14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - The Director-General of Health has submitted a report on the subject of rickets in the Federal Capital Territory which, because of its importance, I think should be given to the House and the public. It is as follows : -
With respect to the question of malnutrition in the Territory, I have to report as follows: -
Dr. L. W. Nott, in response to an invitation by Mr. Hughes, produced five children at the Canberra Hospital on 18th October.
One of these children suffered from a combination of kidney disease, heart disease and enlarged liver, but it was difficult to obtain any evidence of malnutrition.
Six other children in this family were examined and, although they could not be described as healthy, the father is in regular employment and the mother stilted that the family had enough food.It is possible in this case that the wrong kinds of foods, rather than an insufficient quantity, were supplied.
Another child was seen in which there was some slight evidence of possible trouble in the past, but the child is now healthy and Dr. Downes, who examined the case, docs not regard it as one of rickets.
The three other children, concerning whom most publicityhas been given and who were brought forward as examples of advanced rickets, the result of grave under-nourishment, were in a conditionof advanced skeletal deformity and were sent to the Children’s Hospital in Sydney for expert examination, diagnosis and any treatment which was considered necessary. These children were thoroughly examined at the Children’s Hospital, the report by the Senior Honorary Surgeon reading as follows: - “I have examined the ‘X’ children, who were placedunder my care. Three of them, namely, ‘ A’, ‘ B ‘ and ‘ C ‘ are suffering from osteo-chondrodystrophy,a familial and possibly a hereditary disease, which is the cause of the deformities present. I do not consider that these deformities are due in the least degree to rickets. Unfortunately, the cause of this disease is unknown, and so one is not able to offer any suggestions as to a course of treatment which would be likely to arrest its progress. The other child, ‘ D ‘, is quite healthy and appears to have escaped the disease.”
The following additional comments were made by the Director of the Department of Pathology: - “ The complaint from which the ‘ X ‘ children are suffering has been diagnosed as osteo-chondrodystrophy. It is not due to malnutrition, but to a congenital failure of hone formation. The condition is hereditary, and could perhaps be traced back along one or other of the ancestral lines, although the immediate parents are not affected. The cause is quite unknown. The malady is not remediable nor preventable.”
On 22nd October a circular letter was sent by myself to each medical man practising in the Territory in the following terms: - “ Would you be good enough to advise me of the names of any cases of incipient or declared rickets which have come under your notice within the Federal Capital Territory. This information is desired so that any action which is officially possible towards either the prevention or rectification of this condition may be taken.
Your attention is invited also to the fact that assistance is available incases where the necessity for such assistance is known to exist, and can be obtained on application to Mr. Waterman of the Department of the Interior.
A similar letter is being sent to each medical practitioner resident in the Federal Capital Territory.”
Only one medical practitioner has replied and his reply was a definite statement that no cases of incipient or declared rickets had come under his notice in the Federal Capital Territory.
Dr. Downes of this Department was instructed to examine children of the susceptible age, namely, the pre-school age, more especially in the families of relief workers. Dr. Downes visited at Causeway and Molonglo, 49 homes of relief workers and 35 homes of persons in regular employment,83 children of preschool age being examined.
The result of this examination, which was very thorough and carefully conducted, indicated that there was no serious evidence of rickets. Knock-knee, bowlegs, slight alteration of the shape of the skull were seen in seventeen cases.
How far these may represent slight degrees of earlier under-nourishment is open to question. There was also a departure from normal health in a number of these children, consisting of defective teeth, skin affections and other disorders incidental to childhood.
It ispossible that in a number of cases the cumulative effect of a continued period of depression expresses itself in minor degrees of ill-health, but it is difficult to assign definite and unmistakable medical evidence of this.
As for the statements that rickets is generalized or that the degree of undernourishment is serious, results of examination indicate that these statements are not correct.
In conclusion, it may be statedthatit does not seem likely that the degree of undernourishment in the Federal Capital Territory is severe, or, if it exists, is any worse than can be found in any other similar community elsewhere.
The aggravated cases, upon which reliance was chiefly placed as evidence of the widespread existence of malnutrition in the Territory, were found to be not related to rickets and not to be due to malnutrition. (Sgd.) J. H. cumpton, Director-General of Health. 7th November, 1935.
– Have measures been taken whereby under-nourished children in Canberra may be examined and provided with necessary foods? The right honorable gentleman has stated that Canberra children are no different from those of other cities who live under similar conditions. Is he aware that in New South Wales children are frequently examined in schools and quantities of milk are distributed free of charge to those who are under-nourished?
– The Commonwealth Department of Health is not merely doing what is done in New South Wales in connexion with the schools, but is also conducting investigations in regard to children of pre-school age. Special provision has been made to ensure that sufficient and adequate nourishment is provided for those who need it.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that vexatious restrictions have been imposed by either him or the administration upon dances held in Canberra? Is the honorable gentleman aware that these functions are now notoriously regarded as “ red tape “ dances? Will he take steps to prevent future interference of this nature with the private lives of citizens of the Federal Capital Territory?
– I assure the honorable gentleman that I am not guilty of having done anything either to restrict or to prohibit dancing in Canberra. I assume that the honorable gentleman refers to a press report published about a week ago in regard to a dance that had been or was to be held at Hotel Kurrajong. The restrictions in that case were imposed by the manageress of the hotel, Miss Southwell, I believe in view of certain happenings of twelve months ago. It is entirely within the discretion of the manager or manageress of a hotel in Canberra either to permit or to prohibit the holding of dances on the premises which he or she controls.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a statement made by the Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Stock, Mr. F. W. Bulcock, containing the allegation that the Commonwealth has been guilty of delay and vacillation in taking action in relation to the cotton industry? Can it rightly be said that the Commonwealth is departing in any way from its declared policy to protect this industry and do its best to promote the development of it?
– My attention has been drawn, by other Queensland members as well as by the honorable member for Darling Downs, to the statement made by Mr. Bulcock. There has been no vacillation whatever on the part of the Commonwealth. No one knows that better than the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde).
– There definitely has been vacillation, which has done tremendous damage to the industry.
– The cotton duties have been tabled, but whether they will be passed into law depends upon Parliament. The Government has always stood by the duties imposed on manufactured cotton goods. I can only characterise the statement generally as a mischievous political one.
– Mr. Bulcock knows what he is talking about.
– The honorable member for Capricornia had never seen a cotton field until he visited onewith me last year.
– That is ridiculous.
– Order ! There must be no interruption of the reply to a question. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs not to introduce argument into his reply.
– The Cotton Bounty Act of last year extended the field of duties and placed both growers and manufacturers on a better basis than had previously existed. That action followed an inquiry by the Tariff Board, in which the interests of the growers, the manufacturers, and the public, were alike taken into account. For the first time in its history, the cotton industry has now been stabilized. I hope that Mr. Bulcock will acquainthimself with the facts and, having done so, will retract his mischievous’ statement.
Bills of Sale and Stock Mortgages. - Bathurst Island Pearling
-Will the Minister for the Interior state when an ordinance making possible the registration of bill’s of sale and stock mortgages in the Northern Territory will be promulgated ?
– The drafting of such an ordinance is in the hands of the Attorney-General’s Department.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he noticed a telegraphic message from Darwin in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald in which it is stated that a. lugger reached Darwin on Wednesday with the body of a diver named Mukai, employed on the Bathurst Island pearl shell beds, who had died as the result of paralysis caused by pressure through deep sea diving. It was stated that Mukai is the seventh diver to lose his life this year while diving on the Bathurst Island pearl shell beds. In view of this serious loss of life, will the Minister cause inquiries to be made to see whether decompression chambers,, similar to those which have been used with some success in cases of diver’s paralysis at Broome, Western Australia, may not also be provided for use at the Bathurst Island pearl shell beds?
– I shall have inquiries made into the subject.
Grafton Regional Station - “ B “ Class Stations
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say when it is expected that the new regional broadcasting station at Grafton will be opened, and whether any tests have been carried out; if so, with what result?
– I shall have pleasure in obtaining the information for the honorable member.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me of the exact position regarding the regulations recently gazetted for the control of “B” class broadcasting stations? Has finality yet been reached in regard to them?
– Although the regulations have been gazetted, they have not yet been laid on the table of the House. The representations made by “ B “class stations in regard to them are being considered by the Postmaster-General.
– Has the Acting Leader of the House received any information concerning reports in this morning’s press to the effect that the German Government has informed the Co-ordination Committee of the League of Nations that it is taking steps to restrict certain imports into Italy?
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me what success has attended the efforts of the department to provide an additional water supply for Tennant’s Creek?
– What does the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) know about Central Australia ?
– Five or six bores have been sunk by the Government in and around Tennant’s Creek and I am glad to say that, a day or two ago, reports came to hand that good drinking water has been obtained from the new bore about 150 yards from: the old telegraph well. The bore is 120 feet deep and the water has risen to within80 feet of the surface, which is regarded as an indication that there is a good supply available.
– I ask the Minister whether the flow of water in the new bore has been tested? Good hopes have been entertained of bores previously sunk in that area, but they have been shattered because the flow of water has not been continuous.
– Sufficient time has not yet elapsed to determine the flow of water in the new bore, but I am informed that it is excellent drinking water.
-Can the Minister inform me whether the water is artesian or sub-artesian, and whether the quantity is sufficient to keep the batteries in operation ?
– I have given honorable members all the information that I have on the subject.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is the practice for honorable members to ask questions regarding the electorate of another honorable member without first consulting him on the subject?
– That is a matter which is not subject to the control of the Chair, but is really governed by the discretion of honorable members themselves.
– In view of the, I hope not too-significant absence of the Prime Minister this morning, I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether the retirement of the Minister for Health and Repatriation from the Cabinet, will permit a more liberal distribution of the Cabinet funds among other members of the Ministry, and if so, whether that is the only obstacle to the return to the Cabinet of the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes ?
– A similar question was answered by the Prime Minister yesterday.
The following paper was presented: -
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1935, No. 96.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 31st October (vide page 1250).
Remainder of proposed vote, £107,311 .
– I am anxious to obtain some information regarding the steps that are being taken to preserve the historical records of Australia. Some years before the depression occurred the Parliamentary Library Committee had under consideration a proposal to establish an archives department. I understand that the Governments of Canada, South Africa and South Australia have each established such a department to preserve historical documents in the possession of the various public departments of those countries. It is absolutely essential that some similar step should be taken by the Commonwealth Government in order that valuable public records may be preserved. The history of Australia as a nation does not go back very far, it is true, but it is high time that steps were taken to preserve our public records so that a true and full history of the Australian nation may be prepared when a favorable opportunity occurs. I do not suggest that another costly Commonwealth department should be established ; but unless . some steps are taken to preserve valuable public documents, they may be unwittingly destroyed or lost. Fortunately, the Commonwealth Government has at the head of its various departments officers of considerable ability and attainments who use every discretion in connexion with the preservation of documents; but, nevertheless, definite steps should be taken to ensure that all useful records of the early and current history of this great nation should be preserved. I mention this subject at this juncture because of the imminent transfer of certain public departments from Melbourne to Canberra. Also, some of the departments are housed in temporary quarters after their transfer to Canberra, and this may continue for some time.In such circumstances, there is a danger that valuable documents may be mislaid, and ultimately lost or destroyed. I believe that the Library Committee, which had this subject under consideration some time ago, intended to take definite action in regard to it. I should like an assurance that, pending the establishment of an archives department, the departmental heads will be advised to take every step to preserve valuable documents. I realize, of course, that many papers that come into the hands of our departmental officers are of only transient value, and cannot be kept indefinitely; but every step should be taken to see that no record which is likely to be of permanent value to the nation is destroyed or lost.
