3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether it is true, as stated in the press, that the Government proposes to introduce further legislation on the subject of trusts, and if so, are we to take that as an intimation that it does not intend to proceed under the existing law in regard to the Coal Vend?
– It is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to grant further facilities for procuringevidence in connexion with the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and where sufficient evidence can be procured to prosecute the trusts or combinations who have been guilty of a breach of the law.
-Under the existing law?
– When my honorable friend refers to the introduction of additional legislation to afford further facilities for procuring evidence, does he mean after or before the institution of proceedings?
– No doubt the evidence will be procured in some cases before the initiation of proceedings, and in other cases afterwards. I intend to give notice of motion for leave to introduce the Bill today, and it will be circulated to-morrow, and will speak for itself.
– Then I will not put a further question.
– Believing that several honorable senators will be put to great inconvenience unless they know whether or not the session is to be protracted into the coming year, I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he will ask his colleagues to confer with the leaders of parties in another place with a view to seeing if an arrangement cannot be made to get the Tariff sent here by a certain date. I do not care very much how late the date may be provided that we shall be able to finish up the work within the year, and will not be asked to come back in the early part of next year.
– The Government are anxious to expedite as fast as they can the consideration and completion of the Tariff. It is quite impossible to say when Parliament, in its wisdom, will see fit to finish its deliberations.
– I think that by holding a conference an arrangement might be made to finish the work within theyear.
– May I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council at what stage the two lengthy and complicated. Bills in relation to the new protection are to be brought forward ?
– I am not in a position at the present moment to answer the question. That is practically a matter for the consideration of my colleagues in another place. I cannot say without notice of a question what is their present intention.
– Is there any truth in the suggestion which is reported to have been made in another place that the Senate is to have the privilege of dealing with the Tariff piece-meal or is that a suggestion which is not likely to be carried out?
– I am not in a position at this stage to give a reply to the question.
– Will my honorable friend make inquiry and answer the question to-morrow ?
– I ask my honorable friend to be good enough to give notice of the question.
– I do not want to give notice of a question relating to the conduct of business. I shall repeat the question to-morrow.
– I have to report that I have received from the Premier of New Zealand a cablegram in reply to the resolution of the Senate, in conjunction with a resolution of the House of Representatives, congratulating its Government upon the inauguration of the Dominion. I ask the Acting Clerk to read the reply.
Cablegram read by the Acting Clerk as follows -
Wellington, 28th September, 1907.
The Honorable the President, and
The Honorable the Speaker,
Federal Parliament, Melbourne.
The Government and people of New Zealand tender to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia sincere thanks for their hearty congratulations. We much appreciate the good wishes for the welfare of the new Dominion, and wish the Commonwealth every prosperity.
– I have also to re port that in reply to a telegram of sympathy sent on behalf of the Senate to the people of Murwillumbah in connexion with the late fire, I have received from the Council Clerk a letter of acknowledgment, which I ask the Acting Clerk to read.
Letter read by the Acting Clerk as follows -
Council Chambers, Murwillumbah, N.S.W., 23rd September, 1907.
To the Honorable A. J. Gould, President, Senate.
Dear Sir- I am directed by the Mayor, on behalf of the citizens of Murwillumbah, to acknowledge your telegram of Monday last, and convey to you their appreciation of your kind sympathy and oiler of assistance. The many such offers, received from all parts of the Commonwealth, combined with their British pluck, will greatly cheer and stimulate the people of Murwillumbah to meet and surmount the manydifficulties occasioned by the late disastrousfire.
I am, dear Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Topping, Council Clerk.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper -
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act. - Regulations relating to the custody and’ destruction of Ballot-papers - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 97.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follow -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 27th September, vide page 3934) :
Brisbane Rifle Range - The Gunboat “ Protector” - Fremantle Fort - Hobart Rifle Range - Grants to Rifle Clubs.
Division 3 (Under Control of Department of Home Affairs), Defence, £66,046.
– I notice that we are again asked to vote £1,000 for a rifle range at Brisbane. If I do not make a mistake, that sum has been voted on two or three occasions, but apparently no money has been spent. According to a footnote, the total cost of the range is estimated at . £5,000. Will Senator Best explain how it comes that no steps have been taken towards establishing the range?
. At the present time there is no rifle range for Brisbane, and negotiations have been proceeding from time to time with reference to the acquisition of an eligible site. It is contemplated that the total cost will be £5,000, and this item of £1,000 will be a first contribution towards that amount.
– Will the Minister state whether there is any arrangement for carrying on rifle shooting in Brisbane?
– There has been a rifle range at Toowong for a great number of years.
– Is it being used now ?
– Yes. It has been used, to my knowledge, for the last twenty years.
– It is only a temporary one.
– It has been a temporary one for a long time.
– There is one also at Lytton.
– So far as my information goes, negotiations are proceeding with regard to a site. I hope that they will soon reach a stage of fruition.
– They are proceeding very slowly.
– A little over twelve months ago ex-Senator Playford, when Minister of Defence, made local inquiries, and the great difficulty then was to determine the most suitable site for a rifle range for Brisbane. One side of the city is admirably suitable for the purpose. A party went down there to make an inspection, but there was a difficulty in regard to getting a site. All the other places round Brisbane are so hilly thatit is not possible to get a stretch of level ground which would be suitable for a rifle range with varied distances. It is better to take a little time to consider the matter than to hurriedly select a site which may not give satisfaction hereafter. I simply rose to state that to my knowledge ex-Senator Playford visited Brisbane and endeavoured to settle the question. I do not know whether the present Minister of Defence is prepared to do the same.
– I do not want the vote struck out.
– It does not seemto make any difference whether it is left in or struck out.
– That is true. It has been on the Estimates for three or four years, and apparently nothing has been done. I object to an important centre like Brisbane, where there are considerable numbers of volunteers, militia, cadets, and riflemen, being without a range. The Department ought to have discovered before now whether it is possible to get a suitable range near Brisbane or not. I am giving them a fair amount of time, seeing that they are very like the sloth in their actions. If a suitable site cannot be found, that ought to have been discovered long before now. We spend thousands of pounds on officers in Queensland, and what have they been doing all this time that they have not been able either to find a range or to say that one cannot be found ? I am not satisfied with the answer given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. He has tried to waive the matter aside in the lordly fashion to which we were accustomed in ex-Senator Playford’s time.
– Has there not been some difficulty in getting the land?
– We ought to know definitely what stands in the way.
The range either can or cannot be found. If it can be found, it ought to be ; but if it cannot, the Committee ought to be made aware of the fact. What is the good of placing a sum of £1,000 on the Estimates year after year and doing nothing ?
– In order to be always ready.
– The way to be ready is to have the range, and to give men an opportunity of practising. We hear a great deal about rifle shooting, and are told that if only the citizens of Australia could be taught to shoot, the country would be impregnable. But when it comes to a simple detail of finding a range on which to practise rifle shooting, the Department seems hopelessly impotent. I want a definite statement from the Minister . If negotiations are proceeding, we should know exactly what stage they have reached, with whom they are being conducted, and whereabouts the suggested range is situated.
– I am exceedingly sorry that I cannot completely satisfy my honorable friend. I assure him that a bona fide effort has been made for sometime past to secure a suitable site. Those efforts were active during the last three weeks. A site regarded as suitable was submitted to Colonel Miller during his recent visit to Brisbane. He is engaged in reporting on the matter to the Minister. Severalsites have been submitted. Usually it is the duty of the rifle associations and clubs to recommend a site, but they have found the utmost difficulty in agreeing on any definite one. Those which have been suggested by them have been looked into, and been found to be either too far away for the riflemen or to some extent dangerous, or there have been other serious objections. Those which have been examined include one at Toowong, another at Sandgate, and the last submitted is at Enoggera, which is at present being reported upon. The honorable senator can hardly realize the difficulties experienced in some cases in securing sites. I will place his representations before the Minister of Defence, and urge him to use every reasonable expedition to secure a site. I hope that he will obtain the cordial assistance of the rifle clubs and associations.
– I trust that the Senate will not in any way countenance Senator Stewart’s re volutionary suggestion. The information furnished so far is that the item has been only three or four years before the Department.
– Is that correct ? I believe not.
– It is immaterial to my point whether it is correct. I am, trying to lend the Government some assistance. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given the honorable and unreasonable senator the assurance that during the beggarly period of time that the matter has been under official review, the Department has worked itself into a state of nervous exhaustion in considering it. Can any reasonable man ask for more? It is not the function of this Chamber to suggest anything like indecent haste in our public Departments. Has Senator Stewart considered the great danger to the public finances which might arise if the Department is pressed to move with any degree of precipitation? One of the first things which the military recruit has to learn is the goose-step, and surely we will allow the Department to go through that exemplary exercise also. If it has taken three years for the Department to stand still, in what position would it be if we asked it to move forward with the precipitation recommended by Senator Stewart?
– The Toowong range has been in existence for many years. Two or three years ago the military authorities reported it to foe dangerous. There had been one or two accidents. The military authorities looked around for a more suitable range, and they and the rifle clubs around Brisbane were fairly unanimous as to getting a place down at Cabbage-tree Creek, but that would have necessitated taking from the Nudgee Orphanage a very large portion of its land. The orphanage authorities objected to any interference with their land, a great deal of which was originally trust, and a considerable portion purchased, seeing that there was so much available land around Brisbane. They said that it would destroy the efficiency of the orphanage, where I think there are considerably over a thousand children at present. The military authorities at Brisbane were of opinion that it was necessary to take the land, and officers were sent from head-quarters in Melbourne to report. The Brisbane Harbor Board reported that the site was not safe. After an agitation had gone on for some time, the then Minister of Defence, ex-Senator Playford, stopped at Brisbane on the way back from Thursday Island, and visited the site with his advisers. He came to the conclusion that nothing should be done to interfere with the orphanage, and consequently a promise was given to the authorities of that institution that there would be no interference with them. Attention was then turned to a site at Wolston, which is sufficiently large, but the great difficulty was an inadequate train service. While there was a better service between Brisbane and Sandgate, and a fairly good one between Brisbane and Oxley, the necessary service was not given to Wolston, which was beyond that point. Negotiations have been going on between the military authorities and the State Railway Department for better travelling facilities for those who wanted to use the range if it was established. I do not know how far the negotiations have gone, or what view the Railway authorities take. Certainly, as the Toowong range has been reported as dangerous, it is necessary for the Government to obtain a range, whether at Enoggera or, Wolston. I know that when I was in Brisbane they were looking towards the Wolston site with the idea that they would soon be able to begin to spend money on it and make it suitable, not only for people from Brisbane, but for others coming down from Ipswich and beyond. They expected to be able to use it as a range not only for ordinary practice, but for Inter-State and other matches.
– The trouble about the Wolston site was that the military officers were in conflict over it.
– They have been in conflict over all the sites except the one at Nudgee, Which they wanted the Government to resume. A rifle range is needed at Brisbane, and the Government, or some other authority, should put their feet down, and say where it is to be situated. If the matter is to remain unsettled until the military authorities are unanimous concerning it, it is possible that there will be no site selected for a rifle range at Brisbane for’ years. The Government should get the Defence authorities toreport on the matter, and, on the best advice they can get, decide upon the best position for the range, secure the land, and have this moneyspent upon it, so that a range may be provided in connexion with which . there would be no danger to the public.
– I happen to know a little about the Toowong range. I have attended many rifle meetings there. Riflemen from all parts of Queensland attend meetings at that range for the money voted yearly for rifle shooting in Brisbane. It is very strange that it should have taken over three years to settle this matter. We have a Commandant and other officers high in the Defence Force, who shouldbe able to give competent advice on the matter. A vote is placed on the Estimates year after year, and people are led to believe that money isbeing spent in Queensland on rifle ranges when it is not being spent at all, but is carried on to the next year’s Estimates. Unless some steps are taken to decide the matter, this kind of thing will go on for some years more.
– The honorable senator should remember that it is the usual practice for the rifle associations and rifle clubs interested to recommend a suitable ranges That is riot a responsibility of the Government.
– I understand that therifle associations interested in this matter have made a recommendation.
– They are not unanimous. They have been in conflict.
– I understand that they have made a recommendation, but have been in conflict with the military authorities, and if that be so, it is for the Government to say which party to the dispute is in the right. We spend thousands of pounds every year in giving prizes for rifle shooting, and the riflemen around Brisbane have no suitable range at which to shoot. I do not think much of the objection that one range suggested is a little rough. Riflemen will have to shoot in all sorts of country in war time, and the men who can shoot straight in difficult country willbe able to shoot straight in easy country.
– There is to be an Inter-State rifle match held at Brisbane this month.
– That is so. We are asked to vote £1,000 for this range, and the Minister does not know where it is.
– And the honorable senator does know. How clever !
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council need not be so very snappy. He did not know whether the Brisbane range was to be at Cabbage-tree Creek or Enoggera. He submits a vote of £1,000 in connexion with the range, and is not in possession of the information which the Committee require. The honorable senator expects the Committee to pass the vote without comment, and when honorable senators do comment upon it, he loses his temper. I am sorry that I should have ruffled him in any way.
– The honorable senator must see that, as the site has not yet been fixed, I cannot know where it is any more than he can.
– But the VicePresident of the Executive Council should be in a position to tell the Committee what steps have been taken. When the Defence Department recommended this vote, they should have supplied the honorable senator with the information that the Committee require. I am complaining that he has not that information. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council can give the Committee an assurance that this matter will not be permitted to remain unsettled for an indefinite time, but will be finally dealt with in the next three months or the next six months, that will satisfy me.
– I can corroborate the information given to the Committee by Senator Turley as to the difficulties which have arisen in connexion with the Brisbane rifle range. I know nothing of the administration of the ex-Minister of Defence, but I take the opportunity of saying that representations made to the present Minister of Defence in connexion with the requirements of the Defence Force in Queensland have been received with extreme courtesy, and given prompt attention. I think that the Committee generally will join with honorable senators from Queensland in the hope that the same courtesy and promptitude will be displayed in connexion with this important item. It is somewhat significant that the largest centre of population in Queensland is without a suitable rifle range to promote the efficiency of the Defence Force in that State. I may say that the Wolston site would accommodate not only the city of Brisbane, but also the city of Ipswich, and would serve a population of from 150,000 to 200,000.
– They have a rifle range now at the Toowong site.
– That is so, but a site which has been reported on as dangerous on account of accidents which have occurred there, or the chances of accidents occuring there, cannot be regarded as suitable. The question is a burning one with the citizens of Brisbane, as well as with the officers and members of the Defence Force in Queensland, and it must be regarded as rather a serious matter that the Defence Department should have failed for so long to give the facilities needed for rifle shooting in such a large centre of population. I cordially join in the expression of the hope that the present Minister of Defence will expedite the settlement of the matter.
– In order that honorable senators may have proof that Queensland senators are not unnecessarily occupying the time of the Committee, I make the following, quotations from the debate which took place in the Senate last year on this particular item. I said -
I see there is an item of£1,000 as the first instalment towards the cost of a rifle range at Brisbane for the metropolitan troops. This item has appeared regularly year after year since, I believe, the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Apparently none of the money hasbeen spent, and, perhaps, the Minister will tell us how the matter stands.
– The matter stands exactly as it did when I took office, and, I think, also when the two preceding Ministers took office.
Apparently honorable senators at that time indulged in some hilarity, which provoked the following observations from ex-Senator Play ford-
However, this is no laughing matter, because there are great difficulties in the way of obtaining a suitable range for Brisbane and neighbourhood.
Further on, the Minister said -
At present I understand that the people of Brisbane are not willing to permit the extension of their cemetery to the portion of the cemetery reserve which is now being used as a rifle range at Toowong. If the Department can purchase the land they occupy there we shall be able to establish a very good range, which is almost in Brisbane, since it is connected with that city by a tram service. The members of the rifle clubs interested will be only too pleased if we can permanently secure that site for a range.
– Can the range there be made safe ? I ask the question, because there has been one legal action in connexion with it already.
– It can be made perfectly safe. That will involve only the alteration of a road now made to the top of Mount Cootha. The Commonwealth Government would, of course, have to meet the expense necessary to alter that road. I have instructed the officers of the Department to make inquiries as to whether it is possible to get the cemetery reserve now occupied into the hands of the Commonwealth for the purposes of a rifle range. If that be found to be possible there will be no further trouble in connexion with the matter.
Now, I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether these inquiries have been made. That is to say, whether the officers of the Commonwealth have inquired about the cemetery reserve referred to in the statement made by ex-Senator Playford.
Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) f.3-41]- - Perhaps I should say first of all that I replied rather sharply to Senator Sayers, because I thought the honorable senator had reproached me a little ungenerously for not knowing the name of the site of the rifle range at Brisbane, when I had no information on the subject, and when I did not think it was involved in the discussion. I repeat that rifle associations and rifle clubs have usually taken upon themselves the responsibility of recommending a site for a rifle range, and in that way all parties have been satisfied. Tt is true that for some years there appears to have been a difference of opinion as to which is the most suitable site to be secured for a rifle range at Brisbane. The people interested have been unable to come to any final determination on the subject. I have been asked by Senator Stewart whether certain inquiries have been made as to a cemetery site.
– No, the cemetery reserve; the cemetery is close- to the Toowong rifle range.
– A rather appropriate place for a rifle range.
– The further information I have been able to secure on the subject is ‘that, first of all, the Nudgee site was carefully investigated, and, for the reasons assigned by Senator Turley, has not been selected. Then the Toowong site is that of the present range. It is considered dangerous, and the State Government, no doubt for that reason, protest against the selection of it.
– They used it for many years.
– That may be, but we cannot ignore their representation on the subject. Then the Wolston site appears to be eligible in many respects, but there is a very strong difference of opinion amongst the military authorities as to its suitability. Then there is the Ekkibin site. That is a site which has recently been inquired into and reported upon. A decision has not been come to on the report. The Enoggera site has also been reported upon. I do not know that I am justified in speaking with any particularity, but from a cursory glance at the reports it appears that the Enoggera site is the most suitable one that has been recommended. I can only say to the Queensland senators - who, of course, have a right to discuss this matter fully, and to place their views before the Government - that I shall have verygreat pleasure indeed in submitting the representations that have been made to my colleague. Their request for an expeditious settlement of this much vexed question, for which, not the Government, but the people themselves are responsible, will receive attention.
– Some time ago the Commandant of Queensland wrote to the various rifle clubs and associations propounding a new scheme in connexion with which grants were to be given for rifle firing. Some correspondence ensued; and I wish to know whether the Minister can tell me what stage the negotiations have reached, and whether the Government propose to take any action along the lines proposed by the Commandant? .
– Inquiries’ will be made, and if my honorable friend will put his question to me again later in the day, I hope to be able to give him an answer.
– I thank the Minister for the explanation which he has made, and which is fairly satisfactory. Senator Stewart has read out what the ex- Minister of Defence said last session on this question, when an assurance was given that something definite would be done. But the matter has been allowed to remain in abeyance.
– Are not the inquiries which have been made those which the exMinister promised ? They look like it.
– Why should it have taken since last session to get a little information which could be obtained in a week or ten days?
Senator Keating. Try it !
– I believe that I could have obtained the information from the rifle clubs within a week. But it appears that the military authorities are also a cause of delay. If the range is removed from Toowong, to which the riflemen can get out by tram or ‘bus for about twopence, and put at Enoggera, near to the waterworks, it simply means putting it seven or eight miles away, on a site which cannot be reached except by coach.
– Or by motor car.
