch with Sir George Julius and Dr. Rivett, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the latter were found to be bitterly opposed to the establishment of such an institution in the Federal Capital Territory. Eventually a site for this laboratory was chosen on the Sydney University grounds. I strongly object to the choice of that site. It is in a congested area, and all the available ground is urgently required for the purposes of the various institutions already established there, including the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, two colleges, as well as for the benefit of the lungs of the people residing in that part of Sydney. No better situation than Canberra could be chosen for an animal laboratory. What subject is of greater national importance than the proper treatment of our flocks and herds? The proposed laboratory should be built on ground owned by the Commonwealth. I went to a good deal of trouble, in the interests of the primary producers, to have this national institution established in the capital city ; but, unfortunately for Australia, those intimately associated with the movement have recommended that the laboratory be erected on an unsuitable site owned by the New South Wales Government. I feel sure that Dr. Purser, of the University of Sydney, did not give the matter full consideration when he agreed to the establishment of the laboratory on university grounds. If the best results are to be obtained from the scientific investigation of stock diseases, it should be carried out in the vicinity of pastures such as are to be found in the Federal Capital Territory.
I have had a motion on the noticepaper, for a couple of years, urging upon the Government the desirability of setting aside, in the Federal Capital Territory, an area of 20 square miles for the purposes of a research institute, station, and farm, and suggesting that an endowment of a sum not. exceeding £1,000,000 be made, the income to be devoted to the provision of laboratories, field equipment, salaries of a staff of scientific specialists, and research scholarships and fellowships open to science graduates of any Australian university. In drafting that motion, I took a comprehensive view, and considered the future needs of this great Commonwealth. I showed how an Australian research institute could be financed: but, owing to the operation of the Standing Orders, I have been prevented from proceeding with the motion. Before Australia can become the great country that it is destined to be, it must have one government only, and, so far as I am concerned, no stone will be left unturned in seeking to bring about that result. We have unrivalled opportunities. We occupy an island continent, and have no frontier problems. Every variety of soil and climate is at our command. It is not yet too late to take steps along the lines that I have indicated, and this Parliament should be kept in session for a sufficient period to enable matters of such national importance as that to which I have referred to be considered in all aspects. Too much time is spent in dealing with “ parish pump “ matters, to the exclusion of major subjects vital to the welfare of the nation.
– Although I realize the inability of the Opposition to alter any item of the Estimates, I desire to offer some views on the High Commissioner’s office. I have previously criticized the appointment of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) to investigate the administration of Australia House. That gentleman is not capable of efficiently and effectively doing the work, and his appointment is derogatory of the prestige of the High Commissioner. Nevertheless, my visit to London about three years ago convinced me that improvements in the organization of Australia House can be effected. Generally speaking, the clerical portion, which is directly under the control of the High Commissioner, is efficiently controlled, and is doing good work for the Commonwealth. But in respect of the other activities annexed to the High Commissioner’s office, a considerable sum of money could be saved. There are boards controlling migration, dried fruits, canned fruits, meat, and so on. Although they function in and about Australia House, their activities are controlled from Australia, and the High Commissioner has no responsibility in respect of them, save when any mistake is made. “ I do not think that Ave shall effect any substantial improvement of our London representation until Parliament gives to the High Commissioner his rightful status. He has never had it, and that was never more evident than to-day, when he is deliberately denied the opportunity and privilege of attending the Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva. Every other dominion appoints its High Commissioner, in London as the leader of its delegation to Geneva.
– That is not so. The honorable member’s present leader once led the Australian delegation.
– I admit that; but that does not alter the accuracy of my statement. I recollect that when I was in London, Mr. Larkin, the then High Commissioner for Canada, led the Canadian delegation. And so with the Dominion of New Zealand. The view held by the Dominion Government is that a High Commissioner who attends the Assembly year after year must have a more intimate and connected knowledge of its business, and must, therefore, be more competent to lead the delegation than Ministers, some of whom may never have taken any interest in the work of the League, and, indeed, may be unsympathetic with it. The proper procedure is to appoint as leader of the delegation a man who has an intimate and continuous knowledge of the Assembly. But even if if is considered essential that a Minister should lead the delegation, the exclusion from it of the High Commissioner is a deliberate insult to him, a reflection on his honour and integrity, and certainly detracts from his prestige. Until our High Commissioner is recognized by this Parliament as the supreme representative of Australia in London, his office will never be entirely successful. I am opposed, also, to the continuance of the position of liaison officer between the British and the Australian Governments. At present Major Casey has an office at Whitehall, and maintains a liaison between Whitehall and Canberra. If such an officer is necessary, he should be in Australia House, and under the control of the High Commis- sioner. Any confidential information passing from Sir Maurice Hankey, as Secretary to the British Cabinet, to the Commonwealth Government should be conveyed by Major Casey to the High Commissioner, and by him to the Prime Minister. [Quorum formed.] Again, the High Commissioner’s office should be divided into two sections. That directly controlled by the High Commissioner should be almost exclusively ambassadorial. The representation of Australia in matters of trade or external affairs, the exchange of views between the Australian and British Governments, and the attendance at social and official functions, are sufficient to keep the High Commissioner fully employed. The social activities of the High Commissioner are of importance to the Commonwealth, for they enable him to put before representative and influential people facts regarding Australian ideals, politics and business. All the boards at present functioning in and about Australia House should be disbanded, and their activities should be concentrated under the control of a deputy high commissioner, who should be the most capable business man and administrator in the Public Service. If a man with the requisite qualifications is not to be found within the Service, an appointment should be made from outside. If the boards were disbanded, at least £25,000 per annum would be saved. “When a cargo of Australian meat reaches London it is first inspected by a Commonwealth officer, and then by an officer from each Agent-General’s office. There is no need for six inspectors to do the work which one can do. This sort of duplication occurs in many other ways.
– Where is the need for six Agents-General?
– The Agents-General are relics, of a byegone day, and the sooner they wrap their togas about them and gracefully quit the scene the better for Australia. There is undoubted scope for economy there. If any State required special trade representation it could appoint an officer who would operate . from Australia House. The separate establishments should be abolished. The State Government which first takes action to that end will be wise, and its example will be soon followed by others. Despite the .criticism often levelled against Australia House, and despite the disabilities under which the High Commissioner is carrying on, good work is being done for Australia by that office. Although I believe that economies can be effected) I am prepared to admit that every shilling we spend on Australia House is money well spent.
At the present time Australia is fortunate in having an exceedingly capable representative in Paris, and it would be to our advantage if we placed a little more money at his disposal to enable him to advance the interests of Australia in France. I believe that money spent in that way would be returned to us ten, or even twenty, fold.
– It would be a better investment than what we spend on our Trade Commissioner in the United States of America.
– .1 admit it. If we were to increase the opportunities of our representative in Paris to secure trade for us, we should benefit more than by maintaining theexisting expensive establishment in America. For my part, I would discontinue the office of Trade Commissioner in the United States of America, at least, in its present form. It is far too costly. The Trade Commissioner receives a salary of £2,000 a year, and a further sum of £3,000 as expenses. From a business point of view, our returns for this expenditure are totally inadequate. Tt is a bad investment. The cost of maintaining this office could be reduced by at least half without reducing the efficiency in any way. I would have, in the United States of America. merely a commercial agent to deal with Australian interests, and would abolish the present office with its costly entourage.
.- I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) about Australia House, and more particularly the offices established in London by the various States for the accommodation of their Agents-General. The Minister for Home Affairs will appreciate what I am about to say, because he knows from experience what economies can be effected by amalgamating some of the services of the Commonwealth and.
States. Honorable members are aware of the advantage which has accrued from the formation of the Loan Council; the economies which have resulted from the preparation of uniform electoral rolls for the Commonwealth and the States ; and of the benefits that have flowed from closer co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States regarding immigration. In view of these things, the argument for uniform action in regard to Austraiian representation in London becomes overwhelming. There was a time, before federation, when the States controlled their own immigration affairs. Later, they decided that there should be one immigration control in Great Britain, to be appointed by the Commonwealth Government We have now to go only one step further to realize the savings and the benefits which would result were the offices of the various Agents-General amalgamated with the Commonwealth High Commissionership.
– The States fear that under that system they would lose their identity.
– The States have no identity at all in London now.
– I recognize that what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) has just said is used as an argument against the abolition of the offices of the Agents-General in London. When I was in England I decided to visit some of the offices maintained by the various States, and I came to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of the States themselves to amalgamate their offices. If they were all in Australia House things would not be so bad; but some of them are in the Strand, and some in other parts of London.
Unconsciously the Agent-General for a State sometimes does harm to another State. For instance, an intending settler may walk into the office of the Western Australian Agent-General to seek information. He has in his mind the idea of growing fruit in Australia, and he asks what are the opportunities in Western Australia. On being given certain information he tells the Agent-General, or his officer, that he has heard about the fruit-growing possibilities of Victoria, or New South Wales, or Tasmania, and naturally asks what are the prospects in those States. The Western Australian Agent-General, without desiring to depart from the truth, will unconsciously colour his information so as to make his own State appear to the best advantage, even at the expense of the other States.
One voice only should speak for Australia in Great Britain. Information given . to applicants should, be unbiased. The States would lose nothing, but would stand to gain much, not only financially, but in prestige, were they willing to waive their right to individual representation in London, and amalgamate under the aegis of the Commonwealth.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) spoke of Australia’s representation in the United States of America. I ‘ dealt with this subject while we met in Melbourne, and said then that it was unnecessary, and even useless, for us to maintain a trade representative in the United States of America. The people of the United States of America and ourselves produce, generally speaking, the same kinds of goods. We are great producers of wheat; so are they. We produce beef; so do they, though not sufficient for their own consumption. Apart from our wool, we produce practically nothing that we can sell to America. Of what advantage can it be to us to have a trade representative there?
– She does not buy our wool. She has imposed a duty of Hd. per lb. on it.
– It is true that under schedule E there is a very heavy duty on our wool, but we have not been behindhand in adopting retaliatory measures. We have imposed a very heavy duty on timber coming here from the United States of America. We, being a black pot, had better say nothing about the kettle.
At the present time we are fortunate in being represented in America by Mr. H. E. Brookes, a man who, at great personal and financial sacrifice, has gone to that country on our behalf. He is doing his work well, but, with all due respect to him, he is not quite of the type we need there. When speaking on this subject before, an honorable member asked me what sort of man I had in mind for the position, and I had no hesitation at that time in instancing the Eight Honorable W. A. Watt.
– We could never induce him to go.
– That may be, but it should be our aim to get someone as good. There are others, I have no doubt, who could be induced to go. I instanced also Mr. S. M. Bruce, who was then Prime Minister. He, I am convinced, could ably fill the position. We require a man who can go to the United States of America, and place our point of view before the American people; one who can bring the English-speaking peoples more closely together. Yesterday the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) tabled his report on the recent Naval Conference, which he attended as the representative of Australia. It was attended also by the representatives of the United States of America, France, Italy, Japan, and Great Britain. I do not propose to discuss that conference now, but if we are to have peace in our time, it can, in my opinion, be achieved only in one way - by obtaining a better understanding among the English-speaking people. I should be very loth to say one word against the League of Nations, but in that League we have 50 or more nations, very few of whom understand one another. Why is it that there have always been the differences and lack of understanding between England and France? If any two peoples should understand each other, they should be France and Great Britain, divided as they are by a mere strip of water. But we have never understood France, and the French have never understood us, because we speak different languages. In the United States of America, however, there are 120,000,000 people, the great majority of whom do speak our language.
– :Only half of them understand us, however.
– Perhaps so; that is the more reason why we should send some one to represent us among them who can put our point of view before them, and increase their understanding of us. Until we come, more closely together, not in a political union, but in sympathetic understanding, there will not be that harmony between the two great branches of the English-speaking peoples which should exist. Their ideals and ours are the same. The ideals we keep before us are the British ideals, and, despite the fact that foreigners have, until recently, been pouring into the United States of America at the rate of over 1,000,000 a year, the little leaven that will ultimately leaven the whole lump is the British leaven. They read the same literature, and have the same ideals. We must cultivate their friendship. If we succeed in obtaining the services of a man of the right type, I am confident that he would do far more to achieve the desired result than would any one sent there from Great Britain. The people of the United States of America are more likely to appreciate and accept the views expressed by a citizen of Australia. Surely the maintenance of peace among the nations is something worth striving for. If the English-speaking peoples of the world would get together^, and determine that there shall be no more war, they have the numerical, the financial and the commercial strength to say to the other peoples of the world with authority, “ You shall not fight. If you insist upon quarelling, we will knock your heads together “. Peace can be brought about only by the provision of a sufficiently strong force to compel it if necessary. We have a police force for the maintenance of domestic law and order. A policeman does not look for trouble; but if he finds two men fighting he steps in and prevents them; and if they persist, he takes steps to have them punished. The world must be policed if we are to have peace, and that cannot be done more effectively than by the English-speaking peoples.
– Would not the alliance suggested by the honorable member tend to drive the other nations into a defensive alliance?
– The English-speaking peoples are so strong, numerically and financially, that war would be impossible if they determined to prevent it. Therefore, we should make every endeavour to send men of the right type to the United States of America; not as representatives to build up our trade, but men of capacity and sympathy and information, who will travel from New York to
San Francisco and from Buffalo to New Orleans, meeting the people, telling them what we stand for, and letting them know us and our ideals. Statements derogatory to the American people are occasionally made in this chamber, and in the press. Even if true, such statements ought not to be uttered. If, in private life, one has it neighbour whom he does not like, he does not, if a wise man, look for points of difference. Realizing that they may have to live alongside each other for the remainder of their lives, both would endeavourto find what they had in common, with the result that frequently each thinks better of the other than he did at first. Therefore, let the Government search Australia from end to end for the right man, and send him to Washington as an emissary to try to knit together more closely the English-speaking peoples of the world.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £639,160, agreed to.
Proposed vote, £183,000.
.- Provision is made in these Estimates for the appointment of one conciliation commissioner. I congratulate the Government upon its modesty, but should like to have the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) that provision for other gentlemen of this description is not concealed elsewhere in the Estimates.
– There is no concealment.
. -I wish to ascertain what arrangements have been made for the future administration of the bankruptcy law in Victoria and New South Wales. I understand, in a general way, that Judge Lukin is to act in Sydney and in Melbourne. That will involve the payment of a considerable amount for travelling expenses; and it appears to me, that, during the fortnight in which His Honour will be in Sydney, there will be no possibility of making a bankruptcy application, even though it be urgent, in Melbourne, and vice versa. At the present time, the Commonwealth is working under arrangements that have been made with the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria, under which a judge of the Supreme Court of New
South Wales and a judge of the County Court of Victoria are available at all times for bankruptcy applications. I am aware that, on account of other duties that these gentlemen have to discharge as judges of their respective States, it is not always possible for them to deal immediately with an application ; and sometimes, more particularly in Victoria, owing to the arrangement of business in the County Court and the Court of General Sessions, delays occur iu the final determination of applications. Occasionally, however, it is important that application be made immediately to a judge of the court. Under the existing arrangements, an application can be made at any moment to a judge who has full jurisdiction to deal with bankruptcy matters. The House recently agreed to a proposal to constitute a federal bankruptcy court, and His Honour Judge Lukin is to be authorized to exercise that jurisdiction. It has been stated that His Honour’s head-quarters will be in Sydney. From information that I have received, I understand that it is proposed that he shall act also in Melbourne. If that be so, it is important to inquire what the expense will be, how it will compare with the expense under the existing system, whether there is not sufficient work in New South Wales to occupy the major portion of the judge’s time, and what the position will be in Victoria and New South Wales, respectively, during the period when the judge is absent from either State. So far as I am aware, the law contains no provision for making, in one bankruptcy district, an application relating to another bankruptcy district. It would be very expensive, sometimes, to make an application in a State other than that in which the question arose. Accordingly, it appears to me that, if the time of the judge is to be divided between the two States, some arrangements ought to be made with the State authorities for the maintenance of services - if one may use that phrase - during the time that the judge is absent in another State. The members of the committee will appreciate the fact that in insolvency matters it sometimes happens that a debtor who is in a bankrupt condition endeavours to dispose of his property or to remove himself beyond the jurisdiction. Accordingly it is important that there should he an opportunity for very prompt action when the necessities of the case demand it. Grave difficulties may arise unless specific arrangements are made, for that purpose.
Another matter to which I wish to refer has already been mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett). I observe that, in the Estimates, reference is made to only one conciliation commissioner. Recently we have had in this chamber a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. One of the features of that bill as originally presented, and, indeed, as passed by this House, consisted in the appointment of conciliation commissioners with extended functions and duties. “ Conciliation commissioner “ is, in this bill, merely a phrase. The existing act provides fully for conciliation commissioners, and there is no need - and, in fact, no possibility - of extending the powers of conciliation commissioners under it, because they already have the fullest powers of conciliation. The real object of the bill was to constitute a new species of arbitrators other than the judges. When the Attorney-General moved the second reading of the recent amending Bankruptcy Bill he informed honorable members that the Arbitration Court was well up in its work, and that it was possible for three judges to carry it on; that it was not necessary to have four judges permanently and continuously engaged in the arbitration jurisdiction. That being so, there is no need for the appointment of further arbitrators. In the past we have had one conciliation commissioner, who was appointed under an act that was introduced by the last Government in 1926. That conciliation commissioner was Mr. A. M. Stewart. He was not chosen from either side in industry ; he was neither an employers’ nor an employees’ representative. I believe that he won and maintained the confidence of both sides, and did some very successful work. In my view, one of the reasons why he was so successful was that he was a conciliator only, and not an arbitrator. There are in this Parliament gentlemen who have had experience in various capacities before the Arbitration Court. When the function of conciliation is being discharged by a person who, at a later stage, if the parties fail to agree, assumes the function of an arbitrator, there is much less chance of conciliation being successful than if the system provided that the conciliator and the subsequent potential arbitrator should be different and distinct persons. When conferences are held for purposes of conciliation, it is the common practice for each side to observe in the most careful and meticulous manner - like a cat watches a mouse - any indications of the mind of the conciliator, because by observing the trend of his mind they may be able to dra» some conclusion as to the way in which he will determine a point, if they do not concede it in conference. Accordingly, one of the conditions of success in conciliation is probably this: That the conciliator should never have powers of arbitration, and that the conciliation jurisdic-tion - if one may use that phrase, although it is not strictly correct - should be entirely separate from the arbitral jurisdiction.
