13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) rook the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have received from a non-official postmaster a letter which states that no provision has been made in the budget for the partial restoration of the cuts which he and others who occupy similar positions suffered when the salaries of Commonwealth public servants were reduced. Will the Prime Minister give consideration lo this matter ?
– A statement on the matter will be made when the PostmasterGeneral’s Estimates are being considered. It is intended to take action with regard to it.
– Should the Government find it necessary to impose a sales tax on flour in order to assist necessitous wheatgrowers, will it take every care to safeguard scrupulously the interests of the consumers of bread ?
– A decision upon this matter has not been arrived at. Full consideration will be given to the aspect raised by the honorable member.
– Blot winds have been experienced frequently in South Australia during the last three weeks, while the wheat question has been under the consideration of the Government. Will account be taken of the circumstances of those wheat farmers who have practically no crop, with a view to their being assisted on an acreage basis?
– It has always been the policy of this Government, when making provision for the assistance of wheat-growers, to give the fullest consideration to those who are most in need of it.
– In connexion with the geographical and geophysical survey of the -Northern Territory at a suggested expense of £100,000, will the Government obtain from experts a detailed report upon Tennant’s Creek gold-field, and the mineral belt that extends from Darwin to the Katherine River?
– Consideration will be given to the request of the honorable member.
– In view of the reported statement that Belgium and Great Britain propose to withdraw from the tariff truce, will the new position thus created have any bearing on the Ottawa agreement as it affectsAustralia?
-No. This was merely an agreement that was entered into prior to the World Monetary and Economic Conference, and Australia’s position will not he affected.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is possible for notices of motion, which occupy considerable space, to be printed only on the notice-paper foT the third Thursday in each month, when there is a possibility of their coming before the House? As 610 copies of the notice-paper are printed daily, could not economy be practised in this direction ?
– This matter has been inquired into on several occasions, and, I understand, has also been considered by the Printing Committee. The Government Printer says that, on account of the varying length of the items that appear on the notice-paper, no worthwhile saving would be effected by the adoption of the honorable member’s suggestion. I assure him that no additional expense is incurred in the setting up of type. The position is always closely watched by the officers of the House, who do everything possible to keep expense at the lowest level. I point out also that notices of motion are a part of the business of the day.
The following papers were presented : -
Representation Act - Determination made by the Chief Electoral Officer, of the Representation nf the States in the House of Representatives, dated10th November, 1933.
Representation Act - Certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Numbers of the People of the Commonwealth and of the several States as at 30th June, 1933.
– I have received from the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this morning for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The failure of the Government to table the report of the committee of inquiry into the tobacco industry “.
Five, honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
My reason for submitting this motion is the unfair action of the Government in having allowed a Minister to quote from a document without making that document available to the House. The report of the committee that inquired into certain matters in connexion with the tobacco industryis regarded as of the utmost importance by tobacco-growers, because the time is approaching when they will have to plant out for next year’s crop, and they wish to know what .policy the Government proposes to adopt in regard to the crop this year, but more especially that which will be garnered next year.
Viewing the imports of tobacco into Australia, the local grower must feel somewhat alarmed, and wonder whether it is worth his while to continue cultivation, or whether it would be better for him to cut his losses and accept the ruin that has been forced on him by the policy of this Government.
In my opinion, the report quoted last night by the Assistant Minister . for Defence (Mr. Francis) is a public document. The honorable gentleman certainly made public that portion of it which he quoted in order to refute arguments that had been advanced by honorable members. As a matter of fact, when a document has been quoted from at all the whole of it should become public property. The taxpayer had to find the money to defray the cost of the compilation of this document.
When in Mareeba early in August last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) made to the tobacco-growers of that area the definite statement that an inquiry into their conditions would be made without delay, aud that he would let them know where they stood and do everything within his power to assist them.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr, White) has been most insistent in refuting the statements of men engaged in the industry, and the officials of the tobacco-growers’ organizations. Yesterday, I asked whether the Government would fulfil the promise of the Minister for Trade- and Customs that bright mahogany and good usable leaf would be purchased by it. The Minister for Trade and Customs assured me that, according to information in his possession - which he had obtained from this confidential report - all the bright mahogany and good usable tobacco had been purchased. Later in the sitting, the Assistant Minister for Defence employed the same argument. Yesterday afternoon, I wired the tobaccogrowers’ associations in Mareeba, Dimbulah, and other tobacco-growing centres, and I have received a reply from Mareeba.
When the Prime Minister was in Mareeba, the buyers of leaf said that this year’s crop in the Mareeba area was not so good as last year’s, and that, had it been up to the standard of the leaf produced by the Dimbulah growers, no difficulty would have been experienced in disposing of it. The day before the right honorable gentleman arrived in Mareeba the Eureka syndicate disposed of a ton of leaf at 3s. 5½d. per lb., and the statement was given wide publicity in the press that the tobacco-grower was being treated almost as well this year as he had been treated last year. I believe that the buyers were shrewd enough to make a few purchases, so as to give the growers a favorable impression while the Prime Minister was in the district, in the belief that they would say “All 13 well with us, therefore we shall not stress’ our case as forcibly as we intended. The buyers are here, and it appears that they intend to purchase our crop at a reasonable price.” This year the quality of the Dimbulah crop is equal to that of last year, when the average price of leaf in the Mareeba district was over 2s. 3d., the Australian average being 2s. ltd. Unfortunately, prices will be lower this year. When quoting from this so-called private document, the Minister said that only about i per cent, of good usable leaf had been rejected. That was merely a quibble, for if a grower refuses 6d. per lb. for his leaf he rejects the price and not the offer.
Although only a moderate amount of capital has as yet been invested in the industry it is worthy of the consideration of the Government, for it assists to develop the country, gives employment to many, and supplies a national want. Tobacco-growing is really a form of market ‘gardening, and as the Government has taken, action to stabilize the butter industry, and is now about to assist in marketing Australia’s wheat crop, it is but fair that the tobacco industry should, in its turn, receive attention. The text of the lettergram which I have received from Mr. Downs, the secretary of the North Queensland Tobacco Growers Association, is as follows: -
Telegrams received can assure you large quantity leaf same as that considered usable and purchase four weeks ago now being rejected with promise of further inspection about new year. One grower definitely states large quantity leaf better quality than bright mahogany at first offered good price then whole lot rejected. Do not think it advisable grower’s name bc mentioned but will arrange forward samples rejected leaf Saturday’s mail. Can definitely state buyers offering for high quality leaf only and grower lias no option but to accept offer. Would estimate about 20 ton leaf considered usable rejected locally last sales. Please advise when tobacco debate before House. Annual meeting tobacco-growers Tuesday next.
Honorable members who have read the report of the select committee which inquired into the ‘tobacco industry at the request of the Scullin Government will recall that the evidence disclosed that many growers who appeared before the committee, and expressed their opinions, were victimised in the following year. The buyers either failed to put in an appearance on those men’s property or refrained from bidding for their leaf when it was submitted. It is only natural, therefore, that growers should have organized for their own protection.
I appeal to the Prime Minister to make this alleged confidential report available, if not to-day, on Tuesday of next week. Growers must, sow their tobacco seed this month, or they will have no young plants ready for transplanting next year, and it is necessary that they should be enlightened -in this matter. T do not know what further investigations the Govern nien t desires to make in regard to the report, for it was made by an independent body, and, as it has been printed, cannot now be altered. If the Government refuses to table the report, the impression will be created that it is endeavouring to shield the buyers at the expense of growers. The request is a reasonable one, and I hope that it will be acceded to.
– I strongly support the request that has been made by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). Honorable members have an absolute right to peruse the document, from which the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) quoted last night, and the unprecedented action of the Government in denying them, access to it places them at a disadvantage. There were many parliamentary precedents to justify the motion “ that the report be tabled “, and I shall refer to a few of them. In May, 10th edition, at page 321, there appear the following words : -
Another rule, or principle of debate, may be here added. A Minister of the Crown is not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other state paper not before the House, unless lie be prepared to lay it upon the table. This restraint is similar to that rule of evidence, in courts of law, which prevents counsel from citing documents which have not been produced in evidence. The principle is so reasonable that it has not been contested; and when the objection has been made in time, it has been generally acquiesced in. It has also been admitted that a document which has been cited, ought to be laid upon the table of the House, if it can be done without injury to the public interests. The same rule, however, cannot bc held to apply to private letters or memoranda. On the 18th May, 1863, the Attorney-General, cai being asked by Mr. Ferranti if he would lay upon the table a written statement and a letter to which he had referred on a previous day, in answering a question relative to the Leeds Bankruptcy Court, replied that he had made a statement to the House upon his own responsibility, and that, the documents he had referred to being private, he could not lay them upon the table.
It is to private and not public documents that our Standing Order relate. May continues -
Lord R. Cecil .contended that the papers, having been cited, should be produced, but the Speaker declared that this rule applied to public documents only.
As the relevant report in this instance is definitely a public document, I submit that it is mandatory upon the Government to make it available to honorable members. It is to be regretted that the Assistant Minister should so foolishly have departed from well-established parliamentary procedure. Both Mr. Speaker Holder and Mr: Speaker Johnson ruled that after a Minister has quoted from a public document, he must lay it upon the table when such a procedure is requested by an honorable member. The” ruling by Mr. Speaker Johnson was made on the 28th August, 1913, appearing at page 646 of Hansard and reading as follows : -
– For the moment I waa not quite sure of the precise terms of the standing order, but I had in mind that there was a distinction made between a private communication and a public document. That is why I said I spoke subject to correction. Standing Order 317 says -
A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, may be called for and made a public document.
The only question that arises now is whether the document from which the Prime Minister quoted was a private communication, or a document of such a nature as was contemplated under the standing order.
The ruling by Mr. Speaker Holder was delivered on the Srd September, 1903, and is reported at page 4614 of Hansard. It reads -
Mr. Joseph Cook. I rise to a point of order. I understand that it is a well known parliamentary rule that when an honorable member quotes any document he must lay it on the table of the House. I ask that the Minister in charge of this bill follow that rule in order that we may have an opportunity of inspecting the document that he has just been flourishing about the House.
– Standing Order 317 provides that -
A document relating to public affairs, quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to bc of a confidential nature or such as should moreproperly be obtained by address, may be called for and made a public document.
Does the Minister desire to lay the document on the table?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. I have already handed it over to the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn.
– It is for the honorable member for Parramatta to say whathe desires shall be laid upon the table.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE Here is the document setting out the figures which I have quoted.
Mr. Speaker gave power to the then honorable member for Parramatta to state precisely what document he desired should bc laid upon the table, but Sir William Lyne saved the situation by saying, “Here is the document setting out the figures which I have quoted “, and passing it over to the honorable member. Unfortunately, last night the Assistant Minister for Defence made a reprehensible departure from well-established precedent, and I take a serious view of his violation of accepted parliamentary practice. His ex parte statement was most unfair to the person whose observations were quoted in part. If the Assistant Minister regarded the document as confidential I submit that he should not have used it as he did. To hold another person responsible for statements which are only half quoted and which may be at variance with his ultimate conclusions is distinctly unjust’ alike to the gentleman con cerned, and to the Parliament. This document should, in fairness, bo made available at the earliest possible moment. In my opinion, the Assistant Minister used the document quite wrongly. The honorable member for Kennedy is therefore fully justified in making his request that it should he placed in the hands of honorable members without any further delay.
