14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the decision of the United Australia party organization in Victoria to urge the formulation of a scheme of immigration that would permit of a regular flow to Australia of immigrants, preferably of British stock, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether there is any truth in the rumour that the Government has such a proposal under consideration?
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition must be aware that matters of policy are not dealt with in reply to questions, particularly those asked without notice. I assure him, however, that if and when the Government has any proposal of the kind under consideration, it will make a pronouncement upon it to this Parliament.
– I understand that the Adelaide press this morning published the statement that there is a likelihood of a settlement being reached by the Governments of the Commonwealth and South Australia in regard to the proposal of the Commonwealth to construct a standard gauge railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill. “Will the Minister for the Interior indicate the basis of that settlement?
– A communication has been despatched to the Premier of South Australia, but he will not receive it until to-morrow morning. The honorable member must realize the inadvisability of disclosing its contents before that gentleman has had an opportunity to peruse them.
– In view of the fact that the Trans-Australia railway provides the best means of transport between Western Australia and the eastern States, will the Minister for the Interior make earnest efforts to combat the parochial and anti-Australian attitude that is being adopted by a noisy minority in South Australia and come to an agreement with that State which will provide more comfortable and rapid means of transport from Western Australia, whose citizens are at present “ bottled up “?
– Order ! Comments are not permissible in questions.
Mr. PATERSON. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie must realize that his question is better le-ft unanswered.
– Notwithstanding the statement made in the press this morning, and the assurance given by the Minister for the Interior to the honorable member for Boothby, will the honorable gentleman assure the House that observance of the terms of the agreement made between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia in 1925 will be insisted upon
– While the matter is under consideration by the two governments concerned, it would be extremely inadvisable to answer such a question.
– On Monday the Prime Minister promised that honorable members would be afforded an early opportunity to discuss the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. Will he now inform the House as to when the debate is likely to be resumed ?
– It is the intention of the Government to first pass the Supply Bill, and a measure that has for its object the making of provision for an additional paid portfolio. Consideration will then be given to certain works proposals, provision for which is being made from revenue as well as from loan funds, so that an early start can be made with them. The debate will then be resumed upon the motion for the printing of the statement that I made in connexion with the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. If honorable members expedite the passage of the works proposals, that debate may be resumed on Tuesday or, at latest, on Wednesday.
– In view of the statement that the Prime Minister has made regarding the resumption of the debate on the very important subject of our foreign relations and the threatened war, I ask whether, in order to allay public anxiety, he will at once make a declaration to the effect that Australia intends to adhere to the Kellogg Pact under which it has bound itself not to have recourse to war in any circumstances ?
– At this stage I have nothing to add to the statement I have already made on this subject. If any further circumstances arise which should be placed in the possession of honorable members the opportunity to make a statement in that regard will be taken when the debate is resumed.
– A recent issue of the Brisbane Courier-Mail contains a notification inviting tenders for the supply of certain stores for lighthouses, including margarine, meat, tea, coffee and cocoa, but not butter. In view of the large butter production in Queensland, will the Minister for Commerce explain the purpose for which margarine is supplied, and state whether separate tenders are called for the supply of butter or whether thai commodity is excluded ?
– I believe that the invitation to tender to which the honorable member has alluded is in a form that has been in existence for some years. I understand that margarine is not being supplied at. the present time.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to - That the House, at its rising, adjourn’ until Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
– I have received from the Liverpool sub-branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia a communication requesting me to demand the payment of a pension to all returned soldiers. Will the Minister for Repatriation consider the introduction of legislation designed to achieve that object?
– This question would seem to fall within the category of one dealing with a matter of policy. In any case, I could not answer it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact, as is stated in Jobson’s In/vestment Digest, that the Government has decided to take legal action against Amalgamated “Wireless (Australasia) Limited, in which it has a controlling interest. If so, is it dissatisfied with the manner in which that concern is conducting its services?
– Replying for the Minister to whom the question was addressed, in his temporary absence from the chamber, I inform the honorable member that the Government has made no decision of the nature suggested.
– Will the Minister for Health explain how he reconciles his published statement that there are no cases of rickets, and no ill-health, in the Federal Capital Territory, with that of the eminent medical practitioner, Dr. Nott, to the contrary, the X-ray photographs that that gentleman has shown me of children who have been under his care, and the undoubted evidence of malnutrition among children of the unemployed ?
– I am not called upon to reconcile what appears in the press this morning with what Dr. Nott said either some time ago or more recently. I am concerned only with the facts, and these I have endeavoured to ascertain. At my 1 request, the Director-General of Health has made a personal investigation of the matter. I have also asked him to supply what is needed in cases of malnutrition.
– In view of a statement in this morning’s Canberra Times dealing with health in the Federal Capital Territory, can the Minister for Health say that Dr. Cumpston, the
Director of the Health Department, has stated definitely that there is no case of rickets in Canberra? If so, has he no respect for the opinion of one of the best surgeons in Australia, and of Sir Colin MacKenzie who is without peer in his own sphere? Will he ask Sir Colin MacKenzie to make available to Dr. Cumpston the two films of cases of rickets in this city, and will the right honorable gentleman see that the Director-General of the Health Department gives more attention to this subject than he did when asked to examine the Spahlinger treatment of tuberculosis?
– With the best of intentions, I am afraid that I cannot give a, considered answer to the honorable member’s questions to-day. I shall, however, make inquiries from Dr. Cumpston, and give the honorable member a considered reply on the next day of sitting.
– Will the Minister for the Interior advise me as to what dole is paid in Canberra at the present time?
– I am unable at the moment to supply the honorable member with exact information, but I shall obtain it for him.
– Will the Assistant Treasurer make provision in the Sales Tax Acts for the exemption of “ freight in Australia “ in view of the fact that wholesale suppliers in country centres are taxed on the price of goods plus freight, whereas city suppliers are taxed only on the price of the goods, especially as the cost of freight in outback areas is frequently greater than the price of the goods.
– The cost of freight is eventually included in the price of the goods. When a question in similar terms was asked by the honorable member some little time ago, I thought that reform along the lines suggested might be possible, but a thorough investigation that has been made within the last six months has convinced me that greater inequalities, injustices, and inconvenience would arise under the proposed alteration, than are experienced under existing conditions.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether the Government could see its way to make the payment of the proposed fertilizer bounty on a value basis instead of at a flat rate a ton, in view of the fact that the cost of highquality fertilizer is as much as £10 and £12 a ton, whereas the normal price of superphosphate is in the region of £4 a ton? If not, would it be possible to make other provision for those who purchase high-grade fertilizer?
– The Government has given consideration to the proposal on several occasions, but it can see no reason to alter the present practice.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to state when the wireless broadcasting station at Clevedon, near Townsville, will be completed and ready for use?
– I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.
– At a Chamber of Commerce dinner held on the 31st July, the Minister for Commerce is reported to have said that there must be an alteration of monetary factors and a removal of import barriers. “Will the right honorable gentleman take the House into his confidence and say what he meant by those vague statements?
– My views in regard to the subjects mentioned have already been made clear.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether there is any truth in a statement in a section of the press to the effect that the Government intends to postpone the proposed inquiry into banking and monetary systems indefinitely because of the difficulty it is finding in securing a suitable chairman? I also desire to know whether the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the proposed terms of reference to this investigating body before they are finally settled ?
– There is no justification for the statement that the Government intends to postpone the appointment of this commission. I hope very shortly to make a pronouncement to the House as to its personnel and terms of reference. I cannot give an assurance that the terms of reference will be submitted to the House for consideration. Cabinet will have to take its own responsibility in this connexion; but I think that when the honorable member ascertains the terms of reference, he will find very little ground for complaint about them.
– Is it the intention of the Government to allow ex-soldiers who are suffering from tuberculosis, but are not in receipt of pensions, to be re-examined with a view to granting them pensions ?
-For some weeks the examination of ex-soldiers suffering from tuberculosis but not in receipt of pensions has been in progress. The Government is giving the matter consideration, and, later, the House will have an opportunity to deal with legislation concerning these men.
– . When at Tennant’s Creek recently, I found that the absence of an adequate water supply was a great handicap to the development of that field. Can the Minister for the Interior say what success has attended the efforts to find further supplies of water ?
– Pour or five bores have been put down by the Government in the vicinity of Tennant’s Creek. The first four bores sunk were more or less unsuccessful, but the fifth, which was completed within the last few days, has provided a good supply of water. Unfortunately, it is not good for drinking, although suitable for general domestic purposes and for use in batteries. Water from this bore will relieve the small supply of good drinking water obtainable at Telegraph Well.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) that he would resign his seat if not given a vote in this Parliament? Is it the intention of the Government to give the honorable member a vote so that the country may be saved the expense of a by-election?
– I am afraid that the Government is not in a position to endeavour to save the situation for the honorable member.
– During his recent trip abroad, was the AttorneyGeneral able to travel sufficiently far beyond the Scottish border to ascertain whether Gaelic is still a European language?
– Order !
Question not answered.
– Will the Attorney-General say whether his failure to reply to my question was due to professional etiquette or difficulties caused by the forms of the House?
– Order ! The honorable member knows that he may not frame a question in this way.
– If the forms of the House prevent the AttorneyGeneral from giving an opinion on the subject of my question, I now ask what it would cost me to obtain such an opinion from him otherwise?
– I should be prepared to give the honorable member an opinion at a cut rate, say, of twenty guineas.
– In view of the definite discrimination shown by the exAttorneyGeneral (Sir John Latham) in the administration of his department, will the Attorney-General say whether it is his intention-
– Order ! The honorable member, in asking a question, may not make accusations.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral say whether it is the intention of the Government to appoint Sir John Latham to the vacancy caused by the resignation of Sir Prank Gavan Duffy?
– It is, of course, the intention of the Government to fill the vacant office of Chief Justice of the High
Court. I deprecate any discussion of the supposed, or possible, choice of the Government for that office, which is the highest in the gift of the Government.
– Not quite; there is one higher office.
– The post is one which, I suggest, should be kept entirely outside the arena of party controversy.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Honorable members should extend to the Attorney-General the courtesy of listening in silence, if only that his reply may be heard by those who wish to hear it.
– When a choice is made, it will be made having regard solely to the character, judgment and legal capacity of the person to be appointed.
– That was said about Judge Jeffreys.
– If honorable members will not cease interjecting, I shall ask tlie Attorney-General not to reply further to the question.
– I have become aware of what has been said during the debate about the alleged discrimination exercised in the administration of the department which I now administer, but I have heard nothing which would suggest that there is the slightest foundation for the accusation. I go further, and say that, from my knowledge of my predecessor in the office of AttorneyGeneral - a knowledge which has been particularly close and intimate over a long period of years - I regard him as quite incapable of any form of dishonesty.
– 1$ the AttorneyGeneral in a position to say whether, as a result of his long experience at the bar, he is of the opinion that a High Court bench of five, or some other odd number, of justices is more satisfactory than an even number, in view of the frequent disagreements between members of the High Court bench? Further, is the Attorney-General yet able to inform the House whether, in his opinion, a satisfactory appointment can be made from the ranks of the present eminent gentlemen who sit on the High Court bench ?
– I am quite unable to express a personal opinion upon a matter in which my advice in the future must be given to Cabinet, and upon which the decision of the Government will be the one that will prevail.
– Is the Prime Minister of the opinion that his statement to the Manchester Evening News on the 22nd May last that “ We have been consistently following a policy of scaling down tariffs “ is calculated to inspire confidence among Australian manufacturers in the protectionist policy of the Government? Does the right honorable gentleman still believe in his further statement to the same journal - “ I think tariffs should be kept as low as possible, and all our actions show that that is what we are trying to do”?
