14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) tookthe chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.FORDE.- Has the attention of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties been drawn to a report from Tokyo, which appeared in to-day’s press, to the effect that the Japanese press reports that the Consul-General for Japan in Australia is rejecting the Australian proposals for a trade agreement, and is insisting upon an agreement bartering rayons and cottons for wool; furthermore, that the Australian proposals were unfair, and were designed for the purpose of mollifying the graziers of this country ? Is the honorable gentleman in a position to either confirm or deny this report, and will he make a statement to the House on the subject ?
– My attention has been called to the press report referred to by the honorable member. It is definitely inaccurate.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. A report was published in the press recently of a speech which I had made at Tennant’s Creek in which it was alleged that I had said that this Parliament was rotten to the core. This honorable House is sufficiently well acquainted with me to know that Iam not afraid to express what is in my mind concerning Parliament or any other matter,and to stand by my opinion. I did not use the words credited tome, nor any other words having a similar meaning, nor do those that appear in the report express my opinion. At the meeting which I addressed I went out. of my way to praise members of this honorable House who have helped me to place the Northern Territory on the map, as it had not been placed for a period of twelve years. I have been treated by this honorable House with courtesy, and am annoyed that I should be so misrepresented, apparently to serve a political end. If at any time I should feel that this Parliament is rotten to the core I shall not hesitate to say so, but in the proper place, namely, on the floor of this honorable House.
– -Has the Prime Minister received from the Premier of South Australia a protest against the inadequacy of this year’s grant by the Commonwealth to that State to compensate it for disabilities suffered in consequence of federation 1 “Will the right honorable gentleman give to South Australia the opportunity to make a further submission of its claims, with a view to obtaining a more substantial grant than that proposed ?
– I have received from the Premier of South Australia a protest against what he regards as an inadequate grant. In reply to the second part of the honorable member’s question, T would point out that South Australia has had every opportunity to place its full case before the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and has done so, just as have other governments which have sought a special grant from .the Commonwealth. South Australia will again have an opportunity to submit its case during the ensuing financial year. That applies also to the other States. lt is not intended that the case already decided shall be re-opened.
– Can the Prime Minister ‘toll us when the appointment of the Common wealth Grants Commission is due to expire, and whether the Commissioners are now proceeding to make further recommendations, or whether it is intended that their functions shall devolve upon the proposed interstate Commission ?
– The present .term of the Commonwealth Grants Commission expires on the 16th July, 1937. Meanwhile, the commission is discharging its duties under the terms of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act, and will continue to do so.
– I lay on tha table -
Tariff Board - Annual report for the year 1035-36. together with schedule of recommendations.
The report is accompanied by an annexure containing a summary of the Tariff Board’s recommendations which have been finally considered by the Government, and setting out what action has been taken in respect of each recommendation. As practically the whole of the recommendations included in the annexure are covered by reports of the board which have already been made available to honorable members, it is not proposed to print the annexure. I therefore move -
That the report be printed.
.- I should like a fuller explanation from the Minister (Mr. “White) as to his reason for not printing the annexure.
Mr. White rising to speak
– -With n view to protecting the privileges of honorable members, I should like to know whether the Minister will close the debate if he merely answers the question asked by the honorable member for Capricornia ‘(Mr. Forde).
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) rose, and I called him.
– If there is to be a debate the Minister should not immediately make his reply. I suggest that he answer the honorable member for Capricornia by way of interjection.
– The usual procedure is being followed. Obviously reports of the board which have not been dealt with bv the Government, could not be printed in the annexure.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
– Can the Minister for Defence say whether a decision has been reached concerning the expenditure of the sum provided for naval construction in the budget? Will any vessel be constructed at Cockatoo Island dockyard ?
– The exact nature of the vessel or vessels to be constructed has not yet been determined. I give the honorable member the assurance that, as far as possible, the work will be carried out at Cockatoo Island dockyard’. It is the declared policy of this Government that as much naval construction as possible shall be carried out in Australia.
– “Will the Minister of Defence indicate whether any of the equipment for any new vessel which it is proposed to have built at Cockatoo Island dockyard will be manufactured at any of the Commonwealth defence establishments, such as the Lithgow small arms factory? If so, is it anticipated that the placing of such orders will lead to an increase of employment at any of those establishments ?
– 1 am not sufficiently well acquainted with the details associated with the construction of such vessels to say whether the guns or other armaments can be manufactured in Australia; but I can say that if the munitions factories at Lithgow and other places, which already manufacture a considerable quantity of armament, can do this work, the orders for it will certainly be placed with them, a natural concomitant being an increase of the employment which they provide.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether the Government, before determining the type of vessel to be obtained for the naval authorities, will consider the possibility of acquiring or building armoured speed launches for coastal defences similar in type to those used tb-day by Great Britain and continental countries ?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable gentleman’s request.
– In view of the fact that it has not been found necessary to make provision in the budget this year for assistance to the wheat industry, I ask the Minister for Commerce whether the Government, when introducing legislation to provide for the continuance of the fertilizers subsidy for another year, will make it applicable to the wheat industry? Hitherto it has not been so.
– It has been the custom, in recent years, to make the fertilizers subsidy available to those engaged in primary producing industries in which prices have been very low, so that they may experience less difficulty in carrying on than would otherwise be the case. The wheat industry has not been included among these industries because certain other arrangements have been made to assist it. This year the. price of wheat is better than it has been for several years, and it is not anticipated that the wheat industry will be included in those industries for which this assistance will be provided. If the position alters and representations are made to the Government by the wheat-growers consideration will be given to them.
– I ask the Minister.inCharge of Development and Scientific and Industrial Research whether any frost-resisting potato tubers have yet been received by the research department? In explanation, I may say that last November I asked a question in regard to certain varieties of frostresisting potatoes. In the following month I was informed that the Commonwealth High Commissioner had been asked to have samples of such potatoes forwarded to Australia. Will a report on the subject be made available to honorable members ?
– I shall obtain the information the honorable member, desires.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, following upon his recent visit to New Guinea and North Queensland, he is in a position to make a statement to the House regarding the alleged activities of Japanese sampans in North Australian waters?
– Many disturbing reports have appeared in the press from time to time regarding the alleged depredations of Japanese sampans along the coast of North Queensland. On that account the sub-collectors of customs in Queensland were given instructions to hire motor boats or aeroplanes if necessary, to reconnoitre and take action. In addition, in June, 1936, the department chartered a vessel to patrol the coast from Cairns to Thursday Island, and return. Opportunity was taken during the voyage of that vessel to make investigations at the various points visited, and all islands from which reports emanated, to ascertain the accuracy or otherwise of the reports in certain newspapers regarding interference with the property of Australian citizens, while I also conducted investigations at North Queensland ports and Thursday Island. The investigations showed that the reports were grossly exaggerated. No evidence was forthcoming that sampan crews had interfered in any way with either Australians or natives.
– Were any sampans seen?
– No. Such craft as do visit the coast occasionally do so apparently without any organization behind them. The crews of sampans sometimes land on deserted parts of the Queensland coast in distress or for the purpose of obtaining fresh water and wood, and one was wrecked on the North Queensland coast some months ago. It was reported that gold ore had been stolen from Possession Island, but this was found to be untrue. Reports of thefts of food and goa,rs from Hicks Island were also proved to be unfounded. In fact no basis was discovered for the rumours that Japanese sampans were engaging to any extent in illicit fishing in territorial waters. Nevertheless, the Government has already announced its intention to provide a patrol boat, to prevent illicit fishing in Australian waters, and to exercise greater vigilance over smuggling, and designs have been obtained from China and American customs sources. Quotations have now been invited from various firms for the building of a suitable patrol boat within the Commonwealth for the carrying out of this purpose.
Privy Council Decision
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral to supplement for me certain information which he made available last week regarding the James case Will the honorable gentleman provide honorable members with copies of the precise report of the argument and judgment in the Privy Council appeal case - James v. The Commonwealth, or, alternatively, place upon the table of the library, a single copy of it? If neither of those courses is found to be practicable, will the honorable gentleman at least furnish me with a copy, in typescript, of his own argument and the judgment of the Privy Council?
– A report of the judgment of the Privy Council in the James case, together with the usual abbreviated summary of the argument, has already appeared in the Commonwealth Law Reports.
– I have, of course, seen that.
– The Government has made arrangements for the printing of a number of separate copies of that report, and no doubt some of these can be made available to honorable members. I shall, however, make arrangements for the full report of the argument, together with the judgment, to be placed on the table of the Library.
– I lay on the table of the House copies of notes which have been exchanged between the ConsulGeneral of France at Sydney, acting on behalf of the Government of French Indo-China, and the Minister for External Affairs, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, constituting an agreement commencing on the 20th May, 1936, regarding, the exemption from consular visas on bills of health of vessels registered in the respective countries.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether Mr. E. R. Reynolds, who appeared for the Crown in a case in the Melbourne City Court when charges were heard against the Registrar of the High Court, Mr. S. S. Mackenzie, is identical with the Mr. Reynolds who was the barrister assisting the Royal Commission on Banking and Monetary Reform, and whose services were dispensed with following upon criticism from this House? If Mr. Reynolds was the gentleman concerned, can the AttorneyGeneral say whether this brief was handed to him as compensation for losing his position with the royal commission? I should also like to know whether it is true that Mr. Reynolds is a personal friend of the Attorney-General?
– To the first part of the question the answer is “ To the best of my knowledge, information and belief, yes; “ to the second part it is, “ No,” and to the third part it is, “ I hope so.”
– In view of the necessity for daily mail communication between Tasmania and the mainland, will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral make a recommendation that on days when ships are not running, in the ordinary way, between Tasmania and the mainland, all mail matter shall be carried by the aeroplanes at ordinary postage rates?
– I shall convey the honorable gentleman’s request to the Postmaster-General.
– Will the Minister for Defence state whether any finality has yet been reached in the negotations with the British authorities regarding the overseas air mail service? If it is proposed to vary the present arrangements, will he give an assurance that the existing internal mail services will not be discontinued ?
– This matter was considered by the Government to-day, and will receive further attention to-morrow. The particular phase mentioned by the honorable member will receive consideration along with all the other phases involved.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state what hours of labour and rates of pay are enjoyed by aboriginals engaged on the water conservation undertaking at military head-quarters in Darwin ?
– I shall make inquiries and let the honorable member know.
– When the Minister is preparing a reply to the question asked by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), will he also furnish information as to the proportion of aboriginal to white labour on that job, and will he state the number of persons at present unemployed in Darwin?
– I shall make a noteof the honorable member’s question.
– In view of the fact that it has been decided to allow Imperial Airways to carry Australian mails on large flying boats, will the Minister for Commerce arrange to have suitable pontoon landings provided in Darwin Harbour, so that distinguished visitors to Australia may not be precipitated into the water ?
– The honorable member’s question is based on mistaken premises.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state when new copies of the electoral rolls will be printed?
– I understand that new rolls are already being printed in Victoria. I do not know what is the position in other States, but I shall find out and let the honorable member know.
– Has the Government considered the advisableness of inviting representatives from the Dominionsof South Africa and New Zealand to confer with representatives of the Government of Australia regarding matters of mutual interest in the southern hemisphere?
– While I feel that it is good that the views of those who represent the various dominions should be exchanged from time to time, there has been no suggestion that any conference of the kind mentioned by the honorable member should be called at present.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether when the proposed constitution alterations are submitted to the people for their approval, he will give the electors an opportunity to say whether they wish to abolish State Parliaments, and have instituted in their stead new administrative regions, based on voluntary effort, so that each such district will have given to it greater real control of its domestic policy? This would enable the Commonwealth to become a real federation,and enable this Parliament to concern itself with only national questions, and prevent its attention being diverted to domestic and local district issues.
– The intention of the Government in regard to the referendum will be disclosed to the House at a very early date.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -1936 -
No.5 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 6 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks Association.
No. 7 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No.8 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 9 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 10 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; Australian Postal , Electricians’ Union; Australian Third DivisionTelegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union; Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association ; Commonwealth Public Service Arti- sans’ Association ; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association: Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association; Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department; Fourth Division Postmasters. Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union: and Postal Elec tricians Supervisors and Foremen’s Association,Postmaster-General’s Department, Commonwealth of Australia.
Canberra University College - Report for 1935.
Copyright Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1836, No. 123.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 122.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1936, No. 120.
Peace Officers Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 115.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Health - E. A. Rogerson.
Interior - L. D. Pryor.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance, of 1936 - No. 36 - Canberra Community Hospital Hoard (No.2).
Whaling Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 114.
Additions. New Works,building, etc.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 11th September (vide page 95).
Proposed vote, £60.
I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Ma honey) for raising the important subject of bousing. It has always seemed to me that a national parliament should regard as one of its chief duties the provision of adequate housing for the people. It is all very well to say that this work is the duty of the State or municipal authorities; I maintain that, if the housing and working conditions of the people are not a matter for a national parliament, then this National Parliament can hardly justify its existence. In practicallyevery populated part of Australia the housing problem exists. In the city areas, of course, it is always obtruding itself; but, even in the large capital cities, conditions could not be worse than in my own electorate. In the municipalities of Wollongong, Kembla. and NorthIllawarra, I have seen threeAustralian families living together in one poor humpy. The only things that mar the natural beauty of the south coast are the habitations of man. If the Government has millions of pounds to spend on defence, it can surely find some money for the provision of better housing. If it is not prepared to embark directly upon a housing scheme of its own, it should at lease make the money available to the municipalities which are prepared to do the work. I am sure that the three municipalities I Lave mentioned would be only too glad to provide better housing within their borders if the necessary funds were made available, and they would do this work efficiently. It is time, however, that responsibility in these matters was transferred from the municipalities and State governments to this Parliament. I hope that in its next budget, if it does not do so beforehand, this Government will seriously consider making available finance for the housing of our people.
We hear a constant howl about the merits of contract labour as compared with those of day labour. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to the construction of this Parliament House. I remind him of the coffin ships which were built by contract labour, and point out that the works authorities of every State will not allow private enterprise to build bridges for railways, although some of them may be willing to let contracts for the laying of sleepers.
– And what about the foundations for the new Commonwealth offices in Canberra in which it was found the right quantities of cement had not been used?
– Yes, that happened in this capital city. I remind the honorable gentleman also of certain buildings constructed by private enterprise for this Government in which the work was done so badly that the bricks could be picked apart by hand. In one case in Goulburn an unfortunate woman, because of dry rot in the materials used in construction, fell through the floor of her kitchen a week after she occupied a new house built by private contract under a government housing scheme for returned soldiers. This woman suffered a septic leg as the result of that accident.. The history of government undertakings carried out by private enterprise is a series of one scandal after another. Following the collapse of the railway bridge in what is known as the Cootamundra disaster, in which a number of people were drowned, no contract for the building of railway bridges has been let in any
State to private enterprise. At all events, wherever a private contract for such work might have been let, the construction was carried out by day labour. The system of constructing public works by private contract is doomed because of the dishonesty and profit-mongering inherent in it; it is a system in which a rotten interior- can be covered up by a fair exterior. The honorable member for Swan, is fully aware of these facts, because he was a member of the Public Works Committee when some of the works which I have mentioned were being done. Had it not been for two members of the committee from this side of the House, no one would have heard about the coffin ships incident. ‘
– That is a deliberate falsehood !
– The contractors concerned in these cases should have been sent to gaol as wilful murderers. Had these ships been allowed to leave Sydney Harbour they would have sunk with all souls on board. Yet we find that money was paid out of the Commonwealth Treasury, not only for the building of these ships, but also as compensation after the whole thing was exposed. I contend that such practices will continue if the Government decides to have its public works done by contract. Scandal after scandal has been exposed in. connexion with the building of homes for returned soldiers, and an investigation into the settlement of soldiers has revealed wholesale exploitation; lands hawked for sale all over this country at 30s. an acre were sold to the soldiers at from £3 to £4 an acre. If the Minister, in view of these facts, declares that the present Government does not support the system of day labour, then I say, “Shame on it.” If it proposes to erect public buildings, it will need to have such work carried out by day .labour; otherwise the buildings will crumble very shortly. If private enterprise had erected this Parliament House the roof would have fallen in long ago, with the result that by-elections would have been held all over Australia. I warn the Government that if it will not have its undertakings carried out by ° day labour, but prefers a system which allows profit-mongering, then our children, if not ourselves, will live to regret it. I ask honorable gentlemen if they really believe that the Works Department of New. South Wales would allow private enterprise to undertake such works as the construction of the Woronora, Nepean and Avon dams. Of course not. Had it done so, Sydney would have been flooded out long ago. As in the ease of the foundations in this city, only one-third of the proper quantity of cement would have been put into the dams.’ Thus, when the Minister states that day labour is not the policy of this Government, and refuses to take notice of what has been said by the honorable members for West Sydney and Cook, he is telling the people of Australia that this Government stands for a policy of subsidizing private profit-mongers, who seek to get money out of the Commonwealth Treasury under false pretences through the jerry-building of bridges and houses. The honorable member for Swan must find a better policy than that which he has advanced if he desires to throw mud at this party’s advocacy of day labour. The facts, the world over, are against his argument. In any undertaking where there is a danger of serious loss of life no government will trust private enterprise to do the work, but will do it under its own supervision by day labour.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) stated that had it not been for two Labour members of the Public Works Committee, when that committee was inquiring into the building of two wooden ships in Sydney, those ships would have been allowed to sail from Sydney, with the result that all on board would have lost their lives.
– That is not what I said.
– The honorable member’s imputation was that it was only because of the fact that these two Labour members of the committee intervened that those ships were not allowed to sail. That is one of the most contemptible statements ever made by an honorable member in this chamber.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Swan in order in referring to a remark made by another honorable member as contemptible ?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).I should require to hear the honorable member further before I could decide that his remarks were out of order.
– The statement to which I have referred is absolutely untrue. I was chairman of the Public Works Committee at the particular time, and it was at my suggestion that Mr. Farquhar, the general manager of Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland, inspected those ships. I promised him a fee of £200 for doing so, and it was his inspection which led to the discovery of faults in the ships.
– Who paid the £200?
