3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– What I said to my honorable friend yesterday was that I hoped to-night to be able to make an announcement on the subject.
– I beg pardon. I thought it was to be made last night.
– I have no doubt as to what I intend to do; but I would prefer to wait until after dinner before making a definite announcement. I ask honorable senators to be good enough, if possible, to put through the Appropriation Bill before we rise to-day.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Copies of further correspondence re Federal Capital Site.
– I hope to be able to bring the Seat of Government Bill before the. Senate to-morrow. I prefer that all papers should be referred to the Printing Committee, but, having regard to the urgency of the matter, I beg to move -
That the papers be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the Acting Clerk of Parliaments return to the Department of Home Affairs the maps referred to in report of Mr. E. N. De Burgh, on water supply of Canberra, and laid on the table of the Senate on the18th February last.
– Is it not desirable to retain these maps for the information of honorable senators until the Seat of Government Bill has been dealt with?
– I have no objection to that being done. The maps are originals belonging to a file which should go back to the ‘Department. They were inadvertently tabled in the Senate instead of in the Library.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice - .
Is it the intention of the Government, in connexion with the proposed Commonwealth Mint, to introduce the system of decimal coinage?.
– Correspondence on this subject is at present passing between the Commonwealth and Imperial Governments.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– There is no further information available, but the Department will be glad to furnish any specific particulars that the honorable senator may desire.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made in regard to these matters, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked” the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The following information has been furnished by the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Statement by Mr. McLeod.
Mr. A. McLeod, president of the Western Australian branch of the A.N. A., when seen at Fremantle by a representative of the Daily News, and asked whether he had. anything to say in answer to the Collector of Customs, replied - “ Only yesterday a peculiar case came under my notice. In 1903 a Chinese was allowed into Western Australia on a special certificate for the purpose of scientific research. After the twelve months of his exemption had expired he was found ironing shirts in a Perth laundry. He was arrested by Detective Mann, tried as an undesirable immigrant before Mr. A. S. ‘Roe, and convicted for the purpose of deportation. Yet, despite this “sentence, I have it on most reliable authority that the ‘scientist’ was in Perth only yesterday. That is all I have to say”?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
The law on which that decision was based has since been altered.
asked’ the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What are the aggregate quantities of - (1) spirits, (2) tobacco, and (3) cigars and cigarettes, which have paid Customs and Excise duties, year by year, 1901-2 to 1906-7, and what are the aggregate revenue receipts thereunder in each case,year by year?
– The reply to the question is far too long for me to attempt to read it to the Senate and therefore I beg to lay it upon the table in the formof a return.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th April, vide page 10309) :
Treasury - Government Printing Office : Excess Payments : Unclassified Employes : Supply of Printing Paper.
Divisions 30 to 36 (Department of the Treasury), proposed vote £364,457.
.- I notice that under the head of “ Government Printer “ we are asked to vote £500 for “ gratuities to State officers engaged in excess of office hours.” I presume that it is to be paidto State employes who have been working over the stipulated hours at Commonwealth work. I desire to ascertain from the Minister the number of those who have participated in this amount, and. whether it has been distributed amongst officers or amongst all those who have been engaged in excess of their ordinary time at Commonwealth work.
– It is paid to State officersin lieu of overtime.
– Am I to understand that those who are entitled to overtime are paid out of the vote of £4,800, and that none of the vote of £500 - “ Gratuities to State officers engaged in excess office hours” - is paid to the compositors?
– Yes; and those who are not entitled to overtime are compensated out of the vote for £500.
– Can the Minister say how many participate in the gratuities ?
– About sixteen.
– In reference to the proposed vote of £2,400 - “ Proportion of salaries of the State classified staff ofthe Government Printing Office” - I should like to ask the Minister whether he does not think that it is somewhat anomalous that a number of men in the Printing Office should be in the service of the Commonwealth, and on the classified list of State Public Servants, and thus entitled to certain privileges; whilst other men, doing Commonwealth work of exactly the same description, are not on the classified list of the Commonwealth?
– The men referred to are State employes on the classified list of the State Public Service. We have no Federal classified officers in the Printing Office.
– I am not asking Senator Findley for a reply to my question. The matter to which I have referred has already been ventilated in this Chamber. I again point out the anomaly which exists, and should like to have the opinion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the matter.
Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council [2.49]. - This matter was fully discussed, and the Senate passed a motion in connexion with what Senator Needham refers to as an anomaly. We decided that it was undesirable to classify certain officers as the honorable senator suggested. These men are not altogether in the position of mere temporary hands. They enjoy some of the privileges of classified officers; in respect to holidays, for instance.
– They have not the same sense of security.
– They have not; but really this is not a matter over which we have any control.
– Why have we not ? Why have we not a Federal Government Printing Office?
-Senator Findley must know that his interjection would open up a very big subject, which has already been discussed very fully in the Senate. We have entered into what we regard as a most satisfactory arrangement with the State Government Printing Office, by which Commonwealth work valued at £45,000 a year is performed upon terms that are eminently reasonable. Senator Findley will not be satisfied until we have a Federal Printing Office, but in view of certain business which is likely to be before the Senate to-morrow, it would hardly be advisable for us at this juncture to establish a Federal Printing Office when we know that to do so would involve very large expenditure.
– We should secure our men first.
– I give Senator Needham my assurance that these temporary hands whose case he has brought under notice are not by any means badly treated. They have not full security of office, but so long as we have work for them to do they will be employed, and they have some of the privileges enjoyed by classified Commonwealth officers.
– I see a vote for £1,500 for paper and parchment, and I should like to know where it is purchased.
– It is purchased by tender in England and America.
– Surely there is paper manufactured in Australia which, in view of the protective policy of the Government, we might expect would be purchased in preference to paper manufactured elsewhere.
– Where is there any printing paper made in Australia?
– That is an extraordinary confession of weakness on the part of the honorable senator, who knows that we have passed Tariff duties in order to encourage the manufacture of printing paper in Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 37 to 45 (Department of Trade and Customs), proposed vote, £307,858. agreed to.
Defence : Administration - InspectorGeneral’s Report - General Staff - Inspections by State Commandants - Shortage of Officers - Uniforms - Thursday Island Garrison - R.A.A. Mounted Instructional Cadres - Field Artillery Training - Fremantle Garrison - Artillery Ranges - Spade Equipment - Rifle Clubs - Annual Camps - Naval and Torpedo Construction : Expert’s Report - Order for Military Uniforms : Fremantle Battery - Schools of Instruction : Allowances - Instructional Staff : Queensland - Conduct of Militiamen : Brisbane - Officers’ Salaries : Capt. Lyons : Capt. Dove.
Divisions 46 to 188 (Department of Defence), proposed vote, £700,473.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.55].- I think this is a convenient time to make a few remarks on the subject of the existing methods of administration of the Defence Forces. Recently a number of speeches have been made on Defence questions, and there has been a decided tendency to say uncomplimentary things about those charged with the management of the Forces. It is easy enough to find fault, but it is sometimes a little difficult to properly apportion blame and credit. I do not think that I am in a position to do either thoroughly, but I hope to make a few observations which will be of interest, and will, perhaps, enable honorable senators to see matters in a somewhat different light to that in which they appear in statements continually published in the press. I desire to draw attention to the fact that the present methods of administering the Defence Forces per medium of a Military Board and Council of Defence are the very opposite of the methods heretofore existing. A great change of this kind cannot take place without some difficulties arising, but not one of the difficulties or disadvantages appertaining to the Defence Forces as they at present exist arose during the period of administration by the Military Board, or can be said to be due to that system. Every one of the existing difficulties had its origin prior to the establishment of the Military Board. Necessarily, it takes a vast deal of trouble and a great deal of time to straighten out a number of difficulties that have existed for some little time. Going back a few years - and, to put it plainly, to the time when we had Major-General Hutton in command of the Defence Forces - whether we started at Hobart and finished up at Thursday Island, or began at Sydney and traversed across Australia to Western Australia, there was not any one matter connected with the military defence of the Commonwealth that was not absolutely up-ended by the enthusiastic military authority I have just mentioned. I make bold to say that one of the highest professional officers in the Defence Forces in the Commonwealth, whose advancement has been in no way a source of grievance to him, but rather the reverse, stated openly on a Sydney tram-car, in my presence, a couple of years back, that it would take twenty-five years to undo the mischief created in the Defence Force of Australia by MajorGeneral Hutton. That enthusiastic officer attempted a task which was utterly beyond him, and, in my opinion, went about it in the wrong way. If any business man were to seek the reorganization of a large commercial concern, he would deal with it department by department, putting each in order in turn and providing for the continuance of the operations of the business in the meantime ; but the officer who ‘ commanded the Commonwealth Defence Forces for three years from the beginning of. January, 1902, instead ‘ of taking the work piece by piece, commenced by upsetting everything. There was not a military order which was not varied. . There was not a component part of a regiment or a battalion that was not upset. Every article of uniform had to be altered. The drill of all ranks and arms of the servicewas changed. The pay was altered. There was not a thing from beginning to end of the Military Forces of the Commonwealththat was not reversed from what had previously existed. The consequence was that every member of the Forces felt, first of all astonished, then discouraged, and finally disgusted. The consequent result was a diminution in the strength. I have not the exact numbers in hundreds,tens, and units, but I can remember the thousands very accurately ; and I know that there was a tremendous falling off in the strength of the Forces during the term of Major-General Hutton’s command. When he took command, the Defence Forces numbered 27,000. When he left there were about 19,000. For all practical purposes we may say that 30 per cent, of the membership of the Defence Forces had gone in three years. That decrease has since been only partially made up. I do not agree with all that the Military Board has done, but I do recognise that there is neither so much dissatisfaction nor so much inefficiency as there was in the Forces a little while ago. The numbers are still below the peace establishment, but on the other hand a sensible infantry drill has been ordered by the Military Board, and is in successful operation to-day. There are many things that still require to be done to put matters on a satisfactory footing, but I do affirm that, as far as relates to- the troops in the State from which I come, and which constitute the largest division of the Commonwealth Forces, there is less dissatisfaction, and consequently much less disgust, than there was two or three years ago. I regret very much that the Estimates before us give an indication that the Government, instead of trying’ to complete the good work that has been clone lately, is proposing to break away into an entirely new scheme ; that will leave us God knows where, and produce results that no one can foretell. I had very much rather see the Government making a resolute effort to carry on the work that is now in pro- gressm consolidating the Forces, removing difficulties and generally improving the tone, the morale, of the Forces, than breaking away into an unknown use of juvenile soldiery. I thought that it would be only a fair thing for me to make these few remarks, because at a later stage - when we come to the items of the Defence Estimates - I propo’se to bring forward two or three matters with regard to which I am plainly’ at variance with what the Department is doing. I make these remarks to show conclusively that, while I differ from the Administration in certain details - details that to my mind must involve a recognition of legal obligations - I recognise also that the Military Board and those in authority have been and are doing good work. T think that it is most unfair to the citizen soldiers of Australia, and to the staff of officers now intrusted with the management of military matters, that’ there should be such an, everlasting harking back with reference to the splendid things which some ‘ .people imagine that the late Officer Commanding, MajorGeneral Hutton, is supposed to have done, but which the members of the Defence
Forces have been quite unable to discover.The very fact. that after a good deal of investigation at the hands of the InspectorGeneral of the British Forces, General Sir John French, it became necessary for the military authorities of England to remove compulsorily Major-General Hutton from the Army last year, is pretty sufficient evidence, to my mind, that the statements of those speakers and writers who are eternally harping upon his estimable services to the Commonwealth, and upon the very .poor services which it is said are being rendered by those in charge to-day, might very reasonably be moderated. A little more credit might attach to ‘ those who are attempting a very large work under circumstances of much difficulty, and who I think might have more consideration, shown to them. A little more confidence might bs reposed in the good services that are being given to the Commonwealth by the Council of Defence, the Military Board, and the leading authorities of the Defence Department.