– I have been over the road, and do not think that many motor cars would be able to travel over it. Of course, Ministers are ready to make promises in a pleasant way. But I trust that, after what has taken place, the Government will make an effort to have the matter settled. If we are to spend a lot of money upon the military forces of Australia, and are to encourage rifle shooting, we ought to see that no unnecessary delay occurs in reference to the establishment of so important a means of practising as a rifle range. This matter has now been in abeyance for five or six years, if not longer. Indeed, before the Federal Government was inaugurated it was under the consideration of the State Government.
– Though I am not a representative of Queensland, it may not be out of place for me to say a few words on this important question. Senator Sayers is trying to make a target of the Government, but I really believe that if the Minister of Defence were to go to Queensland and announce, without consulting the people, that the range would be situated at such and such a place, the honorable senator would say, “ The Minister comes here dictating to the people of Queensland as to what they ought to do.” The Queensland people should make up their own minds as to what they want. Those who live on the spot ought to be the best judges, and until they have come to a conclusion, they should not induce their representatives in the Senate to kill time over such a trifle.
– It is as important as a pillar-box in South Australia.
– No one can accuse me of killing time over such a matter as the situation of a rifle range. When I do speak, even if it is about a pillarbox, I let the Senate know exactly what I mean. I give this advice to the Government, “ Do not interfere too much with States rights. Let the Queensland people come to a decision as to what they want, and then their representatives will be able to spread themselves upon the subject. But until they do decide, let them suffer the consequences of. their own disagreement.”
SenatorSTEWART (Queensland) just shed the light of his countenance on the Committee seems to be labouring under a serious misapprehension. I was under the impression that the defence of Australia was placed in the hands of the Federal Government, and that if the Federal Government, in its wisdom, or unwisdom, thought it necessary or desirable to establish a rifle range in any particular locality that was considered suitable, the people living in the district had nothing to say in the matter. I was under the impression that it was a question for the Federal Government to settle. Now, I want to have a definite assurance “from the Government. Unfortunately, Ministers of Defence come and go, and we are unable to get definite action from them. The ex-Minister, Senator Playford, arrived at a particular point in this matter. He had evidently come to the conclusion that if the Toowong range could be extended, it would be a perfectly safe one. There is no doubt that the Toowong range is the most suitable for the people living at Brisbane, and even for riflemen who come from a distance to practise there. Tramcars carry them right up to the range and back again. Senator Playford said last year, in answer to a question by Senator Drake, relating to the Toowong range -
It can be made perfectly safe. That will involve only the alteration of a road now made to the top of Mount Cootha. The Commonwealth Government would, of course, have to meet the expense necessary to alter that road. I have instructed the officers of the Department to make inquiries as to whether it is possible to get the cemetery reserve now occupied into the hands of the Commonwealth for the purpose of a rifle range. If that be found to be possible there would be no further trouble in connexion with the matter.
Senator Playford had evidently come to the conclusion that the Toowong range, provided this additional piece of land were purchased, was the most suitable one. Carrying out that idea, he instructed his officers to make inquiries. The result of those inquiries ought to be in the possession of the Department, and we ought to have whatever information is available on the point. It is now said that the State Government objects. Well, although I would uphold the State’s rights probably as much as any member of the Senate if I thought they were beingseriously attacked, yet I consider that the State must give way to the Federation in reference to matters of this sort, just as there are occasions when a shire council or a municipal authority is compelled to bank down before the superior force of State authority. A rifle range is urgently wanted in Brisbane.
– But the people cannot decide where they want it.
– The people have nothing whatever to do with it. My honorable friend seems to have a most extraordinary idea of Commonwealth responsibilities.
SenatorFindley. - Let us get something done; strike out. the item.
– My honorable friend is very impatient, but the more he growls and grumbles, the more determined shall I be to elicit some definite assurance from the Government. I wish to see something done in this matter. If Australia is to be adequately and efficiently defended, opportunities for practising rifle shooting must be given. I should not say so much in this connexion but for the fact that the only policy that has been pursued by the Government in reference to defence is a policy of hopeless and helpless drift. They have simply been sailing with the tide - doing nothing - calmly resting on their oars - and allowing defence matters to arrange themselves in a happy-go-lucky fashion. Ex-Senator Playford said last year that two Ministers of Defence who preceded him had had this matter under consideration. If the result of the inquiries is unfavorable, are we to regard the Toowong range as being completely put of the running?
.- For nearly an hour I. have listened to a discussion on this item. All the representatives of. Queensland except Senator Chataway, who asked a question, have spoken, and Ihave come to the conclusion that the best way to settle any difficulty in regard to the site is to strike out the item.
– Move for its omission.
– I intend totake that course. According to Senator Savers, the people of Brisbane have had a rifle range for nearly a quarter of a century. They must be a long-suffering people if, forthat period, they have put up with a range which does not give them satisfaction. Probably, the objection to the range is its close proximity to the cemetery. If they are inexperienced shots, I think it is a very convenient spot for the range to be situated. Senator Stewart has had one advantage over his colleagues, in that he has been able to quote speeches which he delivered last session. I think he would serve his purpose if he would join with me in helping to strike out the item. Evidently the people of Brisbane are extremely anxious t get finality. Therefore, I propose to move the omission of the item.
– No, no.
– Do not cause a constitutional difficulty !
– I do not wish to cause a constitutional difficulty, and, in deference to the leader of the Senate, I shall withdraw my opposition to the item.
Senator Major O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.3]. - With regard to the item of £475 for alterations to the Protector,. can the Minister say whether the proposed alterations’ relate to the construction of the vessel or to her armament?
– The Naval Director reports as follows -
Apart from the Queensland gunboats and the torpedo boats in Hobson’s Bay, the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth are dependent for their sea-training on the Protector. If this vessel is not available there will be no sea-training for the Naval Forces. Since the Federal reorganization of the Forces, the Protector’s work has been considerably increased, and will continue to be so till new vessels are provided. To enable her to carry out the additional work, she is now undergoing an extensive refit imperative’ after twenty-two years’ service. Tocomplete this work and fit her for service as the Commonwealth drill-ship alterations are necessary. These alterations are called for, not to carry out her original duties for service in South Australian gulfs, but are needed to enable her to carry out efficiently the work required other under Federal re-organization - the training of Naval Forces of other States.
– That is to adapt her as a training ship?
– Yes ; according to the information I have.
– I notice that an item of £5, 750 is required towards the construction of a fort and the acquisition of a site at North Fremantle. If I remember rightly, this item is twin brother of the item for the Brisbane rifle range. It has been placed on the Estimates for several sessions, and I desire to know what progress has been made with regard to the acquisition of a site?
– On this occasion, I think I can satisfy my honorable friend. Tenders have been called for, and a contract is now in progress.
– We are asked to vote a sum of £4,495 in connexion with the rifle range at Sandy Bay, Hobart. Was that sum arrived at by private treaty, or after arbitration? The range has been in existence for many years, and this money, I presume, is required for its extension. There has been great discussion about the matter lately. I understand that very exorbitant prices have been asked for rocky ground behind the existing range. The £,4,49$ seems to me to be a very large sum to vote for the purpose, and, in addition, there is an item el £500 f°r fencing.
– When I went into the Department of Home Affairs I found that a good deal of land had been acquired during last year, and even before that, I think, for the extension of the Sandy Bay rifle range. The owners were notified, in accordance with the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act, and requested to forward their claims. A number of claims were received, but the amounts were considered to be very excessive. The Commonwealth had valuations made by expert valuers, and, as a result of the valuations, it offered in each case a sum which it considered would reasonably compensate the owner for dispossession of the land on the principles laid down in the Act for compensation. In most instances - I think without exception - the offer was refused, and the claim was pressed. In February last I found that a good deal of long range firing in the way of correspondence had been taking place for many months between the claimants and the Department. They wanted their original claims paid, but the Department refused to give more than the amounts which it had offered. I thought it would insure an amicable settlement if it could bte arranged for the solicitors and other representatives of the claimants to meet the representative of the Commonwealth in the person of the Crown Solicitor. Accordingly I asked the Attorney-General to allow me to have the services of the Crown Solicitor for that purpose. I went into the matter very fully with him, and he then went to Tasmania, after having previously communiacted with ‘the claimants. He met them or their representatives in a body, and put before them the Commonwealth ‘position. I believe that, owing to a recent decision as to the amount of compensation to which an owner of land is entitled, he was enabled to put before them a phase of the question that was new to them. The result was that all the claims, except about two, have been settled at an amount which did not greatly exceed what the Commonwealth offered in the first instance, and which was considerably less than the total amount asked by the claimants.
– How much per acre?
– The sum varies.I have not the papers with me.
– Will the Minister furnish a list of the properties and the areas ?
– If any honorable senator desires it, I shall lay upon the table a return showing the amount of each claim, the amount offered by the Commonwealth in each .instance, and the amount paid. I ““feel quite satisfied that .the course I took resulted in considerable saving. Although we paid a sum in excess of what we offered, still, if we had fought all the claims in Court, the provisions with regard to costs in such actions are very generous to the individual and not very considerate towards the public purse, and, even if we had been successful in each case, we could hardly have done much better than we did. I regret tosay, however, that there is one outstanding case, and that is the case of the Hobart Golf Company, who issued a writ against the Commonwealth about two months ago. .The original, owner of the land made a claim, which, according to the ideas, of the Department, ‘was out of reason. After putting in his claim he transferred the property to the Hobart Golf Company, who refused to take the amount which we offered, and then became claimants. In the first instance they sued as the Hobart Golf Company. We asked them to take back the . writ, otherwise we would have to apply for the joinder of the .original claimant with them. A new writ has been issued in the joint names of the original owner and that company ; the Commonwealth has put in a defence, and the case wilt come on for hearing at the next opportunity. Apart from that, there is one other claim in respect of which negotiations are still pending, but the amount indispute is not very considerable. The amount which we offered was about ,£470, and the amount asked for was about ^576. There are one or two small claims- for trifling amounts, which relate to the use of roadways or rights-of-way, and which cannot be classed with the others.
-Are they included in this item of £4,000?
– The rifle range claims are all included. I will supply the Senate with particulars, at a later date, as to the total amount involved, and honorable senators will find that we have a very good bargain.
– Does the amount on the Estimates cover the amount of the claim which is forming the subject of legal action ?
– I understand so.
– Is the amount offered or claimed included?
– I am not in a position to say, but this item is designed to cover an amount which we consider will settle the claim after action. We have fortified ourselves as strongly as we could with independent valuations, and we have every reason to believe that the amount set down in the Estimates will cover all that is required.
– I give the Minister of Home Affairs credit for having brought to a termination, satisfactory to most of the parties, the negotiations which were proceeding. But I should have liked to be able to congratulate the Defence Department on paying a little more respect to public opinion and convenience in Hobart. The piece of land which they have acquired, and for which they are paying a considerable sum, is at the rear of the rifle range. The range happens to be in an exceedingly convenient position for the military authorities. So long as it is convenient to those gentlemen my experience is that they do not care a hang whether it suits the public generally or not. The range forms a section of land separating the city of Hobart from one of its most picturesque and salubrious suburbs. It is to be for ail time a kind of barrier, which people cannot cross, from the top of the range of hills down to within a chain or so of the sea. The only means of passing it is to drive along the road in front of the sea. The land at the back of the range was held by people in the hope that suburban selection and building would go on there. They were laying out streets, and during my term as Minister a public road was designed to afford one of the most picturesque drives in Australia along this very ground. All that’ I com plain of is that there has been no disposition on the part of the military authorities in Hobart to show anything but an absolutely selfish indifference to what is due to the public. I do not blame the Defence Department, which, like most other public Departments, is more or less guided by the reports of its officers. The Hobart Military authorities’ could have obtained quite as suitable a range, at a little inconvenience to themselves, some little distance from Hobart, if they had chosen to look for it.
– They could not get it.
– There is plenty of land available, but it would be necessary to use the railway, as is done in Melbourne, and as will have to be done in time in all the capital cities. Hobart, however, is to put up with, for all time, in the middle of the capital, a breach between the city and suburbs. That is not a good thing, and will destroy the continuity of the town. I intend, at some future time, in connexion with another matter, to ask the Senate to consider this phase of the question. I hope that, in the meantime, the military authorities will take a little wise counsel, and not be so selfish in their claims when public interests are at stake.
– I promised to secure certain information for Senator Chataway. The information which I have now to hand is that the Commandant of Queensland is considering a scheme for the distribution of grants to rifle clubs; but that the scheme has not been completed, and, consequently, has not yet been before the Military Board.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Post Offices : Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Port Pirie - Private Letter Boxes - Telephone Store - Sites for Post Offices.
Division 4 (Under control of Department of Home Affairs), Post and Telegraph, £147,078.
– I have a little matter to which I desire to urge the attention of the Minister. I almost apologize for bringing it before the Committee. My only justification is that it has taken an interminable time to deal with. Most people are under the impression that the proper place to post a letter is a post office, but it will probably come as a shock to them to learn that there is a post office in the Commonwealth where one cannot post a letter. I refer to the post office at the Sydney railway station. I have pointed out to the Department that it appeared to be a ridiculous oversight that, in designing the office, no provision had been made for the posting of letters. After some correspondence it began to dawn upon them that there was something wanting, and they put up a box for the receipt of letters from 100 to 150 yards away from the post office. I drew their attention to the fact that that still did not equip the office as it ought to be equipped. After further reports, correspondence, and consideration, they finally decided to have a box put there for the receipt of letters. That box has not been fixed yet, although it was decided upon some months ago. It is packed away today in one of the telephone cabinets in the post office. If there is one convenience to the public in having a post office at a railway station, it is to those people who are in a hurry to catch a train. They come in from a suburban train, and go to the post office to purchase a stamp. It is not every one who is in a hurry to catch a train who can spend the necessary time in travelling about a quarter of a mile to find a pillarbox, however beneficial the exercise may be. The whole trouble is one which any official with a business turn of mind could have settled in a few minutes if he had taken it in hand. Ibring the matter before the Committee because, after my corresponding with the Department, the net result is that the receiving box is stowed away in one of the cabinets in the building.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General .
Senator Colonel NEILD (NewSouth Wales) [4.23] - On Monday morning the postman delivered at my house a formidable blue paper containing the intimation - and I understand that every one else in the district has received a similar notice - that the Postmaster-General had determined - not that the Executive by regulation under the Act had ordered, but that the Postmaster-General had issued a ukase - that every one whose house is within 100 feet of a road is to cut a hole in his front door and fix a letter-box at the back of the hole. Apparently, it is sufficient that Mr. Mauger should determine that this must be done. It is stated that if the house is not within 100 feet of the road, the householder is forthwith to erect some receptacle for letters. The PostmasterGeneral has no power to make any such order. It can only be done by regulation under the Act. This notice comes as a direction through the Deputy PostmasterGeneral. I desire to draw attention to the absolute absurdity of the whole thing. It is not stated how the 100 feet is to be measured. My house is within about 60 feet of one road, and 130 or 140 feet of another. From which particular roadway is the distance to be calculated, and is it to be reckoned in a straight line or according to the curves of an ornamental pathway ?
– The honorable senator had. better have two boxes.
– That might be a necessity, according to Mr. Mauger. Perhaps the simpler plan would be to move the house nearer to the road. No Minister has a right to issue such an order, putting a large expense on a great many people. If a man is renting somebody else’s property, and draws the landlord’s attention to the fact that Mr. Mauger wants a hole cut in his front door, the landlord may say something that would not look pretty in the records of Hansard. Is Mr. Mauger to haul the tenant before a bench of magistrates because his ukase has not been obeyed, or is the landlord to be fined for committing no offence whatever, because he has not carried out something which the law does not require him to carry out ? An order of that kind is a preposterous action on the part of any new-fledged Minister.
– There is no item in these Estimates for a supply of such boxes.
– The people are to supply them.
– This is purely a Works and Buildings Bill, and has nothing to do with the administration of the Department.
– Somehow or another -I suppose ow ing to the peculiar method in which Government business is conducted - it does not appear to me, as a parliamentarian of twenty-five years’ experience, to be possible to speak about anything upon anyBill which is brought in by the Government except something of the most positively direct character. I am not questioning your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I find that honorable members of another place were allowed to range all over this
Bill, while we do not seem to be able to get in edgewise matters that are really of considerable consequence. This matter involves scores of thousands of residences. As this seems to be the only opportunity for pointing out to the Postmaster-General that he is getting very wide of his legal rights, I desire to take it: I am only wondering whether, in view of this act, there are not a considerable number of items in the schedule that require to be looked at very closely.
– A number of people put those boxes up for their own convenience.
– My honorable friend may be quite right, but that is not the question which I have submitted. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the liberty you have allowed me to draw attention to the matter.
– I received a respectfully worded letter about two years ago - » -
– I hope that the honorable senator will not go into the question raised by Senator Neild. I asked that honorable senator to desist from discussing it, as there is nothing in the Bill bearing upon it.
– I merely wish to state that the letter pointed out that it would be a great public convenience and a great saving of time if people would make provision for letter boxes, so as to save the postman’s time. We were told that by so doing we ‘ would get our letters much earlier. Most reasonable men, like myself, went to the trouble of doing what was suggested, and it was no hardship to us.
– I notice that an expenditure of ^19,000 is contemplated for the extension of the Melbourne General Post Office. I hope that this will give a little more public convenience than is now being given. On a Saturday three or four weeks ago the boat for Tasmania was announced to leave at 8 o’clock in the evening. Thinking that the mails would, as usual, close about an hour before the departure of the boat, I went to the Melbourne Post Office a little before 7 o’clock to purchase stamps and post letters. I found a number of people there inquiring where they could purchase stamps, or get information. The building was absolutely closed, and in darkness. Although I searched about for a considerable time, I found no one there. At last, by rapping on a private box, I managed to attract the attention of some one who favoured me with a little information, to the effect that the mail had closed at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, although the boat did not leave until 8 o’clock in the evening, and that stamps were not obtainable at any place nearer than Cole’s Book Arcade.
– At what time did the honorable senator make his inquiries?
– About a quarter to 7 o’clock in the evening.
– The office closes at 6 o’clock.
– In an important city like Melbourne, which at the present time may be regarded as the metropolis of Australia, we have a right to expect that at the principal post-office some reasonable provision should be made to enable people to obtain postal information, and, if necessary, to purchase stamps, at any rate, during ordinary business hours. It is a disgraceful thing that mails should close at 3 o’clock which have to go by a boat advertised to leave at 8 o’clock in the evening. I had to walk in the pouring rain down to the wharf to post my letters if I desired them to go by that mail at all. We are constantly hearing of the hardships of postal officials, and according to some of the complaints that are made the amount of sweating in the Commonwealth Public Service would appear to be somewhat extraordinary. I make a complaint now on behalf of the suffering public. Considering what the Department is costing the Commonwealth, we have a right to expect that the public will be supplied with business conveniences, and will, at least, be able to. purchase stamps and to post letters at a reasonable time before a mail leaves. I invite the attention of the Minister to this matter, which in my opinion constitutes a grievance which ought to be remedied.
r4-3i]- - T have listened to the complaint of the honorable senator, and it will be my duty to bring it under the notice of my ‘honorable colleague, the Postmaster-General.
.- I wish to obtain some information in regard to some of these items. There is a vote put down for ^800 for a store at Sturtstreet yards, South Melbourne. I should like to know what the store is required for, and whether the ^800 is for the purchase of the land in connexion with it?
– - The information I have is that it is proposed to erect a shed 136 feet by 36 feet in the telephone pole yard for the protection of telephone cable on delivery from the contractors before being tested and erected.- Also for the storage of heavy line materials, such as telephone and telegraph wires, insulators, brackets, &c. The site, of course, will be Commonwealth property.
.- The next vote is one for £2,000 for the purchase of sites. What sites are to be purchased? Are they capital sites?
– This item is for the purchase of land on which it is proposed to erect the new buildings provided for in the schedule. It is for the purchase of sites for post-offices, of course.