– Both statements are consistent with what has taken place in Australia in recent times. There has been a reduction of tariffs. Duties are being brought as low as they can be, consistent with- adequate protection to Australian industries. No member of this chamber has defended Australian industries, and Australia’s fiscal policy, more definitely than I did on my visit to Manchester, and, indeed, during the whole time that I was abroad, I defended not only the action of this Government, but also the general fiscal policy of Australia, which, I said, is designed to develop and maintain its secondary industries side by side with the development of its primary industries. I have nothing to withdraw from what I said at Manchester. The Tariff Board has recommended reductions of duties consistent with the provision of adequate protection for efficient Australian industries. I believe that tariffs should be only so high as is necessary to maintain those industries which are efficiently conducted, and of real use, particularly in the direction of providing employment for Australians.
– Is it the intention of the Government to re-enact the Shale Oil Bounty Act, and, if so, will it cover oil extracted from coal under the low temperature carbonization scheme? I received a telegram this morning stating that, if that is done, a company will immediately set up a plant in the northern district of New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has already asked a question relating to the Government’s policy in regard to oil, and I had intended to make a statement on that subject to-day. I have, however, received a telegram from an organization in the Hunter district, and as I desire to take into consideration the representations made in it, I shall not make the statement until Tuesday next.
– I understand that experts of the Commonwealth Government visited Mittagong some time ago to inspect what is claimed to be a new and purely Australian invention for the extraction of oil from coal. This retort, I am informed, is operating successfully on an experimental basis. Will the Prime Minister furnish honorable members with a copy of any report that has been made on this subject?
– I shall obtain information on the subject for the honorable member.
– In view of the fact that all the tobacco consumed in the British Solomon Islands, valued at £11,495 per annum, is exported entirely from the United States of America, and that that country does not import any produce of the Solomon Islands, whereas Australia imports from that source goods to the value of £120,371 per annum, or two-thirds of the total exports from it, will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider the advisableness of entirely removing the excise duty on prospective exports of tobacco and cigarettes produced by Australian manufacturers prepared to try to capture the Solomon Islands trade? Will he also make inquiries with regard to opportunities for similar trade in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea and Papua?
– Australia would doubtless like to obtain the Pacific Island trade in tobacco, and the matter has been thoroughly investigated. It has been found, however, that the tobacco used by the natives is a black twist of a class not manufactured in Australia. Indeed, there is not available in this country labour of the kind necessary to manufacture it. In order to encourage the use of Australian dark leaf the Government has reduced the excise duty on tobacco intended to be sold to Australian aborigines. They prefer tobacco in plug form. However I shall investigate the possibility of completely lifting the excise duty on tobacco intended for the Pacific Island trade, as suggested by the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government is kept informed of the discussion and decisions of the Council of Defence? Has that council considered the possibilities of war and the question of applying conscription in Australia ? Has any decision yet been reached in this respect which is likely to affect the manhood of this country ?
– The honorable member has a question on the notice-paper on this subject which will be replied to in due course.
– During the absence of the Attorney-General, from Australia I submitted to the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) certain facts relating to an insurance company registered in the Federal Capital Territory which may fairly be termed a “ snide “ organization. These show that the company has been fleecing its shareholders. Has an investigation on this subject been completed by the officers of the department? I have received an urgent telegram this morning to the effect that the company is once more issuing writs against certain of its shareholders. I should like the AttorneyGeneral to make a statement on the subject.
– I shall be glad to investigate the subject, which has not been brought under my notice since my return. I shall make a statement in regard to it as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister in Charge of War Service Homes whether it is the intention of the Government to give effect to all the recommendations of the committee which, in 1932, inquired into the administration of war service homes with a view to writing down the cost of these homes ? A promise was made that the War Service Homes Act would be reviewed in 1935. Is it the intention of the Government to adhere to that promise?
– The recommendations of the committee which were adopted by the Government operated until the 30th June, 1935. Steps have been taken, however, to provide that they shall continue to operate until all the provisions of the War Service Homes Act can be reviewed by the Government, with the object of making any necessary alterations in the future administration of it.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 26th September (vide page 276).
Past I. - Departments and Services - Other than Business Undertakings and Territories of the Commonwealth.
Proposed vote, £1,718,550.
– The committee is considering Part I. of the Schedule, and it will be competent for honorable members to discuss any matter covered by that part.
– I wish to direct attention to certain unsatisfactory features relating to the administration of the Canberra Hospital which, I understand, is under the supervision of the Director-General of Health, Dr. Cumpston. As honorable members know, I had the experience of spending many weeks in the hospital early this year. I have nothing but the highest praise for the splendid staff of doctors, the- matron, the sisters, and the nurses of the institution. They are all fine examples of the members of their various professions, and I am happy in being able to apply to the nurses the words in which Sir Herbert Sieveking, Physician
Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, and afterwards to her son, King Edward VII.. spoke of the nursing profession -
Women who take up the God-blessed calling of nursing shorten their lives by from ten to fifteen years.
That statement was made, of course, at a time when the nurses employed at the London hospitals worked under very arduous conditions and were often supplied with inferior food. The Canberra hospital, in these matters, is the equal of any hospital in our capital cities. The staff is favoured in having available the advice of a gentleman who is peerless in his own profession. I refer to Sir Colin MacKenzie, who is always ready to help the hospital and its staff in any way. I feel justified, however, in making a serious complaint because during the coldest hours of the night the hot water service of the hospital is allowed to become useless by reason of the fact that the fire in the furnace is permitted to go out. Can honorable members imagine an uptodate hospital in these days being left without an abundant supply of hot water? As I looked around me during the time I was an inmate of the hospital, I found that if the staff required hot water during the coldest part of the night they had to have recourse to the oldfashioned kettle, and boil it over an ordinary fire. I did not make inquiries on this point, of course, for such inquiries are apt to get members of the staff into trouble. Unlimited electrical power should and could be made available to the Canberra Government Hospital for the provision of light, power and heat. In order to see how a hospital should be conducted the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, Dr. Cumpston, should visit the General Hospital at Brisbane, which has no superior in Australia, nor, I should say, in the United Kingdom; but I should advise him not to act as he did when asked to inquire into the results obtained by the Spahlinger system, for the treatment of tuberculosis in Switzerland. I understand that, without sending word of his intention, he called only once on Dr. Spahlinger, who happened to be in another part of Switzerland in pursuit of his duties. The debate upon Dr. Cumpston’s return can be readily remembered, especially the stand taken by Mr. Matthew Charlton.
The Department of Health gives itself much publicity about its efforts to prevent the introduction into Australia of plague and small-pox. The number of deaths from those two causes is small, indeed, compared with the loss of life due to common and preventable diseases arising from malnutrition and other causes. The department would be well advised to concentrate more of its attention upon combating the latter diseases. It could do great work by distributing leaflets to school children, particularly in the outback areas, informing them that bacteria in water can be destroyed by the simple process of boiling it. 1 do not doubt Dr. Cumpston’s ability as a medical man. He knows, of course, that the human being is more susceptible to disease when suffering from lack of proper nourishment and clothing. I have no doubt that the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) has a genuine desire to improve the health and conditions of the Australian people. I was surprised, therefore, to-day to read a statement by him denying that malnutrition is rife in the Federal Capital Territory. I can show him examples among the children in the poorer sections of the community. For a nation to be healthy it must be properly fed. Yet at my advanced age I am continuing a life-long struggle for the provision of milk for little children. It is tragic that in a land so richly endowed as Australia youngsters are denied a plentiful daily supply of this health-giving fluid. This country is more plentifully supplied with the comforts that man needs than any other country in the world’s history; but men have even dared to suggest the burning of good food. We know that in Brazil huge quantities of coffee have been thrown into the sea. There are similar happenings throughout the world, due to the operation of the present economic system. So great is the greed of the money-changers that I have no doubt that, if they thought it would benefit themselves, they would implore God to send pestilence and famine. A referendum should be held to determine whether persons who destroy food while thousands are starving should be treated as criminals. I have no doubt what the answer would be. The people would demand the preservation and distribution on an equitable basis of all food produced.
The average temperature of Canberra ie colder even than that of the most southern State capital. Hobart. Yet, during the coldest periods of winter, I found at the Canberra hospital that no heating supply was in operation in the early hours of the morning. It is a disgrace that such conditions should operate at the hospital in the capital city of the Commonwealth. This hospital should be an example to the world. A commentary on the administration of this city is the fact that the awful disease of rickets has been discovered among some Canberra children. If Dr. Cumpston denies it I will stake my professional reputation on the correctness of my charge. Films have been taken of the affected infants. My statement will also be borne out by Dr. L. W. Nott, formerly superintendent of the Canberra Hospital. He is one of the best surgeons in this, country, and if it were not for the skilful attention I have received from him, I should probably not be speaking in this chamber now. I am also supported by the Director of the Australian Institute of Anatomy, Sir Colin MacKenzie, in my remarks concerning rickets. If Dr. Cumpston examines the films to which I referred in a question asked by me a few moments ago, he will see the awful deformities caused by this disease. If he can prove that I am wrong, I will make a donation to the Canberra Hospital equal to the sum with which he is prepared to back his claim. It is little wonder that there are cases of rickets in this city when men are compelled to live on sustenance payments amounting to 6s. a week. Six shillings worth of food a week will keep one in fairly good health, but will not provide shelter and clothing.
Again, I emphasize that smallpox and plague kill far fewer people than the diseases caused by malnutrition. Often the nutriment in food is lessened in the process of cooking, but the deficiency can be made up by plentiful supplies of milk, and this should be pasteurized. Recently I yielded to requests to appear in a film appealing for the proper feeding of parents and children. I never dreamt that at the age of SI I should ever be a “ movie “ actor. I felt awkward, but my pleas came from my heart. [Leave to continue given.] I have always supported the granting of pensions to the aged; but we provide no pension for children. New South Wales has a childhood endowment system, due to the efforts of Mr. Lang, who also introduced the pension for widows. On behalf of the women of New South Wales and of Australia generally, I thank him and the Government that he led when those two reforms were instituted. The old-age pension is an insurance against revolution. If my reading of contemporary writers on the French Revolution is correct, it was the sight of the old, with gaunt faces and emaciated arms outstretched for food, that caused the younger generation at that period to overthrow the French monarchy. In my early days elderly people had to live on from ls. 6d. to 2s. 6d. a week. On one occasion I found an old lady lying on my doorstep. Thinking that she was intoxicated I exhorted her not to yield to the blandishments of alcohol, but I soon found that she was not drunk, but starved. She had been trying to exist on’ 2s. a week ! Denied light, air and water, plants soon wither and die. No child can become a healthy adult if deprived of food. When it was proposed to reduce the pensions of invalids and the aged I said I would cut my throat before I would vote for a reduction by a single penny. I say now that I would gladly fall dead if I thought by that act I could restore the pension to what it should be. The whole of the money provided for pensions in Australia is spent in the country; not a penny of it goes overseas. I thank honorable members for their courtesy in extending my time.
– You, Mr. Chairman, have stated that the committee is now considering all the departments under Part I. of the schedule, although last night it was agreed that we should deal with the department of The Parliament, and then go through the schedule department by department. The procedure now adopted by the Chairman amounts to an abrogation of the Standing Orders. These provide that in committee each honorable member may speak twice for fifteen minutes on the question before the Chair. Under your ruling, sir, honorable members will have to discuss within that limited time all of the departments included in Part I. It is absolutely impossible for members to cover such a wide range of activities in so short a time. Furthermore, Ministers will be unable to reply to the multiplicity of points raised. If the committee is permitted to deal with departments one by one, this bill will be disposed of just as quickly.
– I understand that you gave a ruling last night, Mr. Chairman, that we should deal with the schedule in parts. I am fortified in that belief by the fact that to-day you have allowed honorable members to speak on several of the various departments included in Part I. If you had intended to confine the discussion to the vote for the Parliament you would have put that vote to the committee before allowing the discussion to extend to other votes. Honorable members have already discussed matters connected with the Parliament, the Department of Health, and other departments, all of which are included in Part I. of the schedule. I also remember that you informed the committee that if the bill were taken part by part, before a vote was taken, honorable members would be able to discuss any department included in the particular part under discussion, and I take it that your statement was acquiesced in by the committee and we are therefore now considering the whole of Part I.