– That principle was not adopted by the Bruce-Page Government when it appointed arbitration court judges.
– I agree that since 1904, when the Arbitration Act was introduced, judges have been endued with powers of conciliation ar.d arbitration. The first change was made in 1926 by the late Government in a bill which 1 introduced, and for which I’ was largely responsible. That bill provided for the appointment of a conciliation commissioner without arbitration powers. It was stated in this chamber by myself, on behalf of the Government, that that provision was experimental in character. We did not propose, at that time, to remove the conciliation powers from the judges, as the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley) has just observed, but an experiment was made by appointing n conciliation commissioner without any arbitration powers. I think that our experience has justified that appointment.
– The conciliation committees for which the Bruce-Page Government made prevision were never appointed by the arbitration court judges
– I am speaking of the conciliation commissioner at the moment. A change in principle was made in 1926, and I suggest that experience has shown that it was a valuable change. I hope that any conciliation commissioners appointed by the Government will be first of all conciliation commissioners only and not arbitrators, and that they will be appointed from the officers of the court and not from either side in industry. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley) has referred to conciliation committees. The provisions relating to conciliation committees, which were inserted in section 34 of the act, were drafted after full consultation with representatives of the trade union movement. They were in line with what that movement desired, and were admitted by its representatives to be an improvement upon their original suggestion. For political reasons, those provisions have not beenutilized. They were acceptable to the trade union movement, but when it was seen that a political advantage might be gained by opposing the bill as a whole those provisions were rejected, and, with the rest of the bill, politically represented as an attack upon the trade union movement.
– That was not true in the case of some unions.
– Any organization has been at liberty, since 1928, to apply for the appointment of a conciliation committee, but no such application has been made. The reason for that is a political, and not an industrial, one. I hope that in appointing conciliation commissioners the Government will pay attention to past experience and will appoint an officer of the court - some one in the Public Service at the present time - instead of making appointments from either side of industry. One of thedifficulties which have always accompanied Commonwealth arbitration and industrial law has lain in the appointment of persons as judges. Up to the present, it has been provided that they shall be lawyers. One reason for that is that lawyers, as a class, are skilled, or should be skilled before being appointed to any position, in judging and estimating evidence, and they arenot, as are employers and employees, joined up with one side or the other of industry. For that reason, lawyers have generally been appointed as judges.
– That principle did not apply in the case of Judge DrakeBrockman.
– It did apply in that case. These personal references are most deplorable, particularly when made on the floor of this chamber.
Mr. Curtin. - Judge Drake-Brockman had little or no legal practice.
– I am dealing generally with the qualifications of lawyers to discharge these important duties, and I am pointing out the difficulties which will arise if an employer or a person actively associated with the trade union movement is appointed as a conciliation commissioner. Honorable members must recognize those difficulties. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) has gone out of his way to suggest that Judge Drake-Brockman has had no legal practice; but I know that that gentleman before the war had a most successful practice in Western Australia. I could disclose the figures of his actual earnings, but I shall not do so in this chamber.
– I do not expect that; but it must be admitted that Judge DrakeBrockman occupies a unique position among lawyers, in that he was chairman of the Employers Federation.
– I have always regarded that as one of the peculiarly contemptible acts of propaganda used by the Labour party. Judge Drake-Brockman, before he became judge, had never been an employer. He was a lawyer, and. lawyers, as such, are not employers in the industrial sense. But he became the executor of the estate of his father-in-law.
– That was the full extent of his legal practice.
– Not at all. I was in Selborne Chambers with Judge DrakeBrockman, after the war, and knew his legal practice then. The honorable member does not know the facts.
– I am certainly not making any personal reflection upon that gentleman.
– It is regrettable that any honorable member, when attacking an individual, should utilize this chamber as a public sounding-board to enable his voice to be heard all over the continent.
– The Leader of the Opposition first attacked the trade unions.
– It is one of the most unfortunate things in parliamentary life that some honorable members will not refrain from attacking individuals in this Parliament, but it is seldom indeed that the honorable member for Fremantle offends in that way. I was referring, in perfectly general terms, to the difficulty of finding a man qualified to discharge these important functions of conciliation and arbitration, and then, by interjection, actually from the front bench, a personal remark was made concerning one of the judges of the Arbitration Court.
– The honorable member was, at the time, complaining about appointments made by this Government.
– I have not complained of any appointment made by this Government, because it has made none. I have merely suggested that the present Government would be well advised to make these appointments from persons who are already in the Commonwealth service. To conclude this unfortunate reference to an individual, let me say that when ex-Senator Drake-Brockman became executor of the estate of his father-in-law, he was then technically qualified as an employer. He was very much interested in industrial law and industrial legislation. Honorable members will find from an examination of the reports of the debates in the Senate that when Judge DrakeBrockman entered that chamber he expressed grave doubt as to the possibility of the arbitration system being a success, but that a year or two later, he expressed an entirely different opinion. He then decided that if a more generous spirit were shown *by both sides to industry, there was a possibility of the industrial system being of great service to the community. It was with that object in view that he joined the Employers Federation, and sought to persuade the employers - and he met with a considerable measure of success - to abandon the attitude, which up to that time had been adopted, of resisting all demands made against them on behalf of the workers. In that capacity Senator Drake-Brockman, as he then was, performed a useful service to the community as a whole.
Last year the provision made in the Estimates for the salary of the conciliation commissioner was £650. One con ciliation commissioner is mentioned in the Estimates for this year, but no sum is specified, although we have had introduced into this chamber a bill providing for the appointment of an unlimited number of conciliation commissioners. I submit that it would have been proper for the Government to indicate the salary proposed to be paid to the occupants of this office, and how many conciliation commissioners it proposed to appoint. In the absence of any indication of that character it is plain that the Estimates do not really represent the intended expenditure of the year in this direction.
I come now to another department of Commonwealth activities which is associated with the Attorney-General’s Department; I refer to the Public Service Arbitrator’s office. Provision is made in the Estimates similar to that made in past years for the Public Service Arbitrator’s office. It would be interesting to know what the Public Service Arbitrator is doing at the present time. We are all aware from press reports that soon after the elections the Public Service organizations waited by way of deputation, upon the Prime Minister, and a very interesting interview took place, which was reported fairly fully in the official organ of the Telegraphists Association. One of the most interesting requests made by the Prime Minister on that occasion was that the Public Service organizations should not make any demands before the Public Service Arbitrator for increases in salaries or alterations in conditions which would involve the Commonwealth in substantial expenditure. I am not quoting from the actual report, but I believe that to be a fair summary of the right honorable gentleman’s remarks. The Public Service organizations have acceded to that request. During the last election campaign, honorable members opposite made a bid for the Public Service vote, regardless of expense or anything else, and they flatter themselves that they obtained it. One of the great arguments that they used to win the vote was that, whereas they were desirous of maintaining the principle of arbitration for the Public Service, the supporters of the last Government proposed to abolish it. I am willing to concede that it was, through ignorance in the case of some Labour supporters, that they charged Nationalist candidates with proposing to abolish Public Service arbitration. The previous Government, of course, had no intention of doing anything of the ‘kind, as the Public Service Bill introduced by it indicated. What it proposed was that the powers of the arbitrator should be limited to the determination of wages and hours. The fixing of allowances and conditions of employment was to be done by regulations subject to the approval of Parliament.. Yet, although honorable members opposite made such a plea for the retention of arbitration in the Public Service, the Leader of the Government, as one of his first acts, asked the Public Service organization not to make any demands before the arbitrator which would involve the Commonwealth in. substantial additional expense. In effect, he said, !! The Public Service Arbitrator is there, and you may ask him for anything you desire - that is, any minor thing; - which will not involve the Commonwealth in substantial expense. If you ask for anything substantial, and it is granted, the Government will not be able to pay it”. To put it another way, the Government informed the Public Service organizations that the arbitrator was still there, hut the door loading to him was closed. But an amount is provided on the Estimates for the maintenance of this office on the old scale of expenditure, although, apparently, no work is to be done. Why should the- office be maintained if the arbitrator is to do nothing? The whole thing is a farce and a pretence. In the circumstances the office should be abolished rather than continue what will he a useless expense unless the Government changes its policy.
The enthusiasm of this Government for arbitration is, as we have seen, a strictly limited enthusiasm. For many years the members of the Labour party iu this Parliament have deplored the limitation of the industrial power of the Commonwealth. They have said that it is most unfortunate that Parliament cannot legislate for the establishment of a common rule. The two benefits of a common rule to which they have so frequently referred are, first, that it would oblige every employer to pay the same rate of wages for the same class of work, so that no particular employer would be able to obtain an advantage over another employer by paying a lower rate of wages for similar work, and secondly, that it would ensure that workmen who did the same class of work would receive the same rate of wages for it, so that no person not connected with a trade union would be able to accept a lower rate of wage than trade unionists who did the same class of work. The only sphere iu which the Commonwealth Parliament has power to prescribe a common rule is that of the Commonwealth Public Service. The last Government made it a rule to apply any awards made by the Public Service Arbitrator to all employees in the Service who were doing that particular class of work. In other words it made all awards a common rule. But one of the first acts of this Government was to abrogate this principle in the Public Service. Regulation No. 55 of 1930 provided, in effect, that men doing the . same class df work need not be paid the same rate of wages. Their remuneration was to be dependent, not upon the character or value of the work they did, but upon whether they were or were not members of a particular organization.
– Any man may claim the benefit of an award by joining the organization covering his calling.
– The honorable member for Macquarie has, of course, given the real reason why the Government made regulation No. 55. But Public Service organizations vary a great deal. Some of them are bona fide associations, the object of which is, on the one hand, to preserve the interests of their members as employees of the Commonwealth, and, on the other, to ensure that their members shall display a proper sense of their obligations to the Commonwealth. But other Public Service organizations are merely branches of .the Labour party, the members of which are compelled, whether they like it or not, to contribute to the funds of the Labour party. There is no more justification for compelling a public servant to join an organization affiliated with the Labour party than for compelling him to join a particular church.
– The Public Service organizations do not affiliate with the Labour party except by their own volition ; it is a matter which is decided by a majority of the members.
– There are some matters of principle which should be beyond the control of any majority, one of which, in my opinion, is allegiance to a party organization.
– Hear, hear !
-Neither the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) nor the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) held that opinion in 1916.
– In 1916 the honorable member for Balaclava was in a very uncomfortable place in Asia Minor, and he should not be held responsible for anything that happened in Australia at that time.
– But the honorable member has just indicated that he concurs in the view expressed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– In matters of belief there should be no coercion. I do not desire to enter into a discussion as to the limits of law, but there are certainly some limits to the power of the majority. One of the principles upon which this community is built is that the minority has the right to its political opinion and that the majority has no right to compel it to forsake those opinions or to support others.
– A man is not compelled to change his political beliefs because he joins a particular organization.
– There is no doubt whatever that an effort is being made to force public servants to join certain Public Service organizations affiliated with the Labour party. These organizations regularly subscribe money to support the political party to which honorable members opposite belong.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.12 to 8 p.m.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), in seeking to lecture the Government regarding the manner in which it should appoint conciliation commissioners, observed that I had reflected improperly upon Mr. Justice Drake-Brock man, of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I endeavoured to interpolate by interjection, in the course of his speech, that at no time, either before Mr. Justice Drake-Brockman’s appointment to the Bench, or since, had I reflected upon that gentleman’s qualifications as a judge or his honour and integrity as a member of Parliament. Nor have I made any imputation regarding his professional capacity.
– I think that the Leader of the Opposition accepted that assurance.
– If so, I was not aware of it, and I wish to make this definite intimation, so that it may never be said that I have reflected on the competency or attainments of a member of the judiciary. I submit that the very conditions which the Leader of the Opposition endeavoured to attach to the important appointments of conciliation commissioners were not observed by his own Government in the appointment to the Bench of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court of the gentleman to whom I have referred. He said that conciliation commissioners should have had no association, either as employers or employees, with the conduct of industry, and he urged the present Government to confine the appointments to persons at present within the Public Service. I see no reason why members of the Public Service should not be selected for these positions, if the Service includes men who are best qualified to fill them.
– References to future appointments will not be relevant to the item, “Conciliation Commissioner”. No vote for this year appears under that item.
– Do I understand that you rule that a member may not discuss the Attorney-General’s Department generally, if the item to which he wishes particularly to refer does not appear on the Estimates?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Yes. Individual items may be discussed, but the policy of the Government in regard to future appointments may not be discussed. Matters having relation to the administration of the officers mentioned, may be debated, but beyond that an honorable member may not go.
– The Leader of the Opposition also said that the Labour party had departed from the principle of the common rule. I submit that the wide range of subjects to which he referred, and the political propaganda in which he indulged, were no more relevant to the Estimates than the remainder of his speech.
.- I submit, Mr. Chairman, that if you rule that matters pertaining to the department of a Minister cannot be discussed during the consideration of the estimates of that department, you are departing from the general practice of this committee.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.An honorable member may not discuss my ruling. If he does not accept it, he may move that it be dissented from.
– The sum of £13,618 is allocated for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ; but no separate amount is provided for the judges. Last year £650 was voted for one conciliation commissioner; hut, for the current year, no amount appears under that item. Recently a bill was passed in this chamber stressing the fact that conciliation, rather than arbitration, was to be the guiding policy in industrial matters.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.An honorable member may not discuss conciliation and arbitration generally under this item.
– Without reflecting on the Chair, I point out that the tendency of the rulings this afternoon wa3 against the general practice that has obtained in this chamber for some time.
– If the honorable member continues to make remarks of that nature,! shall ask him to resume his seat.
– I am not reflecting on the Chair.
– The honorable member is discussing a matter that I have ruled may not be debated on this division of the Estimates.
– If you rule that I may not discuss the proposed vote of £13,618, I must submit a motion of dissent from your ruling.
– Although this division is headed “ Court of Conciliation and Arbitration”, the proposed votes are merely for certain offices in that department. An honorable member may discuss the administration of individual officers, but he would not be in order in dealing with the court generally.
– I desire to discuss the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– I shall not permit that.
– May I not even advocate the total abolition of the court, and support a refusal to pass any vote for it?
– The honorable member may move for a reduction in any individual item; but he must apply his remarks to an officer whose administration he desires to criticize.
– I am talking about all officers of the court. The proposed vote includes £1,450 for associates to judges; £974 for the Deputy Industrial Registrar; £1,170 for clerks, and so on. Do you rule that I cannot discuss whether or not those officers should be employed?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member certainly may.
– Then I do not object to your ruling, but I disagree with this vote, because I think the court has long outlived its usefulness. I take exception to the employment of any of the officers whom I have mentioned, because I object to the court itself. I think that I would be in order .in giving my reasons for adopting that view.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member would be out of order in giving his reasons for that opinion.
– I submit that I should be permitted to give the reasons why I consider that no vote whatever should be passed for this court. Not one penny of the proposed £13,618 should be provided.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member thinks that he can prevent the passing of the proposed vote for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, by defeating any of the individual items, he may try to do that; but he must direct his remarks solely to the administration of individual offi- cers. The court would go on, even if those’ officers were not appointed. I cannot allow a general discussion, either upon the court or the arbitration system. The honorable member must either accept my ruling, or move that it be dissented from.
– Provision is made for four associates to judges. No associates are necessary because no judges are necessary.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss the judges.
– I am not discussing them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must not attempt to evade the ruling of the Chair. If he dissents from it he can adopt the course prescribed by the Standing Orders. Unless he does that, or obeys my ruling, I shall order him to resume his seat.
– I am trying to keep within your ruling, although I cannot understand it. I have always had a high appreciation of your impartiality, and I hope that I shall be able to retain it. I object to the whole vote for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and I desire to state my reasons.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member may do so, providing his remarks are confined strictly to the individual items.
– On the individual items I object to the whole vote.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member has said that several times already. If he continues in that strain I shall declare him guilty of tedious repetition.
– The Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is an excrescence, and of no benefit to Australia.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I order the honorable member to resume his seat.
-For what reason?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Because the honorable member persists in defying my repeated ruling.
– I move-
That the Temporary Chairman’s ruling, in that he disallowed argument as to why Division 33 shouldbe omitted,be dissented from.
– That is not a correct statement of my ruling. I said that the honorable member would be allowed to advance arguments if they were confined strictly to the items.
– I desire to. state reasons why the whole division should be omitted, and you prevented me from doing so.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Unless the argument were confined strictly to the items. The motion of dissent, to be accurate, must include that qualification.
– That is not my motion. I object to the addition you are proposing.
– In those circumstances I shall put the motion without the addition.
Motion (by Mr. Anstey) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Motion of dissent negatived.
.- I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) in regard to the administrative action which brought about one of the most sordid pieces of political partisanship ever perpetrated in the history of Commonwealth administration; I refer to the departure from the principle of the common rule in regard to the Public Service Arbitrator’s award.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss that.
– Do you, sir, rule that the administrative action to discriminate between various classes of the Public Service cannot be discussed?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Yes.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs
Proposed vote, £265,160.