– - I desire to offer a few remarks in regard to the Inspector-General
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– The observations which I wish to make .relate to the very interesting report. by the Inspector-General of the Military Forces, which has been placed in our hands to-day. I believe that honorable senators will read the report with pleasure. It is one of the most practical and one of the most valuable documents of the kind that has ever been placed in the hands of the members of this Parliament. It has the military virtue of brevity,, it goes straight to the point,- and it discloses the weaknesses in our present Military Forces. And by the way, 1 would say that before we start to do anything fresh in regard to our military business, we might try to make our present system effective. This report discloses that the present state of our Military Forces is anything but effective. I note with interest that MajorGeneral Hoad proposes a return to the system of control by a General Staff. I think that there is this to be said on that point - that if we are to have an Australian Force, we should have one plan and one organizing mind. I consider that by having our Forces managed by a Military Board we must necessarily have a less effective system than would be the case if we had a General Staff. We should then have one plan and one directing mind, instead of having many minds, and necessarily, diversity of plan.
– Many minds with one plan.
– I think that the effect of the present system has been to give in many minds and many plans. Major-General Hoad makes rather a startling charge against the State Commandants. Oh page 5 of his report, he says -
In at least one State these inspections - that is inspections by the State Commandant - have been chiefly carried out by the Commandant at the Easter Camps of Continuous Training, and, from returns supplied, it is noted there are in the command units which have not been visited by the Commandant for a long time’. This is unsatisfactory. As a general rule, a great deal of good would result from at least a yearly visit by the Commandant. I recommend that the Standing Orders be amended to provide for this.
– To what State does he there refer?
– Major-General Hoad does not mention any particular State, but he points to a number of abuses which have arisen owing to the fact that the State Commandants have not been . in the habit of inspecting’ the units. I should have thought that it was one of the chief duties of the State Commandants to see that the Forces under their command were kept up to a state of efficiency. If a Commandant merely visits the Easter camp for continuous training, how is .it possible for him to know what is being done throughout the year by the units? The training- work is done throughout the year, and the camp is merely a bringing together of the Forces to teach them to act in concert, and to put into practice what they have been learning during the year. If a State Commandant does not inspect the units under his command, apart from the Easter camp, I say that he is not doing what he is paid for. The Inspector-General places his finger on that weakness, and speaks very strongly in deprecation of what is being done. The next matter to which I would draw attention - and it is a very serious one - is the shortage of officers. Major-General Hoad points out that in New South Wales the force is short by 147 officers, in Victoria by 53, in Queensland by 50, in South Australia by 2(5, in Western Australia by 18, and in Tasmania by 35. In Tasmania there can scarcely be any officers at all. I should like to put this question to the Prime Minister. If he proposes to institute a scheme under which, I understand, we shall have 80,000 troops where we now have only 20,000, and if under the present system- we are 329 officers short, where on earth is he going to find the officers for 80,000 troops ? I take it, reading the Prime Minister’s speech, that .he regards the present Military Forces as the training ground for the officers of the future Australian Army. Yet with a force . of 20,000 men we are 329 officers short. Major-General Hoad on . pages 15 and 16 of his report, gives one of the reasons for this. I ask honorable senators to turn to what he says. .He mentions the cost of officers’ uniforms. The. uniform of an officer of infantry costs £39 16s. What possible hope have we of getting officers for our Forces when it costs a man to get the necessary uniform to enable him to appear as well dressed as the other officers of his regiment, £39 16s. ?. It is absolutely ridiculous in a citizen force. It should not be allowed. There is too much “frill” altogether. One of the things that should, be done - and evidently Major-General. Hoad thinks so too - is to prohibit absolutely this expensive uniform. All that our officers need is some distinctive mark or badge, and they should be prohibited from indulging in all these frills, gilt spurs, and that kind of thing, running up’ to a cost of £9* 16s.
– One consideration is that a good many of the officers , like that sort of thing.
– That is so, but they ought to be absolutely prohibited from indulging themselves in this fashion.
– The man who cannot pay such a bill is at a disadvantage.
– I understand that all the articles mentioned in ‘the’ table quoted by Major-General Hoad on page 15 of his report, are recognised in the regulations. Such expensive articles should not be recognised. ‘ If an officer likes to clothe himself in a comic opera costume he should not be allowed to indulge his idiosyncracies at the expense of the Forces. These things should not be recognised by the regulations. Of course, if a man likes to go down the street in such clothing, let him do it. If he wants to go down the street with as much fuss and feathers on him, let him do it, but why recognise it’ as a military uniform? The regulations should recognise only those things which are absolutely: necessary to differentiate the officer from the private. Major-General Hoad points out that in regiments for which scarlet is full dress, the cost is £44 8s. 6d., while on page 16 he states that the full dress for a lieutenant of Light Horse costs £41 os. 6d.
– And what makes it worse is that the authorities keep issuing regulations altering the uniform.
– That is so.
– The only way is to forbid it, because so long as one man, who can afford it, has all that paraphernalia, other men will try to. get it.
– It is not necessary to forbid it, so long as the regulations stipulate that an officer’s uniform shall be so and so. If a man wants to dress himself in comic opera costume at a ball, he can do so, but it should not be recognised as the military uniform. Our ideal is a citizen soldiery, and we must expect to get our officers from the ranks. If that is to be so, the position of officer should be open to the poorest man in the line.. If he has the brains to pass the examination to qualify himself, money should not stand in his way. ‘Inability to buy an expensive uniform should not block him. I trust that the Government, while they are giving so much attention to the embryo Forces of the future, will pay a little attention also to the Forces of the present. Here is a serious matter that wants ‘ urgent attention. In order to make our present ‘ Forces effective, we require 329 more officers. Where are we to get them from? The leisured and wealthy classes in Australia are apparently not fond of military drill, and will not take to. it as a means of occupation. We, therefore, have to encourage the workingman - the man of small means - to become an officer. We know that he very often makes the best officer, and the way to encourage him is to discourage this expensive officer’s dress. I am sure that honorable senators are in sympathy with that, and Major-General Hoad has done us a. valuable service in drawing attention -‘to it. He refers to the fact that the Commandants do not visit the various parts of their States, and deals with the shortage of officers in these words - .
The shortage of officers of the Citizen Forces is a matter of great moment, and no force under such conditions can be said to be in a satisfactory state. I consider that the frequent visits of Commandants to the various parts of their commands should do much to remedy a state of affairs the seriousness of which cannot be over-estimated.
If war broke out, and if our army under a peace footing of 20,000 men is 329 officers short, what should we do for. officers for 40,000 men on a war footing?
– Do without them.
– Apparently so. We should have to pu!t our soldiers into the field in charge of men who knew nothing about military drill, and were ignorant of the rudiments of warfare. Even the Boers recognised the necessity of their officers knowing something about the training and handling of men. Those on the Boer side who made their names famous in the Boer war, were .in charge ‘ of their’ commandoes before the war began, and so had “ some previous knowledge of the control of men. They were not novices. De Wet, and others, were in charge of their, village commandoes beforehand. It is a most serious matter as affecting the defence administration of the Government that this shortage of officers should continue. As Major-General Hoad has indicated, the expensiveness of the dress is one of the chief reasons for it. It only needs an alteration of the regulations to cure that. Why should it not be cured in six months’ time? ‘ The next serious matter to which he draws our attention is the fact that the fortified points of the Commonwealth - the most vital points - are’ .seriously undermanned. On page 7 he says -
On the 3rst December last the Royal Australian Artillery detachment at Thursday Island was one officer and thirty other ranks, and at other stations the Corps as three officers and twenty-eight other ranks, below the establishment provided for on estimates for the current year. I consider that immediate steps should be taken to complete the authorized establish– ment.
As the Inspector-General, who is ‘the responsible advisor of the Government, has reported that that state of affairs exists, can the Vice-President of the Executive Council state whether the Government have taken any steps 1o provide those thirty men for Thursday Island ? On that island the Japanese outnumber the whole European population, and at . most there are only some thirty or thirty-five men in charge of the fortified station there.
– And there is a coaling station alongside.
– Yes; it is one of . the most vulnerable points in Australia, and .one of the first likely to be seized in case of hostilities.
– The commandant’s house is not even connected with the barracks by telephone. .
– We are talking about organizing a vast army and going in for conscription, and yet we neglect the very first rudiments of defence, the very things for which money is voted year by year, which Parliament has agreed to, and which militaryofficers say are essential. Those things are not attended to.
– What is suggested in regard to Thursday Island has been done.
– I am glad to hear it. If Major-General Hoad in calling attention to it has led to its being done, he has rendered a service to Australia. One of the reasons why there is some difficulty at Thursday Island is that the men are kept there too long. Is it not a fact that they are kept there longer than a year?
– Two years.
– Those who know thedisabilities and discomforts of living in such a place will sympathize with those men, and say that they should not be kept there longer than twelve months.
– It is not such a bad place.
– There seems to be a great disinclination on the part of those in the Forces to go there. One man who was a sergeant, or something of that kind, resigned rather than go from Queenscliff to Thursday Island.
– They ought to be prepared to go anywhere.
– They should be, but in order that there may be nodifficulty in filling up vacancies, the term at Thursday Island; should be shortened to twelve months, and the men should be given another twelve months, say, at Queenscliff or Albany,or at some other place in a cool climate.
– It is not so bad or warm at Thursday Island.
– At any rate, that is the impression. I suppose it is like the old tale of the sugar plantations. People were told so often that white men could not live there thatthey came at last to believe it. Referring to the Royal Australian Artillery, Major-General Hoad deals with the Mounted Instructional Cadres as follows -
As these Mounted Instructional Cadres cannot be regarded as “ Instructional Staff,”I consider that their maintenance is clearly opposed to the spirit of the Defence Act. The’ men have been enlisted for the R.A.A., i.e., for Garrison Artillery, and by serving in the Cadres have been diverted from the work for which they were enlisted. On inquiry at one inspection it appeared that 40 per cent. of the men of the Cadre in that State had never been in the forts, 40 per cent, had only attended for a three days’ school of gunnery course, and the balance only - 20 per cent. - had been trained as garrison gunners.