– The Government. If it had not paid the amount, I would have been compelled to bear the expense myself; but I took the responsibility of engaging a gentleman who was able to find out the cause of the trouble, with the result that the Government recovered £75,000 that would otherwise have been lost. As to any difference of opinion among the members of the Works Committee in regard to this matter, once the committee obtained a report from Mr. Farquhar, there was no doubt as to what its recommendations should be. I resent the imputation that except for the action of two members of the Labour party, who were members of the committee, the vessels would have put to sea.
– I rise to a personal explanation. I desire to correct the statement made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who has completely misrepresented what I said. I did not say that but for the action of the two Labour members of the Works Committee these ships would have gone to sea. It will be recalled that Mr. Parker Moloney, who then represented the Hume electorate in this chamber, was accused of giving away confidential information in regard to these vessels. What I did say was that if it had not been for two members of the Labour party the whole matter would have been hushed up, and the public would not have known anything about these coffin ships.
.- Will the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) inform me whether provision ha3 been made for the erection of an up-to-date poet office in Brisbane, as promised by the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) when the Cabinet met there recently? For several years I have advanced the claims of the people of Brisbane for postal facilities equal to those granted in other capital cities. Having frequently complained of the obsolete nature of the present post office, I was, therefore, particularly pleased, as were also the people of Queensland generally, to know that Cabinet had decided, on the advice of the Postmaster-General, to replace the present premises with up-to-date offices. On that account, I am anxious to know whether provision h.a9 been made in the current Estimates for this work. The amount set down for postal works thi3 year is £1,750,000, an increase of £73,745.
– I suggest that the terms of the statement made by the PostmasterGeneral are of some consequence.
– I am speaking on behalf of the citizens of Brisbane, who, I assure the Treasurer aud the Government, expect the promise to be honoured. Plans and estimates for the work were prepared about twenty years ago, but postal business in Brisbane is conducted to-day under obsolete methods. I need not delay the committee by describing in detail what the Postmaster-General saw on his recent visit to the General Post Office at Brisbane. I am satisfied that he was convinced that the employees are called upon to work under disgraceful conditions. The building is a hovel, whereas it should bf a structure In keeping with the dignity of Queensland’s capital anr! of the National Parliament. The Treasurer has not yet answered my question as to whether any provision has been made in the em-vent, Estimates for the commencement, at any rate, of the work of rebuilding the premises. When the 1934-85 Estimates were under consideration, it was pointed out by the Minister in charge that the Government intended to rebuild the parcels office, and I was informed that the work would be commenced early in December, 1934, but, up to the present time, even this portion of the scheme has not been begun.
When the Postmaster-General visited Brisbane a few weeks ago, a deputation representing city business interests waited upon him. I had the honour to introduce the deputation, and certain complaints were laid before the Minister concerning the obsolete conditions existing at Fortitude Valley post office. Up to the present time I have heard uo explanation why the Postmaster-General has not taken cognizance of the requests and complaints submitted to him by the business men of Fortitude Valley. I hope that some relief will be granted to those people, because I am satisfied that they have just cause for complaint, and, in my opinion, the department should investigate, and, if possible, remedy it. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) should bring this matter under notice of the PostmasterGeneral, with a view to seeing whether the demands of Fortitude Valley cannot be met.
– I must confess to surprise and disappointment at the reply given to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), in regard to the construction of a new general post office in that city. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has referred to the terms of the PostmasterGeneral’s statement, which was made during the recent visit of Cabinet to the northern capital. In my opinion, one fact stands out definitely: that, although the Postmaster-General’s statement may have been misunderstood,, the great majority of the people of Brisbane, and the newspapers, felt that they had every reason to believe that sui immediate start would be made with the erection of a new post office, and that immediate financial provision would be made for that work. In connexion with the vote on these estimates of £1,750,000 for new buildings, I was hopeful that the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) would have included some provision for the erection of the new General Post Office at Brisbane. When it was ray privilege to represent the electorate of Brisbane some years ago. T frequently referred to the urgent necessity for providing that, city with a new general post office. I admit that my pleas resembled a voice crying in tia wilderness, “nui one government did decide that the work should be undertaken. Plans were drawn up and preparations generally were completed, but the Government then decided not to proceed with the construction.
Honorable members will be interested to learn that the Brisbane General Post Office, as it stands to-day, was opened in 187’2, when the staff employed numbered 40 and the population of the city was 30,000. The following extract from the report by the then Postmaster-General, Mr. Thomas L. Murray-Prior, dated the 26th June, 1873, is of interest : -
The new building in Brisbane was taken possession of on the 28th September, 1872, and has been found to be a great improvement on the former makeshift.
The business of the office has increased considerably during 1872, and although the new office is commodious and well-fitted, yet owing to the great increase of work in every branch of the department, as shown in the foregoing returns, an extension will be requited at an early date.
An extension of the premises was provided for in a contract signed on the 3rd May, 1878, and the building now used as portion of the present mail-room was added. The staff then employed was 60, and the population of Brisbane was 35,000. In 18S1, the first telephones were connected to the first exchange in the present general post office building. In a report dated the 28th June, 1886, Mr. John McDonnell, the then UnderSecretary, drew attention to the need for additional accommodation, and he pointed out that the rooms in the general post office were very much crowded, to the great inconvenience of the sorters and the obstruction of business. He mentioned that in cloudy weather the gas had to be used nearly the whole day, and he continued -
The additions up to the present time, though far from adequate, have exhausted all the available space adjacent to the frontage in Queen-street, which is very limited and insufficient, and it is considered that the only way to deal with the matter now, if no other site can be obtained whereon to erect a suitable building, is to provide a large central building behind the post and telegraph offices, and to place another storey on the present building for a telegraph operating room. It will be necessary to remove the stables of both buildings to a convenient place not far from the chief office, aB the space now occupied by them is required for the extensions referred to.
On the 1st July, 1890, Mr. Charles Powers, the then Postmaster-General made the following statement in hil annual, report : -
The business of the General Post Office has outgrown the accommodation the present building affords for its transactions and costly and expansive additions and alterations must be made to the present building, or new and suitable offices must be built elsewhere. I feel that no time should be lost in providing new offices on the land on which the Normal School is erected, opposite the Central Railway Station- and after pointing out the benefits of building a general post office near the Central Railway Station, he continued -
The land on which the present offices are erected could be sold, or the buildings could be used for other government offices. When new offices are erected, if consideration is given to the necessity of having a large amount of floor space for postal purposes, and °the desirability of having it as far as practicable on the ground floor, the department could be worked at a less cost to the country and with better facilities for the people. lt is also interesting to note that in 1S89, when the then Postmaster-General considered that the existing accommodation was inadequate, the population of Brisbane numbered 100,000 persons, and the staff employed was probably 180, but the exact figures are not readily available. The present staff numbers 1240, while the population of Brisbane is 310,000. With the exception of the very necessary addition of a building for the automatic telephone exchange, the staff is carrying on at the present time with what is practically the original accommodation. I am intensely disappointed with the statement of the Treasurer that nothing is to be- done to remedy the position, and that work will not even be undertaken on the new postal parcels offices in Elizabeth-street. I am sure that citizens of Brisbane will share my disappointment in this matter.
I congratulate the Government on having decided to complete the National War Memorial. Provision is made in. this connexion for certain expenditure during this financial year. The estimated total cost of the war memorial originally was £250,000. I recall that, during the past twenty years, all governments and parties have agreed that this work should be completed, and I contend that it should be finished without delay. For my own part, I should like to see it completed well within the lifetime of those men who fought in the Great War. Australia is the only country taking part in the war which has not completed its national memorial to the fallen. Irrespective of governments as they come and go, I am quite satisfied that there should he no further delay in the completion of this undertaking.
– My first remark, when considering these Estimates, is that Parliament is asked to appropriate a sum of £4,173,000 for the purpose of additions, new buildings, &c, but that no detailed information is given concerning the manner in which that amount is to be made up. In this connexion, I very much regret that the Public Works Committee is no longer functioning. Previously, all works other than those of a defence nature, which were exempt from inquiry, had to be reported on by a statutory committee of this Parliament as to, first, the necessity for the works, and secondly, their cost. Since the introduction of the financial emergency legislation, that statutory body, together with the Public Accounts Committee, has ceased to exist. I also regret the passing of the Public Accounts Committee, for it would have entered into this discussion. I am surprised at the dearth of information given to honorable members by the Treasurer in asking them to agree to the expenditure of over £4,000,000. In view of the lack of details, I think that he is asking too much of honorable members. We are required to show too much discrimination in this connexion. Furthermore, it is a practice which places too much power in the hands of the Ministry. If those statutory committees had still been in existence, Parliament would have been given more information in respect of these works. Unfortunately, at present we are denied any special information. Having heard the opening remarks of the Treasurer, asking honorable members to agree to the expenditure of this large sum of money. I candidly admit that I have not been enlightened on this matter. I rely upon the press for some of the information in this connexion, but, in the main, the average member of Parliament, at the moment, is denied the neces sary details with which he should be familiar when considering these estimates, and which would have been made available to him by those statutory committees.
For some years prior to the suspension of its activities in 1931, I was a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and can say that in the course of its investigations it elicited rather, startling information concerning the method of presentation of public accounts. Honorable members will remember that a Joint Select Committee was appointed, which recommended that certain alterations be made in the method of presentation of public accounts. Although some of those recommendations have been adopted, further alterations are desirable if honorable members are to have an intelligent appreciation of what these accounts are meant to convey. I propose to move in due season, that in the opinion of this House, the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee should be reconstituted. I am actuated by no spirit of animosity towards the Ministry, but merely wish to safeguard the interests of private members who, under the present system, have no means of knowing to what these matters refer. I make that broad general statement because I object most strenuously to passing Estimates covering an amount of over £4,000,000 without having any information as to their purport. I hope that this practice will not be continued, and that I shall have the support of a majority of honorable members when I move for the reconstitution of those committees.
I have received from the Postal Department a letter dated the 17th August last, signed by the Deputy Director in New South Wales, Mr. Duncan, in reference to a request for provision of certain telephone facilities at Dryaaba, a town outside Casino in Northern New South Wales, in which the following peculiar sentence occurs: -
Even with a standard line the transmission from a subscriber connected to the proposed office to a subscriber to the Casino Exchange, would not be up to standard.
In such circumstances any proposal placed before Parliament would mean the voting of money for the installation of what is admittedly an inefficient service.
It is high time that such matters were investigated by a parliamentary committee. I sincerely hope that similar factors will not operate in the future.
I wish to refer to the matter of post office buildings generally, and particularly in country districts. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. G. Lawson) and the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) have directed attention to the dreadful state of the Brisbane General Post Office. Every honorable member recognises that the complaint which they have voiced is perfectly justified. Last year I performed at Bangalow, a small town in my division, the opening ceremony in connexion with a new brick post office. The Chief Inspector of the Postal Department, who was present, in congratulating me said, “ We have built only two new post offices during the last year, and this is one of them “. The other was at Tuggerah Lakes. In view of the amount being allocated for works to the Postal Department, and the surplus revenue which the department has received for some years, greater accommodation than is available at present, should be provided in many post offices. In numerous cases the accommodation provided for the staff is totally inadequate for the work which they are required to perform. I know also that in far too many cases the public are greatly inconvenienced by the lack of facilities and the cramped space in which business is transacted, particularly when war pensions or old-age pensions are paid on alternate Thursdays. The expenditure of a small sum would overcome this disability in many cases. I have received from the Deputy Director in New South Wales a letter which is typical of many communications which are sent out by the department. It refers to the post office at Byron Bay, a town of reasonable importance and population, which is the head-quarters of Norco, the biggest cooperative concern in Australia, and is a regular port of call on the northern coast of New South Wales. To state the matter mildly, this post office is falling to pieces. I inspected it in the company of a local bank manager, who drew my attention to a portion of the building which obviously was ant-eaten or had dry rot. I leaned against the wood work with my crutch, and the crutch penetrated it. For some time there has been an agitation to have the post office remodelled to suit the convenience, not only of the public, but also of the employees. It is out of alignment, and is a positive eyesore. The letter which I received from the department reads as follows : -
In consequence of your verbal representations that the woodwork in front of the Byron Bay post office is ant-eaten, I arranged for an inspection to be made.
Dry rot is in evidence in two places in the soft facia pine boards between the brick piers and verandah flooring, but there are no traces of white ants.
The defective woodwork win be renewed at an early date.
Whether it is ant-eaten, or has dry rot, is a matter of indifference to me. All that I know is that it is falling down. To say that it is not ant-eaten but has dry rot, not only begs the question, but also credits us with a much lower degree of intelligence than we claim to possess. I have no doubt that letters in similar terms have been written to other honorable members. I mention Byron Bay merely in order to point a moral. When representations are made with respect to certain matters, I confidently assert that provision can, and should be, made to put them right. Some years ago it was the practice of the Postal Department to include in its Estimates a list of the different post offices upon which work was to be carried out, and the amounts to he expended. On one occasion the Director of Postal Services, Mr. Brown, stated in evidence before the Public Accounts Committee that he considered it unwise to publish these details in the Estimates. The majority of the committee disagreed with that contention, but apparently their opinion carried no weight, because from that date this information has not been made available to honorable members. In one year an amount of about £11,000 was included in the Estimates for the remodelling of the Lismore post office. Parliament passed that amount in good faith, but it was subsequently reduced by the department, on its own initiative, to less than £4,000. No information was furnished to me, as the member for the district, as to why Parliament had been asked to pass a sum so grossly in excess of the amount spent. This further supports my contention that Parliament is asked to agree to these Estimates without knowing whether it should do so or whether any fair and reasonable ground exists for disagreement with them. .For many years I have been like a voice crying in the wilderness against the present practice, hut I do not propose to remain silent on the subject until the ground for my complaint has been removed. I suggest that the remedy is the re-constitution of the two standing committees of this Parliament - the Public Accounts Committee and the Public “Works Committee - which, until their operation was suspended at the beginning of the depression, did such fine work. These committees were the watchdogs of the private members of this Parliament; hut, because of the criticism that they offered from time to time of various Government proposals, every effort was made to curtail their operations. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who was chairman of the Public Works Committee for many years, could give honorable members some startling information on this subject. He, and other honorable members of the Parliament, who, at various times, were members of one or other of the committees, know how valuable was. the work that they did.
I wish now to direct attention to the inadequacy of the proposed vote of £8,000 for buildings and works to be carried out by the Civil Aviation Department. In the past, a good deal of money has been advanced by the Commonwealth Government to assist in the construction of aerodromes for civil and defence purposes, but it has always been difficult to obtain sufficient money for the purpose. At present, certain moneys are being spent on emergency landing grounds in different parts of the Commonwealth, but I direct attention to the very unsatisfactory procedure that is being followed in this connexion. If the experience of the people interested in the emergency landing ground at Evans Head, between Brisbane and Sydney, is similar to that of people interested in other emergency landing grounds, the whole situation requires review. An amount of £8,000 was provided for expenditure on th« emergency landing ground at Evans Head, but when 1 inspected the site, in my capacity as member for the district, I was astonished to find that, although the average rainfall of the area is between 80 and 85 inches annually, no provision whatever had been made for draining the ground, although portion of it was practically a swamp. I ascertained that effective drainage would cost only £130, which is a very small consideration compared with £S,000. Without the prevision of proper drainage, the ground obviously would be totally inadequate and definitely inefficient. I therefore made representations to the authorities on the subject, with the result that money was made available for the purpose. This was not the only complaint, however, for no provision had been made to grass the ground. I have no doubt that it could be planted with paspalum, or some other similar grass, for less than £100. I took this matter up with the authorities three months ago, but so far without satisfactory result. If the Evans Head emergency landing ground is properly drained and grassed, it will be effective; otherwise it will, in some weathers at least, be almost useless. Surely an emergency landing ground should be made efficient in all weathers.
It is regrettable, also, that the Civil Aviation Department does not interest itself mote sympathetically in the completion of the municipal aerodrome at Lismore. Australia’s biggest airline organization - Airlines of Australia Limited - has its head-quarters at Lismore. This organization was known, before the recent merger,, as the New England Airways. Lismore deserves sympathetic treatment from this Government, for, unlike many other country centres, it has, in the last ten years, increased its population by 40 per cent. It is a goahead town. In consequence of the unsatisfactory state of the municipal aerodrome on which the local municipal council has spent £6,000, practically all the planes which taxi throughout the district land at the aerodrome of Airlines of Australia. The local municipal council has proved its bona fides by spending £6,000 on its aerodrome, but, unfortunately, it is unable to spare more money to put the ground into proper condition. In the circumstances, it i3 not unreasonable to ask that the Government should interest itself in the matter. When the Duke of Gloucester landed by plane at Lismore, he stepped out of the machine, not on to the official landing ground, but on to Mr. George Robinson’s property. This was nol as it should have been. I do not think that we are making unreasonable requests to the Government when we ask it to make some money available for the improvement of important lauding grounds between the capital cities. The Lismore Aerodrome i3 important, and if money can be spent at Archerfield, in Brisbane, at the Kingsford Smith Landing Ground at Mascot, and at Darwin, surely some could be spared to improve the municipal landing ground at Lismore, hut, so far, not a half-penny has been made available for the purpose.
I must now draw attention to what I regard as the totally unsatisfactory methods adopted by the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission in the arrangement of relays of important events frum certain country centres. On the 27th September, at 10 a.m., the annual conference of the Local Government Association of Kew South Wales is to be opened at Lismore by the Minister for Local Government of New South Wales, Mr. Spooner, and a request wa« made to the Australian Broadcasting Commission that the speeches on that occasion should be relayed.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 support the protests of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawion) and the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) at the delay in the construction of the new post office at Brisbane. Like those honorable members, I gathered from the press reports of speeches made at a meeting held at the time of the first visit of the Commonwealth Cabinet to Brisbane that it was the intention of the Government to proceed promptly with the erection of this badly-needed building. May I say. in passing, that I am grateful to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) for having arranged the cabinet meeting on that occasion in Brisbane. It was the first occasion on which the Commonwealth Cabinet had met in Brisbane, but I sincerely trust that hereafter frequent meetings of the Cabinet will be held in the capital of the northern State. The unique problems of Queensland are very different from those of the other States, for Queensland alone is a tropical and sub-tropical State.