Mr.Ward. - So far I have discussed only the vote for The Parliament. I have many matters to bring forward in relation to the administration of other departments. Is the ruling of the Chair designed to expedite business by preventing honorable members from ventilating grievances which they believe should be brought before the committee? The Standing Orders provide that with the acquiescence of the committee a bill such as this may be taken as a whole or in parts, but if objection is raised it must be taken department by department. When the Chairman asked if it was the wish of the committee that the bill be taken as a whole, members of my party objected. In these circumstances we must adhere to the usual procedure in order that the rights of honorable members may be preserved.
– Standing Order 169 is clear on the point. It reads -
The following order shall be observed in considering a bill and its title: -
Clause as printed.
Postponed clause (not having been specially postponed to certain clauses ) .
Schedules as printed.
Preamble (if any).
Strictly in accordance with that standing order last night I put the question “ That the schedule be agreed to “. Exception to that course was taken. It is the practice when such exception is taken to submit the matter to the will of the committee. Subsequently I referred to votes as well as the part, but generally discussion took place over the whole range of divisions in Part I. If, however, there is any difference of opinion about the matter I shall take a vote of the committee to determine its will. In matters of this kind the will of the committee is the guiding principle.
– The ruling given by the Chairman will make it impossible when the general Estimates are brought down for honorable members to discuss each department separately.
– Order! This is a Supply Bill and does not affect the Estimates.
– But this bill is a facsimile of the Estimates. The Chairman is abrogating the Standing Orders. Last night I spoke only on the department of The Parliament, and if it is now ruled that this bill should be dealt with in parts, I shall be prevented from speaking again on other important matters. I have no wish to delay the committee but the matters which I desire to bring forward are of paramount importance to me and to my constituents.
– In order to bring the matter to a head, I move -
That the schedule be considered by Parte.
Mr.Ward. - I have already spoken on two occasions, but have confined my remarks to the department of the
Parliament. If this motion is agreed to I shall not be permitted to discuss other matters under Part I.
– Order ! The question is “ That the schedule be considered by Parts”.
– I oppose the motion because it is very obvious to me that it is not the intention of the Government to take the slightest notice of anything that may be said by honorable members on this side in regard to Supply. So far as my experience goes, .it has always been the practice of the Minister in charge of a particular department to be present in the committee while his department is under discussion in order to explain matters connected with the administration nf his department and to deal with the various questions connected with it. But if this motion is carried the Prime Minister for instance will not be present in the committee to reply to questions relating to matters relating to his department,
– The Prime Minister will be present if he is required.
– As on other occasions the right honorable gentleman probably will not think it worth his while. Since this bill has been before the committee the only Minister constantly in attendance in the chamber has been the Assistant Treasurer. It is obvious that no other Minister has the least intention of giving any consideration to any protests made by honorable members on this side or of being present in the chamber to explain matters coming within the purview of his department. There are many matters of vital importance which may be discussed under Part I. of the schedule, such as the possibilities of crooked administration in some of our territories, which honorable members on this side will be denied an opportunity to discuss. It is a standing disgrace that when matters of this description are brought forward Ministers responsible are not present in their places to give information. It may be argued that some Ministers are busy with their departments, but I remind the committee that though this bill has been under discussion for many hours, there is still time for discussion. If the Assistant Treasurer thinks that this is an ideal way of debating the question of the disposal of public money, well and good. In the past we have been afforded the privilege of bringing up matters relating to each department, and of having responsible Ministers present in the chamber to deal with the particular votes under discussion. I shall not be a party to any alteration of the usual procedure.
– There might be a point in the honorable gentleman’s remarks if those of the members of the Opposition generally were directed sincerely to the purpose of this bill. I think the general public will be under no misapprehension as to the actual purpose-
– I desire, sir, to know whether the Assistant Treasurer, in speaking now. is closing the debate ?
– The Assistant Treasurer’s speech closes the debate.
– That is not fair.
– Other honorable members were on their feet when the Assistant Treasurer received the call.
– Order !
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I do not think that you could quote any previous ruling given in this committee to uphold your ruling that when a Supply Bill is under discussion, and the Minister replies to statements he closes the debate. I do not think that the Assistant Treasurer himself intended to close the debate. The Minister shakes his head and admits that he did not intend to do so. I should like the Chairman to give a. ruling.
– This is a substantive motion and when the mover has replied, the debate is closed.
– Then I am compelled to dissent from your ruling on the ground that there is no precedent for your action. The Assistant Treasurer was replying, not to the speeches delivered on his motion, but to questions asked by honorable members. I therefore move -
That the Chairman’s ruling be dissented from.
– It appears to me, Mr. Chairman, that in the action you are taking you should be guided by custom. It is very difficult for me to reconcile your ruling with the practice adopted when dealing with the general Estimates. During the seven yeaTs I have been a member of this House it has always been the custom when the Estimates were under consideration to allow honorable members to discuss the departments separately. In that way honorable members are able to bring forward questions vitally affecting their constituents. It seems illogical to depart from that practice, and to close the debate on the motion by the Assistant Treasurer before honorable members have had an opportunity to express their views. I regard your decision as wrong and ask honorable members, regardless of party, to preserve their privileges in the interests of themselves and of their constituents.
– We have been considering whether the whole schedule, or only a portion of it is under consideration. The Standing Orders provide that the Chairman may put the whole schedule. I observed that procedure, but some honorable members sought to have it discussed in parts and that was agreed to. It was then suggested that each department should be considered separately. Some honorable members spoke on various departments included in Part I. I then sought to ascertain from the committee whether it desired to discuss the schedule in parts or in departments. If the Acting Treasurer will forego his call, the discussion on that point may be proceeded with.
– I had no intention to close the debate, and the Government has no desire to employ tactics which some honorable members opposite have described as comparable with the application of the gag. I understood that the schedule was being discussed in parts, and I am fortified in that opinion by the fact that honorable members opposite have already spoken on at least five departments included in Part I. Apart from my interpretation of the Chairman’s ruling that we were taking the schedule in parte, I could, in view of the discussion, come to no other conclusion. I therefore moved a formal motion to that effect.
– Has the motion of dissent from your ruling, sir, been withdrawn ?
– After studying the position, and with the concurrence of the committee, I propose to allow the debate on the motion of the Acting Treasurer to proceed.
.- I oppose the motion of the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Casey). I do not know if the Minister was present when this point was determined by the Chairman, but Hansard will disclose that honorable members were anxious to discuss each department separately. Instead of honorable members discussing at least five departments, as the Assistant Treasurer stated, he will find »n reference to the official report, that the members of the New South Wales Labour party debated only one department, namely, the Parliament. You, sir, may believe that you are proceeding according to the Standing Orders, but the procedure in this chamber has always been directly opposite to your interpretation to-day. In 1931 an amended schedule of time limits for debates and speeches was inserted in the Standing Orders and two periods of fifteen minutes each were decided to be sufficient for the discussion of each question put from the Chair in committee, except when otherwise provided for. A reference to Hansard will show that it was never intended by members or by the Standing Orders Committee that the half an hour allotted should cover the whole of the departments. If that ruling were upheld, the whole of the departments could be taken as one and in discussing the Estimates covering twelve months’ financial operations, each honorable member would be allowed only half an hour. It may be the object of the Government to curtail discussion. While any honorable member has a grievance to ventilate regarding the administration of any department, he should not be hampered by the imposition of a time limit. If Parliament is pressed for time at this juncture, the Government should keep the House in session instead of going into recess for long periods. If that were done honorable members would have an opportunity to debate fully any matters that may arise, and incidentally, to perform the work which they are paid to do. Honorable members are creating a dangerous precedent. The party now in power will not always occupy the treasury bench, and the day is not far distant when the procedure the Government wishes to adopt may be used against it. The Labour party will profit by the experience, and put this procedure into operation against the parties now occupying the treasury bench. If honorable members opposite treat this as a party matter, and carry the motion moved by the Acting Treasurer, the Government, by using its brutal majority, will deprive the minorities of the right to express their point. If that should, happen parliamentary government would become a farce, and the sooner this institution were closed, the better. The electors could then look for some other means to rectify their grievances. Honorable members should stand firmly for the rights of free speech in this chamber. Members of every political party should have the right to express their opinion on the Government’s financial proposals. If this motion be carried, it will have the effect of unduly limiting speech, and of destroying the rights of private members. The prestige of Parliament is involved, and if this kind of thing is persisted in, the Labour party will not hesitate to advise the people that they should look to means other than parliamentary representation for the redress of their grievances.
.- When objection was raised to the proposal that the schedule be taken as a whole, the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) moved a motion that it be taken in three parts. The effect of that motion, if carried, would be that the departments of the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Attorney-General, the Interior, Trade and Customs, Health, Commerce, War Service Homes, and miscellaneous would have to be taken together. An honorable member would have the right to speak for his allotted time on any one of those departments, but, having done so, he would be denied the right to speak upon any of the others. I have here a copy of the Estimates, which are prepared in exactly the same form as is the schedule to this bill. If this proposed procedure is tolerated in regard to the Supply Bill, the next step, no doubt, will be that the Government, with the aid of its majority, will similarly restrict discussion on the Estimates, with a view to rushing them through in a few minutes. In the past, British Parliaments exacted their liberties piece by piece from tyrannical kings by refusing to vote Supply until grievances were redressed. In this motion, we are now being asked, in effect, to depart from that principle. No doubt, honorable members opposite will support the motion, fatuously assuming, I suppose, that their party will always be in power. I can assure them that it will not, and I have no doubt that they will squeal loudly enough when this sort of treatment is inflicted upon them by a Labour government. Certainly, if I have anything to do with it, they will get a taste of their own medicine. We on this side of the House demand the right to examine public expenditure item by item, a right that has for centuries been enjoyed by British Parliaments, and we shall not lightly surrender it.
1 12.8]. - The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has not made out any case in support of his contention. Uninitiated persons listening to the honorable member’s speech might be pardoned for thinking that honorable members were being prevented from discussing some particular item of departmental expenditure. If anything of the kind were being attempted I should agree with what the honorable member has said. I am not in favour of curbing discussion on the activities of the Government or its proposed expenditure.
– What rot!
– That is the kind of grunt we have learned to expect, but it is time we thought something about the dignity of Parliament as well as its rights. Honorable members have already been given an opportunity to discuss various departments in Part I. of the schedule. Does any one suggest that any honorable member has been prevented from saying what he wished to say?
– Discussion has been hampered by the limitation of time.
– The practice in the past has been, in order to facilitate the business of the committee, to take the schedule of a Supply Bill in parts, as it is suggested should be done now, but not with any idea of preventing discussion. If it did have that effect, I should not approve of it, and if it can be shown that it is likely to have that effect, I shall not support it. So far there has been no limitation of discussion, because items well down tlie schedule have been discussed, as well as those near the beginning of it. If honorable members opposite are merely anxious to delay the proceedings of the committee, I am prepared promptly to take up their challenge and deal with it.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) cannot justly accuse me of any desire to hold up the proceedings of Parliament, but I cannot refrain from reminding him that, under the Standing Orders, private members enjoy certain rights. According to my interpretation of the standing order, if an honorable member wished to speak on the vote for Parliament for 30 minutes, he would be entitled to two fifteen-minute periods. Then, if he wished to speak on war service homes, he would have the right to speak for a further 30 minutes, and so on, through each of the other departments. That, I am sure, was the intention of the Standing Orders Committee when the Standing Orders were amended in 1931. However, if the motion now before the committee be carried, a member, having spoken for 30 minutes on one department, will be denied the right to speak at all on any other. The Opposition has always tried to assist the Government in getting its business through, and has not taken more time in discussing individual items than was necessary; but, if an honorable member feels that he should devote half an hour to discussing, say, war service homes, he should not, for that reason, be denied the right to discuss some other department. No Minister should be allowed, by getting a motion such as this agreed to, to override the Standing Orders. If it is necessary to vary the Standing Orders, it should be done at the instance of the committee appointed for that purpose, not by a Minister who may be feeling peeved because his bill has been criticized. The Minister may consider that this bill has been debated unduly, but it is the right and privilege of every honorable member to take every opportunity afforded him to discuss the matters which it covers. If the Minister thinks that honorable members on this side are stonewalling in this discussion he can move to apply the “gag”. That would be the decent thing for any government with a clear majority to do. It is not just that the Minister, if he holds’ the view that some honorable members are trying to hold up business, should deprive other honorable members of reasonable opportunity for discussion. So, I suggest that the Minister should withdraw his motion.