.- There is a noticeable omission from the proposed vote for this department. Some months ago this Parliament spent weeks in discussing a group of referendum bills for the amendment of the Constitution. During that time much money was expended on the maintenance of Parliamentary services, and a great many speeches, more or less impassioned, were delivered. The declared intention of the Government at that time was that the hills, if passed by this Parliament, should be immediately referred to the people. They were rejected by another place. Soon afterwards the Government announced that it had been decided to postpone the re-submission of them to Parliament. The Estimates now before the committee contain no provision for a referendum, and the omission calls for some explanation by the Government. Quite two or three weeks of the time of this Parliament was occupied in discussing these proposals.
– “What item is the honorable member referring to now?
– There is no item. I am discussing an important omission.
– The honorable member cannot do that.
– I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman.
– The honorable member is in order. Subdivision 3 includes the administration of the Electoral Act
– I do not know whether the Minister can inform honorable members why these referendum proposals are not to be submitted to the people during this financial year. The Government has been guilty of a grave breach of faith with the people of Australia, and has wasted public time and money. Moreover, it has brought about a indefinite postponement of a great deal of important legislation, which having been introduced, must now be postponed because there is not time to deal with it before the departure of the Prime Minister to the Imperial Conference. I refer particularly to the various tariff schedules which have been tabled. We were told over and over again by members of the Government that it was intended to provide an opportunity for the discussion of these schedules, item bv item.
The TEMPORARY” CHAIRMAN.What has this to do with the item before the Chair?
– The time during which we should have been discussing the tariff schedule was taken up in debating these wretched referendum proposals. It would appear that the Government was never sincere in regard to those proposals. Why was the time of Parliament taken up with them? Presumably the refer,endum cannot be held without spending money. It would cost about £100,000 to hold a referendum. If the proposals have been abandoned on the ground of economy, let the Government say so. If the Government has been actuated by any other motives, it should state what they are.
.- The Government is apparently taking the view that it is quite unnecessary to answer any queries raised by honorable members. Ministers sit dumb, with their supporters dumb behind them, refusing to answer anything said on this side of the chamber. That attitude was particularly apparent this morning, when Ministers, presumably finding themselves in a difficult position, refused to speak in any manner upon a profoundly important question. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) has rightly asked why the Estimates contain no provision for the taking of a referendum. Is there an answer to that question? Was it ever intended to take a referendum? Did the Government believe what it said when it declared that the taking of a referendum on proposals for an extension of Commonwealth constitutional power in particular directions was one of the crying needs of the day? If the Government believed it then, does it still believe it? If it does, why is no provision made for taking the referendum? If it does not now believe that the need exists, why has it changed its mind? The Estimates for the Department of Home Affairs cover the Estimates of the electoral office, which presides over the taking of referendum. It would be a relief to a large number of people in Australia if they knew that it was no longer proposed to proceed with the ill-advised referendum proposals over which this House wasted so much time earlier in the year. Hours and hours were devoted to the discussion of these proposals, apparently to no purpose. It was a mere sham fight, a pretence. There was nothing in it, and all the time we were compelled to listen to the Government’s protestations and pretensions that the interests of Australia imperatively demanded that these constitutional changes be made. Now the Estimates have been brought down, and not one penny is provided for the taking of a referendum. Why? The Minister for Home Affairs may know; but he merely smiles. 1 wonder whether he will persist in taking refuge in smiles and silence, or will spur himself to make a reply, and state whether the Government proposes to take this referendum on the amendment of the Constitution during the coming year.
.- It is not very long ago since the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader waxed very vehement in their protestations against the taking of this referendum. The referendum has not yet been taken, but they are now pleading with us that we should do the very thing against which they protested so strongly before. I am afraid that the honorable members protest too much. The Government will, in due course, take the necessary steps to get the opinion of the people on these questions.
– On the questions which were discussed in this House?
– Yes; and on such other questions as the Government sees fit to submit. The Government will, in its own rime, irrespective of the protestations of my friends opposite, follow the course which it, in its wisdom, deems necessary.
.- I am sure that honorable members are deeply indebted to the Minister for the information he has given them on. this subject. A positive flood of light has been thrown on the whole matter, and we know now absolutely, positively and definitely that the Government will, at a proper time and in a proper place, take such action as it thinks proper on the occasion, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, in reference to this matter, . and to such other matters as it deems fit. At last we have a Government which knows its own mind, which is clear, definite and precise ; which, without hesitation or faltering, or allowing itself to be turned aside by protestations or representations of any kind whatsoever, will advance towards that unseen and unspecified goal which it has set itself to reach !
.- When the Government brought down the referendum bills it informed the House during the debate on the first measure that, because Parliament did not possess adequate powers, it was not possible for the Government to carry out its programme. It told us that it was cramped by the narrow constitutional bounds within which it had to work. It declared that it was impossible for the Government of the Commonwealth to function properly unless the Constitution were radically amended along the lines suggested. But a most extraordinary change appears now to have come over the Government. It appears to me that there ha3 been a grave waste of time and money. This affair constitutes one of the worst cases of fooling the people that Parliament has ever witnessed.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL (Warringah) [8.40 1 . - In the Department of Home Affairs the estimated expenditure for this financial year is practically £6,000 more than for the year just concluded. I think that it. is due to the committee that the Minister should give some explanation of the increase. There have been increases in practically every division of the Minister’s department. Administrative costs have increased by £2,110. In the Electoral Office the increase is £1,194; in the Meteorological branch, it is £2,725 ; for the Solar Observatory it- is £1,281 ; and in the Forestry Department it is £707, making a total increase of £5,907. All over Australia the most rigid economies are being effected during this time of depression, the only exception, apparently, being in regard to the activities of the Commonwealth Government. . This Government seems to regard itself as entirely above the sordid suggestions of economy, and it is carrying on as though the country were passing through a time of unprecedented prosperity, and revenue were falling into the Treasury like manna from heaven. Under the heading of “ administration,” I draw the attention of the committee to the fact that three officers, the secretary, assistant secretary, and chief clerk, together draw salaries aggregating £3,000. The accountant and clerks, apart from those in the records branch, draw salaries amounting to £3,011, making the salary cost for this limited staff over £6,000 a year. I suggest that it should be possible to effect economies in this department without inflicting hardship on any members of the Public Service. This department furnishes an instance of how public money is being’ lavishly expended. I do not suggest that the officers are not carrying out the duties allotted to them, or that they are not worth the salaries they are receiving. The question arises, however, whether the work allotted to them by the Minister is worth the money being paid. It is for the Minister to explain to the committee and to the country why these increases are taking place in the cost of his department in this particular year of all others. One would imagine that, when every one else is cutting down costs the Government would also endeavour to effect economies. We have heard during the past week hundreds of reasons why Government economies cannot take place. It would be refreshing if we could hear from members of the Government just a few reasons why economies could take place, and where. Is it to be understood that the Government takes up this attitude: “Here are the Estimates; these are our proposals; we are going to stick to them, and it does not matter what honorable members opposite say, or what the public says, or what the great organs of public opinion in this country say. All that is of no avail. We are going to stick to what we have put forward, and will not under any circumstances reduce a single item.” The country will not be satisfied with that. As the Estimates for each department are being scrutinized, the Government must give specific reasons for the increases that are shown, and for its persistence in refusing to agree to the slightest reduction of any item.
.- A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. The honorable member has not endeavoured either to read properly or to understand the voluminous mass of figures that is placed before him at great cost to the country. He waxed eloquent in his condemnation of the department, and proved conclusively to himself - but, I hope, to no one else - that there has been an increase of £6,000 in the expenditure of the Department of Home Affairs. The proposed vote in regard to the Electoral Department certainly is £5,898 in excess of last year’s appropriation.
– In excess of last year’s expenditure.
– I repeat that it is in excess of last year’s appropriation. It is only £435 in excess of last year’s expenditure. If the honorable member honestly endeavoured to understand the figures, he made a very poor fist of it. He waved his arms about and made all kinds of wild and extravagant statements for which he had absolutely no foundation.
– I have given the facts, and the Minister cannot contradict them.
– I have given my honorable friend the assurance that the £6,000 increase to which he has referred, boils down to an increase of £435.
– The papers do not s,ay so.
– If the honorable member looks further into the matter, he will find that what I say is correct. There are several increases due to increases in the cost of living allowances. Under “ Contingencies “ travelling expenses have increased by £140, incidental and potty cash expenditure by £190, and telephone services by £20. The provision for those services last year was insufficient, and on that account, although apparently there is an increase, in reality it is not so.. In the Electoral Office, the allowance to officers in connexion with the maintenance of joint rolls has been increased by £960. Temporary assistance has risen to the extent of £250, and the cost of living allowance by £1,213. The item “ Administration of Electoral Act “ shows an increase of £5,898. Included in that proposed appropriation are the items “printing principal rolls £16,500”. “allowance to registrars £S,000”, ‘“.temporary assistance £500”, and “printing forms, &c, £2,500”. But when the whole thing is boiled down, there is an excess of only £435 over the expenditure of last year, which is more than accounted . for by the annual increments that are given each year.
.- The Minister went to some trouble to lecture the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), because he could not readily understand certain figures.
– I reprimanded him for making rash statements.
– It is not within the province of the Minister to reprimand me.
– I hope that the Minister will excuse me if I cannot find readily any provision for the suggested redistribution of- electoral boundaries that is to. take place next year. Some time ago I asked questions concerning the number of electorates in the different States that had more than their quota of electors and I found that a good many were in that position. I should like the Minister to give us a little more information as to what is proposed, so that injustice may not be done to any individual State. I am particularly interested in my own State, which on a population basis is entitled to an additional member.
– Ob, no !
– At the present time Queensland has ten members; but on a population basis it is entitled to eleven. The mere balancing of electorates throughout Queensland will not prove satisfactory to the people of that State. I understand that similar difficulties exist in other States ; but it is for the members concerned to bring their troubles before the Minister. I realize that the Commonwealth is in financial stress, and that the Government has great difficulty in finding a considerable amount of money. I respectfully suggest, however, that’ a portion of the £1,000,000 that the Government proposes to make available to the States for the relief of unemployment may appropriately be expended in taking the census next year. The condition that it is proposed to attach to the expenditure of that money is that award rates of wages shall be paid. That will interfere considerably with the internal arrangements of the States, and the expenditure of their own funds. A suitable way out of the difficulty would be for the Government to utilize a portion of that money in taking the census, so that each State may have justice done to it by a proper redistribution of electoral boundaries. The taking of the census is of considerable importance, not only from an electoral point of view, but also in regard to the compilation of statistics in relation to the Commonwealth, which are largely availed of throughout the world. I should like the Minister to furnish definite information, so that we shall know exactly what is proposed in regard to the various electorates.
.- I have no wish to lay myself open to a scathing indictment by the Minister for Home Affairs.
– I hope that the honorable member will not misrepresent the figures as did the honorable member for Warringah.’
– I have not the slightest intention of misrepresenting the figures. The vote for the Forestry Branch last year was £8,577, but this year it is only £8,216, a reduction of £350. Forestry is of very great importance to Australia, and particularly to the State of South Australia. Citizens of the old world who understand forestry tell us that we are particularly backward in this respect, and that we do not understand the art of either conserving or increasing our forest areas. The very best authorities in the world have given it as their opinion that there will be a real world shortage of timber within a quarter of a century. The Commonwealth, rightly or wrongly, has taken over from the States a considerable degree of authority in regard to afforestation. I hope that the Minister is not neglecting the advancement of forestry in Australia. Unfortunately, South Australia is not provided with good forests, and it has been found necessary in that State to make a very thorough study of forestry. I claim that the State is doing more than any other in the way of afforestation. I know that it is essential to exercise the very greatest economy at the present time; but, accepting the statements of the best authorities with regard to afforestation, it is necessary, despite our financial difficulties, to refrain from acting in a way that may be detrimental to the future of Australia. I hope that the Minister is not curtailing the Forestry Branch in such a way that that will be the result. A few weeks ago the honorable gentleman introduced a bill dealing with forestry, and spoke eulogistically in regard to what was being done at the Forestry School. I am somewhat perturbed at the prospect that this curtailment, of the vote for the Forestry Branch may have the effect of restricting the benefits that should be derived by Australia from afforestation, because it should be a continuous process. The piling up of the tariff duties on timber has had the effect in South Australia of increasing the cost of a five-roomed cottage by at least £20. That is a very serious matter, particularly to the working people of the community. Everything should be done to advance afforestation, so that our people will not be penalized because of the extraordinary tariff that rules against timber.
.- The explanation of the Minister makes confusion worse confounded. He has informed honorable members that the increased expenditure this year will be £400. According to page 92 of the Estimates, items 38 to 43, under theDepartment of Home Affairs, cover an expenditure for this year of £267,160. The. expenditure last year was £259,347, which means that the increased expenditure this year is £7,811. That is a considerably greater sum than £400, which is the figure given by the Minister. If the Estimates are wrong, it is the duty of the Minister to correct them at the earliest possible moment.
.- I wish to join with the previous speaker in what he has said about the discrepancy of £4,511 between the figures supplied by the Minister and the actual figures appearing in the Estimates. It is the duty of the Minister to explain to honorable members why he has been furnished with figures that do not appear on the Estimates.
Under the heading of Solar Observatory, there is provision made for an ex penditure of £1,362, representing the salary of the Director. I remind the Minister that there has not been a Director of the Solar Observatory for some considerable time. Since Dr. Duffield died Mr. Runnier has been carrying out the work of the Director - I understand most satisfactorily. I should like to know why that sum appears on the Estimates, when, apparently, the Government does not intend to fill the position. Last financial year the sum expended in connexion with the Solar Observatory was £3,900. The proposed expenditure this year is £6,405, but there is also, according to the Estimates, an amount of £2,042 estimated to remain unexpended at the close of the financial year. It is difficult to understand why, at a time when the Government is taxing the people of this country almost to the breaking point in an effort to raise £15,000,000, it should provide on the Estimates a. sum of £2,042 which is not proposed to be expended. If every department followed that practice, considerable sums of money that the people were taxed to pay would remain unexpended at the end of the financial year.
– The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) referred to the proposed redistribution of seats. As has been announced, it is intended to make a redistribution in four States - Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. In Tasmania and South Australia the figures are so close to the quota stipulated that there is no necessity for a redistribution in those States. In the other States the disparity in the various electorates is considerable, because the figures are far below or above the margin of 10 per cent. It is, therefore, necessary to have a redistribution in those States. Normally, the redistribution would have taken place after the census in June of next year, but because of the postponement of the census, it is considered necessary to make the redistribution at an early date. I hope, shortly, to be able to announce the names of the commissioners in each State who will carry out that work.
– Will there be any alteration in the number of members of Parliament?
– The question of representation is different from that of redistribution. The figures are so close in Queensland, and, particularly in South Australia, that it is not considered advisable, in the absence of a census, to make an alteration in representation. The present estimate does not quite take a seat from South Australia nor does it quite give a seat to Queensland. It is therefore deemed advisable to wait until such time as the census has been taken before making any alteration in representation.
– If, when the census is taken .two years hence, it is found that one of the States is entitled to additional representation, when will it be given?
– It might be given at the end of the quinquennial period, in 1935, or after the census is taken in 1933. The redistribution should be completed in May or June of. next year, and it should be sufficiently close to warrant no additional representation - without causing any dislocation or disfranchisement in the States - until the lapse of the five years’ period as provided under the act, when a further re-distribution and, if necessary, an alteration of representation will take place. The act lays down that the commissioners shall consist of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth or of a State, the Surveyor-General of the State concerned, and a third commissioner, to be selected by the Government. Our electoral commissioner need not necessarily be the Chief Electoral Officer; he may be the Deputy or Acting Chief Electoral Officer, or even the Chief Commonwealth Electoral Officer in a State.
– Will the third commissioner be appointed from the Electoral Office or the Public Service?
– The third commissioner might be anybody. A sum of £1,200 will be provided for allowances, and each commissioner will be entitled to a payment of £100. The necessary finance will have to be arranged by the Treasury. With regard to the discrepancy between the figures supplied by me and those appearing in the Estimates, I would inform” the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill), and also the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), that I misunderstood the figures quoted in respect of the Electoral Department.
– I knew that the Minister was wrong.
– I am sorry that a mistake occurred, but the honorable member mentioned the Electoral Department, and I thought that when he quoted the figure of £5,S90 he was referring to that department. In that case, there has been a slight increase in expenditure because of the adoption of dual rolls in New South Wales.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) referred to the Government’s policy in regard to afforestation. The Government this year is making available £5,000 for new afforestation work in the Federal Capital Territory. Quite a lot of planting has already been carried out, and we hope to continue the policy that has been laid down for the next five years.
– Is it commercial or experimental work?
– From now on it will be commercial work. At the beginning a certain amount of experimental work was carried out in the Federal Capital Territory, mainly from an aesthetic point of view. Stromlo was planted with pinus insignis and pinus ponderosa. It has been found that Stromlo is not suitable for commercial afforestation, but even there it is anticipated that ultimately the Government will be repaid for its plantings. So as to preserve and protect the Cotter catchment area further plantings arc being made at a higher altitude where there is a greater rainfall.
– What is being done in the training of students?
– A number of students who have finished their training at the Forestry School have been given employment in the Forestry Departments of the States. Two students are travelling, and one will return shortly to Australia. Thirteen students are now at the Forestry School.
The honorable member for Moreton has asked why the position of Director of the Solar Observatory has not been filled. lt may be that during the year that position will be filled. Applications have been called, and in case the Government decides to appoint a director, the necessary expenditure has been provided in the Estimates.
– Will the Minister explain why more than £2,000 is being appropriated than it is proposed to expend ?
– I have already indicated that the position of Director of the Observatory is vacant. The work of that office is being done excellently, so far as I am able to judge, by the acting director, Mr. Rimmer. But the office of first-assistant at the Observatory is also vacant.
.- I congratulate the Minister for Home Affairs upon being, apart from the Prime Minister, the only Minister who appears to be willing to answer questions in regard to his department. There are one or two other matters upon which I should like some information.