The Postmaster-General led many Brisbane citizens to believe that the preliminary work in connexion with the building of the new post office at Brisbane would bc. proceeded with at once. Although 1 do not remember the exact words he is reported as having used, he certainly gave the impression that early action would be taken to secure the co-operation of the Department of the Postmaster-General and the Department of the Interior in the preparation of plans and specifications for the new post office, but so far as I have been able to ascertain by inquiry, and by replies to interjections, nothing has been done to put in hand even that preliminary work. It seems to me that no money is being provided on these Estimates for the purpose. I hope that this is not so. The building of this post office is long overdue, for the existing structure was erected in 1S72. It may be said, with truth, that the present building has qualified for the old-age pension. I have again and again stressed the claim of Brisbane to have the construction of a new post office put in hand. It is most unfair to business people. During the peak period from 4.30 to 5.30 each evening, the scene before the various counters resembles nothing so much as a football serum, with hundreds of people endeavouring to secure attention in the limited space. It is also unfair to the staff that they should have to work in small cubicles in the hot Queensland climate. I am confident that the conditions do not comply with the Shops and Factories Act by which private employers are bound. The accommodation a vails hie for the payment of war and invalid and old-age pensions is also inadequate, and imposes a severe strain on the pensioners and the officers. I pay a tribute, however, to the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Corbett, for the extraordinarily efficient manner in which he contrives to make the best use of the limited space available. Over and over again he has reorganized the layout of the offices, but he has now reached the limit of his ingenuity, and better accommodation should be provided without delay. I suggest that the proposal to erect the parcels office in Elizabethstreet should be gone on with as an instalment of the completed scheme.
There is also need for a new post office at Cleveland. Tim is one of the oldest towns in Queensland, and was the original capital of the State. Some of the earliest settlers in Queensland took up land iu this district, but, because of the shallow water in the vicinity, Brisbane became the port for Ipswich, and subsequently became the capital. However, Cleveland is still one of our most important fruit-growing districts, and, being on the waterfront, is a favourite seaside resort for tens of thousands of people at various times of the year. The post office is the same building which served the town many years ago, when the demands upon it were not nearly so great. I have made representations along these lines upon previous occasions, and once I pointed out that several State public buildings had recently been reconditioned, and one of them rebuilt, probably with the money made available by the Commonwealth during the depression to encourage employment. It is now time that the Commonwealth authorities concentrated on the provision of new buildings for their own departments. Owing to the limited accommodation in the post office at Cleveland, the public are put to serious inconvenience.
Recently I visited Tweed Heads, and was asked by prominent business men, and representatives of public organizations, to do what I could to impress the Government with the need for providing improved postal accommodation. I shall not press the matter further, however, being content to leave it in the hands of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green). Coolangatta and Tweed Heads together make up the border town on the boundary between Queensland and New South Wales, and although there is a very fine, modern post office at Coolangatta, the telegraphic and telephonic business is carried on at a common exchange at Tweed Heads, where the accommodation, provided is most inadequate. To Coolangatta and Tweed Heads during the summer months as . many as 60,000 or 70,000 people come for their holidays, and the space in which the telephone exchange is housed is not much larger than an ordinary sleeping compartment on a railway train. It is a manual exchange operated by girls, and one can imagine the rush of work to which they are subjected when visitors are putting through calls to their relatives and friends at home, and to their places of business while they are on holiday. In the summer months the climate is very hot, and it is not right that girls should be required to work at high pressure in such a confined space. Recently, a booster for radio relay purposes has been jammed into the exchange, thus further limiting the space available. I urge the Minister and the Government to give favorable consideration to my request, so that the employees may be able to work under reasonable conditions, and particularly so that the public may enjoy the facilities to which they are entitled, and for which they are paying. Since the war the population of Coolangatta, which is one of the finest seaside resorts in Australia, has increased very rapidly, and at holiday time, as I have said, the place is crowded with visitors.
I should like to know whether there is any provision in the Estimates for an emergency landing ground for aeroplanes at Coolangatta. I have been making representations on this subject for a long time, and I was very pleased to learn from a letter from the Minister for Defence that it was proposed to prepare a landing ground, and that representations had been made to the Department of the Interior to get out plans and specifications for the work. A considerable time has elapsed since I received that advice, and, though approval has been given for the work, nothing has yet been done. I should like to know when a start will be made. The municipal council, which is a most progressive body, has offered to make all facilities available including a road from the main Pacific Highway to the aerodrome. So far, however, the council has received no reply to its offer, either from the Department of the Interior or from the Defence Department. Had an emergency landing ground been ready at the time the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) was injured in a forced landing at Beaudesert, or had the Archerfield aerodrome been equipped with direction-finding apparatus, or a radio beacon, that accident would never have occurred.
.- I urge the Postmaster-General to give favorable consideration to the request for an automatic telephone exchange at Newcastle. For many years now this matter has been agitating the minds of the people of Newcastle, particularly the business section. I have made repeated representations to the Postal Department, backed up by requests from the Chamber of Commerce, but nothing has been done. In reply to a letter which I sent to the Postmaster-General on the 17th August, I have received a reply stating that no provision has been made in the budget for this work. The Minister gave me to understand that, in his opinion, the present telephone arrangements at Newcastle were sufficient to meet the needs of the people of that district. I disagree with that. There is no doubt that the industrial and commercial needs of the town in this respect have been gravely neglected. The request for an automatic telephone exchange was preferred over and over again to the department by my predecessor in this House, the man whom I had the honour to call my father. I deny that the existing manual exchange is adequate to meet the needs of the district. No doubt it is good of its kind, and mechanically satisfactory, but it is out of date for a city of the size of Newcastle, and is incapable of rendering the service demanded of it. The city is growing very rapidly, and, with its district, contains a population of 135,000 people. Newcastle is the third most important port in the Commonwealth. If the PostmasterGeneral would visit it and try to put a call through the exchange in a hurry, as I frequently have to do, he would realize that the service is inadequate. I make no reflection against the staff of the exchange ; the system is simply not equal to the requirements. If the department were to install an automatic exchange, the manual plant now in use would not be wasted. It could be taken down in sections, and used in country districts where the volume of work is not so great. The profits of the post office belong to the people, and should go back to the people, either in the form of reduced charges, or in the provision of improved facilities. I hope the PostmasterGeneral will give serious consideration to this matter, because this phase of Newcastle life has been neglected. It should be brought up to date immediately.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to the Sydney-Newcastle telephone ?
– No, I am referring to the existing local manual exchange. I understand that the cost of this work would be £90,000, whilst to link up the services in Newcastle and adjacent districts would probably cost £160,000, but I have no hesitation in saying that the department would recoup itself for that expenditure within a few years, because more people would install telephones as the result of the better service provided by an automatic exchange.
Although the business section of Newcastle is extending in a westerly direction, and that is the only direction in which it can extend, the present post office in Newcastle West is not sufficiently large to cope with present requirements. I understand that the land adjoining it is available for building, and I have made representations to the PostmasterGeneral to use this land for the extension of the present structure, but his reply has been that the present facilities are sufficient to meet existing needs. A visit to this post office on pension day is sufficient to refute that view. No shelter is available under which old-age pensioners can wait while being attended to, with the result that there is always a crush. Apart from these considerations, there is also the business aspect of the matter to which the department must give attention.
I also draw attention to the need for a new post office at Tighe’s Hill. The present post office there is housed in a building constructed 70 years ago. If the Brisbane Post Office is entitled to an old-age pension, this one certainly is. It is a wooden four-roomed cottage, in which partitions have been knocked down to make one room measuring approximately 24 feet by 12 feet and is regarded as sufficient to serve a busy industrial district adjacent to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s works. The conditions under which the employees here have to work are deplorable ; it is impossible for them to give the best service to the people. In the interests, not only of the employees concerned, but also of this community, better facilities should be provided.
Another matter to which I draw attention, but for which I do not think any provision has been made on these estimates, although I mentioned it during the debate on the last budget, is the construction of homes for the workers and also for the workless in Newcastle and district. There are many camps of unemployed around Newcastle. One case to which I shall refer in particular, is situated on land, at Waratah, which is owned by the War Service Homes Department. Some of the people encamped there are rearing children under abominable conditions. If we, as Australians, desire our people to raise children worthy of this country, we must give fathers and mothers a chance to rear them under decent conditions. I believe that a national housing scheme could he carried out in conjunction with our policy for the relief of unemplyoment, and that this work should be undertaken by the Commonwealth, and not by the States.
– Have not some of the unemployed to whom you have referred been evicted?
– Yes. When a man becomes temporarily unemployed, a notice of eviction is served on him. I suggest that the Minister administering the War Service Homes Department should inquire into this matter, and should issue instructions to the departmental officer in Newcastle not to go on with such evictions.
– Have the people concerned been evicted from homes or from vacant land?
– They have been evicted from land owned by the War Service Homes Commission.
– That is tough!
– I ask the Minister to visit Newcastle, and inspect these camps, and I urge that the department, instead of evicting such people, should provide them with better conditions in the way of recreation halls and water supply, because, once persons are evicted from this locality, they are simply left stranded, as they have no money and no prospects elsewhere.
I hope that the few observations which I have made will be brought under the notice of the Ministers controlling the departments concerned, and I trust that some good will result from my representations.
.- A second national broadcasting station is urgently required in Perth for the purpose of supplementing the programmes provided from the existing national station. In Melbourne and Sydney second stations have been established, and have been appreciated very much by listenersin in those cities where the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been given a better opportunity to offer the best programmes possible to the public through the establishment of two stations. In a distant place like Western Australia, the need for a second station is much more apparent because in Melbourne and Sydney, listeners-in have many other stations to which they may tune in at any time. They have a variety of choice which is not enjoyed by people living in far-away parts of Australia. Perth has a national station and three B class stations, and the preference of the public for the B class stations is becoming very pronounced. This is due not to any fault on the part of those controlling the national station, but to the fact that at peak periods, in the evening, for instance, when most people are listening, it is impossible for the national station to broadcast a full programme. At such a time the lines of the national station become congested, with the result that programmes are continually interrupted. It is a common thing for one to he listening to a musical programme relayed from the eastern States when the operators have to switch off in order to put on essential items of news. Similarly, a good deal of information, such as market news, has to be curtailed. People interested in market and mining news and the like, are anxious to get information from day to day, if they could be accommodated by having that information broadcast fully at some suitable hour of the day. Under existing conditions, however, it is impossible for the national station to give these people such information during the evening, when most people are inclined to listen in, without depriving other listeners-in of musical and news items, and many other interesting classes of information which the general public desires.
Another striking example of the difficulties under which a single national station in Perth operates is provided on a Saturday afternoon. It is the practice at present to broadcast a description of a football match. Many people are interested in such sport, but if a match occupies two hours, and the description has to he interrupted for the purpose of broadcasting other news, it does not suit listeners who are interested in the match. On the other hand, a description of a football match which occupies two hours excludes the broadcasting of other general news. Furthermore, on a Saturday evening, we have had the experience of musical and other programmes being frequently interrupted for the purpose of broadcasting a trotting race or something of that sort.
– Is that from the national station?
– Yes; there is only one national station in Perth. I submit that a single national station in a capital city cannot cope with the volume of news available at any one time. There cannot be much doubt as to whether it would pay the commission to provide another national station in Perth. The original cost for such an undertaking is estimated at only £2,000. Out of 50,000 licensed listeners in Western Australia, about three-quarters of that number are resident in the metropolitan area, and these would be served by the new station. It is fair to suggest that if the extra facilities which I have suggested were supplied, they would be very much appreciated by the public, and the commission would be fully recompensed by extra revenue. In any case I do not think the financial aspect of the matter is a serious obstacle. The Australian Broadcasting Commission receives enormous revenue, which is increasing every month, and it should not be slow to anticipate further revenue for the purpose of supplying the best information and entertainment that it can give. Of course I arn aware that, in the last resort, the decision in this matter will be made by the broadcasting commission ; but I do not think that this . Parliament, when it appointed the commission, handed over entirely the matter of broadcasting to the commission. We, in this chamber, should have the opportunity to voice the desires of our electors. I, therefore, request the Postmaster-General to place the views, which I am now putting forward on behalf of the people of Perth, before the broadcasting commission in conjunction with such comments as he himself might think proper to add in the circumstances.
.- I join with other honorable members in placing before the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, the need for attention to post offices generally, and particularly those in country districts. Much useful work could be undertaken in connexion with country post offices, whilst attention should also be given to much useless work which is how being carried out. I refer, for instance, to the placing of gold letters on the front of post office buildings which have already been condemned by health inspectors in various towns. Alterations and renovations are still being made to post offices that have already been condemned. I have brought before the department, cases which I have in mind at the moment. These concern post offices in the Hume electorate in which, minor alterations and additions would afford a greater degree of reasonable, not luxurious, comfort to employees of the department and would enable them to give better service and attention to the public. Building improvement schemes are now being undertaken by municipalities throughout the country, and the Postal Department could contribute in no small degree to rural progress by making highly necessary improvements to the post offices under its control.
Reference was made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) to the necessity for attention to aerodromes. In view of the progress made in aviation, and the necessity that may arise for more aerodromes, consideration should be given to the claim, for their establishment in important centres, and at strategical points, so that aircraft may land under any conditions.
I shall not enter into a repetition of what honorable members have said as to the need for postal improvements generally, but I support their claim that, in view of the improved financial position much useful work could be accomplished by the department.
– I understand that this year will see practically the completion of the Hume Reservoir, one of the magnificent works which has been carried out under the River Murray “Waters Act. The turning of the first sod in the construction of this huge reservoir was performed by Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, who afterwards became Lord Novar. It was understood, at the time, that a plate would be erected on the Hume Dam, indicating that he had performed that ceremony, and, no doubt, a similar compliment will be paid to the GovernorGeneral of the day when the completion of the dam is officially celebrated. I hope that this honour will be done to the memory of the late Lord Novar, whose name is associated with this great work, in which he took a deep personal interest from its inception. He had a firm belief in the value of the scheme for the conservation of the waters of the River Murray for irrigation purposes, and he contended that water conservation and irrigation constituted one of the major problems of Australia. Even after he returned to the Old Country, he showed a continued interest in the scheme, by writing to friends in Australia about it. It seems to me that we may look back with satisfaction upon the progress that has been made to date. We remember the conflict that occurred between the three States directly interested, and the great difficulty which the Commonwealth Government had in inducing New South Wales. Victoria and South Australia to come into line. The fact that the scheme is now being brought to completion is a matter upon which the people generally are to be congratulated. The River Murray Water Conservation scheme is one of the largest of the kind ever undertaken. The report of the River Murray Commission for 1935-36 has not yet been presented, but in the 1934-35 report, it was stated that up to the 30th June, 1935, £10,072,959 had been expended in the construction of works, of which £5,431,969 represented expenditure on the Hume Reservoir. The provision of that large amount is thoroughly justified, because the Hume Reservoir is the great basin on which the scheme mainly depends. Can the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) inform the committee as to the particular works that are proposed under the appropriation for this year? In the Estimates, we simply have a proposed expenditure of £120,000. That, I presume, is the appropriation to be made on behalf of the Commonwealth.
I now draw the attention of the committee to an important statement made in the report presented by the River Murray Commission for the year 1934-35, concerning denudation of forests and dredging by miners on the catchment areas of the . Hume Reservoir. The report stated -
In previous annual reports we have drawn attention to the fact that we take a serious view in regard to the denudation of the catchment of the Hume Reservoir, and on the 12th April, 1935, representations were made to the governments of New South Wales and Victoria, recommending that consideration be given to the total prohibition of alluvial mining in this catchment.
Can the Minister say whether effect has been given to these representations? As the result of denudation, soil erosion has occurred, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales, and this has resulted in the silting up of many useful streams. This evil is not so apparent in Queensland as it is in New South Wales and Victoria, yet it is noticeable, even in my electorate. In localities where large clearings have been made for agricultural purposes, creeks which were once good streams have disappeared. I realize, of course, that the Government is endeavouring to check this evil through the activities of the Council for Scien- tine and Industrial Research-. It is important to emphasize at this stage the value of the work carried out by the River Murray Commission, because, throughout Australia, more attention than has been given to it in the past will have to be devoted to water conservation and its utilization for irrigation and domestic purposes. The problems ‘ that arise through droughts should have taught us a lesson, but there is not a general realization throughout this continent of the vital importance of water conservation. An investigation of the quantity of water which flows down the various rivers of Queensland should be made. When the Dawson Valley scheme was launched it was doubtful whether an adequate scientific investigation, including soil analyses to determine the suitability of the land for production under irrigation, had been made. A scientific survey of our rivers would be most valuable, if only for the purpose of determining their suitability for the generation of electricity. Can the Minister inform the committee of the extent to which the States concerned are taking advantage of the River Murray Waters scheme? As far as I can see, Victoria has derived considerable practical advantage under it, and New South Wales is developing useful schemes; but it will be disappointing to Australia as a whole if the investment of the large sum that has been spent on these works does not result in increased production and wealth.
I quite agree with my friends the honorable members for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), Lilley (Sir. Donald Cameron), and Moreton (Mr. Francis) as to the need for a new post office in Brisbane. This work has been grossly delayed for years. Queens1anders are justly proud of the State and municipal buildings erected in their capital city.
– It shows overcapitalization.
– Not altogether. The character of a people and of a State can be gauged largely by the nature of their public buildings. The ideals of a nation may be read in the quality of its architecture. Brisbane is to he congratulated upon the new Commonwealth offices now being erected there, hut the post office is entirely out of date, and incapable of doing the work required of it. The promise made in Brisbane recently by the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) was heartily welcomed by the citizens.
I hope that the Postmaster-General will not be chary about providing the sums necessary for the improvement of country post offices. I have mentioned this matter on former occasions. I wish to express my appreciation of the ability of the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland and his desire to render all assistance possible, but the activities of his branch are limited to the amount of funds made available by the department. In some of the towns the post office could be greatly improved.