.- I desire some information concerning the steps that are being taken to fill certain vacant positions on the Ilansard staff, for I have been asked quite a number of questions on the subject. I should like to know whether applications will he called for these vacant positions, so that persons interested may have the opportunity to submit their applications.
– I can only say, in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), that the Library Committee has not lost sight of the proposals that were made some years ago for the setting up of an archives department, I agree with the honorable member that it is most desirable to preserve the historical records, but, up to the present time, no action has been taken. At the last meeting of the committee it was resolved that it should assemble at an early date for the special purpose of considering this important matter. Of course certain expenditure would have to be incurred to carry on the work.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) has asked a question regarding appointments to the Hansard staff. The position is that the permanent appointments to which he referred cannot be made until the Estimates have been passed. When the appropriation has been made, advertisements relating to the positions will be inserted in all the leading newspapers, so that an opportunity will be afforded to those who may- desire to apply for them.
– In view of the fact that the federal members’ rooms in Brisbane will shortly be located in the new Commonwealth offices in Adelaide-street, I suggest that Queensland members should be accorded privileges similar to those enjoyed in other States by the appointment of a messenger whose sole duty would be to attend to their requirements. We now have the benefit of the services of a pood messenger iv Brisbane, but he is attached to the Postal Department. I have no doubt that every honorable member from Queensland is of the opinion that if the present messenger were transferred from the Post Office to the federal members’ rooms, he would -give every satisfaction, for he is thoroughly acquainted with our requirements.
.- I should like an explanation of the item of £25, which is provided for the expenses of a select committee.
.- Knowing the nature of the duties performed by the attendants at the federal members’ room3 at the Commonwealth Bank Building in Sydney, it seems to me that these officers are greatly underpaid. They should receive at least the same salary as that paid to men doing similar work in the ordinary Public Service. The attendants at Sydney, in addition to dealing with callers, act as private secretaries to honorable members during their absence from Sydney. In view of theirvaluable services, their status should be raised.
.- In explanation of the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) I may say it has been the usual practice to place an amount on the Estimates each year to cover any expenditure that would be rendered necessary by the appointment of select committees. It will be noticed that no such expenditure was incurred last year, but it is considered desirable to make the financial provision that would be needed in the event of the appointment of such committees.
.- I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) about the value of the services rendered by the attendants at the federal members’ rooms in Sydney, and in other capital cities. I know from personal experience that, when a member travels to another part of the Commonwealth, his correspondence is satisfactorily dealt with by them. I was astounded when T heard how meagre is the salary received by them.
– This matter concerns the Department of the Interior.
– I hope that a note will be made of the suggestion, for I am sure the officers are not receiving salaries commensurate with the value of their services. Their pay should be at least doubled.
– I have to inform the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) that provision is being made in the Estimates for the establishment of federal members’ rooms in the new Commonwealth offices now nearing completion in Brisbane. The provision covers the cost of removal, fittings and furniture and other staff requirements. I shall bring the matter of the attendant under the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– It seems to me that some arrangement could be made whereby the waiters employed temporarily at the parliamentary refreshment-rooms, Canberra, could be given employment during parliamentary recesses. I realize that there is no opportunity to employ them in or about Parliament House during a recess, but some effort should be made to see that they have regular employment.
Mr.Bell. - Does the honorable member suggest that they should be permanently employed ?
– It should be possible to findwork for them in other departments. I believe that they would be prepared to accept even road-making work, rather than remain idle. If we put these men off during each recess, we cannot expect to obtain the most satisfactory service.
In my opinion the parliamentary staff should be placed under the control of the Public Service Board.
Mr.Archie Cameron. - That would be absolutely wrong in principle.
– The very fact that the honorable member is opposed to my view convinces me that I am on the right tarck. It is well known that officers under the control of the Public Service Board are promoted gradually, and in rotation, according to the length of their periods of service, but a member of the specially privileged parliamentary staff may progress by leaps and bounds. I make no reflection upon the officers of Parliament. TheClerk of this House (Mr. Parkes), for instance, is an excellent officer, who, if he were under the Public Service Board, would no doubt receive as large a salary as he now gets; but, generally speaking, it seems to me to be wrong in principle to separate the parliamentary staff from the rest of the Public Service. No Government employee should enjoy special advantages over other public servants, merely because he happens to be a member of the parliamentary staff. He would then get the advancement to which he is entitled and I suggest that this reform is long overdue.
– I desire to direct attention to what I consider to be wasteful expenditure on the printing of parliamentary papers, and also to the fact that, although in 1934-35 the appropriation for this work was £4,500, an amount of £8,100 was expended. Honorable membersare inundated every morning with batches of these parliamentary papers. Some of them are necessary, but many are not. In many cases, duplication occurs. Honorable members, on their arrival at the House, findtheir desks littered with notice-papers of both Houses and the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives and the Journals of the Senate, in addition to other papers. In my opinion, those members who are in regular attendance at parliamentary sittings have sufficient knowledge of the votes and proceedings, and do not need to be supplied with the printed record. If, however, any honorable member should feel that he needs to be acquainted with the record of the transactions of another place, be could make application for it. Most honorable members relegate to the waste paper basket the mass of printed information they receive, and elimination of the necessity for them to do that would result in considerable saving. My chief complaint is against the distribution of Votes and Proceedings. I concede the necessity for the printing of the noticepapers, as members of each house should have some knowledge of the business to be transacted ; but honorable members who desirecopies of the records could makeapplication for them. An honorablemember who happens to be absent from .the House .and is genuinely desirous of obtaining information could also make .similar application, but there is no need for a general distribution to honorable members who are in daily attendance and know what is taking place. That is .only one of the many directions in which a saving could be made. If what I am suggesting now had been the policy last year, the appropriation, instead of being almost doubled by the expenditure, could possibly have been considerably reduced. This year, it is intended to appropriate £6,000 for printing of parliamentary papers, but by judicious handling of the situation and the elimination of unnecessary printing, tha:t amount ought to be greatly reduced.
.- I not ‘Only disagree with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), but also challenge his right to speak on behalf of other honorable members. It is his responsibility if he treats the parliamentary papers in the same way as he treats his correspondence - by ignoring them. The parliamentary papers are of great assistance to honorable members, and it behoves the honorable member to be a little more logical in his condemnation of Government expenditure, rather than to make capital out of nothing, and give the impression to the public that other honorable members are as wasteful and neglectful as he is. Ho should confine himself to the advocating of reforms in more important directions.
; - I support the contentions of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison). My experience is that the papers I wa-nt I cannot get and that the papers I do not want are sent to me in profusion. I am appalled at the waste on printing which takes place. In the South Australian Parliament, of which I was formerly a member, the votes and proceedings are filed in the party room.
– They are printed ?
– Yes, and t’hey are kept very up to date every day. About six copies of the orders of the day are placed in the party room and one is pinned in a glass case on the wall, so that every honorable member of the legislature may see it. If any honorable member of this House desires to know what is taking place in the .Senate, ho can always get information, but at least three times weekly my table in the party room is a sanctuary for journals of the Senate which I do not want, especially as they are often two or three days old. What I do want is the record of what takes place in this House, namely, a complete Hansard report of the speeches made. In the South Australian Parliament at 9 a.m. each morning hon.orable members have available the Hansard report of the speeches delivered up to 6.15 p.m. on the previous day, and at noon the record of the speeches delivered up to midnight is ready for them. In the Commonwealth Parliament, however, the Hansard record of the speeches delivered one day is not available in tho party room on the following day. It would be pardonable for one to have the opinion that the Commonwealth Hansard is printed on gold paper, so difficult is it for honorable members to obtain copies when they need them.
What I want is a complete daily record of the Hansard report of the previous day’s proceedings, but it is not obtainable. Furthermore, on one or two occasions at least when Hansard has made a belated appearance two or three days after speeches have been delivered the record is vitally different from what was actually said in this House.
– The honorable member should go back to the State Parliament.
– My experience of members of the Hansard staff is that .they are remarkably accurate in what they actually recor.d when honorable members are speaking, and I have found little necessity to make any alterations ‘in the reports of my speeches, but I am certain that very serious alterations have been made by some other honorable members in the last twelve months when they have received the pulls of their speeches.
.- I oppose the argument raised by the honorable member for Wentworth (E. J. Harrison) that the printing of parliamentary papers is unnecessary. It is true that -some honorable members may be aware of what occurs in this House, but others are frequently absent and may not be so well informed. As a matter of fact, not only should the parliamentary papers be made available; some honorable members should also have furnished to them an explanation of what the papers mean.
– The honorable member is making personal references.
Mr.WARD. - I am referring to one or two members of the Minister’s party. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) were present when a certain happening took place, but afterwards, in personal explanations, they were prepared to admit that they did not understand what was being done. It is not the right of the honorable member for Wentworth to rise and make the sweeping suggestions that he has made. It should be left to honorable members to decide for themselves what papers they want. I hope that one day my interest in the proceedings of the Senate will cease because, by the action of the Labour party, that chamber will have been abolished; but, so long as it is in existence, I, at least, am interested in its decisions. If the honorable member does not desire to be supplied with parliamentary papers, he should inform the responsible authority, and I am sure that his supply will be stopped. To other honorable members, the papers are of great value, and I trust that nothing will be done in the direction suggested by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– The Commonwealth Parliament is admirably served by excellent staffs, especially the Hansard staff, but I feel that in one direction at least the policy adopted by the Government makes for inefficiency and for the discomfort of honorable members. I refer to the junior attendants at the Commonwealth offices in the various capital cities, who, after having served for six or seven months and thoroughly learned the work, are replaced by raw recruits. When a lad takes up a position as a junior attendant in those offices it takes a considerable period for him to become used to the work and for honorable members to become used to him. These harmonious conditions exist until, at the end of the period I have mentioned, or perhaps eight months, when an extension is granted, the boy is suddenly swept from the office and the whole wearisome business of training his successor has to be gone through. That not only causes trouble to honorable members, but is also wasteful because it perpetuates the dead-end type of employment and wastes six or seven months of these lads’ lives. If the boys, who perform the duties of attendants, were not replaced twice a year, the unemployment situation would not be affected. I consider that the lads should be kept in the positions at least for some years until they are called to higher duties.