– As I have said twice already within the last half-hour, I have no intention to limit the discussion or take any action which some honorable members might interpret as the “gag”. The committee has undoubtedly been discussing various items, widely scattered, in Part I. If we are dealing only with the Parliament discussion should be limited to the amounts under that heading. It was solely in order to clarify the position that I submitted my motion that the schedule be dealt with part by part. But, in view of the discussion that has followed, I ask leave to withdraw my motion in order to allow honorable members to discuss the departments separately.
– In reply to the observations made by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) I point out that if the committee strictly adhered to the Standing Orders it should now be debating not only Part I. of the schedule, but the whole schedule, under which circumstances each honorable member would have the right of making only two speeches, each of a maximum duration of fifteen minutes. If the committee departs from the Standing Orders the number of times honorable members will be entitled to speak on the schedule will be practically unlimited. This aspect of the matter should be seriously considered.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
That the schedule be considered by departments.
– I rise to a point of order. Up to the present several honorable members have spoken on various departments in Part I. of the schedule. Now, it is proposed to put each department separately, commencing with “ The Parliament “. Does that mean that each mem- ber who cares to do so may make two speeches on each department as it is put?
– At the outset of this discussion some honorable members may have taken a little liberty in dealing with various items scattered through Part I., but I feel sure that, having already dealt with them, such honorable members will not further take up the time of the committee by discussing them again.
Proposed vote - The Parliament, £19,180- agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £66,140.
.- I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to newspaper reports and statements by Australians returning from overseas, that there exists a general lack of understanding on the part of Cabinet Ministers and other people in the United Kingdom of the needs and economic conditions existing in the various dominions. I appreciate very much, and shall say more later about, the wonderful results which attended the negotiations conducted by the Prime Minister and the other members of the Australian delegation which recently journeyed overseas. They explained the problems and needs of the Commonwealth, and, I am confident, impressed British Ministers. I am aware that Ministers of the Crown in the United Kingdom are occupied with urgent problems, both domestic and international, and for that reason have not in the past had the time or opportunity to become thoroughly conversant with conditions in Australia and the other dominions. If the Prime Minister has not done so already, he should, I suggest, invite the Prime Minister of Great Britain to arrange for some of his Ministers, particularly the Minister of Agriculture, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and others whose administrative duties are directly or indirectly associated with the distant parts of the Empire, to visit the dominions from time to time. The future of the dominions and of the British Empire as a whole is dependent largely on decisions made by Ministers of the Crown in Great Britain, particularly in regard to the marketing of the primary products of the dominions. It is practically impossible for Ministers of the Crown in the United Kingdom to give an intelligent decision on such matters if they have no knowledge of the peculiar conditions obtaining in the dominions. The knowledge that is really essential to the work of the British Minister can only be acquired by personal contact. Until recently considerations of time and convenience may have made it impossible for Ministers of the Crown in Great Britain to visit the dominions, but conditions in this respect have changed, mainly through the establishment of ‘regular air transport services. In the interests of the British Empire as a whole it is imperative that Ministers of the Crown in Great Britain should acquire a more intimate knowledge of the conditions existing in all of the dominions than they have to-day. As a result of visits by dominion Ministers to the Old Country to attend such gatherings as the Imperial Conference, the League of Nations Assembly and; similar conferences, they have a better knowledge of Great Britain and its problems than Ministers of the Crown in Great Britain have of the dominions and their problems. Again, I urge the Prime Minister to make special representations to the British Government to ensure that Ministers of the Crown in Great Britain shall visit Australia and the other dominions as frequently as possible.
Lord Bledisloe, the late GovernorGeneral of New Zealand, raised the point which I have just stressed when he returned to Great Britain after several years’ residence in New Zealand. He said that Ministers of the Crown and others in Great Britain have not the knowledge they should have of conditions in New Zealand and the other dominions. I feel sure that if my suggestion were acted upon all of the State governments and the people generally would extend a hearty welcome to visiting ministers and that the Empire as a whole would benefit substantially as a result of such visits.
Mr. WARD (East Sydney) [12.291 - Last night on the adjournment I asked the Prime Minister for information in regard to documents which may be in possession of the Government concerning the latest developments in the critical international situation in Europe. Again I ask that authentic information on this subject be given to honorable members, instead of compelling us to rely on press reports.
Recently the Government decided to appoint as Governor-General of Australia a gentleman from overseas who, in my opinion, cannot be as conversant with Australian conditions as would a citizen of this country. Within recent years the procedure followed in filling the office of Governor-General has been altered. The Governor-General of a dominion naturally acts upon the advice of his Ministers. We want the office to be filled by a gentleman who has been a resident of Australia for many years and who understands Australian conditions. I should like to know the reason which actuated the Government in its choice of a person from outside Australia.
– I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) will give serious consideration to the request of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that he should make available to honorable members information concerning the ItaloAbyssinian dispute. The right honorable gentleman claims that, on account of the highly confidential nature of the documents, it is not advisable to make them public. I submit that the lives of tens of ‘thousands of Australians may be involved. I have always protested against secret diplomacy. This Parliament and the people of Australia are entitled to the fullest information on the subject. We are now acquainted with certain facts connected with the last war which, had we had them in our possession at the time, might have placed a different complexion upon the matter. As representatives of the people we should be made cognizant of all the facts from the commencement, I am expected to voice the opinions of 50,000 electors, and I am not satisfied with the refusal of the Prime Minister to supply information on the ground that the documents are highly confidential.
.- I congratulate the Government upon the appointment of Sir Alexander HoreRuthven as Governor-General of the Commonwealth. The claim of the honor able member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is met by this appointment, because, as Governor of the States of South Australia - for a period of seven years - and New South Wales, Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven has travelled extensively in the Commonwealth and made himself thoroughly acquainted with Australian conditions.
– I have not lost sight of the matter raised by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). I am of the opinion that considerable advantage must accrue from an interchange of visits by British and Australian Ministers. All honorable members will agree that substantial benefits have flowed from the visits paid to Great Britain by Ministers of the Commonwealth. In official quarters in England I have expressed the view that the Secretary of State for the Dominions should from time to time gain first-hand knowledge of the different dominions. I am hopeful that opportunities will be afforded to that gentleman in the future to visit Australia and the other dominions.
– Surely that is not our affair !
– I think that it is. When discussing postal matters with the British Postmaster-General, I suggested that it would be well if the administrative or executive head of the post office in Great Britain were to visit Australia, and I believe that that suggestion will beadopted. Some of the conferences that are held between representatives of the Mother Country and the dominions should take place in Australia, in order that British Ministers might become a little more intimately acquainted with the circumstances that exist in this country. I cast no reflection upon any British Minister when I say that thereis not one who would not gain in knowledge and widen his outlook as the result of a visit to Australia.
– Subsequent to the visit overseas of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) as PostmasterGeneral, the administration of that department was placed in other hands.
– The British PostmasterGoners’], with whom I discussed postal matters, had a similar experience a few days after our meeting. He, like the honorable member for Warringah, was promoted because of the good services he had rendered.
I trust that honorable members do not consider that I have adopted the attitude that no information concerning what is happening overseas should be given to this Parliament. The practice which has been followed by every government up to the present time is essential. The communications that pass between this Government and the British Government are frequently confidential and even secret, and it would not be wise to make the information available generally. It is not merely a matter of placing it in the possession of honorable members. I do not suggest for one moment that any honorable member would misuse information of that character. What I would have honorable members understand is that information disclosed in this Parliament would come into the possession of the enemies as well as the friends of Great Britain and Australia.
There is one other aspect to which I should like to refer. The suggestion has been made from time to time that at the conferences which were held in London, C committed Australia to certain action. I am in the unfortunate position that those who make such a suggestion are not prepared to accept any assurance that [ might give in. the matter. I tell those who are willing to learn the truth from me that the British Government adopted the usual procedure of taking the representatives of the dominions into its confidence in regard to the position in Europe, which has been continuously difficult for some time. The one thing which was made to stand out clearly was that the British Government was determined to do everything within its power to preserve the peace of Europe and of the world. I left the conference with the firm conviction that I could trust the British Government to do all that even honorable members opposite would do to avoid the possibility of another outbreak of war in Europe. Knowing what had been done and the conversations that had taken place, and being satisfied of the bona fides of the British Government, I gave the assurance that so long as that attitude towards peace continued, the Government and the people of Australia would stand firmly behind it. I assure honorable members that that is the only guarantee that I gave. The representatives of the other dominions gave a similar guarantee.
– Does that involve sanctions ?
– That has nothing to do with sanctions. It has been suggested that I made some commitment that I ought not to have made. I repeat that the only commitment which I made on behalf of the people of Australia was that which I have stated. From time to time I shall place honorable members in possession of all the information that can be made available to them. The honorable member for East Sydney has complained that honorable members have to rely upon the press for information. There are occasions when even the Government itself receives first advice through the press, the official information following a little later. What is published in the press this morning is what has been supplied to us; consequently there is nothing that I can add.
– If that be so, what danger would there be in making available to honorable members the documents in the department ?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that he has sought to obtain information concerning all the negotiations from the commencement. The disclosure of certain information might be to the detriment of Australia and the Empire, and prejudicial to the maintenance of peace. I have adopted the attitude that I declared in Great Britain would characterize the policy of this Government; that is, that nothing would be done which might prejudice the efforts that are being made to preserve the peace of the world. The Acting Leader of the Opposition acknowledged that quite frankly, recognizing that we have merely made it clear that we are with Great Britain, in that endeavour. If the contents of certain documents were disclosed to the world, they might be used for the benefit of those who are not making any effort to maintain peace. We do not propose to publish any information that might weaken . Great Britain’s efforts. I take full responsibility for that. “Were I to disclose something that might make harder the maintenance of peace, I should owe a serious responsibility to the people of this country. That is a position which I have no desire to be placed. I prefer that all my efforts should be towards saving Australia and the world from trouble.
In connexion with the appointment of a Governor-General, I need only say that the policy of this Government ‘is that the selection shall be made by His Majesty from persons resident in Great Britain. In Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven we have a gentleman who, during his stay in this country over a period of years, has made himself a really good Australian, and has obtained a wide knowledge of our conditions and our people. I believe that he was most acceptable to the people of South Australia, and that he is becoming increasingly popular with all sections of the people in New South Wales.
– Before His Majesty makes an appointment, does he not confer with the Commonwealth Government, and act upon its advice?
– The head of the Australian Government always discusses the matter with His Majesty. But His Majesty makes the appointment, and only when he is satisfied that it is a proper appointment.
Sitting suspended from 12.J/.6 to 2.15 p.m.
– I am disappointed at the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), for they indicate that the Imperial Government is still the deciding factor in the appointment of Governors and Governors-General in Australia. The people of this country will not be pleased that the old policy - I might almost say the anti-Australian policy - under which these appointments are made in England is being reverted to. There is general agreement among the citizens of Australia that the present Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, is one of Australia’s greatest sons, and that during his term as the direct representative in Australia of His Majesty, the position has reached a status higher than ever before. The residents of the Federal Capital Territory, who know the GovernorGeneral as a fellow resident, keenly desire his re-appointment. It would appear that we have not yet lost that inferiority complex from which we suffered for many years. I know but little of the qualifications of the Governor-General designate, but, in any case, I am concerned at the moment, not with them but with the principle involved. As an Australian native, I am greatly disappointed that an Australian-born citizen is not to succeed Sir Isaac Isaacs as GovernorGeneral of this country, and I think that 80 per cent of Australian natives, as well as a majority of those Britishers who have made Australia their adopted home, are of the same opinion. The Prime Minister’s statement means that Australia has not ‘the rights in regard to these appointments that we thought it had. If that be so, I imagine that the people of this country will not long delay in taking steps, either by an amendment of the Constitution or otherwise, to settle this matter once and for all. I express my keen disappointment - I might almost say my disgust - that the citizens of this country are not permitted to determine who shall be their Governor-General.