– I sincerely trust that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) will give us his views on the whole situation.
– Surely we are to hear something from the Government.
– I wished to hear the views of honorable members before I participated in the debate; but I am prepared to speak now if honorable members wish it.
– I hope the right honorable gentleman will speak when I have finished my remarks. Last night the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) extolled the virtues of Mr. Townsend, the Chairman of the Tobacco Inquiry Committee, saying thathe was the chief accountant of the Trade and Customs Department, and a trusted public officer, who had made a special study of the tropical industries of Australia and was well and favorably known in Queensland. We do not dispute that. Our contention is that the Assistant Minister acted unfairly to Mr. Townsend, and to the Parliament, in quoting brief passages from the committee’s report. This was done, of course, with the object of rebutting the statements of honorable members on this side of the House that considerable quantities of good quality tobacco leaf still remained unsold. After the honorable gentleman had road a few words from one page of the report he was asked to read the next paragraph, but he said: “ ‘No, I shall not do that “. The honorable gentleman quoted only such passages of the report as suited his own argument.
– That is not correct.
– The Assistant Minister picked the eyes out of the report.
– I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). The Assistant Minister was floundering badly in trying to buttress a bad case. There is no justification whatever for the “ hush “ policy that the Government had adopted in connexion with this report. When the Prime Minister was in North Queensland last August the tobacco-growers, who were suffering under a real grievance, asked him to have an inquiry made into the whole circumstances of their industry, and he acceded to their request. The committee of inquiry took a good deal of time in preparing its report. I have not yet heard what the inquiry cost, but I have no doubt that substantial expenditure was incurred. Mr. Townsend, a very competent and valuable officer of the Customs Department, was absent from his ordinary duties for a long time, and he took with him to North Queensland two other officers, so that these three gentlemen spent all their time on this work for probably three or four months. Their salaries, and also the amount expended in liberal travelling allowances for them, together with the cost of the shorthand report and other clerical assistance, must be all included in the cost of the inquiry. I should not be surprised if the inquiry cost the country £1,000 or more. As public money was spent in the preparation of the report, Parliament and also the growers concerned should have an opportunity to peruse the document. The growers have been clamouring for many weeks for copies of the report. Like the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), I congratulate the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) upon having pressed for the tabling of the document. Not only the tobacco-growers of the Mareeba district, but also those of the Miriam Vale, Sarina, Texas, Ovens Valley, Wagga and other tobacco-growing districts are interested in this report. Many tobacco-growers in my own district are very anxious to know what the committee had to say about the general outlook of the industry and about the unsold tobacco leaf. There is in the Riverina district, to my personal knowledge, a considerable quantity of good-quality leaf which, so far, has not been purchased.
– That is a fact.
– The great bulk of the tobacco grown round Wagga is of good quality. Unfortunately, a practice has been adopted by many tobaccoleaf buyers who represent big tobacco manufacturing firms of keeping the tobacco-growers in a position of uncertainty for as long as possible, so that ultimately they will sell their leaf at a lower price than they would have been willing to accept earlier in the season. The same procedure was adopted by the sugar-millers towards the cane-growers of Queensland years ago, and it was only broken down by the passing of legislation by a State Labour government for the fixation of the price of sugar-cane. It is unjust that the unfortunate tobacco-growers should be left to the tender mercies of the tobacco-manufacturing companies. In the circumstances they properly requested the Prime Minister, when he visited North Queensland in August, to allow an inquiry to be made into all the circumstances of the industry. The result of that inquiry should not be withheld from publication any longer than is absolutely necessary. The present “ hush “ ^policy is quite unfair to this rapidly-growing industry. The tobaccogrowers wish to know what the committee had to say in regard to the effect of import and excise duties on tobacco and on the revenue of the country; what the Government proposes to do in regard to the unsold tobacco leaf; and what the committee had to say in regard to any alleged unsuitable areas or inefficient methods in vogue in certain areas. The subject of over-production is also one of vital concern to the industry.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is an ex-Speaker of this House, showed conclusively, in my opinion, that proper parliamentary procedure makes it obligatory on the Government to table this report, which is a public document. I made a submission to that effect last night, and quoted Standing Order 317 in support of my contention. When the Assistant Minister took this document from a folder that he had in his hand and flourished it in our faces, he said, in effect, “ There is not another word to be said on the subject, for I have quoted Mr. Townsend’s opinions.” The honorable gentleman thought that we would be nonplussed. We have the same respect for Mr. Townsend as he has, but we wished to know all that Mr. Townsend had to say on the subject. It was not proper for the Assistant Minister to select odd paragraphs from the report in order to suithis ownpurposes. In view of the fact that the Assistant Minister saw fit to quote from it last night, this Parliament is entitled to know without further delay the full contents of this report. I ask the Prime Minister to give us an assurance that the document will be tabled immediately. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has indicated clearly that this course is necessary if proper parliamentary procedure is to be observed. When the Assistant Minister was challenged last night to declare that this was not a public but a private document, he seized upon the word “confidential” which appears in one of the Standing Orders.
– But his contention on that point has’been entirely “ blown out
– That is so. May’s Parliamentary Practice is definite on that point.
– In my opinion, while the Assistant Minister was floundering last night he made a most injudicious use of this document. I do not think that such a thing had ever been done so glaringly in this Parliament before. I, at any rate, have never known another Minister to do such a thing. The honorable gentleman said, in effect, “I have quoted from this report and proved that honorable members opposite are quite wrong, but I shall not make the document available to them.” That, I contend, was unjust to both Mr. Townsend and honorable members of the House.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The origin of this report is to be found in the visit which I paid to the Mareeba district in Worth Queensland last August. I desired to learn personally the real circumstances of the tobacco-growers. In consequence of what I then heard, I promised the growers that a prompt and early inquiry would be made into their complaints. I hoped at that time that an investigation of a few weeks would suffice to secure all the information that was necessary, but unfortunately from this point of view, the tobacco-growers in other districts asked for a similar inquiry into their grievances.
– They also were tobaccogrowers in new areas.
– That is so, and I agree that they were entirely justified in making their request. As the Tobacco Inquiry Committee would need to pass through these areas on its return from the Mareeba district, I asked it to continue its investigations in those districts. This meant that the inquiry took a good deal longer than I had originally estimated. I admit frankly that as time went on I was anxious to obtain the fullest possible information on the whole situation. I regret, however, that Cabinet has not yet had time to deal with the report.
– How long ago did the Government receive it?
– It came to hand some time ago.
– I received my copy of it only a few days ago.
– It has been in the hands of the Government for at least a month.
– The first copies of the report came to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) and me, but it has only recently been circulated among other Ministers. The Government has not yet had time to consider it.
– Then it should not have been used by the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) in the chamber.
– The Government is anxious to deal with the report promptly, but other important matters have occupied its attention to the exclusion of the report. Honorable members are well aware that the time of Ministers is very fully occupied when Parliament is sitting. The Assistant Minister had no desire to commit a breach of parliamentary practice by using the report.
– Then the right honorable member admits that he did commit a breach of the usual procedure.
– The Assistant Minister, in replying to the statements of honorable members opposite, quoted from this document which up to to that time had been confidential. I admit that the practice of the House of Commons and also of this House has been to table public documents from which quotations are made, and I undertake that there will be no delay in making this document available to the House. Unfortunately the Minister .for Trade and Customs will be absent from Canberra over the week-end. I shall confer with him on this matter, and make the document available as early as possible.
– Will the Prime Minister ensure that there is no repetition of what happened last night?
– The Assistant Minister had no desire to commit any breach of parliamentary practice. The document will be made available to honorable members in time for them to discuss it if they so desire. The Government does not propose to provide a special opportunity for its discussion, but if honorable members wish to deal with it before the House adjourns they may do so, with the whole of the details of the report before them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. forde) spoke of the wonderful confidence that this House had in Mr. Townsend. We all have confidence in that gentleman, though not, perhaps, in the same manner as the honorable member. He stated that the Assistant Minister quoted one paragraph from Mr. Townsend’s report to suit his own purpose, but omitted to quote the following paragraph, which might have supported the contention of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). I cannot ‘believe that Mr. Townsend would make two consecutive statements one in opposition to the other, and I think that it will be found that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was wrong in making the statement he did. The report has been carefully prepared and the officers who made it went exhaustively into the question. They took some time over their inquiry, and it was only right that they should do so in the circumstances. I do not know the exact cost of the investigation, but whatever it is, the report will be worth it to the tobacco industry and to the Government. Honorable members oan rest assured that the cost was no more than was absolutely necessary. The officers who made the inquiry are all capable men.
– We all appreciate that fact.
– I do not think that honorable members will have any complaint to make when the report is made available.
– -When will it be made available?
– I shall confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs in regard to the matter during the week-end.
.- The statements of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) shows that the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) was fully justified in moving the adjournment of the House this morning, in order to preserve the rights of honorable members, and to prevent a repetition of what took place last night. The Assistant Minister (Mr. Francis), undoubtedly, acted unfairly in quoting from a document which was not available to honorable members. The report is either public or private. If it is confidential it should not be quoted in the House. If it is public it should not be quoted until it is made available to honorable members. The Prime Minister has stated that the report has not yet been made available owing to the many questions under the consideration of the Cabinet. He has assured us that the report will be made available. -It is, therefore, not a confidential document, and to that extent the Assistant Minister misled the House last night.
– The report is confidential until it is made available to honorable members.
– According to parliamentary procedure, a confidential document is always confidential, and cannot be made available to the House. A document cannot be confidential to-day and public to-morrow. I am not quarrelling with the contention of the Prime Minister that the Government has no right to make the document available to the Parliament until it has had an opportunity to consider it and announce its policy, but we have a perfect right to protest against any Minister quoting from the report before it is made available. It was an unfair action on the part of the Assistant Minister. I accept the assurance of the Prime Minister that the report will be made available shortly, which I presume will be before the House arises.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Last evening, when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) was speaking, I interjected, “From what is the honorable member quoting?” According to Hansard, the honorable member replied that he was quoting from volume 28 of the New South Wales arbitration reports. I did not hear that reply. I then raised a point of order and asked whether the honorable member was entitled to read his speech. The chairman said that the honorable member was not reading his speech. I regret the incident because had [ heard the honorable member’s reply to my interjection, I certainly should not have raised the point of order.
– I also wish to make a personal explanation. During the heated debate on the budget yesterday, I applied to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) terms which I subsequently withdrew. In a calmer moment, I should certainly have apologized to him. I now wish to express regret for not having done so. Certainly the PostmasterGeneral was very irritating at the time, but still he did not warrant such epithets as I applied to him. No one in the Parliament has a higher regard for that honorable member than I have.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend suctions ninety-one and one hundred and ninety-three of, and to insert new sections fifty-seven a and one hundred and thirty a in theBankruptcy Act1924- 1932.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to - That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) 1930-1933. the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No.6) 1930-1933, the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 7) 1930-1933, and the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 8) 1930-1933.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As previously announced, the terms of the trade treaty between Australia and New Zealand provide that if any Australian goods of any class or kind, the produce or manufacture of Australia, are exempt from sales tax, goods of that class or kind, the produce or manufacture of New Zealand, shall, if imported into and sold in Australia, be exempt from sales tax. In order to give effect to that provision, it is necessary to amend Sales Tax Acta Nos. 5 to S, which impose the liability of sales tax in respect of imported goods either when imported or subsequently sold. The hill now being introduced merely contains amendments to give effect to that provision. The amendments are not to come into operation until a date to be proclaimed, which will be the same date in respect of the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Agreement Bill which is now before the Senate. This measure is purely formal, and complementary to the alterations of the Customs Tariff with respect to the trade treaty with New Zealand. The implementing of the treaty for both customs and primage duties and sales tax could not, because of constitutional difficulties, be effected in the measure relating to customs and primage duties.