The distinct understanding on which Parliament passed the Defence Act was that the only reason for having a Permanent Force was that it should consist of skilled gunners - men who were to be the brains in the forts. It was understood ‘ that every one of them was to be a trained gunner, and that they, together with the Volunteer Artillery, would man the forts. They were to be, through their knowledge, absolutely necessary for the defence of the fortified points of Australia.
– It was also contemplated that the Permanent Force should be available as an Instructional Staff.
– Yes ; but it was also understood that they were to be trained gunners. It was recognised that, in the case of infantry, adjutants and sergeantmajors were needed for the purposes of drill, but that men who were practically skilled engineers would be necessary to man the guns at the fortified points, as those guns are complicated machines, and, therefore, that a good portion of the gun detachments would have to be permanent men. It was only for that reason that Parliament sanctioned the establishment of a Permanent Force at all, and yet MajorGeneral Hoad tells us that 40 per cent. of the men in the Instructional Cadres have never been in the forts at all. That is certainly a breach of faith with Parliament. Major-General Hoad has done good service in calling attention to that fact, and I trust that the Government will see their way to rectify it in the future. I come now to the Australian Field Artillery. With the advent of the new 18-pounder guns, the Australian Artillerymen who were used to the old guns are practically novices. The new ‘ gun is a complicated weapon, needing far more skill, and the men in charge of it need far more practice. This is what Major-General Hoad says on that point -
Now that the18-pr. Q.P.guns and equipment have been supplied to the Australian Field Artillery, the question of increased training for this arm requires earnest consideration. To get the best results from these modern guns, officers, non-commissioned officers, battery specialists, and, in fact, all ranks must be highly trained.
The training now provided for is altogether inadequate, and I recommend that the number of days be extended, from sixteen to twentyfive annually (i.e., the number now provided for the Submarine Miners), and that not less than 14 of these days be devoted to camps of continuous training. The money saved by the abolition of the Mounted Instructional Cadres of the R.A.A. would go a long way to meet the cost of this. Suitable ranges on which can be taught the tactics of Field Artillery in combination with other Arms are also urgently required. Owing to the want of a suitable artillery range, the Field Artillery in Queenslandhave not been able to carry out any service practice during the past two’ years.
It is a nice state of affairs that in the northern State, which, in the event of a war with an Asiatic country, would have to bear the brunt of the first attack, and which would be one of our most vulnerable points, the Field Artillery have not had a service practice for two years. It is simply a farce. It is comic opera. It is not actual military training at all. It taxes the resources of even qualified men to deal with and manipulate the intricate machinery of the new guns. We have gone to great expense to buy those guns and to maintain this regiment. Yet for two years they have never fired a live shell out of them or worked under active service conditions. It would be simple madness to send those men on to a field of battle.
– It would be murder.
– Yes. You cannot train an artilleryman in a month: When infantry regiments were being raised for South Africa, it was possible to bring the men into camp, and in a month to give them a certain amount of discipline and training, but it is different with artillerymen. They have to become engineers to deal with the modern complicated guns. They can only qualify for their work by long training, and it is a scandal that in Queensland the Field Artillery have never had the opportunity to practice. As time goes on, it will become more difficult for us to acquire artillery ranges.Why not acquire them now? ‘ It will have to be done sooner or later, and lands will become every day more valuable. The ranges should be bought and the men should be given an opportunity to practice. I come now to my own State. There was a field battery at Fremantle. Major-General Hoad says -
This Battery is designated a “ Field Artillery Battery,” and is shown as Such in all official documents, establishments, returns, &c, the men are tested as Field Artillery, and the money for its maintenance is voted by Parliament for a
Field Artillery Battery. It is a Field Artillery Battery in name only, as a matter of fact,I found that for a considerable time, the Battery had been trained as a Garrison Artillery Company. It has not had any Field Artillery practice since June, 1906, and has not had a Mounted Parade since October, 1905, Battery practice last year having been carried out from the 6-in. Q.F. guns at Fort Arthur’s Head. ‘
– Who is responsible for that?
– The Minister of Defence is, of course, the only man with whom we can deal.
– Upon what officer in the service does that state of things reflect?
SenatorPEARCE.- It reflects upon the State Commandant in the first place. The extract continues -
This appears to me to be a serious irregularity. I cannot trace any authority for the departure, and an explanation should be given.
It is for the Parliament to demand an explanation from the Government. The InspectorGeneral resumes -
Since the date of this Report an order has been promulgated converting the Battery into a Company of Garrison Artillery.
They have turned them - as they ought to have been done long ago - into a battery of Garrison Artillery. Eighteen-pounder guns were ordered, and sent to Western Australia, presumably to this battery, amongst others. Are the guns to be allowed to rust there, or are the Government going to strike this battery off the Field Artillery? It should be remembered that Western Australia is responsible for the defence of one-third of this Continent. There is a half battery at Perth, and also a half battery at Fremantle. The half battery of Field Artillery should be retained at Fremantle at all costs. It is one of our vulnerable points - a point where no doubt an Asiatic nation would attempt to land and make a raid. Yet one of the most valuable arms of defence - the artillery arm - has been neglected, and apparently the men have been handed over to the Garrison Artillery, and the Field Artillery has ceased to exist.
– Practically it has been converted into a Garrison Battery.
– What has become of the guns? Why do not the Government form another battery of Field Artillery and use the guns? From personal knowledge, I know that it would be comparatively easy for the Government to buy an artillery range near Perth or Fremantle at very. little cost. In years to come, it will be difficult to secure a site, because as settlement extends, we shall have to compensate the land-owners at higher figures. At the present time, however, and within easy distance of Perth and Fremantle, there are large areas on which there is not a single house. It should be apparent to any one that now is the proper time to acquire artillery ranges. The Inspector-General continues -
At my recent inspection of No. . 4 New South Wales Battery, A.F.A., at Albury and Wagga, it was stated that no practice had been carried out by the Batteries in their Districts for some considerable time, although it was represented that ranges were available, and if ammunition were provided there would be no difficulty in arranging for practice locally.
I venture to say that during that period there has been any quantity of ammunition rusting in both Melbourne and Sydney.
– Because they have not ranges somewhere else.
– I suppose that in Queensland and Western Australia they have ammunition and no range, whereas in Wagga Wagga and Albury apparently they have a range and no ammunition. If anything were calculated to discourage men from attempting to qualify themselves to defend their country, it is that kind of thing.
– In many countries if war were to break out under such circumstances, they would impeach the Minister of Defence.
– This report impeaches somebody. Either the State Commandants have been guilty of keeping these things from the knowledge of the Minister, or. if he had the knowledge, he ought to have acted thereon. I assume that he had not been informed, and that the Commandants through not having visited these units have not been cognizant of the real state of affairs. Referring to the Australian Garrison Artillery, the Inspector-General points out that on the 1st December, No. 1 Queensland Company (Brisbane), required twenty-f our men; No. 3 Queensland Company (Torres Strait), thirty-nine men; No. 1 Western Australia Company (Albany), nineteen men ; and. No. 2, Western Australia Company (Fremantle) twenty-three men. Surely there should be no difficulty in completing the number at Fremantle. I venture to say that if they made an appeal they could get three times that number to volunteer for the Garrison Artillery. It seems to me quite inexplicable that after procuring expensive guns to defend these vulnerable points and spending £80,000 on fortifications at Fremantle, the Department should leave those places with a few score of men, and that the establishment for which the money is voted should be twenty-three men short.
– I believe that there are 400 officers short.
– There are over 300 officers short. Dealing with the Infantry, the Inspector-General reports on page 10 -
It is to be hoped that at an early date the Infantry will be provided with an entrenching tool, and that they will then be able to practise both “Offensive” and “Defensive” entrenching work.
He quotes an extract regarding the use made of spades in the Russo-Japanese campaign. He shows that they were regarded as being just as necessary as rifles. I presume that in the event of war the Defence Department propose to make a raid on the warehouses and commandeer spades. This implement is essential for drilling purposes. If in active service it is necessary to make use of trenches, surely in time of peace it is necessary to train the men in the making of them? When trouble comes the men should know how to design and make trenches, and, indeed, when to make them. All that information should be acquired in time of peace. Although we provide a man with a rifle, still we do not teach him how to use it, arid save his . life. Surely it is just as essential to teach the modern soldier to save his own life as to take the life of an enemy. It seems to me that Major-General Hoad has placed his finger on a weak spot in our equipment. It should be remembered that during the war he had an opportunity to observe the use which was made of trenches, and to notice the service that they rendered to troops on either side. He speaks not without knowledge when he. draws attention in very strong terms to the want of these implements. On page 12 of his report he deals with The rifle clubs in a manner which I consider is very satisfactory. He shows that during 1905-6 63 per cent. of the strength of the rifle clubs completed the musketry course. That is very satisfactory. As a matter of fact, a greater proportion of riflemen than of the militiamen completed the course, and by so doing have justified the money which has been spent in assisting the clubs. In 1906-7 60 per cent. of the total number of enrolled rifle men completed the musketry course. What is the case with the artillery is apparently also’ the case with the infantry. On page 14 of the report I find this paragraph -
In some cases the failure to carry out the musketry course was owing to the delay in providing ranges. For example, during my inspection in Tasmania, I found that; owing to want of a suitable range ‘at Burnie, “E” Company of the Tasmanian Rangers had not fired a musketry course either for the past year or for the then current year. . Acting on my suggestion, arrangements were, however, made for the Company to be taken by rail to an adjacent town to fire the musketry course for the then current year, and I recommended that steps be taken for the construction’ of a range without delay The range,- however, I am informed, has not yet been constructed, and the Company has still to travel a number of miles to and from musketry practice, involving great waste of time and expense, _ owing to the absence of a local range. This must be most discouraging to’ the officers and men- of the Company, and detrimental to their efficiency. Other cases might be quoted.
What is the use of our buying rifles for the men ? If the Government are not prepared to provide rifle ranges why do they not disband the corps? It is a mere waste of money to provide the men with rifles and to .pay instructors to drill the men and officers to inspect them when they, have no rifle ranges on which to practice. No doubt honorable senators will give some attention to the question of officers’ uniforms. If they will glance at pages 15 and 16 of this report they will realize what a tremendous lot of trapping officers are allowed or compelled to buy, and how it must prevent poor men from becoming officers. ‘ I am glad to notice that on pages 19 and 20 Major-General Hoad deals with the recommendation to abandon Albany as a fortified point. It will be remembered that the Imperial Defence Committee recommended that Albany- and another point should be abandoned. On that subject Major-General Hoad writes - ‘
With regard to . the Report of the Imperial Defence Committee respecting the Coastal Defences of the Commonwealth, without going fully into the subject, I do’ not agree that King George’s Sound should be left without any defence. Admitting that Fremantle is the more important mercantile strategic harbor and should be fortified, and also that “ the balance of ad- -vantage has completely turned in favour of Fremantle,” yet ships might often require a harbor of refuge between Fremantle and South Australia. The distance between Port’. Lincoln and Fremantle is about .1,400 miles. Inter-State trade is considerable.
Again, if King George’s Sound be left unfortified, obviously it would provide a convenient harbor for cruisers of trie enemy.