Provision is made under the heading of “miscellaneous”, in division 38, for the expenditure of £4,500 in respect of the administration of the Immigration Act, although only £3,834 was spent last year. Why is this increase of £700 being provided over last year’s expenditure? The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) has given us some interesting figures in regard to the migration of Southern Europeans. He has shown that, whereas the percentage of Italians coming to Australia has remained practically stationary, the percentage of British migrants coming here has fallen considerably. Does the increased vote indicate the intention of the Government to continue to allow Italians and Southern Europeans to come to Australia in increased proportion to British migrants ?
In division 39 provision is made under one item for an expenditure of £285 less this year in office cleaning than was actually spent last year ; but in a later item an amount of £845 is being provided for “payment to Postmaster-General’s Department for cleaning and other services rendered “. I should like an explanation of this item. Is it proposed that the Postmaster-General’s Department shall conduct a special spring-cleaning in the Electoral Office for the purpose of cleaning up the rolls for Eden-Monaro? By adding together the two items to which I have referred, and subtracting from the total the sum of £1,585, which was actually spent in office cleaning last year, it appears that £500 more is to be spent on office cleaning this year than was spent last year.
There is an item in division 40 which also requires an explanation. An amount of £174 is being provided this year for the payment of two messengers of the Fourth Division. The amount voted for this purpose last year was £235. What kind of messengers does the Government propose to employ for a total expenditure of £174 in the year ? These may be officers to whom the Public Service Arbitrator’s award will not apply. At any rate, the item requires an explanation.
Reverting for a moment to the subject of migration, I find, that, during the first six months of this year 3.45 per cent, of our migrants were Italians, whereas during the first six months of 1929 only 2.76 per cent, of them were of that nationality. It will be seen therefore that the percentage has increased by almost 50 per cent.
– That is doubtless because the wives and children of the Italians admitted by the previous Government are now coming here.
– I should like the. Minister to explain what has caused these figures to increase so much.
– The statement of percentages in a matter like this may be somewhat misleading. For instance, if only nine persons of a particular nation came to Australia in one year and three or four more came in the next year the percentage increase would be very considerable. I was under the impression that no migrants were coming here at present, but evidently I was wrong in thinking so.
I should like the Minister to supply at the earliest possible moment a statement showing the excess of the arrivals over the departures of migrants, giving the detailed figures for each year from 1922- 23 to date, and, in particular, the number of Southern Europeans admitted during each of those years. This is one of the most serious subjects that has been mentioned during the discussion of the proposed vote for this department, in view of what we have recently read about the influx of aliens into the sugar districts of North Queensland.
– For the first six months of 1930, 961 Italians entered Australia. The figures for the corresponding period of 1929 were exactly the same. But whereas the number of Italian migrants admitted has remained stationary, the number of British migrants admitted this year was very much smaller than the number admitted last year.
– In my opinion, 961 are too many. I have, over and over again in this chamber, entered my emphatic protest against the influx into this country of migrants who will not, or perhaps cannot, be absorbed in this community.
– Did not the right honorable member allow Maltese to come here in 1916?
– I did’ not. I laid, down what I considered to be a sound principle, namely, that a quota should be declared of the number of nationals of all countries other than British who should he admitted to Australia each year. It is intolerable that we should be told, as we were told by the last government, that we must consider other nations in this matter. Do other nations consider us? The number of Australians permitted to enter America is under 100.
– It is 86.
– Should we take that lying down ? Are we to’ submit meekly, lowly, and reverently to the dictates of other nations in a matter of this kind and yet open our own gates to the whole world? Whatever our country is to-day, it has been made so by people of the British race. I do not for a moment claim that the British race is superior to any other. It would appear just now unhappily that in some things it is not proving to be superior. But the British people cherish certain ideals, concepts, and traditions which we believe to be good, and suitable for our race. We should, therefore, make every effort to keep this a British community. While I do not decry the virtues of other races, I say definitely that when these races deliberately decline to be absorbed in this community, but aim at becoming a nation within a nation, living in their own way and retaining their own langauge, this is not compatible with the ideals of a white and British Australia..
.- Certain aspects of migration that have been raised by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) are deserving of attention. He referred to the quota system, and spoke of the necessity for establishing it in connexion with our migration policy. He pointed to the United States of America as a country that had introduced quotas. But there is a big difference between that country and Australia, and nobody knows that better than the right honorable gentleman. The United States of America is a developed country, while we in Australia, with a population of 6,000,000, are in possession of a continent that is considered- by the world to be largely undeveloped. No matter what attitude we may adopt towards those people who desire to come to this country, there is no doubt regarding the attitude of the League of Nations to the question of populating the open spaces of Australia. Although the United States of America has introduced the quota system, it would be quite another matter for Australia to adopt it. Our, delegates to the League of Nations might well be asked what right we had to tell, the people living in crowded European countries that they must not enter Australia. The problem confronting the people of the United States of America was to obtain the class of migrants they desired. When the quota system was introduced in that country in 1921, it was decided to limit migration to 3 per cent, of the number of nationals who were in the country at the time of the 1910 census. It was found that the people who came in were largely of the class that was not desired by the United States of
America, and, therefore, the quota was lowered to 2 per cent, on the basis of the census of 1890, because up to that time the majority of the migrants who had- entered the United States of America, had been of British, Teutonic or Nordic origin. Surely we can decide the type of migrant we admit into this country. Other things being equal, we first want Britishers, and, next to them, we desire migrants whose ideals most closely approximate our own. The right honorable member for North Sydney says that it is time we adopted the quota system; but we could not do that, without treating all nations alike. When a powerful nation like the United States of America decides to admit Australian migrants only in limited numbers, it is not because that country desires to exclude Australians, but, because it cannot admit Australians in unlimited numbers, while it restricts the flow of migrants from Southern Europe. If Australia adopted the quota system, it could not take 10 per cent, of the nationals of one country, and only 2 per cent, of the nationals of another; uniform treatment would have to be meted out to :ill nations.
– We should do as the Americana did.
– The right honorable gentleman means that we should say that our admissions will be on the basis of a certain percentage of the nationals who were resident in Australia when a particular census was taken. He believes that the time has come when action on these lines should be taken in Australia; but, unfortunately, this important matter cannot well be discussed on the Estimates. I urge the Government to provide an early opportunity for the full consideration of the matter by the House.
.- The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), said that he was alarmed at the manner in which the Italian element was increasing in the sugar districts of North Queensland. At one time he showed great interest in the sugar industry, and one would have thought he would not discuss the subject without being acquainted with the facts. I propose to give the latest information compiled by the Queensland Government, the association controlling the sugar industry, and others, and furnished to the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) a few days ago by the deputation of the sugar-growing interests from Queensland. There are 8,000 farmers engaged in the industry in Queensland, of whom 1,077 are foreigners who have non-British names, but as under Queensland legislation, a person born in a foreign country cannot hold land in that State without being naturalized, all these foreigners have been naturalized. No less than G,300 men are employed in the sugar mills during the crushing season, and this labour is 100 per cent. British. Of the cane-cutters and other farm workers employed throughout the year south of Townsville, only 8 per cent, are non-British. Only 3 per cent, of the mill employees are of foreign origin.
– Referring to the matter raised by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), I may mention that it has been the custom of the Department of Home Affairs to pay rent to the Postal Department for space, but this year no rent will be paid, though cleaning and lighting will be charged for by the Postal Department. The position in regard to migration has been dealt with on many occasions in the past six years. When the members of this Government were in Opposition, they appealed for five years to the BrucePage Government to bring about a reduction in the migration of foreigners to Australia, and when the unemployment problem became acute, they asked for a reduction in the migration of Britishers to this country. Up to probably within twelve months of the defeat of the Bruce-Page Government, it refused to take any steps to deal with migration. So far as I know, honorable members sitting behind that Government, and particularly the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley), did not raise their voices in protest against the flow of foreign migrants. The honorable member now refers to this matter at this la’te hour when very few immigrants are coming into the country. The right honorable member for North Sydney asked what had been the extent of the migration of Southern Europeans to
Australia of recent years. The figures for the years 1922 to 1928 are as follows : -
That was the Bruce-Page Government’s contribution to Southern European migration.
– The honorable member suggests that the late Government brought those migrants to Australia?
– I suggest that the unrestricted immigration policy of that Government has been one of the big factors in bringing about the present depression in Australia.
– What are 40,000 migrants - men, women and children - compared with the total number of unemployed in this country?
– Foreign women and children are now being brought here because of the action of the Bruce-Page Government. The position became so dangerous that we, who were then in Opposition, appealed to the Government on every possible occasion to restrict migration.
– And yet the Government has let in 961 Italians during the first six months of this year.
– And the Government of which the honorable member was a member let in 41,000. Of the 961 who were admitted during the first six months of this year, probably more than half were the wives, fiancées or children of Southern Europeans, who were brought to this country by the Bruce-Page Government.
– Does the Minister say that they were brought here?
– I do.
– Does he suggest that the Bruce-Page Government took steps to bring any Southern Europeans to Australia?
– I do. I firmly believe that the Bruce-Page Government knew of organizations in Europe formed to encourage the immigration of Italians, Jugo-Slavs and Greeks to Australia, and that the Government made the path smooth for such migration. Ultimately, even the Bruce-Page Government came to a tardy recognition of the seriousness of the situation, and communicated with the British Government, which was able to make an arrangement fixing the quota for Southern European countries at 3,000 per year. The fact that this arrangement was made proves that the last Government could have controlled the flow of Southern European immigration at an earlier date if it had so desired. Immediately the present Government assumed office it cut down the existing quota for Southern European migration by half. For that year the visas in favour of Greeks and Jugo-Slavs were 300; Poles, Lithuanians, and Czecho-Slovakians, 150; and Bulgarians and Hungarians, 100 each.
– Why let any in?
– Because the last Government allowed 40,000 to come here, and these are now asking that their wives, fiancées and children be permitted to follow them. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) attempted to juggle with figures, but the fact remains that the Bruce-Page Government brought into this country 41,331 immigrants from various Southern European countries.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it permissible on this item to discuss the general immigration policy of this or previous Governments?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The item under discussion deals with immigration. The Minister is in order.
– I propose to quote some figures relating to European migration over the last three years, showing the excess of arrivals over departures. For the first six months of 1927 the excess of Italian arrivals over departures was 2,996. For the corresponding period of 1928 the number was 1,011. For the first six months of 1929 the number was 192, and for the first six months of 1930 there was an excess of departures over arrivals of 266. The net migration for 1927 was 2,965; for 1928, 2,357; for 1929, 482; and for the first six months of this year there was a loss of 333. If we take the totals for all migration for 1927 to 1930 we find that there was an increase of 20,286 for 1927; 10,658 for 1928; and 181 for 1929, while for this year there was a loss of 10,309. The outstanding fact emerging from these figures is the diminution of that flood of migration which swept Australia during the regime pf the Bruce-Page Government.
.- The Minister said’ that the policy of the Government was to admit the wives aDd children of Italians already resident in Australia. If it were really pursuing that policy there should be a marked difference between the number of male and female arrivals during the first six months of this year. The figures, however, are as follows : - For the first six months of 1930, 961 Italians entered Australia, and of that number 622 were males, and 339 females. For the corresponding period of 1929, during which time the Bruce-Page Government was in office, the Italian migrants comprised 630 males, and 331 females, only 8 females less than during the first six months of 1930. The grand total, 961, was the same. The Minister, by going back to 1923, has endeavoured to show that the increase of Southern European migration was very great during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government. As I have pointed out on a previous occasion, the reason for such increases as occurred was the refusal of the United States of America to admit migrants, except in very limited numbers, with the result that they turned to Australia. I have not at any time blamed the Government for bringing Italians to Australia, but I do blame it for cutting down the flow of British migration. The figures show conclusively that the Government is unable to reduce Italian migration below the figures at which it stood during the last year the Bruce-Page Government was in office.- This Government has, however, cut down the number of British migrants, with the result that the percentage of Italians, as compared with the total number of migrants to Australia, and particularly as compared with the number of British migrants, is very much higher now than it was in the past. 1 do not accuse the Government of bringing Italians to Australia; I know that it has no more power over the matter than had the Bruce-Page Government. I do however, object to the last Government being accused of having brought foreigners here. It did not- bring one foreigner to Australia, nor did it . spend one penny piece on foreign migrants. The honorable member knows that, because his department has not been called upon to find any money in respect of those foreigners who have come here during the last six months. All I ask from members of the Government is fair play in their references to the record of the Bruce-Page Government, which did all that was possible to restrict Southern European migration. The Minister himself has said that it induced the Governments of various European countries to agree to a migration quota; but this could only be done by mutual consent.
.- The majority of the Italian migrants, regarding whom so much fuss is being made, have gone into my electorate. 3 have been watching very closely the new arrivals from Italy, because it is part of my duty to do so. I have seen in various newspapers, particularly Smith’s Weekly, reproductions of photographs of alleged new-comers of Italian extraction. Quite a large proportion of those who have come here recently were here previously. They left Australia by leave, and returned in the same way; they were given passports to visit Italy. I know, too, that many of those who are coming here today are the wives and children of men who arrived in Australia years ago, and in many cases became naturalized or applied for naturalization papers. It may be true, as the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) has said, that there are many more males than females among the migrants. But a number of the arrivals are immediate relatives of those who have been engaged in the sugarfields for a number of years. A little research will prove to honorable members that the departures exceed the arrivals by a considerable number.
.- The Minister has attacked the Bruce-Page Government in relation to migration from Southern Europe. I say definitely that he admitted to Australia in the first half of this year as many Southern Europeans as were admitted in the first half of last year. Up to the 30th June, in both years, the number of arrivals of Southern Europeans, curiously enough, was the same - 961. It would be just as correct for me to say that the present Minister had brought that number here this year, as it was for him to say a few minutes ago that the Bruce-Page Government brought them here last year. The honorable gentleman begs the question when he sets off departures against arrivals. The departures this year have been greater than usual, because of the depression that prevails in this country. These people are literally being starved out of Australia. The Minister its not sending them out, or persuading them to go. For years the party to which he belongs has denounced the admission to Australia of Southern Europeans; yet when he is in full control of migration, and can prevent these people from coming here, if he so wishes, he allows the entry in six months of as many as were admitted in a similar period last year. The admission of 961 Southern Europeans at a time when unemployment is so acute is a crime against the working men of this country. If there were anything in the objection to the admission of Southern Europeans in 1926, 192?j and 1928, when the ratio of unemployment was low, and the country was prosperous, the Minister has been guilty of having done the greatest injustice to the workers of this country by having allowed nearly 1,000 to enter Australia in the first six months of this year. In 1926 and 1927 they came out to almost certain employment, and could do no economic harm to any man or woman in this country. But does the Minister suggest that to-day a single individual of that 961 can get sustenance by labour without displacing a good Australian worker ? A greater amount of industrial harm is done to the workers by the arrival of 100 Southern Europeans to-day than was done by the arrival of 1,000 in 1927. After having abused the last Government for years, the present Government is allowing these people to come in and take work from white Australians, without lifting so much as a finger to prevent them.
.- It may be correct that 961 Southern Europeans have been admitted to Australia this year.
– More than half of them were boys and girls.
– While we have unemployment, the migration to this country of, not only Southern Europeans, but also Britishers, should be stopped. The admission of boys who come out under different organizations, such as the Barnado boys, has had the effect of preventing Australian boys from obtaining employment. When the Prime Minister goes to England he should state definitely 1 at the Imperial Conference that, at the present time, Australia cannot absorb the migrants who are arriving here from that country. If there is to be a quota system, we shall have to make some arrangement with the Governments of the States for the placing of migrants on the land, not in our developed, but in our undeveloped areas. Whoever was responsible for the great influx of migrants that took place between 1922 and 1929 - and the BrucePage Government, undoubtedly, was in charge of migration during that period - failed to see that provision was made for them. They went into the settled districts, and, doubtless, displaced Australian workers. No new industry has been established, nor have new areas been opened up.’ Every one would welcome a greater amount of migration, if provision were made for the people who are already here, to obtain employment. There has been no development that will absorb migrants. I hope that the Government will shut down entirely against organizations that are bringing out boys, and these displace our own children. In Australia to-day, boys who have reached the age of seventeen or eighteen years have never been able to get into industry. The Big Brother movement, and similar organizations, have brought boys to Australia for the purpose of exploiting them. Those lads are to be found to-day carrying their swags along the roads from one police station to another, looking for rations. I have met many of them in Western Queensland. They have been engaged for a while on stations, and have come in contact with the shearers and other Australian workers. So soon as they realized the conditions under which those men were working, they broke away from their employers. Practically every boat that arrives in Australia brings British migrants. Evidently, they are being placed in employment, while our own people are being thrown out of work. Until we evolve a system for the absorption of these people, the Government should close down entirely on migration.
– It is generally agreed that this is not the time to flood Australia with migrants, to take the place of Australians in employment; but there is no occasion to shut out men with capital, who are prepared to develop our country. Recently, I received a complaint from a young man who, twelve months ago, nominated his mother and her family, and paid to the department on her behalf the amount required as his quota. The department approved of her as a migrant, and held the money for twelve months. During that period the young man bought for his mother and her other children a farm in my district, and she sold her home in the Old Country. A few weeks ago, however, the son was informed that her passage was cancelled, and that she would not be permitted to settle in Australia. Such people should be allowed to come here. It is not fair for the- department to hold money for twelve months and then disappoint the parties concerned.
The Minister has made a great deal of fuss in regard to the migration of Italians.” He has informed the committee that the Bruce-Page Government brought 41,000 Italians to this country.