– I wish to know how the extension of the General Post Office at Brisbane is proceeding. I am aware that it is very much needed, as the existing premises do not afford nearly sufficient accommodation for the business being done in the office. I believe that the sorters on the ground floor are very much hampered for want of space in carrying on their operations. The building had not been started when I was last in Brisbane, and I hope that the Minister will be able to assure the Committee that this extension of the Brisbane Post Office will be proceeded with at the earliest possible moment.
– Is the vote for an extension of” the Post Office or the Post and Telegraph Office at Brisbane, because thev adjoin each other?
– The total estimated cost of the work required to- be done is £27,0.00. Contracts are now in progress for new post and telegraph office stores, new parcels office, additions to the mail room branch, telegraph operating room, additional public vestibule and counters, new dead letter office, additional accommodation for accounts branch with strong rooms and provision for bringing the work of the cheque branch under the accountant, additional space by rearrangement for correspondence, records and inspectors, new detective galleries, remodelled sanitary conveniences, improvements to telephone exchange accommodation and to electrical engineers branch. Honorable senators will, therefore, see that the matter is actively in progress.
Senator Major O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.37]. - The Minister will remember that about two months ago I asked a question with regard to the Port Pirie postoffice a.s to whether, in view of the proposal to make alterations in an old building on a very unsuitable site, it would not be better to erect a new structure on the other side of the street. Since then a deputation of South Australian representatives awaited on the Postmaster-General, who promised to make further inquiries. I think the honorable gentleman said that h» would send an officer to report on the matter.
– He said he would go himself.
– I should like to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council has been supplied with any further information on the subject, and can inform the Committee whether it is proposed to alter the old post-office or to erect a new structure on a more convenient and safer site.
– Mv information is that the expansion of postal business due to the growth of the town has overtaken the accommodation of the existing premises which have been altered and added to from time to time, and now require remodelling and extensive additions to make them adequate. It would appear, therefore, that it is the intention of the Department to remodel the existing post-office.
– There is a strong feeling at Port Pirie that the existing post-office is in the wrong position. It is close to the river bank, and there is no population on one side of it. The Broken Hill Proprietary’s smelting works are at one end and the road is almost continually blocked with railway trucks, which renders it dangerous for people to approach the post-office.
– Do the people desire another site?
– The people of Port Pirie are absolutely agreed that another site should be selected for the postoffice. We might agree to pass the vote, but the Vice-President of the Executive Council should take the earliest possible opportunity to see that a thorough investigation is made into the matter, in order that a more suitable site may be found in view of the fact that the existing postoffice is in an absolutely unsuitable position.
– I shall bring the representations of my honorable friend under the notice of my honorable colleague.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Wireless Telegraphy - Cable Communication, Tasmania - Marine Signal Stations, South Australia.
Division 5 (Under Control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department), Telegraphs and Telephones, £348,467.
– I would be glad if the VicePresident would say where it is intended that the wireless telegraphy, for which there is a proposed vote of £10,000, shall be installed.
– It is the intention of the Postmaster-General that, on the passing of the vote, offers shall be invited for installations at Cape York, Queensland, and Port Moresby, Papua, and that action be deferred in connexion with other stations suggested in the report of the Wireless Telegraphy Conference until the receipt of such offers. Particulars to enable tenders to be called are now in course of preparation.
– Is nothing to be done for King Island?
– That will be dealt with immediately after the connexion with Papua.
– Some time ago, when the question of the installation of wireless telegraphy in the Commonwealth was under the consideration of the Senate, I made the suggestion that Neptune Island, or the Althorpes should be connected with the mainland of South Australia in some way. These islands are the first land made by ships running down their easting, and at the present time, there is no signalling station in the locality, except that at Cape Borda, which is an unsuitable place for such a station. The land at Cape Borda is so high that ships running close in to the land in the morning are not visible, and it is a common occurrence for mail steamers and other ships to arrive off the Semaphore at Adelaide without ever having been signalled at all. Originally, there was a cable between the Althorpes and the mainland. But as it was laid on a rough bottom, it got cut, and since the Commonwealth has taken over the Post and Telegraph Department, we have been unable to use that cable, and no attempt has been made to connect the Althorpes with the mainland.
– Was the cable working before the Commonwealth took it over.
– Yes. It has been down for a certain number of years, and, of course, it was worn, but no attempt has been made by the Commonwealth Government to repair it. I admit that there are difficulties in the way, because the Postal Department does not possess cable ships with which to lay a cable or pick it up at a particular point.
– Was the cable never broken while under the control of the. State Government ?
– Yes, it was, and it was repaired.
– Then it could be repaired by the Commonwealth Government.
– I consider that there is an excellent opportunity afforded for connecting the Althorpes or Neptune Island with the mainland of South Australia by wireless telegraphy. I hope that my suggestion will receive some consideration, as the place to which I refer is the most important part of the coastline of Australia. I have said that Cape Borda is an unsuitable place for a signalling station, and the station should be at Neptune Island or the Althorpes.
– What is the distance?
– About fifty miles.
– I shall be happy to bring the matter under the notice of my colleagues.
– Will the Minister inform the Committee whether this question of laying down a new cable, as opposed to installing a system of wireless telegraphy, between Tasmania and the mainland, has been submitted to experts? It seems to me that what is proposed will commit the Commonwealth to a very large expenditure on laying down a new cable. Some years ago, experiments were made in wireless telegraphy between Tasmania and the mainland, and if as good a service can be secured by that means, what is the use of laying down a new cable?
– This proposal is subject to the Government not being able to make arrangements with the Eastern Extension Company.
– I think that the Committee should have more information on the point.
-461- - I join with my honorable friend, Senator Pearce, in asking for more information relating to the item under discussion. One thousand pounds seems to be a large sum to pay for a survey, seeing that there, are two cables already in existence. What necessity is there for a new route? What is .to stop the Commonwealth from laying down a cable of its own alongside the existing cables? The bed of the ocean does not belong to the company.
– An accident to one cable would injure the lot. It is desirable to have a new route.
– Apart from that altogether, I call the attention of the Minister to the advantages offered by King Island as a station for wireless telegraphy. It is not merely the inhabitants of the island who are entitled to consideration. But it appears to be easier to obtain a large vote for telegraphic purposes than to get money for a service which would not be very costly. Why we should defer dealing with the matter of installing wireless telegraphy, when it might be so much to our advantage, I do not know. King Island occupies a very important situation in Bass Straits, where there is an enormous amount of traffic. The coast is rocky, and many wrecks have occurred. The inhabitants at present are entirely cut off from communication, and I do not think that their grievances are being treated as they ought to be.
.- In regard to the proposed vote for wireless telegraphy, I should like to point out that some time ago I stated in the Senate, on behalf of the Postmaster-General, that the Department was assured, from the reports .of experts in Great Britain, that wireless telegraphy, even if it became a commercial success, would not entirely supplant cables, and that it would not be safe, at any rate within the near future, to rely entirely upon wireless telegraphy without an alternative means of communication by cable. So far as concerns communication between Tasmania and the mainland, there are at present two cables belonging to the one company. They run from Low Head to Flinders on the Victorian side. The first cable was laid down, I think, in 1868 or 1869. It has since become disused, if it exists at all now. Another cable waslaid down in 1885, and a third still later. The last one and the one laid down in 1885 are, I think - speaking from memory - the two cables now in use. At any rate,, the rights of the Eastern Extension Company terminate in a couple of years; and whether wireless telegraphy .stations are established or not, it will be necessary for the Commonwealth to have a cable service as an alternative means of communication between Tasmania and the mainland. The question now arises whether it would be desirable or not to purchase cableswhich would soon have to be replaced. If, for instance, we were to take over the cable which was laid down as far back as 1885, it would not be very long before it would have to be replaced. The question now arises whether it would not be wise to survey the Strait and ascertain whether it would be desirable to lay a new cable between Tasmania and the mainland, by a more convenient route than the present one. Honorable senators have had something to say about King Island being -shut off from communication. It may be practicable to lav a new cable via King Island, and so settle that question. It may on the other hand, as I have suggested to the Postmaster-General in a written communication, be advisable to connect by cable Tasmania and the mainland via the Furneaux Group, where in the past some very serious shipping disasters have occurred. There was a means of communication in recent years from Swan Island to the mainland. The absence of that means contributed in no small degree to the fact that for a considerable time there was no news of a shipping disaster which occurred in that portion of Tasmania some years ago.
– Is it not a fact that some persons interested in wireless telegraphy were quite willing to establish an installation? -
– If they acquired certain rights. I do not think that the Government has objected to anybody establishing wireless telegraph installations for purely experimental purposes, provided that they undertake to claim no rights from the Commonwealth. It is thought desirable that a survey of the Strait should be made, because we can not only ascertain first of all whether the existing route for a cable is the best, but also whether by taking another route we can convenience the persons living on the islands in the Strait. The amount asked for is not an unreasonable one, and I am sure that no honorable senator from Tasmania will think that it should be reduced or struck out. As to the question of wireless telegraphy, 1 may state that it is a matter that has been constantly before the Government. I have had several communications both with the present Postmaster-General and his predecessors in office. Not long ago a number of, residents of King Island waited upon the Postmaster-General, and’ also upon the Acting Prime Minister, Sir William Lyne, and placed before them a statement of their case. The arguments they had to adduce in support of the Commonwealth connecting them by means of a wireless telegraphy system with other parts of the Commonwealth were very strong. Their representations were listened to. The PostmasterGeneral and the Acting Prime Minister informed them that during this year, if the vote for wireless telegraphy were agreed to, the Government would be able to do something practical in the direction of harnessing up Papua with the Commonwealth by that means; and the King Island residents were told that if that experiment turned out to be successful the very next place in the Commonwealth that would receive consideration and attention in the same direction would be King Island. With that assurance the deputationists seemed very well satisfied. I feel a very keen interest in this matter, and have done so for some time ; and I shall see both Sir William Lyne and the Postmaster-General, and shall help in achieving the object which we who come from Tasmania all desire to see attained. As to the other matter that has been mentioned by Senator Guthrie, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has already, informed him that he will have it brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General ; and I also assure the honorable senator that his representations will be placed before the Postmaster-General within the-, next twentyfour hours. I assure him that they will receive sympathetic and, I hope, favorable consideration.
– I was somewhat astonished when I saw that £6,000 was going to be voted for a survey of Bass Strait, but my honorable friend, Senator Keating,’ has satisfactorily explained’ that negotiations are taking place as to the purchase of the existing cables. It seems to me that it would be wise either for the Commonwealth to purchase them or to lay a separate cable, because we should not feel quite comfortable if the cables did not belong to us, and we had to trust entirely to wireless telegraphy, at all events, until it is proved that wireless telegraphy is a satisfactory substitute for the cable. The reason why I think we ought to buy the cables is that, owing to the fact that wireless telegraphy is now being utilized in a practical way, the Eastern Extension Company would be likely to sell on reasonable terms. If their terms suit us, we should not want to spend the £6,000 now to be voted. But I can see that it will be a good thing, to vote the money in case we cannot come to terms with the company, or in case wireless telegraphy does not give us the practical daily and hourly service that is required. If the Government can link up King Island with the mainland, it will be a very valuable thing to do; and, like Senator Keating, I shall be very anxious to see what steps are taken in that direction.
– - The Minister has forestalled a suggestion which I was about to make. I have heard a great deal about King Island. As to wireless telegraphy, I understand that it is. an advantage to have intermediate stations, so as to make the distance as short as possible. The idea of connecting King Island by cable with Tasmania and the mainland is also an excellent one, and I am sure that the Committee will agree to the* amount asked for survey purposes. But, in the interests of the Commonwealth’ and of Papua, it is most advisable that that Territory should be connected by cable communication, as soon as possible. Therefore, I support the item.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Government Printing Office.
Division 6 (Under control of the. Department of the Treasury), Machinery and plant for Government Printing Office, and works in connexion therewith, ,£2,000.
.- I cannot allow the opportunity to pass without: calling attention to this proposed vote. I have never missed an opportunity since I have been a member of the Senate of calling attention to the unsatisfactory manner in which Commonwealth printing is being done, whilst we are being in a measure convenienced by the State Government. When Senator Needham brought forward, last Thursday, the question relating to the linotype operators, I made certain statements, and I intend to make additional ones to-day. There are certain senators who believe that we are receiving many advantages from Victoria because its printing office has been placed at our disposal. There are also some senators who say that because we have in a measure the occupancy of a portion of the building rent free, the advantage is on our side. The late Mr. Brain mentioned that in the first year Victoria saved £500 from setting the State Hansard by the linotypes belonging to the Commonwealth. Further thanthat, the State utilizes our linotypes as freely as they are used for Commonwealth work.
– What did the State pay for the use of the linotypes?
– The State paid nothing then, and pays nothing now.
– It is a reciprocal arrangement.
– The reciprocal arrangement is that we can utilize their machines, but I am not aware that the State has any linotypes.
– But we have the use of the premises.
– In the setting of the State Hansard alone, Victoria saved £500 in one year by using our linotypes. The State does all kinds of work on our machines. The life of a machine, printing or linotype, is about ten years.
– The life of a Hoe printing machine is very much longer than that.
– It is stated that on the law of averages the life of a machine, printing or linotype, is about ten years. At the end of that time, the machines either get into disuse or are considered to be out of date. In that period many changes take place in every sphere of human activity, particularly in regard to mechanical appliances. If we take the average life of a machine at ten years, and our property is utilized equally by the State and by the Commonwealth, it depreciates 50 per cent. There is as much work being done on our linotype machines for the State as for the Commonwealth. That is the position in regard to not only the linotypes but also the printing machines and the type.
– Do they not charge the Commonwealth for the printing?
– Any one who is conversant with a printing office knows that when types get mixed up, in a very short time they have very little value. If the State Printer has mixed the old type with the new type, and the partly worn type with the new-faced type, in a very short time the face of the type will be worn down, and when the time comes for distributing it it will be impossible to sort out the types, put them in their respective cases; and say which types belong to the State and which types belong to the Commonwealth. When the Government intimated that it intended to have a statistical volume printed by a private firm, I asked why that course was to be pursued. Senator Keating gave as one reason that the State Printing Office was extremely busy owing to the two Parliaments sitting at the same time, and incidentally he said that in all probability we would be able to get a better class of work if it were done by a private firm. That in a measure is a reflection on the State Printing Office. If it be true that the Commonwealth can get a better class of work done outside than in the State Printing Office, surely that ought to be another reasonwhy it should at once proceed with the establishment of a printing office.
SenatorChataway. - It willcosttoo much money.
– It will do nothing of the kind. I, as a practical man, am satisfied that money would be saved to the Commonwealth by taking that course.
– Suppose that we have to go to the Federal Capital within a year or two?
– Let the honorable senator make no mistake. We are not going to the Federal Capital within a year or two. I interjected the other nightthat in all probability we would be in Melbourne for a quarter of a century. In any case, I am satisfied that we shall be here for ten or fifteen years. In the meantime, are we to permit the Commonwealth printing to be done in the unsatisfactory way in which it is being done? I am convinced that it is impossible to ascertain the true cost of the work which is done for the Commonwealth. When we recollect that dockets have to be kept, and that time has to be taken, no matter how careful or businesslike its methods are, it is absolutely impossible for the State Printing Office to make out a correct statement, showing the detailed cost of all work done there for the
Commonwealth. Tn the State Printing Office there are no Commonwealth employes, except the engineer in charge of the linotypes - a highly competent man, who was engaged in the Age office for some years. Applications were called by the Commonwealth for a man to take charge of the machines, he . was selected, and is a permanent employe to-day. He has no supervision over the machines apart from the building in which the linotypes are placed, and I am not too sure that he has absolute control over them1. If he had absolute control he could say on what lines the linotypes should be’ worked, what work should be done, and who should be employed on them ; but he has no power. Iri a measure he is subordinate to the Acting Government Printer, whose first duties, of course, are to the State. If any mistakes are made in that office in connexion with highly important work required for the Commonwealth, on whom can the Government shoulder the responsibility? Suppose that any leakage occurred in connexion with confidential work, what would be their remedy? They would have no remedy, because they could not discharge or reprimand a man. They are powerless to interfere with any one except the highly competent man who is in charge of the linotypes.
– He cannot interfere with anything except machinery. He cannot interfere with the making out of dockets.
– No, he would be told to mind his own business if he did. There is as much work done on the linotype machines for the State as for the Commonwealth, and if the engineer took exception to the amount of work being done the probability is that Mr. Kemp would insist that it should be done. I want the Government to take some action in this matter. It is foolish on the part of honorable senators who call themselves business men to oppose the establishment of a Commonwealth Printing Office. I speak- as a practical man, with no other desire than to see the best work performed in the most economical way.
– Could the Commonwealth rent a place?
– The Commonwealth could get a place erected in double quick time. All the up-to-date machinery and type in the State Printing Office belong to the Commonwealth, and surely the Government will see the necessity of carefully safeguarding its property ! It istrue that when occasion arises, the Commonwealth has the opportunity to use the State printing machines; but the advantages are all in favour of the State Government. I have only one object in view, and that is that the Commonwealth should’ move in the direction of establishing a new Department. All other Departments in connexion with the Commonwealth areindependent.
– Can the honorable senator assert positively that the Commonwealth would save money by taking that course ?
– I do.
– It is contrary togeneral experience.
– I have already shown the honorable senator that, according to a statement made by the late Mr. Brain, Victoria saved £500 in one year by having its own Hansard set on the Commonwealth linotypes. The State Analyst was performing work for the Commonwealth in connexion with the Commerce Act, and because the State Government desired to be reimbursed a higher amount than it was prepared to pay the Common weal th Government decided to create a new Department ; and rightly so, too, I think. If it was prepared to take that step in connexion with a small matter as compared with this larger question, surely it ought not to hesitate, as it seems to be doing ! I have been more persistent than any one else in advocating the establishment of a Federal Printing Office, because I know the lines on which work is done in the State Printing Office, and what economy could be effected by the Government doing as I suggest. I desire to know what kind of machines are to be purchased with this vote of £2,000. If it is required for the purchase of additional linotypes, does not that confirm the statement I made on Thursday, that if all the Commonwealth work were done by Commonwealth employes, employment could be found for them pretty well year in and year out? If two or more additional linotypes are required to cope with the Commonwealth work, that is further confirmation that the work is growing in the State Printing Office, and that more work is being found for men who are capable of looking after these machines. If it does not mean that, what does it mean? The probabilities are that itf these machines and another machine which I have in my mind were kept going at the State Printing Office, Mr.. Knibbs would not have had occasion to ask the Government to have the statistical volume printed bv a private firm.
– I have a great deal of sympathy with what Senator Findley has said. I think that honor.able senators will have gathered that fact also from what I said on Thursday evening last, in the discussion on Senator Needham’s motion. I am not prepared to say without further information that I would go the “ whole hog,” as Senator Findley would, by leasing land, putting up buildings, and starting a large printing establishment of our own in Melbourne, unless it could be shown that we cannot get satisfaction otherwise.’ It is easy to point out a short cut to a remedy, and what Senator Findley has suggested is one remedy, but, for all we know, it may be worse than the disease. The Minister will admit when he comes to reply that he has been given ample warning, and I hope that he will be able to give us the fullest information. I ‘desire to know, first, what the machinery belonging to the Commonwealth, and on which ^36,000 has been spent, exclusive of the money spent on linotypes,- consists of? Are they Hoe machines ? Are they used for printing documents such as Hansard?
– The amount represents up-to-date printing machines of every kind, and also type-.