I make no apology for occupying the time of the Committee in directing ‘attention to what I consider to be the main -points of a very valuable report, for which I think we are indebted to Major-General Hoad, and to which the Government should give very serious attention. Whilst it is right that we should plan schemes for the future, we know that we must be prepared for the present, and Major-General Hoad has put his finger on a number of existing defects’ which could be remedied without any alteration of existing legislation,’ and might be dealt with as matters of administration, with ‘ which the Government are charged. In my opinion, the Government will not be doing their duty if they do not take steps to remedy these defects, whichthe Inspector-General of the Forces, v in the performance of his duty, has brought under their notice in his very valuable report.
– I wish to make a few remarks on defence questions before the Minister replies to the debate After a cursory glance st his report, it seems to me that Major-General Hoad has placed his finger upon many weak spots- in the administration of the Defence Force. I shall not refer to them at length, seeing that Senator Pearce has to some extent gone into the matter. I wish to direct attention to the question of annual camps, to which I referred briefly a few evenings ago. At page’ 8 of his report, MajorGeneral Hoad says -
The training now provided for is altogether inadequate. I recommend that the number of days be extended from 16 to 25 annually (i.e., the number now provided for Submarine Miners), and that not less than 14 of these days be devoted to camps or continuous training. The money saved by the abolition of the Mounted Instructional Cadres of the R.A.A. would go a long way to meet this.
In another paragraph of the report MajorGeneral Hoad refers to the difficulty of securing good attendances at the annual camps. I am personally not very much surprised at this. At page 10 of the report he says -
The necessity for some steps being taken to insure a better . attendance of volunteers at the annual camps of training is apparent from the fact that, while 87 per cent, of the Militia attended the last continuous training- in one State for eight days - only 45 per cent, of the volunteers attended, though the continuous training in their case was for four days only.
In my opinion another weak spot in the proposed defence scheme of the Government is that the period of the annual camps proposed is too short, and that provision is not to be made for allowances ‘to working men anxious to bear their part as citizen defenders of the Commonwealth. A week or two ago, it was stated in the metropolitan press of Victoria that several men were unable to attend he proposed extended Easter camp in this State on account of the loss of wages, which their attendance would involve. If that be the case under existing conditions, how much greater will the difficulty become when the proposed scheme of the Federal Government is brought into practical operation? If we are to have an effective Citizen Defence Force, it will be necessary, in my opinion, to have annual training camps of. six weeks on the plan adopted in Switzerland. It has been stated on all sides that the scheme of defence pro1 posed by the Government will not interfere with the wheels of industry. I do not think it will, and certainly it ought not to do so. Men who attend camps of training should return to their work recuperated, and better citizens morally, physically, and in every other way. But it cannot be expected that men will leave their families and incur’ a considerable loss in wages by attending extended camps, and it would be wrong to ask them to do so. I hope that the Minister will be able to explain that the Government . will recognise this when making arrangements for the holding of camps of training. On the question of military uniforms, I should like to say that if in his report Major-General Hoad had done nothing else but point out the utter uselessness of military uniforms he would have deserved the best thanks of the Parliament and people of Australia. A uniform never yet won a battle. What is wanted to win battles are good men behind good guns and rifles. . I recognisethat men in time of war might not be able to move about quickly in ordinary civilian dress, but it should be possible to provide our citizen soldiers with some simple and inexpensive regulation dress and to do away entirely with the frill, gold lace, and other, nonsensical trappings noticeable in the army of Australia to-day. A fortnight or three weeks ago I asked when the report of the two naval experts who have visited the Old Country to inquire into naval matters generally and torpedo construction in particular would be available. The answer given me was that the Minister of Defence had not had time to go into the report, but I hope that before very long we shall be supplied with the information which the experts have obtained, and that it will be of use to us. in considering the general scheme of defence. MajorGeneral Hoad lays particular emphasis on the necessity of encouraging rifle clubs. I recognise that they form a very valuable adjunct to our Defence Forces, and I am glad to see that in nearly all the States every reasonable encouragement is given to them. I regret, however, to say that, if report be true, the Commandant of Western Australia has for some time past been at loggerheads with the rifle clubs of that State. In the last report of the Rifle Association of that State, a paragraph appeared practically censuring him for his neglect, and for the contempt with which he has treated the rifle clubs of the State. I have seen no official refutation of that paragraph, and I should like to know from the Minister whether the State Commandant of Western Australia is guilty of discouraging the local rifle clubs or of not giving them the encouragement which they should certainly receive. If he is guilty he should be censured bv the Minister of Defence for what is certainly reprehensible conduct.
– If he will not do his duty he should not be censured, but sacked.
– I should not at first deal so drastically with him, but if after censure he did not perform his duties more satisfactory, his proper place would certainly be outside the Service. I should like some information as to - the action taken in connexion with the Officer Commanding No. 2 Battery A.R.A. at Fremantle, who was recently guilty of a breach of discipline in placing an order for military clothing with firms iri the Old Country. The reply I received to a question I put in connexion with this matter was that the action of this officer was in direct contravention of orders from his staff officer, and that he was being called upon for an explanation, after which he would be dealt with. Some days have elapsed since I received that answer, and I should like now to know whether the Minister has been able to cancel the order placed in London, with a view to transferring it to an Australian firm, and whether the officer guilty of this breach of the regulations has given an ex- planation, and, if so, what that explana-tion is. These are the only matters to which I desire at this stage to refer.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.56]. - Owing to the great stress of business upon us lately, although the report of Major-General Hoad was laid upon the table, a few days ago, I have been able to look at it for the first time only this afternoon. There are one or two points in it with which I can cordially agree. At page 4 of his report, the Inspector-General draws attention to the fact that there are in use in the Military Forces of the Commonwealth no less than 170 forms and returns. This is positively appalling. If honorable senators wish to know what has driven some officers out of the Force, it is the extraordinary number of regulations that were invented, not by the Military Board, who have cut down the number, but by Major-General Hutton when here. I took the trouble to- count them on one occasion, and I found that there were something like 2,406 regulations. To deal with a sim-ole question, it was frequently necessary for an officer to spend hours in research to be sure that he did not miss some hidden regulation which would upset the correctness of his decision.
– They should be codified.
– I have never seen anything .quite so elaborate. There is certainly nothing so elaborate in the King’s Regulations for the Imperial Army. If the Military Board will cut down these 170 forms “ and returns to one-fourth of the number, they will perform a most useful public work. I strongly a.gree with the InspectorGeneral’s recommendation as to the desirability of establishing a general staff involving the services of citizen officers. In one part of- his report, Major-General Hoad talks about abolishing ceremonial parades as far as practicable. With the exception of parades on special occasions, I know of only one ceremonial parade per annum, and that is held in connexion with the celebration of the -Monarch’s birthday It is the only ceremonial parade known in New South Wales, and it makes no large demand upon military time. It has advantages from a training stand-point, because the men are under an obligation to hold themselves more in command, and to be more precise in their movements, than upon ordinary occasions, and in that respect a military ceremonial parade has a distinct advantage in the matter of dis cipline and training. A good deal has been made of the Inspector-General’s reference to uniform. Senator Pearce and Senator Needham have referred to the matter, and I must say that I regret that, having a fairly good case to- handle, the InspectorGeneral - and I say this with all kindlyfeeling for a good man and a. personal friend - has spoilt it largely by exaggeration. With reference’ to the ^39 16s. 6d. for an officer’s uniform.. Let us examine it. It is admitted by MajorGeneral Hoad that the large item £S> for mess uniform is optional. I say, without hesitation, that comparatively few officers in my own regiment own a mess uniform. They only want it for a regimental dinner, or to attend a public function or for some social event. Mess uniforms are not in general use in my State. As to dress boots, they are an unknown quantity, except, perhaps, for mounted officers who have to wear box spurs at times; and then they do not get their dress boots for £1 as put down in this report. A great coat is put down at ^4 10s., as well as a waterproof cape at ^2 5s.. It would be extravagant to have both. ‘ I do not know about the cost of a great coat under the present Tariff, but an officer’s waterproof cape lined with the facings of my regiment cost me 30s., made to measure. How Major-General Hoad makes the cost to be £2 5s., I do not know; but certainly an officer does not need -both - a great coat and a waterproof cape. Probably the great coat would be more serviceable. Major-General Hoad also sets down £4, the cost of a sword, as part of an officer’s uniform. Why is an officer asked to pay for his sword any more than that - “Tommy” should be asked to pay for his rifle? Why is that put down as a charge on account of the officer’s uniform? The proper thing is for the Government to supply the sword. Eliminate the mess uniform £8, the dress boots £, and the waterproof cape ^2 5s., from Major-General Hoad’s list, take off also £4 for the sword ; and the total is reduced by £15 5s. That brings the amount down to ^24 ns. 6d. Probably even that is too much for an officer to pay for his uniform. But let me say that many soldiers like a bit of finery. I have no doubt that it is due to the happy feminine influence. Speaking of my own regiment, I can state that while only a very few officers have provided themselves with mess uniforms, there are precious few sergeants who’ have not. If ‘you find men who are under no kind’ of obligation to provide themselves with mess uniforms, taking a pride in purchasing them and wearing them - the sergeants of a regiment being as a rule not so well off in. the world’s affairs as are the officers - it is only natural to suppose that the officers are afflicted with the same harmless instinct for a little gay attire. But let me point out some of the other charges that fall upon officers. I dp not see how we are going to get away from them. An officer cannot be an officerwithout continually putting his hand in his pocket. He has to pay a great deal more’ in other ways than he pays for his uniform.. Men who are out of work come to their officers for a little assistance. I know that I never went into camp for four days, without its costing me at least a ^10 note. I do not suppose that all the other officers had to pay as much, because the Commanding Officer of a regiment- necessarily has. to play host to almost every visitor to the camp.
– To every swell visitor to the camp.
– There are not many swells who .come into camp when you are away in the bush and are fed at a cost of is. per day; because that is all that the Commonwealth spends on its citizen soldiers. Whether a person be a drummer boy pr the Colonel in command of a regiment, is. a day is all that is provided for him.
– The guests do not get much.