It is only fair to say that those Italians who settled in Queensland were encouraged to come here by a Queensland Labour Government. A Labour AgentGeneral for Queensland, in London, Mr. Hunter, made arrangements in Europe for Italian migration. Because the Government of Queensland believed that Italians would be useful in the sugar industry it encouraged them to migrate to that State. Prior to 1921 that Government made arrangements to bring Italians to Queensland, and, on arrival, those migrants encouraged others of their race to come to Australia. Mr. Theodore, the State Premier at that time, continued to encourage Italians to settle in Queensland, much to the dissatisfaction of members of the Australian Workers Union, and the leaders of the trade unions in thai State. The Queensland Government issued propaganda through the AgentGeneral in London. Mr. Hunter was at that time Agent-General for Queensland, and he was responsible for much of the immigration of Italians to Australia. The Minister was quite unfair in placing the responsibility for that on the shoulders of the Bruce-Page Government. On 5th July, 1922, Mr. Theodore was asked in the Parliament of Queensland - “Has the Commonwealth Government full control of immigration overseas; if so, on about what date did the agreement commence?” Mr. Theodore replied - “Yes. The Commonwealth Government has control from the 1st March, 1921, but the States are consulted as to the number of immigrants they can absorb.” Before the Commonwealth Government brought out any of these migrants the States had to agree to absorb them. Prior to 1921, and to this agreement, the Queensland Government could, and did, make its own arrangements with regard to the absorption of Italian migrants. On the 26th September, 1921, Mr. Theodore was asked - “What is the total number of immigrants who have entered Queensland during the six months commencing 1st January last ?” He replied-“ 764.” He was then asked - “ Of that number, how many were engaged or intended to embark in agricultural operations in Queensland?” The reply was- “Nearly all.” There was no complaint about the type or nationality of the migrants, which clearly shows that most of them were of a desir- able class, and were being settled on the land, mainly on the sugar farms of Queensland. Records of the development of Italian migration to Queensland show that the first arrangement was made through the Agent-General, Mr. Hunter, on behalf of the Labour Government of Queensland.
.- The honorable member for Wide Bay has referred to the introduction of Southern Europeans into Queensland. The figures that he quoted were taken from records compiled in 1921. I submit that we are concerned, not with the past, but with the future. It is time that we called a halt in immigration. The honorable member for Wide Bay spoke of propaganda that had been issued through the Agents-General in London. Let me inform him that from 1925 to 1928, when I was Agent-General for South Australia, I sawno evidence of propaganda referred to coming from the Agent-General for Queensland, the Honorable John Huxham, or his department.
– It was issued in 1921 and 1922.
– During the time that I was Agent-General of South Australia there was no propaganda in respect of the migration of Southern Europeans to Australia.
– At that time most of the foreign migration had already taken place.
– Thank goodness for that. Unfortunately, some Southern Europeans are still coming to Australia, and it is time that we called a halt. There is an old saying that many of these migrants live on the smell of an oil rag. Unlike our own Australian people, who spend their money in the country where they earn it, these migrants, in many cases, save their money, and send it to dependants overseas. This is a serious matter when we consider the financial difficulties that Australia is experiencing.
– Why does not the Minister prevent them from coming here ?
– I take it that the Minister is checking that class of migration as far as possible.
– We do not allow children over the age of 21 years to enter Australia with their parents as assisted immigrants.
– Thousands of pounds are sent out of this country every year by these migrants. I endeavoured to obtain from the Treasurer some little time ago the exact sum that had been forwarded to Italy through the associated banks and the CommonwealthBank, but the figures could not be ascertained. The Postal Department discloses the fact that many thousands of pounds had been remitted to Italy. The Australian worker spends his earnings in Australia, and thus creates more employment. Any employment that is offering in Australia should be given to our own. workers. The sugar industry of Queensland can be carried on by Australians.
.- While I do not want to delay the business before the committee,I desire to correct some fallacious reasoning on the part of one or two honorable members. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) made it clear that the Italian element in Queensland, with which so many honorable members seem to be concerned, was the result of action by the Theodore Government. Other honorable members have endeavoured to throw the blame for the large numbers of Southern Europeans in this country on various governments. The point is that these people are here, and it does not matter now who was responsible for their coming. Reference has been made to the money sent out of Australia by Italian settlers. Why does not the Government tax that money?
– It would be better to allow the wives of the Italians now in Australia to come here.
– Mussolini has decreed that no sum greater than £100 may be sent out of Italy. The Government could,if it desired, reciprocate his action in the case of the Italians in this country. I deplore the animus against Southern Europeans exhibited by some honorable members. When these Southern Europeans are naturalized they are Australian citizens, in which case a prolonged debate about them is out of place. Even some honorable members in this chamber can trace their ancestry to other than Britishers; but they are no worse for that.
Australia needs a much greater population, and for that reason I deplore these constant attacks on migrants. It has been said that migration increases unemployment. We shall always have some unemployed in our midst - perhaps 3 per cent, or even 5 per cent, of the population. To-day, because of a general depression, the proportion of unemployed to the population is about 20 per cent. If, however, the Government would open up land and take action to rehabilitate trade, unemployment would decrease. The problem of unemployment would be solved if, instead of harassing industry, the Government would ‘ assist it. We pride ourselves that the Australian people are 98 per cent. British. Let us retain, or even improve that percentage, by welcoming migrants from Britain. No nation would attempt to invade the United States of’ America with its 120,000,000 inhabitants. For. our own protection we should emulate the’ pioneers of this country, welcome migrants, and build up our man power, which is our best defence.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) said a good deal about unemployment among boys and youths. It is greatly to be regretted that so many of our young men cannot find work. Even boys who have received training in our technical schools find it difficult to obtain employment. That is not the fault of the Big. Brother movement, or of boys from the Barnardo Homes coming here, as the honorable member suggests. Rather, is it due to the attitude of the trade unions with respect to apprentices. In the plumbing trade, for instance, only one,boy may be employed to every four men. There are scarcely half a dozen firms of plumbers- in any Australian city which employ four men. For that reason, adult migrants are given employment in preference to Australian boys. If honorable members would advocate the employment of one boy to every adult, not only would employment be found for our lads, but production costs would also be reduced.
– That would mean throwing adults out of work.
– It would make it unnecessary to send an adult plumber to place a washer in a tap - work which could be done by boys, and is often per formed by the householder because of the excessive labour cost. I mention that small household item as an example of what might be done. As a trade union secretary, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) must be interested in finding employment for Australian youths, and I recommend these facts to- his consideration.
– Would the Board of Works approve of boys doing the class of work mentioned by the honorable member ?
– Yes; if the union approved of it. The employment of one body for every adult would largely solve the difficulty of unemployment among Australian youths.
.-; I cannot allow the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), much as I admire him, to say that the Queensland Labour Government was responsible for the immigration of Southern Europeans,, without challenging the statement. I do not think that any one who knows anything about our immigration laws will say that any State is responsible for the migrants who come here. Migration, is controlled by the federal authorities.. No migrant can come to this country without the approval of this Parliament.
– At the request of the States.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay quoted some figuresfor 1921. The statistics for that year show that, while 4,980 Southern Europeans entered Tory New South Wales,, and 3,987 entered Victoria, only 1,147 entered Queensland during 1921. Eventually most of these migrants settled in. Queensland.
– From what publi-cation is the honorable member quoting?’
– The figures I havegiven are taken from the Commonwealth Year-Book for 1929, which was printed! during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government. On page 929 of that publication, the following paragraph appears : -
Various measures (have from time to timebeen adopted -by the Commonwealth and State - Governments, as well as toy private societies and individuals, to promote the immigration of suitable settlers into Australia. The activities of the Commonwealth Government. (which is vested with constitutional powers.. in regard to immigration under section 51, xxvii., of the Constitution Act, 1900) with respect to the encouragement of immigration, were formerly confined to advertising the resources and attractions of Australia by means of exhibitions, and in hand-books, newspapers, and periodicals. During the war, immigration operations were almost entirely suspended.
At all times the Queensland Labour Government was opposed to an influx of foreigners to that State. Queensland is the only State in which a government, when opening up land for settlement, has given preference to Australians in the ballots. The whole of the Tully River country was offered with a provision giving preference to Australians. That land was placed under closer settlement by a Labour Government. During the period that Labour Governments were in power in Queensland, there was plenty of employment.
– Those Governments made provision for seasonal workers by introducing a scheme of unemployment insurance. It is of no use for the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) to try to blame the Queensland Labour Government for the admittance of Southern Europeans into Queensland, for the weight of evidence against him is too heavy. He must admit that the Common^ wealth Government which he supported allowed 41,000 Southern Europeans to come here.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence
Proposed vote, £3,748,950.
.- Early last month I criticized the policy of the Government in rationing the work of the permanent military staff, but allowing the civil staff to continue its work under normal conditions. The rationing of the permanent staff means, in effect, that these officers are being compelled to take two months’ leave. I pointed out when I spoke on this subject previously that 1,102 of our 1,718 permanent soldiers - 351 officers, 567 warrant officers and sergeants-major, and 184 other ranks - have had their work rationed. In other words, they have suffered a salary reduction of 16 per cent. On the other hand, the 600 clerical officers on the pay roll, who might be called the clerical army, have suffered no reduction of salary, although their average rate of payment is higher than the average rate of the permanent military staff. This treatment of our permanent soldiers has been truly called “vindictive” by the Melbourne press, which has also called attention to the fact that the Victorian Labour Government has reduced the salary of the Commissioner of Police in that State, who is an ex-soldier, declared the position vacant, and called for fresh applications for it. The Melbourne Herald has rightly charged the Government with whittling away our defence system. The clerical staff is being allowed to go unscathed, while the permanent military staff is being treated most unjustly. I directed attention in my speech on the budget to the fact that while the Secretary for Defence receives a salary of £2,000 per annum plus expenses, none of the military officers receive anything like that sum. The Chief of the General Staff receives only £1,500 per annum, and the highest sum paid to any of the other eight generals is only £1,150 ner annum. In my opinion, it is iniquitous that the work of military officers should be rationed and not the work of the clerical staff. The officers of the army and navy are not so. popular in the piping days of peace as in war-time, and they have accepted philosophically the situation in which they have been placed. They consider their reductions of pay as a contribution towards the economic readjustment that has to be made. But I protest against 30,000 officers of the ordinary Civil Service, who recieve, roughly, £10,000,000 per annum in salaries, being allowed to go scot free, while the Defence Force is being rationed. In referring to this subject during the budget debate, ] said -
In 1919, the salary of the Secretary to Defence’ was £900 per annum. In these parlous times, is there any justification for the- salary of the present Secretary being £2,000’ pel annum? It is said that lie is working under an agreement entered into by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when he was Prime Minister, to the effect that he is not to be paid less than £2,000 per annum. If that is so, then at this time of financial stress, there should be some amendment of that agreement; either the officer should be compensated, or an adjustment made to his salary to bring it into line with that attaching to a corresponding military position.
The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) interjected at this point, “ That agreement does not bind this Government.” I went on to say that the Government should take some action to obviate any over-payment of services. I am not singling out the Secretary for Defence for special criticism. He is, no doubt, an excellent officer. In fact, the Minister for Defence, in praising him in the press, said that he did not know how he would get on without his assistance. Subsequently the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) made some very pungent remarks, in his characteristic manner, about there being no agreement in existence, and he added some further picturesque comments. The Minister went to great lengths to prove that this officer was all that he should be. To indicate that I might be excused for supposing that an agreement existed I shall quote, from the Melbourne Age of May, 1927, which stated-
By an arrangement that was made with the Government when he received the appointment at Australia House, Mr. Shepherd, as Secretary of Defence, would continue to draw a salary of .” not less than £2,000 a year “ instead of the £1,350 which had been paid to Mr. Trumble for discharging the same duties. “For that arrangement,” said Mr. Bruce, “I win not responsible.” That, of course, is not the point. What Mr. Bruce is responsible for i<t the sending to London of Mr. Trumble, a specialist in his present position, to undertake duties with which he is wholly unacquainted, and the bringing to Australia, at the salary nf a Minister of the Grown, of Mr. Shepherd, who, for undertaking duties with which he is wholly unfamiliar, will be paid £G50 a year more than is being paid to Mr. Trumble, who has had more than 25 years’ experience of the work. And there is another question. Will this appointment of Mr. Shepherd introduce a new method of salary-fixing in the federal service Will Mr. Trumble, on his return, also come back to the Defence Department at a salary of “not less than £2.000 a year?”
The same journal also said -
There is not the slightest pretence that the officer being brought out has any special equipment for his future job, as the public is aware Lim t lie has no experience. The officer who is now moved from the post here is an acknowledged expert in his department. What, then, is tlie sense of putting each officer in a new position when he is bound to he, to a great degree, an amateur?
That shows that I had good grounds for supposing that an agreement existed. The right honorable member for North Sydney declared that there was no agreement; that Cabinet decided the matter. We know that when the right honorable gentleman was Prime Minister, he was practically Prime Minister and Cabinet combined. He wanted to install Mr. Percy Deane, who was then his private secretary, as permanent head of the Prime Minister’s Department. For that reason in 1921 he transferred Mr. Shepherd to Australia House, increasing his salary from £1,350 to £2,000. That subsequently necessitated the tranference to Australia of Mr. Shepherd to take the place of Mr. Trumble as Secretary for Defence.
I make that long explanation in regard to what might have been thought a blunder on my part. lt remains to bc seen whether this Government, which professes a desire to effect economies, will economize in the Civil Service. That is why I point top the anomaly that the secretary to the department is drawing such an exceedingly high salary. He may, of course, be worth that amount, but it is considerably in excess of that paid to generals in the army, all of whom are being rationed in their employment. The secretary to the department is assisted in his work by an assistant secretary, who receives £1,012, and a finance secretary, who receives £1,112. Surely it is reasonable to assume that the volume of work that they handle has become considerably less than it was. The aggregate vote for the department shows a decrease of £446,166, which includes the rationing to which I have alluded.
From, time to time the secretary to the department has made official statements to the press with regard to criticisms that have been made in the press and in this House in connexion with the Defence Department. In one he declared, “ The whole personnel is enrolled either as officers or other ranks or as civilians.” The word “ enrolled “ is meaningless. The officers and soldiers are sworn in. They sign an attestation paper and take an oath. Mr. Shepherd simply evades the issue when he puts the matter in that light regarding the civilians. He also stated, “ There are not 600 clerks in the military ranks of the Defence Department, but 220.” He omitted any mention of the other civil servants in that department, including typists, messengers, and civilians in the ordnance section, many of whom are artisans, whose inclusion would make up the larger total. Again, the secretary declared in an official statement, that there has been a 15 per cent, reduction in the civil staff, as if that offsets the 16 per cent, rationing reduction of the military staff. He knows quite well that no permanent civil servants can be retrenched like that without the introduction of amending legislation. Some of those clerks have merely been transferred to other departments, where in some cases they will receive higher pay. He also said, in an official statement reproduced in the Melbourne Herald, of the 22nd July, in reply to suggestions In the press and to my statement in the House that the surplus military men could be absorbed into cleri- cai positions in the Defence Force, and for that an ordnance corps could be formed on the lines of that existing in the British Army. “ The formation of a permanent military ordnance corps has been rejected definitely as an uneconomicform of administration.” In contradiction to that we read, at page 14 of the last report of the Inspector-General of the Australian Military Forces, General Sir Harry Chauvel -
Ordnance Services and Depots. - I. Iia ve previously reported <m the unsound and uneconomical policy that is being pursued with regard to this important service, and I can only again stress the advisability of the formation of a Permanent Military Ordnance Corps.
I ask the Minister to clear up that startling discrepancy between the statements of the secretary to the department and General Sir Harry Chauvel. I also make a strong protest against leaving the clerical section of the army as it was. l t should be subjected to rationing just as was the other section. As the wages fund of the country has shrunken, everbody must be prepared to accept less. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have signified their willingness to accept a’ reduction in their parliamentary salary. I do not care if it is popular or” not; I contend that it is necessary to cut down expenses in the Public Service. Economies could be effected in connexion with extraneous payments such as overtime, travelling expenses and so forth, without inflicting any hardship on anybody. The New South “Wales civil servants have accepted a reduction of their salaries, and I am confident that all right minded people in the Commonwealth Public Service realize that, in these difficult times, particularly in view of the ideal conditions under which they work, they should be subjected to a slight reduction. A reduction of 1 per cent, in the total pay-roll of £10,000,000 would effect a saving of £100,000, while a reduction of 10 per cent, would mean a saving of £1,000,000. I urge that there should be an economy drive in every governmental department in the matter of pay and other expenditure
.- I draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to the fact that the presence of the Victoria Barracks, Paddington, in the heart of Sydney, has become a byword among the people. The buildings, which occupy a site of about 40 acres, are quite obsolete, having been erected 80 or 90 years ago. The walls surrounding the barracks have a prison-like appearance, and are an eyesore to the public, particularly the residents of the eastern suburbs. I introduced a deputation to the Government, consisting of the mayors and aldermen of four of the largest and wealthiest municipalities in Australia, who were unanimously of the opinion that the barracks should be removed from the present site.
– The matter that the honorable member is now discussing should be raised when the Loan Estimates are under consideration.
.- I desire to see economy effected in naval administration. Although the Australian fleet has steadily decreased, not only because of the action of the present Government, but also because we do not need so many naval vessels now as we did during the late war, the cost of naval administration has increased by 105 per cent, since the war. An examination of the various items of naval expenditure shows overlapping and duplication. 1 asked the Minister for Defence to lay on the table a chart, prepared by the department, showing the cost under the various headings. I presume that the department has not had sufficient time to supply this information, and, therefore, I am unable to give all the figures that I should like to quote.