– As a proper record of the proceedings of both Houses of this Parliament should be kept and made available, not only to members of Parliament, but to the public as well, it is necessary to print them. Whether the records thus printed are availed of by members of Parliament or not, they must be preserved and must still be circulated for the information of the public. The Votes and Proceedings of this House are particularly of interest to members of State Parliaments, as well as to the general public. The members of State Parliaments must know what Commonwealth legislation has been passed, and special interests in the community, which may be affected by that legislation, should also be kept informed. As for the business-paper which is placed before honorable members each day. surely it is not suggested that this could be done without. Honorable members are entitled to know as early as possible before the House meets the business which is coming before Parliament. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) complained that he had placed before him a great many printed papers for which he had no use. That may be so, because we cannot all. be experts in everything, but what is of no interest to one honorable member may be of great interest to another. Only such parliamentary papers are printed as this House authorizes. There is a Printing Committee which goes through .papers laid upon the table, and makes recommendations to Parliament as to which of them should be printed. Do honorable membei’3 suggest that Tariff Board reports, for instance, should not bc printed?
– They are too old to be oF any use by the time they are made available.
– They are made available to honorable members in time for discussion in this House of the items to which they refer. One of the problems confronting the legislature is to keep the public fully informed of its proceedings. We know that, owing to the exigencies of present-day newspaper production, it is not possible for the newspapers to publish proceedings of Parliament as fully as was once done. I often feel that not sufficient time elapses between the first ‘and second reading of hills for the public to be informed in the more distant States of the contents of the measures. When it is proposed to change some vital law of the Commonwealth, opportunity should he provided for informing the public fully of the proposed alteration, so that representations may be made in regard to it before, it is finally passed. The difficulty, of course, is in getting the bills distributed to the remote parts of the Commonwealth. The. newspapers are not now able to publish the contents of bills so fully as was once the custom, with the result that people living in some States often do not know what a bill contains until it has been passed by Parliament. Legislation enacted in this Parliament often has an important bearing upon the trade and commerce of the country, and it is only right that those affected should be fully informed. In the circumstances, I am convinced that we should be making a mistake if we attempted to restrict the publication of the records of Parliament, or the findings of authorized commissions and public committees, or documents issued by public departments.
.- I do not think that there should be any restriction regarding the printing of parliamentary papers, because such papers are of the greatest use to honorable members. I do not myself sit up all night reading them, but I am interested in many of them, and I am keenly interested in the proceedings of this House. Regarding the stamp allowance of honorable members, I point out that members representing country electorates, who have to communicate with their constituents for the most part by telegram., are at a disadvantage compared with city members, who can use the trunk telephone lines without cost to themselves. At one time, members of Parliament were able to have their Jettel-3 franked at Parliament House, and this gave them a chance to conserve their stamp allowance for use during recess. Like many concessions, however, this one was too freely exploited by some, with the result that those who were prepared to play the game were compelled to suffer. It is difficult to keep the constituents of members representing country electorates in touch with thu proceedings of Parliament. People living in some parts of my electorate, and those in the electorate of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), are often unaware of the contents of a bill introduced into this Parliament until three months after the measure has become law. If those people wish to get in touch with their -member they must do so by telegram, and the member must reply in the same way. Sometimes the telegram has to be picked up by the mail service for delivery, and if it misses the mail, it may not be delivered for a fortnight. Members representing country constituencies should he given special consideration in the way of stamp allowance, just as they should be given special consideration in the way of the ordinary parliamentary allowance. The city member, who can interview most of his constituents personally or by telephone, receives the same stamp allowance and the same parliamentary allowance as the country member., who has to use the telegraph service during the session, and has to traverse vast areas to interview constituents during recess. There are several electorates, such as Maranoa., Kalgoorlie, Grey, Darling, and my own, that arc very difficult to represent adequately because of their enormous size. It is true that the members representing these divisions have railway passes, but these are of very little use because, in some instances, the trains run only once a fortnight, and a member trying to cover a constituency with an area of 300,000 square miles and desiring to visit a place with a population of 50 or 60 people cannot afford to spend a fortnight over ft. His constituents, however, have the same right to place their views before their parliamentary representative as have- the constituents of the city member. There is much to be said in favour of the zone system of payment, such as has been adopted in. Queensland and Tasmania. The member- representing my oldState electorate of Bourke receives a: zone- allowance of £140 a- year. Withinthe federal- electorate of Kennedy there are eight of the- largest State electorates, and the eight members representing those electorates receive between them zone allowances of more than £750 a year, notwithstanding the fact that they enjoy the same concessions in regard to travel, Sec., that the federal member receives-. Dur;ng- this year, between Easter and the beginning, in September, of the present session,, I travelled through my electorate, and covered one- third of it. It is over three years since I have been able to visit such places as Normanton, Thursday Island, Burketown, Croydon, and Georgetown. Poverty and Pack of time have both combined to render visits to those places impossible. I see no reason why people living- in the remote parts of Australia should Depenalized in this way. Recently, I travelled in the train from Cairns to> Croydon with a member of the Public Service who was in receipt of a salary of about £1,000 a year. In addition to having his fare paid by the Government, that officer was in receipt of a travelling allowance of something like 30s: a day, and, in addition, was granted an allowance to cover the cost of motor transport from railway stations to the hotels at which he stayed. As one of the servants of the public, selected by the peopleespecially for the job, and having to face’ his masters every three years, I claim that, in regard’ to travelling expenses, I should have been placed at least on the same footing as that public servant. Since 192.9-, I have had to fight two State and three Commonwealth, elections. In the conduct of an election campaign, in. order to cover the ground, it is necessary to hire a car and employ a. person to drive it. That, as honorable membersrealize) is a costly business, and imposes a severe financial burden on country members. It is, obviously, impossible for many honorable members to keep in touch with their constituents unless some special provision is made to enable them to meet the heavy costs of travelling. The disadvantage under which they labour has existed for a long time, because of a fear that, the people may view the granting of a travelling allowance as an. attempt to raise parliamentary salaries. I am willing to leave, the issue to the people and. to abide by their decision. In any attempts at effecting economies, the first stops are taken in- country areas, because the voting strength in the country is not so strong as it is in metropolitan areas. In contrast with the disabilities suffered by country residents in making personal contact with their representatives in this chamber, those living within 10 miles of the boundaries of the metropolitan areas are able at any time to obtain a personal interview with their representatives at the federal members’ rooms. Some action should be taken by this Parliament toprovide for the payment of a zone al’ow.ance to honorable members representing country constituencies.
Mr. E. J. HARRISON (Wentworth) [11.5-2 J- . - .My reason for again speaking in regard to the- printing of parliamentary papers is that honorable members should be concerned that though in 1934-35 the appropriation for the printing of parliamentary papers was- £4,500, the actual expenditure- amounted to £S,000, and the Estimates now before the House provide an increase of 50 per cent, over last year’s vote. Honorable members should be concerned at this increase in the vote for a service that some honorable members consider to be unjustified. I have great respect for the remarks of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), who has had a wide experience in this Parliament; but he failed entirely to- grasp the point which I endeavoured to make in my earlier speech - that parliamentary papers should be made available to honorable members only if they require them. I suggest that honorable- members; should be circularized asking if they desire to have certain parliamentarypapers sent to them or whether they are satisfied to have them . placed in . their boxes in the party rooms. If this weredone I am sure the replies received would surprise the Treasurer, who is responsible for this expenditure. Copies of the Estimates andBudget Papers, both large publications, Votes and . Proceedings, Tariff Board reports and the ‘like, are not only posted to members, -but also placed in their boxes in the party rooms. Thus, there is considerable duplication.If these costly papers were made readily available to honorable members at appointed places a good deal of unnecessary expense could be avoided. This practice is already followed in regard to bound copies -of Hansard and parliamentary papers. Honorable members representing certain electorates may desire to have dozens of copies of certain parliamentary papers, particularly Tariff Board reports, in which their constituents are interested. While I suggest that these should be available to them, Ibelieve that the distribution of parliamentary papers generally should not -be carried out indiscriminately.
I have great pleasure in supporting the remarks made by honorable members opposite with regard to the salaries and status of attendants at the federal members’ rooms in the capital cities. These men are carrying out a very responsible task and their status should be raised to correspond with the value of the work they perform. Honorable members generally recognize the value of the service which these officers perform, particularly in looking after the needs of private members.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) has raised the question ofthe cost of the printing of parliamentary papers and has been somewhat supported -in his remarks by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). ‘The honorable member for Wentworth suggests that certain papers circulated to honorable members are not required by them, and that therefore the supply should not be continued; and that, in any case, they should not be duplicated. The only instance the honorable member has given, however., is in regard to the Votes and Proceedings.
– I also mentioned Estimates : and Budget Papers, and Tariff Board reports.
-I am sure that I receive the same bills and papers as other honorable members and I have not found any cases of duplication. They are made available to honorable members in the party rooms and a supply is also placed on the table of the House. I am sure honorable members desire the continuance of this practice. The honorable member for Wentworth has also mentioned the supply of Journals of the Senate. These are the official records of what has happened in that chamber. They are required to be printed and are circulated to all parliaments of the Commonwealth and are available to any one desiring them. The cost of the additional 74 copies required for members of this House is trivial. Requests for copies of the Journals and other parliamentary papers are numerous. When an honorable member receives a request from a constituent for a parliamentary paper he has only to go to the Clerk of Papers to get one. It will be realized therefore that a sufficient number of copies has to be printed to meet the probable demand, and that once the type is set up, apart from the cost of the actual paper used, very little further expense is incurred in printing. It is understandable that honorable members should desire to have available to them copies of the Journals of the Senate in order to ascertain what business is being done in that chamber. The honorable member for Barker ‘has complained of his inability to secure certain parliamentary papers. I invite him to inform me personally of any papers which he has been unable to secure.
– My . complaint is that I have been unable to get them for two or three days.
– The Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives and the Journals of the Senate, are the official records of what has transpired in each House of the Parliament. Proposed amendments moved on one day are reported in the records of the following day. They are promptly dealt with on that day, and honorable members are made acquainted with the business dealt with. I believe that in the main the views expressed by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) will be supported by honorable members generally. It is desirable that this information should be supplied. .
The honorable member for Barker has suggested that it is desirable that honorable members be supplied with the Hansurd report of the proceedings on the following morning. That is .quite impossible if honorable members are still to retain the right to correct proofs of their speeches.
– The press has the right to publish anything.
– The press of Australia provides reporters to make their own reports; the Hansard report is not supplied to them on the following morning. So far as I know, the question of issuing a daily Hansard has not been considered. I believe that it would be quite impracticable, and would entail tremendous additional cost. Honorable members may recall that from time to time the suggestion has been made that the cost of Hansard should be reduced, and that the reports of the debates should be curtailed, rather than increased. I do not think, therefore, that the proposal to issue a daily Hansard would be approved.