– I regret that the subject of the appointment of a Governor-General to succeed Sir Isaac Isaacs should have been discussed here to-day. It is a matter about which there is room for a great divergence of opinion. I cannot agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) that 80 per cent, of the people of Australia would prefer an Australian-horn citizen to be Governor-General of this country. Under the Constitution neither the Government nor the Parliament of this country is empowered to appoint its Governor-General. The occupant of that high office is the personal representative of the King; and the greatest possible scope should be allowed to His Majesty in choosing the person to represent him.
– His Majesty has nothing whatever to do with the appointment.
– Australia’s Governor-General is not appointed on the recommendation of the British Government, and, legally the Commonwealth Government is not entitled to make a recommendation on the matter.
There is, naturally, consultation between the government of the Commonwealth and His Majesty, but I do not know of any provision in the Constitution empowering the Commonwealth Government even to advise His Majesty as to his choice of a representative. If in this matter the Australian Government is to be given the power to advise His Majesty, the Constitution must be amended in other directions also. I welcome the arrival in this country of reputable persons from overseas who intend to settle here. A few days ago the Senate elected as its presiding officer a gentleman who was not born in Australia; but I have not heard any complaint against the election on that ground. Any Britishborn adult of good character may, after a residence of six months in this country, not only vote for candidates for election to this Parliament, but also may even become a candidate himself. The present Government includes two gentlemen of outstanding merit who have served their country well, although they are not native-born Australians.
– Those two gentlemen have promised that they will not repeat the mistake of being born outside Australia.
– They were elected by the Australian people.
– During this discussion it has been suggested that only native-born Australians shall be entitled to occupy the position of GovernorGeneral.
– That is not our view at all.
– As a South Australian, I can say that no previous Governor so endeared himself to the people, as did the Governor-General designate during the six years that he was Governor of South Australia. So popular was he, that a Labour government sought an extension of his term as Governor, and His Majesty acceded to its request.
– A similar tribute could be paid to Sir Isaac Isaacs.
– South Australia has not seen a great deal of him; but I realize that that might not have been His Excellency’s fault.
– A man should not be excluded from consideration for the office because he is Australian-born.
– In my opinion, any resident of Australia who has served his country well should be eligible for selection to the highest office in the land, whether or not he claims Australia as his birthplace. As to a knowledge of Australia, it may be that the Governor-General designate, after an acquaintance with Australia dating back 30 years, is better informed concerning thi3 country and its problems than are many of us in this House.
– A discussion of this nature cannot be other than most embarrassing to both the present GovernorGeneral and the Governor-General designate, and therefore I appeal to honorable members not to pursue this subject further, at any rate on a personal basis. Should the House desire to discuss the rather abstruse subject of the constitutional rights of Commonwealth Ministers to advise His Majesty in such matters as the selection of his personal representative I suggest that a Supply Bill does not afford an appropriate opportunity. In the event of a discussion on the constitutional aspect of this subject being initiated at some later date, I suggest, in all seriousness, that personalities be avoided. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) could, I am sure, discuss this subject in a way which would be extremely interesting. I had the privilege, in a relatively junior capacity, of accompanying him to a conference in London in 1930, when this and kindred matters were discussed in relation to all the dominions. I appeal to the honorable member-
– Evidently the Minister knows what the honorable member for Batman could say and wishes to dissuade him from saying it.
– Honorable members will admit that this is a delicate matter. I assure honorable members that, whatever may be the position theoretically, the views of the people of Australia as expressed by the Government of the country, are taken into account by His Majesty.
.- I agree with the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that a Supply Bill does not present the best opportunity to discuss the important constitutional question wrapped up in the appointment of a Governor-General of Australia. The Minister was right when he said that a comparison of the personal qualifications of the present Governor-General and his successor must be somewhat embarrassing to the persons concerned.
– Such a discussion would not be in order.
– Inasmuch as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) challenged a short reply on the main constitutional issue I take leave to inform his mind in regard to some matters concerning which he does not appear to be fully informed. The honorable gentleman stated that the appointment of a Governor-General is the prerogative of His Majesty, who selects for the office whomsoever he thinks fit to occupy it. It is a delicate matter to decide precisely how much actual power is exercised by the sovereign in these, or, indeed, any other matters, under the British form of constitutional government ; but it is sufficient to say that it has become very well established as a constitutional principle that in this, as in other matters, the sovereign acts upon the advice of his Ministers. It is equally well established, thanks to the march of constitutional development in recent years, that in matters affecting Australia, the sovereign acts upon the advice of his Ministers in Australia. As the appointment of a Governor-General of Australia is peculiarly an Australian matter, it follows naturally that the sovereign acts upon the advice of his Ministers in this country.
– The Constitution does not say so.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is inviting what the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has just deprecated - an analytical discussion of the constitutional position. I think the Assistant Treasurer himself would agree that I have stated, briefly and dispassionately, the constitutional position as it is. It is a matter of development and not of strict law, either statute or common. I am stating the constitutional position that has developed, and which is now- well established and recognized beyond the scope of argument.
Unfortunately the march of progress in this respect has been slow and difficult. In the past His Majesty acted, in this matter, upon the advice of Ministers of the Crown overseas, who were responsible to the British people and not to the people of Australia. That position has now been entirely altered, and I think most Australians, conscious of their constitutional rights and the developments that have occurred, will agree that it is proper that it should have been altered, for it was repugnant to our commonsense as well as to our sense of independence, that the King should act in a matter exclusively affecting the Australian people upon the advice of Ministers not responsible in any way to the Commonwealth Parliament. The practice in the past was for His Majesty, on the advice of Ministers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to appoint as Governor-General of the Commonwealth - to quote words attributed to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Lyons) - “some member of the British nobility “.
– I did not use that phrase.
– The passage which I have in mind is: “There is no doubt that Mr. Lyons will secure the appointment, as Governor-General, of a member of the British nobility “. If the right honorable gentleman denies that he used those words, I accept his denial wholeheartedly. But the practice, in fact, has been to designate for this high office, a member of the British nobility. As one who has occupied ministerial rank in this country I take leave to say that I totally dissent from the view that a member of the British nobility or, for that matter, any person overseas, should necessarily be appointed to this position. The Labour party is not wedded to the choice of an Australian to the office of GovernorGeneral; but it is concerned that the best man available should be appointed to the position. In making a recommendation on such a. matter, the Labour party would be influenced, of course, to some extent by the fact that other governments had been wedded to the choice of gentlemen without any experience of Australian conditions, or Australian constitutional history, or, in fact, of anything affecting the well-being of our people. We dissent altogether from that view. We would not be at all concerned as to whether a person was a member of the British nobility or of any nobility; but we should be concerned to choose a man of lofty character, wide constitutional knowledge, and proven capacity, and not merely one who had served some political party well on the other side of the world, or had associations with certain old families, or had contributed generously to party funds overseas. We would ask ourselves whether the proposed appointee were a person of standing, capacity, of erudition, and experience as would qualify him for this high office. Applying these standards, it will be readily acknowledged that the conditions were fulfilled to the utmost in respect of the advice which the Scullin Government tendered to His Majesty prior to the appointment of the present GovernorGeneral of Australia.
One other point calls for mention. In giving advice to His Majesty on a’ matter of this kind, the Labour party would consider that the office of Governor-General need not necessarily be connected with military service. We believe that this is a civil office. It might necessitate some little constitutional change to do so, but I believe that the office of GovernorGeneral should be entirely separated from that of Commander-in-Chief of the army. The association of military pageantry with the representative of the Crown should be abolished, and while the Labour Government was in office it did something to that end.
– The honorable member has become decadent.
– The office of Governor-General is a civil office, and I dissociate myself entirely from the view that, when this distinguished representative of the Crown makes a public appearance in this country in any official capacity, he should be supported by a military officer, thus emphasizing the traditional conservative and imperialistic idea that government is a matter not of the consent of the governed, but rather of military force. We do not accept that view, and do not think that it contributes to the pacification of the world. We believe that it is a conception which is entirely out of harmony with modern thought, and abhorrent to the expressed desire to bring about world peace, and to found the governments of the nations upon reason and understanding, and not upon might and the force of arms.
In saying so much, I hope that I have not offended the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who made a gentle attempt to disarm me by reference to our associations on the other side of the world, where, if the honorable member served in what he was pleased to call a relatively subordinate capacity, he nevertheless served very well.
– I rise to express indignation at the uncouth manner in which the business of this committee is being conducted.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. H. Prowse). Order! The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) is himself out of order in. making reflections upon the Chair, and I ask him to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw the word. “ uncouth “ and substitute “ unseemly “.
– Order ! The honorable member must also withdraw that reflection upon the Chair.
– I was not referring to the Chair.
– The honorable member must withdraw his reference.
– I withdraw, because my words have not been understood. I rise with indignation and wish to support the remarks of the Assistant Treasurer. This is neither the place nor the time to discuss the appointment of the GovernorGeneral of Australia.
– What place would the honorable member” suggest as being more appropriate ?
– As an Australian of the third or fourth generation, I have enough commonsense and culture to appreciate the work of the, distinguished men who have given their services to Australia over the years as Governors-General and State Governors. I have in mind particularly, Sir Matthew Nathan who, as Governor of Queensland, adorned his high office and brought to this land a culture that we sadly need. There are at least a few honorable members on this side of the committee who would, I think, like to remain true to one thing that was taught them at their mother’s knee - the need for common courtesy.
– The honorable member has not much of it, and he is the last one who should speak of it.
– Sir Matthew Nathan brought culture to Queensland and we were all the better for his presence in that State. The same may truly be said of Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven, who was Governor of South Australia and is now Governor of New South Wales. Much as we all admire our present GovernorGeneral as a very distinguished Australian
– The honorable member will not be in order in criticizing the Governor-General.
– I am not doing so.
– He is eulogizing him.
– The honorable member will not be in order in even eulogizing him.
– Having expressed my indignation at the remarks made by some honorable members opposite, I wish now to say that I concur in the view of the Assistant Treasurer, that this is neither the place nor the opportune time to discuss the appointment of a GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth. We, in Australia, because of our isolation, would be the better for the bringing to this country of more of the culture of the old world, and I hope that many more distinguished men will come to Australia from Great Britain and bring to us some of the influences of the old world to open and broaden our minds.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed voles - Treasury, £154,520; Attorney-General, £34,840; and Department of the Interior, £70,710 - agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £814,300.
.- I bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) the fact that Fort Nelson, at the entrance to Hobart, contains such obsolete guns that it is of about as much value for defence purposes as if the garrison were equipped with bows and arrows. Hobart is recognized by high military authorities as ali important strategical point, and it should be made a strong link in the chain of imperial defence. All I ask is that the equipment in this fort be brought up to date.
– Does the honorable member advocate preparation for war?
– I favour the adequate defence of Australia, so long as operations are confined to this country. Fort Nelson should not be merely an ornament, but should be capable of offering effective resistance if a foreign power attempted to land troops at Hobart. Considerable expense has been incurred by the department in providing for defence in the northern portion of the Commonwealth, and it is equally necessary to provide for it in Tasmania. The maintenance of an obsolete fort results in sheer waste of public money. I understand that when Napoleon was at war -with England, he contemplated the seizure of the Australian colonies, and selected Tasmania as the point of his attack. No doubt if the military authorities had brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence the strategical importance of Fort Nelson, he would have given this matter his favorable consideration. I have discussed it with leading military men, and they declare that the fort should bc strengthened. I trust that the Minister will visit Hobart and personally investigate the position.