During the war period the cost of naval administration was approximately £40,000, and in 1929-30 it had reached the enormous total of £82,200. There has been a slight decrease this year of £9,837. In 1921-22 we had 23 ships, and the administration cost £76,000. Now we have only seven vessels, including the three naval establishments, and the administration involved last year an expenditure of £82,200. During the war period, the secretariat cost approximately £12,000 ; in 1929-30 the amount increased to £23,523 ; and in 1930-31, it decreased to £19,177. Considering that during the war we had to maintain numerous ships and transports, it is high time that the present naval expenditure was critically examined with a view to its further reduction.
During the late war when, as before mentioned, besides the fleet, we had to employ overseas transports, ‘ the staff of the finance branch numbered 38. In 1929-30, the number of the staff had increased to 63, and the expenditure was £23,500. The personnel of the seagoing fleet in 1929 was approximately 4,200. Yet this Government has retrenched 69 officers, and 639 men in the Permanent Naval Forces. Many of these officers have been trained at the Naval College at Jervis Bay, and have served with distinction in the Royal Navy.
It would be preferable to retrench on the clerical side, and keep in commission some of the ships that have been laid up. Take the survey ship Moresby. Many of the charts now in use on the Australian coast were prepared by Flinders, Cook and Bass. Although the Government spends £50,000 on a piece of roadway in the Federal Capital Territory, and £12,000 on swimming baths in Canberra, it is not prepared to keep a survey ship in commission to prevent shipwreck. Siam, China and Portugal, to whom we consider ourselves superior, think it necessary to have one or two such vessels. This Government treats the Army in a scurvy fashion, and deals with the Navy by paying off valuable men whose education has cost the country thousands of pounds - men who more than held their own with the best officers in the Royal Navy. The Government tells these men that those under 30 years of age may be admitted to the Public Service, provided they become unionists. I regard that as an interference with civic liberty. The Government might as well dictate to them as to the particular church to which they should belong. “Why have they been singled out for such treatment, when employees on the clerical side in both the Army and the Navy have been left untouched ? “We should do the fair thing by these men, a large number .of whom are returned soldiers and sailors. The Government has put the clerical side on a pedestal, and placed the men on the fighting side of the forces at a disadvantage.
I do not agree with the opinion that is abroad that we should abandon the Australian Navy because it is too costly to maintain, and revert to the old system of paying the British Navy to maintain a squadron here. Formerly we paid £200,000 to Great Britain to maintain a squadron in Australian waters, but it was not considered an adequate protection for Australia, and we decided to establish our own Navy, which has had a glorious history. Our ships kept the Germans away from our shores during the early days of the war, although it might have been a good thing if we had not had the Australia. A little shelling of our cities or bombing from seaplanes would, perhaps, have made us more alive to the necessity for a navy. At any rate, our own Navy kept the cruisers of the German Pacific fleet away. The Emden, the only cruiser that came near our shores, was sunk by the Sydney. These ships have since been scrapped, but the clerical navy goes gaily on its way. It is time an economy hunt was started. I am not antagonistic to the men in our departments as a body. They work as hard as any other body of citizens in the Commonwealth, but as men outside the Service are being rationed in employment, and staffs everywhere are being reduced, in all reasonableness the civil servants in their sheltered positions must take their share as, at least, some members of
Parliament are prepared to do in the general policy of retrenchment. I urge the Minister to go into the matter of excessive overhead in the Navy.
– In 1917 a strike took place and a number of men engaged at the Royal Edward Victualling Yard at Garden Island declined to victual a transport that was taking troops away and sustenance for our soldiers overseas. But a number of others stood by their arrangement with the Government, feeling that ties of honour bound them to serve their country rather than their union. About 26 of them continued working, although a general strike had been called at the time. The number of men who went on strike was 24. Of the 26 who remained at their work about 12 or 14 were still employed by the department until a few weeks ago, when retrenchment started to take effect. I do not- say that retrenchment was not justified; but, by some extrordinary coincidence, it fell on the men who had stood by the State in its time of difficulty, whilst those who went on strike, are still employed. The question of unionism could not have entered into the matter, because all of the men were unionists. Some df them may not have been members of the union at the time of the strike - I am riot sure on that point-but for many years past they have all been unionists. It was, therefore, not a case of the Government discriminating unjustly by dismissing non-unionists and retaining unionists ; an unreasonable and improper course which is followed in some cases. Of all the large number of men employed iri the yard on the clerical side, and of the number of employees on the manual labouring side, the men selected to be deprived of their livelihood were those who had stood by the State during the strike. It is said in the yard that a union official communicated with the department, insisting that the men to be dismissed should be those who had stuck by the Government.
– That is not so..
– I am informed that that was the arrangement, and that the union official was overheard communicating by telephone with some one, who is understood to have been a departmental officer, to the effect that those particular men should be dismissed. Whether that is or is not so, the fact remains that the men who stood by the Government have now been thrown on the streets. Every Saturday morning when I return to my office I meet one of them. He is over 60 years of age and has a family of ten. He has no assets. With insurance payments to meet and rent to pay he has been turned on the streets whilst, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), men are still in the employment of the Government drawing salaries of £2,000 a year. The only crime these men have committed is that they served their country in preference to serving their union. They have been dismissed, although a statement, signed by the captain in charge of the yard, was posted up in the yard that if they did not go out on strike and carried on their work in the service of the Commonwealth they might have their positions so long as they desired to retain them. That was the effect of the statement, and it has never been contradicted that that promise was made to the men. I protest for four reasons against what was done. The first is that out of all the men employed in the yard, clerical and others, these men have been selected for the purpose of being dismissed.
– The fact remains that men who went on strike are still at work, whilst those who did not do so are walking the streets looking for. jobs. The second point is that the men were dismissed, although they had stuck to the Government during a general strike in a time of war. In the third place, a definite promise was made to them on behalf of the Government of the day that they would be retained in the service of the Government because they had stuck to it. A government that absolutely refuses to be bound by a promise of that sort, made under the conditions in which it was made, will do anything. , ..If that promise was made under the conditions I have outlined, it is the bounden duty of any government that recognizes the principles of honour and the need for rewarding sterling service in a time of national peril, to honour it, and not to select for the purpose of dismissal the very men to whom, the promise was made. In addition, these men have been turned OUt without a gratuity. In other cases, men who have reached a certain age have in the past become automatically entitled to a gratuity in recognition of their services, but even this is denied to the men of whom I am speaking.
– The Government which the honorable member supported did the same thing in regard to the men working in the Munitions Supply Branch at Lithgow.
– Two wrongs do not make a. right. If. another government committed an injustice of this kind 1 should be just as ready to condemn it as I am to condemn the action of the present Government. These men received a definite promise from an earlier government to the effect that, in return for their having rendered a service to their country in a time of national peril, they should be guaranteed employment as long as they wished it. Surely that promise should be regarded as binding upon succeeding governments. Any government which recognizes sterling service should consider itself bound by such a promise. I brought this matter under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and begged him to reconsider his decision.
– I gave the honorable member a good reply to his representations.
– A lot of good, a polite letter is to men who, with their wives and families, are starving as the result of the Government’s action! Such a reply would, I am sure, afford small satisfaction to the Minister if he were in a similar position. When I could get no satisfaction from the Minister, I appealed to the Prime Minister. I set out the facts, and informed him that, in my opinion, an injustice was being done to citizens who had received a promise from a previous government that their employment would be guaranteed to them. The Prime Minister treated my representations in a manner for which I can only excuse him on the ground of overwork. I appealed to him as a man in whose fairness and sense of justice I had confidence, but instead of acknowledging my letter, he returned it to the Minister for Defence, who replied that he had already informed Mr. Parkhill of the facts of the situation, and what the Government could do. The Prime Minister then sent the Minister’s letter to me with his compliments. This action of the Government is one of the most serious injustices that have ever been perpetrated by any government. If a similar thing was done by the last Government at the small arms factory at Lithgow-
– It was not done.
– Employees were denied a gratuity.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That is only one phase of the matter. These men have not only been denied a gratuity, but they have been turned out in the streets.
– What is the honorable member going to do about it?
– I ask that they be reinstated. I requested of the Minister that, they should be granted the same measure of preference as is given to returned soldiers, but the Minister has informed me that this cannot be clone. I maintain that retrenchment in that department should have been spread over a much larger area. It is a most significant fact that, while the heads of departments and an expensive clerical staff have been maintained, these twelve men have been pushed out into the streets. One of the saddest things I have to experience i3 to the interviewed by these men on Saturdays when I return to Sydney, and be asked what. I have been able to achieve on their behalf. I can only tell them that I have not been able to do anything for them. Five weeks have elapsed since they were dismissed, and they have not done a tap of work since then. Some of them are finding it. difficult to live. I have not the slightest hesitation in characterizing this action of the Government as the most dastardly thing that has ever been done by any government. There is no parallel for it in the history of Australia, either by a Commonwealth government or by a government of New South Wales since there has been responsible government in that State. That is not only my opinion. The secretary of the union to which these men belong will support me in what I am saying. He will say that what I have stated are facts. This union is fighting the Government to obtain the gratuity, but has not succeeded in doing so. I recognize that the Government owes a duty to the country ; but while these men a re obliged to beg from door to doer, the Government will not retrench on a single item of expenditure, least of all on the salaries of members. This, obviously, is a miscarriage of justice. All that I ask is that justice be done, even at this late hour, to men who stood by Australia in a time of national peril. They assisted to victual the transports so that men could lie sent overseas, and also played their part in providing sustenance for Australians who were fighting abroad.
.- I was taken to task because I spoke at length on the vote for the Central Administration; but I should like the Minister to tell the committee when the rationing nf the Military Forces is to cease. If must be obvious that the efficiency of the units will suffer so long as adjutants, staff officers, and sergeantmajors are rationed. Incidentally, may L draw, attention to one or two anomalies? Some of those who were provided by the Government with houses, for which they paid rent, are not allowed any rebate during the period of their compulsory leave, and, in addition, they are forbidden to accept any kind of employment outside. That is exceedingly hard, especially on sergeantmajors, and others who are almost on a basic wage; also captains, who draw up to £500 a year, and who have had their remuneration reduced by about £60 a year. I congratulate the Minister upon the fact that in this year’s curriculum provision has been made for the holding of camps for the Citizen Forces. Without camps it would be useless to have citizen forces, because the training given in those eight days is more valuable than that which the forces undergo during the remainder of the year.
.- A deputation representative of all the municipalities in the eastern portion of Sydney - which, so far as property and population are concerned, is the largest and, I suppose, the most valuable portion of the city - has been endeavouring to secure the removal of the Victoria Barracks from that locality. That has been desired for the past twenty years. It is SO or 90 years since some of these buildings were erected. They were put up in the convict days, and bear all the evidences of the military authority and domination which characterized those who controlled Sydney at that particular time. This piece of land is almost in the heart of the city, and is the finest site in any portion of Australia. It is valuable for many purposes. Opposition to the proposal has been engendered because the Paddington Council, which has been the moving spirit in the matter, is composed wholly of Labour members, some of whom have stated that it was intended to use the site for the erection of cottages. No such thought has ‘ever entered the minds of the majority of the members of that council. The property was transferred from the State to the Commonwealth when federation was established. The interest rate then paid was 3£ per cent.; but the Bruce-Page Government increased it to 5 per cent., with the result that it is now costing the Commonwealth £7,500 a year. I do not think that more than twenty persons arc stationed there ; therefore, the rental on ‘account of each individual is £350 a year. The Government has had offered to it suitable land in or near Sydney, upon which it could erect offices that could be more advantageously and economically administered. I do not think that the Prime Minister has ever received a deputation of more disinterested advocates of the public welfare. Shortly after I was elected to this Parliament I endeavoured to persuade the Government of the day to make a change. I know that the facts have been brought under the notice of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence, and that the outrageous statements made concerning the use to which the site would be put, if the buildings were removed, have been denied, In again bringing the matter under the notice of the Government I am expressing the views of the people who reside in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, and my remarks can be supported by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), who is conversant with the circumstances. When honorable members next visit Sydney they should take a tram-ride through Paddington and view the unsightly structures which exist in such close proximity to the city of Sydney. Although the municipality has incurred considerable expenditure in the construction of roads, footpaths, plantations, and in making other improvements in the vicinity of the barracks, it does not receive any revenue from the Government. Some time ago, that council persuaded the authorities to remove the railings, which were erected a bout 40 feet from the building line, and to make available a strip of land for use as a children’s playground; but the expenditure incurred by the council in that respect has not been repaid by the Government. Although the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have been definitely assured that the Paddington Council has not some ulterior motive in desiring to secure control of this land the Government seems very dilatory in acting. The strip of land on the Moore Park side adjoins the boundary line of the city of Sydney and consequently is very valuable. My objection to the present arrangement would not be so pronounced if the site were profitably occupied; but the buildings are so widely separated that they cannot be economically utilized. Moreover the Government is paying £7,500 a year in order to accommodate a small number of persons. During the budget debate frequent reference was made to the necessity for economy, and to certain acts of alleged mal-administration of the Government. It appears to me that in adhering to its present policy in this respect the Government is laying itself open to such a charge. Various sites are available for the erection of the necessary military buildings required by the Government, and £7,500 at present paid would provide the necessary interest on the capital required to construct a suitable building on land already owned by the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have already inspected the site, and as they have been assured that if the land were made available it would be properly utilized, I cannot understand why the request of the Paddington Council is not granted. I have been informed by the Prime Minister that the matter has not yet been definitely settled, and I hope that before he leaves for abroad a definite decision will be reached.
.- The Government has been most inconsistent in rationing certain employees in the Defence Department. Many young men were led to believe that in entering the Commonwealth Military Forces they had a career before them. Many qualified as engineers and for other professions, in order to devote their life to military work, and to be of service in the defence of their country. Without consulting this Parliament the Government has ruthlessly applied the pruning knife to the Defence Department. It has introduced a voluntary defence system. In other words, it has partially torn up the insurance policy of the Commonwealth. When the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) was before this chamber, the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) refused to make any reduction in the salaries of members of Parliament and in other departments of the Service. Young men who have been trained for the defence service, and are practically unfit for any other vocation, have been thrown out of employment, while clerical workers in the department have been retained. One official in the department is paid a salary of £2,000 a year under agreement, and doubtless he has been responsible in some measure for recommending the dismissal of young men who have been trained to take part in the defence of this country. I enter my protest against the action of the Government.
.- I wish to put before the Government a few suggestions with regard to coordination of staff, which, if adopted, would eliminate a certain amount of overlapping and duplication. Any Government operating aircraft or other equipment upon which the lives of individuals depend must take all necessary steps to ensure serviceability and airworthiness. For this purpose the Air Board, which is responsible for the operation and control of the greatest number of Government-owned aircraft, must maintain -.a technical section which deals ‘ in detail with technical problems, and issues the necessary orders to ensure that aircraft and engines are in airworthy condition. It, therefore, has an inspection branch to supervise, control, and pass the work carried out in the workshops. The administrative authority is, in this case, the Air Board. It must draw up specifications for the equipment it requires, and it alone should be the authority capable of saying whether the equipment produced meets such specifications. That is the normal practice. But in Australia the Air Board draws up specifications of what it requires, and another authority, the Munitions Supply Board, is responsible for making arrangements with contractors for the supply of material. The Contract Board is under the Munitions Supply Board, and it is only right and proper that it should call for tenders, but the Munitions Supply Board is at present responsible for saying whether the material so produced meets with the Air Board specification, and for this purpose it has set up another inspection staff branch of its own. I think the Minister will agree that it is not necessary to have three authorities to deal with the repair of aircraft, and he should be sufficiently alive to the necessity for eliminating useless expenditure to consider my suggestion on its merits. Practically the only persons in Australia with the necessary technical experience for this work are those who have been trained in the Air Force, and in order to set up an inspection establishment in the Munitions Supply Board an officer and other ranks of the Air Force have been seconded under a special arrangement between the board and the Air Force. The procedure is this: “When tenders are called to recondition aeroplanes, the contractors submit their price through the Contracts Board. That board decides who shall carry out the work, and when it is completed, the Munitions Supply Board is the final authority for external inspection, after which the Air Force carries out an internal inspection. The Auditor-General draws attention to the fact that there has been wasteful expenditure in this direction.
– Is that in respect of testing machines for civil aviation to ascertain whether they are airworthy?
– No; I am referring to the repair of aircraft. It will be remembered that a great number of gift aeroplanes suffered deterioration and had to be reconditioned. The work was let to private contractors, and the Munitions Supply Board, and not the Air Force, was the external inspecting authority. The Auditor-General, in his report, said -
It lias come under my notice that 71 Avro mainplanes were reconditioned for the Royal Australian Air Force at a cost of approximately £2,750. The reconditioning was carried out by contract under the supervision of thidepartmental inspector, who furnished Unusual inspection and acceptance certificates. The mainplanes were taken over by the department and placed in commission at Point Cook and Laverton, when certain defects were discovered. It was subsequently found necessary to declare the whole of the mainplanes unairworthy - 07 were t: converted to produce “ and the balance sent to Point Cook for reconditioning. The department, therefore, not only had to bear the expense of the £2,750 mentioned and departmental cost, but most of the value which the mainplanes possessed before reconditioning. Disciplinary action waR taken against the responsible departmental officer.
An amount of £2,750 was paid to a contractor to recondition planes, and the Munitions Supply Board evidently did not have sufficient knowledge to know that the work was unsatisfactory. These planes, when reconditioned, were handed to the Air Force, and the Air Force officers condemned them because they could not use them. No normal business would be conducted in that way. Those are two authorities, the Munitions Supply Board and the Air Force. As the Minister has indicated, the Civil Aviation Branch also has authority for passing machines as airworthy. The Auditor-General pointed out that disciplinary action had been taken in regard, to the officer who passed these planes as airworthy. That officer was removed from the Munitions Supply Board, but, instead of being dismissed from the service, he is now the inspecting authority for the Civil Aviation branch. There are, therefore, actually three inspecting authorities for airplanes. I submit that that entails overlapping and extravagance. Co-ordination is necessary with the Royal Australian Air Force, which has the best equipment, and whose officers are capable and up to date in view of their regular exchange overseas. The Royal Australian Air Force should be the one and only authority. It should draw up the specifications for equipment, and should carry out the necessary inspection.