The honorable member for Wentworth has asked me to make a statement regarding the additional cost of printing. I remind him that the parliamentary estimates include the cost of printing of a number of reports, over which the Treasury, and not the Parliament, exercises control. As a matter of fact, the real reason for the considerable increase of the cost last year was the printing of the paper The Case for Union. This was not a. parliamentary paper, but the cost was included in the expenditure for last year.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has raised an important point in connexion with the stamp allowance of honorable members. I do not agree with him that this allowance has been reduced. A change has been made in connexion with it, and it was necessary because of certain abuses which had to be prevented. The matter was considered by the Joint House Committee, and the only remedy it could decide upon was that honorable members should be provided with a definite stamp allowance, and be obliged to stamp their own correspondence both during the sittings of Parliament and in the recess, ‘i’he honorable member opened up an important question when he suggested that a larger allowance should be paid to honorable members who represent big electorates, and that a zoning system should be instituted. I have some sympathy with him in that suggestion, and would welcome its adoption; but as the majority of the Joint House Committee are not agreeable to ally differentiation being made, it would be rather difficult to have it accepted by the Parliament. If honorable members themselves could come to an agreement, probably no difficulty would be experienced, because an increase of the Estimates would not necessarily be entailed. I have discussed the matter with many honorable members, and so far as I can ascertain, the view generally held is that the present allowance is reasonable and adequate. I remind the honorable member for Kennedy that honorable members are allowed to communicate with their homes by telephone. This is not made a charge against the stamp allowance, but is an additional privilege which benefits mostly honorable members who come from distant parts of the Commonwealth.
.- 1 am astounded that no honorable member, and particularly Mr. Speaker, has taken exception to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) having deliberately accused Hansard of faking the report of the debates. No other inference could be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member said that certain statements were excluded from the report which should have been included in it, and that the speeches of honorable members are radically altered by the Hansard staff. The only inference to be drawn from that statement is that the Hansard staff fakes the report. This committee should demand of the honorable member that he shall get away from vague innuendoes, come into the open, and say exactly what he accuses the Hansard staff of doing.
– Members are allowed to alter their speeches.
– If the Hansard staff allows honorable members to alter their speeches, then it permits the reports to be faked.
– The honorable member’s speeches would not read so we.l if that were not so.
– I alter hardly a line of my speeches; I have no occasion to do so.
– That is why they read so well.
– The Hansard staff rnakes a good job of the reports; that is admitted by all. The honorable member for Barker says that honorable members are allowed to alter their speeches. If that bc so, then Hansard assists in the faking of the reports. Innuendoes are always cowardly, and seldom less cowardly than the source from which they emanate. The honorable member should be compelled by this committee to state clearly and definitely by whom, why, and when the reports were faked, so that an inquiry might be made into the matter. I refuse to allow vague innuendoes to be made against a staff that has always given excellent service and is respected by every honorable member. This is the first time in my long parliamentary experience that I have heard such an accusation levelled at it. As the custodian of the rights of honorable members as well as the staffs which he controls, Mir. Speaker ought to demand that the honorable member shall say definitely and in specific terms what charges he makes and what statements have been omitted from the report that ought to have been included in it. Apparently the honorable member wishes to bc supplied every morning with speeches delivered on the previous day so that he may act the role of a. spy. It would seem that his principal concern is that he cannot exercise those characteristics for which he is so well adapted. In the interests of Hansard, as well as of honorable members, ho should show where the report has been faked, so that steps may be taken to remedy the matter. He has made a complete misstatement, and has merely talked “ through his neck “.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) fi 2.11]. - I do not think that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) can be under any misapprehension as to what I said in regard to this matter a few moments ago. I made it quite clear that, so far as my personal experience of Hansard in this House is concerned, I have no complaint to make. Take, for example, the speech that I made in this House last Friday on the Sanctions Bill. Although its delivery occupied a period of 45 minutes, I did not find it necessary to make one correction in it. Recently, however, three honorable members were perfectly convinced that a certain statement had been made which Hansard did not record, although it was vital to the subject under discussion. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price), who had prior experience to me in the Parliament of South Australia, will confirm my statement that the practice there was to place a complete Hansard report of the previous day’s proceedings in the possession of every honorable member at 9 a.m.
– What is the honorable member’s complaint against Hansard?
– I have no complaint to make against Hansard. The Minister for Defence is surely aware that not much blue pencilling is needed to make a very vital alteration.
– Is that being done?
– I believe that it has been done.
– Cite examples of it.
– The honorable member said that it was done.
– I can only say that it was, in the sense that I believe that it was. Personally, I have no complaint to make. But to remove any doubt, what objection can be .offered to each party room being supplied with half a dozen pulls, such as are furnished to honorable members for purposes of correction? That is what was done in Adelaide. If honorable members have that confidence in Hansard that I have, they will be quite prepared to adopt this suggestion.
– I desire to support the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) in regard to the inadequacy of the stamp allowance of members representing country constituencies. I leave members representing city constituencies to’ speak for themselves. I have received several complaints, about the matter, and have suffered personally. Some timeago I had a. long and serious conversation upon it with Mr. Speaker, who listened attentively and courteously to my representations. I proved to himghat my stamp allowance is inadequate for the large electorate that I have to serve. I have to pay for what is the equivalent of a public telephone. If I were not a member of Parliament I should not need a telephone; but, as things are, I have frequently to send my own private cheques to pay my telephone account, because I have not been supplied with sufficient stamps for the purpose. 1 wrote to the Treasurer on this subject and forwarded him the butts of the cheques I had sent to pay my telephone- account. I also spoke to the Minister- for Defence on the subject, for I knew that he was interested in it. Now that the matter has been ventilated again, I trust that the Joint House- Committee will give favorable consideration to the representations that have been made. I make- scarcely any trunk-line telephone calls. When I am travelling in remote areas in my division - which, I remind honorable members, is as large as South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania combined - I make use of the telegraphic facilities, particularly when I am in the north-west areas; and when I do not send telegrams, I make use- of the aerial mail, which costs more than twice as much as an ordinary mail. Then, of course, I have to pay heavy expenses for the use of motor cars when, travelling in- my division. The honorable member for Perth (Mr; Nairn) knows that? what I am saying is in accordance with the facts, for I have often been dependent upon his good graces to provide me with stamps until my monthly supply became available. I trust that I have always repaid him the stamps that he has lent me.
I now propose to deal for a few moments with the suggested zone allowance, for honorable members. I have no desire to appear to be greedy, but last year I spent 24 weeks in trying to cover rn v electorate and meet my constituents. Perhaps a more abstemious person than
I am could travel more cheaply than I do, but when one meets friends in the back country certain expenses are always incurred. Experience has proved to me tl at I cannot travel through my electorate at a lower cost than from £8 to £10 a week. During last year it cost me more than £200 in travelling expenses. Independently of the vehicles that were provided for me in different parts- of the electorate, I had to spend £70 on motor cars. When I am travelling throughmy electora te, I always have- to- “ stand Sam “ for the little social amenities that attach to the visitation of remote districts. It is probable that an honorable member who represents a city constituency, who can travel through his electorate by street cars, may not be obliged to spend very much- money when he meets his constituents; but that is not the case with country members who, indie nature- of things, can- only make some visits- at infrequent intervals. It is possible that a representative of a city- constituency may not know one in ten of his constituents, but when an honorable member is travelling through his country electorate, it does not matter very much whether he knows his constituents personally or not - they all know him very well, and he is called upon, with remarkable frequency, to act as host. In- all’ these circumstances, I submit that the zone system should’ be applied to members ‘ of this Parliament.
.- As a member of the Joint House Committee, I am well aware of the grounds upon which the request for an increased stamp allowance was based. This is not a. new proposal by any means. The Joint House Committee waited upon, the Treasurer with regard to it, and was met with the contention that to grant extra allowances to certain members would occasion undesirable differentiation.. I am glad that Mr. Speaker has promised that he will bring the matter under notice again, for there can be no doubt that the representatives of country constituencies are at a considerable disadvantage in comparison with the representatives of city constituencies.
I wish now to say a few words on the proposal to apply the zone system to honorable members of this Parliament.
Some time ago, when I moved an amendment to a certain bill that was before Parliament, with the object of bringing, the. zone system into operation, at leastto some extent, in the federal sphere,. I was accused of advocating, an increase of salary to honorable members. The zone system is in operation in. the industrial sphere, and also in the- Public Service, and it has also been applied to the Parliaments of Tasmania, Victoria, and Queensland. The idea, therefore, is not new. I believe that,, as the Government has accepted the principle in regard to the Public Service, it should allow it to be applied to this Parliament. I heartily support the suggestion of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). The- zone system was. brought into operation in connexion with the Tasmanian Parliament while the present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Lyons) was Premier of that State, so that apparently the right honorable gentleman was well satisfied at that time that it was desirable. In these circumstances, he should not resist a- proposal to introduce it here..
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) referred, in the course of his remarks regarding Hansard reports, to my membership of the South Australian Parliament, and my knowledge of its procedure. I had the honour to be a member of the Parliament of South Australia for a good many years. Every morning following a sitting day of the House, several complete “pulls” of the Hansard reports of the preceding day’s debates were made available in the party rooms, so that an honorable member had the opportunity to see the report, not only of his own- speech, but also of other honorable members. I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Barker to adopt a. similar procedure in- -respect to this Parliament could safely be accepted on the assumption that it would’ involve very little extra cost.
.- I support the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), and wish to say a few words on my own account respecting the stamp issue to honorable members. The difficulties which we now face have been occasioned by the decision of the Joint House Committee to- discontinue the franking, of members’ letters at Canberra while. Parliament is in- session. Since that time the position of honorable members in regard to stamps has become much worse than it was before-. My electorate is, to- a large extent,, a country electorate, and I look at this subject through the eyes of a country member. It was proposed, to compensate honorable members for the non-franking of letters by the payment of’ £6, but the Treasurer would not agree to this,, and finally a payment of £5 was agreed to. Unfortunately, this payment does not adequately meet the position. It is common knowledge that country members have, to do a great deal more clerical work than city members, and so incur heavier postal expenses. Moreover, country members are obliged to make trunk line calls on the- telephone much more frequently than city members. City members are able to make a great deal of use of the free telephonic facilities provided in the federal members’ rooms in the capital cities. I have no desire to differentiate unduly between city and country members, and I should have been satisfied had the proposed payment of £6 been made in consideration of the discontinuance of the franking of letters from Canberra; but I am afraid that the proposal to refer the matter to the Joint House Committee may not have satisfactory results, for the members, of another place have representation on r.he Joint House Committee. An investigation was made some time ago to ascertain the average number of letters posted per annum by each member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and it was found that, on the average, members of the House of Representatives posted 800 letters a year, while members of the Senate posted only 80 letters a year.. If the Joint House Committee reconsiders this subject, I fear that the members of the House of Representatives will be out-voted, as they were previously, by the members of the Senate, and therefore will obtain no relief. I have never been able to save sufficient out of my stamp allowance to enable me to pay my telephone bill. It amounts to from £9 to £13 a half year, because I have to make a good many trunk line calls in communicating with various Government departments. If the correspondence of members of Parliament is not to be accepted at Canberra post free, serious consideration should be given to the restoration of the original grant of £6 a year. In the town in which I live, the large amount of unemployment naturally increases the volume of my correspondence.