– That criticism should be applied to post offices throughout Australia.
– Yes. At the inception of federation the Postal Department wa3 starved for funds to provide much-needed facilities in rural areas.
I urge that a larger sum of money be provided for automatic telephone exchanges in r-ural areas. Schemes are now being undertaken in various country districts for distributing the electric power necessary for such exchanges. It is interesting to see the way in which electric current has been distributed throughout Victoria and New South Wales. In Queensland, too, the value of electric power is appreciated. Even Toowoomba is not behind the times in extending the distribution into country areas. The more general use of electricity enables the establishment of rural automatic telephone exchanges. I urge the Minister to give the committee further information upon that particular item when we are considering the Postal Department’s expenditure, especially in reference to the extension of rural automatic exchanges. Many requests made to the department have not yet been complied with, for the reason that the requisite funds to carry out the work are not available.
I congratulate the Government generally upon what I consider is a very just sum of money voted to enable the expansion of the Commonwealth activities in the Federal Capital Territory. I am perfectly satisfied that when the Federal Capital is completed, and the offices of every federal department are transferred here, Ministers will make this city the man centre for administration, and for purposes of consultation. When they do so, I am confident that they will find that they can more effectively and efficiently carry out their national duties.
– The Ministers are never here; they are usually in Melbourne.
– While the departments are scattered, that difficulty will always .remain. I am gratified, however, that Ministers are taking action to overcome it, and I am congratulating them on transferring departments to Canberra, because I am satisfied that, when the work of transfer is completed, there will be more consultation between Ministers, which will be of advantage to the Commonwealth. Ministers appear to realize that. The complaint which I hear voiced more than any other is in connexion with ‘ the difficulty in obtaining accommodation in Canberra. I understand that there is acute shortage of houses, and persons who desire to obtain private residence find very great difficulty in doing so. I am gratified that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) is now taking action to remedy this position.
Last year the Minister informed me that the matter of the establishment of a university at Canberra would be considered in connexion with the transfer of the Royal Australian Military College to Duntroon. In my opinion, the Minister’s idea was an excellent one. The report of the University College wa3 laid on the table of the House, to-day, and although I have not had the opportunity to peruse it, I understand that in the year previous approximately 65 students in Canberra were studying university courses, and deriving the benefits of that higher education. The majority of them, I understand, are public servants, who are fitting themselves to fill higher positions. Quite a number of them have graduated, and there are two fully-paid lecturers and three part-time lecturers engaged in tutorial work. When the Military College is re-established at Duntroon, I hope that there will be co-operation between the two bodies which will lead to the foundation of a university. The standard of training at the Military College is in some respects similar to that of the university. Therefore, there could be some combination of classes which would be mutually beneficial to both. No person seriously suggests that a complete university should be immediately founded in this city. Its evolution will be gradual, upon a scheme which has already been worked out by experts who have had a practical knowledge of education in general and university education in particular. 1 trust that the Minister will be able, sympathetically, to give effect to my desire, in order that we shall gradually see established in Canberra a university. It is impossible for any one to contemplate a national capital of a great country like Australia without its having a university. With all the scientific institutions being developed in the environs of Canberra, it will, undoubtedly, in future be a great cultural centre for the Commonwealth. At the present time I think that the proportion of graduates of universities to the population of Canberra is higher than that of any other city in Australia. The number of- graduates here is extraordinarily large, and many of them are employed in the Public Service. I again congratulate the Minister upon the progressive work he has undertaken in connexion with the development of the Federal Capital, and I hope that he will live to see the fruition of hi3 ideal, the Federal Capital at which we are aiming.
.- I join with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) and other honorable members in protesting against the attitude of the Government in spending large sums of money without placing before honorable members any detailed programme of works. If a scheme were adopted whereby honorable members could be informed exactly as to how thi3 money was to he spent, it would save much time and many inquiries in. this committee. Millions of pounds are being voted by this Parliament, and, with the exception of Ministers and some officials associated with them, no honorable member of this committee knows where or hew that money will be spent.
– The details are in the Estimates.
– I understand that; but this afternoon the honorable mem.ber for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) and the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) asked whether the post office in Brisbane is included in the list of works which will be completed under this vote-
– That inquiry will be replied to.
– But notwithstanding the honorable gentleman’s reply, 1 consider that the list of proposed works should have been placed before members of this committee in order that they might bo able to inform themselves of the channels in which the money is to be spent.
I take this opportunity to place before the Minister some of the requirements of my electorate of Lang. The district of Earlwood is served by a provisional post office, and I have been requested by representatives of the local progress association and of the returned soldiers organization to approach the department with a view to having an adequate building provided for their requirements. The Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Bank of Sydney considered that the business of the district warranted them erecting, during the last two years, modern banking premises, and the Commonwealth Bank also has an imposing structure there. The Postal Department, however, is quite satisfied to retain a provisional post office, which is located in a little shop, the owner of which is more concerned with the sale of other lines in his store than with the vending of postage stamps. I do not criticize him for that, because probably he finds it more remunerative to do so. The greatest trouble is that there is insufficient accommodation in this little shop to enable pensions to be paid. I am informed by the department that this site would be quite central for the distribution of mail matter. I, therefore, trust that the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) will take steps to see that Earlwood i* provided with adequate postal facilities.
I join with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) in his advocacy of the reconstitution of the Public Works and Public Accounts Committees. Large sums of money should not bc spent on works unless a public inquiry into the cost of, and the necessity for them, ha* been made. After hearing the disclosure* made by the honorable member in regard to the expenditure of Commonwealth money on public works, I feel that the Government would be well advised to reconstitute the Public Works Committee, which would make exhaustive inquiries into the expenditure of large sums of money on public works throughout the Commonwealth. The disclosures of the honorable member in connexion with the works at Flinders Naval Base were a revelation to me, clearly indicating that Parliament can obtain more reliable information from a Public Works Committee with respect to the necessity for the construction of those works than from a public department.
Like other honorable members, I have from time to time made application for the extension of telephone facilities in my electorate, and invariably I have received a reply from the department that telephone cabinets are not available. The department has further assured me that the facilities will be granted as soon as the requisite number of cabinets can be obtained. For the last six years thousands of capable artisans have been unemployed, not only in New South Wales, but also in every State of the Commonwealth, and I consider that the department could not do better than engage some of these unfortunate men to make the cabinets. I have been informed that no cabinets will be provided unless the department is satisfied that the extension of the telephone facilities in any district will be a payable proposition. For months and months, municipal councils and progress associations have been appealing for these facilities, and the department has admitted that, in many instances, the provision of cabinets would be commercially profitable. In view of those circumstances, something is seriously wrong if the department does not put the work in hand at the earliest opportunity.
This afternoon several honorable members referred extensively to the construction of public work3 by day labour. At the outset, I desire to make it clear that I believe in that principle. Later, I shall possibly make further reference to this matter. In my electorate, some hundreds of homes have been constructed by contract for the War Service Homes Department, and I endeavoured to prevail upon the former Minister for War Service Homes (Mr. Thorby) a few weeks ago to visit one of these dwellings, which is falling to pieces on account of faulty construction. In response to complaints, the department has stated that the dwelling was built by a contractor, and “was reasonably1 constructed according to specifications . That is the only satisfaction which has been given to the unfortunate purchaser.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has congratulated the Government upon its progress in the development of the Federal Capital, and I notice that quite a number of homes are being erected here. Up to date, I regret to say, the slum area of Molonglo, which is a disgrace to the Territory, has been retained, and I consider that a good class of home should bp built for the persons who are unfortunately obliged to occupy that area. I again enter my protest against the existence of those dwellings. I hope not only that the Government will proceed with public works in order to provide employment for persons who for many years have been without an occupation, but also that it will provide them with proper accommodation, so that they may he enabled to rear their families in comfort.
.- -I wish to offer a few suggestions in connexion with the popular subject of postal services. In country districts the time fixed for a telephone call is far too short. It must be remembered that the trading town of the country resident is from ten to twenty miles from his place of residence and that this involves the making of long-distance calls, the time allowed for which is three minutes. If he wishes to give an order to his storekeeper he may require a little longer than that period, hut if he exceeds it an. extra charge is imposed upon him. In view of the affluent condition of the Postal Department at the present time the request for an improvement of the service by an extension of the time to at least four minutes is eminently reason able. Such an added convenience would benefit the whole of the people of Australia. [Quorum formed.] I have always been of the opinion that the sole function of the Postal Department should be to give service to the community. To-day, however, it is used by the Commonwealth as a taxing machine, and it has been the means of augmenting Consolidated Revenue by over £1,000,000 during the last financial year.
The residents of country districts would also be greatly assisted if cheaper community postal boxes were provided at both official and non-official post offices. The majority of country people are unable to visit the post office during the hours when it is open for the transaction of business. In these advanced times the heads of the department should have sufficient ingenuity to improve upon the existing arrangement. The provision of special letter boxes would enable country people to collect their mail matter at any time. The charge for an ordinary box has been rather too heavy for them to bear within recent years.
The automatic exchange system has progressed far beyond the experimental stage, and I urge the Government to install it throughout the Commonwealth as quickly as possible, and thus obviate & good deal of the difficulty that is experienced to-day. Pending its univer- sal application I hope that there will be some arrangement for plugging in, so that country people will be able to use the telephone at any hour of the night in case of sickness or for the transaction of other urgent business.
– I address myself to these Estimates only because of references which have been made to what I consider is one of the greatest national policies of the present day, that of housing. Last Friday the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) made a reference to it. I then took the opportunity, to ask, by way of interjection, whether the States might be expected to display any resentment at Commonwealth interference in the matter. To-day I heard the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) refer to unfortunate people who are compelled by economic necessity to live on certain Crown lands and reserves. These conditions exist not only in Newcastle, but also in certain parts of Sydney and other capital cities.
– -That such conditions should be allowed to exist is a reflection on our civilization. I have had the opportunity to interest myself in this important matter, apart from my experiences in civic life. In a certain portion of a municipality which I represented a large number of unfortunate people were obliged to live on Crown lands and reserves. I made many inquiries so that I might be thoroughly acquainted with the facts. At the last federal elections, the Commonwealth Government offered to cooperate with the States in any suitable housing scheme that might be brought forward. I have suggested a scheme which would place these unfortunate £eople in conditions which would a credit to the Commonwealth. If any difficulty exists between the Commonwealth and the States, honorable members should be told of it so that those of us who are interested in implementing housing nationally would know how to act in the future. Improvement of the environment and the living conditions of the people would be the most effective means of raising the social standard generally and would provide the most efficient safeguard against the advance of communism. Housing is closely allied with the building industry and plays an important part in the expansion of the avenues of employment. If much of the money which is to-day being allocated to unemployment relief schemes were diverted to relief by means of housing schemes, a greater volume of employment would he provided and the work would be essentially reproductive. One must not lose sight of the fact that the Government of New South Wales has been endeavouring to evolve a scheme for the relief of those whose circumstances are such as ‘ have been described by the honorable member for Newcastle. It has allocated in districts suitable for the purpose, where vegetables, &c, can be grown, several blocks of land, the dimensions of which are 50 feet by 150 feet, for the building of homes to a value of approximately £200, to be sold at a weekly rental of 6s., including principal and interest at the rate of 2 per cent, per annum. The buildings which have been completed under contract number 284. The number of persons who have been supplied with materials for the erection of cottages is 688, while 793 persons have been provided with material for temporary structures or repairs. Another scheme has been .put in operation in New South Wales by Canon Hammond, who is, no doubt, one of the greatest social workers in the British Empire. So successful has it been that 87 homes have been erected on blocks of land of approximately one acre each at a cost of approximately £100 each. Ownership of these homes may be secured commencing at a rental of 5s. a week, the payments covering a period of seven years.
– Does the Government give any assistance to that scheme?
– The Government of New South Wales has allocated £200,000, of which up to date £110,000 has been expended, in connexion with its own scheme. The Hammond scheme has been carried out solely by private effort. It is expected that before long 100 home3 will have been erected in accordance with this schedule. At Hammondville there is a population of 535, and a school attendance of 200 children. These people have been amongst the unemployed and have been placed in homes which are a credit to Canon Hammond and all those who are associated with him in this social effort. I have already supplied the Government with details of these schemes. I submit that from a social, as well as a national, viewpoint a housing policy should be implemented from this end. I suggest that there should,be full cooperation with the States, and I urge the Commonwealth to collaborate immediately with the Government of New South Wales in this important matter.
.- The discussion of the works Estimates has been confined largely to matters which come under the purview of the PostmasterGeneral. I endorse the view expressed by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and other honorable members that improved postal facilities should be provided for people who live in the country. In the district which 1 represent the mail delivery is very little, if any, better now than it was 35 years ago, when mails were delivered by horsedrawn vehicles. We have been endeavouring in the Huon district to obtain a better service, but we have been told that- the hands of the Postmaster-General are tied, because the current contract does not expire until 1939. The people in the Huon valley did not press for an improved delivery during the period of the depression, for they realized that additional cost would be incurred in providing it, but it is unreasonable that they should be expected to suffer a continuance of the existing conditions until 1939. I understand that the Postmaster-General is giving consideration to the representations that have been made on this subject, and I hope that the 12,000 people in this important fruit-growing area will be provided with a more efficient mail service. Every consignment of fruit sent from the district requires the despatch of three sale notes, and in a big fruitgrowing district such as the Huon, reasonable mail facilities are very necessary.
Although new post offices have been built in some country districts, the failure to provide an adjacent residence has seriously impaired the efficiency of the service. A nice post office was built at Triabunna, but no residence was built. The consequence is that the post office is left entirely unattended each week-day from 5 p.m. until 9 a.m. on the following day. On Saturdays the postmaster leaves the office at 1 p.m.,. and does not return to it, in the normal way, until 9 a.m. on Monday. Persons who wish to despatch telegrams in the period in which the office is closed have first to find the postmaster, and then get him to open the post office. A suitable residence could be provided at Triabunna for about £350. As rent would be charged for such a residence the Government would not be at any disadvantage if it spent this money, and the people would be much better off because of the improved service that would be available. Under existing conditions considerable sums of money have to be left in the office for long periods in which it is unattended.
The post office at Sorell, one of the most important country towns on the east side of the Derwent river, was built
Mr. Front. nearly 100 years ago, at a time when the stocks were still used to punish offenders against the law. It is high time that this antiquated building was replaced.
We are continually saying that people should be encouraged to live in the country districts, but we shall never secure any satisfactory measure of decentralization until reasonable services are provided in country towns. The people who live in the Huon valley, within about twenty miles of Hobart, do not get their daily newspaper until about 11 a.m., although Hobart newspapers of the same day’s issue are delivered in Launceston. 120 miles away, at 7 a.m.
An amount is being provided on the Estimates for the purchase of a trawler, to be used to exploit the fishing industry. I contend that we have long passed the experimental stage in this connexion. Trawlers which operated years ago proved beyond question that the wators round the Australian coast were prolific in fish. Honorable members who wert travelling home from America last year, met a .Californian interested in fishing who told them that he would be willing to provide the necessary boats to develop the fishing industry of Australia if he were given encouragement by the Government, for he was satisfied that the territorial waters of Australia were rich in fish - as rich, in fact, as those of California. The most casual glance round the harbours along the Californian coast shows how well developed the fishing industry is there. In the circumstances, although something may be said if favour of the Government’s decision to bring to Australia an eminent fishing authority from Newfoundland, it is to be hoped that when- he arrives he will he requested to concentrate upon suggesting ways and means of putting our fishing industry on a commercial basis. What we need is the application of proper methods to our already proven fishing grounds. ‘ It is well-known that the whaling industry of the Antarctic has been almost monopolized by foreigners, and unless we are very careful our local fishing industry will also fall into foreign hands.
I agree with the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) that the Government should make more money available for housing purposes. We should assist not only the unemployed but also other people to provide homes for themselves and their families. It is said sometimes that slums are notably absent from Australian cities, but I have formed the opinion, after comparing the slums of some English cities with those of some Australian cities, that we have’ no room for pride. Strong efforts are being made to abolish the slum areas of many hig cities overseas. In Manchester, for instance, 34,000 houses have been built very recently for people who were previously living in slum areas. Comment has been made in the course of this discussion on the fact that 600 houses have been built in Sydney for people who needed them. If we had built 16,000 or even 6,000 houses we should have had something to talk about, but we shall never solve our housing problem by building a few houses this year and a few next year. The whole problem must be handled in a comprehensive way. We should be building many thousands of houses every year.
– J. wish to furnish honorable members with some information about certain items that have been referred to in this discussion, particularly those which affect the Department, of Defence, the Civil Aviation Branch, and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. As this is a discussion of the works Estimates, I shall confine my remarks largely to the works specifically referred to and shall not enter upon a consideration of matters of policy, which may be more appropriately discussed under the general Estimates. It is the desire of the Government that the works Estimates shall be passed as soon as possible, so that employment may be provided quickly for the people who need it.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) criticized the Civil Aviation branch and, in particular, the work being done at Evans Head emergency landing ground. This work is being proceeded with as rapidly as possible and provision has been made to include in the programme the drainage of the area, as suggested by the honorable member. I understood that he had been informed that his suggestion had been accepted.