– I should very much like to see a list, which the Minister might reasonably furnish’ to the Committee,, showing what machines these are. Much of the argument has centred upon the linotype machines-, but they are one of the smallest items, representing from £12,000 to ^14.000, as against an additional £36,000- spread over other machinery, some of which must be very big and important. We are given to, understand that there is an arrangement between the State and Commonwealth Governments by which the State has the use of some of ourmachines and we have the use- of some1 of theirs. That is not a business-like arrangement, unless, we. take very good care that the amount of work which they get out of our machines is no- more than the amount which we get out of theirs. I ask the Minister to be most explicit in his reply on that point. It is- obvious that if the State is using- our linotype machines and other valuable machinery for six months in the year, while for the other six months we are using the same machines, which are our own property, the State Department is getting very much more value out of the general arrangement than we are. If two men go into a business, it is not a fair arrangement for one to say, “ You may have the use of my horse and buggy,” while the other says, “ You can use my typewriter.” Those are not equal terms. If the State Printing Office is using something like ,£50,000 worth of our machinery
– The total value is about £38,000, which includes the linotypes.
– Then, including the ,£2,000 before us, we may put the value of our machinery down at ,£40,000. How much of their machinery, on the other hand, are we using in the production of Hansard and parliamentary papers? I should like a definite statement of facts from the Minister. Before we ‘go into such an expensive business as establishing in Melbourne, for the next ten or fifteen years,, as Senator Findley desires, a printing office of our own, I should’ like the proposal inquired into by men who have technical knowledge of the business. The question, of the control of the business is even more important. Our Printing Committee, sitting jointly with the Printing Committee of another place, are carefully, and with the very best intelligence that they can command, trying to prevent’ wasteful extravagance in connexion with printing.
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to go into that subject.
– What we must have is some control over the printing. Our Printing Committee decided that certain reports should not be printed twice over, and yet the Journals of the Senate, and the Votes and Proceedings of the H<ouse of Representatives, each contains the same report, which was presented to each House by that very Committee. The reports are word for- word the same from first to last, except that the one is1 signed by a member of this Chamber and the other by a member of another- place, while in the second or third line the word “ Senate “ appears in one case, and the words “House of Representatives” in the other. Those reports come from the very Committee which, decided that there should be no duplication of printing if it could possibly be avoided. There is something radically wrong with the management of our printing affairs in connexion with the State Printing Office when, in spite of the deliberate decision of this Chamber, arrived at when the Senate adopted the Printing Committee’s report, the printing of documents is duplicated in that way. I have not the slightest doubt that the Commonwealth is charged twice over for setting up that document. Anybody who knows anything at all about printing can see from an examination of the document that it has been set twice. Why do the Government now ask Parliament for another £2,000 to spend? Is it for more material in order to duplicate more printing?
– Is it for more material for the State to utilize for the same period as the Commonwealth?
– I have not the slightest doubt that those who are responsible for the State will make a thorough defence on behalf of the State. It is quite clear, however, that our printing is being done in such a way that our decisions have no effect. If that is the case, we are paying more for it than we need to pay. It may be that we . are only keeping an extra number of people in employment. It may be that the State Department is making money out of us. The Government should tell us exactly how we stand, and what the business arrangements are. If we cannot then find some way to secure control over our own business, I shall be almost tempted to fall in with the very extreme view of Senator Findley, that the only remedy is to start a printing office of our own in Melbourne.
– As this is a matter for experts, I do not wish to interpose except to draw attention to a remark which fell from Senator Findley, who has evidently given the subject a great deal of attention. I pass by his incidental declaration that for the next twenty odd years Melbourne will probably continue to be the Federal Capital, only observing that the thought appears to represent the wish in his case, and perhaps in the case of other Victorian senators. But the honorable senator alleged that there was a kind of dual responsibility for our printing arrangements as between Commonwealth and State officers. He said - and this is most important - that if anything went wrong it would be difficult to sheet home the responsibility to any person who was guilty of a breach of confidence as to printing ordered by either House of this Parliament. Confidential documents of the most important nature must pass from these Chambers into the hands of our printers. Judging by Senator Findley’s remarks, the responsibility for those documents isundefined or more or less nominal. If that be so, it requires the closest attention of the Government. Of course, it may not be so serious as it appears to be to a new senator like myself, who is not thoroughly conversant with the subject. If there is even a shadow of dual responsibility for the care of confidential parliamentary documents, it is time that it should be put an end to. Very grave interests may be imperilled unless there is direct and absolute responsibility on the part of the officers, so that if there is a breach of confidence the offender may be brought at once to book, and instant punishment may be meted out. If there is any foundation of fact, or even reasonable ground for suspicion, that the condition of affairs represented by Senator Findley exists, it is the duty of the Government to have it remedied at once.
– As Senator Findley is an expert in this matter, we should pay great attention to what he says, but if we are to believe the honorable senator he has furnished a strong argument, from my point of view, as a representative of New South Wales, for directing the attention of the Government to the necessity of losing no time in the settlement of the Federal Capital, and removing from here. I for one strongly object to go to the expense of setting up a Commonwealth printing establishment in Melbourne with the idea that we may possibly be here for the next twenty or twenty-five years. I should hope that we will have carried out the provisions of the Constitution, with respect to the Federal Capital long before that time. It is only fair to say that, in the matter of Commonwealth printing, the Government of Victoria have treated us very liberally. We do not pay anything in the way of rent for the use of the Victorian Government Printing Office, and, as honorable senators are aware, we have been very liberally treated indeed in connexion with the occupation of Parliament House. I therefore demur, although a New South Wales senator, to statements being made disparaging to Victoria in this connexion.
– We cannot deal with this matter in a friendly pat-on-the-back sort of fashion. This is a business question, which should be dealt with in a business-like way.
– If there be anything in Senator Findley ‘s remark, it is incumbent upon us to lose no time in carrying out the constitutional provision for the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– I thank honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this question for the practical information they have endeavoured to convey to the Government in regard to what I am prepared to admit is a very important matter. Senator Chataway desired to know what the Government printing plant mainly consists of. I understand that it consists chiefly of linotype and monotype machines, motors, and electrotyping plant, valued in all at £36,000. With the vote of £2,000 appearing in the schedule it is proposed to purchase a double-magazine linotype machine which has already been approved of, and another machine which will be required by the Printing Department, and some motors for working these machines. Roughly speaking, therefore, when these purchases have been made, the Commonwealth Government will possess printing plant valued at £38,000.
– Type-setting plant ?
– That will be the value of our printing plant all told. I understand that honorable senators are anxious to learn what the arrangement between the Commonwealth and the State Government of Victoria is in the matter of printing. We have the very considerable advantage of being able to avail ourselves of a trained and skilled staff of State officials and men thoroughly capable and equipped for the performance of the printing required by the Commonwealth. The existing arrangement was concluded by Sir George Turner, after very careful inquiry, and, as honorable senators are aware, he is a very cautious and prudent man. It is, of course, a rough-and-ready arrangement. First of all, we have the benefit of being able to utilize theservices of the State Government Printing Office staff. It is, to some extent, a composite staff, and the time of each man is charged according to the work on which he is engaged. When the men are engaged on Commonwealth work the time is charged to the Commonwealth Government, and when they are engaged on State work their time is charged to the State Government. It is true that the State has the benefit’ of our plant when it is not in use for Commonwealth work, but it is mainly occupied in the performance of our own work. If honorable senators will compare the size of our Hansard and the volume of papers and printing done for the Commonwealth with the work done for the State, they will see that our machinery is mainly used in performing the printing required by the Commonwealth. When it is not so engaged, it is, of course, available for State work.
– At present the linotype machines are being used in the daytime on State work, and yet the Government propose to purchase two more machines.
– They are not being used to the disadvantage or delay of Commonwealth work. Honorable senators are aware that before the establishment of the Commonwealth the State Government of Victoria had a completely-equipped Government Printing Office. The Commonwealth Government, under the arrangement made, have the advantage of the use of the complete equipment and plant of the State when necessary for Commonwealth work.
– And we have the free use of the premises.
– In addition to that, as Senator Walker points out, we have the free use of the premises. I am quite aware . that if we were to prepare a debit and credit account, it would not work out-
– In favour of the Commonwealth.
– I do not say that, but that it is probable an exactly even balance between the Commonwealth and the State would not be shown. I have said that a rough-and-ready arrangement has been made, but our experience has been that it has worked very satisfactorily and economically in the past. I must pay considerable attention to the representations of Senators Findley and Chataway in this connexion. I should indeed be glad if opportunity afforded that they should be permitted to check the results of the arrangement made, so far as its general working is concerned. It was entered into by a careful and prudent man in. Sir George Turner, and he considered that it worked fairly well, and was a reasonable arrangement in the interests of both parties. I wish honorable senators particularly to realize what an advantage it is to the Commonwealth to have the benefit of the trained and skilled State staff for the performance of its work.
– For which we pay.
– Of course we pay for it, but we are entitled to make use of the whole staff and a properly-equipped Government Printing Office, and it would certainly involve us in very considerable expense if we were to attempt to provide similar equipment for ourselves.
– How is the value of the work calculated ; by time or by the piece?
– By time. It has been suggested by Senator Findley that we should at once set up a Federal printing establishment for ourselves. I shall make a further explanation later on in- regard to the matter, but generally the idea at present is that we should be satisfied with what has worked satisfactorily in the past. The first objection to Senator Findley’s suggestion is that if we attempted to erect a Commonwealth Government Printing Office for ourselves, or even to rent premises for the purpose, our action would bear the appearance of a permament settlement in Melbourne, which, of course, is not intended. Until the constitutional provision regarding the establishment of the Federal Capital is carried out. the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth is temporarily located in Melbourne, but as soon as the Capital Site has been selected it will be our duty to go there. I would ask honorable senators to consider whether in the meantime, having regard to all the circumstances, our printing work is not reasonably well done, and whether there is not occasion for satisfaction in connexion with the arrangement which has been made? We propose to introduce some improvements. Arrangements have almost been completed for the appointment of a skilled and experienced man, whose special duty it will be to look after the Commonwealth printing machinery and plant and generally to watch Commonwealth interests. He is a man who has had special experience in Government Printing Office work, and is specially qualified for the duties. I believe that applications have already beenmade for the position, and though I am not justified at this stage in mentioning publicly the name of the officer selected, I can give the name to honorable senators privately. We have the satisfaction of knowing that if we secure the services of the man who has been selected for the position, we shall secure a very able, experienced, and reliable officer.
– Are we to understand that he will be practically a Government Printer for the Commonwealth?
– No; but he will be a specially qualified man, whose duty it will be to look after Commonwealth machinery, and generally to check and otherwise watch Commonwealth interests.
– Not an engineer?
– No;a man having special experience in Government Printing Office work. It is also proposed to establish a complete Federal Stamps Branch, and for the purpose we have secured the services of Mr. Cook, of Adelaide, a very experienced officer. Provision will be made for the printing of our own stamps, and probably for the printing of stamps for the States, according to the arrangements which may be made. I may add, in connexion with the matter so fully discussed by Senator Findley, that the present Treasurer has called upon Mr. Allen, Secretary to the Treasury, to report to him fully upon the whole subject, if possible to give an estimate of what it would cost to establish a Commonwealth Government Printing Office, to report as to what, if any, steps should be taken for the purpose of placing matters on what might Be regarded as a more satisfactory basis, and generally on the whole question involved. Mr. Allen will have the benefit of the representations made by honorable senators who have addressed themselves to the question. I have stated in general terms the nature of the arrangement, and there is only one matter which has been mentioned to which I have not so far referred. Complaint has been made by Senator Findley and other honorable senators that we are not doing the work connected with the publication of the Year-Book in the Government Printing Office. I wish to say in this connexion that where any display work is required, the practice in the State of Victoria has been to get it done by outside offices.
– There is no display work necessary in connexion with the statistical work of the Y ear-Book.
– I am told that there is a degree of display work required in connexion with the Year-Book, and, further, that it is difficult to get any undertaking from the State Government Printing Office in connexion with the expedition essential in the publication of the Year-Book.
– Why ?
– Because, while Parliament is sitting, the office is almost overwhelmed with work of a more urgent character, which would interfere with the work connected with the Year-Book. As I have already mentioned, it is intended to get a full report on the whole subject from Mr. Allen, which will enable the Government to decide whether it is desirable or otherwise to alter the existing arrangement.
.- I do not know in what way to take the reply of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. In the first place, the honorable senator said that any attempt to establish a Federal Government Printing Office in Melbourne, at the present time would lend colour to the belief held by certain honorable senators that the Seat of Government was to be allowed to remain in Melbourne for a long time to come. The honorable senator went on to say that, in the meantime, Mr. Allen is to make close inquiry, and report as to whether it is desirable or otherwise to create the very Department which he said could not be created for the reason to which I have referred.
– And to see whether the existing arrangements might not be improved.
– Let me say that I am on business bent in connexion with this matter. I am not going to have any tomfoolery in regard to the matters I have mentioned. I know what I am talking about, and I understand the printing business. When the Vice-President of the Executive Council says that we have had the advantage of highly-skilled and trained men in the performance of Commonwealth printing in the Victorian Government Printing Office, he must not run away with the idea that Melbourne is the only place in Australia where highly-skilled and trained men are at this work. He must remember also that when the linotype machines were purchased, advertisements for linotype operators were inserted, not in the Victorian newspapers alone, but in newspapers published in every State in Australia. In response to these advertisements, operators came to Victoria from different States to work the machines for the Common.wealth. I want some more definite statement in regard to this matter. Personally, I should be satisfied if the. Minister would give his absolute assurance that an exhaustive inquiry will be made, that a report will be presented to Parliament, and that evidence will be obtained from those competent to express an opinion in regard to the matters mentioned by me. If such a report were obtained, and were founded upon the proper sort of evidence, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that when it was presented to Parliament the majority of honorable senators, if not all of them, would favour the proposal made by me.
– In regard to building a printing office?
– It is not necessary to erect a new building. There are plenty of buildings that would be suitable. A building could be leased. The Commonwealth has leased other buildings for other purposes, and why the Government should manifest such strong opposition to leasing a building for a printing office I am at a loss to understand. It is admitted that the system at the State Printing Office is a rough and ready one.
– It seems to have got rougher since the establishment of Federation.
– In Appropriation Bill after Appropriation Bill sums of money have been set down for the purchase of additional machinery and plant for doing Commonwealth printing work. I should like to know whether similar provision is made by the State for purchasing plant and machinery required for doing State work. I am not here to cavil at the work of the Government Printer, or to complain about any of the employes in the office. But. I am here as a representative of the State of Victoria to look after the interests of the Commonwealth.
– Particularly the interests of Victoria.
– No ; I do not know that Victoria would be more advantaged than any other State by the proposal which I make. It is in the interests of the other States to have regard to the interests of the Commonwealth generally. The Government can rest assured that they will get very little peace unless something is done in regard to this matter. I shall “ keep the pot boiling ‘ ‘ until a more satisfactory arrangement in regard to the printing work required by the Commonwealth is arrived at.
– Senator Findley stated just now that he was not cavilling in regard to the officers of the Printing Office. But it appears to me that he has done a great deal of cavilling as to the policy of the Government. He has told us that he is not going to have any “ torn-foolery “ about the subject. Surely that is a disrespectful way for a Government supporter to address a Minister. It does not tend towards maintaining the dignity of the Government.
Notwithstanding the long tirade which we have had from Senator Findley, there appears to me to be nothing whatever in his complaints.
– The honorable senator would not say that if he understood the matter as well as I do.
– I have been a member of the Federal Parliament since its inception, and this is the first occasion on which I have heard any complaints in regard to the way in which our printing has been done. I am quite sure that any arrangement made by Sir George Turner would be fair to all parries. The idea of establishing a building of our own in which to do our printing work is utterly beyond reason. We are now getting our work done as cheaply as- possible. As to the point raised by Senator St. Ledger in regard to whether the obligation of secrecy is carried out, I must say that I have never heard a breath of suspicion with regard to the printing office. I have been for twentytwo years a member of Parliament in’ the State and in the Commonwealth, and I have never heard any one allege that any fact had leaked out of the Government Printing Office which ought to have been kept secret. Senator Best has made a very fair statement, and has told us that we are to have a report from Mr. Allen. We can, therefore, rest assured that we shall obtain a report which will set forth the true position of matters. I trust that no steps will be taken to set up another establishment to do work that is being most excellently done at present.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [5.52D. - I desire to say that neither Senator Findley nor I made either a charge or an insinuation as to there having been any ‘lack of secrecy at the Government Printing Office. Certainly, I had no idea of suggesting that there has been a breach of confidence. But there is at present a. system of dual management, and I should like to have an assurance from the VicePresident of the Executive Council that if such a thing as a breach of confidence occurred, the arrangements are such that the Government could lay their hands upon the officer responsible and ‘punish him. There is evidently nothing more important than that we should have absolute control in reference to such a matter.
– - So far as concerns the matter which has been mentioned by my honorable friend, Senator
St. Ledger,- there is the difficulty which hehas pointed out. There is no doubt that the State Government Printer is the responsible officer. If any officer in the printing office was guilty of a breach of confidenceand complaints were made by the Commonwealth, no doubt the Acting Government Printer would be expected to deal with them. But I arn glad to say (hat, sofar, there has been no reason whatever tocomplain. Matters have proceeded most satisfactorily. If a breach of confidence did occur, it is true that the officer responsible would not be directly responsible to us, but there would be a means of punishing him through the State Government.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Special Defence Material : Ammunition Waggons : Torpedoes and Gyroscopes.
Division 7 (Under Control of Department of Defence), . Special Defence Material, £80,000.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.57I - I desire to ascertain from the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether in calling for tenders for ammunition waggons in connexion with the item “ Field artillery - ammunition waggons, harness and spare parts and accessories for field guns, £29,000,” he will give a promise that one waggon will be available in> Sydney, or any other part of the Commonwealth in which persons may desire to tender? It is notorious that on former occasion persons were unable to tender because they had not one of these vehicles to refer to. It was on this account that a contract to the extent of £20,000 was practically given away without any competition. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council promise that a sample waggon willbe available for tenderers in any part of the Commonwealth ?
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia > [5.58]. - A very serious charge has been, made against the administration of the Defence Department by a leading newspaper in Sydney. I propose to place that charge before the Committee in order that the Minister may reply to it if he can. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 24th September is a statement headed “ Defence Department Methods,” dealing with . new 18-pounder guns, and the article says -
The number allotted to New South Waleshave been in the State for some months, but they might as well have still been at Woolwich; . . The waggons are not here. . . . -
The protectionist proclivities of the Deakin Government led to a- decision that they must be made in Australia, and a sample waggon was obtained from England. Then tenders were called in the Commonwealth Gazette for the required supply, but tendering was practically limited to Victorian firms, inasmuch as the sample was in that State, and builders elsewhere in Australia had no means of competing. The waggons are not like ordinary carts that might <be built in accordance with a written specifica’ tion. They are of a peculiar type that would necessitate the copyist making frequent reference to the sample, and as the Department of Defence preferred to keep the sample in the Barracks at Melbourne, the whole order, worth about £20,000, had to go to Victoria-. That the other States have to wait for the waggons while this large order is being completed is a mere detail.
So far as I understand the question, it is riot that the tender in question was let last year, but that it has been let recently, and the item of £29,000 under the heading of “special defence material” in this Bill is partly for the payment of the contractors. I expect that the Department can furnish an adequate reply. I have been associated with the erection of buildings, and I know that even in connexion with woodwork it is possible to get a most complicated piece of work to do, but a man only gets the plans and specifications supplied to him.
– A sample building is not imported for his inspection?