.- So far as my experience goes, I should say that the present stamp allowance is sufficient for most honorable members.
– It amounts to £60 a year, and the “ O.S.” mark is no longer in use.
– The old system of franking members’ correspondence through the post was, I think, open to some abuse, and the alteration made was a wise one. In such electorates as those of Kennedy, Kalgoorlie and Maranoa, where the telegraph service has to be largely employed, no doubt the honorable members concerned are put to considerable expense in bearing the cost of their communications, and special consideration should be shown in their cases.
The useful suggestion has been made that Hansard proofs should be supplied in the party rooms every morning, and I should say that this convenience could be provided without great trouble to the staff and without additional expense. I do not consider that complete copies should be furnished to each member. All that is needed is that one copy should be made available to those who desire to peruse it.
– Whether the proofs have been corrected or not?
– There would be no trouble about corrections. Honorable members are not permitted to quote in this chamber from speeches made in the current session. Any corrections found necessary would be included in the published volumes.
– But if proofs are supplied in the party rooms, they will have been made use of in this chamber before the volumes are published.
– Hansard is very accurate, on the whole, and if an honorable member were misrepresented in this chamber through an error in the reporting of his speeches, he could easily make that fact known. It. is a common practice for a Minister to make his secondleading speech) on a bill, and then to have the debate adjourned. The weekly Hansard is seldom available before the debate is resumed, and thus honorable members are deprived of an opportunity to peruse the details given in the second-reading speech.
– A member can always obtain a pull of a speech.
– Yes, by getting the permission of the Minister concerned; but. a more simple arrangement would be to have proofs of the Hansard report placed in the party rooms.
Questions asked upon notice are very unpopular, largely because the answers to them are buried at the end of the Hansard volume, and are not published until about a week later. Often a good deal of useful information is elicited in reply to such questions, and it would be available to honorable members if the practice which I have advocated were adopted.
– The present practice increases the number of questions asked without notice.
– Quite so. In outlying parts of the Commonwealth, particularly, the public has a good deal of difficulty in ascertaining what has transpired in the Commonwealth Parliament. I think that a copy of every bill introduced should be forwarded to the principal Commonwealth office in each capital city, and perhaps to some of the larger cities in States such as Queensland, so that any member of the public might be able to ascertain the nature of any bill under discussion. When the measures are passed into statute law, copies of the acts should be promptly made available to the public at a small charge. A good deal of delay has occurred in the printing of some bills. Generally speaking, newspapers are unwilling to publish the whole of the proceedings of Parliament, and. therefore, the general public has little opportunity to know what takes place here. It is our duty to make thi’ law known to the public, and to inform them of the proceedings of this Parliament. The innovation would not be costly.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) in his remarks concerning the printing of parliamentary papers. As a new member, I desire all the information which I can obtain. I am not surprised at the honorable member’s attitude, however, because as a member of a party machine, he is interested mainly in votes. Honorable members generally desire to prepare themselves for ‘the discussion of measures introduced in the other branch of the legislature, and all necessary papers should be placed at their disposal.
I have had to make only one correction to the official reports of my speeches. I have no complaint to make regarding the work of the Hansard staff, although I am probably one of the most difficult speakers with whom it has to deal. No honorable member can truthfully say that the reports of my speeches have been altered in any way. I want every word that I utter printed in Hansard, and I make no apology for any statement of mine. If the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) considers that anything I have said has not been reported in Hansard, I should like him to say so.
– I did not suggest that.
– I have attended many gatherings at which a shorthand report has been made of the speeches, and the whole of the next morning has been devoted to the correction of the report. That arrangement might be satisfactory in a small State, and probably that is why the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) considers that the practice adopted in South Australia in regard to Hansard proofs is better than that followed in Canberra.
I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth, as well as with honorable members on this side of the chamber, that the status of the messengers at the federal members’ rooms in Sydney should he raised. When I heard how small was the salary received by them, I could hardly credit it. On returning to Sydney, I have, on an average, about 40 persons to interview. Most of these persons arefirst seen by the attendants at the federal members’ rooms, and if other honorable members have as many callers as I, it can easily be seen that the attendants have arduous duties to perform. An attendant who does similar work for the Sydney Trades and Labour Council receives three times the salary of a messenger at the federal members’ rooms.
– I desire, on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to announce that on the 6 th November, His Excellency the Governor-General accepted the resignation of the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes of his appointments to be Minister of State for Health and Minister of State for Repatriation, and also of his appointment to be the VicePresident, of the Federal Executive Council. His Excellency has to-day appointed the Right Honorable Joseph Aloysius Lyons, Prime Minister, to be also Minister of State for Health, and Minister of State for Repatriation, and, in addition, to be Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed. [Quorum formed.]
– When I am in Sydney I have a daily average of 30 callers at the Commonwealth offices, and other honorable members are continually receiving visitors. It can be seen, therefore, that the attendant has a difficult task. The Government pays him a surprisingly small salary, and I suggest that his status should be raised and that his salary should be increased in accordance with the higher duties.
Complaints regarding the issue of stamps to honorable members are justified. Honorable members who represent country electorates are placed in a worse position even than that of honorable members representing metropolitan constituencies. They have often to use telegramswhere their city colleagues are able to use the ordinary letter mail. It has been stated that the existing system was instituted because certain privileges were abused. Those persons who were guilty of abuse of privilegeshould be exposed. I shall take advantage of every right or privilege which comes to me from my membershipof this Parliament, but
I shall never abuse one. I hope that the House Committee will give full consideration to the question of the stamp issue. It hasbeen stated that the free franking of letters would be a good method of surmounting the difficulties of which mention has been made, but, in my opinion a definite cash allowance to cover honorable members’ legitimate stamp requirements is what is needed.
. Honorable members representing New South Wales are inconvenienced because the typists provided in the federal members’ rooms are controlled by the Public Service Board, so that whenever Cabinet meets in Sydney their services are commandeered for Ministers. On one occasion the highest executive officer of the Commonwealth visitedSydney and,instead of obtaining typists from the departments situated in the Commonwealth Bank building, he took the only two typists that honorable members had at their disposal. Another complaint that I have to make is that when I reach the federal members’ rooms after luncheon - it is impossible for me to arrive there earlier - I have to wait sometimes for two or three hours before I can obtain the services of a typist for most important and urgent correspondence, for the reason that honorable members who have been able to arrive earlier havea prior claim. I ha ve written to the Prime Minister, becausemy complaints to the officer in charge of the rooms have had negative results. He has no control over the typists. I think that the typists -made available for honorable members should be directly under the control of thisofficer. Asa matter of fact, the members’ room in Sydney is understaffed. Theattendanthas too much to do. One result, is that -honorable members have great difficulty often in obtaining telephone connexions. What Ihave pointed out is typical of the mis management of the federal members’ rooms in Sydney. Sufficient attention is notgiven to the convenience of honorable members.
I desire also to direct attention tothe poor quality of the stationery which is supplied in this House to honorable members. The envelopes are of the cheapest type, and so is the ink. On the majority of the envelopes there is the disfigurement of a blue spot, which honorable members have to erase if they desire to post a letter which will carry the dignity of a despatch from a memberof Parliament. Surely the Government Printer could do a better job.
Mr.WATKINS (Newcastle.) [2.25].- In every capital city, rooms are provided for the convenience of honorable members, and, in view of the importance of Newcastle, which has a population of more than 120,000 persons, and has an electoral roll containing more than 56,000 names, I consider that the same privilege should be provided for the member for Newcastle.
– We might justas well give every member a federal member’s room in his electorate.
– That should be done.
– It will not be done.
– Possibly it will not, but if the Government were prepared to grant the accommodation which I desire it would be of benefit not only to me but also to other members and ministers who visit Newcastle from time to time. My constituents would be guaranteed better service. At the present time when they call at my home I am away on business in nine -cases out of ten. If Ihad an office, appointments could be -made more easily.
I believe that I am breaking new ground in suggesting that federal members should becovered by some form of workers’ compensation when they are engaged on official duties. In New South Wales and I think in the other States, employees of private enterprise and public servants -are covered by insurance against accident or illness due to causes related to their employment. Honorable members are called upon to travel day and night, and journeys are always fraught with danger. Honorable members at the present time generally take out policies themselves to protect their families, but that onus should be borne by the Government when honorable members are carrying out duties not only on behalf of t’heir constituents but also on behalf of the Commonwealth itself.
– At election time?
– At all times ; not -at election times only. All honorable members, I think, should support me in this request.
,- As tho honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) have made further references to the stamp allowances for honorable members, I feel that I should say another word about the matter. . Several honorable members seem to fee dissatisfied with the present arrangement. I have previously explained that the stamp allowance is now £5 a month. Every -honorable member receives it and stamps his own letters. The privilege of free stamping of honorable members’ letters in the House while the House is in session was withdrawn. Previously, in addition to the privilege of free stamping, an allowance of £4 a month was made. The amount of the increase to £5 was based on the average cost of stamping during the sessions in -each month over a period of three years. Honorable members in general, therefore, are not receiving a smaller allowance now than previously, but it is impossible to ‘tell how individual members are affected. The honorable member for Cook said that the new arrangement placed several honorable members at a disadvantage, and he also made reference to abuses of the former system, claiming that those who were responsible for such .abuses should be exposed. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to say who the culprits were, but soon after I had been appointed Speaker my attention was directed by officers of the House to the fact that sometimes hundreds of letters daily were being stamped Over the counter, and it was suspected that a great proportion .of them were not letters from members. I was informed that previous Speakers had tried to find means of overcoming i/his. I was determined that that abuse should be stopped, and therefore I recommended to the Joint House Committee that every member should be allowed a certain fixed amount with which to stamp his letters. That was the only way I could -see -to overcome the difficulty. The amount of the allowance was determined by working out the average previous cost under the franking system. I am of opinion that some honorable members must have been parties to the abuse, because the letters were brought from tho party rooms. One official with whom I discussed the matter suggested that the letters suspected should be opened, in order to see by whom they were signed, but, -as letters from honorable members might ‘have been opened, I would not allow that. One letter, however, was brought to me which had been sent to an honorable member, and it was signed by a man who was not a member of this Parliament, and who never nad been a member. Moreover, the letter dealt, not with official, but with private “business. I was informed that large parcels -of letters of similar outward appearance had been handed in for free postage. Abuse of that nature had to be stopped, and the present arrangement whereby members -receive a uniform allowance of stamps was introduced. In order to help those honorable members living in distant States, and to compensate them for any disadvantage they might be under, it was arranged that, honorable members might have -one free telephone call each day to their homes, and free telephone calls are <also allowed to any public department. That was not previously allowed, and the additional cost is substantial. For my part, I believe .that most honorable members are under no disadvantage now compared with previous conditions. This matter was dealt with by the House Committee, of which .1 am only -a member, but my Own opinion is that we should extend the .principle, and, ‘as recommended by the Joint House Committee, make an additional allowance of, say, £1 a month, to cover telephone calls, and abolish the free telephone privileges.