– When will the treaty be proclaimed ?
– I expect that it will be proclaimed at an early date after the two measures have passed through both Houses of the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 10th November (ride page 4381).
Proposed vote, £109,300.
– I ask leave of the committee to read a statement relating to what is known as the “ Pinner report,” which deals with the departments of the Parliament.
– In August of last year the then President of the Senate and I, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, decided to ask the Public Service Board to appoint a competent officer to investigate the staff organization and administration of the parliamentary departments under our control with a view to effecting economies. “We were satisfied that every legitimate effort had been made to avoid all unnecessary expenditure, but were of the opinion that the report of an independent investigation would strengthen our position. The Public Service Commissioner selected Mr. J. T. Pinner to undertake the work, and this gentleman made a searching examination of all departments. The report, which is divided into nine parts, contains a very exhaustive criticism of the five departments and their subdepartments, and suggestions for the present and future organisation of the parliamentary service. It is creditable to the permanent heads of the various departments that no large reduction of expenditure within their control has been suggested. Many suggestions for a reallotment of duties have been considered, and where they do not impair efficiency have been adopted. The adoption of the whole of the proposals would result ultimately in a considerable reduction of expenditure, but it is stated in the report that any appreciable savings could be made only by restricting facilities at present available to honorable members. The Presiding Officers are definitely of die opinion that in this matter they must be guided by the will of the Parliament.
The report is a lengthy review of the parliamentary organisation, including the system of staff procedure adopted, and the division of responsibility, and offers comments on the value of the individual staff units employed. In this regard many suggestions are made, all of which have been carefully considered, and, where they would not interfere with existing efficiency, adopted. The major suggestions are in connexion, with the refreshmentrooms, Hansard, and the printing and publication of parliamentary papers.
In connexion with the refreshmentrooms, it is suggested that only morning and afternoon tea, light luncheon and light supper should be provided during the sittings of either House. The estimated saving would be between £2,000 and £3,000 a year. As that is a matter for Parliament to decide, no alteration is contemplated by the Presiding Officers. However, during recess, some of the members of the staff are being temporarily seconded to other government activities, and a substantial saving in salaries is expected. The trading figures show a profit of £656, as compared with £383 for the previous financial year, the percentage of profits to turnover being 22.24. The net loss on the refreshment rooms for the financial year 1929-30 was £7,047, and for last year £3,861, or a reduction of £3,186.
The printing of Hansard by day instead of by night, which would effect an estimated saving of £600, is advocated. The disadvantage would be a delay of 24 hours in the supply of proofs to honorable members. This matter is not within our control. We ‘have already given our approval for members of the parliamentary reporting staff to be made available during recess, and at the discretion of Principal Parliamentary Reporter, to assist the court reporting branch of the Attorney-General’s Department. The present arrangement should result in a considerable saving to the latter, but we are of opinion that the parliamentary vote should be credited with the economy effected. The cost of compilation, printing, and distribution of parliamentary debates is given as £25,400, but, of this amount, only £10,943 is within the control of the Parliamentary Department. From the report it would appear that the Treasury Department should examine the position relating to the distribution of Hansard.
The report suggests that a considerable saving could be made by printing parliamentary papers in octavo instead of folio size. It will be remembered that the Joint Committee on Public Accounts made a strong recommendation on this matter in May of last year. The Presiding Officers have received the endorsement of the Joint Printing Committee, and the officers of the House have been asked to consider the proposal before any further action is taken.
Other recommendations refer to one accounting office, one staff records office, interchange of officers, attendants, &c, and in these matters suitable action’ will be taken where shown to be of advantage.
A reclassification of positions and salaries is suggested. The opinion iB expressed that the salaries of officers, in some instances, are excessive when compared with those paid to officers performing similar duties in Government departments. A feature particularly noted is that in all parliamentary departments the junior clerical positions carry a salary range Avith a maximum of £402. It is stated that recreation leave in most cases is greater than that allowed in the Public Service. It is, however, recognized that the conditions of employment during parliamentary sessions differ materially from those in the Public Service. Overtime is not paid to parliamentary officers. The Presiding Officers decided not to take any action as regards salaries while the financial emergency legislation is in operation.
The report deals favorably with the working and methods of the Library, and makes a few suggestions with regard to minor changes. Al the same time, the report refers to the increase in the activities and scope of the Library, particularly in regard to the extraparliamentary services which the transfer to Canberra has involved. The report suggests that, owing to the extension and development of the Library, its usefulness as a Parliamentary Library must suffer unless adequate provision is made for increased shelving space and additional staff. Reference is also made to the fact that no suitable building has yet been made available for the National section, and that adequate temporary storage facilities have not been provided.
I should explain, for the information of honorable members, that the first action of the original Library Committee, after its appointment in 1902, was carefully to consider reports obtained by the Government from the leading librarians and authorities in Australia on the nature and type of library most suitable for Commonwealth requirements. After full consideration it presented a report to Parliament in 1903, in which it sot out, having in view the conditions and requirements of a Federal Capital, the action it was taking for “the establishment of a federal library of which the Parliamentary Library will be only one department.” Again, in subsequent reports, the committee and Parliament have affirmed this policy both directly and also indirectly in such . acts as the Copyright Act and the Petherick Collection Act. It was in accordance with this policy that in 1925, the Library Committee secured accommodation for the National section of the Library in the West Block Secretariat. Unfortunately the Government found it necessary to request the Library Committee to loan that accommodation for the housing of the Statistician’s Department. Though this loan was intended to be for a period of only two years, circumstances have made it impossible for the Government to fulfil its undertaking. Owing ta the serious state of congestion into which this has forced the Library, the Library Committee has, for some time past, been giving the matter of additional accommodation its continuous attention, and recently made definite recommendations to the Government, which, I am pleased to report have been favorably considered and for which the necessary financial provision is being made on these Estimates. In considering the Library it should always be recognized that it is a continually growing department. At the present time it is developing rapidly, not only in respect to the collection of books, newspapers, magazines, but also in the extent and range of the functions and services which it is called upon to render in Canberra.
The outstanding recent development in this regard has been the opening of the Library to the public of the Federal Capital Territory, of whom no fewer than 1,706 are now registered as borrowers. The Library has also, since the inception of the Canberra University College, met the reading and reference requirements of its 41 students and 4 lecturers. On the historical side, the Library continues to develop rapidly. Valuable presentations of historical manuscripts, pictures and objects, as well as rare books and pamphlets, are continually being made; but the Library Committee is hampered by lack of space in its desire to display these in a permanent and suitable way. The Petherick Collection of Australiana acquired in 1911, comprising some 10,000 books and 5,000 pamphlets relating to the discovery and early history of Australia, formed a splendid basis upon which the Library has since been steadily building up its magnificent Australian collection. This has proved of great value, not only to research students, but also, to Commonwealth departments, both administrative and scientific. Its importance as a national collection will be appreciated when I mention that among its greatest treasures is the journal in Captain Cook’s own handwriting of his voyage in the Endeavour, together with a large number of other Cook manuscripts which are at present being extensively consulted in the preparation of a new edition of Cook’s voyages. It will be of. special interest to honorable members to know that particular attention is being paid to the collection and preservation of all records and documents relating to federation and Commonwealth political history. The Library recently received from the family of the late Sir Edmund Barton a magnificent series of letters and papers relating to the establishment of federation and the formation of the first Federal Ministry. The Library is also collecting and preserving historical records relating to Canberra.
I should like to refer to the important part played by the Library as a legislative reference department. In addition to providing private members with material for use in debate, the Library is extensively used by the departments of the Commonwealth and by the Government in the draft- ing and administration of Commonwealth legi’slation. Owing to the granting of dominion status and the responsibilities of administering the mandated territories, the range of material which the Library must have available for reference by the Government and the departments has increased enormously. The Library preserves complete sets of the official publications, not only of all the States of Australia, but also of Great Britain, the Dominions, India, the United States of America, and the League of Nations; also a selected range of official publications of other countries. I have made this somewhat extensive reference to the activities of the Library in order that honorable members may realize the necessity to provide additional accommodation to allow it to continue to function satisfactorily, and I believe that Parliament should be prepared for an increase of expenditure as its present activities expand.
The Pin ner report is regarded as confidential, and wa3 obtained, for the information of the Presiding Officers. It is not unusual for the Public Service Board to be asked to submit similar reports for government departments. The Presiding Officers are not under any obligation to carry out any recommendations made in the report. Publicity of the report would convey a wrong impression unless the replies of the heads of the various departments concerned were available. These officers have been fully consulted. In many instances, the criticism of Mr. Pinner would have been qualified had he enjoyed a closer acquaintance with the working of the Parliament.
In connexion with the Estimates for the Parliament now before the committee, honorable members will be interested in the following comparison of the expenditure for the present financial year with that for 3928-29: -
The amounts mentioned do not, of course, include expenditure not under the control of the Presiding Officers, such as allowances to senators and members of the House of Representatives, conveyance of rn.em.beTa by rail or boat, maintenance of members’ rooms, in the capital cities, and parliamentary printing, including the printing of Hansard and all parliamentary papers, and the distribution thereof.
The Estimates, as printed under the new system, are self;explanatory, but 1 may state that for the House of Representatives they show a reduction of £726 on last year’s vote. In regard to the items under “ General expenses,” certain of the expenditure is regulated by the sittings of Parliament. If the sittings this year are fewer than last financial year, it may be expected that a proportionate amount will remain unexpended. The reduction on the estimated expenditure this financial year, compared with the previous year, on departments under the control of the President and myself, is £3,985.
I might add that, the vote for the House of Representatives has shown successive decreases since 1927-28. In 192S-29, it was less by £539 than for the previous year; in 1929-30, it was an additional £972 lower; in 1931-32, it fell a further £1,745; in 1932-33, it was still lower by £242. This year it has fallen again by £726. The total decrease, therefore, since 1927-28, is £4,224. 1! should be glad if, for the reasons which I have already stated in the early portion of my remarks, the leaders of parties, and honorable members generally, would express a definite opinion as to the policy now being adopted in connexion with the Library.
– I rise to a personal explanation. Last night, Mr. Chairman, I tried in vain to explain to you that you had made a mistake in regard to what the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) had said. You would not allow me to make the explanation, and I was placed in such an unfortunate position that I contravened rather seriously the Standing Orders of this chamber. I shall relate what happened. The honorable member for East Sydney had demanded a withdrawal and an apology. The report of what then occurred reads -
– On a point of order. The honorable member for East Sydney has asked for a withdrawal and an apology.
– Order ! The honorable member for Darling is not in order. The honorable member for East Sydney did not ask for an apology.
I then tried in vain to explain to you that the honorable member for East Sydney had asked for an apology, but you maintained that he had not. I feel that the whole trouble was caused by your refusal to accept my word. I felt hurt at that refusal. I shall not say, Mr. Bell, that you compelled me to disobey your ruling. I had no desire to disobey it,but I felt that I had been misrepresented by you, and made to appear as though I was endeavouring to force an untruth upon you. At a later stage, you admitted that the honorable member for East Sydney had asked foi: ari apology. Whether you did so from information you had received from either officers of the House or some other source,’- 1 do not know. But you placed me in the unfortunate position that I was compelled to disobey your ruling, and was almost expelled. I felt very hurt, and probably became heated at the position which had arisen. I consider, sir, that when you changed your view-
– Order ! The honorable member is now going beyond the scope of a personal explanation.