With regard to aerodromes, there should be complete liaison and collaboration between the Civil Aviation Department and the Royal Australian Air Force. The Civil Aviation Department lias been responsible for the establishment of the main air ports within the Commonwealth; but their suitability for defence purposes is an essential consideration. Yet the Public Works Committee, which recently reported on the aerodrome that is now being established near Launceston, in Tasmania, found, during the inquiry when the chief of the air staff, Air Commodore Williams, was called upon to give evidence that he did not know where it was. Although situated in the same building evidently the Civil Aviation Department did not tell the Air Force anything about it. This overlapping should cease.
I desire to say a few words about the training of airmen. The Government subsidizes aero clubs to the extent of giving a bonus for those who qualify as pilots, and in other ways. For many years I was the federal chairman of the aero clubs of Australia, and therefore knowhow beneficial those clubs have been in fostering aviation, and also how much the financial assistance of the Government has helped them. But it would be of advantage to the aero clubs if the Air Force were permitted to assist them more. For example, the Air Force instructors are up to date in their work. Frequently r hey go overseas in order to acquire knowledge and instruction concerning the latest types of aircraft. If they could be utilized to test and grade the instructors in the clubs and to examine pupils they would do a great deal for the safety of flying, and the advance of aviation generally. It is not necessary for me to dilate on aviation; it is the transport, not only of the future, but of the present. If Canberra had a regular air service honorable members would not arrive here half asleep on Monday mornings and look forward to getting away as soon as possible. ! know, from replies to questions, that the Minister is keenly desirous of establishing an air service to Canberra. I have more than once reached Melbourne from Canberra by aeroplane in three hours, and less. That is preferable to and certainly more comfortable journeying sixteen hours in a train and changing trains at the border at an awkward hour. Canberra needs a regular air service and I hope that the Minister will do his best to establish is. Such a service would do a great deal to relieve the isolation of the people of this city. Transportation, undoubtedly, is civilization.
The Auditor-General in his annual report has made some derogatory remarks about the Royal Australian Air Force. He states that there were 62 machines on hand at the’ date of his inspection, and that there was an average of over fifteen men employed for each machine, exclusive of officers employed in the administrative section and in the civil aviation branch. He points out that the amount provided on the Estimates represents £7,000 for each machine. His conclusions are that, having regard to the nature of the work carried out, the number of men employed is too great. The Auditor-General has a big responsibility in connexion with the audit of the accounts of the Commonwealth, but in respect to the Air Force he has, I submit, undoubtedly wronged them. It would be as fair to say that artillery is inadequate because it takes twelve to 40 men to man a gun. We may also take the number of the crew of a cruiser of, say, 64 officers; 678 men; and 16 guns, and divide it by the number of guns, and say that the ship’s complement is too great as there would be 46.3 men per gun. On such fallacious reasoning the Auditor-General has condemned our Air Force. I propose to show that, far from being uneconomical, it is well up to world standard. We should judge it, not by the number of men to each machine, but by comparison with other forces. Let us, therefore, compare the Royal Australian Air Force from the point of view of numbers with a similar force, which is actually on service. The Royal Australian Air Force comprises 107 officers and 878 other ranks. The number of aircraft on the establish- ment for 1929-30 was 62, making an average of 15.8 men for each machine. The Royal Air Force in Irak, where the highest standard has been reached in connexion with an active service air force, comprises 193 officers and 1,S83 other ranks. In addition, 1,597 civilians are attached to the force. The number of machines in use is 63, so that the average number of men to a machine is 32.9. Those figures should be pointed out to the Auditor-General, who has stated that the Royal Australian Air Force is overmanned.
The Auditor-General also comments on the experimental air station at Randwick. He states the purpose of establishing the station and the cost of building certain aircraft there. He mentions specifically Widgeon I., Widgeon II., Warrigal I., and portion of Warrigal II. In summing up the situation at Randwick, he says -
Hie establishment of the Randwick experimental station would appear, to a layman, to have been of very doubtful policy. There can bc little doubt that many experiments niii.de at Randwick hud already been tested in longland, and cither found to be successful or been discarded. Apart from the expensiveness of the establishment, undue optimism appears to have been displayed in expecting to evolve something new and useful from operations on a small scale, as compared with the large scale of experiments carried out in England.
This duplication of effort, under the conditions existing, could hardly result in anything but waste work and expenses.
I point out that the machines built at the experimental air station at Randwick were not built to the order of the Air Force at all, but for the Civil Aviation Branch. The Auditor-General’s remarks with respect to the expenses of the Air Force there and the cost of the experiments carried out should, therefore, be applied to the Civil Aviation Branch. The Auditor-General, commenting on Widgeon II., an amphibian machine, stated -
In reply to the Air Board’s advice that Widgeon II. was unsuitable for use in the Royal Australian Air Force, either as a flying boat or an amphibian, the Controller of Civil Aviation stated that no use could be made of the machine? in his department. The machine recently crashed iu Port Phillip Bay, with the regrettable loss of three lives.
That was a most unjust statement to make, particularly with regard to the designer. The designer of the Widgeon was, as honorable members probably know, Wing-Commander Wackett, a mechanical genius, and I hope that it will be possible for Australia to retain him. His experimental station has been closed, and he is now in charge of a small section under the naval branch, where he is being usefully employed. My point is that the Royal Australian Air Force has been blamed for the expenditure incurred on these machines that were ordered by the Civil Aviation Department, and that the Controller has stated that they could not be usefully employed, although they have actually been so employed.
In another part of his report, the AuditorGeneral refers to the flying done by senior officers. He tabulates the trips made by these officers, the duty on which they were engaged, and the department for which it was done. The trips included visits to Central Australia, Skipton, Vic101’1:1 : the Federal Capital Territory; Renmark, South Australia; Moss Vale; the Barrier Reef, and other parts of Australia. Commenting upon these trips the Auditor-General said - .
Figures arc available as to thu cost in regard to fuel and oil, salaries, and travelling allowances, but the cost of depreciation, which if necessarily high on account of the limited life of aeroplane engines, is not ascertainable, lt is clear, however, that such flights are nor only very costly, but tend to reduce unduly the number of Royal Australian Air Force machines available for services for which they arc primarily intended. It, therefore, appear.*, to be a question for consideration whether services of the character mentioned should not, in future, bc carried out by civil machine?. In that view, attention was drawn to the costly wear and tear -due to long trips undertaken by senior Air Force officers.
Although the Auditor-General criticized the senior officers for doing a certain amount of flying, he admits that useful work was done. Arc we to have a Gilbertian air force? We have all heard of Admiral Porter, who never went near the water. Are we to have Air Force officers who never fly? It is essential, in my opinion, that our Air Force officers should be kept in touch with the latest machines. The number of trips made by the senior officers averaged less than two trips to Sydney a year each.
When the civil aviation branch was formed, it was thought that its work would be mostly administrative. The applicants for the position of controller were narrowed down to two, a thoroughly experienced war-time pilot and a staff officer. The staff officer was appointed to the position, and now has as his assistant the war-time pilot to whom I have referred. In the Air Force all senior officers are practical pilots, but the Controller of Civil Aviation is not a flying officer, though his assistants are.
With the object of increasing efficiency and co-ordination between the civil aviation branch and the Royal Australian Air Force, I suggest that a civil air board, should be appointed with the Controller and Deputy Controller of Civil Aviation and the Superintendents of Flying Operations, Aerodromes and Aircraft as members. The board should be responsible to the Minister. If a body of this kind were established many of the anomalies to which I have referred could be avoided, and there would always be the considered opinion of all the experts instead of one person only being responsible for the aviation policy of the country. Such a board could also assist aviation by the holding of an annual convention of those interested in flying. This could be held in the different States in turn. I am sure that the result would be advantageous to aviation in every way.
I suggest also that there should be a re-allocation of the Cabinet portfolios, with the object of ensuring that aviation received a fair share of consideration from the Government. And this, with the reorganization of the Civil Air Board, can be done without additional expense, and will be productive of greater efficiency. Repatriation matters could be administered by the Treasurer, and health matters by the Minister for Home Affairs. This would allow the member of the Cabinet at present responsible for the administration of - those departments to give his attention to aviation. A great deal of good would result from such a reorganization. In Great Britain the Minister for War has the responsibility for defence generally; the Secretary of State for Air, the Royal Air Force, and the Under Secretary of State for Air. for civil aviation. It is unreasonable to expect one Minister to be thoroughly informed on all matters connected with the army, navy, and air forces. A reorganization of the work of the Cabinet along the lines I have suggested would without doubt lead to better results. I put these suggestions forward with the object of assisting in the effecting of necessary economies, encouraging co-ordination, and preventing overlapping and duplication, and assisting aviation generally.
Friday, 1 August 1930
– I am sure that the honorable, member for Balaclava (Mr. White) will not expect me to reply to-night to all the suggestions that he has made in regard to the re-organization of our Air Force; but I assure him that I will have careful inquiries made into his proposals.
I desire to refer particularly to the earlier remarks made by the honorable member in regard to the rationing of work in the Defence Department. He has complained that while the work of the Permanent Military Force has been rationed the work of the clerical staff has not been rationed. But, as I have pointed out on other occasions, the reduction of the Permanent Military Force from approximately 47,000 to 35,000 men made it necessary either to dismiss a certain number of officers or ration their work. The whole matter was carefully considered, and it was decided and approved by the Military Board that the work be rationed. The members of the clerical staff are permanent officers of the Public Service who could not be dismissed or rationed, unless the system had been altered by act of Parliament and applied throughout the whole of the Public Service; but the Public Service Board has made provision for transferring 15 per cent, of them to other branches.
The honorable member had a tilt at the Secretary for Defence. I admit that £2,000 appears a large sum to pay to such an officer. The amount was fixed by another government, and it is impossible to reduce it, although the officer could be transferred. It is necessary to defend civil servants, if necessary, because they cannot speak for themselves in this chamber. The Secretary of Defence has had an arduous and most unpopular job to perform. Mr. Shepherd has certain faults. He is rather brusque in his manner, but is carrying on a most difficult job exceptionally well. I certainly did not state that I could not do without him, as was claimed by the honorable member for Balaclava.
– I merely quoted a statement attributed to the honorable gentleman by the Melbourne Herald.
– That was not in my statement. The honorable member wants to know when the rationing of these men will cease. That I am unable to say. If it became necessary to dismiss them there would be an even greater outcry than when we had to ration them.
– What about absorbing them into the Public Service ?
– That has been considered. General Sir Harry Chauvel has declared that the Ordnance branch could be manned by soldiers, but the Military Board intimates that, from their past experience of soldiers performing clerical work, it would be uneconomical to adopt the practice. The honorable member for Balaclava stated that economies to the extent of £464,000 had been effected. Actually, the amount is £500,000. If the honorable member refers to page 381 of the Estimates he will see that the additional amount spent on new works makes up the total. In addition, the Government has effected a further saving this year of £100,000 in respect of camps, so making the total £600,000. If the saving of revenue and loan funds is included, the total saving is increased to £716,700, in comparison with the expenses for last year. It was pointed out that there has been no reduction in the salaries of the permanent heads. That is true, but it applies to many departments. There has been a reduction of £3852 in the administrative section of the Defence Department. The difficulty is to maintain a defence system and yet carry out economies. Regarding the Moresby, I have already mentioned that the survey ship was cut out by the previous Government and we had not the funds to continue it.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) said that the men who in 1917 stuck to their jobs at the Royal Edward victualling yards and refused to go out on strike, have been discharged, while those who struck and did the country a dis-service have been retained in their jobs. That is not so.
I might mention that honorable members on this side have complained that many good unionists have been dismissed from the victualling yards, Garden Island and elsewhere. Certain officers investigated the position, and the department acted on their advice. If an oldman of 60 was sacked, in preference to dispensing with the services of a returned soldier, that must be attributed to the policy inaugurated by a previous government.
– I am not complaining about returned soldiers receiving preference, but against nonunionists being selected for dismissal in preference to others who were unionists. That was done by the honorable gentleman’s department.
– Does the honorable member insinuate that the officers of my department favored labour supporters? It is generally claimed that the reverse is the case. Their idea has been to retain, first, the returned soldiers, and then unionists. I shall go into the matter of gratuities to these men for their years of service.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) referred to Victoria Barracks, Paddington. They belong to the Defence Department, and are valuable. I discussed the matter with the Prime Minister, and we decided that it would cost more to pull down those buildings and re-construct them elsewhere than would be obtained for the whole of the land. I wish to put that block to some good use at some future date, and I think that the honorable member for East Sydney will be proud of the result.
Proposedvote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs
Proposed vote, £913,100, postponed.
Department of Works
Proposed vote, £272,000.
– What is the reason for the increase in the expenditure for “works, lands, and surveys” of this department. I notice that the amount is £30,252 in excess of that expended last year. In view of the reduced amount of building and construction which is going on I should like an explanation from the Minister on the subject.
– Since Parliament decided that the administration of the Federal Capital should be split up between the Works Department, the Department of Home Affairs and the Health Department, my department has had to take over certain portions of the capital administration. That ‘accounts for the increase that is provided for. So far as the Works Department itself is concerned; there is an actual decrease in expenditure of £12,53S. In the item, “Salaries and contingencies “ there is apparently an increase; but, allowing for the facts that I have pointed out, there is really no increase at all. The amount expended last year was £34,000, so far as the Works Department is concerned, and allowing for two months’ operations of the Federal Capital Commission, roughly £40,000. The estimated expenditure for the whole of the present, year is £45,000, so the saving amounts to over £12,000.
.- I notice that the sum of £14,150 is provided for the Governor-General’s establishments at, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. Last year the expenditure amounted to £15,329. I move -
That Division OH. Governor-General’s Establishment, £14.1ii0, ho reduced by £1.
The object of the amendment is to suggest to the Government that it should maintain only one establishment for the Governor-General. The Canberra residence should be retained : but the Government Houses in Sydney and Melbourne should be closed. A new GovernorGeneral will shortly be taking office, so this is a suitable opportunity to review the situation. Many criticisms have been heard of late concerning the cost of maintaining the Governor-General’s establishments, and these criticisms arc often directed against the office of GovernorGeneral, and, indeed, against the occupant of the office himself. I deplore the fact that it is possible for unscrupulous and disloyal persons to gain notoriety by attacking the Governor-General. The ground of this criticism is almost entirely the excessive cost of maintaining the three establishments. ‘ It is no compliment to the King’s representative to provide him with those establishments if we be grudge him the cost of maintaining them. It would be preferable to have only one Government House, and to maintain it well. We are all agreed that the condition of the country is such that economy should be exercised wherever possible, and I believe in starting to economize at the top. I do not mean that we should be niggardly in dealing with the GovernorGeneral. He should be allowed reasonable expenses on the occasion of his visits to various parts of Australia, but I see no reason why we should maintain three Government Houses.
Mr. LYONS (Wilmot- Minister for Works and Railways [12.32 a.m.]. - The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has practically expressed the views of the Government in regard to this matter. The vote for the Governor-General’s establishments in 1929-30 was £20,970, and the actual expenditure was £15,043. There we saved nearly £6,000. This year we propose to vote £13,650, which is a reduction of nearly £1,500 on last year’s expenditure. The Government is taking into consideration all the points that have been. raised by the honorable member for Perth, and while it proposes to maintain the dignity of the position of Governor-General, it is endeavouring to do so at the least possible expense to the taxpayers.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health
Proposed vote, £135,000, postponed.
Department of Markets
Proposed vote, £116,950, agreed to.
Department of Transport
Proposed vote, £30,810, agreed to.
Miscellaneous Services (£782,650) ; Refunds of Revenue (£1,100,000); Advance to the Treasurer (£2,000,000). postponed.
War Services Payable out of Revenue. Proposed vote, £1,418,614.
– The proposed expenditure of £93,300 for war service homes is quite unnecessary this year. There are already many hundreds, and probably thousands, of vacant houses of every kind in Australia, and in view of that f?.ct this item might be con- siderably reduced without hardship to anybody.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £635,550.
– I remind the Minister of a statement that I made concerning the Commonwealth railways, when dealing with the budget. Some eighteen months or two years ago these railways were almost paying interest and working expenses, but recently the. receipts have fallen considerably. During that speech I referred to a question I had asked concerning the subsidy paid to Westralian Airways Limited. Speaking from memory the reply I received was that the subsidy is £39,000 per annum. The Auditor-General has dealt with the matter in his report. I am given to understand that this company, which is a serious competitor with the East-West railway, is carrying as many as 37 passengers a week; the weekly average at the present time being between 30 and 40. If the charge made by the company is £12 a passenger from Perth to Adelaide, a distance of approximately 1,300 miles it represents almost a clear loss to the East- West railway of about £23,000 per annum. The same company charges £28 per passenger between Perth and Darby, the length of that journey being about 100 miles more than that between Perth and Adelaide. The £12 charge between Perth and Adelaide approximates the cost of the journey by rail. I think that if the Government cannot terminate the agreement with this air company, the least it can do is to confine the service to what it was supposed to be. one for the conveyance of mails, and for providing emergency transport. The East-West railway cannot pay while it is losing all this passenger traffic. The revenue it is losing would be practically clear profit, because no extra cars or train staffs would be . required to carry the passengers which now travel by air. If the Minister cannot terminate the agreement with Westralian Airways he might bring about a conference which would enable him to take some steps to prevent the serious competition which now exists. It is also a fact that the boat service between Western Australia and the east is now much improved. The shipping companies are,, therefore, also in serious competition with the East-West railway. That competition cannot be avoided, but it is a wrong policy to subsidize an air service to compete with our railways. It stands to reason that a business man or any one whose time is valuable would rather devote a couple of extra days to his business, and travel by the air service, than travel by the railway. Nevertheless I think the Minister should try to do something to minimize the competition that is now doing so much harm to the EastWest railway. One means by which the position could be improved would be to build the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill. In that way the travelling time between Adelaide and Perth would be reduced by 9i hours, and it has been said that the line would not only pay working expenses and interest, but also show a profit of £15,000 a year. Times are bad, there is not much money for public works, and people are being taxed to make up a deficit in the Treasury, but money is being spent in many directions and £1,000,000 spent on building the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway would bc money well spent.