– The allowance to be made to all who applied ‘for ‘it?
– No, to all honorable members.
– Any system of allowances or privileges should be fair and equitable to all honorable members.
– It should be so arranged that some honorable members do not have to dip into their own pockets for services which others obtain free.
– It is a matter, in the main, for honorable members themselves to decide, and if a better system than that operating at present can be suggested, it should be brought forward by their representatives at the Joint House Committee meeting. It was because there seemed to be some misunderstanding in regard to it among honorable members, and because I thought it desirable to tell the whole story, that I have given this explanation.
.- This matter is more important than may appear at first glance. The duties which honorable members have imposed upon them must be carried out to the best of their ability. There is a widespread impression that what are called members’ privileges are something they enjoy over and above what is necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of their office. That is not true. No honorable member enjoys any privilege, so far as I know, in the sense that he is receiving something to which he is not entitled. All that honorable members enjoy are reasonable facilities for the proper discharge of their duties.
– Grave abuses have occurred in regard to telephone calls.
– They have. Mr. Speaker has met the position in regard to postage stamps quite satisfactorily and fairly. It was a reasonable arrangement, in thecircumstances, but the basic difficulty facing the House Committee and Mr. Speaker is that the cost for postage facilities to honorable members is not uniform. Those who represent Western Australian and Queensland electorates in particular are compelled, during recess, to communicate with Ministers by telegram, with the result that their messages must be condensed in form, and even in that form they are very costly. They cost a great deal more than it costs honorable members in Melbourne or Sydney, or even Brisbane or Adelaide, to send their communications by post. Very frequently more than one telegram must be sent.
– I have received only one telegram from an honorable member during the four years I have been administering a department.
– I have a vivid recollection of forwarding, within the last two months, a telegram to the Minister for Defence which cost £1 to send.
– That is the one to which I refer.
– Perhaps that is the only one that remains in the Minister’s memory. It did not cost me £1 of my own money, but my stamp allowance was depleted to that extent as the result of it, although if I represented a Victorian or New South Wales electorate I could have dealt with the same matter at the cost of a twopenny stamp.
– Members of the Senate -have not so much correspondence to deal with as have members of this House.
– I do not wish to pass any comment upon the duties of honorable senators, but it must be obvious from our own observations that for every letter received by members of the Senate, members of this House receive twenty. Some adjustment might well be made in that respect.
As for telephone calls I point out that members representing electorates in Queensland and Western Australia have, during parliamentary sessions, to be absent from their homes for three -or four months continuously. Quite often matters of a domestic and personal nature crop up which cannot be dealt with in a telegram, and a telephone conversation becomes necessary. A three-minute conversation between Canberra and Perth costs 17s. 6d., but a similar conversation between Canberra and Melbourne does not cost anything like so much. Therefore, it would be unjust to make a uniform telephone allowance for all honorable members.
– The honorable member would be surprised to know that the bulk of the cost in regard to telephone calls is in respect of calls by members living in -the nearer States.
– That shows, at any rale, that honorable members representing constituencies in Western Australia and Queensland have not abused their privilege. No uniform system of allowance will adequately meet the situation, because the cost to some honorable members is so much greater than it is to others. Also, as I have said, some cognizance should be taken of the fact that the correspondence of members of this House is a great deal heavier than that of members of the Senate.
.- I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) that a zone allowance of some kind should be paid to honorable members representing distant electorates, particularly such electorates as Kennedy, Kalgoorlie, Maranoa, Herbert, Darling, and Grey. In the Queensland Public Service, four separate zones are recognized. State public servants who have to work in Normanton, Cloncurry, or Mount Isa, receive an additional £90 a year, and this applies even to junior clerks. Federal members representing the most distant electorates should receive the highest allowance, while those representing metropolitan electorates in Sydney or Melbourne should receive the least. Any such system should be based on the nominal allowance which members are supposed to receive. I take this opportunity once again to protest against the reduction of members’ allowances by 15 per cent., while public servants receiving similar salaries have had them reduced by only 10 per cent. I do not believe that any reductions should have been made at all, but 1 certainly object very strongly to the singling out of members of Parliament for especially severe treatment. Most of our constituents believe that we receive considerable sums as travelling expenses, and that we travel about our electorates a good deal for the purpose of making a little on these allowances. Actually, not one penny is paid to private members of Parliament by way of travelling expenses. Before I was elected to this Parliament, us a member of the State Public Service, I was entitled to receive a travelling allowance of 17s. 6d. a day whenever T was employed outside my home town I understand that secretaries to Ministers receive, and quite rightly, free board and lodging while they are in Canberra. Serious consideration should be given to the question - of providing some assistance to honorable members in meeting the very large expenditure to which they are committed because of their membership of this Parliament. Members representing metropolitan constituencies, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, are much better ofl than those representing country electorates. They spend only two nights a week in Canberra, and for the rest of the week they are at their homes. Members representing distant States are not able to return to their homes, except, perhaps, Brisbane members, and they can do so only once or twice a session.
All the hotels in Canberra, with the exception of the Kurrajong, have recently been taken over by private enterprise. From the point of view of the new proprietors, the patronage of members of this Parliament does not constitute a payable proposition, because of the shortness of their stay in Canberra. Consequently, it is quite reasonable to assume that the new proprietors of these hotels will not be too enthusiastic about receiving members of this Parliament as guests. No difficulty has been experienced in this regard up to the present, but when Parliament re-assembles after the Christmas recess, it is possible that members may not find accommodation conditions in Canberra so satisfactory as they have been in the past. No one could blame the hotel management for that, because, after all, the lessees are engaged in the business for profit. I suggest that the Joint House Committee might inquire into the desirability of reserving the Hotel Kurrajong for members of Parliament.
Conditions are far from satisfactory at the federal members’ rooms in Brisbane. At present, new Commonwealth offices are being erected, in which provision is being made for federal members. I understand that in the new building “better accommodation will be provided for constituents desiring to interview their representatives.
At present great difficulty is experienced by the attendants at the Melbourne and Sydney rooms, because of the absence of a stamp allowance for stamping telegrams and correspondence of members who may be temporarily absent from those cities.. If telegrams and letters have to be posted to another address the ‘attendant has to advance money out of his own pocket to pay for the stamps and be reimbursed when the member returns. To overcome this difficulty I suggest that a stamp allowance of at least £1 a month should be made to the attendants in charge of those rooms.
At the federal members’ rooms, Brisbane, great difficulty is experienced because the typists are employed in a temporary capacity only. When first employed, quite naturally, these girls do not understand their duties, and are unfamiliar with the names of members and of Ministers. By the time they become efficient, and of considerable assistance- to members, their six months’ temporary service expires, and new temporary appointments are mad’e, with the result that the training has to begin all over- again. Permanent typists should be employed, and an opportune time- to make this change would be when the new rooms at Brisbane are available.
– I have listened attentively to the remarks of honorable- members in connexion with the officials employed at the members’ rooms in the various- States. I am sympathetic with much- of what has been said, and shall bring the remarks of honorable members under the notice of the responsible Minister.
.- I hope that, when the. remarks of honorable members are brought to the notice of the responsible Minister the claims of South Australia will not be ignored. I have listened with a great deal of attention to the recital of the special facilities which are afforded honorable members from other States,, and, while I think they are justly entitled to them, I am jealous that no such facilities are available in South Australia. I urge the claims of that State for a greater share of those facilities, particularly in regard to making the services of a typist available to honorable members.
.- Honorable members are at present given the privilege of communicating with their homes by teephone once a week, without charge. The thing that concerns me isthe impossibility of my taking advantage of that concession, because of the absence of. telephonic communication with Tasmania.. I ask the Minister how long we shall have to wait before that provision is made. Although country members claim that they have, to incur additional expenditure because of the number of telegrams they have to despatch, as an offset, to that they must remember that members representing city constituencies have to submit to “ bites “ which considerably reduce their parliamentary allowance.
Remainder of proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £388,350.
.- Under division No. S. General Expenses, I notice that the vote last year for “ Travelling and subsistence “ was £4,800, and the. expenditure £6,176. Evidently the £6,000 provided for that purpose for the current financial year has been based on the expenditure incurred last year. I desire to know the reason for- the sudden increase of travelling allowances, and who, exactly, collected the additionalmoney. I notice, also, that the vote for cablegrams and radiograms was exceeded by £2,000 last year, and that an additional £1,000 is. being provided this year over the vote for 1934-35’.
I understand’ that weekly communications are received from the. British authorities supplying details to the Australian Government in regard to. international developments overseas. That information, if not tabled in the House., should at least be made available to honorable members, so that they may be kept fully informed of the latest overseas developments.
This year increased provision of £3,000 is made in the Estimates for the High Commissioner’s office.. I do not know whether the gentleman who occupies that office is responsible for the increase. He has a reputation for lavish expenditure;, which does not affect his private means.
I should like a Minister to indicate exactly what has. brought about . that additional expenditure;
Some, weeks, ago Iaskedthe Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to furnish particulars of the cost of the Australian delegation to the jubilee celebrations. I was supplied with a portion of the information, and shall be glad to have the balance.
I find that only Tasmania has its Agent-General located at Australia House.
– Victoria also has its Agent-General there.
– The reason, in the case of Tasmania is that it cannot vacate the premises, because it is subject tothe terms of a lease. The Agent-General for New South Wales transferred his offices from Australia House to a building in the Strand, near the offices of Westtern Australia, to which the AgentGeneral for that State had moved just previously. Therefore, only two States have their offices in this building, which is supposed to be representative, not only of the Commonwealth, but also of the whole of the States, and, consequently, visitors find that the Agent-General whom they desire to see is in some other part of London. The Melbourne Argus of the 27th April, 1933, offered the following explanation of the vacating of the offices in Australia House by AgentsGeneral : -
It is understoodthat the departure from Australia House is the outcome of long dissatisfaction with the conditions, financial and otherwise, imposed by the Commonwealth.
The article went on to say -
The new premises are expected to be cheaper and to enable theinauguration of a window display of produce which it was unable to give at Australia House.