– I can only say in extenuation
– Order ! There can be no extenuation. The honorable member is familiar with the rules regarding misrepresentation. If he has been misrepresented, he is entitled to explain wherein the misrepresentation lies; but he cannot go so far as to extend to himself the privilege of charging the Chair with having been at fault.
– That is the whole basis of my personal explanation.
– The honorable member is going beyond the scope of a personal explanation.
– The records show, Mr. Bell, that you were at fault.
– Order ! The honorable member must not disregard the instruction of the Chair.
– You make it very difficult for me.
– Order ! I hope that the honorable member will not compel me to take action that I should be very loath to take. If he feels aggrieved, he is entitled to show wherein he has been misrepresented.
– I feel that I have been misrepresented, and I am aggrieved.
– Order ! I have explained to the honorable member the extent to which he is entitled to go in making a personal explanation. If he feels aggrieved he is privileged to show wherein he has been misrepresented.
– You, sir, I claim, misrepresented the position.
– Order ! The honorable member is now going distinctly beyond the scope of a personal explanation.
– Well, sir, you make it almost impossible for me to state my point.
-I can readily understand that; but the honorable member is not entitled to make the point that he wishes to make.
– Last night I made the statement that the honorable member for East Sydney had asked for an apology, and you said that he had not. Therein you misrepresented me, and allowed the committee tobelieve that I was endeavouring to state the position incorrectly. Later, however, you admitted that you were wrong, and stated that the honorable member for East Sydney had asked for an apology. I think, therefore, that the incident arose out of your refusal to accept my word. I consider that you should now make an explanation of what caused you to change your mind.
– Order ! The honorable member must recognize that he is not in order, and that he is going beyond the scope of a personal explanation. If he continues along those lines, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat,
– If I contravene the Standing Orders, I am compelled to withdraw. ‘ You, sir, in your responsible office, have placed me in an invidious position, and I think that you should do the manly and honorable thing-
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. I am perfectly sure that the committee realizes that the Chair has been tolerant to the honorable member for Darling, and that an incident which was debated last night ought not to he revived under the cover of a . personal explanation. Certainly, the honorable member for Darling, in making a personal explanation, has no right to direct the Chair as to what it should do. I shall not comment upon what happened last night. It was debated at the time, and I believe that the committee had a complete understanding of the position. If it were not satisfied with the action of the Chair, redress lay to its hand. The incident is now closed.
– I wish to refer briefly to the statement that has just been made to the committee by Mr. Speaker (Mr. Mackay). It is, of course, for. the Parliament to decide whether the Library shall merely meet the requirements of the Parliament and the departments, or shall be developed into a national institution. Unfortunately, this is the first occasion on which the question has come before me. Mr. Speaker supplied the Minister, who acts as secretary to the Cabinet, with a copy of the remarks he proposed to make ; but as Cabinet has been engaged in the consideration of so many other questions, the matter has not been raised”, and there has been no opportunity to consider the financial aspects of it.
– Did not Mr. Speaker say that some provision had been made in the Estimates?
– Mr. Speaker now asks for a definite decision as to what the character of the Library shall be in the future. Cabinet decided that the library building should be commenced, and made provision accordingly. But very careful consideration, particularly in regard to finance, would need to be given to the question whether a national library should be established in Canberra. I am not in a position at this stage to indicate the policy of the Government, because there has been no opportunity to con- sider it. Honorable members may, however, express their views upon the matter.
.- Mr. Speaker (Mr. Mackay) was good enough to furnish me with a copy of the statement that he proposed to make to the committee to-day. I have read it very carefully, and advise honorable members to obtain Hansard pulls of it, and give it deep consideration. I agree with the Prime Minister that, offhand, this committee could not express an opinion as to what should be the future of the Library. I believe that, as the result of the transfer to Canberra, the nature of the Library should change. In a big city such as Melbourne, where there are many public libraries, the Parliamentary Library was, very naturally, confined to honorable members. In the Federal Capital City it has rightly been made available to the general public. In the future,there will bc either a combination of the Parliamentary and National libraries, or a distinct separation between the two; but for the present, I really cannot see any good reason why there should be a separation, as the existing dual system appears to work satisfactorily. The extension and future scope of the Library are governed by financial considerations, and cannot be decided at this juncture. However, I think that Mr. Speaker has rendered a good service by giving honorable members an opportunity frankly to discuss the subject, which closely concerns Parliament.
Honorable members will agree that the officers attached to the Library are most efficient and obliging, and I have heard good reports regarding their treatment of members of the general public. The Library, which we assisted to have established, is a most valuable one, perhaps more so than many honorable members realize, and it is obvious that the existing accommodation is not by any means adequate. I believe that it will develop into one of the most important factors in the life of the Federal Capital, because I visualize the Canberra of the future as one of the great centres of culture in Australia. It is not desired, nor was it intended, that the Federal Capital City should be an industrial centre, but its delightful environment and admirable climate fit it for the home of a university, and of colleges and high schools. In the meantime, our Library forms the nucleus of the -greater educational facilities which, I hope, will later be available to the inhabitants of Canberra. Already students have found it invaluable. Incidentally, I am glad to see that our public servants are availing themselves of this privilege and that, having been removed from the distractions which are inevitably associated with big cities, many are becoming even more studious than they were. We have in our Public Service highly educated men who woo culture for culture’s sake, which is a good thing for the future of the Service and of Australia.
I appreciate the action of Mr. SPEAKER in making his report. This is one of the few occasions on which we have had the subject brought before our notice ; and, while I believe that the committee could not now arrive at a determination, even if the necessary money were available, the opportunity has afforded honorable members food for thought. I believe that, instead of postponing action until next year’s Estimates arc before us, the Government should consider what is possible of achievement with the money that is available, and then submit its proposals to honorable members for their frank discussion.
.- I congratulate the Government - and it is rarely that I feel justified in doing so - for making available a sum of money for the erection in Canberra of the first unit of a National Library. Even in its partially completed form the building will be an imposing one of four storeys, and, ultimately, it will provide a fitting storehouse for the wealth of literature and historical records that are now most inadequately housed in the basement and other portions of this building. In the Petherick and Ellis Rowan collections, as well as in the many other additions to our’ National Library, the nation has an artistic and valuable possession, and the Librarian is to be congratulated upon having displayed these treasures so well under unfavorable conditions. Honorable members should congratulate themselves on the manner in which the Parliamentary and National Libraries are being attended to by the Librarian and his staff, who are ever-ready to assist members of Parliament and the general public
The question of whether the Parliamentary and National Libraries should be separate entities is an important one, but I believe that for the time being they should be run in conjunction. Even after the new building is erected it should not be a difficult engineering task to effect hasion between it and Parliament House by means of a pneumatic tube. Possibly in 20 or 30 years time the National Library will become so big and important that it will not be possible to conduct it in conjunction with the Parliamentary Library, but even then there should be an interchange of volumes between the two institutions.
Canberra is peculiar inasmuch as the Government usurps duties which are usually carried out by a municipal body, and this Government and its predecessors have admitted a responsibility to the citizens of the Federal Capital by making available to them the contents of the National and Parliamentary Libraries; for, while there are several private circulating libraries and a community library in Canberra, they are principally devoted to volumes of fiction. There is an ever-growing tendency on the part of the public to take advantage of this privilege, and those honorable members who remain in the Federal City over the week-end know that the officers of the Library are kept particularly busy supplying the book requirements of the community.
There has been established in Canberra a University College which is empowered to issue educational diplomas, and which has entered into an arrangement with the Melbourne University for the conferring of degrees on its students. Under ordinary circumstances it would be impossible for local scholars to purchase the many volumes to which they must refer, and therefore the privilege accorded them by the Government is invaluable.
I regret that, last year, it was considered necessary to decrease the already diminished grant for the purchase of new books. Past governments have achieved the creditable performance of building up a library of 300,000 volumes over a period of 32 years, and it would indeed be a pity if, for the lack of £300 or £400 a year, we failed to add to that collection volumes which are really essential to any national or parliamentary library. From time to time I have asked for books which are well known and available in the great libraries of the metropolis, and have been told that they have not been secured by our Library. Because of the lack of money the Library Committee has . discontinued buying fiction, and I suggest that a sufficient amount should be made available to enable volumes of fiction again to be purchased, for this class of literature possesses many classics and provides information which is of considerable educational value.
.- Mr. Speaker (Mr. Mackay) has done good service in bringing before the committee the whole position of the Parliamentary Library. He has placed several alternatives before us, and asked for guidance as to future policy. I do not think that honorable members will consider for one moment that this should be a purely Parliamentary Library, for the sole use of honorable members. The other suggestion of establishing a great National Library for the Commonwealth of Australia is obviously the true ideal at which we should aim. It is inconceivable to me that, iu ‘ a capital city, situated as Canberra is, we should neglect to establish a great national library, for such libraries are the true mark of civilization. “We cannot contemplate the immediate establishment of an institution like the great Congressional Library at Washington, but we should bear that in mind as the ultimate goal. As a practical step to that end we are establishing a library which, while primarily for the use of honorable members, is also designed to serve other ends. On the removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra, the idea promulgated by the first Speaker of this House, Sir Frederick Holder, and others, “of establishing side by side with this Library a great national library was developed to some extent. We have been dealing with the various developments of the situation as they have arisen. We already have a very fine collection of reference books for the use of honorable members - that, of course, is absolutely essential. In this library we must also have the records of the various parliaments of the great countries, and particularly those of the imperial and dominion parliaments and the congress of the United States of America. We must also have the statutes passed by those legislatures. It is essential, also, that we should have a complete .issue of the rapidly-developing literature on international affairs, and particularly the publications of the League of Nations. We must also have the leading text-books on the sciences, and those which deal with the specific subject of legislation with which wo are concerned. We must take particular pains to develop our Library on its legal and constitutional side, for the problems associated with the science of government must be our special collcern. I believe that we are doing efficient work at present in all these directions. Our Library is efficient and comprehensive in this connexion, notwithstanding that in recent years the vote for library purposes has been drastically reduced. In my opinion we can be too severe in our economies in this way, for if text-books and official documents are not acquired at, the time of their publication it is frequently expensive and difficult to obtain them afterwards.
From the national aspect there is one function that we must fulfil. When the Commonwealth Government accepted the wonderfully generous gift of the Petherick Collection, it committed itself to the /policy of establishing a thoroughly comprehensive library dealing with every aspect of Australian national life, including exploration, discovery, scientific investigation, and the growth and development of our social and political institutions. Every document that we can possibly get for our Library on these subjects should be obtained. Australia has surely been making a useful contribution to the civilization of the world, and nowadays considerable oversea attention is being directed to our land settlement policy, our constitutional development, and like subjects. These are obviously matters of interest to other countries. Our acceptance of the Petherick Collection committed us to this policy. Everything relating to Australian development should be collected and assembled in a truly National Library. The Petherick
Collection was wonderfully comprehensive. I fear that very few of us realize the true value of the wonderful gift that Mr. Petherick made to the Commonwealth. I do not see that we can very well curtail our activities in this direction. It is essential that a truly National Library shall be established, for this purpose. Such a library would, of course, be invaluable to our various departments, and to those interested in the economic development of the nation. Information of the kind to which I have referred should be concentrated in the National Library. There should be no need to duplicate and multiply the collection of scientific literature in our various departments. It is necessary, of course, that many text-books and magazines dealing with subjects of everyday concern should be kept in the various departments; but less frequently used publications should, in my opinion, be housed and cared for in the National Library.