– I do not know why it was necessary to import a sample waggon. I venture to say that any coachbuilder will make an ammunition waggon according to the specifications supplied to him. It may be that the Government preferred to import a. sample waggon, and make their specifications on the spot from that sample. The Government might desire to specify that Australian wood should be used, whereas a specification which might be ‘obtained from England might stipulate for the use of English wood. It is nonsense for any one to say that it is necessary to place a sample before the builder of a waggon, which, hu its construction, is not so complicated as aire many pieces of joinery, before he can make up his tender.
– Apparently, in Victoria the Department gave to the builders specifications, and an opportunity to inspect a sample waggon.
– That is a’ point which needs to be cleared up. The same conditions apply to waggon building and house construction. I cannot see that the tenderers in other parts of the Commonwealth were placed at any disadvantage ; so long as they were given complete speci fications, they were in just as good a position to compete as were the men who had an opportunity to see. the sample waggon. If it was imported as an aid to the tenderers, then, certainly, it should have been sent to every State in which tenders were called for.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.3]. - I read the article from which Senator Pearce has quoted. In the early part of this year I had some correspondence with the Minister of Defence on the subject, and could get no satisfaction. I think it would be just as well if it were produced, as a doubt has been raised. If t explain how the matter came under my notice, it will throw a little light on the statement of Senator Pearce. One day Mr. Ritchie, who is an officer in the Defence Force, ‘drew my attention to the fact that his firm - Ritchie Brothers, of Clyde - had been in communication with the Minister on this subject,- but were debarred from tendering because they could not refer to the sample waggon, which Victorian tenderers could inspect.
– They could not have had a true specification.
– It was a specification for the construction of, not an ordinary spring-van in which to move furniture, but an intricate waggon. My honorable friend may be an admirable authority on some matters, but it does not follow that he and others are such Admirable Crichtons that they are able to teach a man who is a contractor in this very class of work. I take it that Mr. Ritchie would not have spent his time in writing to the Minister if he did not wish to see the sample waggon. I certainly would not have bothered to write to him unless it had been impressed upon me that an inspection of the waggon was essential to successful tendering. It is very easy for a man to quote a price for an article, but he does not want to run the risk of having his work thrown on his hands, because of a small defect or’ fault. The correspondence I had with the Minister did not end as satisfactorily as I would have liked. As we are now supplied with a stock of these waggons, which are required in different parts of the Commonwealth, and not all in Melbourne, a sufficient number should be distributed, so that all the tenderers may stand on an equal footing. It is a most distinct disadvantage to one man to be tied down to sheets of paper, while another man is able to see a sample waggon whenever he may please. There can be no expense attached to the adoption of my suggestion. The waggons, wherever they are built, will have to be distributed to all parts of the Commonwealth, and as there is a sufficient number in stock to enable a preliminary distribution to be made, and so give all tenderers an equal chance, I urge that the Minister should promise the fulfilment of that which is surely a reasonable and proper request.
– Some of my honorable friends are under a misapprehension. According to the facts which have been placed before me, the charges which were made by the newspaper from which Senator Pearce quoted are unwarranted.
– To my knowledge they are not.
– According to my information, on the 19th January last, tenders for the supply of thirty-six waggons were invited up to the 20th March. Full and complete specifications were sent to the capital of each State, and I believe it was mentioned in the advertisement that a sample waggon could be inspected at a place in Melbourne. On the 14th March, Messrs. Ri’tchie Brothers wrote a letter - which was received by the Department on the 1.6th March - asking that the sample waggon should be sent to Sydney. The Minister of Defence observed that the time for tendering had nearly expired, and that Messrs. Ritchie Brothers had had from the 19th January until the 14th March, if they had so desired, to ask that the sample waggon should be sent to Sydney. If they had made an application at a reasonable time, instead of practically at the last moment, I have not the slightest doubt but- that it would have been acceded to.
– Did the Minister notice the statement in the advertisement?
– I am informed that it was stated in the advertisement that the sample waggon could be inspected at a place in Melbourne. The point is that Messrs. Ritchie Brothers only wrote to the Department when the time for the receipt of tenders was about to expire, and when no good purpose could be served by sending the waggon to Sydney. Under these circumstances, my honorable colleague did not see his way to comply with their request.
– In their letter, did they explain why they wished the sample waggon to be sent to Sydney?
– I have not the letter before me, but I have stated the effect of it.
– Was not the Minister wrong in stating that the tenders closed on the 20th March?
– - I think that my honorable friend will find that they closed on the 30th March.
– Of course, I am only giving my honorable friend the information which has been supplied to me. A contract for the supply of thirty-six 18- pounder quick-firing ammunition waggons and limbers, at the sum of £21,160, has been let to Messrs. Robison Brothers and Company. .Twenty-seven are expected to be delivered before the 20th June, 1908, and, consequently, only £15,870 is likely to be utilized during the current year.
– Were there any other tenderers - did Ritchie Brothers tender?
– I believe that there was only one tender.
– Ritchie Brothers did not tender.
– It seems to me that the letter from Ritchie Brothers is important, because on inspecting the specifications they might have found that there was some detail on which they required specific information.
– That would not take two months.
– Possibly the firm did not see the advertisement in the newspaper for a month after it was first published. Even when a firm get a copy of any specifications they have to go into all the details before they can make up a tender. Perhaps, in this case, Ritchie Brothers discovered at the last moment ‘ that some details were not mentioned in the specifications, and it was necessary for them to get -specific information. If their letter shows that that was the cause of the delay, I think it is rather important. As a rule, ordinary specifications and plans, if properly prepared, enable a tenderer to discover all the details which he may require to know. But the very fact that a firm of credit and standing, like that of Ritchie Brothers,, required to inspect the sample waggon suggests to me that there was something wanting in the specifications.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.15]. - I rise to point out to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he did not refer to the request I made. I want to know whether he cannot give a promise that some of the waggons in stock shall be made available for tenderers inthe various States?
– I consider it a most excellent suggestion, and will bring it under the notice of the Minister of Defence. There will be plenty of these waggons now.
– Are fresh tenders being called for this work, or have they been called?
– They have been called, and let.
– Not for this lot?
– Twentyseven 18-pounder quick-firing ammunition waggons and limbers-
– There are more than that number of guns.
– I thought that Senator Neild was referring to any future contracts.
– I understood that this amount had not been paid.
– A contract for thirtysix of these waggons was let in March last for £21,160 to Robison Bros. and Co., but twenty-seven only are expected to be delivered before 30th June, 1908. Consequently we are only allowing under this item for a sum of £15,870 for those twenty-seven waggons.
– Does the honorable senator say that it takes that firm fifteen months to build thirty-six waggons?
– I presume that the specifications would state when they had to be completed. I cannot say that definitely, but the information which I have is that only £15,870 is provided this year for ammunition waggons. The balance of the £29,000 is made up as follows - 3,000 rounds of 18-pounder Q.F. ammunition to complete up to 500 rounds each the twelve guns ordered last year . . .£8,000; indirect laying stores, spare parts for 15-pounder B.l. guns, &c. . . .£5,130.
– It is quite evident that defence matters are becoming hopeless.
– I wish to draw attention to the item, which I mentioned when speaking on the second reading - “ Ten practice torpedoes with gyroscopes!, complete, £390.” I asked where the Government had struck this patch of cheap torpedoes.
– They are practice torpedoes.
– What is a practice torpedo? If the honorable senator had been down the Bay with us recently he would have seen the local fleet using practice torpedoes. What makes me cynical is the fact that these torpedoes, whether practice or war, are fitted with gyroscopes, which are very costly instruments. We are to get them, with gyroscopes, complete for £39 each. In the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Act of 1905-6 there is a vote of £240 for six gyroscopes - not torpedoes - or £40 apiece. Consequently in that year we paid £40 apiece for gyroscopes, and yet in 1907 we are to get them for £39 apiece, with a torpedo thrown in.
– The Tariff has reduced the price.
– Perhaps it is another exemplification of the old protectionist adage that there is nothing like protec tion for reducing prices. In theyear 1905-6 £4,500 was voted for ten Whitehead torpedoes, while six gyroscopes, with various fittings, cost £434. I have a strong impression that there is a mistake in this item. We could not get the gyroscopes alone for the money. I am certain that we could not get the torpedoes which we saw the Fleet practising with the other day for £390 apiece, let alone £390 for ten.
– The Imperial Government have been good enough to offer us this cheap lot of practice torpedoes. They seem to be making a special concession. I do not mean to say that there are ten gyroscopes, because I understand that they are detachable, but we are getting ten practice torpedoes with some gyroscopes. All that they ask us for them is £390. We consider that it is a good bargain, and have accepted it.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.20]. - May I relate another good bargain for which the British Government were responsible in the case of New South Wales a few years ago? New South Wales was. able to purchase two 25-ton guns at a startling reduction on cost price. Those guns, for all Iknow, are still part of the defence, so-called, of Port Jackson. Only four of that pattern were ever made. Two were sold to New South Wales. Another was, a fewyears back, lying in a ditch in England, and a fourth was rusting peacefully away in a swamp in Italy. They were such rotters that they were of no earthly good to anybody, except the enemy. I do not know whether the same thing may not apply to these ten torpedoes at £39 each. We know that a torpedo will not work without expensive spring machinery, and balance rudders, and a whole lot of odds and ends that I cannot carry in my mind. But to think that these machines, which go on their own at a given rate of speed, and travel in a certain specified direction, can be made like Christmas-tree toys for £39 a -piece, appeals to one’s sense of the ridiculous. This seems to be a kindergarten Naval Department, but I know that it is not so, as a Department. It is a Department which at Williamstown does excellent work, so far as it is possible for a layman to form an opinion. But these cannot be anything but toys. We read in the newspapers of a torpedo being used for practice purposes lately, discharged at an object 1,000 yards distant, and then bobbing up serenely under the bottom of the boat from which it was discharged. No one knew how it managed to contort itself so as to come back.
– The honorable senator does not seem to realize the generosity of the mother country.
– If they are going to work off any more 25-ton guns, I do not see any element of generosity in it. I really think that there must be something beyond the good-natured and wellintentioned explanation of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I know that he made the explanation with the best intention in the world, but I am disposed to think that he was speaking in the way one writes affidavits in equity, thus: “I am informed, and do verily believe.” It is astounding what people can swear to in equity under those conditions, and it is equally astounding what the honorable senator has been able to explain here.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 8, New Special Defence Provision, £82,000, agreed to.
Commonwealth Offices in London.
Division 9 (Under control of Department of External Affairs) Towards construction of a building in the Strand, London, for Commonwealth offices, £1,000.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales) £6.25].. - Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council inform the Committee whether steps have been taken to ascertain if the States will be willing to take a share in the premises to be obtained in the Strand, London? Is any further information available since the last cablegram was sent Home.?
– The Treasurer has mentioned the matter to the Premier of Victoria, but. until we are able to secure the site in question, we do not deem it advisable to communicate with the other States. So soon, however, as we close the contract we intend to do so.
– Has anything further been heard yet?
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
. -Just before the adjournment for dinner Senator Walker asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the Government had communicated with the Governments of the States, with a view to ascertaining how far they are prepared to join with the Commonwealth in the occupancy of the land which we propose to acquire. Senator Best, in reply, said that it was thought desirable, I assume by the Government, to acquire the site first and to approach the State Governments afterwards. I think the honorable senator admitted that an exception had been made in the case of the Government of Victoria. It seems to me that the Government are going about this business in the wrong way. They propose to acquire something like 13,000 square feet of land in London, which will involve the Commonwealth in an expenditure amounting to anything between £1,250,000 and £1,500,000 spread over the term of the lease, ninety-nine years.
– And a building.
– No, that will be the cost of the land alone for rent and taxes. The cost of the building will be in addition to that amount. We are being asked to sanction the acquisition of this land without knowing what we have to provide for. If it is to be acquired for Federal purposes only, I have no hesitation in saying that the area proposed to be taken is far too great. The Commonwealth Government can never pretend to require an area of 13,000 square feet for Commonwealth purposes. It must be remembered that to estimate the floor space provided for we must multiply the 13,000 square feet by the number of stories of which the building will consist. If it should be a building of six stories the floor space provided for will amount to 78,000 square feet. It is absolutely preposterous to suppose that for Commonwealth purposes only we shall ever require so much space. If, as I hope, the States Governments can be induced to join with us in occupying the site, there might be some justification for acquiring it, but until we know that they will do so we should not commit ourselves to this enormous expenditure. The Government are in this matter putting the cart before the horse. If they had made arrangements with the States Governments for the occupancy of this land, we should know what our requirements were. As things are, there is no one in this Senate or outside of it who can say what area of land we require in London. In the interests of the States, as well as. of Australia as a whole, an arrangement should be arrived at, by which we could bring together at one central spot the representatives in London of the various States. There would be a tremendous advantage gained in that way. Conversing withsome of our friends who have recently visited London to attend the Conferences held there, I find that it was with the greatest possible difficulty they could locate the different offices in which the representation of the various States is carried on. When they questioned .business people who should know their London from one end to the other, they found that they had not the remotest idea where the AgentGeneral for a particular State was to Be found. If they happened to know where the office of the Agent-General for Victoria was, they would send inquirers for the other offices to that place. If that be the case with London business men, what can we expect from the persons whom we desire to attract to Australia as immigrants? They would probably be lost in London in the first place, and would have to search for three or four days to discover the location of the people who were supposed to be looking for them. The chances are that they would give the task up in despair, and would turn their attention to the more pushful and businesslike representatives of Canada.
– If the other States Governments follow the example of the Victorian Government there will not be much hope of getting their representatives under the roof of the Commonwealth buildings, since the Victorian Government have purchased a site for themselves.
– The Victorian Government have already acquired a distinct allotment with a 25. feet frontage, an area which I venture to say will be ample for their purpose, seeing that they can erect upon it a building of many stories. Victoria then must be counted out in the matter, and if the other States Governments follow the same example the Commonwealth will be left with a white elephant on its hands. We shall have 13,000 square feet of land in London, for which we shall have to pay an annual rent of several thousand pounds, and on which we shall be compelled to erect a building in keeping with the surroundings at the cost of an enormous sum of money. It cannot be proposed to erect this building for Commonwealth purposes, because the Commonwealth Government cannot pretend to occupy it, and if it is to be erected merely in order that we may be in a position to let offices to private tenants, we may fairly ask whether the Commonwealth is called upon to make an investment of that kind. Have we nothing better to do with the money we have, or .with the money which might .be borrowed for this purpose, than to build on land secured at a great price with the object of providing offices which are to be let?
– Could we do that under the Constitution?
– I venture to say that the present Government can do anything with the majority behind them. I hope that the Committee will see that business methods are adopted. and will say that it is not business-like to acquire a large area of land before we know the full extent of our requirements. I propose to submit a request to the House of Representatives, that this item in the schedule should beleft out.
– The honorable senator may submit an amendment.
– Then it will be necessary only for honorable senators tonegative the item. I’ ask honorable senators to consider what we are going to do> with this land if we acquire it. If we propose to erect a building, what do we propose to put into it? Have the Government considered these points ? If they have not they are still less in a position to say how much space we require. It has been suggested that we could locate the High Commissioner in this building, but it would be most “unsuitable for him to occupy as a residence. Even if that course should be followed, and allowing for every possible requirement, an area of 13,000 square feet is far greater than is necessary for all Commonwealth requirements. I wish the Committee to go slow in this matter. If the States Governments had been consulted, and it had been ascertained that they were prepared to share our responsibility, if it were only as our tenants, we might acquire the proposed area of land, and erect a suitable building. If, on the other hand, they follow the example of Victoria, acquire land of their own, and erect their own buildings, Commonwealth requirements would be met by a very much more modest proposal than that of the Government. Before we commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure ranging from £1,250,000 to £1,500,000 for ground rent and taxes alone over the period of ninety-nine years, and to the cost of an expensive building, which would have to be incurred in a year or two, we should know to what purpose we are going to put it.
– Or whether we could not buy or lease a building at less cost.
– The honorable senator, by his practical suggestion, has anticipated what I proposed to say only by a few moments. I repeat that the proper course was for the Government to have made arrangements with the States Governments to share in the occupancy of the land. It could have been pointed out that it would be a distinct advantage to group together the London agencies of all the Australian States, so that it might be known from one end of Great Britain to the other that the representatives of the Australian States were to be found in one spot. Then some information should have been available as to the business which it is intended to’ carry on in the proposed building. If it is intended as a means of advertising Australia in order to attract immigrants, we should have been given some idea of the system to be adopted and the expense involved. It seems to me ridiculous that we should acquire an area of land in London without knowing what we are going to do when we get it. What do the Government propose to do if Parliament sanctions the purchase of this land, to what extent are we to be committed in the erection of a building, and when it is up to what purpose is it to be devoted ? These are business considerations which demand the attention of the Committee, and with which the Government should have shown at least a passing acquaintance. They should have submitted a business-like scheme, the main principles of which had been carefully thought out. All we know is that the Government have rushed into negotiations for the acquisition of an area of land, sufficient for all possible requirements if all the States representatives came together with the representative of the Commonwealth, but altogether too large for purely Commonwealth purposes. I understand that the offices at present occupied by the Commonwealth in London have a floor space which is not quite so great as the floor space of this chamber. That is all that is required for Commonwealth purposes at present, and all that will be required unless the States Governments join us in the way I have referred to. I propose to vote against the item in order that time may.be given to the Government to confer with the Governments of the States ; to point out the advantages, which I think they would readily recognise, of having their London agencies grouped together ; and to find out how far they would be willing to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in advertising the resources of Australia, and the many advantages it offers to those whose presence we profess to desire.
– We have already so fully discussed this matter that I am loath to enter upon its discussion again. I desire, however, to deal with one or two matters referred to by Senator Millen. The honorable senator has taken exception to the fact that we have not consulted the States Governments before securing this site. The position is this : We are perfectly satisfied that it is a desirable site to secure, and I am sure that honorable senators will confirm that view by an overwhelming majority. It is all very well to say that we can select some other position at a lower rental, and with smaller obligations attaching to it.
– Pardon me; I did not refer to the location.
– The matter was introduced by my honorable friend Senator W. Russell, who suggested that it would be possible to secure a site elsewhere. That is quite correct. It is possible that, if we were to search through London we might secure another office wherein the
High Commissioner might carry on Commonwealth work. But the point which : wish to emphasize is that here is an eligible site, specially suitable and capable of great possibilities. As showing its eligibility let me point out, first of all, that we are given to understand that the Canadians have selected a portion of this same block of land for their London offices.
– No, not the same block.
– They have selected a portion of the land from the London County Council.
– It is the “ rotunda “ site which they have selected.
– At any rate it is adjacent to our site. In the second place, the Premier of Victoria has secured a portion of this block as a suitable site for a building for the representation of his State. [ think that those two circumstances go to show conclusively that the site in itself is a desirable one. The next feature about it is that it is possible for us to secure the site, and therefore we are in negotiation with the London County Council for the purpose of doing so. Whether those negotiations will succeed or not, I cannot at this moment say. We are not prepared to concede the terms that the County Council have asked. Amongst other things they have asked i:8s. per foot for the land. We : lie not prepared to pay that price. I have already told honorable senators that the Government cannot agree to exceed i 5s. I cannot say for the moment that we shall be prepared to cav as much as 15s. a foot for the land. I will go further and say that our present idea is that we should secure it for something like 13s. 6d. per foot, that being the amount ‘for which the Victorian Government have been able to secure their block of land.
– There will not be much chance of securing the land for the price mentioned if the senator’s utterance is cabled Home.
– Honorable senators have demanded that I should make this statement.
– The Minister has told them too much.