A request has been made that funds should be made available for work on the Lismore aerodrome. I realize the importance of Lismore as a city, but it is impossible for the Government to accede to every request of this’ nature, having regard to the tremendous area covered by civil aviation services in Australia. The department has been compelled to make a rule that public funds shall be made available only for aerodromes which lie on the route of national air services, and for those which are of significance for defence purposes. Even with those limitations in force a very considerable sum is being spent on this work. Every municipality thinks that it should have an aerodrome, and as there is usually vacant land in the vicinity, the municipality offers to make it available for an aerodrome, and appeals to the department for funds to do the necessary work. Unfortunately, sufficient funds are not available to accede to all these requests, so that the department has been reluctantly compelled to lay down the policy I have indicated. Thus, aerodromes which are neither on national air routes, nor required for defence purposes must, at this stage, be the responsibility of local authorities. The aerodrome at Lismore is not included in either of the categories mentioned. However, in addition to the two classes of aerodromes which the department has made its responsibility, certain emergency landing grounds have been taken under governmental control. I hope that in time all the aerodromes in the Commonwealth will be under the control of the department, but that time i3 not yet. It will be observed that the amount on the Estimates for this year is practically double what it was last year, enabling a considerable amount of work to be done in the improvement of aerodromes, and the provision of direction-finding apparatus and other facilities necessary to make aviation safe. The first consideration is the safety of the travelling public ; everything else is subordinated to that.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked when a start was to be made on the emergency landing ground at Coolangatta. The position there is the same as in the case of the Evans Head ground; money has been placed on the Estimates, and the work will be proceeded with.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) asked that the Public Works Committee and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts be reconstituted. I have no comment to make on that proposal, except to say that it is a matter of government policy which must necessarily be dealt with by the Government. It has not been dealt with up to the present.
The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), and the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) referred to the post office at Brisbane, and asked that improved accommodation be provided. When Cabinet met in Brisbane recently, representations were made to it that a new post office be built in that city, and Cabinet decided that the Department of Works should confer with the Postal Department, that a report and estimates should be prepared, and that the Government would consider the request further in the light of that report. That is why no provision has been made on the Estimates for the current year.. As a matter of fact, the decision of Cabinet was reached after the Estimates had been prepared. It will now be necessary to await the report mentioned before the Government will be able to make up its mind on the matter.
Reference has also been made in the course of the debate to the provision of rural automatic telephone exchanges. Twenty-six of these exchanges were purchased in 1934-35, and installed in the various States as follows: -
Provision has now been made for the conversion of 52 additional exchanges, and, as far as can be gathered from the pre- liminary studies made, the probable distribution over the various States will be-
Although the department is anxious to proceed with the installation of rural automatic exchanges as rapidly as possible, equipment is costly, and supplies are limited. Moreover, the selection of places for the initial installations must be made in such a way as to ensure the greatest benefit to the community generally, having regard both to revenue and service. The claims of all the districts are closely studied in order to ensure that the maximum advantages are derived from the units, and the places selected up to the present have mostly been those in which a continuous service would be justified in the near future on the present basis governing the hours of attendance at telephone exchanges. Provision has been made in the Estimates for this work.
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) submitted a request for postal improvement at Tighe’s Hill. A sum of £1,000 has been placed on the Estimates for this work. In addition, a sum of £3,000 appears on the Estimates as a first instalment towards the cost of installing an automatic telephone exchange at Newcastle.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) referred to the post office at Sorell. I inspected this building myself when I was Postmaster-General, and I promise him that I shall bring it under the notice of the present Minister. I shall also have inquiries made regarding the other post office to which he referred.
Mention has been made of the proposal to have constructed a vessel with which to carry out experiments and investigations in connexion with pelagic fish.) I am able to inform honorable members that an order for the construction of this vessel has been placed with a Victorian firm.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) pressed for the installation of an automatic telephone exchange at Mascot. I can ‘only inform him that the request has been considered, and is on the list of future works, but other requests have been considered more pressing, and have been given precedence over it.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) inquired regarding the installation of an automatic telephone exchange at Petersham. The work of converting the outstanding manual services at Petersham is being pushed forward as rapidly as possible. Approximately 1,700 are now working on automatic, and another 1,200 will be dealt with in the next batch. These will be cut over to automatic working towards the end of next .year. A new exchange is projected at Undercliffe, which will take a certain number of the subscribers in the southern part of the present Petersham area, and this also is being pushed forward with all possible expedition.
– What is the position in regard to the Rockhampton Exchange?
– I shall have inquiries made, and will let the honorable member know. Several honorable members have complained of the delay in providing public telephones in places where it has been agreed that a need few them exists. This delay has been caused by the inability of the department to obtain cabinets as quickly as they are required. However, a contract has been let for an increased supply of these cabinets, and it is expected that they will be delivered shortly.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) asked what provision had been made for the Rundle-street post office. There is on the Estimates a sum of £6.345 for the cost of this building, and that is deemed to be adequate. Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the dinner adjournment the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) drew attention to the fact that some estimates, after having been agreed to by this chamber, are revised or, in some instances, completely abandoned, and, deploring the fact that this practice was becoming prevalent, he cited an instance which must give honorable members good cause to think. I shall give a similar instance, and I ask honorable members to take notice of such occurrences, in order that they may be able to vote intelligently on the Estimates, possibly with the assumption that they will ultimately be carried out, provided sufficient publicity is given to protests against their subsequent revision or cancellation. As far back as 1929, when Senator Gibson was Postmaster-General. the then member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) drew attention to conditions existing at the Edgecliff Post Office, and he impressed the Minister to such an extent that a sum of money was immediately placed on the Estimates to rebuild that post office. After that sum wa3 voted, however, the Minister, for some reason or other, withdrew it, and those who were interested, particularly local municipal councils and residents in the district, realizing the stringency existing at the time, failed to take advantage of opportunities to protest that presented themselves to ask the Government to carry out its obligation. It was not until 1931-32, when I approached the then Postmaster-General (Mr. Fenton), and drew his attention to the fact that a sura had been placed on the Estimates for this work on a previous occasion, and took him over the district, pointing out the disabilities suffered by this community, that the matter was reconsidered. A further sum was subsequently placed on the Estimates to recondition the post office only, not to rebuild it as was originally intended. Those who know this particular district agree that it is possibly one of the most populated and influential portions of the metropolitan area of Sydney. Yet the then Minister, although he realized the extensive building programmes carried out there in recent years, and the fact that this particular area is being made a very modern suburb, and further, that the present post office is a blot on the aesthetic development of the district, decided merely to recondition it! Knowing that any alterations would simply involve a waste of money, I approached him and suggested that he should give further consideration to the matter. He gave it that further consideration, and satisfactory plans were drawn up for a new building, but nothing further was done by him. The next Postmaster-General (Sir Archdale Parkhill) also lent a very sympathetic ear to my request; ha knew the district well and at once realized its wants. But, again, for some reason or other, this scheme was jettisoned, no excuse being given for the change, except the assertion that the previous Minister had failed to give the necessary impetus to bring into being this very desirable building projectLater, the present Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) visited the district, and saw the conditions existing at the present post office; he also was very sympathetic to our request. He saw the justice of my request, and realized that this district had been suffering for a long time in this connexion in face of the fact that promises had been made to the people in this community that a new post office would be constructed and that a sum of money had been placed on the Estimates for such work. Furthermore, he agreed that in justice to the district something should be done. Now I come to the present position, in which, after having made inquiries, I find that a sum of money is to be placed on the Estimates not to rebuild the post office but to alter it. Again I point out to the Minister that it is useless to recondition a building which is old-fashioned and obsolete. It is as uneconomic as putting a new body on an out-of-date motor chassis. This project, I submit, is a sound one, and oan be made to produce revenue, and I appeal to the Minister to see that the original scheme laid down in 1929 is proceeded with; that is, that this post office be entirely rebuilt and brought into architectural harmony with surrounding buildings. It is such revenue-producing centres as Edgecliff that enable greater developmental works to be undertaken by the department in country areas. Indeed, they produce the revenue necessary which, enables the department to progress, and I suggest that unless the department is prepared to take full advantage of its opportunities in this direction, its revenues will suffer.
In the proposed vote for the Northern Territory I notice an item of £93,000. I hope that this includes provision for the establishment of a water supply for . Darwin. Darwin from an aviation standpoint is the front door of Australia ; it is becoming increasingly important, and now is a garrison town. From the point of view of defence, I believe that the Minister for Defence, and those who have studied Darwin, will agree that an adequate water supply is essential to that town. I hesitate to think what might happen if we should ever be called upon to defend Darwin under existing conditions. If provision is not made in these Estimates for such work, I urge the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) to give serious consideration to the matter.
During a journey through the Northern Territory I was impressed with the need for a proper survey of stock routes. In many cases lessees claimed that hundreds of miles of condition is being walked off cattle before it is possible to get them to rail heads or their destination. The stock routes used to-day are the cattletrodden tracks of the old pioneering days. Successive governments have put down bores along these winding tracks, and the fact that the best stock route is that which follows the shortest distance between two points has been overlooked. I hope that the Minister, whose duty it is to deal with this matter, will realize the necessity for resurveying these stock routes on a permanent basis, and on the plan that the best stock route follows the shortest distance between two points.
Furthermore, during my tour of the territory, I was advised by certain lessees at Alice Springs that they did not have a proper survey of their boundaries, nor had they survey points from which they could take their bearings. At that particular time Central Australia was suffering from a very severe drought and certain springs, which were considered by one lessee to be within his boundary, according to the original survey, were found to belong to some other lessee who had received more recent maps on which boundaries were shown which did not conform to the original survey. These people told me that they had approached the department, through its officers at Alice Springs, asking whether it was not possible for surveyors to survey those areas in the off season, and to give the lessees the survey points, in order to enable them to determine their boundaries. It was- pointed out to me that lessees who had been lifelong friends had become sworn enemies because of disputes which had arisen over their inability to determine the ownership of certain water supplies owing to this uncertainty regarding boundaries. The determination of the ownership of such supplies is of paramount importance to these lessees, and I ask the Minister, if money is not now being made available to survey this area, to provide such funds immediately.
I notice that an amount of £17,500 is provided for the purchase of a vessel for the development of fisheries. I am moved to make this comment, because of the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) this afternoon, that we have all the necessary information on this matter from trawlers which go out from time to time and determine fishing grounds. With due deference to the honorable member, the trawlers have very little information to offer concerning pelagic fish. These fish have their migratory seasons. We know that Australian waters are teeming with fish, edible and non-edible, and that it would be easy to make our fisheries the most remunerative of our industries. We know that there is a market in the East for fish oils and fish cakes, and for all classes of fish offal and manure, and I. urge that we should develop the commercial side of this industry. The movements of fish, shoals, and the like should be studied, and sufficient data should be procured in order to enable private enterprise to develop this industry to the greatest possible extent. I commend theovernment for having placed a sum of money on the Estimates for the acquisition of a vessel for the development of our fisheries. I hope that my suggestions will be given sympathetic consideration.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) made reference to the River Murray Waters scheme and to the expenditure incurred upon it. In this year’s Estimates, £120,000 is provided for the continuation of these works. That amount, of course, represents only 25 per gent. of the total sum to be spent this year, because New South Wales. Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth share equally in the expenditure on construction. The Hume Reservoir has recently been completed, and arrangements have been made for the official opening ceremony to take place in November next. The cost was £5,512,000, or a little more than one-half of tha total expenditure on Murray waters works.
– Why in the last financial year was the expenditure £40,000 less than the amount appropriated?
– It is very difficult for the River Murray Commission to estimate exactly how much will be spent in any year, because in some cases continuous construction is not possible. At irregular intervals flood waters come down. These cannot be controlled.
– But men who might have been employed full time have been kept on part time.
– That is a matter for the constructing authorities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia; the Commonwealth has no voice in it.
– The Government is asking for the same vote now as a year ago, and yet it has spent only two-thirds of the sum voted last year.
– Work on a big river like the Murray is frequently subject to interruption through Hoods. In some years the work can proceed continuously over a longer period than in other years.
The suggestion was made by the honorable member for Darling Downs that the name of Lord Novar, a former GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth, who turned the first sod in connexion with the construction of the Hume Reservoir, should be remembered on the occasion of the official opening of the reservoir. That, I think, is anc excellent suggestion, because we are apt to remember the present and forget the past.
– The workmen did more than did the Governor-General of the day in the construction of the dam.
– No. doubt. The present Governor-General (Lord Gowrie) will perform the opening ceremony in November, and, at the same time, it would be fitting to record the turning of the first sod by Lord Novar, who displayed a keen interest in this great Australian enterprise.
– There is no limit to the sycophancy of this Government where titled persons are concerned. Erect a tablet in honour of the engineer, if you like.
– The honorable member hardly does himself justice by that suggestion.
The honorable member for Darling Downs referred to damage which might be done to the reservoir through siltation, and the pollution of the various streams which feed it through hydraulic sluicing. Inquiries were made into this subject by the River Murray Commission some time ago. It will be realized by honorable members that, whilst the commission may make recommendations in this connexion, the State governments alone have power to act. During last year, two applications were made for mining leases to erect hydraulic dredges on the Mitta Mitta portion of the catchment of the Hume reservoir. These applications were referred to the commission for comment, and, after an inspection of the areas had been made, and consultation had taken place with the Sludge Abatement Board of Victoria, the commission informed the constructing authority in Victoria that, whilst adhering to its opinion that all alluvial mining in the watershed of the Murray above the Hume Reservoir should be prohibited, it was considered that, with the safeguards proposed in the particular cases of hydraulic dredging in question, there did not appear to be any danger of damage to the reservoir through siltation. The constructing authority was also informed that the commission desired to emphasize the great importance of the following conditions being observed : -
As regards the equally important question of pollution of the river by discolouration of the water, the commission, although recognizing that it had no jurisdiction in the matter, placed on record its opinion that discolouration could not be avoided during working operations, and as the river Murray was the source of supply for the many important towns and the large population adjoining and adjacent to the river from Albury downwards, suggested that earnest consideration should be given by the State authority to that aspect of the matter.
It will be recalled by honorable members that it was decided a few years ago to reduce, to some extent, the original plan to have 26 locks and weirs on the river Murray. Twelve locks and weirs have now been completed, No. 1 being at Blanchetown, in South Australia, ten others being located in numerical order between that point and Mildura and the other being at Torumbarry. In addition to the Hume reservoir, the Lake Victoria storage has been completed. Work is now proceeding at Yarrawonga, where a large weir is being constructed to raise the level of the river to a sufficient height to enable irrigation by gravitation to be carried out in both Victoria and New South Wales. New South Wales has already constructed scores of miles of irrigation channels on the Mulwala side at Yarrawonga. The honorable member for Darling Downs inquired as to the extent to which advantage is being taken of the scheme. I may point out that Victoria has gone further than any other State in utilizing the water of the Murray. New South Wales, however, is making provision to use the water that will be available at’ Yarrawonga as soon as the weir is completed. Similar work is also proceeding at Robinvale, not far fom Mildura, and it is more than half completed. This will enable a large area of good land to be irrigated, the soil being suitable for the growing of various irrigation crops. In New South Wales, two weirs will shortly be built on the Murrumbidgee. Plans have been prepared, and work has been commenced on one of them. These weirs on the Mumimbidgee are for the purpose of raising the water to a height which will enable large pastoral areas to be flooded. It is not proposed to carry on agriculture there, but I am told that in that area one flood from the river in the spring enables about two or three times as many sheep to be run on the flats on either side of the Murrumbidgee as could be carried without that flooding, and that the benefit to the land lasts throughout the season.
In South Australia, barrages are being constructed near the mouth of the Murray for the purpose of preventing the salt water from going up stream as it has done in recent years. Owing to the many dams thrown across the river higher up, the original flow of fresh water downstream has been impeded to an extent that has caused the encroachment of the salt water, to the detriment of lands on which fresh water was often obtained from wells which were useful in watering stock. The salt water menace will be removed by the construction of the barrages. The works at Goolwa and Mundoo have advanced some distance towards completion, and three other barrages remain to be built in South Australia. When these have been completed, and the two new weirs have been thrown across the Murrumbidgee, and the Robinvale and Yarrawonga weirs have been erected, the whole programme now in sight will have been completed. It is not now proposed to raise the level of the Hume Dam beyond its present capacity of 1,250,000 acre-feet, although the time may come, and, indeed, engineering provision has been made for it, when it will be found necessary to raise the level to a height that will make possible a storage of 2,000,000 acre-feet.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) referred to expenditure incurred in the Northern Territory, and, among other things, advocated the straightening out of stock routes.
– How many fences are there? Why cannot the stock routes be straight now?
– One reason is that travelling stock must be watered at wells and bores located 20, 30 and sometimes 40 miles apart, and consequently the stock routes must follow the water. Tentative proposals were made to put down new bores in order to straighten out some of these stock routes, thereby shortening them very considerably. These proposals were submitted to the lessees themselves, in order to obtain their practical views on the subject. For the most part they were not favorable to the majority of the proposals, and the result is that for the time being several of them have been dropped. The Lessees Association felt that, in many instances, no great benefit would accrue to them by the straightening out of the stock routes, and that the money proposed to be spent in that direction could be spent to better advantage in other ways, which they proceeded to suggest.
– Hundreds of miles of stock route could be cut out.
– Yes; and some of the stock routes will be straightened out, but the full programme which had been tentatively drawn up, with the object of shortening several of the routes, did not receive the support and commendation of the lessees that might reasonably have been expected from them.
– Why did not the Minister act on the advice of departmental officials ?
– In the circumstances, it was considered wise to consult the lessees before spending the money. The honorable member for Wentworth also referred to the necessity for making money available to provide better water facilities at Darwin. On page 286 of the Estimates there appears, under division 27, an item of £6S,000 for buildings, works, sites, &c, in the Northern Territory. Included in the item is an amount of £26,000 for expenditure this year on the provision of a new water scheme for Darwin. I do not think that it will be possible to spend the full amount this year; it is difficult to say. The Government sent an engineer to investigate what will be the best scheme for that district, and his report will shortly be available. As soon as it has been fully considered, the department will be in a much better position to give information to the honorable member. Generally, it is proposed to spend the £68,000 in the Northern Territory on the construction of Commonwealth offices at Darwin; the provision of a new wall for the gaol, which the honorable member for Wentworth will realize is very necessary; the reconstruction of the Administrator’s office; and the erection of a new school for half-castes at Darwin. A new hospital will be built at Alice Springs, and police stations at
Wave Hill, Box Creek, and the Roper River. Electric light will be installed in the hospitals at Katherine, Tennant’s Creek, and Pine Creek ; and the reclamation and draining of a swampnear the aerodrome at Darwin will be carried out. These works will be in addition to the provision of the water supply at Darwin, at a cost of £26,000. In the southern section of the Northern Territory, a sum of £8.500 will be spent on the construction of a now gaol at Alice Springs. It is most unfortunate that we have to provide money for this purpose, but human nature being what it is, the item is inescapable. A hospital is also being provided at Alice Springs.