Ultimately we must, develop the Canberra University idea. The original intention of those who set aside a university site in this city was that a university should be established here which would bc regarded, not. as competitive with the great professional universities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, but as a research university. Professional training will always be necessary in the great universities to which I have referred, but we hope that ultimately the Canberra University will develop into a research university where post-graduates will be able to continue their investigations into the higher branches of learning and research, while at the same time providing a university education for public servants and young students in Canberra. If this is to happen it is essential that a library appropriate to the needs of such a university shall be readily available. Already our Library has been of tremendous value to historians, scientists and others. Our splendid collection of text-books dealing with the languages of the Pacific Islands materially assisted one learned gentleman to prepare a thesis on the subject which obtained for him a degree. We must, therefore, keep in mind the necessity to develop our Library to serve the collegiate system.
Good work is being done by the Library in inviting people who hold valuable historical records, documents and magazines to deposit them here. The relatives of the late Dr. Dunmore Lang, one of the most striking characters in the history of the Commonwealth, have kindly presented the whole of the doctor’s library to the Commonwealth,, and the family of the late Sir Edmund Barton have done the same. Every encouragement is being given to people to make the National Library the repository of great historical documents, the preservation of which is essential so that valuable material shall he available when the history of Australia comes to be written.
So far, we have not established an archives department for the preservation of our own historical records. We have valuable departmental documents lying here, there and everywhere, and it is hard to know at the moment to what extent they may be spoiled, if not ruined. We do not know whether some valuable documents may not have perished through the transfer of the departments to Canberra. It can be assumed, of course, that the departmental heads have taken care of documents and records relating to their own departments, but in my opinion, it is highly necessary that an archives department should be established in connexion with the Library. Obviously there is not room in the various departments to keep all ancient records. The South Australian Government has established an archives department; and so, I understand, have the ‘South African and Canadian Governments. Every government should do so. Informative official records cannot be allowed to pile up year after year on departmental shelves, for the space is needed for current returns of one kind and another. Some system should be evolved for supervising the selection of historical documents so that we may be assured that all necessary data will be available for those who wish to explore any aspect of our national development. For a time the Commonwealth took over the publication of the Historical Records of New South Wales, and appointed Dr. Watson to edit them. Unfortunately the financial depression terminated the publications and the editorship was allowed to lapse. This work is an essential part of a national library. We cannot claim to be ordinary civilized people unless we show a deep interest in the preservation of the records of our country.
Our ultimate idea should- be the setting up of a library along the lines of the Congressional Library of the United States of America. In that collection literature of every description is available. The system of the library is thoroughly efficient and the beauty of the great building in which it is housed is wonderful. We cannot, at present, contemplate anything on that scale, but we should work towards that end. When- 1 visited Washington I tested the efficiency of the library by calling for a particular book dealing with Australia, and in an incredibly short space of time it was obtained from some, millions of books, pamphlets, &c, in. the collection and placed in my hands.
That library is, of course, intended for those who can make use of it ‘by personal attendance. I do not know whether it is in anyway a circulating library.
I come now to the relationship of our Library to the general public. At present the people of Canberra have access to the Library under certain conditions; but this privilege will have to be reviewed in the light of experience. Books which are constantly needed by honorable members cannot, for instance, be allowed to go into general circulation. If a circulating library is desired reference ‘books will have to be duplicated, and so will certain text-books and standard works which must be always available to honorable members. I think that a circulating library should be available to the people on the easiest possible terms, and I endorse what has been done so far in that direction, but we cannot permit valuable copies of Australiana to be removed from safe custody. I know that the officers of the Library take proper care of all our works of that description.
asked the committee to give him some practical guidance as to future policy. In my opinion we should continue, for the time being, what we are now doing. Our Library should remain in its present charge, but as soon as practicable, proper accommodation should be provided so that the numerous valuable books, pictures and other works of art and historical mementoes which we now hold may bc made accessible to the public. If the treasures of this description that we now possess were properly housed and displayed,- other people would be stimulated to make presentations to the Library. I will give an illustration of the kind of thing that happens. Some time ago I undertook to deliver an address on the discovery of the Darling Downs, and I naturally made a thorough examination of all the data available. I searched such historical records as were available and also inspected many photographs and paintings; but I wa3 amazed to find that the authorities did not know of the presence in Australia of any oil painting of Allan Cunningham, one of the greatest scientists and explorers in the history of the Commonwealth. The only likeness of him that I could discover was an engraving. I made a statement to this effect in my address, and afterwards Mr. S. G. Stephens, of Toowoomba, came up to me and said : “You are in error about Allan Cunningham. We have an oil painting of him at home.” I said “ Why not give it to the National Library?” The gentleman said “No, I cannot do that because of the sentiment attached to the painting.” In 1927, at the celebration of the centenary of the discovery of the Darling Downs, I delivered another address on the subject, and the gentleman of whom I have spoken came forward with the oil painting of Allan Cunningham, beautifully mounted in a silky oak box, and presented it to the National Library. The picture was sent to the Sydney Art Gallery and renovated. It proved to be an original painting of very great historical value. I believe that if our National Library were properly housed other valuable paintings and records would be presented to it. Allan Cunningham died of illness resulting from his travels at a comparatively early age, having sacrificed his life in doing exploratory and scientific work for his country. .
We must continue the work which we are now carrying out successfully. There is no need for any extravagant expense at the present time, and we should continue to collect historical documents, papers and gifts, always .keeping in mind the ultimate goal. The Government should not be too parsimonious in spending money on the purchase of historical records and on the erection of buildings in which they may be safely preserved for the benefit of the Australian nation. [Quorum formed.’]
– We are indebted to the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) for the report which he has placed before us this morning in his capacity of Chairman of the Library Committee, and I personally appreciate very much his action in having had placed into my hands a copy of that portion of the report dealing with the Library. Our Parliamentary Library is a great asset, greater than I think many of us appreciate. We must decide what is to be the future method of developing the Library, whether it should be a library simply for parliamentary purposes and for occasional reference on the part of government departments, whether it should be a combined Parliamentary and National Library, or whether wc should have a National Library quite distinct from the Parliamentary Library. If we endeavour to keep the Library purely as a parliamentary library for the convenience of honorable members and government departments, we shall take away the privileges that are now being granted to tho people of Canberra generally, including students and others who are permitted to make use of this excellent Library. I think that the second alternative, which is to combine the Parliamentary and National Libraries, is the best. That, of course, is my own opinion, because I have not had an opportunity to consult the other members of my party on the subject. The second alternative is whether the permanent organization of the Parliamentary Library should make provision for a National Library in which the parliamentary section will be a specialized phase. We could adopt that alternative without necessarily involving the Government in. any great expense for the time being. We could proceed slowly along those lines until the finances permitted of more rapid progress. We can dispense with the third alternative altogether, because with two separate institutions, two staffs would be required and, that, of course, would add greatly tothe expense. In addition, it would be necessary to duplicate many books, and that, of course, would be impossible in some instances, because of the rarity of volumes. At present the National section of the Library is supplementary to the Parliamentary Library, but as time goes on the position is likely to be reversed. I, therefore, support the second proposal put forward by the Library Committee.
– With other honorable members I express my pleasure at the action of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) in submitting to honorable members several proposals in connexion with the Library. The honorable member also referred to the report of the Public Service Commissioner respecting the departments of the Parliament. My opinion has always been that the Public Service Commissioner should control the officers of the Parliament as well as the other members ofthe Public Service. While other departments are under the control of the Speaker and the President, anomalies are likely to creep in, and the officers may receive better or worse treatment than other public servants according to the rjredilections of the Presiding Officers for the time being. The officers of this Parliament are Commonwealth public servants, and should be under the control of the Public Service Commissioner.
With regard to the Library, I, like the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), support the second alternative, which is to carry on the National Library in conjunction with the Parliamentary Library. As parliamentarians, we should have ready access to the Library; and I regret that one portion of it, which is situated in the basement, is practically inaccessible, mainly on account of its darkness. That section contains classical novels and other literature which should be readily accessible to honorable members. As far as possible, the public should be admitted to the Library so long as no interference is occasioned to the studies of members. I have no wish to be selfish in the matter; hut the Library provides a secluded corner for any member who wishes to read. There are few quiet spots in this building, except, of course, in the Ministers’ rooms.
– There are fewer interruptions in the Library than in the Ministers’ rooms.
– It is an excellent practice to allow the members of the public to have access to the Library on Saturday mornings. When Canberra is a capital in fact as well as in name, a number of honorable members may reside here. Those of us who spend our week-ends in Canberra are utterly at a loss after attending church on Sunday mornings to know what to do with ourselves, and the place could be made less miserable if an officer were placed in charge of the Parliamentary Library, say, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, so that honorable members may have access to it. No doubt, many members of the parliamentary staff would be pleased to carry out this work for additional pay. In the Parliamentary Library of Western Australia, there is no actual librarian as such.The Clerk of the Parliament acts as librarian, and the members have free access to the Library. They are, as it were, on parole. The loss of books has not been heavy; in fact, the cost of replacement represents but a small fraction of the cost of keeping an official library staff. I do not suggest that we should follow that system in Canberra, but I think that the Library should be placed at the disposal of honorable members on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I hope that even when the National Library is established, we shall never be compelled to leave this building in order to obtain the books or literature that we require.
Sitting suspended from12.45 to2.15 p.m.
- Mr. Speaker (Mr. Mackay) has submitted to the committee a statement in which he asks for guidance as to the future of the Parliamentary Library and its association with the National Library that has been in contemplation from the inception of federation, and honorable members have expressed appreciation of and satisfaction at his action. While I at all times applaud presiding officers or ministers who furnish the Parliament with the fullest information concerning their administration, I confess that I am at a loss to understand why Mr. Speaker has asked for directions in this case. The part to be played by the National Library has surely been more clearly defined1 than has any other phase of public administration. At the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901, the government of the day obtained the opinions of tho leading librarians of Australia regarding the basis of the Parliamentary Library and the features that should be associated with it. These opinions were considered by the Joint Library Committee in 1903, and Mr. Speaker Holder, as chairman, submitted to the Parliament a report, paragraph 1 of which, I contend, clearly defines the attitude to be adopted. That paragraph states -
The committee has realized that the duties entrusted to it hy the Houses of the Federal Parliament are of the utmost importance, as it has looked forward to the probability of the establishment of a federal public library, of which the Parliamentary Library will be only one department.
There is nothing ambiguous or indefinite about that. lt clearly lays down the lines that this committee, which was entrusted with the task of framing a definite policy, considered should be followed in connexion with the establishment of a National Library and its association with the Parliamentary Library. The report goes on to say - lt is also impressed with the importance of securing and preserving all works and documents connected with the discovery, settlement, and early history of the various States of the Commonwealth, and their attainment of responsible government, as well as their aspirations after federation, including also all records relating to the establishment of the Commonwealth itself.