– I refused up till the very last moment to state entirely what was in the mind of the Government in regard to this matter, but I was compelled to do so by honorable senators who reproached me - I do not think fairly - for not having been completely frank in regard to the sub ject. However, I have told honorable senators that we do not intend, under any circumstances, to pay more than 15s. a foot. If by any chance we should think it desirable, under any future circumstances which may arise, to exceed that price, we should not do so without consulting Parliament. I do not, however, suggest, for one moment, that the Government can be induced to go up to anything like 15s., and I am not going to bind myself in that connexion in any shape or form. But it may be possible, as the result of negotiations, to secure this site for our Commonwealth offices in London. My honorable friend, Senator Millen, says that, before we enter into these negotiations, which may not succeed, we should consult the States. Could anything be more futile than to attempt to do anything of the kind? If we had any definite knowledge that we were certain to secure this site I could understand the argument of my honorable friend. But, as a matter of fact, we have no such definite knowledge. We are only authorized to ne- gotiate for the securing of the site.
– To make an offer.
– To negotiate and to close for the securing of the site. My honorable friend need not suggest that we are only authorized to make an offer, because I have been most specific, time after time - in fact, on every occasion when I have spoken - as to what the passing of this item means.
– Hear, hear.-
– Under these circumstances, it seems to me that it would be so much waste of time for us to attempt to negotiate with the States before we had actually secured the site.
– -If this area is secured, will it accommodate all the States?
– If it is secured it will accommodate all the States.
– Then if the States do not come in, the Commonwealth will have more land than it requires?
– If .all the States do not come in we shall have nothing whatever to fear. Our -risk in the matter is comparatively trifling. We can enter upon the occupation of the land as a business matter, guided by business considerations. To be perfectly frank with the Committee, what we are desirous of doing is this : My honorable friend, Senator Millen, stated - what every honorable senator knows - that it is difficult to find- the various offices of the Agents-General for the Australian States it present. They seem to be packed away in obscure positions.
– Why not wipe out the offices of the Agents- General altogether ?
– The Commonwealth cannot do that.
– Why not ask the States to do it?
– I am desirous of showing what we hope to do, and shall certainly make an effort to do. We shall consult with the States - and I think I am justified in saying that we shall have no difficulty in inducing Victoria to come in, so far as her block of land is concerned - as to the character of the building which we shall erect. After providing every reasonable accommodation for the Commonwealth itself, we shall endeavour to induce the States to break up the balance of the accommodation amongst ourselves.
– What is there to limit the Commonwealth to a six-story building?
– I think that the building regulations of the London County Council limit us to that height. Whether the States pay us rental or not does not matter. It will be just like taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another - to a large extent, at all events - but, of course, I am not now. binding myself to anything. We want to have the Australian States concentrated at this spot. We want this building which we shall erect to be a permanent advertisement for Australia. We want the millions who pass the site day by day to realize that there is in existence as part and parcel of the British Empire such a place as the Commonwealth of Australia.
– We do not want them to pass, but to stop.
– We want the millions who pass and repass to have prominently before their eyes by way of advertisement the fact that there is such a place as Australia.
– The Government could accomplish that by means of a big hoarding.
– We want some of those millions, by inspecting the productions of Australia which we hope to exhibit within this building, to have it impressed upon them that Australia is a desirable place to live in. We want, in short, to attract as large a percentage of those millions as possible to our shores. If Australia is to be worthily represented in London, it must have a building of which we shall not have reason to be ashamed. The more striking it is, the more effective will be the advertisement. Under all these circumstances, honorable senators having conceded, time after time - no matter what has taken place in this debate - that it is desirable that we should foe represented in London, that we should have London offices, that a High Commissioner should be appointed, and that a proper location should be provided for him, it is almost conclusively demonstrated that this site offers us the opportunity for carrying out our wishes and desires most effectively. I am aware that some of my “honorable friends have suggested that, so far as financial transactions are concerned, the city itself, which is a mile or a mile and a half distant, is a more desirable place for such offices.
– -The ex-Treasurer says so, does he not?
– The ex-Treasurer says so. In reply to that argument, I say that if such is the case - and, possibly, it is so - the time may a’rrive -when we may have to secure a branch office in the city. The time may come when we may inscribe out own stock - a transaction which, possibly, if we determined upon it, might save us something like £30,000 or £40,000 a year. If it is considered desirable ‘in the future, possibly the remote future, to inscribe our own stock - and that is a matter for grave consideration, because , it would involve kicking away the big banking influence which the States have thought it desirable to keep at their back in loan transactions - a branch office adjacent to the Bank of England, in the city, might be desirable. But it will be quite time enough to consider the securing of a small place, by way of a branch office to be used for inscription and other financial purposes, when the necessity arises.
– The time may not be so remote as the Minister thinks.
– It may not be; but who would seriously consider the expense which might be involved in the establishment of a small office near the Bank of England for such a purpose?
– The States at present have their offices about a mile and ahalf further away from the city - at Westminster.
– That is so. A number of the States are located down at the West End at the present time, and they transact their financial business in the city, more than a mile and a. half away. I ant informed that South Australia inscribes her own stock, and for that purpose has a branch office adjacent to the Bank of England. Is it not really introducing an element of burlesque to take an objection of this character to the main object of this item - the establishment of Commonwealth representation in London for business purposes other than the immediate financial purposes to which I have referred ?
– At a cost of only’ £30,000 a year.
– I do not think that the cost will be anything like that sum.
– I took down the Minister’s own words.
– My honorable friend, if he took down my words, knows that our obligation will be £[14,063 a year for ground rent and taxes.
– It will cost £[30,000 a year for inscribing stock, and yet the Minister says that the objection is a ludicrous one.
– I was not referring to that matter, but to the cost of establishing a small branch office adjacent to the Bank of England. It is ludicrous to take the expense of that branch office into consideration when we are dealing with the question of a site in the Strand. I made a calculation which my honorable friends know was only put forward as a mere illustration. I took the illustration that we are to take this site at a maximum rent of 15s. per foot, which Ave do not intend to do if it can be helped. I calculated that at that rate the annual rent will come to £9,750, and that we shall have a building which will cost £80,000. It will be for the Parliament to say whether the building shall cost £[80,000 or £[180,000.
– How much did this building cost?
– I will not go into that question at the present time.
– We shall have to erect a building very much like the one in which we are assembled.
– That will be a matter for future consideration. When we bring down our proposals it will be for the Parliament to determine what amount shall be expended on the building. At the present time we are merely concerned with the question of a site. I have calculated that if the building costs £80,000 and the ground rent is 15s. a foot our maximum liability will be £14,063 a year.
– Does that include taxes ?
– But it does not include interest on the cost of the building.
– Nor does it include a land tax, if imposed.
– I do not think it is necessary to go into that question.
– Will a building to cost ,£80,000 comply with the requirements of the London County Council ?
– I think so.
– Does not the honorable senator know?
– I think that a building to cost £80,000 will cover immediate requirements on an economical basis.
– Will a building to cost that sum satisfy the London County Council ?
– The Department of Home Affairs has estimated that the Commonwealth can erect a much cheaper building. Of course, it will have to conform to a particular design, but that is practically a detail.
– Does the Minister suggest that a building to cost £80,000 will give the magnificent advertisement which he thinks is necessary ?
– My own view is that we ought to expend much more than that sum on the building. We must deal with this proposal, not in a huckstering spirit, but on a broad basis, because the amount involved is, comparatively speaking, of a most trifling character.
– The possession of the building will not be the only advantage.
– No; but’ it will, I hope, accommodate the Agents-General and the products of the several States, as well as leave ample accommodation for our own High Commissioner.
– It should be such a building as will impel persons to come to look at it.
– I think so, but I do not wish to be drawn on that point at the present time, as it is one which the Parliament will have to decide subsequently. This is not a matter for party consideration, but one in which the highest and best interests of the Commonwealth are concerned. We desire to obtain a special site for the purpose of securing desirable accommodation. We want to make such a display that the millions in the old country will be reminded from day to clay that there is such a country as the Commonwealth of Australia. In all these circumstances, I can with great confidence ask honorable senators to pass the item.
– It has been urged by the Minister very forcibly that one of the great advantages in securing this site is that the Commonwealth building will be near the Canadian building. In the first place, the honorable gentleman said that the site is next to the Canadian site, and then he stated that it is adjacent to that site. I find from a sketch in the London Times of the 24th July, that the Canadian building will be in the form of a rotunda, a sort of island with streets round it. A large part of the island has been taken up by a French syndicate, at a rental of -£55,000 a year for the purpose of erecting cafes chantants. Where is the advertisement for the Commonwealth, with its £80,000 building, as against Canada’s £400,000 building ?
– I think that the building will be a most excellent advertisement. It will be in good company.
– Canada has succeeded with its immigration policy, not bv advertising in a large place, but by sending caravans and lecturers through the country districts in the United Kingdom and the Continent to get the people whom she wanted. If we get emigrants in that way, and then erect a large building in London as an ornament, it will be more sensible than to erect the building now when we have no work for a High Commissioner to do. The States have not’ given the Commonwealth any work for the High Commissioner to do in the matter of inscribing ‘stock, and very likely they will not do so. South Australia, it is said, inscribes her own stock, but she found it necessary to remove her office from the West End to the City, so that the inscription of stock might be achieved at the best advantage. Sir John Forrest, the late Trea- surer, has stated that we could not inscribe stock unless our Quarters were located in the city. This site in the Strand is not the only site available in London. The land has been lying idle for some years. No doubt a number of persons have looked at it with a view to see what they could do with it. There is no immediate necessity for the Commonwealth to secure the site. I have been informed by some leading business men in Melbourne who have lately returned from London that it is a most undesirable site for business purposes. Certainly it is a most undesirable site for social purposes. For ornamental purposes, it will not be to our advantage to secure the site. I believe that the people of this country will not thank us if we run them into the enormous expenditure which is proposed when we really do not know what is to be done with the building.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.25]. - Just now Senator Trenwith made an objection which was a repetition of a statement he made here last week, and I wish to put him right. I do not know how recently he has been in London, but he has alleged here that the inscribing of State stock is done in Queen Victoriastreet.
– No. What I said was that the Agents-General have their offices in the West1 End, and do their business there.
– They inscribe stock, not in the West End, but away from the West End. They have some business to do, and we have none. We all know the old saying about putting the cart before the horse, but here the Government is insisting upon having a first-class waggon before the horse has been foaled. What is the High Commissioner to do in the building when it is erected ? He will have no stock to inscribe. Clearly he will have no financial responsibility, for the masters of the Government here tell them not to borrow. With regard to the brilliant proposition of the Vice-President of the Executive Council about the possibility of the inscription of Commonwealth stock, he knows that so long as he is kept in office by his present masters the Government will not be allowed to float a loan. Therefore, all this chatter about inscribing stock. in a monumental building on an extravagant site is absolute silliness.
– Mv honorable friend knows that I did not make a suggestion of the kind.
– My honorable friend said that if it should be found that the inscription of stock cannot be carried on iri the Strand palace the Commonwealth can take a small office in the city.
– Let me point out in fairness to the Minister that he said “ in the remote future,” that is at the end of the lease which we are now asked to approve.
– By that time, perhaps, the horse will have been foaled. There is no excuse for entering into this extravagance in connexion with the inscription of stock. What is the other proposition? It is said that the building is required for emigration purposes. What immigration policy has the Government, and what possible immigration policy can the Commonwealth have? Has not the Prime Minister pointed out over and over again that the question of immigration is not a Commonwealth but a State affair? What on earth do we want a palace in London for when we are not going to do anything in that line? We take such an immense interest in immigration that we actually voted £500 for the purpose, and now the Government want a £400,000 palace in which to spend the vote. Good God ! Mr. Chairman, the thing is absolutely beyond the limits of a man’s patience. Where is the Commonwealth land on which the immigrants are to be placed ? Are we going to collect intending emigrants from the United Kingdom in this building, and bring them out here under contract to the States contrary to the law ? Is that the scheme ? What scheme is there in connexion with this immigration business? No member of the Ministry in this Chamber or out of it can possibly describe anything in the way of an immigration policy that will afford even the shadow of the flimsiest excuse for this proposed monumental extravagance. The information’ given to us just now, that it is proposed to establish an emigration depot in the immediate vicinity of a Parisian cafe chantant, is of a very serious character. I am shocked. The whole thing shocks me, but this comes to me with a sense of appalling impropriety. The “Vice-President of the Executive Council may laugh, but if I speak strongly it is because I feel strongly. I cannot discuss this ridiculousness with the placidity with which my honorable friend is able to deliver those pleasant political homilies with which he occasionally enlightens Pleasant Sunday Afternoons, or gatherings of that type. The whole business is outrageous. What right have we, as trustees of the public funds, to squander money in the erecton of a building and to enter in some form or another into competition with a cafe chantant next door? Are the unfortunate people who come to this place to obtain information about the Commonwealth to drift into the cafe chantant? The building which my honorable and learned friend is proposing is to become a kind of gigantic “chapel of ease” to a Parisian cafechantant! The thing is shameful. All this is to be done on the strength of the other States coming in.
– There is a church on either side to correct matters - St. Mary’s Church and St. Clement Danes Church.
– If the honorable senator, when he was in London, had only gone to those churches a few times he would never have brought this proposal forward. I know all about those churches. I am opposing this project in the interests of the churches.
– The honorable senator also seems to know something of the cafe chantant.
– That is a growth of a mushroom character, since I was in London. The Vice-President of the Executive Council says, “ We are going to be quite sure about spending the money, and we hope that we shall get tenants.” If the Government do not get the States as tenants - and some of them are not so enamoured of the Commonwealth that they want to come under its umbrella any more than they are already obliged to do - what are they going to do with a six-story building? The Government cannot display Commonwealth pumpkins in all the windows, or litter up all the rooms with colonial produce. Does the honorable senator know the class of buildings in the Strand opposite this site ? They are mostly two-story, and some three-story buildings, consisting of small shops, little taverns, oyster saloons, and hair dressing and tobacconists’ shops. My honorable friend laughs, but I am speaking from absolute knowledge. People will not go to this building to take palatial offices. They will not take extravagant suites of rooms in a part of London where there is no demand for any such thing as a lot of commercial offices. There is not a commercial office within coo-ee of the place.
– No chance of getting tenants in this deserted village !
– Every place in London has its special functions and uses. This is a part which is not used for commercial purposes. It is used for shopkeeping, and not in any way for wholesale purposes. The planwhich Senator Macfarlane has shown me as published in the Times of the 24th July throws a remarkable light upon the proposal. It shows that at the most the Commonwealth offices are to balance the Gaiety Theatre. The Canadian offices, with a magnificent facade and two great arms running back- surely there is a great opportunity for display there - occupy the centre ; but the Commonwealth building is to occupy one portion of an irregular triangle, which, on the other side of the Canadian offices, is occupied by the Gaiety Theatre. What is to become of the rest of the block? The plot thickens. Here is a Gaiety Theatre, a French theatre, and a cafe chantant. It is nonsense to regard this as a place where people will want great suites of business offices.
– And where the Canadian Government spend nearly half a million of money. Shocking !
– That does not get over what I am trying to drive into my honorable friend’s head. I am sure that he grasps as completely as I do, but does not want to admit, that this is not a place where there is any chance of letting suites of offices. If the other States do not come in, we shall have the land and building on our hands. It would be out of place to display in the windows of such a building as is proposed, produce such as pumpkins, turnips, bundles of hay, asparagus, and dressed poultry. Those are the things which are to be seen displayed in the windows of the States commercial agencies in London. Poultry stuffed and dressed, vegetable and mineral productions, natural history specimens, and photographs are displayed in their shop windows; but a building of the type suggested could not be used to display butter, cheese, poultry, vegetables, sheaves of wheat, stalks and cobs of maize, and small bags of cereals. That sort of thing can only be done in a suitable building. It would be entirely out of place in a palace. If we have not the States as tenants, we shall have empty suites of rooms with no prospect of letting them.
– The ballet girls could take rooms there.
– The Government might start residential chambers with a restaurant in the basement, or the Vice-President of the Executive Council might think it desirable to establish a swimming bath in the lower portion of the building. Upon my honour, I do not know what could be done with the place. It could not be used for shops, and the Government will not be able to let it for offices. There is really no excuse at present for this expenditure, for there is no work to be done there. The High Commissioner, if appointed, will have nothing whatever to do but play deportment. He will not be able to play deportment in the Strand. In the course of a half -hour’s speech, the VicePresident of the Executive Council was not able to indicate in the smallest degree the duties which are to be discharged in this building. A hoarding, as suggested by Senator Symon to-night, would answer the same purpose of advertisement. That is a phrase which I used last week. I said that this thing was proposed as a gigantic hoarding - nothing more than an advertisement. The Vice-President of the Executive Council knows that if the Commonwealth is to carry out an immigration policy in this building, the States cannot carry out immigration policies also. There cannot be a conflict between the Commonwealth and the States in that matter.
– Their interests are identical.
– Where is the Commonwealth to locate the immigrants when it gets them out?
– In the Northern Territory.
– That is the only chance. A nice thing it will be to take people out of London streets and dump them down in the Northern Territory ! It would be very much wiser for this matter to stand over for a little while, until the Ministry are in a position to show us what they want the building for. In a general way, we are told that it is for the accommodation of a High Commissioner; but there is no High Commissioner at present, and there are positively no duties for him to discharge. No one in or out of the Ministry is able to indicate what his duties will be. He is not wanted for the inscription of stock, immigration, or the raising of loans. To squander money in London in the manner proposed does not commend itself to a majority in this Chamber, and certainly not to a majority of the people of the Commonwealth.
.- I am not in a position to do anything but oppose this item most heartily. The Government have made a great mistake in bringing it forward. It is another illustration of their trying to do something about, an important matter without having any policy. I understand that the VicePresident of the Executive Council made a speech of some length, but did not enlighten honorable senators. I should like to be enlightened as to what purpose this palatial building is to serve. There are two matters on which the honorable senator ought to state the policy of the Government. He ought to show that the Government are carrying the States with them, and are working in unison with the States.
– I went into the matter most fully. I cannot repeat what I said.
– As every one knows, the Prime Minister is very much in favour of a scheme of immigration. He has induced Parliament to vote money to. -carry out such a scheme, and vet, so far as I understand the facts, the States Governments leave that scheme severely alone, and are introducing immigrants independently under schemes of their own, which are not consistent with that proposed by the Prime Minister.
– And thev are getting immigrants whilst the Commonwealth Government are not.
– That is so. Every State Government have their own arrangements for advertising their State, and no one takes the slightest notice of the Prime Minister’s scheme, because the States Governments are doing the work better for themselves. I know something about this matter, because at the request of Dr. Arthur, of Sydney, we have formed an immigration league in Tasmania.
– That is the man who said we were to “ keep it dark. “
– He has done, and is doing, a great deal of good work.
– He is doing it under false pretences.