– One does not go to camp for feeding but for work ; and it is astonishing how everything else fades away before the interest of the work. A man in camp does not want to see the morning newspapers^ or care what the Federal Parliament is doing. He is up to his neck in the joy of the work, and it is’ astonishing how it occupies all his time and thought. Let me point out, too, that if a man. is a militia officer, and gets so much a day, and such-and-such little allowances, amounting to a. few pounds per annum, and if his duty requires that he should have a horse, he is paid for it.’ But if he is a volunteer officer, and gets nothing at all all the year round, and his duties require a horse, he has to provide it, himself. If a volunteer officer does not own’ a horse, but has to charter one for the ‘work, and anything happens to a. /hired animal, the Commonwealth, by its regulations, carefully provides that the officer shall not be compensated. Therefore, the officer hiring, the animal has to pay for .-any damage that is done. Now, that is a rotten thing for any Government co dp. I used to get over the difficulty) in this ‘way : I had no use for a horse ex:cept for military purposes, and I did. not keep one of my own. I chartered a horse when I wanted one, and I had an arrangement with the owner that I should have the same horse every time. He was* a good military animal, and suited very well. I got over the difficulty about the Government not being responsible if. any injury occurred to the horse, ‘ by buyinghim before every camp, subject to a written agreement that the owner should take him back again after the camp if he did not suit me. The result of that was that if anything had happened, to the horse I should have been pf.id, and should consequently have been able to pay the mar* who had been the owner, but who was not the actual owner while I was in camp. I merely owned him for that little part of the year. That is the way- in which I. got over the difficulty, but I am afraid that every officer is not sharp enough to so protect himself. I did not do it for any personal advantage, but my duties required me to use a horse, and I had to use him in the dark as well as in daylight, when there wasa risk of his breaking his leg and breaking my own neck at the same time. I- argued, “ Why should I have to pay’ for this horse if he meets with an accident while I am engaged on the Commonwealth service?” I mentioned some time agothat, when an officer attends, a school” of instruction, until recently’ he was allowed 5s. a day for his meals and a tent to sleep in at the barracks where the school of instruction was held. But owing to the exigencies of Commonwealth poverty - because that alone could justify such an action on i he part of the Government - this allowance has been cut down to 2s. per day. Now, therefore, an officer attending a school of instruction is allowed 8d.per meal - 2s. per day for three meals - while he is _n training, and is not in receipt of one pennyworth of pay. I mentioned some time ago that, at a recentschool of instruction in Sydney, officers of.’ rifle clubs who had come from the countryto obtain the advantage of military- training to- enable them to work their clubs’ under the new system, had been even worsetreated. I point- out that the members of rifle clubs require to do a bit of drill if they are to be of any use as part of our Military Forces. The drill teaches them to be accustomed to obey orders, to be steady under fire, and so on. These are most necessary things, because there is nothing worse for an army than to be seized with panic, and not to be under perfect control. Itmay be remembered that the British heavy cavalry at Waterloo lost their heads in a charge, and did more mischief to their own side than they would have done by running away. You have to provide not only against cow- . ardice ; you must provide against undue enthusiasm. It is positively necessary for men to act under word of command. Now the officers ofthese rifle clubs, that are supposed to’ be so much under the care of the Government, when they came to Sydney 10 attend a school of instruction!, were not even allowed the miserable 2s. a day which is allowed to other officers. They had to buy their own meals. Such conduct is enough to disgust men. As to the shortage of officers,to which Senator Pearce has called attention, there is nothing new in it. There was quite as large a shortage while Major-General Hutton was in command. Many of the officers disappeared under his baneful method of messing things. There were 25 per cent. of officers of the Defence Forces short when Major-General Hutton went away. The shortage is not due to the Military Board or to Major-General Hoad, or to the Minister of Defence. It is due to the gentleman who was recently compulsorily retired from the British Army, MajorGeneral Hutton. I think that we ought to apportion the blame properly. I do not saythat the present system is perfect. It is far from perfect. But it is getting better. A great many of the mischiefs wrought under Major-General Hutton are being corrected. I have mentioned some of them previously, and it is not necessary to go into details again. There is a material improvement, but there is still a lot more to do, and a great deal of work will be required. It has to be remembered that our Forces are more widely scattered than are any other Military Forces in the world. I suppose that it is really a fact that there is no country where the Forces are so much dispersed and so far away from superior control as they are in Australia. We have little knots, half companies of, say, thirty men in one hamlet, and then, perhaps, you will not find another member of the Defence
Force within 100 miles. The training of these little knots of men is very expensive, and also very difficult. It takes a great deal of the time of the sergeants who are employed for instructional purposes to train these little bands. Take Broken Hill. There is, I believe a rifle club there. 1 donot know whether Broken. Hill is still worked from Sydney, but I believe that it is. It certainly was part of the New South Wales State command. A sergeant has to be sent all the way from Sydney to Broken Hill, travelling, mercy knows how many hundreds of miles. I suppose that the journey there and back is over 2,800 miles. The expenditure involved’ is considerable.
– I should think it would cost about the same to keep a sergeant there all the year round.
– I do not think that, but I instance Broken Hill as one of the cases which enable us to see the expense that is necessarily involved and the difficulties that surround the administration of the Defence Forces in a country like ours. I believe, however, that matters are flow in the hands of those who better understand the needs of the Forces, and that the majority, if not all, of the military officers now in high places in Australia have been officers of regiments for some length of time and know what regimental feeling is. One of the unfortunate features of our first Commandant, Major-General Hutton, was that he had left regimental service as quite a junior officer, had spent’ his whole life on the staff, and so knew nothing of the feelings and instincts that appertain to a regiment, or of the conditions that regimental officers have to encounter. I think that was one of the causes of his failure as an administrative officer. His courage in the field was, I believe, absolutely undoubted. But because a man is as plucky as possible, it does not follow that he is a good hand at dealing with administrative affairs. I rose chiefly to offer a few explanatory remarks upon the subject of uniforms, and have been led into speaking at greater length than I intended.
– Our Defence Force at present seems to be in a state of transition. While we are adhering to the old regime and old methods of doing things, the Government have in their minds a very much larger and more complicated scheme which we shall probably be shortly askedto consider. In those circumstances, there is very little advantage in criticising present methods, administrative or anything else, because they may possibly be superseded in the near future by the inauguration of some entirely new system. It will be remembered that some two years ago I called the attention of the then Minister of Defence, who had a seat in this chamber, to a gross anomaly in connexion with the Instructional Staff. I submitted to him and laid upon the table of the Senate a classified statement showing that officers on the Instructional Staff in Queensland were paid at very much lower rates than were similar officers with exactly the same classification and performing exactly similar duties in other States. The Minister at that time, and I believe also the heads of the Department, promised that the matter should be inquired into and rectified as far as possible. Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council state what has been done in that direction?
– I am glad to inform Senator Givens that the anomaly in regard to the rates of pay of the Instructional Staff in Queensland has received consideration and been rectified. Those on the Instructional Staff are now receiving what is known as the uniform Federal pay, except that in some cases officers who were transferred at higher salaries have still retained them, as they were secured to them by their rights as transferred officers. To the best of my information, the reports of the two naval experts who recently visited the Old Country, about which Senator Needham. inquired, have not yet been received. I am sure that the. Minister of Defence will make them available at the earliest opportunity as soon as they come to hand. Senator Needham expressed the opinion that the State Commandant of Western Australia had some degree of antipathy towards the rifle clubs of that State. I am assured that that is hardly correct. It may be true that he has fallen foul of one or two of the clubs or of some individuals connected with them, but I am assured that he has the most sympathetic feeling towards the rifle clubs, and has a very strong and sterling interest in encouraging them. The honorable senator may rely upon it that that is the attitude which that officer is taking. The honorable senator also brought under notice an order for uniforms given by the officer in command of No. 2 Battery in Western Australia. So soon as the action of that officer became known, the Department cabled to the people with whom the contract had been entered into with a view, if possible, to stop the shipment, but it was discovered that shipment of the goods had actually taken place, so that we were too late to countermand the order. The officer has been asked for an explanation, but it has not yet come to hand. Senator Pearce made lengthy reference to the Annual Report of the Inspector-General upon the Military Forces. Many matters drawn attention to by that officer cannot be ignored by the Minister or by the Military Board, and his valuable report will no doubt receive the most careful consideration of both. I intend to bring the honorable senator’s representations and those of other speakers under my colleague’s notice. I was able, by interjection, to assure the honorable senator that the establishment of men at Thursday Island was again complete. He seemed to labour under the impression that there was no difficulty in securing any number of recruits in Western Australia, but the experience unfortunately is that there is the greatest difficulty in securing recruits in that State, so much so that officers and men have actually to be trained in New South Wales and Victoria and transferred there. Fears were expressed by the honorable senator as to the abandonment of the fortifications of the ports of Albany and Townsville. I have received assurances from the Department that there is no immediate intention of doing anything of the kind.
– I understand that a short time ago a number of militiamen on their way to Thursday Island behaved, when . passing through Brisbane, in a most riotous manner, insulting a number of citizens and generally painting the town red. Will the Minister cause an inquiry to be made into their conduct and cause to be conveyed to them an intimation that when travelling they ought to behave themselves like decent citizens and not as savages, as would appear to be the case if the reports are true?
– If they behaved in a way stated in the newspapers they ought not to be let off in that mild way.
– I am not asking for their punishment, but wish simply to direct the attention of the Government to the occurrence.
– I am assured that the matter has not been brought under the notice of the Department, but if the honorable senator can tell me the date when it appeared in the newspaper, inquiry will be made.
– I shall supply the date.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.31]. - Now that we have reached the Estimates for the New South Wales Military Forces, ‘I desire to call attention to the item of £275 on page 98 for a lieutenant and quartermaster under the head of Permanent Army Service Corps. It will be remembered that last night I acquainted the Minister of Home Affairs with my intention to discuss the item. The officer in question is not, and has not been for many months, a lieutenant! ; he is a captain. It will perhaps be said that he is an honorary captain, but as a matter of fact he was never anything more than an honorary officer, as is customary with quartermasters. The rank is usually honorary. Indeed, I doubt if in the fullypaid permanent services there is a single case where the quartermaster is other than an honorary officer - that is, in the military sense. According to the Financial and Allowance Regulations, even a lieutenant is entitled to a salary up to ^350 a year, while a captain starts at ,£100 a year more than this officer is getting. He is a captain to all intents and purposes ; his name is included as one in the Military Forces List, and he discharges the duties of captain. He has the rank of captain positively. But it appears that he is receiving £275 a year, and that from the 1st July next lie is to receive under this measure an increase of £25, bringing his emoluments up to £300. I absolutely object to the officer being paid at a lesser rate than the Financial and Allowance Regulations provide. These regulations were issued by the GovernorGeneral in Council, and therefore are part and parcel of the Defence Act. The Government have no more right to break the laws of the Commonwealth in one direction than I have in another. If I were to break the laws of the Commonwealth I should be sent to gaol, but unhappily the Ministry can break them with impunity. I have been informed officially that honorary rank does not count for pay. At that rate the Department should not pay any honorary officer, and it was wrong to pay this officer a salary as an honorary lieutenant. There are any number of honorary lieutenants, if not honorary captains, receiving pay.
According to this statement, if honorary rank does not count for pay they ought not to be paid. This officer, before’ he was made a captain, was paid as an honorary lieutenant. Honorary lieutenancy counts for pay, but according to information officially given to me by the Department, honorary captain’s rank does not count for pay. What absurdity, what waste of time, what futility to talk or write such nonsense ! Almost every quartermaster in the service holds his rank as honorary rank. Another thing I was told in correspondence was that the Financial and Allowance Regulations do not apply to the Army Service Corps. What intolerable nonsense ! Here are the pay regulations, and there is not a word to imply that they affect any one but officers permanently employed. There is not one letter to indicate that one arm of the service is to be treated differently from another, and I object to the Minister breaking the law of the Commonwealth. I beg that this matter may be put straight. The Minister of Home Affairs gave me his assurance, which is chronicled in Hansard, that he would use his personal influence with the Minister of Defence to see that the legal obligations as to this officer’s salary were complied with. I ask the .Vice-President of the Executive Council to indorse that promise. It would be impossible to carry a. request at the present stage, and therefore. I do not intend to move one ; but I do ask that some more consideration may be given to this matter. In the Appropriation Bill, as well as in the Estimates, the Department misdescribed the officer to excuse a wrongful rate of pay. Why is he called a lieutenant iri the Appropriation Bill, when he was appointed a captain on the 5th October last?