That, however, is not the only circumstance which points the way to what was contemplated. In 1907, the Joint Library Committee submitted a report of the progress that had been made in conforming to what had been laid down as essential conditions. It states -
At present it is in its infancy, but the Library Committee is keeping before it the ideal of building up, for the time when Parliament shall bc established in the Federal Capital, a great public library on the lines of the world-famed Library of Congress at Washington; such a library, indued, as shall be worthy of the Australian nation; the home of the literature, not of a State, or of a period, but of the world, and of all time; a. centre to which may gravitate, as years pass manuscripts and other documents and records of all kinds whatever, relating to the discovery, colonization, history, and development of Australia and its adjacent regions; a shrine wherein all literary treasures may be suitably preserved, to which public funds and private benefactors may all contribute.
That is further confirmation of the Parliament’s determination in regard to the basis upon which the National Library should be established. During my term as Speaker I regarded it as my duty to build on the edifice that was in course of erection. One of my regrets was that it was impossible to have tho National Library housed in its own premises during that period.
The passage of the Petherick Collection Act, the purchase of the Cook manuscripts and the. enactment of certain provisions in the copyright law under which the Library should receive from time to time Australian publications, surely sot the seal on the course that was to be adopted in the development of this essential requirement of the National Capital. A further proof of the Parliament’s intention is to be found iu the report and minutes of evidence of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, on the erection of a building at Canberra to accommodate the National Library, and for other purposes, presented as late as 1925. In view of all these facts, the request of Mr. Speaker for guidance is beyond my comprehension. As the procedure originally laid down has been adopted for years, it would be fatal to the best interests of the Library if we were to make a departure from it at this stage. It has been definitely determined that the Library shall conform to the plan adopted in Washington. It is not possible to house in one building the National Library and the Parliamentary Library. The conditions under which valuable volumes are stored in the basement of this building are a perfect disgrace. The purpose of the Western Secretariat, when erected, was to house the National Library, and the Library Committee waived its right to the building only in order to meet the accommodation requirements of the government of the day, and on the definite promise that it would be made available at the earliest possible moment for the housing of volumes, documents, and other treasures connected with the National Library. Although it is not possible to utilize Parliament House for the purpose, it is most desirable that the National Library should not be controlled separately from the Parliamentary Library, because if isessential for the contents of the National Library to be readily available to this
Parliament and its members. The adoption of a different line of policy from what has been followed for a period of more than 32 years would be in the nature of a putting back of the clock. While Mr. Speaker may be Gommended for having informed the committee of the essential features connected with the establishment of the National Library in the Federal Capital, and the position that it should occupy in conjunction with the Parliamentary Library, I cannot countenance disturbance of the policy that has already been followed. Additional accommodation for the National Library should be provided as quickly as possible. The valuables at present stored in this building should he accommodated in a way that would do credit to the Parliament, and show respect for those who from time to time have generously contributed to the National Library. The work of erecting a suitable building to house our splendid National Library has been delayed too long, and I regret the intervention of the years of depression which deprived me of the opportunity to bring about the consummation of the policy which was laid down by that far-seeing committee in 1903.
I feel impelled to express my appreciation of the loyal and efficient service that was rendered by the Librarian and his staff. Parliament is fortunate indeed in having such courteous and capable officials, who have done much to mould our Library on proper lines. Because of their diligence and devotion to duty, their services assume a truly national significance. I am glad that when I was Speaker and Chairman of the Library Committee the idea was conceived of making the Library available to the citizens of Canberra, but I take no credit for having evolved the idea. All credit is due to the Parliamentary Librarian, Mr. Binns, for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration, and his staff. It would surprise honorable members if they were to visit the House on a Saturday morning and see the extent to which the citizens of Canberra avail themselves of this privilege, in connexion with which the additional services so freely and cheerfully rendered by the staff are, perhaps, not properly appreciated. 1 urge the committee not to destroy the effect of the good work that has been already accomplished, but to assist the Library Committee steadily to press on towards the consummation of the original idea of suitably housing the National Library. In this regard, I am afraid that the action of Mr. Speaker leans rather to procrastination than to progression.
– The honorable member has completely misunderstood the position, for he is really enunciating desires which I have already expressed. However, I could not make a satisfactory explanation by interjection.
– It is easy for the honorable gentleman to claim that I have misinterpreted his remarks, and that an interjection by him would not clarify the position. I invite him to amplify his statement and prove that it is not his desire to depart from the policy that was laid down in 1903. Again I urge honorable members to give effect to that policy and provide suitable accommodation for the treasures which, almost to our discredit, now lie hidden in the basement of the House.
. - I cannot see much difference between the points of view that have been expressed by Mr. Speaker (Mr. Mackay) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), who is to be commended for having giventhe committee the history of this matter. The honorable member was assured by interjection that Mr. Speaker was in agreement with his desire to press forward with the scheme for housing the National Library. However, Mr. Speaker is charged with certain responsibilities, and, realizing that the time has arrived for a decision to be made, he has submitted a report on the subject so that honorable members may debate it and determine whether it would be wise to carry out the original intention in its entirety. It is clear, from the excellent speech that was made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that he is in favour of continuing with the policy that was originally formulated. In that respect he is more or less in agreement with Mr. Speaker.
– Has not Mr. Speaker intimated that there should he a deviation from the original policy?.
– I do not think so. He merely questions the desirability of incurring too heavy an expenditure at this juncture. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) pointed’ out, the subject, inadvertently, has not been placed before Cabinet for decision, so that he was not in a position to communicate to honorable members the intention of the Government. In the circumstances every honorable member of the Government, including myself, is expressing his own opinions on this important matter. As one who finds a great deal of enjoyment in books, I agree with every word that has been said regarding the value of the Parliamentary Library, which compares favorably with any other in the world. The efficiency and courtesy of its staff are commendable. I am prepared to support any reasonable proposal to extend the good work that the Library is doing and to add to its importance.
– I direct attention to the poor quality of the printing of the proof copies of Hansard supplied to honorable members. Our speeches are sympathetically, generously, and commendably ‘reported by the members of the Hansard staff, but the printed copies of the Hansard are a poor sample. Frequently one page will be well printed and the next page almost illegible, even in the best of light. Surely this could be remedied without much expense. I notice that Hansard costs about £11,000 per annum. I question whether we are getting full value for the expenditure. It would certainly make for economy if honorable members’ speeches could be printed in a concise and epitomized form. This practice has been followed by the House of Commons for many years, and a measure of economy might be effected in this direction.
I wish also to complain about the travelling facilities provided for honorable members who are required to travel from southern States to Canberra. An amount of £26,500 is provided for this purpose. Unless honorable members travel’ by the train which arrives in Canberra on the first sitting day of the week they are very poorly served. Usually a composite carriage is attached to one of the trains which leave Albury; and when it reaches Goulburn, an honorable member who escapes being awakened by a railway official is certain to be aroused by the bumping- he gets through the shunting of the carriage in the railway yard. This is very far from comfortable. Several honorable gentlemen have spoken of the attractions of the National Capital. I suggest that they turn their attention to the provision of reasonable travelling facilities to and from Canberra. Overseas visitors to Australia usually voyage in luxurious steamers, but when they are required to travel on the New South Wales railways to Canberra on any day except the first parliamentary sitting day of the week they are provided with what are affectionately called dog boxes. If representations were made to the New South Wales railway authorities for an improvement of the existing travelling facilities, I feel sure that better arrangements could be made. Otherwise, we must submit to hearing visitors to this city declare that they will never again travel to Canberra until they can come by road-
.- I direct attention to the very poor quality of our parliamentary stationery generally and of the adhesive qualities of the envelopes particularly. A great deal of inconvenience and loss of time is caused to honorable members because it is impossible for them properly to seal their correspondence.
– It is also true that letters can be read without the formality of extracting them from the envelopes.
– In view of the fact that honorable members are obliged to despatch numerous cheques as donations to charity and other organisations in their electorates there is a need for privacy. If the Government Printer would communicate with the firm of Woods Proprietary Limited, in the division of East Sydney, he would be able to obtain particulars of a first quality adhesive that could be used in place- of the very poor adhesive at present being used. It is most annoying to find that after envelopes have been sealed they become unsealed because the quality of the gum used on them is of such an inferior quality. It should be possible for those concerned to- provide better Stationery than that which is at present made available to us. The stationery of many local governing bodies is superior to that, of this Parliament. I sincerely hope that steps will be taken to remedy my complaint.
– I deeply sympathize with the complaint of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. E. Harrison) regarding travelling facilities to and from Canberra. I believe it would pay the Government even now to abandon this place, and remove the Seat of Government to some place closer to a real centre of population.
– This is a beautiful city.
– It may be beautiful, but it is expensive, and these are not tho times for spending money on luxuries.
– Did not a committee, of which the honorable member was chairman, report adversely on the proposal to construct a railway from. Yass to Canberra ?
– It did, because the cost of the railway would have been excessive, and the return would not have been sufficient to pay for the axle grease used. The cost of living is far too high in Canberra. There is no reason why. it should be so much higher than in the other capital cities of the Commonwealth. But, when we consider that there is a change in the control of the railway when it passes through Queanbeyan, and that separate way-bills are necessary, and excessive charges are imposed in respect of goods brought into this city, it is under.standable that certain costs are high. Some time ago the bakers and milkmen of Queanbeyan were not allowed to trade in Canberra, with the result that a 4-lb. loaf of bread costs ls., and a quart of milk 8d. I suppose public officials are not so much concerned about this, because they receive a cost-of-living allowance; but I submit that the cost of living should not be much, if any, higher here than in other capital cities of Australia. I suppose the Commonwealth Parliament will now meet here for all time. It is therefore highly desirable that everything possible should be done to reduce the cost of living. I cannot see why fruit-growing should not be encouraged in this district; but apparently nearly all the fruit consumed here is brought in from outside. I urge the Government to consider ways and means of reducing living costs in Canberra.
– I support the complaint of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) about the poor quality of the stationery supplied to honorable members. From, time to time I have compared the quality of the stationery supplied to us with that supplied to members of the State Parliament, and in every instance I have found that ours is Inferior. Many municipal and shire councils provide far better stationery than that provided for our use. It is most annoying to honorable members to find that letters which have been placed in envelopes and sealed ready for despatch frequently come open again before they reach the post office. Although we have a standing committee to deal with this matter, it seems that complaints made to that committee are disregarded. I therefore trust that this reference to the subject will bear better fruit. I suppose that if we compared the cost of parliamentary stationery with that of stationery supplied to other establishments, we should find that we were paying as much for our inferior article. If, upon inquiry, that is found to be so, the orders for parliamentary stationery should be placed elsewhere.
.- Last year, the salaries of three doorkeepers in the King’s Hall amounted to £900. Those men have since been transferred to the housekeeping and cleaning staff. This year, the amount set down in the Estimates for three door-keepers is £764, and I should like to know whether the three attendants stationed in the King’s Hall have suffered reductions of pay ?
.- I notice from the Estimates that almost every parliamentary officer has suffered a reduction of salary. In the case of the higher paid officers, the reduction is about £30 per annum. I should like to know whether there has been a reclassification of the positions of parliamentary officers, because, according to the Estimates, there seems to have been a general lowering of the wage and salary standard in the departments of the Parliament.