– Not at all. Everything that he has said may not suit the views of Senator Guthrie, but Dr. Arthur, has done, and is doing, excellent work. We started an immigration league in Tasmania at his suggestion. In that State we have not large tracts of land to offer people in Great Britain, but we have great possibilities for fruit-growing and farming on a small scale in one of the best climates in the world. We are trying to secure the immigration of Anglo-Indians. We are advertising throughout India in order to attract the attention of the noncommissioned officer, with a pension of ,£40 a year, and the commissioned officer with a pension, perhaps, of £100 a year. We contend that we can do this work better than it can be done by the Commonwealth Government. The Government of every one of the States say exactly the same thing. And of what use. therefore, is it for Ministers to ask this Parliament to go in for a great Federal scheme at a cost of £35,000 a year when thev know that the States Governments are doing this business on their own account? What is the State Government of Victoria doing? Does Mr. (Bent mean to take offices for his State in Australia House? We know that he has secured a site of his own, and believes in paddling his own canoe. He has his own scheme of immigration. In the circumstances, of what use is it to attempt to gull us and the public that this is work for the Federal Parliament? We have more work to do than we can get through, and we are sowing disappointment in the minds of every man and woman in the .Commonwealth because we delay the settlement of the Tariff and because we will interfere with other people’s work, and will not do our own. Of what use is it for us to try to vie with Canada in putting up bricks and mortar in London? As I said the other day, I have more faith in the work of brains and intelligence than in bricks and mortar. It is all moonshine to supposethat we shall advertise the Commonwealth by putting up a big building. One good man on a lecturing tour throughout Great Britain would secure more emigrants for Australia in six months than we are likely to secure in five years bv the erection of a palatial building in London. Then, again,, in connexion with the appointment of a High Commissioner, before Federation was: accomplished, the electors were told that we should be able to save money by the appointment of a High Commissioner, since the Agents-General of the States would then be dispensed with, and their salaries saved. We find, however, that the States Governments have not given up their AgentsGeneral, and still desire to do their ownwork. That they are doing it is shown bv the fact that Mr. Bent has secured a site for Victoria. If the States Governments retain their Agents-General, therewill be nothing for the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth to do but write a few despatches and act as a kind of intermediary between the Imperial and Federal authorities. Would that justify the expenditure proposed/ or the erection of a- big building, trusting to Providence to get tenants for it? I can see nothing to justify the enormous expenditure proposed. Have the Government banished from their minds all thought of the financial position, and of the increase of Federal expenditure bv £900,000 a year? We ought to attend to our own business, and let the States Governments attend to theirs. If the Government could inform the Committee that the States Governments had agreed to take offices for their AgentsGeneral or their commercial agents in Australia House, and take advantage of the representation of the Commonwealth in London, I should be prepared to vote for such a scheme. I wish to see the principles of practical common-sense introduced into the business. Are we to vote thousands of pounds for the erection of a big building in London with the knowledge that the States Governments will also erect buildings? Does any one believe that if Victoria erects a building, New South Wales will be content without as good a building as that erected by Victoria? Will not the Queensland Government, who have more to offer than the Governments of either of the other States, be prepared to follow suit? Are we, in addition to having seven Parliaments, fourteen Legislative Chambers, six Governors, and a GovernorGeneral, to perpetuate this extravagant system by having seven separate buildings in London? The Government are neglecting their duty to the public in going in for all these outside schemes. I notice that in another place Sir William Lyne is proposing to set up another tribunal to carry out the “ new protection,” and we are told that the Inter-State Commission provided for by the Constitution is shortly to be constituted. Before we have the Federal machine fairly going we are trying to exercise every power conferred bv the Constitution, to bring into existence every Department contemplated, and to make all the appointments of high-salaried officers for which the .Constitution provides.
– I ask the honorable senator to discuss the item.
– This item is in the same category as the other matters to which I have referred. We should leave something to be done Hereafter, when we can act in unison with the States, and know what they want. Can the _ VicePresident of the Executive Council inform the Committee that the States AgentsGeneral are to be dispensed with, or do the States Governments intend to continue to have Agents-General in London, and from one to half-a-dozen general agents in addition? If the States join with the Commonwealth in a general scheme we might build an Australia House in London which would be a credit to us. We should not consider such a proposal without an assurance that the States Governments will work cordially with us to make it a success.
– Judging by the remarks of honorable senators opposed to this proposal, one would think that the London County Council is the only body that can make a good bargain, and that whoever leases land fromthem will make the worst bargain ever imagined. I think it is quite possible, for the Commonwealth Government to make a bargain with the London County Council by which the acquisition of this ‘land can be turned to practical account. It is strange that’ the opposition to this proposal should come from honorable senators who are never tired of lauding the work of private enterprise to the skies. If we look around us, we must be convinced that it is a principle with those conducting private enterprises to erect substantial premises which will impress the ‘public with their stability.
– Nonsense ! Fortunes have been made in little shanties, and it is only after the fortunes have been made that the palatial premises are erected.
– When I look back upon the history of this session I cannot recall a solitary proposal which Senator Dobson has not opposed. The honorable senator will not deny that in this world people are very much influenced by appearances. It is a principle with successfullymanaged private concerns to establish themselves in a building that is likely to impress the people.
– It is the very last thing they think of.
– I venture to say that Senator Gray has not entirely ignored that principle in connexion “with his own private business. Victoria is paying ,£800 a year in rent for offices’ in London which have not suited the purposes of the Victorian Government. If we multiply the £800 by six we shall have £4,800 as an amount to which we could reasonably look . forward as rental from the proposed Commonwealth building in the future. If it should be found that the States Governments hold aloof from the Commonwealth - and that is a contingency which I can hardly imagine - I have no doubt that we could let offices in the Commonwealth building to equal advantage for other purposes. I do not see why the expense involved should be an objection to the proposal, because honorable senators who are opposing it must admit that one circumstance which is against the credit of the Commonwealth in London is that it is not sufficiently known, and the people of Great Britain are not sufficiently acquainted with the resources and possibilities of Australia. How are we to impress them with the importance of the Commonwealth ?
– By wise legislation.
– If that be so, they will be sufficiently impressed in the very near future, because we are fast approaching the time when there will be nothing but wise legislation placed on ‘ Australian statute-books. We are at a standing disadvantage in Great Britain by reason of our distance from that country ‘and the lack of knowledge on the part of the people. . Will any one say that the people of Great Britain are likely to be as strongly impressed with the importance of Australia by six insignificant offices in different places as they would be by a building of commanding dimensions erected in a central thoroughfare, and indicating the position of the country that is able to maintain such offices in London? No matter what has been said to the contrary, the fact remains that it is a principle with private enterprise to impress possible customers . with its stability. If the Commonwealth pursues the haphazard course which it has been pursuing in the past, the offices of the States will continue to be scattered all over London. In that case, the present anarchical state of. things will continue, and Australia will have no identity, in the form of a public building, to . impress upon the people of London that there is such a place. What is Canada doing? I recognise that it is not for us to follow Canadian precedents in every instance. But honorable senators who are opposing this item generally tell us that what Canada does is the correct thing to do. How do they reconcile that attitude, with their opposition to a proposal that the Commonwealth shall do what the Dominion is doing? *: . .. .. ‘ . -
– We have not opposed the policy.
– The critics of this proposal are, as a rule, consistent admirers of Canadian policy.-
– Canada does not confine her efforts to erecting a building. She gives her agents £i for every emigrant that they get.
– I agree that Canada pays the passages of emigrants.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of paying the passages of emigrants ?
– I am in favour of immigration. I have1 always proclaimed myself in favour of such a policy.
– Would the honorable senator agree to Australia doing what Canada is doing in the matter of immigration?
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue the subject of immigration.
– I do not wish to be drawn off the track by interjections. But any person who looks at the plan which has been circulated will see that Canada has secured from the London County Council a piece of land quite close to that which the Government desires to secure. Australia being at a greater distance from Europe, there is all the greater need for the Commonwealth doing more to advertise its resources.
– The unfortunate fact is that Australians look at the matter from a States point of view, whilst the Canadians regard it from a Canadian point of view.
– We certainly should deal with a matter of this kind quite apart from provincial considerations. We have before us a concrete proposal which we must either accept or reject. Quite apart from sentimental considerations, the proposal of the Government is justifiable or business grounds. It would seem, to listen to the opponents of the proposal, that those who take land from the London County Council will be making a foolish bargain. But I venture to say that, by securing the block of land in question we shall be making a profitable bargain. Even if the States do not agree to locate their offices beneath one roof - if they persist in their isolation - we shall still be able to turn the building which we erect to profitable account. I venture to say, in the first, place, /that the building is: wanted t<* advertise us, as we have not been advertised before; and secondly, that when it is erected it will be a .payable investment from the start.
– I desire to reiterate the surprise which I expressed on Friday as to the strong opposition advanced against this item. The amount of the vote is only £[1,000. .
– But it may mean an expenditure of £[1,500,000.
– The honorable senator is rather impetuous. Voting for this item by no manner of means commits us to the expenditure of a large sum. I fail to understand by what process of reasoning any honorable senator can come to such a conclusion. After we have concluded the negotiations for the purchase of a site no Government dare undertake the construction of a building without first submitting their proposals to Parliament.
– We shall have to incur a rental of £[14,000 a year before we erect any building.
– The VicePresident of, the Executive Council has furnished every information to honorable senators. When the question was first mooted the objection made by certain honorable senators was that no information had been placed before them. As soon as thev got the information they immediately raised up this stone wall of opposition.
– Surely the honorable senator is doing the “ stone-walling ! “
– I do not say that honorable senators who oppose the item are “ stone- wal ling,” but I say that they have raised a stone wall of opposition to the item. That is quite a different phrase. The question which we have to decide is whether it will be good for the Commonwealth to have offices in London or mot.
– That is not the question. It is whether the offices should bt in the Strand or not.
– I venture to repeat an assertion which I made bv way of interjection on Friday, that the attitude of the Opposition is tantamount to a declaration of no-confidence in the Government.
– It is not a party question.
– It is all very well to say that it is not a party question, but from the trend of the debate it appears to me that it is nothing but that. Senator
Dobson has urged as an argument against the item that the States will not agree to have their offices under the same roof as the Commonwealth.
– They may not.
– Senator Dobson has gone further, and said that during the agitation for Federation we were told that the six Agent-Generals’ offices would be abolished, and that probably the six States Governorships would be abolished also.
– So they ought to be. ‘
– I agree that they ought to be. Whose fault is it that they have not been abolished?
– The honorable senator’s-, perhaps.
– When I had an opportunity I advocated the .immediate abolition of the Governors, Legislative Councils, and Agents-General in the six States of the Commonwealth. If Senator Dobson is really sincere in the reasons he has given for opposing the item,- will he advocate the abolition of the Governor and the Agent-General for his own State? I venture to say that he will not. I consider that the Government are doing a proper thing , in negotiating for the purchase of this site. The amount involved, £1,000, is not very much, nor do I think that the ultimate commitment will involve us in an expenditure which will in any way cripple our finances. On the contrary. I consider that it is our imperative duty as an Australian Parliament to forget for the moment that there are six States represented in the capital of the Empire, and also to ignore the fact that those States may not share the building with the Commonwealth.
– The honorable, senator is ignoring all the facts.
– I am simply confining my remarks to the reasons which have been discussed by honorable senators who have opposed the item. It is the duty f the Australian Parliament to take immediate steps to secure a suitable site in London. The site suggested is a suitable one. As soon as possible we should commence the erection of a building which will reflect credit upon the Commonwealth, and give to the people of Great Britain some idea of our importance. Canada has been mentioned. I venture to say that, in respect to trade and commerce,. Australia occupies a more important position in an Canada does. Statistics prove ihat. Canada is suitably represented in London, and it is time that the Commonwealth made itself felt there. Senator Gray has been persistent in his interjections regarding the Canadian system of immigration.
-Hear, hear ; that is the crux of the whole position.
– I know that a system of immigration is closely connected with the question of the erection of a Commonwealth building in London. I welcome it on that ground. I will repeat now a statement which I have made in other places, that I shall welcome the day when we inaugurate a judicious system of immigration
– “ Judicious “ is a good word.
– So as to attract to our shores people who will be prepared to assist in developing our great resources.
– On Canadian lines?
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that subject.
– I shall give my hearty support to the item, and I congratulate the Government on having placed it in the Bill.
– It seems to me that the Government are in an excellent position in regard tr. carrying the item, seeing that they are receiving such extraordinary support from honorable senators whom we have hitherto been accustomed to regard as possibly not enthusiastic advocates of a policy of immigration. We are told that this scheme for the erection of offices in London is one the great benefit of which will be that it will induce people to stop and look at the productions of Australia, to come and settle on our land, and to help to build up here a white race which will defend the Commonwealth against foreign nations in time of trouble. We are told that we shall derive all sorts of benefits from the erection of this building. According to the statement of Senator Best, we may reasonably expect that it will cost only £80,000. It is to be erected alongside the Canadian building, which, it may be mentioned, will have nothing to do with an immigration policy, and which is to cost nearly half-a-million. I wish to join issue with the Government as to the site which they have chosen. It will be remembered that, in his speech on the second reading of the Bill, Senator B.°st cracked the whip, and said that those who were against immigration would vote against the measure, but that those who favoured that policy would vote for the measure. That was the attitude which he then took up. If the question of providing Commonwealth offices in London is of such urgent importance as the Government attempt to make the Committee believe, why do they ask us to vote £1,000 for a site in the Strand? Why do they tie us down to the Strand? They do not know whether they can get this site. They do not know whether the London County Council will accept their offer. If the offer is not accepted, the Government will have to come back to Parliament and ask for authority to make an offer in regard to another site. If the Government are in earnest, and this is not a put-up business - if a bargain has not already’ been struck - why do they not ask us to vote £1,000 on account of securing a site in London on which they can erect a building, or for the purpose of leasing a building? Why do they ask for authority to secure one block of land in the Strand ? We have received a document from an explorer, who has driven about London in search of a site for Commonwealth offices. He does not go 50 far as did the explorer who reported upon the Federal Capital sites. He does not furnish any information except with regard to the site to which he appears to have pinned his faith. If the Government honestly wished to convince honorable senators that they had chosen the best possible site, they would at least have given some information with regard to the other sites which are obtainable, and the deficiencies in them. They have furnished no information in that respect. I ask honorable senators to look carefully at the plan which has been passed round the Chamber, and to compare it with the plan which the Times published in its daily edition of the 24th July and its weekly edition of the 26th July. What does the plan in the Times, which practically has nothing to do with the Australian proposal, disclose? It sets forth a building to be erected on account ‘ of a French syndicate, which has been got up to exploit French sentiment in England. We see, first of all, a large fanciful French building with a dome, in which it is proposed to exhibit French products - for what purpose? - not to induce emigration from England to France, but to tempt English people to come along and buy French products. On the right of that building .we see a French cafe chantant, and on the left a French theatre. I as- sume that the Times did not publish the plan out of mere fun, or with a view to influence the decision of this Parliament with regard to the tiny three-cornered site which the Government propose to secure for the purpose of erecting Australian offices.
– Does not the fact that a French syndicate has chosen that site indicate that it is of some value?
– For the purpose of a cafe chantant, yes.
– No, for the display of products.
– Alongside the site in the Strand we find the Gaiety Theatre, and not far away Somerset House, to which an emigrant can take his best girl and get married before he books a passage to Australia. If an emigrant goes on the spree he can be dealt with easily at the Bowstreet Police Court, which is quite handy. Then we have a Tourist Hotel just opposite the cafe chantant, and not far away a couple of churches. The Strand is not a centre to which we can expect reasonable business persons to go and make serious inquiries concerning Australian affairs. It has been pointed out that the building will be erected on the side of a great thoroughfare, in which millions pass and repass every day. That is quite true, but the millions who pass from the east to the west and vice versa are on business bent, and therefore will not get out of their omnibus or cab to look at the Australian building. If persons want to go to the building they will do so. The fact that there is a stream of people passing along the Strand is no evidence that from an advertising point of view it is a good site for Commonwealth offices.
– Generally hoardings are erected where persons pass backwards and forwards.
– The honorable senator may be perfectly correct. I believe that in London there are better sites for our purposes than the one in the Strand. It is all very well to brush on one side the objection made to the Strand site by the late Treasurer. I do not pretend to say whether he or the present Treasurer is correct, but I think that Senator Best, when he was addressing the Committee, might have done something ‘more than attempt to brush on one side lightly the opinion of the gentleman whom only a short time ago he was quite prepared to back up here.
– Would he have made the same statement if he had continued to be Treasurer?
– The late Treasurer made that statement, and if we can believe what we read in the press he objected to the selection of that site before he resigned office. All I contend is that we are entitled to more ‘information. If the Government seriously wish to establish Commonwealth offices in London, why do they come down and ask the .Committee to tie themselves to a particular site? If it is a good thing for the Commonwealth to have offices in London, then by all means let the Government make the best possible bargain. If, on the other hand, thev can secure a better site in another part of London, why should the– be debarred from securing it? I invite Ministers to accept an amendment, which I believe will show whether honorable senators on this side are against immigration or the erection of Commonwealth offices in London, and which, at the same time, will leave the Government absolutely free to choose any site which in their opinion is suitable for the latter purpose. I move -
That the words “the Strand” be left out.
– On a previous occasion I took up a firm stand against this proposal, and I have not altered my opinion. Notwithstanding what honorable senators, who generally vote as I do, say, I am convinced that if a site is required at the present time, the proposed site in the Strand is too large.. It is risky for the Commonwealth to lease the site, and I believe that at the present time it is unnecessary. I believe that money could be saved by leasing for a time premises in which the business of the Commonwealth could be carried on. A good deal has been made of the question of immigration on each side of the Chamber. Some honorable senators appear te think that by having a grand building with the word “Australia” printed on its walls, it will be a grand advertisement to attract persons to the Commonwealth. It would be a better advertisement, I think, if we who have been here tor some time were to write and tell our friends that Australia is a desirable country for persons to come to; that there is work for those who want it, and land for those who cannot get it anywhere else. We are told that the accommodation in the building, if erected, can be apportioned amongst the States, with the building used to promote emigration to Australia. What did the Premier of South Australia say on that question two years agar when he expressed the feelings of its people? He said that at that time Australia did not want immigrants, not even to go on the land, until it had found land for its own people. I ask honorable senators to grapple with that position. Not long since, I received a letter from a nephew, who said that he would like to leave old Scotland and come out to Australia. He mentioned that he had read that Australia Was going in fora policy of immigration, and asked me to advise whether, in mv opinion, he ought to come to South Australia or one of the other States. My reply was the reply of a canny Scotsman. I said, “ I do not care to advise you in the present state of affairs, when a number of persons are quitting Australia, because the land is held in large blocks. Until that is remedied I will not take the responsibility of advising you to come to South Australia.” I do not think that I have minced matters. Although on this occasion I shall be found voting with those who are sometimes called the Tories of the Senate, it is because my conscience forbids me to vote otherwise. When the division ih taken I shall satisfy mv conscience by doing what I believe to be just to the Commonwealth.
– I appreciate the great compliment paid to the Government by Senator Chataway in his proposal to omit the words “ the Strand,” with a view to giving them an absolute and uncontrolled discretion in the selection of a site and the completion of a contract to acquire it. Still, I have to look at matters from a practical standpoint. Parliament was entitled to know the mind of the Government as to what it proposed doing with regard to a -site for offices in London. We have indicated that we are satisfied that the Strand site is the best, and that, therefore, we intend entering into negotiations in order to secure that particular site.
– Suppose that it is gone ?
– In that case it will be desirable that Parliament should hear from the Government what they propose doing in regard to any other site. The effect of the amendment, if carried, would be to give the Government uncontrolled power pf negotiation and purchase.
– They could take the Strand site if they liked then.
– Of course. But the view I am urging is that Parliament has expressed itself from time to time as solicitous for information as to what the Government intend to do. We have told Parliament our full intention, detailed the negotiations that we have already entered into, and stated what the obligations of Parliament will be in the matter of ground rent. Parliament was entitled to have every information of that character, and, therefore, if for any reason we are to depart from our present intention and negotiate for another site altogether, Parliament will consider that it has a right to know exactly what we* are doing, just as it did in this case. We have stated most definitely what we propose to do, and therefore I ask Senator Chataway, in the circumstances, to withdraw the amendment, although he proposes to give us a wider discretion.
– Of which the Government feel that they are hardly worthy.
– I wish to be perfectly frank and fair to Parliament. If this alteration is made, it will have to go before another place, and so mean delay, which would be very serious in regard not only to this, but also to many other urgent items in the schedule - and applications for contracts are coming in daily. ‘ At the same time I freely accept the compliment which Senator Chataway has been good enough to tender to the Government. The honorable senator will realize what I mean when I say that there are many urgent items in the Bill, and will appreciate my anxiety that there should be no undue delay in its passage.