.- Most members have received letters complaining of the action of the Defence Department in cutting down by 50 per pent, the supply of free and purchaseable ammunition to rifle clubs. This decision has caused concern and dissatisfaction to 47,000 citizens who are connected with this Increasingly popular Australia-wide movement, which is conducted on an entirely voluntary basis. Among the riflemen are many returned soldiers. The rifles and ammunition are paid for by the members themselves, and the clubs spend about £500,000 per annum, thus affording a great deal of employment. It is generally recognized that this movement is an effective and economical form of defence. The’ clubs instead of being discouraged, should be encouraged in every possible way, but the reduction of their supply of free and purchaseable ammunition will have a serious and far-reaching effect, for it will restrict their efficiency, and the services of many members, who will find other means of employing their spare time, will be lost to the movement. The Government has offered a supply of Mark VI. ammunition, which is regarded as most inferior. I have received a petition from the Randwick Rifle Club - and its position is typical of that of many other clubs in Australia - to the effect that early next week the supply of efficient ammunition will be used up, and by February next the supply of Mark VI. ammunition will be exhausted. This means that for eight months the clubs will have no supply of efficient ammunition, and for four months none at all. I urge the Minister to place the clubs on the same basis as last year.
– I support the request submitted by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings). I thank the Minister for his prompt reply to the communication which I recently addressed to him, and his assurance that the department has decided to issue a further 100 rounds to each member of the various clubs, but I assure him that this supply will be of no benefit to the clubs in Queensland. I am speaking for the South Queensland Rifle Association and the City of Brisbane Rifle Association. Some time ago the brand of ammunition supplied was changed from Mark VI. to Mark VII., with the result that a number of members had to purchase new rifles or have their old weapons cut down. All their rifles have now been shortened, and the extra issue of 100 rounds a man will not benefit those who went to the expense of having their rifles altered. The clubs should receive every encouragement from the department, because they are doing good service to the community. The contributions made to the rifle clubs are very insignificant in the total defence expenditure. The Minister would do well to re-consider his decision and revert to the former practice of issuing ammunition suitable to the requirements of the rifle clubs throughout Australia.
.- With other honorable members I voice my protest against the withdrawal of this privilege formerly extended to rifle clubs. The rifle clubs themselves are in the best position to know whether they are being efficiently catered for or not. The difficulty seems to be that in the Defence Department there is some antipathy towards these clubs. At any rate it is contended in some quarters that they are ineffective as a means of training men for the defence of Australia, but if we were to suffer an invasion of some of the more vulnerable parts of our continent in the north-west or in the Northern Territory, where no military force is established, we should be glad indeed of the existence of trained shots to impede the progress of the raiders. In the remote districts of our seaboard members of rifle clubs could be got together long before our trained forces could be brought from the eastern States. These riflemen could follow the example set by the Boers during the Boer War. It will be remembered that for several years 40,000 untrained men held up the whole of the British army in South Africa. The Minister has stated that the amount expended on the issue of free ammunition is about £90,000. Compared with the amount of money that has to be spent on big armaments and warships, that sum is very small. Further, the ammunition is provided for the use of patriotic individuals who get nothing out of it, and are content to devote the whole of their Saturday afternoons to learning to become proficient in the use of one of our most useful weapons of defence. Many members of rifle clubs, mostly men of slender means, pay quite a lot out of their own pockets. Seeing that the defence vote this year is so large, the Minister might well give this matter further consideration. I suggest that the Minister should take his own independent view of this matter and accept the suggestion of the rifle clubs, that great organization that does so much service to the Defence Department.
.- It is rather unfortunate that the Government has chosen the present time to cut down by half the vote for rifle clubs. During the depression that vote was not reduced, and now that times have improved and are likely to improve still further, a reduction on the ground of expense is not justified. In the consideration of this matter it must not be overlooked that at the present time recruiting for the citizen forces is almost at a standstill. Although, from a departmental point of view, rifle clubs are not generally regarded as constituting anything like an efficient fighting force, as an emergency force they undoubtedly are a very substantial factor in our defence system. It” is well to have a nucleus of men skilled in the use of the first weapon of defence. Rifle clubs may also be said to have great value in the preservation of internal peace. The risk of civil commotion is always present and, as our military forces are usually organized in the cities, we might on occasions have to look to the rifle clubs in remote districts to take the place of the regular forces. A few years ago in Broome a very ugly rising took place among the coloured people which might have resulted in serious consequences but for the existence of an efficient rifle club in that district. The members of the club assembled, the rising was quelled, and a. not a single life was lost. The point I emphasize is that in this case the rifle club was on the spot and its members were ready for any emergency. The Minister has his advisers and I have no doubt that advice from the military point of view is consistently in the direction that rifle clubs are not an efficient means of defence, but I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) that the Minister should view this matter also from a civilian point of view. The members of the rifle clubs are among the very few people who are maintaining the spirit of defence and, therefore, it is rather a pity that at this stage they should be discouraged. The amount of ammunition used is very small and its intrinsic value may not greatly affect the clubs; but the withdrawal of the concession must be very disappointing to men who join a club not merely for the sport which it offers but also in order to fit themselves for the defence of this country, and to be able to undertake the training of the younger generation in the art of rifleshooting.
.- I am quite in accord with what has been said by previous speakers in regard to the curtailment of the allowance of free ammunition to members of rifle clubs throughout Australia, and I agree that further consideration should be given before the proposal is ultimately adopted. There is a growing enthusiasm among the members of rifle clubs in the country, and a larger number of young men are associating themselves with the clubs. There are many aspects connected with this matter which might be discussed if time permitted. First of all, we are all concerned in the effective defence of this country. It is necessary for young men to be made thoroughly efficient in the use of the rifle, and the only way of encouraging them to join the rifle clubs is by the free issue of ammunition. In the light of modern times, the rifle may be looked upon as an antiquated weapon, but at the same time I consider that it is necessary that our young Australians should be thoroughly tutored in the use of all rifles and machine guns. In the future, however, if, unfortunately, there should be an attempted invasion of Australia, our defence will have to be conducted largely in the air. Voluntary recruiting should be stimulated, and the training of the youth of Australia continued. Every youth should be. prepared to undertake military training to improve his physique and to teach him deportment and a respect for his elders. Today there seems to be an inclination among boys to be careless in their methods of address to their elders. This laxity in the youth of to-day could be largely overcome by military instruction if they were carefully trained by competent instructors. Every encouragement should be afforded young lads to join the air force with a view to securing a pilot’s certificate, because as I have said, Australia will have to depend largely upon its aerial defences to repel any threatened attack. We have the greatest flying country in the world, and the greatest flying men in the world. Every youth graduating from the training class to the air base, would prove a very valuable unit in the future defence of Australia. We must have our aerial forces ready to repel any attacks upon our shores, and trained men able to take any aeroplane to any point on our far-flung coast-line. Instead of waiting for enemy ships to come close to our coast, they could be met hundreds of miles from the shore, and their efforts to land rendered completely ineffective. I have pleasure in supporting the remarks of other honorable members in connexion with the free supply of ammunition. The Government would be well advised to continue the supply of ammunition to all the rifle clubs throughout Australia. I hope the Minister, whom I regard as a wise Minister, will give consideration to my request.
– I have no desire to go over the arguments so well put by other honorable members. I have already sent on to the Minister, protests from many country districts complaining of the action taken. His reply has been sent on to all the rifle clubs which made representations to me. A portion of the Minister’s reply was effectively answered by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson). The president of the Darling Downs District’s Rifle Clubs’ Union drew my attention, in a reply to the Minister, to the fact that although the amount of the extra charge to the members of the clubs to which the Minister refers in his letter appears small, the saving to be effected will have serious effects on rifle clubs, many of which are assisting their unemployed members. As the Minister’s decision is felt keenly by the clubs, I ask him to reconsider the whole matter. I agree with the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) that many new rifle clubs would be formed if additional funds were made available by the department. I am sure that the Minister, who is sympathetic and appreciates the value of rifle clubs as an additional means of defence, will reconsider his decision.
– I have already discussed with the Minister (Mr. Parkhill) the reduction of the quantity of ammunition supplied to rifle clubs. The ranges of the Williamstown and Port Melbourne clubs are among the best in the Commonwealth, and are used by many hun dreds of riflemen. I have received complaints concerning the reduction in the supply of ammunition made available by the Government which I have already placed before the Minister for Defence. Moreover, the ammunition riflemen are compelled to use has deteriorated to such an extent that it is unfit for military purposes. On a trip into Central and Northern Australia last year, I was informed by mounted troopers that the same type of deteriorated ammunition used by the rifle clubs is supplied to them, and that it has in at least one instance caused the death of a trooper. A rifle containing a cartridge which had misfired was, it was said, found beside the body of a trooper who had been speared. The Minister had inquiries made, but it could not be proved that the death had been caused by defective ammunition. That is a matter into which the Minister is now inquiring. The rifle clubs contend that as the ammunition was manufactured prior to 1918 a lower value should be placed upon the cartridges issued and the additional 100 rounds supplied. The value placed upon it is not its true value, and if it were kept in stock any longer it would only be of use as old brass and copper. I emphasize the point stressed by other honorable members that the rifle clubs provide a valuable contribution to the defence of the country, and also supply a large number of men with a useful form of recreation. Although some men have been associated with some of the clubs for 20 or 30 years young men are also attracted. To be a good rifle shot, a man must be physically and mentally fit. I promised the people of Williamstown and Port Melbourne to place their grievance before the Minister and I have already done so. I felt it my duty, however, to join with other honorable members in protesting against the action of the Government in reducing the quota of cartridges allocated to rifle clubs.
.- Re-, presentatives of every other State having protested against this unwarranted reduction in the allocation of cartridges to rifle clubs, I desire, on behalf of South Australia, to register an emphatic protest. South Australia is as interested in this subject as are other units of the
Commonwealth. I trust that when the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) replies, he will assure the committee that the representations of honorable members have not fallen on deaf ears. The present position is unsatisfactory and should be rectified.
– I associate myself with the representations made on behalf of rifle clubs and urge the Minister’s immediate reconsideration of his attitude. Formerly, I shared the view expressed by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) that the Minister was a wise administrator of the Defence Department, but his action in reducing the supplies of ammunition to rifle clubs cannot be justified. He should realize that rifle men who engage in shooting as a form of recreation form an additional arm of defence for this country. It is surprising that at present, when war-clouds are gathering on the horizon, the Minister for Defence should prejudicially affect rifle clubs. I strongly urge the Minister to reconsider his decision and encourage rather than discourage, membership of rifle clubs.
.-So many Government supporters favour restoring the quota of ammunition to its former level that the committee should take a vote on the subject. An amendment should he moved as an instruction to the Minister (Mr. Parkhill) to restore to each rifle club the 100 rounds of ammunition by which the quota has been reduced. It is apparent that the Government’s action has not met with the approval of the majority of its supporters. The Minister for Defence has already received representations on this subject, in connexion with which he has made two or three statements, in which he left no doubt as to his intentions. The annual cost of the ammunition supplied is about £90,000, but that is no reason for making such an inopportune reduction. As it is unlikely that the Minister will change his attitude, honorable members who have criticized it should prove their seriousness when the Estimates are under consideration by supporting an amendment that the defence vote be reduced by £1 as a direction to the Go vernment that the ammunition supplies be restored.
– I associate- myself with the requests for’ reconsideration of the Minister’s decision. Rifle clubs are performing a voluntary service to the nation and have been instrumental in reducing unemployment.
– I assure the honorable member for Bennison (Mr. Mahoney) that the Government regards Tasmania as an integral part of the Commonwealth, and equally important from the defence view-point as the other States.