Mr. PATERSON (Gippsland) [12.43 a.m. J. - Where aeroplane services are subsidized by the Commonwealth the subsidies should L>e paid with a view to making the air transport for passengers as cheap as possible where there is no railway; but where -we have a government railway and an air service in competition with each other, we should lay down the condition that the fare for air transportation should bear a proper relationship to the cost of railway transportation. We should not put ourselves in the absurd position of subsidizing a competitor to increase our losses on railway services. When a man sends a telegram he pays a much higher rate than he would if he sent a letter. If he is in a hurry he has to pay extra. I think the arguments used on this matter by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) are reasonable. Where we have an air service and a railway service covering the same route some effort should be made, when the subsidy is being arranged, to see that the fares in the one case bear a reasonable relationship to those charged in the other case.
– I agree with the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), but he knows the position of the present Government in regard to the matter. An agreement has been entered into with Westralian Airways for a subsidy for five years from the 2nd June, 1929. Consequently the contract will have to run its full term. I have often said that when we had a railway service which was not paying it was a thoroughly stupid policy to set up an air service to compete with it.
– It is to some extent the outcome of having an air service and a rail service under the control of different departments.
– That is so, but a proper system of co-ordination would obviate that. The position to-day is as it existed when I took over the department.
– Does the Minister know whether there is any provision in the agreement for controlling the fares charged to passengers by Western Australian Airways Limited ?
– So far as I know there is not. If we do anything to deprive the company of part of its earnings from the carriage of passengers, we must increase the subsidy, and that is undesirable. The contractor complains now that the subsidy is inadequate. I shall look into the matter, and note what the honorable member has said. Any arrangement made -will have to be of a voluntary nature ; but I shall see what can be done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £10,709,782.
– I should be pleased if the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Lyons) would give me some information concerning the development of rural automatic telephone services. What progress has been made with the extension of these services, and under what conditions are they being installed? None has yet been installed in Queens land. During the course of the debate on another subject, the Minister intimated that it was proposed to effect economies in his department by reducing the number of continuous telephone services in existence to-day. This reduction will probably apply to country districts. As a representative of a country district, I am anxious that, if any continuous services are discontinued, they will be replaced by automatic services, provided the cost is reasonable. I should like to know what conditions regarding population, electrical supply, &c, are insisted upon before a rural automatic service is installed. So far as I have been able to learn, at least six or eight such exchanges have been installed in southern States. Perhaps the Minister could inform the committee what success has attended their installation. Most of the apparatus required, I understand, is an adaptation of that which has been already imported for the larger city services, and much of the work of installing this apparatus can be done by the department’s own expert officers. Can the Minister advise us regarding’ the cost of installing rural automatic services, whether it is the intention of the department to install any of them in Queensland, and, if so, in what parts ?
.- I urge upon the Minister the desirability of revising the scale of charges for telephone services, particularly between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. U.nder the old schedule of charges, the lowest charge applied between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. Now the lowest charge does not come into operation until after 8 p.m. There are three scales of charges - the ordinary, the intermediate, and the lowest. A large number of telephone exchanges close at 8 p.m., and these are, under the new schedule, denied the benefit of the lowest rate. Subscribers to these exchanges are already under a disadvantage through having a restricted service, and they should not be further penalized by being denied the lowest rate of charges. At present, they enjoy the intermediate rate between 7 p.m. and 8 n.m., but I submit that the lowest rate should apply to them between those hours.
Mr. LYONS (Wilmot- Postmaster- installation of the rural automatic telephone services, the policy of the department is to extend the benefit of continuous service to country districts as far as is practicable. The six or seven rural automatic exchanges already installed are, of course, in the smaller centres.
– What is the cost of installation)
– I cannot state the exact figure, but it is such that the revenue derived by the department does not compensate it for the expenditure involved. In dealing with requests for the installation of these exchanges, the department has to consider what the actual capital expenditure will be, and what prospect there is of getting an adequate return from the smaller exchanges.
– What would the Minister describe as a small exchange?
– At the present time, we have such exchanges installed for 50 to 60 subscribers, and a rural automatic exchange might be installed for any number of subscribers from ten upwards. It would not, however, be a good business proposition to install such small exchanges. The department has also to consider another aspect. It is the policy of the Government at the present time to restrict imports as much as possible with a view to adjusting our adverse trade balance, and all the plant used in these exchanges must be imported. A further consideration is that when a rural automatic telephone is installed in an office under the charge of an allowance postmaster or postmistress, it usually affects the allowance made in respect of that office. In calculating the allowance made for the conduct of an office, consideration is given to the time which the attendant has to devote to the telephone exchange.
– It will be still less.
– That is so. In view of the capital cost, as well as the necessity to import the plant, and the fact that the installation of that plant decreases the allowances made to the conductors of country post offices, the matter must be given very serious consideration by the administration. We must look further into the future, and, in the meantime, delay development in that direction. It is regrettable, of course, that we are obliged to take this course. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) must realize the nature of the difficulties with which we have to contend.
I can assure the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) that consideration will be given to the suggestion that he has made, and anything which is possible in the direction he has indicated will be done. At the present time, however, we are compelled to pay very close attention to the revenue that is received.
– My proposal, if adopted, would lead to a greater amount of revenue being obtained.
– The decision will be once more reviewed, in the hope that something may be done in that direction.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Territories of the Commonwealth.
Proposed vote, £497,683.
It is time that this Parliament and this nation gave more consideration to the development of North Australia and Central Australia. One is compelled to take notice of the remarks that have been made from time to time by its representative in this chamber (Mr. Nelson), and of those that were made some time ago by the honorable member forRiverina (Mr. Killen), in connexion with the possibility of grazing and other development. A study of the information that is available shows an area of approximately 96,000,000 acres is influenced by an annual rainfall of 18 inches, practically the whole of which falls during four months of the year. This territory has been under the control of the Commonwealth for some considerable time, and it would appear that a determined effort has not been made to develop its grazing and agricultural possibilities. Investigation should be made and experiments conducted in the production of crops that will assist grazing development. We should concentrate upon the production of cheap, exportable crops. About one-quarter of the territory will come into the hands of the Crown in 1935 ; but there exists at the present time a provision that enables the Crown to resume it at any time for agricultural purposes. I hope that, despite the unfortunate conditions that exist at the present time, those who are responsible for the administration of the territory will seriously consider the advisability of experimenting scientifically in the direction of grazing and agricultural development.
– I wish to make a few observations concerning the Federal Capital Territory. First, I draw attention to the tardiness that has been displayed by the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Blakeley), in granting the relief that has been promised from time to time to rural lessees. I am a member of the Public Accounts Committee, which devoted a considerable time to the investigation of this matter. It frequently sat all day on Saturdays, as well as every day when Parliament was not sitting, so as to furnish the Minister with recommendations that would enable him to deal with the matter before the House rose last session. It was his desire that he should be given the opportunity to consider the report during the last Christmas recess; consequently, it was supplied to him early in December. So far, however, the rural lessees have had nothing but promises, which have not been fulfilled. These problems are right under the nose of the Minister, and he could, without inconvenience, give personal attention to them and adjust them without delay. The Government has exhibited almost indecent haste in bringing down at least 400 alterations to the tariff, as well as a big series of prohibitions and surcharges under the Customs Tariff Act. It has also introduced an ill-considered proposal to establish a central reserve bank, and other proposals providing for the taking of referendums. But this question, I regret to say, has not had devoted to it the time and attention that its importance demands. Injustice is being meted out to these people. The Minister should give the committee an assurance that he will deal with these problems without delay. After the report of the Public Accounts Committee was brought in, he took the unusual course - and I commend him for it - of writing to the committee, thanking it and indicating that, with one exception he would give effect to all its recommendations. I may mention that the decision of the committee was unanimous. The fol lowing quotation from the report will give honorable members some idea of the disabilities under which these people are suffering : -
Evidence disclosed that the rural lessees in the Territory were not satisfied with the conditions governing land settlement and land administration in the Federal Capital Territory. Strong representations were made to the committee -
The Land Board consists of the head of the Lands Department and two other members, but only those matters of which the head of that department approves can be brought under the notice of the board. Accordingly very little got beyond the Chief Lands Officer and the board, as I have said, seldom functioned, and ultimately dropped into disuse. The list of disabilities of rural lessees continues -
The conditions imposed by the Government upon the lessees, particularly with respect to rentals, were fixed when the price of wool and sheep was high and land was changing hands at almost exorbitant rates.
Mr.Riordan. -What are the rentals charged ?
– Full information concerning rentals is given in the Public Accounts Committee’s report. They arc very high, as the Minister has admitted. The average is as high as 7s.8d. per acre.
– The rents are up to 6s. 3d. an acre.
– That is outrageous.
– It is. These rentals amount in many cases to more than the total proceeds of the lessees’ annual wool clips. No less than five genuine settlers have received notices terminating their leases. Others have been served with District Court, summonses to compel them to pay these impossible rentals. Certain threatened evictions have been delayed until an investigation has been conducted by the promised lands board.
– The honorable member is very loose in his statement.
– My statement can easily be substantiated. One would think from the rentals charged that the land which these unfortunate lessees are occupying was full improvements, and suitable for dairy-farming as well as sheep-grazing. Some time ago the Minister promised that an appeal board would be appointed within a few days, and that it would function almost immediately; but up to the present nothing has been done. Negotiations have,I understand, been proceeding with the Government of New South Wales, and it has been agreed that the services of a lands officer engaged in the vicinity of the Federal Capital Territory shall be available as chairman of the board. The Minister suggested that the lessees should appoint their own representative on the board, and, having met for that purpose, and having formed a lessees association, they appointed Mr. G. A. Francis as their representative. The board has not yet functioned, and cannot do so until the necessary ordinance has been promulgated. Persistent inquiries have been made concerning this ordinance; but it does not appear to be forthcoming. I understand that there are certain difficulties in the way; but that is usually the case in connexion with ordinances. Surely the obstacles in this instance are not insurmountable, and could have been overcome during the last eight months. I urge the Minister to tackle this problem with all seriousness, and to afford early relief to these people. Another source of annoyance to lessees in the Kanbuh and Stromlo districts is that they are compelled to pay1s. per acre for the destruction of rabbits and for the maintenance of external fences. The settlers in that locality are in a buffer area, and are compelled to pay this exorbitant rate in endeavouring to prevent rabbits from the outside country entering the Territory. This is a gross injustice, and an immediate investigation and adjustment should be made. In times like the present, when these people are required to pay these extraordinarily high rents, they should not be denied the opportunity to appeal to a board. It is the duty of the Minister to take this matter into consideration, and to afford immediate relief. Moreover, many of these leases are about to expire, and under the terms of the lease the lessees are entitled to a renewal. I have been informed that, in cases where leases have expired and a renewal has been sought, the rents have been materially increased, and unnecessarily onerous conditions imposed. In these circumstances the necessity for an appeal board is most apparent. Persons holding more extensive rural leases in New South Wales have received favorable treatment from the Government of that State. The same applies to most of the States, but these men, who are the worst sweated body of primary producers in the Commonwealth, are denied any relief. Briefly, the points which the lessees wish to be considered in framing the ordinance are -
That in inquiring into any such valuations the board should be directed to take the leased land into consideration and in particular to investigate -
The area ofland of the quality of the leasehold in question that is sufficient to afford a prudent selector a reasonable living area in average seasons;
The term of the lease unexpired;
The quality and fitness of the land for agricultural and/or grazing purposes;
In the case of agricultural land the nature, quality, quantity, and value of the crops which may be grown in average seasons;
In the case of grazing lands the number and description of stock which it may reasonably be expected to carry in average seasons;
The natural supply of water and the facilities for the raising or storage of water;
Any advantage or disadvantage arising from the situation of the land in relation to markets for its live and other products;
The fair and reasonable cost of any capital improvement required to bring the land to full productivity, including: -
Ring-barking, suckering, picking-up, and burning-off;
Destruction of old infestations of briar, ti-tree, and blackberry;
Destruction of other noxious plants and weeds;
Eradication (and maintaining the land free from) rabbits, foxes, and other animal pests, ravens, crows, wedge-tailed eagles, and other bird pests;
Fencing and subdividing the land into suitable working areas;
In the case of land suitable for cultivation, the cost of . clearing for cultivation;
Any other factors and circumstances (not being those pertinent to the valuation of a freehold or to a valuation upon a freehold basis) as may be deemed fit and proper.
The difficulties of the lessees have been fully placed before the Minister,who has stated that effect will be given to the recommendations of the committee, with one exception. He has also definitely promised that the relief granted should, date back until the 1st January, 1930. There has been unnecessary delay since last December up to the present time, and it is incumbent upon the Minister to state why the interests of these men have unnecessarily been prejudiced. So far as I have been able to gather, the conditions under which some of the lessees are carrying on are intolerable. If action is not soon taken there will be few, if any, lessees to whom relief can be granted. There is no opportunity for them to make a living.
– What is the carrying capacity of the country?
– It is alleged to be one sheep to the acre; but that is the carrying capacity of only the best land. The land in this Territory varies considerably, and leases have been granted at different times by different administrators, with the result that the conditions generally are chaotic. There is no uniformity in the matter of rentals or of the conditions imposed. The Minister, when replying to the request made by a deputation, said that he had no personal knowledge of the subject, and that its request could not be dealt with until a board had been appointed. The board has not yet been appointed; nor has any ordinance been issued under which a board could function. I should like the Minister to definitely state the action the Government proposes to take on behalf of these lessees. As a resident of the Territory, he should be interested in their welfare. I sincerely trust that, in view of the unnecessary delay which has occurred, and the unreasonable conditions which have been imposed, he will afford them immediate relief dating back to the 1st January last.
– For the information of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons), I may state that, as soon as funds are available, the Government will do everything possible to assist development in Northern Australia. In reply to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), let me say that the Land Advisory Board has been constituted, and will function in the immediate future. I have already informed the honorable member to that effect on two occasions.
– Nothing has been done.
– It is only recently that the chairman of the board has been made available by the Goverment of New South Wales. Before that board functions it is necessary to have a valuation, and to that end Mr. Lambert, the chief valuer of the Taxation Department, is now at work valuing the rural lands of the Federal Capital Territory. These things cannot be done in a night. The honorable member for Moreton sat for six and a half years behind a government which left many matters in abeyance. The valuations which are being made will apply as from the 1st January. 1930. That is quite satisfactory, and the honorable member can rest assured that as soon as the valuations are made the
Laud Advisory Board will begin to function.
– What about the ordinance)
– The ordinance will be available in a few days.
– There has been a lot of adverse comment about our treatment of aborigines. I believe that the criticism is quite unjust, but it is unfortunate that the Estimates show a decreased expenditure in this direction. I admit that the Government is doing a great deal more for the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Territory than has been done in the past. On page 353 of the Estimates the vote shown under item 10 is £3,800. Last year the expenditure was £4,227. Again on page 358 the vote under item 8 is £3,000. Last year the vote was £4,500, of which £3,486 was expended. Then in respect of New Guinea - this item appears on page 370 - “Grant to the administration of New Guinea to be used in the interests of native races “, the vote for this year is £5,000, and last yearthe expenditure was £10,000. Therefore, in the three principal territories of the Commonwealth the expenditure in the interests of the native populations has been considerably reduced. In the interests of the reputation of Australia the Minister should explain the reason for this reduction.
– During the last nine months the Government has been able to do quite a lot in the interests of the aborigines of North and Central Australia. It has made available at the Katherine a doctor, who, of course, attends to the white population. His services will be available also to the aborigines and half-castes. We have also appointed a medical officer at Sturt or Alice Springs. He is attending to the whites, aborigines and halfcastes. The services of that officer have been extremely valuable in an investigation of the unfortunate mortality among the children of both half-castes and full-blooded aborigines. So soon as a permanent supply of water is secured, we shall expend £5,000 in erecting an up-to-date and modern halfcaste home. It will be under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Freeman, both of whom have had long experience in aboriginal welfare. The Government is now considering the appointment of a medical officer under the control of the Commonwealth at Camooweal, just over the border. He will attend to certain work in Queensland in conjunction with the Government of that State. By that means we anticipate that we shall be able to cover quite a lot of the Barkly Tablelands. With two doctors at Darwin we shall have doctors stationed at four points in central and north Australia for the care of the health of the aborigines.
– Is the Government subsidizing the German mission ?
– We are subsidizing quite a number of missions including the Lutheran mission at Alice Springs and the Australian Inland Mission.
– Is the Government prepared to consider the establishment of a frontier medicalservice?
– We consider that the establishment of a medical service at Camooweal will practically cover the frontier scheme. We are pleased to work in conjunction with the Australian Inland Mission. We have recently established a temporary hospital at the Katherine, and have sent there from Port Darwin a nurse who will visit various places in and around Katherine. We have also made at Arnheim Land a reservation for the aborigines of the north. I am now in communication with the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia in regard to setting aside in those States areas of land, contiguous to reservations already made in Central Australia. Those are briefly a few of the things that this Government has done for the welfare of the half-caste and aborigines.. Although the vote has been considerably reduced, we can, and are, doing very good work. We are continuing the policy which has been in operation for many years, and we are coping satisfactorily with the position in respect of the aborigines.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 July 1930, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1930/19300731_reps_12_126/>.