– - Whatever may be the fate of the item - and, of course, one cannot say at this stage whether the fate of the Government hangs on it or not - the public generally will be delighted at the action of honorable senators on this side of the chamber in causing such keen consideration to be given to the item, and so eliciting from honorable senators on the other side those magnificent expressions of their desire to build palatial Commonwealth offices in London for the purpose of promoting immigration. It was delightful to hear honorable senators on the other side - especially a section of the other side - repeating time after time that one of the great advantages of allowing the Government to proceed with this scheme, and of giving them a great deal of discretion, was that it would probably tend to promote a copious stream of immigration to this country. Has there been a change of opinion on the question of immigration on the other side of the chamber? I wonder what has brought about these expressions of a desire to bring in our own kith and kin, and to use the proposed palatial Commonwealth offices for immigration purposes? It may be desirable to recall the attention of the Committee to the real issue at stake. It is not so much a question of whether it is desirable to have Commonwealth offices in London, or particularly in the Strand. Possibly the Strand may not be an eligible site, and it may be better to give the Government a discretion to look all round, but I wish to emphasize the important point which is one of the reasons why I object to voting for the item at this time. I quite agree with honorable senators opposite that the great duty which will have to be undertaken in that central office by the High Commissioner, whom sooner or later we shall have to appoint, will be to advertise Australia for the purpose Of inducing immigration. The most important factors in that aspect of the case are the States, which at present have absolute control over their own land and over the disposition of the immigrants upon that land when they come to the States. The promotion of immigration is dependent upon the States working in with the Commonwealth. My objection to this item at this stage is that the six States, which are partners in this business, and which will have the largest say in its working, have actually not been consulted as to how they will work in with the Commonwealth. Whatever expense is incurred the States will have to bear their proportionate share. . One would have thought that, as the work of immigration will be the most important to be done in this building through the High Commissioner - and unless that work is done the building will be built in vain - the predominant interests would have been first consulted. But they have not been consulted. We cannot promote a copious stream of desirable immigrants to this country unless we have- the hearty co-operation of the States. The Government knew that all along, and yet the Government have initiated this proposal without consulting the States, which will have to bear the ultimate burden of the expense. The Vice-President of the Executive Council told us frankly and candidly to night that the Government have gone on with this work without consulting the States. In the circumstances, we are entitled to resist to the utmost the granting of £1,000 “until the Government can give us some reasonable assurance that the States will heartily co-operate with them. It may be that the States will refuse to come in. But we have no right to anticipate that. On the contrary, we have every right to anticipate, and the strongest reasons for wishing, that the whole of the States will join with us in the great work of immigration which honorable senators on the other side desire to see carried out. It is not a business transaction to commit the States to an expenditure of over £1,000,000 without first consulting them. I do not wish, at this stage, to speak of past conflicts, or conflicts which may possibly arise in the future, with regard to the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth and States. I am one,ot those who believe that the soundest work the Commonwealth can do will be done bv seeking, in every legitimate and proper way, the hearty cooperation of the States in everything which we undertake, and which is intended for their common benefit. But how can we expect them to give us that hearty and loyal co-operation, when we have entered upon one of the biggest transactions that the Commonwealth can undertake, without even doing them the courtesy of consulting them in order to find out how far they will go with us? The Government cannot say that they have not had time. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer were in London for a considerable time. It was known even then that, at any rate, one side of the Senate was strongly committed to the policy of encouraging immigration and advertising Australia. The Prime Minister, whose illhealth we all deplore, did remarkably good work in advertising in London the possibilities, of the Commonwealth.” I believe that our representatives heartily desired that the resources of the Australian States should be widely known in London, and, through the brilliant oratory of the Prime Minister, Australia probably received the greatest advertisement it has had for many years - an advertisement which, I think, the honorable gentleman desired to give in order to attract the interest of the people in London towards Australia as it was being attracted towards Canada. That being so, and the Government intending to take action, they had ample time to consult the’ States as to how far they would support the Commonwealth in building central offices there. The more the matter is investigated, the more clearly it appears that the Government have gone into this business blindly. I regret that for the reason that they seem to have flouted the States. They seem to have entirely disregarded the wishes of the States Governments in the matter. That is in itself, and quite apart from the intrinsic merits of the proposal, a strong reason why the action of the Government should be questioned by honorable senators who, as members of the States Chamber, are under an obligation, consistently with their duty to the Commonwealth, to represent the interests of the States, and to do so strongly and fearlessly. It is not that we now distrust the sincerity of the Government in the matter of immigration or their desire to attract our own kith and kin to Australia ; it is not that we distrust their desire that it shall be no longer a by- word against Australia that we have put up a barbedwire fence around it, because apparently the Government have now come to the conclusion that to advertise the Commonwealth throughout the world is a vital matter, since, to use Senator W. Russell’s phrase, Australia under some conditions is one of the best places on earth to which people could come.
– If the land were not locked up.
– I accept that limitation. I am glad to have heard these expressions from all parties on the other side. The reason for my opposition to the item-
– Is the honorable senator opposing the item or the amendment ?
– I have spoken strongly and, I think, clearly,and I am not to be held responsible if Senator Guthrie has not understood what I have said. The Government have themselves admitted that the duties of the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth cannot be successfully discharged without the loyal co-operation of the States Governments in the work of the Commonwealth offices in London, and we should not be committed to this expenditure without an assurance from each of the States Governments that we would find them quartered in the Commonwealth building as our tenants, coming to it as a central office to advertise the resources of their States, and working hand in hand with the Commonwealth. That is the policy which I say should have been followed, but it is clear that it is not what the Government have done. The people of the States are bound to pay, and the States Governments must assist in the work of the Commonwealth office in London if it is to be successful, and yet the Government ask the Committee to commit the Commonwealth to an immediate expenditure of £1,000, and an ultimate expenditure of over £1,000,000, without having consulted one of the States Governments as to the terms or conditions on which they would be willing to assist. This is a strong justification for opposing the item. To use the words of Senator Millen, is it not likely that the Commonwealth Government will be left with this property as a white elephant if the States Governments do not agree to loyally co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in the matter ? I know nothing of the comparative advantages of different sites in London. Other honorable senators are better able to express an opinion on that point. But there seems to be a difference of opinion in the matter, and it is not therefore unreasonable to fear that if we do not get the States Governments to join with us, there is a probability that the proposal will result in more or less of failure. I hope to raise no feeling of State jealousy whenI mention that it seems to me that if we acquired the site proposed,, we should be bound to take in with it the site which the Victorian Government have already secured, and that this would give Victoria a preferential claim in the management of the business conducted in the Commonwealth building. I say all credit to Victoria if her Premier, by a smartbusiness transaction, can secure for her such a position, but it does seem to me that Victoria will again, so to speak, get a lien, if not upon the Commonwealth building, at least a first say in the arrangements to be carried out there.
– What an extraordinary man the honorable senator is ! He approves of the Victorian Premier acquiring a site and paying for it without consulting the State Parliament, and at the same time is finding fault with the Commonwealth Government for proposing to acquire a site after consultation with Parliament.
– I think that I said all credit to Victoria, from the point of view of the people of that State, if her
Premier has managed to work so closely in with the Commonwealth Government that in matters of this importance the Victorian Government are in a position to say to the Commonwealth, “Heads we win, tails you lose.”
– Is not that trying to create State jealousy?
– I merely mention the matter.
– For what purpose, to amuse the children in the State schools ?
– Senator McGregor has asked me for what purpose 1 mention the matter, and my reply is that the reference will be differently construed as men’s minds are differently built. It seems to me that in this matter Victoria is securing precedence over the other States, and I do not blame the Victorian Government for securing that precedence for their State if they can. When, before placing this vote on the Estimates, the Government were aware that Victoria would be placed in that position with regard to the selection of a site for the establishment of Commonwealth offices in the Strand, they were at least bound to consult the Governments of the other States as to their wishes in the matter in view of the relation of the action of the Victorian Government to the proposal. I hope that there will be a division on the item. Whatever may be the result, even though it should have the effect of subverting the Government policy, the public will congratulate honorable senators on this side for pressing the matter, seeing that our action has resulted in a clear declaration from the Government, and from the section that is omnipotent on the other side and elsewhere, that they regard the establishment of offices for the High Commissioner in London as a principal means of advertising Australia, and of bringing out white people to this country, and that we have heard for the last time that the Commonwealth has put up a barbed-wire fence against the introduction of our kith and kin.
– Senator St. Ledger has delivered a most remarkable speech. He claims for his side a great victory in connexion with what they have done inregard to this matter. What does the leader of the honorable senator’s party say ?
– Who is the leader ?
– I am assuming that the leader is the honorable senator who has taken the lead in this matter, and who has acted as the recording angel of the tactics adopted by the Opposition. I quote from one of the Sydney newspapers of yesterday. Under the heading “ Commonwealth Palace in the Strand,” Senator Neild writes -
Permit me to supplement your reports of proceedings anent the proposed leasing of land and erection of a few hundred thousands pounds’ palace in the Strand, London.
The determination of Sir William Lyne (as announced by reports of proceedings in the House of Representatives), to proceed with the leasing and buildings without affording the Senate a voice in the matter, caused those senators who sit on the left side of the Chamber to hold a meeting last Thursday morning, at which it was decided that Senator Millen should put certain questions regarding the matter, and failing satisfactory replies, Senator Neild should move an amendment, intercepting the passage of the Works and Buildings Bill.
– Then honorable senators opposite must have held a caucus meeting.
– Would the honorable senator mind saying when that meeting was held?
– On last Thursday morning. The letter continues -
asked the questions -
– Is the honorable senator sure that I did ?
– I am quoting the statement of Senator Neild, the recording angel of the party. I may say that “I believe invitations were sent to some honorable senators’ on this side to see if they would attend the meeting.
– That is morethan the honorable senator’s party ever does.
– Senator Neild further writes -
asked the questions, and Senator Best, for the Government, made replies sufficiently satisfactory to render unnecessary the moving of the amendment. But a few hours subsequently Senator Best made an interjectionary declaration, to the effect that the passing of the £1,000 item in connexion with the London project would be deemed by the Ministry as giving them a free hand in the matter.
With the concurrence of senators opposed to the Ministry, the amendment previously agreed upon was, in a slightly altered form, moved by Senator Neild on Friday, and after a few hours’ debate the Minister, finding himself in a probable minority, made a strong appeal to the mover to withdraw the amendment, and definitely promised, on behalf of the Government, that no lease at over 15s. per foot, nor any building commitments, should be entered into without the consent of -Parliament. As this assurance conceded what opposition senators demanded, the amendment was withdrawn.
– Who says this?
- Senator Colonel Neild, the leader of the honorable senator’s party -
Had it been pressed to a division, it appeared the Government would have been defeated, as it was understood that at least two labour senators would vote against them.
Senator Neild does not say, of his own knowledge, that two labour senators would have voted against the Bill, but that it was “understood.” In the face of this official communication to the press-
– Official ?
– He never asked any one on this side of the chamber a question about withdrawing the amendment.
– Apparently this scheme to defeat the Government came to a bad end. The honorable senator who last spoke has said that he is opposed to the whole proposal, and that we do not want offices in London at all.
– I did not say so.
– I listened carefully to every word of the honorable senator’s speech, and I understood him to say that we neither wanted offices in the Strand nor in any other part of London.
– Not without consulting the States, I said.
– Evidently the honorable senator did not understand Senator St. Ledger’s Irish.
– I am capable of understanding even Irish, but some of the French that has been used by honorable senators who are opposed to this item quite beats me ! The last speaker, however, commended the Victorian Government for the action taken bv Premier Bent in relation to London offices. . Why then, should he blame the Commonwealth Government for what they ha.ve done? There is not an honorable senator present who did not in some way or other commend the action that was taken some years ago in relation to the establishment of the Imperial Institute in London. It was started by means of the surplus derived from the Jubilee Exhibition. It was looked upon as an institution which would advance the interests of the whole British Empire.
– That was in 1887.
– There were Indian princes who contributed almost as much towards the establishment of the Imperial Institute as the Commonwealth Government proposes to spend upon the Commonwealth offices in London. In 1890 the Premiers of the Australian States promised their cordial co-operation towards the maintenance of the Imperial Institute. Surely Australia has a right to have a building worthy of herself to bring her position and her productions prominently before the people of Great Britain.
– - My point was that the States should help us to do that.
– But if the Commonwealth Government had gone to the States without having secured a site,, what would have been their position?
– The position^ would have been that the Government would” have said to the States, “ Will you join with usand tell us what space you require.”
– In- what position would the Government have been if they had gone to the States and said, “Wilt you join with us,” without knowing whether the Commonwealth Parliament would grant the necessary funds? Suppose Queensland and Victoria had stood out whilst the other States had been prepared to join in. Then honorable senators would have said that they were not prepared to vote for the proposals of the Government,, because two of the States did not consent.
– The first question of the States would have been, “ Where do you propose to erect your building -“ ?
– Exactly. No matter what the Government had proposed,’ honorable senators opposite would have found a way of opposing it. The truth is that they are anxious to find an excuse to vote against the gentlemen who now- occupy the Treasury bench. But I a.m satisfied that the Committee intend to give the Government authority in this matter.
– My amendment will give them more power than they are asking for.
– We know perfectly well why the- honorable senator has proposed his amendment. We have seensuch tactics before. I hope that the matter will soon be put to a vote, and that the item will be agreed to.
– I have been_ rather astonished to hear it asserted that those honorable sena. tors who have so persistently and consistently rated the Labour Party for holding caucus meetings have held a caucus of their own. But according to a letter from Senator Neild, published in a Sydney newspaper, a caucus meeting has been held.
– What newspaper was it- Truth?
– My statement is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I should like to ask whether Senator Neild was authorized to publish that statement about the caucus? It appears that Senator Millen was not present. I want to know whether he is bound to vote according to the decision of the caucus, notwithstanding his absence? I also wish to point out that there is a misstatement in Senator Neild’s letter. It states that the amendment was withdrawn. The honorable senator neglected to point out that certain honorable senators objected to its withdrawal.
– Senator Neild says that he withdrew it because of a special appeal made on behalf of the Government.
– He withdrew it, according to his own statement, because the Government went down on their knees to him, and said that they were likely to be defeated. But, as a matter of fact, other honorable senators objected to the withdrawal of the amendment. I am quite sure that Senator Neild would be the last senator to refrain from: humiliating the Government if he had an opportunity. I should like to receive an invitation to be present at one of the caucus meetings of honorable senators opposite. Unfortunately, I was not invited. It appears that one labour senator was present, and that Senator W. Russell was influenced, to a certain extent, by what occurred.
– No, he was not.
– Was he not at the meeting? If he was, I think the Labour Party will have to hold a meeting to point out to him some of the dangers that he incurred.
– He was at every meeting.
– Senator W. Russell is so much under the influence of Senator Sayers that I should hardly be surprised at anything. But I hope that he will remember that people are often judged by the company which they keep. Of course, if he is found attending caucuses of the Conservative or Tory party, as he himself would call them’, and is influenced by their action in connexion with an item of this description, it will create suspicion in the minds, not only of his colleagues, but of the electors who sent him here.
– Not guilty !
– I wish to know who is the chairman of the caucus ?
– I ask the honorable senator if he proposes to connect these remarks with the question before the Committee ?
– I want information concerning the item, and I hope to receive it from Senator Neild who made the statement to which I have been referring ?
– Live in hope then.
– If the honorable senator is not willing to furnish the information, I hope that a division will be taken to show whether the caucus will be solid or otherwise.
– I am rather loth to ask leave to withdraw the amendment, especially in view of the fact that a number of my honorable friends are prepared to support me, but I recognise that there is much point in what Senator Best has said.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question - That the proposed vote (Division 9) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment) :
Clause 2 -
The taxation by a State, in common with other salaries earned within the State, of -
the official salaries of officers of the Commonwealth residing in the State earned in the State after the commencement of this Act ; and
the allowances and salaries, paid after the commencement of this Act, of members of the Parliament elected in the State and of Ministers of State for the Commonwealth and the Presiding Officer and Chairman of Committees of each House of the Parliament, all being respectively members of the Parliament elected in the State, shall not, if the taxation is not at a higher rale or to a greater extent than is imposed on other salaries of the same amount earned in the State, be deemed -
to be an interference with the exercise of any power of the Commonwealth, or
to be inconsistent with any Act by or in pursuance of which the salary is fixed or made payable.
Provided that in the case of any allowance or salary paid to a member of the Parliament such taxation in respect thereof shall be paid wholly to the State for which such member is a senator or representative, as the case may be.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the proviso, and insert in lieu thereof -
Provided that nothing in this Act shall be deemed to authorize the taxation by a State -
of the salary of an officer of the Commonwealth, unless the officer resides, and the salary is earned in that State ; or
of the allowance or salary of a member of the Parliament, or of a Minister of State, or of the Presiding Officer or Chairman of Committees of either House of the Parliament, unless he is a senator or member of the House of Representatives elected in that State.
Provided further that members of the Parliament, Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, and the Presiding Officer and Chairman of Committees of each House of the Parliament shall be deemed to have resided in and earned the whole of their allowances or salaries within the State in which they were elected.
– It will be remembered by honorable senators that the proviso to the clause was inserted at the instance of Senator Clemons. It was explained at the time that it was desired to make quite certain - although I contended that, on the face of the Bill, it was clear - that any income tax payable in respect of the allowance of a member of Parliament should go to the State which he represented. There were several ob jections offered to the proviso in another place. One objection was that it referred to senators and representatives, and did not refer to officers, and that, consequently, there was a differentiation in that respect. There was a further objection to the proviso, and it is the more important point. The House of Representatives thought it was desirable that a senator or representative, if there was an income tax levied in his State, should pay to that State income tax on the whole of his allowance, and not merely on that proportion which would be earned during his residence therein. Therefore, it struck out the proviso to which I have referred, and substituted a proviso to carry out its view.
– That is very rough on Victoria.
– No; I do not think there will be any objection to the amendment. Under the clause, as it was amended by the Senate, honorable senators could only be taxed for the period in which they resided in their respective States, but under the clause as proposed to be amended by the other House, a senator or representative will be liable to pay income tax on the whole of his allowance. I feel certain that the amendment will be unanimously adopted. I move -
That the House of Representatives’ amendment be agreed to.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.28]. - I think that this is rather rough on Victoria, which gave us all the trouble, or, shall I say, raised the whole question. By agitating on the subject, she has succeeded at last in having taken from her the pleasant hope of obtaining income tax from strangers within her gates.
– No ; she will go on taxing us, and we will pay under both measures.
– It is well understood that the Bill is only a piece of legislative folly, that it is unconstitutional. It is generally believed that if an appeal is made to the High Court in respect of any proceedings supposed to be rendered legitimate by this measure, it will be promptly sustained.
– This legislation has been suggested by the High Court.
– As we have pursued this silliness so far, I suppose that we may as well pursue it to the end, and vote for the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I ask the indulgence of the Senate to allow me to make a personal explanation. I should not have troubled about the bantering statements which have been made regarding myself, because I knew the spirit in which they were uttered, but when suggestions such as have been made by some of my colleagues get into print they may be taken seriously. It has been suggested that I attended a caucus meeting of honorable senators on the other side, and was influenced by Senator Millen and Senator Neild. I do not like that sort of thing, especially when Senator McGregor said - of course he did not mean it, although the public might think that he did - that it would be necessary for me to be brought before another caucus. In answer to those charges, I say that I am not guilty. I acted according to my own judgment, to the best of my ability, and I was uninfluenced by any member of a caucus. I claim that I did my duty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071002_senate_3_39/>.