.- The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) has referred to Ilansard, and I also take this opportunity to refer to the reporting side of the compilation of Hansard. Some months ago, an officer of the Public Service Board was requested to inquire into the conditions of the parliamentary staffs with a view to bringing about economies, and he was engaged upon that task for about six months. He submitted a report to the Speaker, and when that honorable gentleman subsequently brought it down to the House, he was not very enthusiastic about the various recommendations contained in it. In fact, he and the President, after consultation, could find little or no virtue in any of them, with the exception of those relating to the Hansard staff. In accordance with the report, a position which became vacant on the staff because of the retirement, of one of the officers was not filled, although for many years previously the staff had remained at full strength. Honorable members generally are fully aware of the nature of the work of the Hansard staff. At present, five reporters are employed in the House of Representatives, and four in the Senate, and when one House only is sitting, the full staff is engaged in reporting it under a roster system. These men are highly trained and efficient. They have to be capable officers in order to obtain their positions. After taking quarter-hour turns in the chamber, their notes arc read to typists and the necessary corrections subsequently made in the transcript. It is in the hands of honorable members to facilitate the work of the reporters by making their notes available to them, but I am afraid, that some of us are not too willing to help them in that respect. That, of course, hampers their work. I understand that the staff has been shortened by way of experiment, and I should think that sufficient time has elapsed to enable Mr. Speaker to call for a report on the question whether the re- duction of the staff has been false economy, and has impaired the high literary standard which has hitherto been evident in the compilation of Hansard, and whether the present members of the staff are being overworked.
.- Several honorable members have complained about the quality of the parliamentary stationery. I have brought this matter under the notice of the Government Printer, and he has explained that the present contract is just about to expire, and when it does, honorable members will have little cause for complaint, in respect of both the quality and gumming of the stationery.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has asked for information respecting the salaries of the door-keepers in the King’s Hall. Originally, Mr. Pettifer wa,s the head door-keeper, and as such, had a higher classification than the other door-keepers. Recently, that officer was appointed housekeeper. The position of head door-keeper has since been, abolished, .and the three- officers in attendance in the King’s Hall are now on the one classification.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has asked whether there has been a reclassification affecting t]] e salaries of parliamentary officers. There has been no re-classification, but there has been a reduction of £30 in the salaries not only of the parliamentary staff, but also of the public servants generally, due to successive falls in the cost of living.
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has referred to the Hansard staff. It will be remembered that some years ago, two parliamentary committees were appointed, and that it was necessary to make reporters available for the taking of evidence whenever necessary. At that time the Hansard staff consisted of thirteen members. Since then there have been two retirements - those _ of Mr. Admans and Mr. Robinson. There has been no suggestion of any shortage, of staff. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter has informed me that if both Houses sit for long hours the present staff may find difficulty in giving adequate service, but he was quite satisfied to give the reduced staff a trial. If it is found that the work of reporting is suffering because of the reduction of staff, honorable members can rest assured that another reporter will be engaged.
– Why not dispense with all-night sittings?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has referred to the Library, and I am quite sure that he intended his remarks to be courteous and helpful. I suggest that if he reads my speech as recorded in Hansard, he will find that there is no difference of opinion between us. I particularly drew attention in my remarks to the formation of the Library in the early stages and the trouble and expense that was occasioned to the Government in order to ensure the establishment of the Library on right lines. I also drew attention to the fact that that action had been reaffirmed on two subsequent occasions. I brought this matter before honorable members to-day so that they might realize the extent of the development of the Library, and the absolute necessity for additional buildings and an increase of staff. I thought it my duty to bring this matter before the House now, so that in two or three years’ time, when it becomes necessary to ask the Parliament for a considerably increased expenditure in connexion with the Library, it will not be said that honorable members should have been informed earlier of the necessity for increasing the expenditure of the Library.
– Did the honorable member suggest any alteration of or diversion from the original project?
– No. That is a matter entirely for the decision of the Parliament. The honorable member has suggested that this is a matter for the Library Committee, but I suggest that that committee is the creature of the Parliament, and the Parliament must approve of any expenditure in connexion with the Library.
– Has the Library Committee considered the matter?
– The matter which I have brought upto-day has not been considered by the Library Committee. The honorable member, as an ex-Speaker, is fully aware of the congestion that exists in the Parliamentary Library. There are tens of thousands of books stored inthe basement; about 25,000 books are stored on the floor of Acton Hotel, and a considerable number are stored at Duntroon. I am aware that the Government has voted £10,000 for a building which, when erected, will relieve some of the congestion; but that will be only a temporary expedient. Like other honorable members, I hope thatample accommodation will be provided for the Library in the near future. I submitted copies of my remarks to the representatives of the Government and the leaders of the various parties in this chamber in order that the urgency of the position would be realized. I am pleased that the discussion has taken place, and my only regret is that the honorable member for Hindmarsh misunderstood my intention.
.- I do not yet clearly understand the position with respect to the door-keepers in the King’s Hall. The difference between the amount provided last year and that provided this year is £136, although the amount involved in abolishing the position of head door-keeper is only £36, leaving a discrepancy of £100 to be accounted for.
. -There has been no reduction of salaries. It is not within our province to reduce the salaries of parliamentary officers, except by a reclassification of their positions. The discrepancy to which the honorable member has referred can be accounted for by the fact that Mr. Pettifer, as head door-keeper, enjoyed a higher classification than the other door-keepers, and that the fall in the cost of living has resulted in an automatic reduction of the salaries of all officers of the Public Service.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed vote, £307,550.
.- If there is truth in one-half of the information that has been given to me on behalf of small companies that have been established with the object of reducing the price of petrol in Australia, concerning the tactics adopted by one of the major oil companies, the scope of the Petrol
Commission should be widened. I am told that there are no written agreements, that everything is verbal, and that the major companies merely consult their own convenience. If the independent companies are wiped out, the price of petrol is bound to rise. I hope that the matter will he inquired into before harm is done.
– There are a number of items in this department concerning which we should like to be furnished with more detailed information. The sum of £600 is provided for fees for free courses at universities. I should be pleased to learn what courses are provided, who undergo them, and what purpose is served.
Provision is made for the payment of salaries of officers of the High Commissioner’s Office on retirement leave, and payments in lieu, to the amount of £826. To whom have those payments been made? Freight and cartage, including removal expenses, are provided for to the amount of £1,192. “Where has that expenditure been incurred? The allowance for expenses to the Minister without Portfolio in London is set clown at £1,328. Is that in addition to the allowance ordinarily provided for the upkeep of this position ?
The salary of the liaison officer in London is £582, and ho is also to receive a special allowance of £200. Who at present fills this office? No appropriation is proposed on account of the Official Secretary and Financial Adviser to the High Commissioners’ Office, although the vote under this heading last year was £2,000. What is the reason?
– Mr. Collins has retired.
– The appropriation on account of freight and cartage, including removal expenses, in connexion with the office of the Commissioner-General in the United States of America, is to be £600. I should like an explanation of this item, and a number of other rather heavy items of expenditure in this office.
– Regulations governing the appointment of officers under the Public Service Board invariably are strictly observed, but on one occasion recently they were set aside, and the Common wealth Public .Service Artisans Association has asked me to raise the question in this chamber. The position of Works Supervisor, Sydney, was filled without the vacancy being advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette, or applications being invited from officers already in the Service who possess the necessary qualifications. Many men holding inferior positions attend technical schools to fit themselves for higher posts when vacancies arise. The Common.wealth Gazette is the only medium through which they may learn of the existence of vacancies, and if positions are not thus advertised they are denied the opportunity to make application for appointment to them. In the case to which I have referred, a first-class carpenter who has attended higher technical schools in New South Wales, has obtained master builders’ certificates, and is in every way thoroughly qualified, was debarred from applying because the usual practice was not observed. I register a protest against what has been done, and trust that notice will be taken of it.
Offensive Personalities in Debate - Arbitration Court Delays - Christmas Relief Work for Women - East-West Railway : NARETHA Quarry.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale PARKHILL proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Last night, in Committee of Supply, certain remarks which the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and I made were considered objectionable by the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bell), and -were withdrawn, but contrary to the recently announced decision of Mr. Speaker (Mr. Mackay), were not expunged from the proof report of the parliamentary debates. I desire to know whether the decision is to stand, that no record shall be kept of remarks that have to be withdrawn. It will be remembered that members of this party were opposed to any interference by the Chair with the recording of the proceedings of Parliament. Since then certain happenings have been expunged from Hansard, and
I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Chair to discriminate as to what shall or shall not be expunged, or, whether on every occasion that a withdrawal has been asked for and made, all reference to the incident is to be excluded from the parliamentary records.
– Some weeks ago I proposed, with the concurrence of honorable members, to omit from Hansard all record of disorderly remarks which had been withdrawn, as I believed that to be desirable in the interests of Parliament. If honorable members are dissatisfied with the proposal I shall accede to their wishes, but I strongly advise them to accept the suggestion. I assure the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that at no time can it be truly said that I am guilty of unfair discrimination. I read the report of last night’s proceedings, and have asked the Principal Parliamentary Reporter to omit certain sections of it. As the disorderly proceedings lasted for some little time, the possibility of leaving a hiatus in the report presented a little difficulty which has -now been overcome. As the decision rests with honorable members, I shall be glad to know whether honorable members desire to accept, my recommendation.
– I have been asked by representatives of various organizations to draw attention to the slowness of the Federal Arbitration Court in hearing applications for the restoration of the 10 per cent, reduction in wages. It will be remembered that, when it was considered desirable to make that reduction, the court worked at full pressure, and, by dealing generally with applications, enabled the lower rates to be brought speedily” into effect. Now that there has been a move in the other direction, the court,- for some reason or other, has shown an irritating slowness in hearing applications for a restoration of the cut. I do not wish to say anything disparaging about the judges, who are personally known to me, and for whom I have the highest respect; but. I point out that they ;ire always pleased to receive advice from the Government;. After all, they arn public servants just as much as are the members of the Public Service Board, and on previous occasions, through the medium of the Attorney-General, they have been pleased to accept suggestions. I have been endeavouring to obtain information which will enable me accurately to determine the relative speed with which applications have been dealt with during the last three months as compared with the earlier periods, and my conclusion is that fewer cases are now being dealt with. Largely because of the very proper action of the Federal Government in making a partial restoration of wages, it is recognized that the last possible vestige of reason against the restoration of the 30 per cent, reduction of wages has vanished. Therefore, . as the beam has turned in favour of the employees, to the extent that employers and public bodies now refuse to take advantage of wage reductions, everything should be done to expedite their return to former standards, so that they may be given greater incentive to spend more freely and stimulate business. My request is in every way reasonable, and I believe that it has the sympathy of the Government. A general case should be presented to the court so that the restoration of the 10 per cent, reduction should be made automatically to all employees.
– In a few words T shall give a striking example of what happened recently in New South Wales because of the failure of the Arbitration Court to deal with a long-standing application for a restoration of the 10 per cent, cut in wages. The officers of the Wool and Basil Workers Union, which recently was involved in an industrial dispute, attributed their trouble to the procrastination of the court, which had held up their application for eighteen months. After repeated endeavours to have the case determined, and earnest attempts to bring about conferences to discuss the matter, the employees were forced to take drastic action. I was not in close contact with the progress of the dispute, but, in common with other honorable members, I read the press statements which referred to it, and concluded that the basis of the trouble was that which has been referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway).