It is no secret that the National Rifle Association passed a resolution inviting the rifle clubs to communicate with federal members concerning their grievances. Similar action on previous occasions has been the means of inducing the Government to depart from the course previously decided upon. The necessity for refusing this annual grant of Mark VII. ammunition to rifle clubs is regretted by the Government, but the position is that the clubs have received this free ammunition for five years, and stocks have become almost exhausted. Until two years ago, the Defence Department had not even enough money to carry out necessary works. Consequently, there has been no replenishment of ammunition supplies, and to-day stocks are running very low. If members of this House desire the rifle clubs to continue to receive 200 rounds of ammunition - which means an additional 100 rounds on what they receive now - the expenditure involved will amount to £36,000 a year. Rifle clubs do not contribute in a major sense towards the defence of the country. There are a great many more advantageous ways in which £36,000 could be expended than on making a further contribution of 100 rounds a member to each club. Although this ammunition was manufactured some time ago, it is in good condition, because no cartridges are sent out unless they are thoroughly tested. Any found to be unsound are discarded, or reconditioned for use in other ways. There has never been any complaint from the rifle clubs regarding the soundness of the ammunition supplied to them. Referring to the death of Sergeant McColl, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) mentioned that a rumour had been current in the Northern Territory that the ammunition supplied to this officer was defective, and his rifle had jammed at a critical moment. Naturally I made immediate inquiries into that allegation, and found not the slightest scintilla of evidence to justify the rumour. The constable was armed with a pistol, the ammunition for which was purchased in Darwin. It was not supplied by the Defence Department. Ammunition is an expensive item, at present costing the department £9 a 1,000 rounds. This rate covers the bare cost of the ammunition, and does not include departmental expenses for storage, handling and freight charges, which, if added, would increase the rate to about £10 a 1,000. Under the scale of issue previously in force, rifle clubs used on an average 10,000,000 rounds per annum at a cost of about £90,000. In payment for this ammunition the department received about £2,500 from the clubs. Thus the value of the ammunition supplied by the department without cost to clubs is £S7,500. I think the House will agree that this is a substantial contribution for the department to make. The reduction of the issue of Mark VII. ammunition is not nearly so drastic as would appear at first sight, and I propose to show that the man who makes rifle shooting his sport and hobby is hardly entitled to expect the country to provide him with free ammunition. Excluding ammunition required for rifle associations and union prize meetings, which are catered for separately, the average number of rounds drawn by rifle club members each year is 225 out of the 400 authorized - 200 rounds being free, and 200 supplied at a reduced rate. The new scale of 300 rounds - 100 rounds free, and 200 at reduced rates - for every member is still 75 rounds a man in excess of the average amount previously drawn. Therefore, the only disadvantage that an enthusiastic rifle man will suffer is that he will be called upon to spend an additional 5s. a year to purchase the extra 100 rounds he previously received as a free issue. Assuming that 7,000,000 rounds of ammunition will be expended annually by rifle clubs under the new scale, it is expected that 4,000,000 rounds
will be issued free, and the balance at £2 10s. a 1,000. Thus, in return for an outlay of £63,000 on ammunition, the department will receive but £7,500, leaving a balance of £55,500 to be made up from departmental votes. References have been made to Mark VI. ammunition. I candidly admit that it is not suited for present day requirements, especially for prize meetings, and because rifles have been adjusted to the Mark VII. ammunition. Had it not been for the suggestion of the chairman of one of the rifle club associations I should not have offered Mark VI. ammunition to the clubs. The distribution of these cartridges was merely intended to be an added concession. This representative of the rifle clubs waited on me in Melbourne, and conferred with General Phillips, MajorGeneral Jess and myself. “When I explained the position he quite appreciated the departmental view-point. In the course of that interview I mentioned that the department had a quantity of Mark
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of Trade and Customs, £108,390, agreed to.
Department of HEALTH
Proposed vote, £21,160.
– The Commonwealth Repatriation Department controls several medical institutions, including some hospitals and asylums, and in the past the practice has been to issue uniforms to orderlies on duty in them. This is the common practice in private and State institutions of the kind, and up to now has always been adopted by the military authorities. Men working in and around hospitals move in a germ-laden atmosphere, and they are reluctant to wear the same clothing when they return to their homes as they wore while on duty. The organization representing male employees in such institutions has reported to me that the uniforms formerly supplied have been withdrawn. Many men have been using spare military uniforms of the kind distributed among the unemployed during the last few years. It seems strange that this practice, for which I know the Minister is not responsible, should be allowed. I am not aware of any private institutions in which orderlies or employees, whether male or female, are not compelled to wear uniforms or over-alls of some sort provided by the institution itself. This is a serious matter, and I feel sure that the Minister, to whom I have forwarded all necessary correspondence, will .attend to the point I have raised. Many honorable members often take visitors through these institutions including asylums; I have done so, and as a result of my experiences on such occasions I should not like to have to take any visitor through any institution where the orderlies are not in uniform. Especially do my remarks apply to institutions associated with military establishments. I urge the Minister to inquire into this matter, and to issue instructions that orderlies anc] other- employees in hospitals under his control must wear uniforms.
– I shall do sp.
Proposed vote agreed to
Proposed votes - Department of Commerce, £69,050, and Miscellaneous Services £110,510, agreed to.
Proposed vote, £249,750.
– I move -
That the amount be reduced by £1.
I would like this amendment to be carried as an instruction to the Government that no further evictions from war service homes are ,to be made until Parliament has had an opportunity to review the War Service Homes Act. I have been constrained to take this action because evictions from w,ar service homes are taking place daily. I am aware that I can discuss this matter when the Estimates are under consideration, but seeing’ opposite me many honorable members who are wearing returned soldier badges I feel that if they are actuated by the same spirit that existed among the soldiers at Gallipoli and in France, they will, by their vote, immediately prevent the Government from throwing some of their former comrades out of these homes. Every honorable member is aware that some of these men spent the whole of their war gratuities and life savings in the purchase of these homes, and that it is simply because being thrown out of work through no fault of their own during the depression they got into arrears with their payments. The Government should immediately consider the plight qf these men. In the press to-day is published a copy of a letter received by a conference of returned soldiers which was held at Orange, from the Assistant Minister in Charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Thorby) in which the Minister said -
It was the Government’s desire that purchasers should continue in occupation, and those whose -unfortunate circumstances pTevented them making payments, would not be disturbed provided they had a reasonable prospect of ‘completing their contract.
I stress the point that no man who is put of work to-day or has been out of employment for the last three or four years has had any possible chance of fulfilling his contract, and has only failed to do so because he has been out of work. I do not blame the Minister entirely in this matter, because I think he is sympathetic towards these men. I urge the Government to review the act and to suspend any further evictions until honorable gentlemen have the opportunity of amending the “War Service Homes Act.
.- I second the amendment. There are 35 honorable members in this chamber who fought with these men in the Great War. If these honorable members are actuated by the spirit of comradeship which prevailed among all soldiers on Gallipoli and on French soil, they will prevent any further evictions from war service homes until this Parliament has had time to reconsider the whole position. Last week I attended a conference of returned soldiers at which this matter was discussed. The delegates present knew my attitude towards war, but I told them frankly that I believed the Assistant Minister (Mr. Thorby), on his return from overseas, would carry out the promise he made before his departure that the department would give every consideration to this matter. If a firm like Arthur Rickard and Company Limited, of Sydney, and similar firms can provide that a home shall become the property of the widow on the death of the purchaser, surely this Government can apply similar provisions to war service homes to benefit, purchasers who are in danger of losing their homes because of causes beyond their own control. I urge the Government to see that no further eviction from a war service home is made until at least the matter has been considered by this Parliament when the Estimates are considered. Honorable members on this side of the House will be satisfied if the Minister will give such a promise.
– I appreciate the points which have been raised by honorable members opposite. In reply to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) who stated that there are 35 returned soldiers in this House who should make the welfare of the returned soldier a primary consideration, I point out that, apart from those 35 honorable members the Government has sought guidance in this matter from returned soldiers leagues throughout the Commonwealth. It has always invited the representatives of those leagues, at any time, to make representations on this sub ject, yet except in very few instances, I have not had representations placed before me by those bodies so far as evictions from war service homes are concerned, and then only in respect of cases in which it was shown that extenuating circumstances existed and that the purchasers had tried to do their best to fulfil their contracts. To such cases the Government has invariably extended sympathetic consideration. I have always endeavoured to administer the act with the utmost sympathy in cases of distress, and, at times, in order to meet special cases, I have not hesitated to go almost beyond the powers vested in me under the act in refusing to take action against purchasers.
It is unwise for honorable members opposite to exaggerate the position with regard to evictions. One honorable member said that eviction cases were being brought before certain courts daily. That is not correct, because very few of such cases have come before the courts. To those honorable members I now say that if they come to me to inquire about specific cases, I will give them the fullest information concerning such cases. If they do this they will avoid being misled and will be better able to deal with this matter whenever it comes up for consideration by this Parliament. I also assure those honorable gentleman that if they can bring under my notice any case in which it can be shown that I have acted unreasonably or harshly, I will, even at this stage, review such a case. Nobody could have extended more consideration to the widows of soldiers than I have since I assumed charge of war service homes. In most cases where evictions have taken place no returned soldiers’ organization would support the protests lodged by the occupants, and no honorable member would be justified in criticizing the Government’s actions in such cases. I assure honorable members opposite that invariably the utmost consideration has been given to the people concerned before an eviction has been made. In one particular case an occupant was evicted because she would not agree to be transferred to other premises, which were in perfect condition, but which were procurable at a rental she was better able to meet. To-day that person is in a better financial position than she and her husband were in previously, or would be in had they been allowed to remain in their former home. The department does not act in a vindictive manner in these cases, but always seeks to study the interests of the people concerned. The whole matter of war service homes is a difficult one. Again I assure honorable members opposite that the Government has never brought about an eviction where such could have been avoided, but has invariably extended sympathetic consideration towards the people concerned.
Question - That the amount proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Mulcahy’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative..
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes -Commonwealth Railways, £95,050; Postmaster-General’s Department, £1,936,050; Territories of the Commonwealth, £81,890; Refunds of Revenue, £200,000; and Advance to the Treasurer, £500,000 - agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Assent to the following bills reported -
Cutoms Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1935.
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Validation Bill (No. 2) 1935.
Special Annuity Bill 1935.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to increase the maximum number of Ministers of State from nine to ten, and to appropriate an amount for their salaries.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Lyons and Mr. Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought by Mr. Lyons, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
At the commencement of federation the Constitution made provision for seven Ministers of State, and also provided that the allowances of those seven should total £12,000 per annum. Since that time there have been various extensions of the administrative functions of the Government, as well as greater complexity in the operations of the several departments. These things, and the creation of additional departments from time to time have necessitated the appointment of additional Ministers, but, notwithstanding those extra appointments, there are to-day only nine Ministers in control of twelve departments. The bill proposes to increase the number of Ministers to ten, because it is believed that, in the interests of efficiency as well as of the general public, the number of Ministers should keep pace with the extension of departments. At present certain Ministers are in charge of two or three departments.
On previous occasions when the number of Ministers has been increased, Parliament has provided the additional allowances necessary, the amount in each case being £1,650. On this occasion it is not intended to provide that amount. After allowing for the 20 per cent. reduction imposed by the financial emergency legislation, the amount will be £1,320. The total amount shown in the hill allows for the fact that when an Honorary Minister or an Assistant Minister becomes a full Minister of State, he receives only £640 a year instead of £825 as a private member. That reduction will be set off against the amount included in this bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend laws relating to financial emergency and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Lyons do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the proposal announced in the budget speech to make a partial restoration of salaries to members of the Public Service, and of the naval, military and air services, as well as of the allowances paid to members of Parliament. The restoration proposed will be at the rate of 2½ per cent., calculated on the basis of the salaries paid in 1930.