Senator Turley. The Estimates were drafted before that date.
– Perhaps that is the explanation. But that does not explain away the fact that this officer has been entitled to a captain’s pay under the regulations -for about six months, while, according to the Estimates, he is not to receive the pay of even a lieutenant. That is my whole grievance. I hope that my honorable friend will use his very large influence to see that this officer’s legal rights are conserved to him. I ask for no more. I am not bringing forward the case of a man who has a grievance because he think? that he has not been treated rightly by his commanding officer. I am not treating the matter as a military grievance. In fact, I do not care whether it is a military or civil grievance, although it is not very civil to pay a man less than what the law says he is entitled to receive. I am only asking for an observance of the law by the Government.
– I shall have very great pleasure in bringing the remarks of my honorable friend under the notice of my colleague. The explanation I have received is that Captain Lyons was a warrant officer of the Australian Army Service Corps, at a consolidated salary of £275 per annum.
– That is all he is getting now.
– In consideration of his length of service he was granted, on the 1st July, 1904, the rank- of honorary lieutenant, and 6n the 5th October, 1907, that of honorary captain, such honorary rank, in accordance with the custom of the service, not carrying extra pay. That is in terms of No. 55 of the Financial and Allowance Regulations for the Military Forces -
Officers holding temporary brevet dr honorary rank shall receive the rates of pay and allowance fixed for their substantive rank.
– Why do they not get it ?
– That is exactly what he is getting, and there is no provision for a payment in connexion with honorary rank. On this year’s Additional Estimates there is provided an increment df ^25, which will bring this officer’s pay up.to ,£300 per annum from the 1st July last. The Military Commandant was asked to state if honorary Captain Lyons had been discharging the duties of Deputy Assistant QuartermasterGeneral, and in reply , he said -
Captain Lyons is not discharging the duties of D.A.Q.M.C. (New South Wales). He temporarily performed the duties for two short periods in 1906, during the absence of Major Luscombe, the then D.A.Q.M.G. (New South Wales), on duty in Melbourne; and again from 1st August, 1906, to 2nd January, 1907, namely, from the . departure of Major Luscombe for England to the date of Major Mainwaring, who came to this command on exchange duty with the former officer, taking up the appointment.
On Major Mainwaring’s departure from New South Wales in June, 1907, (he duties of D.A.Q.M.G. were taken over by Major Wallace Brown, who has continued to perform them ever since, except whilst on his annual leave, when Lt. -Col. Lee acted for him.
That ‘ is the explanation of the Department in the matter, and, so far as I have an opportunity of judging, the authorities are acting strictly in the terms of the law, and could not do otherwise.
– The duties of. Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General are not involved. . I mentioned them in a communication to the Minister, but I have not broached that subject here.
– Quite so. It has to be borne in mind, in considering this matter, that the Estimates were prepared over nine months ago. However, I shall bring the representations of my honorable friend under the notice of the Minister of Defence. In the meantime, I have given the Committee the departmental explanation of the case.
[4.47]. - Dealing first with the last part of the Minister’s statement, I have to say ‘that I said nothing to-day or at any other time about the discharge of duties, but I am very glad that the Minister has mentioned the matter, because he has given the whole show away. He has made it plain that this officer, who is getting the pay of a non-commissioned officer, not only after but also before he received his com-, mission, was doing the work discharged by majors and lieutenant-colonels.
– For two short periods.
– It does not matter whether the periods were long or short, the point is that the capacity of the man for the performance of these high services has been shown. A Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General fills a. very important office. He has to deal with munitions of war, clothing, money, and a score of other matters. The position is held by majors, lieutenant-colonels, and often by full colonels. . Prior to Federation, the position was held in New South Wales by a full colonel. The honorable gentleman has .read a statement on behalf of the Department to the effect that honorary and brevet rank do not count for pay.
– Then how is it that this officer received pay as an honorary lieutenant? If he cannot be paid as an honorary captain, he cannot be paid as an honorary lieutenant. The statement that .honorary and brevet rank do not count for pay is trifling, and is not a fact. I invite the Minister to look at the salaries set down . in the schedule for the Assistant AdjutantGeneral and Chief Staff Officer in New South Wales, and he will find that a major and brevet lieutenant-colonel is paid a salary of£650. This is shown at page 100 of the Appropriation Bill. The officer holding the self-same position in Victoria is a major, and gets a major’s pay, £525, the pay given to other majors under the schedule. This will be seen at page 123 of the Bill. Here we have positive evidence of the Department giving the go-by to the regulations read by the Minister, and paying £125 additional on the strength of a brevet rank. Of. what use is a regulation which is broken in f avour of one officer, in order to pay him £125 more than he would be entitled to under it, and is enforced with more than harshness, and in my view illegally, to deprive a smaller man of that which the law allows him? It is no use for the Department to allege that they are keeping the law. They are breaking it in these two instances in giving one man£125 more than he is entitled to on the strength of his brevet rank, and depriving another man of at least £100 a year because of his honorary rank. I beg that the Minister will not think that I am speaking ill-temperedly. I am speaking strongly because I feel strongly. I think that the smaller man who has risen from the ranks is better entitled to any help that can be afforded him in struggling against what I regard as illegal treatment than is the other chap who is at the top of the tree, and is given a great deal more than heis entitled to, according to the regulation which the Minister has just read. The Minister said little ‘in connexion with this case, and I know that he could not say very much. I was not surprised that he should have referred to the matter with a considerable leaning to the view I took. The other matter to which I have to refer is based upon an item which appears at page 114 of the Bill, viz., Cadets - sixteen battalions of cadets and two battalions of senior cadets. I think that there are about 400 lads in each of these battalions, the strength of these forces being given the other day as over 7,000. I find that pay is set down in the schedule for a captain, at £450. There is no such officer in existence. Iwish to know whether this vote is submitted in order that a captain may be appointed. There are only two staff officers attached to these cadets, one of whom is a lieutenant and the other a brevet -major, who is as much entitled to a brevet- major’s pay as is the brevetlieutenantcolonel to whom I have just referred, and who gets £125 a year in excess of a major’s pay. Clearly 7,000 boys cannot be very well handled by two officers, and I am glad to see that provision is made for the appointment of a third. In view of this provision, I wish to know from the Minister whether it is intended to make such an appointment.
– The schedule makes provision for the payment of a captain when he is appointed.
– Is it intended to make . the appointment ?
– I cannot say, but I should judge by the fact that the vote to which the honorable senator has referred is on the Estimates, it must be the intention of the Minister to appoint a captain.
– I hope that this is not merely a departmental bunch of carrots to lure some poor fellow along the track. Dealing with the case of Major Dove, I direct the attention of the Minis ter to the fact that there has been a con tracting outside of the law in his appoint ment. The law. provides that lieutenants shall be paid from £250 to £350, and captains from , £375 to , £450. This officer is a full-fledged captain. I suppose that honorable senators saw the record of his services : twice mentioned in despatches and appointed a member of the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in the field. He has had between five and six years’ service in the ranks, both horse and’ foot. He rose in the infantry branch of the service from private to sergeant-major, and in the horse division from private to color-sergeant. For the last nine years he has been a commissioned officer, rising through the ranks of the Scottish Regiment, and is now permanently employed as the chief profes sional instructor of the New South Wales cadet, corps. There is an officer, I suppose I must call him a militia colonel, nominally at the head, but he does the work of overseeing rather than hard graft. Major Dove is the senior of the two officers to whom is intrusted the training of over 7,000 lads belonging to the cadet and senior cadet corps. That he should be paid materially less than he is entitled to receive under the regulations, is, to my mind, wrong. The excuse given is that he accepted the appointment at£250 a year. I say that is contracting outside the law. I donot think that the members of this
Committee approve of contracts made outside any law. I am quite sure that I shall have the sympathy of the majority of honorable senators on that score. I do not wish to labour the matter, but if a captaincy is going to be created under this vote,’ I have not the least doubt in the world that the position will be given to Major Dove, as there is no man in Australia better fitted for the job, ‘ if I ara able to form any judgment of a soldier. -I know his worth as a soldier, and his character as a man. I should prefer a. good man who might not be a very good soldier to ai bad man and a better soldier, but Major Dove is a firstclass man and also a first-class soldier. I feel justified in the interests of the Cadet Forces and the Defences Forces of the Commonwealth generally in speaking highly of a man who has won his spurs under the stress and strain of a long campaign in the battlefield, for he was in South Africa for a long time, as well as in the discharge of important duties in times of peace. If there is to be a captain appointed under the vote to which I have referred, I have no doubt he will get the position, but very often salaries are voted and appointments are not made. If this appointment is not to be made I claim that this officer should be paid the salary to which he is entitled by law. Senator Best as a lawyer knows that nothing but an agreement under seal could prevent Major Dove if he left the Forces utilizing the necessary section of the Defence Act to bring an action to recover the difference between the salary, he has been paid and that which the law allows him. Senator St. Ledger as a lawyer knows that only by an agreement under seal could the Government save themselves from paying in the Law Courts the salary to which this man is entitled. He was induced to take the position at £250 a year. In a much less responsible position he had previously discharged duties for £225 a year under the State Government. It was not a military affair.; it was really a matter of legal right. He held this position at £225. He received from the Commonwealth ^£250 under a verbal contract made outside the law. If the present Estimates are passed, he will receive .£275. That is little more than the minimum alary of a lieutenant, and £75 less than the maximum. But this man is a captain, ind is entitled to the higher salary ; besides which I have shown that in one case at least the Government is paying a larger salary than the law allows on a brevet rank. I hope that these observations will direct the attention of those in charge of Defence matters to the case, and that justice will be done.
– The information furnished to me is that Major Dove, prior to his occupancy of his present position, did not belong to the Defence Force of the State of New South Wales, but was employed by the Education. Department, it is believed at a salary of £225 per annum. When it became necessary for the Commonwealth to take over the Cadets of the various States, certain officers were taken over also, on the distinct promise that they would not receive less pay than that of the position which, they held in. the States in which they were then serving. Major -Dove agreed to take the position of lieutenant on the Administrative and Instructional Staff at a salary of ,£250 per annum, an increase upon the salary that he received in the State. The appointment for such position dates from the 1st of May. 1907. On the 1st of May, 1908, he will be entitled to, and will be paid, an increment at the rate of ,£25, thus making the salary £275 from that date. I should think that his improved position is a matter of encouragement. My honorable friend sees that on the Estimates provision is made for an appointment. Apparently there is some object in making that provision, but I am not aware that the Minister of Defence is committing himself to making the appointment immediately.