When the “10 per cent, reduction of wages was made, the Arbitration Court promptly dealt with every group in industry, and expedited the application of the cut. Now, when a reverse situation has occurred, all sorts of obstacles have boon placed iu the way of a restoration of wages, and organizations are finding it extremely difficult to get their applications before the court. Within the last three weeks an officer of an organization, the name of which I shall not mention, informed roe that, after exhaustively preparing and presenting the case for the union, he has been made to wait month after mouth for a decision. The presiding judges have advanced no reason for the delay, but have simply kept the organization in suspense. It is only natural that fault will be found with our method of wage adjustment unless it operates fairly to both parties. When wages were showing a downward trend, reductions were made by the wage-fixing authorities, without even hearing evidence, simply on the variation of the national income, and with a total disregard to the circumstances . of the workers. Now that there is an upward trend it is only reasonable that the tribunal should work just a3 rapidly and by the same method. The placing of any obstacle in the way of the hearing of claims for increased wages will, without doubt, bring the whole arbitration system into disrepute. I think honorable members will agree, irrespective of their party political views, that the practice followed by the court when reducing wages in conformity with the Premiers plan should now be continued in the opposite direction when circumstances have changed and increases in the rates of wages are fully justified.
I wish to refer briefly to the proposal to expunge certain matter from Hansard. I suggest that the parties concerned should be consulted before any deletions are made from the records. Probably the Principal Parliamentary Reporter could adjust matters as between the members concerned. Technically, of course, it would need to be done by you, Mr. Speaker, but I do not wish to worry you with the details. I understand that 3,000 proof copies of last night’s proceedings will be distributed and a good deal of publicity will be given to the whole incident before any adjustment can be made with the consent of honorable members concerned.
.- I realize that difficulties will inevitably occur in regard to any censorship of the Hansard report of our proceedings. I realize that probably a good deal of the matter which appears in Hansard could be left out without great injustice to anybody; but there is some apprehension in the minds of honorable members that you, sir, will find yourself in grave difficulties if you have to determine what shall be left out and what shall be left in the report. I think that you will find that without the collaboration of honorable members concerned in particular incidents, a satisfactory censorship will be quite impossible. Any deletions from speeches should have the approval of the honorable gentlemen concerned. I earnestly suggest that you should confer with honorable members before any censorship is made of offensive remarks. I wish to ask now what is to be done in regard to the whole of the report of the incidents that occurred in last night’s debate. I am not very much concerned whether the incident is expunged or not, but if any part of .the report is retained the whole of it should be retained. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that according to the official report the Chairman at one stage said: “The honorable member for East Sydney did not ask for an apology. “
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in referring in the House to something that occurred in committee.
– I do not propose to do so, except to make a passing reference. Subsequently the Chairman said : “ The honorable member for East Sydney asked for a withdrawal and apology. “ The Chairman did not make the amende honorable -
– Order ! The honorable member knows thoroughly well that lie cannot be allowed to proceed along those lines. He is taking a liberty which cannot be permitted.
– All I desire to know, Mr. Speaker, is whether you propose to expunge the record of the whole incident, including the contradictory statements of the Chairman.
– I take exception to the deletion of any part of the report except by special resolution of the House. It would place too much power in your hands, Mr. Speaker, to give you authority to determine what shall or shall not be eliminated from the speeches of honorable members. You said in your reply to the question of the honorable member for East Sydney that after perusing the report of last night’s proceedings you had authorized the deletion of certain parts of it. You, sir, were not present in the committee when the incident happened, and it would therefore be very difficult for you to know which were the really offensive remarks. The reading of the cold Hansard type cannot bring to life the heat of the moment. Surely honorable members have some rights in a matter of this kind. If honorable gentlemen call one another by nasty names or use unparliamentary language, they should have to carry the’ responsibility for doing so. The general electors regard Hansard as a true record of the proceedings in this Parliament, and if the report is censored in any way it obviously will not be a true record. If eliminations are made from the report it will be farcical to call it a full record. I direct attention to the remarks made last night by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman), an eminent King’: Counsel, who said that, throughout his long parliamentary career, the practice had been that if an honorable member felt aggrieved by the remark of another honorable member he could say so and ask for it to be withdrawn. But the honorable gentleman went on to say that only the person to whom a remark was personally applied could say whether it was offensive or not, and therefore only he had the right to ask for its withdrawal. That suggests to me that honorable gentlemen could claim that the most inoffensive remarks were offensive. For instance, I might call the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) an intellectual giant and he might take exception to such an untruthful remark, and ask for it to be withdrawn. I suggest, sir, that if you set yourself the task of censoring the Hansard report, you will have great difficulty in deciding whether remarks are offensive or otherwise. I hope that if anything is eliminated from the report of last night’s episode, the whole of it will be expunged.
.- I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) yesterday gave an unsatisfactory reply to the request that I made to him for some assistance for unemployed women and girls before the Christmas season comes upon us. I now ask the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Parkhill) whether he will again bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the claims of thousands of unemployed women and girls for some consideration at the hands of the Government. If unemployed men and youths can be given relief, every section of the community which needs such assistance should be given it. The limited amount of public work which the Government proposes’ to put in hand by way of Christmas relief, will have no permanently beneficial effect. It will, however, temporarily alleviate the position, but it will benefit only the men. It may be said that it is the responsibility of the State Governments to provide unemployment relief; but as the Commonwealth Government has assumed some responsibility in respect of men, it cannot consistently leave necessitous women and girls entirely out of consideration. I urge the Government to provide some money for State Governments or local governing bodies to spend in this way so that the Christmas season may be brightened to a slight extent for these unfortunate women.
– I have listened carefully to the remarks of various honorable members regarding the elimination of objectionable remarks from Hansard. I realized from the beginning that sooner or later difficulty would arise in determining what should be omitted from or included in the official report. My object in suggesting that objectionable remarks which were subsequently withdrawn should be eliminated was to discourage honorable gentlemen from making such remarks. I think that the solution I have arrived at in connexion with last night’s incident will be satisfactory to honorable members generally, though it may not go so far as some other honor- able gentlemen would like it to go. However, I do not wish to place myself in the position of being the censor of the official report of the proceedings of this Parliament. Four honorable gentlemen have objected to my suggestion for the elimination of certain passages from last night’s report, and none have spoken in favour of it. Am I to take it that these four honorable gentlemen have expressed the mind of honorable members generally?
– By no means.
– In that case the whole subject had better be revived on a later occasion. It was no pleasure to me to make the suggestion in the first place. I did it entirely in the interests of the reputation of this Parliament. I think honorable members will realize, on reflection, that it is desirable that objectionable remarks which are subsequently withdrawn should be expunged from the report.
-Could it not be done by the mutual consent of the honorable gentlemen concerned?
– I am sure that the Principal Parliamentary Reporter would be glad to meet the honorable members concerned in last night’s episode and show them the report of the proceedings. I think that it would meet with their approval.
– I should object to that being done.
– Perhaps on future occasions arrangements can also be made for that to be done.
.I bring under the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) the following letter which I have received from the Secretary of the Kalgoorlie Branch of the Returned Soldiers Association concerning work on the East-West railway : -
Some time ago the Commonwealth Bailways commenced operations at theNaretha quarry, and employed some men from this end of the line. Recently the Commonwealth accepted a contract from a Mr. Keane, of Adelaide, to do the work. Under the Commonwealth the men were receiving 12s. 7d. a day. The coiitractor is alleged to have imported a number of men from Adelaide, among the number being some Maltese, who were paid at the rate of 14s.9d.
It is said that he promised to pay the Britishers previously employed by the Commonwealth a further ls. a day in one month’s time. Thirty-five of the Britishers have left the ‘work, for, as you can readily see, the position was impossible.
One of my informants started at the quarry on the 6th October, 1932, and terminated on the 26th October, 1933, being on the job, except for a spell in hospital for a few days, for over twelve months, so he could not he called a slacker or a blow-in. Another man confirmed his statement.
It seems a pity that steps cannot be taken by the Government of the country to include in contracts a clause ensuring that employment will bo given to Britishers to the exclusion of aliens.
There are 35 Britishers out of work in Kalgoorlie and Boulder, due to the action of this contractor- I have every reason to believe that all the above is definitely true in every respect, and it seems a great pity that this district should be made to support men out of work to the benefit of South Australia, and also that Maltese can oust Britishers from employment.
This information was given to me by a man of repute in Kalgoorlie, and the result is that 35 Britishers are out of work. I shall leave the letter with the Minister, and I hope that he will inquire whether it is possible to adopt the suggestion of the secretary of the returned soldiers’ association, that a stipulation should be inserted in similar contracts that, if suitable British labour is available, it should receive preference over other labour.
.- Regarding the excision from Hansard of disorderly remarks that are withdrawn, it appears to me that occasions arise, though fortunately not very frequently, when expressions used in this chamber, and subsequently withdrawn, would be much better forgotten. No good purpose can be served by recording them in Hansard. I believe that the course which you,Mr. Speaker, have suggested will commend itself to the majority of honorable -members, although some little difficulty may be experienced in following it.
– I have no knowledge of the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), but I shall have inquiries made, and I hope to be able to give him a full reply next week.
– With great diffidence, Mr. Speaker, I point out that I do not share the opinion expressed by you as to the wisdom, of accepting the desultory discussion that has taken place this afternoon regarding excisions from Hansard, as constituting anything approaching a definite direction regarding the matter. Since the point has been raised, however, I suggest that theStanding Orders Committee be asked to make a recommendation to Parliament upon it. I shall not discuss the subject now, beyond expressing my personal opposition to the view which you intimated appeared to represent the opinion of honorable members generally. I recognize that your sole desire is to maintain decorum in the House, and all honorable members, no doubt, will bc glad to assist in that direction.
Two matters of importance have been raised.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), supported by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), referred to industrial arbitration. All I’ can promise is that I shall bring their remarks under the notice of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), and point out to him that those honorable members desire the matter to be treated as urgent. The policy of this Government is to support arbitration; and, while I do not subscribe to the view expressed as to delay, or assent to the implications which were imported into those remarks, thisGovernment is as keen as auy other ministry has been to see that fairness and justice are meted out to the workers of this country. That. is my personal wish, and I shall bring this matter before the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and particularly the Attorney-General, at the earliest opportunity.
I sympathize with the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) in his remarks concerning unemployment, because when I was a member of the Opposition I advocated on the floor of the House precisely what he has suggested this afternoon, namely, the provision of employment for girls, women and young men who are out of work. Other sections are fairly liberally catered for. I shall bring this matter also under the notice of Cabinet, but I point out to the honorable member that the Prime Minister has stated, I think, twice this week, that liberal allocations have been made to the various States of moneys to be used between now and the end of the financial year for the relief of the unemployed. He mentioned that some of the States were not spending that money so freely as had been expected, but had accumulated funds that might reasonably have been expended more rapidly, particularly as we are now approaching the Christmas season. I suggest that some steps be taken by the States and perhaps by the Commonwealth to urge that the fullest employment be given by the accelerated expenditure of this money, and by mentioning particularly the classes of work to which the honorable member has referred. The matter raised by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) is being dealt with by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– A full statement of the intentions of the Government in respect of the wheat industry will be made in the House in due course.
Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Mr. Latham (through Mr. Lyons). -Information is being obtained in reply to a series of questions asked by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), upon notice, in regard to the activities of the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
r. - The honorable member for Cook (Mr.Riley) has asked a series of questions, upon notice, in regard to war pensions. The information is being obtained, and will be supplied to the honorable member at the earliest possible moment.
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice - 1.Is he in a position to state the latest census figures, showing mules and females, separately, as on 30th . June last, for each State of the Commonwealth ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 November 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1933/19331110_reps_13_142/>.