Salaries in the Public Service were reduced under the original financial emergency legislation by from 18 per cent. to 25 per cent. of the 1930 salary standard. In 1933 and 1934, restorations aggregating approximately 7£ per cent were made. Their effect was to free salaries up to £388 per annum, based on the 1930 standard, from any reduction other than that occasioned by a variation of the cost of living. The further restoration of 2½ per cent. now proposed will free salaries up to £485 per annum, based on the 1930 standard, from any reduction other than a cost-of-living reduction of £42. In other words, all public servants whose salary is £485 per annum or less will, when this bill becomes law, be paid in full, except for the cost-of-living reduction. With the passing of this bill, salaries from £486 to £1,000 per annum will be subject to a reduction at the rate of 10 per cent., less £6 ; on salaries from £1,001 to £2,000, the reduction will be 12½ per cent., less £6 ; whilst salaries over £2,000 will be reduced by 15 per cent., less £6. Clause 3, which gives effect to this proposal, has been drafted so as to avoid the use of the complex formula contained in previous acts of this description.
With the restoration now proposed, the reduction of total salaries for all the Services combined, including the costofliving reduction, will average 11 per cent. compared with the 1930 standard.
Following the practice adopted on previous occasions, the salaries of the personnel of the naval, military and air forces, will be adjusted by the Minister in such a way that the three fighting services will, as nearly as possible, be placed on the samp footing as those of members of the Public Service.
The bill makes provision for the costofliving variations to be continued. Should the cost of living increase, all salaries will be increased in accordance with the usual public service practice: should the cost of living decrease, salaries will be reduced accordingly, with a proviso that any further reduction will first be absorbed by any existing financial emergency cut. An officer who is already suffering a reduction of salary in excess of the cost-of-living adjustment will not be subject to any further reduction.
Last year the cost-of-living index number increased sufficiently to justify an increase of £6 per annum to adult male members of the Services, and of smaller amounts to females and juniors. The intention of the law in that connexion was clear; but some doubt arose whether the precise wording of section 11a of the Financial Emergency Act covered the increase. The Government decided to pay the increases as from the 1st July, 1935, and to seek the necessary validation later in order to remove any doubts which might exist. Accordingly, a clause to validate the cost-of-living increases has been inserted in the bill.
In the case of parliamentary allowances, the bill provides for a restoration of 1 per cent. When this restoration is made, the parliamentary allowance of a private member or senator will still be subject to a reduction of 15 per cent. No provision has been made in this bill to restore to Ministers 2b per cent, of their salaries; but it is intended to introduce an amendment to that effect after another measure to provide for an additional Minister of State has been dealt with. When the proposed restoration has been paid, the salaries of Ministers will still be subject to a reduction of 17 i per cent.
The restoration of 2-J per cent, involves certain consequential alterations in connexion with fees, allowances and so on which have been provided for by a clause in the bill. Further explanations of the various provisions will be made at the committee stage if necessary.
I may, perhaps, for the information of honorable members, say that certain exemptions in connexion with sales taxation are being made the subject of a separate bill, which will be introduced at an early date.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Commonwealth Agreement with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited - Accessions to the Library - Australian Broadcasting Commission - Tribute to Mr. A. N. Smith - Post Offices in Boothby Electorate.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I wish to refer briefly to a question asked by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall), whether the Government had decided to take legal action against Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. I replied that it had not been decided to take such action; but I think I may not have fully comprehended the honorable member’s question. The paragraph from Jobson’s Investment Digest to which he referred related to an intention of the Government to obtain an interpretation of certain provisions in the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. The Government has decided to seek a definite interpretation of certain terms of that agreement. That is the only action that is contemplated.
.- The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) made some observations last night that seemed to me to be rather extraordinary, regarding books selected for the Parliamentary Library. I have the honour to be a member of the Selection Committee, and I apprehend, Mr. Speaker, that you, also, are a member of it. I cannot regard the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo as a fine example of the higher criticism. He would appear to have glanced down the long list of new books provided in the Library, and, judging by the titles to which he referred in his speech, I think he came to his conclusions more by a consideration of the names of the books than by that of their contents or their authors. He referred to the following volumes: - The Emperor Gains; Green Fields and Fantasy, an open-air book; Skipper My Chum, and other true dog stories; Sea Birds Simplified; Thirty Years with the Philippine Head-Hunters ; Psyche and Eros and Romeo and Juliet, two poems ; The Modern Rake’s Progress ; Reminiscences of an Octogenarian; Robert Bruce, King of Scots; A Modern Sinbad; Tommy; Bill of No-Man’s Land, and A Parson’s Daughter. The object of the Library Committee, he said, should be to provide books which would be useful to us in our deliberations, particularly in dealing with international affairs. Of the eleven titles quoted by the honorable member, four of those are books by Australian authors, and two are those of books relating to Australia or the Pacific. In the former category are Skipper My Chum and other dog stories, by the Reverend Lionel Fletcher; Sea Birds Simplified, by Professor Wood Jones, of the Melbourne University; Psyche and Eros and Romeo and Juliet, two poems by James Kennedy; and The Modern Rake’s Progress, by David Low. In the latter category are A Parson’s Daughter, by Mrs. Parsloe, writing under the pseudonyms of “ Tommy “ and “Bill of No-Man’s Land,” and Thirty Years with the Philippine Head-Hunters, by Samuel Kane. From the inception of the Library, the policy of the committee has been to make as complete a collection as possible of Australian literature, including books by Australians and about Australia and the adjacent islands of the Pacific. It is appropriate that the National Library should be the repository for such a collection. To aid the Library in its efforts in this regard Parliament, in 1912, passed the Commonwealth Copyright Act, under which a copy of every book published in Australia is deposited in the National Library. Only those published abroad are purchased.- I give, as an example of the intrinsic value of the books to which I have referred, the following quotation from an article in The Times Literary Supplement regarding The Modern Rake’s Progress, by David Low, the Australianborn caricaturist, whose reputation is now world-wide : -
Mr. Low’s series of coloured drawings, originally published in Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine, are well worth reprinting in book form. Their vigorous and uncompromising satire is altogether exceptional among the work of modern comic draftsmen.
The Times Literary Supplement is the leading English book review. It sets a high standard of criticism, and rarely over-praises. Its comments on two of the other books to which the honorable member for Bendigo took exception are equally interesting. Green Fields and Fantasy, by the well-known Irish poet, Patrick Chalmers, whose contributions to Punch were so well-known, is a collection of prose and verse on open-air life. Writing about it, The Times Literary Supplement says that the author - knows his classics and has a keen appreciation of landscape, country life, birds and flowers. Mr. Collins’s illustrations, chiefly of birds, have a truth to nature and a delicacy of touch which make them a peculiarly Jit accompaniment to Mr. Chalmers’s work.
Finally, writing of Robert Bruce, King of Scots, by Agnes Muir Mackenzie, The Times Literary Supplement says -
It is an admirable survey iri which Miss Mackenzie has made a fresh examination of the evidence, and has gone somewhat beyond Mr. Barron’s conclusions. She makes some very interesting suggestions based upon a careful and ingenious study of the documents. The military chapters in the book are specially good, and the account of the battle of Stirling Bridge is an excellent piece of descriptive writing. With the help of a well-constructed map.. Miss Mackenzie has given the best account of Bannockburn in existence and the most readable.
The honorable member pleaded for a wider choice of books on international affairs.
– >Oh no!
– I refer the honorable member to the Hansard report of his speech, from which I may not quote. He pleaded for a wider choice of those books in order that honorable members might “ understand many of the problems with which Australia is confronted “. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that scarcely one book on international affairs written in the English language escapes the notice of the library. In addition to making his own selection from the wide range of reviews available, the Librarian is advised by the External Affairs Department at Canberra. I say “ advised “, but the truth is, of course, that we are very happy in being liberally served by the Librarian and his expert staff. Usually, I think, the committee acts on their advice. Nevertheless, we accept and invite suggestions from the External Affairs Department. We have an arrangement with the External Affairs officer in London to send on any books on external affairs which may have been overlooked in the orders. This officer has the advice of the British Foreign Office.
I hardly know on what principle the criticism is thought to be based. The very first book mentioned, The Emperor Gains, which is historical and classical, should surely escape criticism, unless the honorable member regards it as in some way fundamentally indecent. Apparently, he does not. The books submitted to the library are all seen by the members of the committee; but I repeat that in this matter we are guided largely by the expert staff, men of wide erudition and literary experience. Surely the honorable member’s hunger for knowledge on matters peculiarly suited for his Parliamentary work has not enabled him to exhaust all the relevant works available. Does he contend that their places have been taken by books of less value ? Should there be any works which he considers worthy of inclusion, but which are crowded out, I suggest that, he submit the names of these to the committee - a practice observed by other honorable members - and I am sure his suggestions will receive most favorable consideration. I conclude that the criticism of the honorable member of books housed in the library is not well founded.
.- Will the Government ascertain from the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) what explanation can be given for the delay in the appointment of a general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and will an opportunity be afforded for discussion of the character and cost of the programmes which are broadcast by the commission? There have been very serious complaints in all the States during the past four months in respect to the class of the programmes and their cost. In any case, it seems inexplicable that a commission which should have needed a general manager for so many years, now finds it practicable to dispense with the services of a general manager for so long a period as has marked the resignation of Major Condor, and the appointment of a successor, if a successor is to be appointed.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of hon orable members a book which is on the Library shelves, and which I think might be of great value to them. I refer to the work of the late Mr. A. N. Smith dealing with the history of the Commonwealth. The late Mr. Smith represented Reuters and inter-colonial newspapers at preCommonwealth sittings of the Federal Convention and all sittings of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne from 1901 to 1927. During that long period he was a friend of every member of the House, and I feel sure that if a journalist ever earned the right of being mentioned in Parliament on his decease, that right was earned by the late Mr. Smith. He was Mayor of Hawthorn from 1898 to 1899, and the members of his family are an adornment to the profession. I regret his loss as I would that of a dear, personal friend, and with these words I take my adieu of one highly esteemed by every member of Parliament, both State and Federal for over 30 years.
.- During the last eight years in which I have had the privilege of representing the electorate of Boothby in this Parliament, I have made continual efforts to secure the erection of a post office at Burnside, South Australia. Some time ago the Postal Department selected a site, but the building was not proceeded with. I am at a loss to understand why the department has neglected to build on the site selected. As a result of the redistribution of electoral boundaries a portion of the district of Angas is now included in my electorate, and South Australian representatives have larger areas to attend to. Some time ago a site was selected for a new post office at Lower Mitcham, but the building has not yet been erected. As the revenue is now buoyant I trust that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will proceed with the two post offices I have mentioned as they are earnestly required. Will the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) place my request before the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) at the earliest possible opportunity?
– The representations made by the honorable member will be referred to the Postmaster-General as requested.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In this connexion, the position of a federal government whose power to enter into conventions on labour matters is subject to limitations has been specially provided for in the constitution of the International Labour Organization, inasmuch as in such circumstances a convention may be treated as a recommendation only, which does not involve ratification. The question of the ratification of labour conventions was discussed at a conference between the Commonwealth and State governments in 1929, when the States were notified that the Commonwealth Government would be prepared to ratify any conventions to the provisions of which the States had given effect under their legislation, and in respect of which the States had given an assurance that they would not modify such legislation so as to make it inconsistent with the provisions of the convention without previous consultation with the Commonwealth. The matter has since been further taken up with the States, but the replies received have not enabled the Commonwealth Government to proceed with the ratification of any additional conventions.
y asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Hobart: Defence Position.
l. - The matter will be inquired into, and information will be furnished as soon as possible in answer to a series of questions asked by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) regarding the position of Hobart from the standpoint of defence.
Exports of Primary Products.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the exports of (a) wheat, (b) barley, and (c) beef, from Australia to Belgium for the years, 1829-30 to 1934-35?
e. - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Relief to Wheat-Growers.
– Inquiries are being made and information will be furnished as soon as possible in answer to a series of questions asked by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) regarding the special disabilities bounty to wheatgrowers.
Mail Losses on trans-Tasman Flight.
l asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - 1.Is it a factthat his department refused to pay compensation for loss of registered mail carried on the SouthernCross on its last transTasman flight, though the Director-General (Mr. H. P. Brown), personally instructed Sir Charles Kingsford Smith to “ dump “ some of the mail overboard?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 September 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19350927_reps_14_147/>.