There is no doubt that in appearance Australia House is a credit to the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, however, it is located on what may be described as part of an island at the junction of Aldwich-street and the Strand. Those who are accustomed to negotiating the traffic of the more thickly populated cities of Australia, such as Sydney and Melbourne, will understand that people cannot be expected to risk their lives in crossing this congested thoroughfare to reach Australia House. The display of Australian dried fruits that 1 saw during a visit to London was fair, considering the space devoted to it. The building which houses the representative of Canada is. a very fine structure, and every member of the staff is a Canadian who is able to supply visitors with information concerning the Dominion. The junior officers at Australia House, on the contrary, while excellent people in every way, possess no greater knowledge of Australia than the average Englishman, to which class they belong. These officers should not only have the greatest familiarity with the Australian tongue, which is the finest English spoken, but should also have a wide knowledge of Australian conditions, and be able to supply visitors with complete information in regard to this country. 1 should like to be informed what rentals are charged to the different States, and what revenue has been derived from that source over a period of years. If the trouble with the States does not lie in that direction, what led them to vacate, their offices in this building? The AgentGeneral for South Australia moved from it on the 1st August of this year. The Premier of that State then said that Australia House was of no value for publicity purposes; and Mr. Ritchie, the Acting Premier, said that the move would be of value to South Australia, and ultimately would mean a saving of rent.
– I assure the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) that details of the expenditure incurred by the delegation which recently visited Great Britain for the jubilee celebrations are now nearing completion, and will be made available to him at an early date.I shall obtain for the honorable member information in regard to rentals charged at Australia House.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has referred to the additions made under the heading “ General Expenses”. The explanation that I offer is that the expenditure for 1934-35 shows an increase over the estimate of £4,405. That increase was due entirely to greater activity within the department. The estimates for 1935-36 show a further increase, but as provision has been included to meet the cost of the printing and distribution of the consolidated volumes of Commonwealth statutes to an amount of £3,000, the provision for the normal departmental activities is really below the amount expended during the last financial year.
In respect of the High Commissioner’s office, I desire to explain that, compared with the Estimates for 1933-34, the present Estimates show an anticipated. saving of £453. The expenditure during the last financial year fell short of the estimate by £1,027. Therefore the present Estimates reveal an increase over the expenditure for 1934-35 of £574. I should explain further that whilst it is deemed advisable in the light of experience no make additional provision to meet the greater activities reflected by increasing expenditure upon postage and cablegrams, an extra £1,040 will be required to meet increased municipal and other taxes. There is also a small increase in the amount provided for the upkeep of the official residence. At the same time, a re-arrangement of expenditure has been made. The cost of the maintenance and running of the official motor car will in future be debited against the item “Travelling and subsistence” instead of against the item “Incidental expenses “. Provision has also been made to cover the fare of Sir John McLaren to Australia, and that ofhis successor to the post of Official Secretary in London. The estimate for 1935-36 exceeds the expenditure for 1934-35 by £2,412 for the reasons that I have given. [Quorum formed.]
– I have received from a returned soldier organization in Queensland the complaint that, up to the present, the returned soldiers of that State - I assume that it applies throughout Australia - have not been able to secure representation at the Anzac Day commemoration services in London. It, is pointed out that the only representation given to Australian soldiers is through the British Empire Service League. For many years the Queensland Agent-General has endeavoured to represent officially the returned soldiers, particularly at the service at the
Cenotaph, but unfortunately has, so far, been denied the required recognition. The following is an extract from correspondence that has passed between him and the organization in Queensland : -
As you are aware,I have never seen eye to eye with the powers that be in connexion with the arrangements. There is no provision in the official Anzac party for any Australian exservice men’s organization, apart from that on behalf of the British Empire Service League, and for that matter the AgentsGeneral are given no status in the official ceremony. Any placing of wreaths by the Agents-General has tobe done after the formal ceremony when the rest of the assembly is allowed by the police to approach the Cenotaph.
I have discussed the position with Mr. Bruce and at other times with his predecessors in office, and although they have shown interest in my representations, I am afraid that there is little likelihood of bringing about a change in the procedure as it is probably the view of the authorities responsible that, were individual recognition given to any one particular organization in Australia, it would be difficult to withhold sanction from other bodies who might claim equal privileges.
That letter gives the substance of the complaints of the returned soldiers’ organizations, and I hope that steps will be taken by the Government to ascertain the exact position with the object of giving these organizations the representation they are entitled to at the Anzac Day commemoration service.
.- I direct attention to the item “Radio Research “. Last year the amount of £1,391 was voted for this purpose, but £5,099was spent. Will the Minister explainwhy the expenditure so greatly exceeded the vote and also the nature of the work thatwas done?
– I shall obtain detailed information for the honorable member and supply it to him before the next sitting day; but I am informed that the moneywas expanded by the Council for Scientific and Industrial. Research for specific research investigations.
.- I ask why only £2,245 of the £5,000 voted last year for “Research in connexionwith the gold-mining industry “was spent. The auriferous mining industry is of tremendous importance to Australia, and. I cannot understand why the full amountvoted was not expended, for there is a great need for both the conduct of research work and the tabulation of data in regard to auriferous mining. Such work would be of great value to prospectors and others interested in this important industry.
– I direct attention to the proposed vote of £41,000 for “ shipping and mail services to the Pacific Islands “. If the Government is able to provide such a substantial subsidy for these services, it ought also to be able to do a great deal more to improve the shipping services to Tasmania, in order that the people of that State might have reasonable access to the markets of the mainland. The existing conditions are thoroughly unsatisfactory, and inflict great hardship upon the people of Tasmania. I understand that it would not be in order for me to move for an increase of the proposed vote, but I. strongly urge the Government to give serious consideration to the improvement of the Bass Strait shipping services. The people of the mainland have relatively easy access to the important markets of the State capitals, but the people of Tasmania are not in that happy position. It costs 2s. 3d. to send a case of oranges from. Sydney to Hobart, whereas the freight on a case of apples is ls. 3d. If freight charges were reasonable, and citrus fruit could be sold in Tasmania at prices comparable with those ruling in the mainland, the citrus-growers would find quite a profitable market for their products in Tasmania. We have made repeated requests to the Government to improve the Bass Strait shipping service, but so far without success, tinder existing conditions, the Tasmanian producers are severely handicapped in every respect. It would be anomalous for the Government to pay a substantial bounty on citrus fruit exported overseas, while it did nothing to encourage the sale of citrus fruits in Tasmania. To be logical, the Government should at once take steps to improve communication between Tasmania and the mainland.
– I regret that the annual report of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the year ended the 30th June, 1935, is not to hand. The latest report before the House is for the year ended the 30th June, 1934. Such reports should be made available to honorable members before they are called upon to consider the work of’ important departments covered by the Estimates. We are aware, however, that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has thoroughly justified itself, and has won the confidence of those engaged in the industries of the Commonwealth. I ask the Government to furnish me with some information of the extent to which private industrial concerns are financially assisting the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Mr. DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong)
Mail services to Papua, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, and New Hebrides. - Contribution by the Government of the Western Pacific towards the cost of those services may be credit to this vote.
Is the amount of £41,000 provided annually by the Commonwealth expended wholly in connexion with mail services, or are other services rendered? I should also like to know whether the. whole of the money is paid to one company, and, if not, what companies participate in the vote.
– I wish to impress upon the Government the urgent necessity to do something to improve the dry-docking facilities at Melbourne. Formerly a matter of this kind would have been dealt with by the Development Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department, but apparently the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research now deals with it. The dry clock at Melbourne was constructed 60 years ago, and has never been enlarged or improved, although, in the intervening years,, shipping practice generally has been revolutionized. Ships of the class in use when the dock was built have long since been scrapped, and the vessels now trading to the port of Melbourne are far toolarge to be accommodated in the existing dock.
– Is not the provision of a new dock a matter for private enterprise?
– No. Recently a deputation of members of Parliament and representatives of engineers, shipping companies, and the three municipalities the territory of which abuts on the harbour, waited upon the Melbourne Harbour Trust, and it was agreed that new dry-docking facilities were necessary. Under existing conditions it is impossible for large ships to be repaired or renovated at Melbourne. If a ship needs attention to make it seaworthy, it can only be plugged with cement. Often a vessel has put to sea in a condition that, in my opinion, was unsafe. Seafaring men should not be obliged to take such risks. It is regrettable that shipping repair ‘work has to be sent to Japan and other countries, because adequate facilities are not available at Melbourne. The Melbourne Harbour Trust intimated to the deputation to which I have referred that it was prepared to provide its quota for the construction of a new dry dock at Melbourne, to enable shipping -repairwork to be distributed more equitably between the capital cities. Subsequently a representative deputation, which included Mr. YorkeSyme and other leading shipping men waited upon the Government of Victoria and stressed the urgent necessity for the immediate provision of adequate drydocking facilities at Melbourne. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, agreed, in -a generalway, with the submissions put to him, and it was decided that the State Government, the Harbour Trust, and representative shipping men, should wait upon the Commonwealth Government with the object of securing its participation in a three-party arrangement to provide adequate drydocking facilities in Melbourne. It was pointed out that the Commonwealth was interested in the matter from the viewpoints of defence and the development of shipping facilities generally. As large sums of money . are being spent in these days on public works which, but for the need to provide work for the unemployed, might not have been put in hand for years, I submit that it is not unreasonable to ask that . the construction of a new dry dock for Melbourne should be put in hand at once. Apparently, no scientific investigation has yet been made as to the possibility of money available for the relief of unemployment being used for the improvement of great national assets, such as dry docks; and as . heavy expenditure will, no doubt, be incurred -within the coming year to provide employment, some of the money should be . spent on works such as that mentioned by me. I have already approached the Prime Minister, and he is now considering how best toco-operate with the waterfront authorities in Melbourne. What is required is an arrangement whereby this work can be put in hand on a three-party basis. I suggest that advice be sought from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as to the necessity for improved docking facilities in the capital cities, and particularly in Melbourne, where they are worse than in any other important port of the British Empire. The council investigates problems . connected with mining and metallurgy, animal health, plant diseases and fuels, andit seems desirable that it should also give consideration to the provision of dry dock facilities, which have a vital bearing upon the defence problem. [Quorum formed.]
.. - I have to inform the honorable member for East Sydney ‘(Mr. Ward) that the Radio Research Bureau is continuing its fundamentalinvestigations, aimed at the ultimate improvement of the radio services of Australia. Valuable information has been obtained in regard to fading, reflection of radio waves in the ionosphere and atmospherics, with a view to overcoming their effects on receiving sets, and using them for weather forecasting.
On the subject of research in connexion with the gold-mining industry, I may state that in 1934 the ‘Government decided to grant to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research the sum of £5,000 per annum for a period of five- years- for this, purpose. In planning the investigations- thus rendered possible, the council has been particularly fortunate in obtaining the co-operation of existing metallurgical, laboratory organizations, and the advice- of many prominent metallurgists and mining authorities in. Australia. The work is being conducted by the- Kalgoorlie School of Mines, the Metallurgical Laboratory of the Western Australian Department of Mines, the Bonython Metallurgical Laboratory of the South Australian School of Mines and Industries, and the Metallurgy School of the University of Melbourne. The council has been granted extra equipment for each of these laboratories. Further details can be supplied at a later stage.