The items which I have specified are the more important ones on which money is proposed to be expended in the Northern Territory. If honorable members desire to be supplied with more detailed information, I can furnish them with it.
– Will the Minister say something about surveys in the Alice Springs district?
– Some surveying of boundaries has been done, particularly that between Western Australia and the Northern Territory, but considerably further north than Alice Springs. I regret that I am unable to supply the honorable member with the information in respect of the neighbourhood of Alice Springs.
– Settlers in the Alice Springs district at Ambalindum are complaining very bitterly about the present position.
– The department is proceeding steadily with its survey programme. I am aware that instances have been reported of lessees being ignorant of where their boundaries actually lie. I know that in some cases they are not certain whether a. bore is situated on their lease or on a neighbouring one. Efforts are being made to adjust the position as rapidly as possible, but honorable members must remember that the Northern Territory is a vast area and that it will take a very long time for the surveyors to cover it.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend laws relating to financial emergency, and for other purposes.
.- Ordinarily, having regard to the circumstances of this message, I would move an amendment to this resolution, but I do not propose to do so in connexion with this matter. I know that once a resolution founded on a message has been adopted, there can be no bill formulated except in accordance with the terms of the resolution, and although the Opposition has the feeling that the message does not enable provision to be made for the full restoration of old-age pensions, and regrets it very much, it will not take any steps to affect in any way the message as it is before the committee. Knowing the limitations that such a course would impose upon the position of honorable members, it is prepared to take as much as it can get for the old-age pensioners at this stage, reserving any comments which it “may desire to make upon the inadequacy of the amount for the occasion of the budget debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Hunter do prepare and bring in a bill to carry outthe foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now road a second time.
This is a comprehensive bill designed to implement many of the proposals put forward by the Government in the budget speech. The bill is divided into six parts, as follows : -
Invalid and old-age pensions.
Salaries and wages.
War pensions and service pensions.
Relief in respect of primary production.
The last is in respect of the fertilizers subsidy.
At this juncture I propose merely to refer to the main features of the bill, the details of which can be considered in committee. With respect to invalid and old-age pensions, honorable members are aware that legislation was passed in 1983 under which the rate of these pensions was made to vary in accordance with the variation in the cost of living, and in order to implement that, a table was inserted in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act which took a definite index figure and dealt with the movements of that index figure from 1400 to 1800. At 1400 and under, the pension was to be at a maximum rate of 17s. 6d. a week, and thence, moving up in jumps of 100 points, it was to be increased by 6d. until eventually it would have reached an amount of £1, when the index number had reached 1800. By reason of the improved financial position of the Commonwealth, the Government proposes immediately to increase, from the next pension pay-day, the rate of the invalid and old-age pension from the present maximum rate of 18s. a week to a new maximum rate of 19s. This will be effected by means of an amendment of the principal act, putting in a new table which will contain a new series of index numbers. From this innovation, two benefits to the pensioners will accrue. First, instead of the maximum rate of pension consistent with the cost of living being not less than 17s. 6d. as it has been in the past, it will be not less than 18s. a week from the time that this bill becomes law. That is to say for the future the rate of pension will not be allowed to drop below 18s. a week, irrespective of what the cost of living may be. Therefore, there is a benefit given to the pensioners at the lower end of the scale.
– What is the present index figure?
– The present figure is about 1,448. In the future, the maximum rate of pension cannot drop below 18s. a week, no matter to what extentthe cost of living falls. Then at the higher end of the scale: In the past the pension could not reach 20s. a week, until the index number had risen to 1,800. Now, however, by a rearrangement of the index numbers, the amount of 20s. a week will be reached when the index figure rises to 1,640. The new table retains the old jumps of 100 points for each increase of 6d., but instead of starting at 1,400, it will start at 1,340, the equivalent of 183. a week, and advance by 100 points up to 1,640, when the pension will again be £1 a week. The immediate effect of this will be an increase of the pension as from the next pension pay day from 18s. to 19s. a week. At the same time, provision is made in this amending measure for the total maximum limit of income, plus pension, to be increased by an equivalent amount, that is, from the present 30s. 6d. to 31s.6d. When the bill becomes law, every pensioner, irrespective of his or her present rate of pension, will receive an automatic and immediate increase of 2s. a fortnight. As I said in the budget speech, pensioners with a pension of 19s. a week will be in possession of a higher purchasing power than they have had in any year since pensions were first paid in 1909. To give that point, and to reduce it to terms that admit of no misunderstanding, I should like to advise the House of the cost of certain basic commodities in 1929, when the pension was 20s. a week, compared with the latest figures that I have, those for the second quarter of 1936. The figures are as follows: -
Those are the average of the prices charged in a large number ‘of retail shops in Melbourne in the second quarter of 1936. The figures do not vary very greatly in the other capital cities of Australia.
– What is the figure for rent?
– Including rent, clothing, and all normal purchases, the 19s. has a considerably greater purchasing power than the 20s. had in the period before 1930. Provision is also made for the maximum amount which may be received by a pensioner by way of income and pension to be increased by 2s. a fortnight. The bill further makes provision for an increase of the rate of pension payable to pensioner inmates of institutions, from 5s. to 5s. 6d. a week.
– Are the Governments of the States to receive the other 6d. a week?
– The amount of 5s. 6d. is the maximum which pensioner inmates of institutions have ever had in the history of pensions. It is all that they received when the pension was 20s. a week. The other 6d. a week will go to the institutions, to assist towards the maintenance of pensioners.
Under the present law, the maternity allowance is £4 for a first child, with an increase of 5s. a child in respect of all subsequent surviving children under the age of fourteen years up to a maximum of £5. The bill provides for an increase from £4 to £4 10s. in respect of a first child and to £5 in respect of additional children where there is any other surviving issue under fourteen years of age. It further provides for an increase of the limit of income of persons who may claim the maternity allowance. As honorable members are aware, in the budget speech I announced on behalf of the Government that it proposed to make a deduction from income in respect of unemployment relief tax; but, by reason of the varying rates of tax, and of the conditions in the different States, that was found to be very much too complex to give effect to, and instead of doing so, the Government proposes to increase from £208 a year to £221 a year the minimum rate of allowable income which will enable a claimant to qualify for a maternity allowance of £4 10s. That is a considerably greater concession than would have been the deduction of the unemployment relief tax.
The old scale, which rose by an amount of £13 for each child, will still be maintained up to a maximum income of £312 per annum. The following table shows the operation of the proposed amendments : -
Where there is no surviving issue, persons with an income of £221 a year will receive £4 10s. for the first child.
– Will any allowance be made if a child is lost within the twelve months?
– The amount is fixed on the basis of the surviving children at the date of the next birth.
– If all other qualifications are met, but a child is lost within the twelve months, will any allowance be made for that?
– The amount will be decided on the basis of the number of living children under fourteen years of age at the date of the next birth. Where there is a surviving issue of one, the income limit which will enable a claimant to qualify for the receipt of the maternity allowance will be £234 per annum, and in that case the allowance will be £5. For each increase of the family over one, the total allowable income will rise by £13 per annum, but the amount of the allowance will remain at £5, until a family of seven or over is reached, when the qualifying income will be £312 a year.
The Financial Emergency Act 1931 imposed reductions on the salaries of Commonwealth employees as part of the general plan for the rehabilitation of Commonwealth finances. These reductions ranged from 18 per cent, in the case of salaries up to £250 a year, to 25 per cent, in the case of salaries of over £2,000 a year. In accordance with the intention to restore these reductions as the finances permitted, there have been three restorations, totalling 10 per cent., in the last three years. These were sufficient to restore to the pre-depression level the salaries of those in receipt of up to £485 a year on the 1930 level; that ia to say, they were freed from the financial emergency deductions.
– Are the cost of living figures taken into consideration!
– The cost of living provisions will continue to operate. There are in existence in the Public Service to-day cost of living cuts aggregating £1,300,000, compared with the 1930 standard. What this measure does is to implement the Government’s proposal to restore all the financial emergency cuts. All of those who suffered financial emergency reductions under the 1931 legislation are now to be restored to the position which they occupied prior to 1931. Where salaries are subject to automatic adjustments in accordance with variations in the cost of living, such adjustments will continue to be made. In other words, the salaries of Commonwealth employees will revert to those rates which would ordinarily have been payable had the financial emergency legislation not been introduced. In the case of members of Parliament and Ministers, the bill provides for a 10 per cent, restoration, which will leave the reductions as follows: On the allowance of senators and members of Parliament, 5 per -cent. ; on the allowances of Ministers, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairmen of Committees, and the Leaders of the Opposition, 1 per cent.
Part 5 of this measure deals with war pensions and service pensions. Provision is made for an increase by 3s. a fortnight of the pensions payable in respect of children of fully incapacitated members of the forces. Under the law as it now stands, the amount payable in the case of children of totally-incapacitated members is 12s. a fortnight in respect of each child. The bill provides for an increase of this amount to 15s. a fortnight. The pensions payable in respect of children of partially incapacitated members will be correspondingly increased. The pension in respect of the child of a member whose disability is assessed at 50 per cent, will be increased from 6s. to 7s. 6d. a fortnight. In other words, and in simple terms, the pension payable in respect of children in this class will be increased by 25 per cent, all round.
– Is that as much as was paid before the financial emergency legislation was enacted?
– No. With regard to service pensions, the bill provides for an increase of the maximum amount payable under the provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, passed in the last financial year. Under that act, the maximum service pension payable to unmarried members of the forces was 36s. a fortnight. The bill provides for an increase to 38s. a fortnight. The pension payable in respect of married members of the forces was 30s. a fortnight, with a similar amount for the wives of such members. In these cases the amount is to be increased to 323. a fortnight in the case of both the man and his wife. Provision is also being made for the limit of income plus pension to be increased from 30s. 6d. a week to 31s. 6d. a week. It is intended to take steps to provide certain additional concessions, and to remove certain anomalies in regard to pensions, but as these proposals have no relation to the financial emergency measures they will be incorporated in a separate bill to be introduced at an early date.
The last part of the bill deals with the fertilizers subsidy. Provision is made for the payment of the subsidy through the State governments at the rate of 10s. a ton in respect of all fertilizers used to promote primary production, other than wheat production. Honorable members are aware that in the last financial year and, in fact, in two preceding financial years the subsidy was payable at the rate of 15s. a ton. It is about four years since the Government initiated the fertilizers subsidy, and applied it to all production other than production from wheat lands. Originally it was estimated that the subsidy would involve an expenditure of about £250,000 annually, and this amount was actually paid out in the first year. The conditions that existed at the time the subsidy was introduced continued for some time. Very low prices indeed were being offered for all our primary products to which the subsidy applied. Largely as a result of the subsidy, the amount payable has increased continuously and progressively until in the last financial year, with the subsidy at the rate of 15s. a ton, the outlay was more than £400,000. An innovation made last financial year was that the subsidy should be payable on half-ton lots.
– Has the provision for the payment of this subsidy ever previously been included in a financial relief bill?
– Yes, it was included in the financial relief bill in 1932 and in 1934, but the subject was dealt with last year in a separate measure. In view of the fact that the prices for practically all our primary products to which fertilizers can be applied - I am not considering wheat at the moment - has tremendously improved- The Government has felt that the amount of the subsidy should bo reduced from 15s. to 10s. a ton. The amount absorbed originally by the payment of 15s. a ton was about £250,000, but this year it is estimated that even at the lower- rate of subsidy the amount to be absorbed will be £315,000. The Government has been gratified thai in the three years during which the sub sidy has been in operation the use of fertilizers has increased tremendously. No doubt the subsidy has enabled farmers and producers generally to use fertilizers to a very much greater extent than would otherwise have been the case. In the period of which I am speaking, the price of fertilizers has been reduced, on the average, by approximately £1 a ton throughout the Commonwealth. The tonnage of fertilizers used since this scheme has been in operation has been as follows : -
– It has been complained that some big pastoralists have been obtaining more than their fair share of fertilizers. Does the Government propose to take any steps to limit the quantity which will be eligible for the subsidy in respect of any one person?
– No. One aim of the Government has been to increase the use of fertilizers for top dressing and pasture improvement, and 2 am glad to Bay that to a considerable extent this end has been achieved. The amount of fertilizers being used for top dressing and pasture improvement generally has tremendously increased in recent years. Ever since the termination of the war efforts have been made to encourage pasture improvement by the use of fertilizers, but for the first ten or twelve years very little result was noticeable.. Recently, however, great improvements have been effected and this, has been shown in the increased quantity of primary products available for export. 1 have now outlined the principal features of the bill. The measure contains no taxing provisions. Although such have been included in certain financial relief measures in the past, the government is of the opinion that they should be the subject of separate measures.
– Will the Treasurer explain why the provision for the payment of the fertilizers subsidy is included in this bill, although on other occasions it ha3 been the subject of separate measures?
– The subject has been dealt with in financial relief bills on other occasions. The chief object of the Government in including all these provisions for financial relief in one omnibus measure has been to enable honorable members to ascertain at a glance the major provisions of the kind which the Government is seeking to implement. This course is not being followed in .relation to income tax, the super tax on property, sales tax and sales tax exemptions. The provisions dealing with these subjects will be placed before honorable members in separate bills. The general purpose of the measure now being submitted to honorable members is to cover the major financial relief proposals of the Government in a consolidated way. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from page 166.
.- A careful examination of the Works Estimates indicates that most of the £4,173,000 proposed to be spent will be used to buy material and, unhappily, material for implement* of war designed for the destruction of human life. The Government has promised during two different election campaigns, and has reiterated the promises again and again when faced with its election pledges, that it would introduce measures for the promotion of human welfare and also find a solution of the unemployment problem. We have heard talks at different times of national schemes for water conservation, the standardization of our railway gauges, and the extension of the River Murray Waters scheme, but the last-mentioned was the only work of the kind that received any attention from the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) when he spoke a few minutes ago. Unfortunately very little money is being provided for undertakings which will absorb manual labour. It is deplorable that the nations of the world are heading towards war. War scares are common to-day. While 1 believe in the adoption of some method for the defence of Australia, I am faced with the fact that, although the implements of war which the Government is proposing to construct require some means of fuelling, no provision is being made in these or any other Estimates so far as I can see for the development of the fuel resources of Australia so that we may have the means at hand to propel such instruments of war as it is thought necessary to provide. It is proposed this year to expend £7,250,000 on defence works. This in an increase of £1,336,000. In the face of this huge increase it is regrettable that the amount of money being provided for the assistance of the unemployed in these Estimates is £74,000 lower than the corresponding amount provided for last year, the figures being 1935-36, £412,000; 1936-37, £338,000. These figures, of course, relate to the amounts being provided for the assistance of the States.
– That is only a small figure among many larger amounts.
– At any rate we expect the Government to increase rather than reduce the amount of money available for unemployment relief.
– Those figures relate to the unclaimed money voted to the States in previous years.
– My point is that no provision is being made for increased payments for unemployment relief. Tha first duty of the Government surely is to make provision for the unemployed people for. whom it is responsible. It has on two distinct occasions undertaken in unequivocal terms to solve the unemployment problem. We have had certain percentage figures placed before us by means of which it is sought to show that unemployment has been reduced, but unfortunately those figures, which come from trade union sources, do not take into account many thousands of young men who, having left school and failed to find employment, have never joined a trades union. It must be realized therefore, that the use of these figures as the basis of unemployment calculations is entirely misleading. It would seem that the unemployment returns that come from the trade unions are to a large extent affected only by the men who have passed into the great beyond. It is tragic that so little consideration is being given to the unfortunate youths and men who can find nothing better to do than stand idle at street corners.
– Is the percentage of trade unionists to the whole population lower than formerly?
– That is not my point I submit that the use of trade union returns as the basis to calculate the extent of unemployment is wrong, for the statistics do not take into account thousands of youths who have never joined a trade union. In my own electorate approximately 4,000 youths and young men between the ages of fourteen and 24 have never done a day’s work. T admit that my electorate is in a peculiar position in this regard, for unfortunately the use of coal for the generation of power ha3 been largely superseded. Mo3t of the internal combustion engines of to-day require petrol. However; I have stirred up enough coaldust in this chamber at different time* to choke those whom I wish to convince of the necessity to do something to relieve the needs of many of my unfortunate constituents. The Prime Minister has visited my electorate. Members of the Government believe that it is possible to utilize coal for the production of oil, but they are not courageous enough to follow the lead of Great Britain, Germany and other countries in which plants for this purpose are already in operation. 1 am sick and tired of trying to convince the Government that it should. take steps to develop this industry. Millions of pounds are being spent upon improving Australia’s defences, but nothing is being done to absorb the unemployed in the coal districts and to ensure that we shall have an adequate supply of petrol in time of war. It is impossible to conduct modern warfare without petrol. Only a little while ago the army of Abyssinia was annihilated by the mechanized forces of a European country, and Australia would be just as defenceless against an invader unless our forces were properly equipped, and unless there were adequate supplies of fuel for aeroplanes, tanks, &c. Nevertheless, despite the urgency of this matter, a mere £500 appears on the Estimates for investigations into the hydrogenation process for extracting oil from coal. The reason is that the Government does not depend for its existence on the votes of those who represent the unemployed, as it does on the votes of members of the Country party. We have seen that, no matter what the Country party asks for by way of bounties, its requests are granted, although the farmers have not suffered to anything like the same extent as have the coalminers and their families. However, the people of this country will not permit such a condition of affairs to continue much longer, and I am certain that, at the next election, they will register their disapproval. This matter of the production of oil from coal should be the concern of all parties. I am sure that all honorable members of this House favour the provision of adequate defences and, as I have said, no defence system can be of much use unless we are assured in time of war of sufficient supplies of fuel. Unfortunately, the Government has been too busy acceding to the demands of the Country party to pay proper attention to the needs of the country. A little while ago we were treated to the spectacle of a member of the Ministry being turned out of office in order to make room for a Country party nominee. The Country party has been able, not only to have all its demands granted, but also to stipulate how many of its members shall be members of the Cabinet. The Government, in order to make remissions of taxation., has had to cut down its grants to the States for the relief of unemployment. In New South Wales nearly 18,000 men have been put off relief work and thrown back on the dole. Some of those who have been dismissed will not even receive the dole, because the law provides that if the father of a family is receiving £2 10s. a week or more, a son resident in his home shall not be eligible to receive food relief. Yet, members of the Government talk about a prosperity budget! It may be a prosperity budget for the wealthy, but it is a disastrous budget for the unemployed. During the last two election campaigns, the United Australia party has placarded the country with statements urging the unemployed to vote for that party, and secure good jobs at Steady wages. The unemployed believed that, and put the Government back into office. Then, one of the first acts of the Government was to evict the unemployed who were living on Commonwealth land at Rutherford, and on the Platts estate at Newcastle. I am glad that the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) brought up this matter. Unemployed men have built huts for themselves on this land out of kerosene tins and hessian. They have whitewashed the buts, and made them look as presentable as possible. This is the only shelter they and their families enjoy, but, as soon as they secure even temporary employment, they are evicted by representatives of the War Service Homes Commission. There may be some justification for an owner evicting a family from a home in which he wishes to live himself; there is less justification for evicting an unemployed man from a home in order that it may be let to another tenant; there is no justification for a government evicting unemployed persons from war service homes; and, that being so, what are we to think of a government which evicts unemployed men and their families, not from homes which have been erected for them at considerable cost, but from the little shelters which they have built themselves upon vacant land for which no other use has been found?