– Would the officer be in a position to sue the Government for any money that they owed him? Senator BEST.- -No.
– In reply to the emphatic- “ No “ of my honorable friend, I wish to say that a gentleman who belongs to the other - which is sometimes called the higher - branch of the legal profession, gave me a very different opinion this morning. Indeed, I spoke largely on the strength of his opinion.
– It was cheap law ; “ not much chop.”
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postmaster-General - Cable Service - Refunds of Customs Duty - Irregularities : Western Australian-Public Servants’ Rights as Citizens : Leave without Pay - Living Allowances : Western Australia.
Divisions 189 to 195 (Po st master General’s Department), proposed vote, £2,805,277.
– I direct attention to the item ,: Refund of Customs duty to Eastern Extension Australasia and China Telegraph Company-“ I observe that sometimes refunds take place in nearly all the States. But why is this refund debited to the Post and Telegraph Department? It appears to me that it ought to be a drawback of Customs revenue, and ought not to be debited to the Post Office.
– It is in pursuance of an agreement entered into between the Eastern Extension Company and the Post and Telegraph Department.
– That does not explain why the money should be credited, and appear as Customs revenue and afterwards be returned and debited as Past Office expenditure. Surely that is not businesslike.
– All that I can say is that this has been the practice for many years, and is in accordance with the decision of a former Treasurer.
– It is very improper.
.- I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to a case which has occurred in Western Australia. Hitherto I have not brought it before Parliament, and I regret having to do so at the present time. It appears that grave irregularities have occurred in the Post and Telegraph Department, Western Australia, and other States, mostly in the handling of mails and the misuse of stamps. I notice that it is intended by the Department to take action in the Police Court against a boy of sixteen at Eaglehawk, Victoria, who is charged with improper practices in regard to the Department. I mention that case, because I intend to draw the Minister’s attention to quite a different action on the part of the Department in Western Australia. An officer, Mr. Wansbrough, held the position of Despatching Officer. He was charged with the misuse of stamps and general irregularities. An inquiry was held. Let it be said to the credit of the sorters and carriers that they came forward and gave evidence in order to save the good name of the Department and to enable things to be carried on in a straightforward manner. But although this man was found guilty, the Department considered that the only punishment that should be meted out to him was the reduction of his salary by a very small amount and the reduction of the position that he occupied. He has been reduced to a position which gives him a salary of £162 per annum ; and I am also informed, and I believe that the Gazette bears out the information, that he has been placed in a position, that of head sorter, which gives him a right to be promoted at any time the Department thinks fit. That is to say, when there is a vacancy he may he put back into his old position, where he will become supervisor of the men who gave evidence against him. I refer to these matters with’ very great regret ; but I refer with still greater regret to the system of favoritism that is going on in Western Australia. There is- unquestionable proof that certain officers have been found guilty of certain things, but there has been a great difference in the treatment accorded to them. This has caused a great amount of dissatisfaction, and must have an ill effect upon the management of the Department. Let me mention a case in point. An ordinary sorter was charged with exactly the same misdemeanour as was proved in the case of Mr. Wansbrough. His name was Dalton. But he was taken before the Police Court, found guilty, and sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. I have a knowledge of the facts of these cases, because where there are associations of men such things will become matters of public talk. I know that there is great dissatisfaction amongst the officers. They say first of all that it is unfair that the Department should expect them -to come forward and give evidence in its behalf, and then to put the man in such a position that he will probably become boss again over them in another six months. As a man who has worked at my trade, I know what the result will be. If he is promoted to the same position again, he will not forget what some of the men under him did when he was before the Committee of Inquiry. I hope the Minister will look into the question again. If the Department is going to bring a boy under .the age of sixteen before the Police Court, as in the Eaglehawk case, I consider that in the case of men of Mr. Wansbrough’s stamp, it should adopt the same policy. I hope that the Minister will take” some steps to prevent, that officer from again occupying a position in the General Post Office, Perth, where at any time he may be able to vent his spleen or spite upon those who only acted in the interests of the Department by giving evidence in his case.
– Senator Croft has brought forward a matter that involves’ a charge of serious favoritism and misconduct oh the part of certain high officials in the Department. On the bare statement that he has made - and, no doubt, he has spoken to the best of his information - it appears to be a post serious case; but I hardly think that we are justified in coming to a conclusion upon it without hearing the explanation of the other side. I assure the honorable senator that I will bring his representations’ under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and ask him to investigate the matter personally. I am sure that my colleague will seek to do justice all round.
– I desire to touch on a matter in connexion with the administrative division of the Post and Telegraph Department in Western Australia. The question of leave for officers crops up from time to time. In the Age, the other day, Mr. McLachlan, the Public Service Commissioner, referring to the long leave given to some officers, stated -
Anofficer who had been absent on12 months’ furlough applied for three weeks’ recreation leave. This seems to be a fair case where the time spent on furlough should be taken into consideration. In other instances officers have been absent for periods up to nine months on sick leave with pay, and shortly after their return to duty asked to be granted three weeks’ recreation leave.
After nine months’ furlough, or anything approaching it, it looks like taking advantage of the regulations for an officer to ask for a further period of leave. If those extraordinary demands have been made upon the Commissioner, I can understand his getting his back up. I do not wish to say one harsh word about Mr. McLachlan, because I know that he cannot reply in this chamber. We all admit that he has a very difficult task to perform, and none of us wish to make itany harder. I dare say he is carrying out his work as satisfactorily as any man we are likely to put into the position, but, whilst those extraordinarylong periodsof leave have been granted to some officers, I have tried unsuccessfully to obtain forother officers leave, without pay, in order that they should be able to exercise their rights as citizens. In one case, an officer who wished to stand for Parliament applied for leave without pay. It would not have cost the Department a single penny. When a case pf that kind comes before the Commissioner he ought, if he wishes to be considered fair to all -sections of the community, and to avoid any suspicion of interfering with the rights of public servants as citizens, to. grant the leave asked for, especially when it will not cost the Department anything.
– Surely the honorable senator would not suggest such a practice. It might result in the most alarming disorganization of the Department. The public interest must be first considered.
– I do not see in what way disorganization would be caused if any civil servant obtained leave in order to contest a parliamentary election. There are other men who could take that officer’s place for the time being, and the work of the country would go on as usual. Leave with pay was not asked for at all. This is part of a very big question, which has been a grievance from the passing of our Public Service Act. The Senate debated it at great length, and I took up a very definite attitude upon it. No man should be robbed even of the smallest of his citizen rights simply because he is an employe of the Government.
– The honorable senator will be in order in discussing the question of leave, but not the question of interference with the rights of civil servants as citizens.
– I merely desire the Minister to understand the difference between some kinds of leave that have been granted and others that have been refused. In order that there may be as little discontent in the service as possible, a right of this kind, wherever it can be granted without any harm to the Department, should be granted straight away. There should be no threats or talk of officers being punished for having approached members of Parliament. The action that has been taken is the surest way to bring about a. great deal of discontent in the Department.
– Does the honorablesenator think that they should be granted leave when they desire to stand for Parliament ?
– Yes. It is only right and proper if we can afford it.
– There would never be discipline in the Departments.
– Why should there not be ? Every man in the community should have a right to criticise the conduct of public affairs. When we pay a man to act as telegraphist, surely we do not buy his political rights from him. We simply pay him his salary for his services.
– Does the honorable senator know of any private employer who will grant leave to his employe to contest a seat, and take him back if he is defeated, especially if their political views differ?
– I have known men in private employment to get leave for that purpose. Even if that were not so, it would be no reason why we should not adopt the system in the Government service. I hope, and believe, that the time will come when there will be a very great extension of Government employment. If, then, every man in the service is excluded from Parliament, there will be a’ very limited choice of candidates.
– They are not being excluded.
– It is practically excluding them to make them resign or run the risk of losing their billets if theystand.
SenatorChataway. - They should be put on the same footing as any private employe.
– That is all I am asking for. I wish to refer to the question of living allowances in Western Australia. There has recently been granted a 5 per cent. allowance to officers living on the coast in Western Australia. Hitherto there has been an allowance of £25 per. annum to officers in outoftheway parts of the State, on account of the extra cost of living there. But it has now been recognised that in Western Australia, especially on the coast, the cost of living is also higher than in any of the other States.
– There is a similar allowance for officers in North Queensland.
– The £25 allowance to officers on the gold-fields was based upon the rate of pay on the coast, but now that the officers on the coast have been granted a 5 per cent. allowance, it is equivalent to a reduction of 5 per cent. in the pay of those on the gold-fields. Seeing that this is transferred expenditure, which the people of the State’ concerned have to meet, and which does not concern the people of the other States, the 5 per cent. allowance should be extended to all parts of Western Australia. Unless that is done it will be a grave cause of dissatisfaction in the Department in that State.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I desire to call attention to a matter in connexion with the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department in Queensland. A few days ago I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral here the following questions : -
The Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, furnished the following answers to the first and second questions : -
The answers to the remaining questions are as follow : - 3, Yes, in reply to a question relating to conditions in Victoria. The ‘ concluding portion only applied to circumstances then existing in that State. 4, See answers to numbers 1 and ‘3.
Referring to those replies to my questions, the following statement, which apparently emanated from a member of the Post and Telegraph Service, ‘ appeared in the Brisbane Courier on the 3rd April : -
I say, without fear of contradiction, that a mo’re misleading statement upon any position was never published. As a matter of fact, the statement explicitly contradicts itelf. First it says : “ It was not true that, owing to a scarcity of operators, telegraphists were working from nine to sixteen hours without a break for meals.” Then, a little further on : “ … officers .. . had been on duty from nine to sixteen hours without leaving the office for meals.” What sort of a statement is that to make?-
Plainly, the position is this : In Melbourne and Sydney officers who go on afternoon duty at 3 o’clock are relieved as soon after 8 o’clock as possible by a special night staff coming on for the purpose. In Brisbane there is no such staff, although the officers have been appealing for it for years.
In Brisbane twenty-four officers of the afternoon staff go on duty, at 3 p.m., and get away only when the day’s business is clear, which, under the worst conditions, is sometimes not until 8.30 a.m. the next day. Three telegraphers are relieved at 11 p.m. by that number of a night staff coming on.
When the staff comes on at 3 p.m., each man remains at his own fine until he is finally relieved to go off. The statement that “ they did not work continuously during their hours of attendance “ is deliberately untrue, for as soon as a man can be spared he is supposed to go off. Intentionally misleading also is the assertion that “ they had at all times the opportunity of partaking of refreshments.” The wicked absurdity of this will be realized when the facts are stated.
The men eat their “ cold snack “ with their fingers whilst they are sending or receiving telegrams. That is the only opportunity of which the writer is aware, and whoever stated to the contrary did so with the intention of deceiving the Minister and Parliament.
The men snatch a moment to run from their desks to make their cup of tea, and even for this have at times been censured. Imagine any other class of employes you like, eating their “luncheon” or “supper” while actually performing their daily avocation !