– Dr. Woolnough stated in his report on the Tennants Creek gold-field that he had never previously seen gold in that type of country.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The honorable member is now dealing with a matter that concerns the Department of the Interior.
I have every sympathy with the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) in his request regarding returned soldier organizations, and that matter will be investigated.
Provision is made under “Miscellaneous “ for some improvement of the Tasmanian shipping service, and, in addition to- that, the matter is; now receiving further consideration.
In reply to the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford), I may say that Burns, Philp and Company is paid an annual subsidy of £44,000 for its service to the Pacific Islands. The government of the Western Pacific makes- a contribution to the Commonwealth Government of £3,000 a year for the benefits which it derives from this service, leaving the amount of £41,000 to be paid by the Commonwealth. There has been no change in the amount payable to the company annually since 1932-33, when the subsidy was reduced by 10 per cent. This matter is now due for reconsideration, and has been referred to a subcommittee: of the Cabinet.
– -Does the subsidy apply to the whole of the inter-island services ?
-It applies to the service from. Sydney to Rabaul and the Mandated Territories.. [ shall be glad to have any representations’ which the honorable member may desire to make on the matter.
The subject of graving dock facilities at Port Melbourne, mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr: Holloway) is one of considerable interest to me-. I shall not delay the committee at this stage by examining- the merits of various docks, but I shall have the matter referred to the Council for Scientific- and- Industrial Research, as suggested by the- honorable member.
I regret that the annual report of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is not available for- use in the present discussion, but I shall ask that it be forwarded as soon as possible.
– To what extern is private enterprise contributing towards the cost of research ?
– A considerable- increase has occurred this year in the cost of the work of the council, but in the opinion of the-. Government a reasonable contribution to the cost is being- made by the private interests affected. It would appear that the- work of the council is appreciated, because of the results which have been, and are being,, obtained.
.- Most of the expenditure on research in connexion, with the mining industry seems to be made in Western Australia, Victoria, and South Australia. [Quorum formed.] The Minister informed me that he did not know why Queensland had not received a share of this grant. I notice, that the vote for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research this year amounts- to £122,460, which- covers £95,494 for salaries and’ payments in the; nature of salaries, and £26,966 for general expenses. A proportion of the vote is: allocated for the- investigation- of animal health. I do not know whether any of the money will be used in subsidizing the States, but there appears to be duplication of effort. The Agricultural Department in Queensland has compounds where it investigates animal diseases and animal health generally. One depot is in Brisbane and others are located in other parts- of the
State. One of the largest menaces to the sheep-breeding industry is the blowfly pest, which is responsible for the death, of more sheep in Queensland than even droughts. I do not know whether investigations of pests which affect “Western Queensland can be carried on in Canberra, but it would appear to me that they should be conducted in the sheep-breeding areas. For some time, cattle travelling from the Gulf of Carpentaria and other parts of the Northern Territory have returned to the breeders only £2 10s. or £8 a head. Owing to tho prevalence of the tick, not only do the cattlemen have to dip their cattle two or three times before they are placed in the trucks, but at the end of the journey they also have to spray them against buffalo-fly, which it is feared will be carried to the dairy herds on the coast. The nien concerned are expected to meet their taxation commitments, but every obstacle is placed in their way before they can dispose of their products. The buffalofly is still a trouble in the* gulf country, but the Queensland Agricultural Department is handling it. I do not know whether that department is subsidized by the Commonwealth, but it appears that there is duplication ‘of the work. An amount of £12.000 has been set aside for the investigation of mineral deficiencies in stock pastures. I think that most of that money is to be spent in the Charters Towers cattle district ‘ for the investigation of pegleg disease in cattle, which is due to the poorness of the water. I have not yet seen a report as to the progress which has been made by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in its investigations.
– I shall make available to the honorable member the report of the council.
– I should be pleased to have several copies to send to the cattlemen concerned, in order that they mav see what work has been done.
– I should like an explanation in respect to the vote under the heading “ Forest Products.” In 1934-35 the amount voted was £15,177, and the actual expenditure was £14,358. This year the vote has been increased to £23,138. I should also like some information as to the vote for radio research conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This year the amount provided on the Estimates is £4,470. Last year the estimate was £1,391, but the excess expenditure was about £4,000. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) as the result of the very keen interest he displayed when he was Postmaster-General, should know something about radio research, and 1 take this opportunity to thank him for having reduced the listeners’ licence-fee to 2ls. per annum. From the fees paid the Australian Broadcasting Commission receives a substantial revenue. I should like to know why Parliament is called upon to pay additional money for the conduct of this investigation when the Broadcasting Commission could readily spare funds for the work. I should welcome in the near future a further reduction of the licence-fee.
– Some months ago a statement, appeared in the Brisbane press that shipping between Sydney and the Islands would in future omit Brisbane as a port of call. 1 immediately communicated with the Prime Minister’s Department, urging that Brisbane should not be omitted, and I received a reply from the secretary to the effect that my communication had been noted, and would receive careful consideration. Since then I have, heard nothing further.
– I undertake to bring under the notice of the committee which is investigating the proposed new shipping contract the matter raised by the honorable member.
– I hope that the Minister will do so. The people of Brisbane are very perturbed. If the port is omitted several business interests in Brisbane will suffer considerable loss of trade.
– For the first time there appears on the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department an item of £2,500 for the National Library. Can the Minister make a brief statement as to the purpose of that vote?
– The vote for radio research has been placed on the Estimates for the special purposes of the Postal Department. The investigations conducted by that department deal mainly with fading, and are more connected with the radio telephone service than with broadcasting. I do not think there is any overlapping with what the Australian Broadcasting Commission is doing.
In reference to the vote under the heading of “ Forest products “, the activities for which the vote is to be made were established in 1929, to undertake research into the utilization of forest products of which timber is obviously the principal product. The functions are distinct from those activities carried on at present by the State organizations, and the new expenditure is mainly for removal expenses to new laboratories, extension of preservation and utilization works, timber seasoning preservation and utilization, and many other purposes which the States are not at present handling.
In response to the matters raised by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), I shall supply at a later stage the full text of the report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the investigations into the blow-fly and buffalo-fly pests.
– I have been asking questions for months and have received no satisfaction, and I should like the latest information about the blow-fly.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Work is being continued on two main lines, the possibility of reduction of numbers by improved trapping and elucidation of the factors which make the sheep susceptible. In regard to the latter phase, close attention is being given to the Mules’ surgical method of removing wrinkles and thus reducing the incidence of one type of body strike. As regards the buffalo-fly, liberations of spalangia, a parasite bred as the result of three years’ study of the problem in Java, were made in Northern Australia, and shortly an inspection will be made to see to what extent the beetle has established itself. I shall endeavour to obtain additional information regarding this particular pest. Investigations into the blow-fly problem are being carried out at Nyngan, New South Wales, which is regarded as being a suitable place for the investigations. I shall bring under the notice of the Minister in charge of Development the views expressed by the honorable member for Kennedy.
I repeat my promise to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) that I shall make his complaint a personal matter with the committee which is investigating the renewal of the Pacific Islands shipping contract.
With the completion of the first wing of the National Library building the Government, at the request of and in consultation with the Library Committee, has considered the position of the Library in relation to its extra-parliamentary activities, and has provided an amount of £2,500 under Division 13 (Prime Minister’s Department) to cover these services. This additional amount is designed to assist the Library Committee in building up the special collections, such as Australian history and literature, which are the particular responsibilities of a national library, and in developing the national functions which the committee, with its limited resources, has in the past been carrying out only under difficulties. These functions, which are additional to the Library’s services to Parliament, are clearly set out in the recent survey of Australian libraries conducted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which highly commends the policy of successive library committees in building up a national library on the lines of the Library of Congress at Washington, andurges the extension of the Library’s activities. It is, moreover, interesting to note that both Canada and New Zealand have been advised by Carnegie library experts to follow the example of cur Commonwealth Library Committee in this regard.
The chief of the extra-parliamentary functions of the Commonwealth Library are -
Because of the Australia-wide nature of these services, which are of benefit to scholars and libraries through the Commonwealth, it is not thought fitting that appropriation for them should continue to be made on the vote for Parliament. Provision has, therefore, been made under the Estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department.
It should be pointed out that the development of the Library’s national activities will react to the advantage of the work of Parliament and the Government. All the books, of which 65,000 are in the National Library building and 50,000 at Parliament House, are equally accessible to honorable members, and the more intensive the work -done on the collections to fulfil the wider functions of a national library the more readily is information available upon a greater variety of subjects. The necessity for having such information, in view of the growing complexity of the matters with which the Commonwealth Parliament has to deal, is, I think, fully realized by honorable members, who will appreciate that the wider the scope and activities of the Commonwealth Library the better it is able to assist the Government, the Parliament, and the departments in their work
.- On the eve of the retirement of Mr. David Dow from the position of official secretary in New York, I wish to enter a protest against the failure of the Government to appoint him to the position of Commissioner-General in New York. For years he has been carrying out the duties associated with that position, and I think it would he a fitting gesture for the Government to make the appoint ment even now, so that when he does retire he will have occupied the CommissionerGeneralship.
Australia provides a subsidy of £41,000 for a shipping service to the Pacific Islands, and receives £3,000 from the British Commissioner for the Western Pacific in return for the services rendered to the islands administered by him. I do not believe that Australia should embark upon a programme of annexation, but it is an anomaly that the eastern islands of the Solomon group should be administered by Britain, while the other islands of the group are administered by Australia. It is impossible for the British islands to be governed properly when all official communications have to be sent through the British Commissioner at Fiji to Downing Street, and the replies then sent back to Fiji, and forwarded on to Talagi. It would be much better if those islands were under the control of our own Administrator at Rabaul. It is no surprise to see that the islands administered by Britain are making no progress compared with the territory of Papua, which is a credit to Australian administration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
House adjourned at 4.3 p.m.
Thefollowing answers to questions were circulated : -
s asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible. canberra : conditionsof employment.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon . notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1,2, and 3. The whole question of the regula tion of wages and other conditions of employmentin the Territory is now receiving the personal attention of the Attorney-General, and it is anticipated that an amending ordinance will shortly be promulgated.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What nations have not yet notified their acceptance of sanctions Nos. 2, 3, and 4?
– According to latest official advises “from the League of Nations, the only League members that have not yet notified their acceptance of sanctions Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are Albania, Austria, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Salvador and Uruguay. Switzerland, while pointing out the difficulties involved in her case in connexion with sanction No. 3, intimated ‘that she was -prepared to- cooperate in a manner which not only would not be detrimental to the common aims, but would also bo such as to secure the full attainment of those . aims by different methods.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be conveyed to the honorable member as soon as possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19351108_reps_14_148/>.