Recently, the honorable member for Newcastle and I visited the unemployed living on the Platts estate. Addressing more than 1,000 people who were there, I took the responsibility of telling them not to shift, no matter what orders they received from the Government.
– Who told them to shift?
– Tho War Service Homes Commission sent an agent ordering them to leave. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby), who was administering the department a little while ago, visited the camp last recess and, since then, further eviction orders have been issued.
– What reason is given for ordering the evictions?
– No reason is given. This vacant land is on the main northern highway, just outside Newcastle. It was bought during the war by the Hughes Government for military purposes, but no building was ever erected on it, and nothing has been done with it. The municipality has run a water pipe out to it, so that the unemployed may obtain water, but the federal authorities have even refused to pay for the water used. At least the Commonwealth Government might extend the water main, provide additional taps, and erect a shelter shed.
The attitude of the Commonwealth Government is in contrast to that of the State government, which at least has made available to the unemployed certain Crown lands that have been surveyed and cut into blocks. The unemployed have even been assisted by the State with an allowance of money to help them erect homes. Yet, when I ask for the provision of postal facilities at one of these localities, West Cessnock, it is refused on the grounds that it would not be a paying proposition. One of these unfortunate people erected a nice little two-roomed cottage on a block of land that had been made available by the State government. The cottage was destroyed by fire. Had there been public telephone facilities available, the fire brigade could have been called and the man’s property would have been saved. Time after time I have tried to obtain the installation at the West Cessnock unemployment settlement of a public telephone, but without success. The same result has attended my efforts to secure a mail delivery to the settlement. In an ill-nourished state, these unfortunate people have to walk two miles to Cessnock to collect their mail. It would be an easy matter for the Commonwealth Government to make some provision for the improvement of the conditions of those who, through no fault of their own, are unemployed. At least, it could see that they are given an allowance, post office, and a public telephone. It could be done, and if it were done, it would show that the Government is prepared to admit that the unemployed deserve at least a little consideration.
I have made repeated representations to the Postal Department for the provision of better postal facilities at New Lambton, which has a population of between fourteen and fifteen thousand. It is remarkable that in a town of that size, the residents should be compelled to be satisfied with merely an allowance post office, situated in a building that was built before I was born, not for postal purposes, but as a residence. It is old and dilapidated, and the white ants are eating it down. It is always needing repairs. A deputation which waited on the Deputy Director for Post and Telegraphs (Mr. Duncan) informed him that the local government authority should condemn the building as not being fit for human habitation. Despite this, the Postal Department sees fit to carry on postal business there. New Lambton is a thriving locality, and the provision of better postal facilities is long overdue.
I do not like to bring these postal matters before Parliament, and I should not do so if it were possible to obtain satisfaction from the department itself, but I am reluctantly compelled to drag them before Parliament, although I know that it has more important things to consider. If we do not bring grievances before Parliament when it is impossible to get rectification through the department, the people we represent will claim that we have fallen down on the job, and will get somebody else to do it. The Government should give more consideration to these matters which I have raised time and time again. I particularize the necessity for the erection of plants for the extraction of oil from coal, thereby absorbing unemployed miners and making this country independent in time of national emergency of overseas oil supplies. The Government should .also give more consideration to the plight of the unemployed, and thereby carry out the promises which have been given from time to time.
.- The question before the committee concerns new works, and I. take it that on another occasion we shall have an opportunity to deal with the many other questions which the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. R. James) has dealt with to-night. They are all-important questions, but there is a time and a place for everything, and I shall endeavour to-night to address my remarks to the matter that is actually before the Chair, l t is a happy state of affairs that we should, to-night, be able to vote £4; 173,000 for new works. This, will be realized when it is remembered that, only a few years ago. conditions were not so happy as we find them to-day. I congratulate the Government on being able to bring forward this bill. I congratulate it on the way that it has conducted the finances of this country, because it is due to its stewardship that the Commonwealth, in 3 936-37, will be able to spend more than four million pounds on new work3. Honorable members opposite try to make out that they are the only persons in this country who are concerned with the unemployed workers. I tell them very definitely that there are other men and other parties equally concerned with the unemployed workers, and Australia in general. Members of the Opposition are loud-spoken when they refer to unemployment, but there are honorable members on th:s side of the House who are just as anxious for an increase of employment. This Government has been able to do something for the unemployed. It has a record of achievement. It has something to show for its labours, and it has something to be proud of. The money is available in this bill to put now works into operation, and in consequence of that we shall be able to place more and more men into work.
– After your trip to the coronation.
– The honorable member is trying to lead me off overseas, but 1 am concerned to-night with conditions prevailing in Australia. I want to help those people who are in an unfortunate position. To-day we have a Government which is prepared to do something for thom. By introducing this bill, it is doing something towards putting the people back in work, and if honorable members opposite do not want the people to regain employment, they can vote against the measure. They seem to be very disappointed that the Government has been able to bring in a good budget. As a matter of fact, the budget has been balanced, and they do not like it. Thank goodness we have no Jack Lang with us here. Some honorable members opposite arc having trouble with Jack Lang; they must get out of it as best they can.
– On a point of order. The honorable member for Boothby is referring disparagingly to a gentleman who was once Premier of New South Wales, and is now Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in New South Wales. I ask that the honorable member be called on to withdraw his remarks and apologize.
– Before doing so, I should like to know how long is he to be Leader of the Opposition?
– Order! The honorable member for Boothby must address the Chair.
– He will be Leader of the Opposition until the next general election.
– The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) will deal with Lang before then.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member for Boothby will resume his seat. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane).
– I protest. I have not concluded my speech.
.- I desire to draw the attention of the Minister to some essential things in the Barton electorate. Like other honorable members, I regret that these matters have to be brought before Parliament in order to bara them attended to. I tlo not approve of the policy followed by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in retaining manual telephones. Manual telephones have been in use in my electorate for many years, and ever since I have been a member of this Parliament they have been a source of annoyance. When protests are made against their continuance, we are told that there is still some service in them. Generally speaking, credit is due to the Postal Department for the way it conducts its affairs, hut in maintaining manual telephones, it has dismally failed in its duty to the public, from whom it receives large telephone revenues, yet gives no commensurate service in return. I should like some information as to what is to be done in connexion with the two telephone exchanges in the Barton electorate. I know that the department is making inquiries into this matter, because I asked that the work of converting the manual exchanges to the automatic system be accelerated.
Earlier in this session I placed a request for the provision of a permanent post office at Mortdale before the Government, and an officer of the Postal Department was sent to the suburb to make inquiries, as the result of which the facilities wanted were refused. I then applied to the Postmaster-General to acquaint me with the amount of business transacted in that district, to ascertain whether the department was justified in refusing the additional facilities. Generally speaking, the business transactions of a company are open to those associated with it; but when I received a certain amount of information on this matter, I was told not to communicate it to any of my electors. In every post office a certain number of letters and telegrams are received and dispatched, and money order and banking facilities are provided. I contend that bodies such as progress associations and chambers of commerce interested in the progress of a district have a perfect right to information of this kind, and that there should be no restriction as to the privacy of the matter.
Dealing with war service homes, I sympathize with the case made out by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Tames). No one can justify circum stances in which returned soldiers are obliged to suffer through lack of housing facilities. Through the dole, we provide food to those in need, and I regret to say that all too often we do not make sufficient provision for the housing of people in need. Like other honorable members, I come into contact with a large number of men who, through no fault of. their own, have lost their employment and are unable to pay their rent. Many of these are returned soldiers, some of whom served right through the war, but very little consideration is given to them. The department should rectify this matter. I say advisedly that occupants of war service homes should receive as much consideration from the department as the farmers of this country receive under relief measures from this Parliament. For some unknown reason - I suppose it is because he has never had a business training - the Assistant Minister lately in charge of Avar service homes declined to furnish me with certain returns concerning the number of men who rent war service homes in the Barton electorate, although this information, I contend, is essential to a member of Parliament in order to enable him to deal with men who continually come to his home asking for relief in certain directions. I told the honorable gentleman that if he would provide me with a few clerks I could produce all the information I needed within two days. Yet he advanced as a reason for his refusal to supply this information, the statement that it would involve too much extra work. Be he a Minister or not, I say to him that he refused to supply this information, not because it could not be procured, but because he did not want to do so. At the same time he is prepared to stand on the floor of this chamber and ask for millions of pounds for the relief of farmers; because he is out of sympathy with returned soldiers and cannot, realize what they are enduring in housing accommodation he refuses to give information essential to honorable members to enable them to judge whether the housing conditions of these men are what they should be. Such a refusal deprives honorable members of the opportunity to study this problem and, if necessary, to assist in bringing down the legislation necessary to remedy the position.
– To whom are the honorable member’s remarks addressed ?
– The Assistant Minister (Mr. Thorby) who until recently was in charge of war service homes. It is not my fault if the honorable gentleman is not in his seat at the moment; it is his duty to be in his place. When I raised this matter he snubbed me, and I am not now prepared to wait until he returns to discuss this matter, because my opportunity to do so will have passed, but I am prepared to discuss the matter with him or any other Minister. Only quite recently I placed before the Parliament of New South Wales the case of a man who had an interest of £500 in a farm and home, and who for twelve months had not been able to get a penny of rent from his property because of legislation passed by the State Parliament. This man was told that he would have to wait for his rent until the harvest was gathered in and the wheat was sold, when he might receive a .share of what was owing to him. In the Parliament of New South Wales, members of. the Country party are able to look after the housing of the farmers, yet they appear to be prepared to damn the occupants of war service homes without even giving these people a chance.
– Be fair!
– I am fair. I feel sure that the present Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Hunter) will give me every opportunity to secure the figures for which I asked his predecessor. I urge the Government to give every consideration to occupants of war service homes who happen to fall into arrears with their rent. In one case which has been brought to my notice, a man whose arrears of rent amounted to £200 was asked by the War Service Homes Commission to retire from his home. This man is in receipt of about £3 8s. a week; he had fairly large commitments to meet owing to a good deal of sickness in his home. He was asked to pay the £200 after he left the home. Honorable members are aware that, under a moratorium, any creditor who takes possession of a home loses his claim for any arrears of rent, but in this case the department went so far as to issue a garnishee on this man’s wages. The person on whom the garnishee was served agreed to pay 10s. a fortnight, and in order to give the man a little more relief the department agreed to ask for only 5s. a fortnight.
– How does the honorable member connect his remarks with the item under consideration?
– I submit that, in considering any building scheme, the Government should consider providing housing relief to the class of men to whom I am referring. I believe that the provision of homes for returned soldiers should be an essential part of the policy of this Government, and that it should build homes upon better terms for workers generally. Many of these returned soldiers have reached the age of 50 years, and are disabled or unable to work. The Government should not put such men in homes, at a rental of £1 a week ; it should not ask them to pay more than 12s. a week. In providing homes for workers, the Government should adopt a basis different from that pertaining to war service homes to-day. Men are asked to enter into an agreement with the Government for the “ occupancy of a house valued at £800 or £900, on which no deposit, or possibly a deposit of about £10, is required to be paid, and then are asked to pay rent of from £1 to 22s. a week. Unless a man has a permanent position, he will find such rental too high. No government has increased its basic wage beyond £3 8s. a week. I brought under the notice of the Minister a case in which, during the depression, a particular cottage returned to the department 12s. 6d. rental for two years. When the economic situation brightened, up, the War Service Homes Department placed much of its property in the hands of real estate agents, and accepted from them advice regarding rentals. In reply to a question by myself, the Minister said that such rentals represented a fair return to the department. I would perhaps excuse such an argument if the basic wage had been increased by 20 per cent., but wages to-day are similar to those existing when a rental of 12s. 6d. a week was considered to be. a fair thing for this particular home. In January last, the department raised the rent for the house to 17s. a week, and, later, increased it to £1 a week. I submit that such a policy should not be followed by this Government, and I fear that it is because of want of interest on the part of the Minister in such matters that the issue with which I am dealing has arisen. As 1 have been unable to make any impression on the Minister, I have been obliged to bring this matter before thi3 chamber. I do not believe that the calculations of private real estate agents provide a fair basis for the fixation of rentals of war service homes. I reiterate that many of these men are disabled, and that, if the present system of purchasing war service homes is to be of any benefit to returned soldiers-, it i3 not fair to ask a man receiving £3 8s. a week to pay a rent of 20s. or 22s. a week. In such circumstances, it is only a matter of time when his arrears must accumulate to such an extent that the department will be forced to ask him to vacate the home. Just as the Government believes that people who are out of work should be fed, so a system should be evolved to provide shelter to returned soldiers in the circumstances I have indicated. Unless such a policy is pursued, much hardship will be caused. 1 know of many cases of men of good character who have held excellent positions, but, because they have reached the age of 50 and cannot give the same service as younger men in industry, are thrown out of employment and are unable to meet the rent they previously agreed to pay. The position of such men presents a grave problem. In such circumstances, this Government should assist returned soldiers to secure shelter. I regret to state that the attitude of the War Service Homes Commission is not reassuring because, as I have explained, in so many’ cases rentals for war service homes are based on what are termed present-day values. If the Government cannot make the existing homes available at a lower rental, houses costing between £400 and £500 should be erected and leased to returned soldier occupants at about 12s. 6d. a week. It should not be beyond the ability of the Government to evolve a scheme under which returned soldiers should have homes available to them at a reasonable rental. 1 commend the laudable motives of private citizens and the Government of New South Wales in giving financial assistance to certain of the unemployed who desire to build homes for themselves, and I put it to the committee that it is just as reasonable to ask this Government to make war service homes available to returned soldiers at not more than 12s. 6d. a week as it is to give financial assistance to farmers for the purchase of fertilizers. I hope that the Minister will give careful consideration to my remarks on this subject.
– I intend to take advantage of this opportunity to place before the committee information concerning the requirements of people living in my vast electorate, and, at the outset, I direct attention to the contemplated expenditure of £68,000 on buildings, works and sites, and the assistance to aid development of metalliferous mining, to the extent of £25,000. My purpose is to offer some comments, not so much concerning the amount to be set aside, as to the manner in which money is being expended in the Northern Territory, and I am fortified in what I may say by the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), whose criticism this afternoon really prompted me to speak in this strain. The honorable member mentioned that the Commonwealth Public Works Committee was not functioning, the act constituting it having been suspended a year or two ago. This is to be regretted, because there is not now that efficient contro’l over expenditure in the Northern Territory which we are entitled to expect. Senior officers of the department pay a visit to the Northern Territory, but like ships that pass in the night, they are not seen again. They give some attention to the works to be carried out, but, unfortunately, leave the business in the hands of junior officers who have not the necessary experience to design or supervise the erection of houses for a tropical climate, or superintend the construction of engineering works so necessary for the proper development of the territory. I regret also that, from the manner in which the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond were received, it would appear that honorable members generally are hut mildly interested in either the fate of the Public Works Committee or the way in which developmental works in the Northern Territory are carried out.
– The reason for the suspension of the Public Works Committee is that there were no Commonwealth works in progress.
– That is rather an amazing statement. I was under the impression that the Government has had, for some years, enormous sums available for expenditure on Commonwealth public works. I repeat that little regard is had by the department to the qualifications of officials whose duty it is to supervise the expenditure of public money in the Northern Territory, with the inevitable result that the Commonwealth is not receiving value for the expenditure incurred.
I had returned recently from a visit to my vast electorate, comprising onesixth of the total area of Australia, with the knowledge that the people appreciate the Minister’s action in making available the amount on the Estimates this year for public works in the Northern Territory. But they contend that there should be consultation with responsible people having a sound knowledge of local conditions in order to ensure the effective expenditure of money voted by Parliament. I found, to my amazement, that whilst the people in the Northern Territory applaud the Minister for what he has done, they regard him as a cypher, having no real authority over Northern Territory affairs. I fear also that, as some criticism for this condition of things may be directed against me, I am resolved to make my position quite clear. The people whom I represent look to me to do what I can to bring about an improvement of the present unsatisfactory position and I expect an alteration to be made. [Quorum formed^) It is hardly fair that junior departmental officers should be called upon to carry out important engineering and architectural works, whilst the Minister for the Interior is treated as a mere cypher. My constituents wonder why I cannot bring about an alteration of the situation, and I therefore urge the Minister to see that only senior officers are entrusted with the carrying out of important works for which money is voted by this Parliament. Lessees and local people at Alice Springs and at other centres should be given an opportunity to advise on expenditure. My object is to assist both the Minister and the officers to carry out a sane policy.
At Tennant’s Creek, however, expenditure is not being incurred as sanity dictates. First things are not being done first. Money has been wasted on road construction, and, judging by work recently carried out, I should imagine that a tribe of blacks could have done a much better job. Earth works were thrown up in such a way that when a rain-storm occurred the town was flooded. Government buildings are being erected before the field has been fully proved, and some of the residents are wondering whether this building programme is a military gesture. Instead of miners being assisted by small storekeepers, whose financial resources are already overtaxed, the Government should help parties of three or four men to sink a shaft and timber it on a footage basis, as is done in Queensland. It is regrettable to find top-heavy expenditure on government buildings.
– They are galvanized iron buildings. Can the honorable member mention one that is not required?
– My only objection is that first things have not been done first, and that the Minister has not taken my advice. The fact that miners have had to rely on assistance by local storekeepers is a disgrace to the department, and a proof of its incapacity. Assistance should be given to miners before provision is mad* for a school or even a warden’s office. A warden could easily live in a tent, as he had to do at the Granites, until the miners had received sufficient money to enable them to timber their shafts.
– Does the honorable member not want a school and a hospital at Tennant’s Creek?
– Of course I do, but I adhere to my criticism that the most important matters have not received first consideration. Recently at Tennant’s Creek I challenged any one of 300 miners to say that he had been assisted by the grant to shaft drive, or timber his “ show “, but not one’ of them could reply in the affirmative. It is a disgrace. There has been wasteful expenditure in connexion with government buildings. The rails used in fencing them were carried from Alice Springs, a distance of 320 miles, although at Tennant’s Creek there is not an animal to be seen; not even a. goat. I have already indicated to the Minister a policy whereby such mistakes could be obviated. It is only necessary to adopt the system observed in Western Australia, under which new fields are tested and proved before large expenditure is incurred. As soon as it was demonstrated that Wiluna was worth developing, the Government of Western Australia built a railway to it; but, at Tennant’s Creek, miners have lost their leases because a sane policy has not been put into operation. I have asked the Minister to secure on loan the services of a mining geologist - a man named Ellis - who tested Wiluna, and who has been recently engaged exposing Lasseter’s Reef, and Hummerston and his gang, who will come under my purview later.
Darwin has not the advantage of the services of an architect capable of designing buildings suitable for the tropics. Eight or ten government buildings are being erected, but the only structure in Darwin that is of a really suitable design is the officers’ mess at the military barracks. If the army can do this, surely the Department of the Interior can do the same. The difficulty can be met only by entrusting the designing of buildings for Darwin and other tropical localities to men trained in tropical architecture. This work should not be entrusted to inexperienced juniors. Under the present arrangement much money is wasted’ in the reconstruction of unsuitable buildings. For instance, a home built for a judge at a cost of between £2,000 and £3.000 is now being reconstructed to the design of an architect with a knowledge of tropical requirements. It is already sufficiently difficult to get a grant at all for this territory, without having money wasted in this way. Honorable members will be astounded to hear that a contractor from Brisbane, who is now in Darwin, submits tenders for government buildings which he himself has assisted to design. I cast no slur on the contractor, for he has merely assisted because of the absence of a tropical architect familiar with local conditions, but what greater evidence could we have of official incapacity? I ask honorable members to compare treatment meted out to the Northern Territory with that given to the Federal Capital Territory. These Estimates show that for architectural and engineering services in the latter territory the sum of about £192,000 is to be provided.
– That sum is not for architectural services, but for house construction.
– The only sensible thing to do is to send to Darwin men trained in tropical architecture. By no other means will it be possible to ensure that the money is properly spent.
I commend the Minister for acceding to the requests which I have made to him from time to time in connexion with a water supply for Darwin. The sum of £26,000 has been allocated for this work, and a survey is now in progress. I remind the committee that what is being provided is not merely a water supply for Darwin; it is also a hig contribution towards the defence of Australia. The sum provided is altogether too small. Even now water is being carted 1o homes in Darwin, and butchers wilh cold storage plants have urged me to treat the lack of water in the wells as serious.
– £26,000 is the expenditure for this year only.
– -Reference has been made to the need for better facilities for travelling stock in the Northern Territory. The need is not so much for better routes to the south, although that matter is serious enough as for outlets to ports in the Timor and Arafura seas. Cattlegrowers in the south know from experience the effects of drought on Western Queensland country, and do not want cattle from the Northern Territory to depress southern prices.
The remarks of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) in relation to his electorate apply with even greater force to Darwin, where homes for workers are urgently required. Because of its isolation, Darwin is in a peculiar position in this connexion. Practically the only people there who can obtain suitable house are senior government officials. Little or no provision is made for the building of homes for the workers, who consequently are being forced to leave the territory. Even returned soldiers find it exceedingly difficult to obtain war service homes in the Northern Territory. I approached the Minister in charge of War Service Homes with a request that priority be given to applications for homes in Darwin, but I failed to convince him that I had submitted a sound case. About 360 men are waiting for war service homes in the Commonwealth, and I ask the Minister to keep their claims in mind and give Darwin priority.
If it be thought that I have unduly criticized junior officers at Darwin and Alice Springs, I point out that I have criticized them in an attempt to help them. I particularly stress the need to treat Darwin as a place in the tropics. Buildings there should be designed by men who have studied architecture in the East, and have some knowledge of the dwellings erected in New Guinea and Malaya. If, instead of “sweat houses”, homes designed for tropical localities were erected at Darwin, much better results would be obtained, and wasteful expenditure obviated.
.- I ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) to give consideration to the construction of a stock crossing bridge on the proposed weir at Yarrawonga, a work in which the Commonwealth is a partner. Stock owners in the district urge the construction of such a bridge on the ground that the existing bridge across the Murray at Yarrawonga, which is one-third of a mile in length, and contains two bends, is so congested with vehicular traffic that it does not meet the requirements of stock.
– Is not the construction of bridges a State matter?
– Normally it is, but the Commonwealth is a partner in this undertaking. The making available of the River Murray waters for irrigation purposes will, witnout the slightest doubt, so increase the stock population of this locality on both sides of the river that at a very early date the construction of an additional bridge there will be imperative. Estimates disclose that it may subsequently cost as much as £100,000 to build an additional bridge, which, it is admitted on all sides, will be necessary within the next decade or so. During the construction of the weir, an opportunity is presented for the design to be modified and a stock crossing reserved, leaving the ordinary bridge available for vehicular purposes only. I ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson), in his capacity as chairman of the River Murray Commission, to endeavour to secure, if he has not already been able to do so, the approval of the commission to the incorporation of a bridge in the weir construction. I understand that the two State governments concerned in the construction of the road, the Governments of Victoria and Now South Wales, are prepared to contribute towards the extra cost of modifying the weir structure to include a bridge. I hope the Minister will use his authority as chairman of the commission to see that no obstacle is raised to the necessary modification of the design.
.- The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) has just raised the question of the Yarrawonga Weir, and the possibility of so altering the design of its construction as to enable it to be used for the dual purposes of a weir and a stock crossing. The honorable member has been very persistent in his representations from time to time on this subject, and I may say that the River Murray Commission was itself satisfied that something should be done if the two State governments which, of course, are the road and bridge authorities, would agree to provide the additional funds necessary to make the alteration. It will be readily recognized by honorable members that the River Murray Commission is entrusted with certain powers to spend the money provided by the three State governments and the Commonwealth in making weirs and locks; but it is not part of its business, and, indeed, it would be quite unable legally, to spend any part of its funds in providing stock crossings. The commission agreed that it would be possible, at no great cost, so to adapt the construction of the weir as to make it possible to have a stock crossing without in any way spoiling its usefulness as a weir.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I submit that the practice of the committee in dealing with the first item is to permit of a general debate on the first item, and during that debate no honorable member shall speak twice, except the Minister in charge. The Minister in charge is the Treasurer, and the right time for the Minister for the Interior to reply is when the committee reaches the department of which he is in charge. Therefore, I submit that the Minister for the Interior should not be permitted to make a second speech.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The practice has been as has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition, and I must, therefore, uphold his point of order.
– Is not an honorable member entitled to speak twice on each question in committee?
– Under Standing Order No. 257b only one speech may be made .by each member in the general debate on the first item, but on subsequent items each honorable member may speak for two periods of 30 minutes each.
The general debate being concluded.
Proposed vote (Parliament) agreed to.
Proposed vote, £45,500.
.- I.’ should like the Minister representing the Prime Minister to explain why buildings for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, costing £23,850, are shown under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department, whilst others costing £4,150 are shown under the control of the Department of the Interior.
Motion by (Sir Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to a recent happening which has upset certain industrial conditions in Victoria especially, and if not checked will have an adverse effect in the other capital cities of Australia.
In response to overtures, the Bryant and May Match Making Company recently agreed to reduce voluntarily the hours of labour of their employees, from 48 to 44 hours a week, and not to interfere with the amount of the weekly pay. This naturally gave considerable gratification not only to the employees of the company, but also to others who are interested in the improvement of industrial conditions, and those who are trying to prevent dismissals as a result of mechanism displacing human labour. With others I have, been approached by both parties in the match-making industry with a view to the ventilation on the floor of this House of what has been occurring, in order that action may be taken by the Minister for Trade and Customs in connexion with it.
During the last eight or nine months, a large quantity of matches has been imported into Australia free of duty, or at a low duty, probably without the attention of the Minister having been drawn to the fact, because of the intention to distribute them more or less free of cost to purchasers of tobacco or other commodities. A remarkable feature is that members of the Australian Chambers of Manufacturers, who, as everybody knows, are ardent protectionists and expect all of us to use our best endeavours to protect local industries - which we do - are themselves guilty of using these matches for the advertising of locallymade goods - .an outrageous anomaly. The practice has probably grown to larger proportions than was anticipated. Competition is so keen nowadays that a system of advertising which proves advantageous to one individual must be adopted by his competitors. That ha3 been the case in this industry, and the practice is beginning to undermine the work of those who are engaged in it. The efficiency of the Bryant and May undertaking has improved so rapidly, and it has become so highly mechanized, that the only alternative to the dismissal of a number of hands, was the reduction of the hours of labour, and the latter course, which wa3 adopted in preference to the former, should he followed by other manufacturers of matches. I am. sure that, if the position is as bad as I believe it to be, the Minister will take steps to prevent the dumping of foreign matches in Australia, and not be deluded into the belief that no harm is being done because of their free distribution.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to paper or cardboard matches ?
– I refer to the little pocket matches which are used for the advertising of different goods, but boxed matches are being used in the same way. I may bo asked why people should be prevented from obtaining matches free of cost, and thus reducing the price which they pay for tobacco. That is a shortsighted policy, which in the last analysis must cause more harm than good. Every effort has been made to obviate dismissals despite the growth of mechanization and the wonderful efficiency of the industry. About u0,000 gross of these matches have been imported during the last seven or eight months, and there are further supplies of them on the water. There are several manufacturers of matches in Australia, but all of them have not yet agreed to reduce the hours of labour to 44 a week, which is a proof that there is not a monopoly in the industry. Endeavors will be made to induce the others to fall into line ss soon as possible. I urge th<? Minister to look into this matter before harm is done.
[10.471.- This matter has not been brought to my notice other than by the honorable member tonight, but I have seen some reference to it in the press to-day. The match manu facturers have made no official complaint in regard to it. The particular firm to which the honorable member has referred quite recently made considerable enlargements to its factory. If it is losing some of its employees, the reason may be that they are going to other match manufacturers. There is now considerable internal competition in the manufacture of safety matches. The honorable member has mentioned only the paper matches which are made in vest-pocket size, and are used by local manufacturers to advertise their goods. I imagine that the complaint lodged to-night will prove to be a bad advertisement for that form of publicity when used by those who advocate “ Buy Australian made “. I am not able to say whether these matches are being dumped in Australia. I assume that they would be properly classified by the Customs Department, and would pay the duty, if any, associated with goods put up in that. form.
– I may be technically wrong in the use of the term “ dumped. “
– Doubtless they compete to an extent with the safety match and the wax match ; but 1 am not sufficiently acquainted with the position to say whether the local industry is adversely affected by this competition. That it has not complained, is somewhat surprising. Some manufacturers may be prepared to buy other matches and distribute them free of cost. If the honorable member will supply me with full details, I shall be glad to accede to his request to have an investigation made of the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.4S p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The figures mentioned wore recently published in a section of the press, and were inadvertently described as the findings of the Commonwealth Advisory Council on Nutrition. The council advises that, whilst the evidence before it is still quite indefinite, the figures available indicate that the weekly expenditure on food in Australia is, on the average, more than 7s. a person. No accurate estimate is available as to the average weekly expenditure on food for each person in the United Kingdom.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
Concerning the statement that it is proposed to reinstate in the Commonwealth Public Service ex-members of the Australian Imperial Forces who lost their employment in the Commonwealth Public Service, owing to the recent depression or other causes during recent years, what are the terms, conditions, and other details governing this proposed reinstatement of returned soldiers?
– Under section 84 (9) (c) of the Public Service Act, a returned soldier temporarily employed in a nonclerical capacity for not less than two years continuously is eligible, subject to a certificate from the chief officer as to satisfactory performance of his duties, for permanent appointment to a position the duties of which are similar to those which he has been performing. This provision has been interpreted to mean that the period of two years’ continuous service must be completed immediately prior to the permanent appointment of the returned soldier. Unfortunately, as a result mainly of the financial depression, the services of a number of returned soldiers, who had served at least two years continuously, and had become eligible for permanent appointment, had to be dispensed with, and, in consequence, they ceased to be eligible for appointment. The intention of the Government is to amend the Public Service Act to restore the eligibility of those returned soldiers who were previously eligible and who are still within the prescribed age limits for permanent appointment. They will then be considered for appointment as vacancies occur.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the hardships suffered by a small number of old and worthy citizens who, although Asiatics by nationality, were citizens of Australia before the establishment of federation and the “ White Australia “ policy, will he consider the justice of granting to those old people, many of whom had sons who served and lost their lives in the Great War, full citizen rights on the same basis as those now enjoyed by their children and grandchildren ?
– The matter will receive consideration.
Wool: Exports from United Kingdom.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What exports of wool in all forms have been made from the United Kingdom to the United States of America, Germany, Italy and Japan, during the last three years for which statistic* are available?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Minister for Commerce: Visit Abroad.
Mr.Curtin asked the Prime Minister,. upon notice -
What were the names of the whole party, including departmental officers, who accompanied the Minister for Commerce during his recent visit abroad ?
How long was the Minister absent from Australia. ?
What countries did he visit?
What were the total expenses to the Commonwealth incurred by the Minister and the whole of his party?
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Does the Government endorse or deny the truth of the statement made on Australian defence to the council of the ReturnedSailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia,at Adelaide, during the Premiers Conference, the kernel of which was’ that Australia has not a semblance of defence “ ?
– It is not known to what extent the press reports reflect the accuracy of the statement to the council of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, but it will be apparent that a statement “ that Australia has not a semblance of defence” is not consistent with the facts placed before the House in the speech of the Minister for Defence on the 11th September, 1936.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What degree of success has been achieved in regard to the development of the Moorlands (South Australia) brown coal deposits for power production?
– It is proposed to endeavour, by the use of geophysical methods, to determine what quantities of brown coal are available at Moorlands, South Australia, with a view to utilizing these deposits as a source of power production. It is expected that the geophysical work will occupy a period of more than six months.
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
With regard to the statement made in this House on the 11 th instant covering the Government’s proposals for the defence programme of the Commonwealth over the next three years, what is the complete programme, giving general details of the alterations, extensions and improvements, to bo given effect to over the next three years at the aerodrome at Archerfield, Queensland?
– The development of Archerfield aerodrome as contemplated during the next three years includes the following: -
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Mr.Paterson. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Commissionerfor Railways, New South Wales,has advised that with the introduction of thesummer timetableonthe 27th September,1936, he is prepared to try out adaily service between Sydney and Canberra onMondays to Saturdays, inclusive, leaving Sydney at approximately 8.24 a.m., arrivingCanberra 2.23 p.m., departing Canberra at 4.15 p.m. and arriving Sydney at 10.33 p.m. The extent to which theservice will be run will depend upon the patronage given it.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The answer to the hon orable member’s questions is as follows: -
No advances have been made by the Commonwealth Bank under the powers conferred by the Commonwealth Housing Act 1937-1928, since the financial year 1929-30. As the Commonwealth would be required to provide its share of any such advances, the necessary funds would have to be found from the Commonwealth’s share of loan moneysavailable to the Loan Council, thereby depleting the limited finance available for ordinary loan programmes of the Commonwealth and the States.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.Lyons. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
– On the 11 th September, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The following replies to the honorable member’s questions havenow been furnished by the Commonwealth Bank : - 1.Notesare not kept oncall by the Com- monwealthBank specifically for the use of the trading banks. The latter have large sums on deposit with the Commonwealth Bank and may, like other depositors, obtain notes by cashing cheques drawn on their accounts.
SirArchdaleParkhill. - On the 11th September, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked, with out notice, whether any agreement had been reached between the Hobart City Council and the Department of Defence for the removal of the Sandy Bay Rifle Range from its present site?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that some four years ago in deference to the wishes of the Hobart City Council and other interested parties the Defence Department agreed to transfer the small arms range from Sandy Bay to Glenorchy.
The terms and conditions of transfer were accepted by the council during 1935. These were reduced to a formal deed of agreement between the two parties the draft of which the council submitted to the Defence Department during April, 1936. Minor aspects of this agreement are now being adjusted prior to completion of the deed by the parties.
Kalgoorlie-Fremantle Railways : STANDARDIZATION or Gauge.
s. - On the 22nd May, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) asked the following question, without notice: -
Will the Prime Minister no Lc for consideration by the Cabinet and the next Premiers Conference, the advisability of an extension of the 4 ft. Si in. railway gauge from Kalgoorlie to Forth?
I now desire to inform the honorable member that the question of the unification of railway gauges was discussed at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers anr! that the following recommendation of the transport subcommittee was adopted : -
In view of the progress which has been made in road and air transport, this committee COlsiders that, before any decision is arrived at with respect to unification of railway gauges, a further inquiry by a competent body should be made, having special reference to the economic and defence aspects.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 September 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360916_reps_14_151/>.