However, the officers are prepared to put up with trifles of that kind, if they could get relief from the excessive hours too. often occasioned by a variety of circumstances. As a matter of fact, a prominent Brisbane doctor has given his opinion that with hours and conditions such as we experienced, telegraphists should have a “ hot dinner - leg of mutton and apple pie “ while on duty.
But all they ask is that they should be relieved under ordinary conditions, say, between 11 p.m. and midnight at latest. They give in the mutton and apple pie, and also the “ times of emergency.” Is that unreasonable?
By the appointment of a small .night staff such as they have been asking, there could be avoided the necessity for working public servants “from nine to sixteen hours without leaving the office for meals,” and on top of it walking home.
By the way, re the adoption of the automatic apparatus as a means of overcoming delay and shortening the men’s hours, you might be interested in knowing the progress so far made.
After the many months’ experiments, a trial exchange of actual business was made the other night. A start was made at 6 p.m. : Six men were engaged (some officers had been on till 1 a.m. the previous night), and at 8.30 p.m. the” twenty messages each way had been exchanged with Sydney !
By hard operating two men could have done the same work in twenty minutes ! I put the position thus before you, sir, in order that you may have some idea of the value of such statements as that wired from Melbourne.
– By whom was that letter signed ?
– It is signed * O.H.M.S.”
– He ought to have-put his name to the- letter.
– I do t not think that the letter is any the less reliable because it is not signed. We all know that it is dangerous for a public official to sign his name to “a statement which gives the lie direct - for that is practically what it means - to his official head.
– Does the honorable senator know that the letter was written bv a public official ?
– Yes. All that I want the Minister to do is to find out where the truth lies, and if the men have a real’ grievance, as it appears to me they have, to remedy it.
. -I desire to. make a few remarks concerning the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department. It will be recollected that about six weeks ago I moved a motion with regard to a matter which constituted almost a grave scandal on the administration of a branch of the Department in Queensland, and that was the delay in the delivery of a nomination paper which was sent in the form of a registered letter from the Post Office at Bowen, North
Queensland, in connexion with the late State elections which were held on the 5th February. _ My motion asked for the production of all the papers in the possession of the Government relative to the undue delay in the delivery of that registered letter to the returning officer at Bowen, and it was treated as formal business and carried unanimously. Soon after that the representative of the Postmaster-General in the Senate informed me tha.t the papers were available, but that the Department did not think it advisable to table them until the inquiry into the occurrence was concluded. Although the order of the Senate should have been obeyed, I accepted the view that it was not altogether desirable to table the papers until the inquiry was concluded ; but I understand that’ it has now been, concluded, and that such action as the Department considered desirable has already been taken. In the circumstances, I see no adequate reason why the tabling of the papers should be delayed. It is understood that the Senate is to adjourn for about a fortnight for the Easter holidays, and I take this last opportunity to request the Minister representing the Postmaster- General to allow the papers to be tabled so that they may be available to myself or any one else who may desire to inspect them. I understand that the Minister is willing to lay them on the table, and I wish only to add that I hope he will do so before the Senate adjourns.
– I feel that I should not allow the third reading of the Bill to pass without expressing my strong objection to the way in which the Estimates have been dealt with, consequent upon the manner in which they were presented to the Senate.
– We had plenty of time to deal with them if we wished to do so.
– We did deal with them five times over in five different Supply Bills.
– Every one knows that the money has practically all been spent, and that at the present time honorable senators - and I speak for a majority of the members of the Senate, and not for myself, because I was. absent during the greater part of the session - are jaded after long weeks and months of work, arid are not in a fit state to examine Estimates with the care they require.
– The honorable senator should speak for himself. I am just as fit as I ever was.
– I think that the position of affairs should be emphasized. I have no doubt that the electors will understand the position thoroughly, and will not be slow to recognise the Tariff curse as the cause qf all the trouble. That is all I wish to say.
– - I wish, to say a word or two about a matter on which I asked some questions of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I refer to the employment of pole-dressers by .the Post and’ Telegraph Department. The men engaged in this work in the past, received 10s.. per day, equivalent to ,£156 per annum, but recently men have been employed at the work at the reduced wage of £132 a year. To show that this is work which requires to be performed by skilled labour, I may quote the following letter from the Post and Telegraph Department, dated 27 th October, 1906, in reply to a query as to whether the Department had been successful in employing unskilled labourers at the work -
With reference to your letter of the 15th inst., relative to the work of pole dressing in Melbourne which was formerly performed by skilled workmen having been given to labourers at a lower rate of pay, I have the honour, by direction, to inform you it was found that much of the work which was being done, viz., planing and adzing of cross-arms, was unnecessary, and was accordingly ordered to be discontinued. It was reported that, the necessary work did not require skilled ‘ workmen, but could be performed by ordinary labourers used to handling tools. It appears, however, from later information, that the work is not being satisfactorily performed by the temporary Line Repairers who were engaged to do it; and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, has been instructed to revert to the original arrangement, so far as the class of labour to be employed is concerned.
Definite instructions were issued for the employment of skilled men owing to the failure of unskilled labourers to perform the work satisfactorily. The , position now is that, whilst the Postmaster-General desires to adhere to the promise given by the Department to employ only skilled men at this work, the Public Service Commissioner sets aside the Minister and desires the employment of unskilled labour to perform work which the Department admits should be intrusted to skilled men. The Postmaster-General gave this reply to questions which I put in connexion with the matter -
Such a promise, so far as the work in Melbourne is concerned, might be inferred by the letter written by direction of the PostmasterGeneral on 27th October, 1906, and this promise has been carried out so far as the matter is under the Minister’s control.
It is clear, therefore, that the Minister desires that this work should be done by skilled labourers, receiving ios. per day; but the Public Service Commissioner expresses his intention ‘to make further appointments of men for this work at £132 per annum, despite the fact that a trial qf unskilled labour upon this work was not found to be successful from, the point of view of economy. Whether it is the deliberate intention of the Public Service Commissioner ox not, if the course he recommends be pursued, the effect will be to reduce the wages of the whole of tha men engaged in this work from ros. to 8s.- per day. There is another view of the matter which requires to be considered. The unskilled men “who are now being introduced have to be taught their business by the skilled men, and later on the pupil will displace the man who taught him his business, and will continue to do the work at 2 s. per day less. Regulation 134 under the Public Service Act provides that -
The permanent head or chief officer, when forwarding an application to the Commissioner, shall state what amount of salary, fee, or allowances, in his opinion, is appropriate to the work to be performed; but the rate of payment shall be the same as is paid to permanent employes of the Commonwealth in the State for. similar work.
These men, who have been engaged on and off for twenty-five years-, originally received ros. per day. Subsequently, they went through the bad times, and suffered a reduction of salary in common with the rest of the State public servants, and now, after they have regained the position which they formerly held, they are to be superseded by men who are to be made permanent hands at a wage of 2s. per day less than they were accustomed to receive. Seeing that the Post and Telegraph Department tried ‘the experiment of employing unskilled labour in this -work, and found it unsatisfactory, I- hope it will not be the policy in the Commonwealth Service to compel men to teach others their trade, and after they have done so to dispense with ‘ them because the services of the men whom they have taught can be obtained for 2s. per day less. The men engaged in this work are tradesmen, and I do not think that any tradesmen in the world, with any self-respect, would tolerate such treatment by any Department. I do not believe that these ‘ men would continue their work if they did npt hope that their grievance would be redressed, and that.. they would be placed on the old footing. I hope that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General will see that their grievance is rectified, as, unless the matter is taken, in hand immediately, there will be, in conformity with the provisions of’ the Public Service Act, an all-round reduction in the wages of the men engaged in this work to 8s. per day.
– - Before the motion’ passes, I wish to enter some protest against the action, or want of action,, on the part of the External Affairs Department in .connexion with the decision of the South African Customs Union, imposing a surtax on Australian sugar. According’ to the answers to the questions I have asked on this subject, it appears that some time ago the South African Customs Union decided to impose a tax of £3 7s. 2d. per ton on sugar imported into South Africa from Australia. It was pointed out by the Federal Government that this was sugar imported from Java and elsewhere, and refined in bond in Australia before exportation to South Africa.
– What was it being sold for in South Africa?
– That is not the issue at all.
– It is important that we should know that.
– The honorable senator’s common sense should show him that a question of the action or inaction of the Government in relation to the South African Customs Union has nothing at all to do with the question of the price charged for that sugar in South Africa. Apparently, the Government represented that these Java or Fiji sugars were not liable to the surtax, which consequently was not charged. But my objection is that the Government allowed it to be understood in South- Africa that sugar grown by white labour in Australia was granted a bounty within the definition of the term as prescribed in the Brussels Convention of some years back, which is still in force. By the use of the term in the Brussels Conven-tion, it was intended to prevent the continuance of the system of bounties on the business of the production and export of sugar, whereas the sugar bounty granted in Australia is given for the purpose of encouraging the production of sugar only under cer-> tain specific conditions, not -only as to the rates of wages to be paid, but also as to the colour of the labour employed in the industry. I find that the- Government did not make any representation to the South African authorities in that connexion. It is true that they represented that sugar from Java or Fiji refined here in bond should be admitted to South Africa without the payment of the surtax, but they entirely failed to represent that sugar grown in Australia, in connexion with which a bounty is paid only if the growers pay certain wages and employ labour of a certain colour, should not be treated as bounty-fed sugar under the terms of the Brussels Convention.
– We are not exporting any of that sugar to South Africayet.
– I am aware of that ; but I suppose we all hope that one of the greatest agricultural industries in Australia will expand, and that we shall yet be in a position to export that sugar.
– The honorable senator always said that the. industry would be ruined by the very legislation to which he refers.
- Senator Givens appears to be very angry because I am standing up for what is the chief agricultural industry in the portion of Australia from which he comes. Yesterday, I asked a further question on this subject, and the Government replied that a cablegram had been sent to the following effect -
Urge that question of surtax on Australian sugar be reconsidered at Customs Conference. Not bounty fed within meaning Sugar Convention. Bounty paid to individual farmers who produce cane with white labour, and not to manufacturers of sugar. See third paragraph Prime Minister’s letter, 28th February, to Premiers South African States.
When I asked the Minister for the date of that cablegram the information could not be supplied. On the motion for the adjournment, I again asked for thedate, and found that the cablegram was only sent yesterday. The attention of the Government was drawn to the matter weeks ago. The Government were aware last February that the Conference was to take place in Pretoria in April. If the Government imagine that they are taking proper steps to safeguard Australian interests when they overlook an important matter of this kind, until the Conference is ‘probably being held, I do not agree with them. I believe that ‘if the Government had paid the slightest attention to the subject, or had thought about it, the Department concerned would have made a complete investigation long ago, in time to supply the Conference with complete information. As it is, the cablegram has only been sent when, for all we know, the Conference is actually sitting.
– As honorable senators are aware, we have passed Supply Bills covering expenditure for the lastten months. I hope that what has occurred will not be taken as a precedent. It should be understood that we have not delayed procedure on the Appropriation Bill because the Additional Estimates will shortlybe before us,’ when there will then be a better opportunity to deal with the financial position of the Commonwealth. But it is of no use to take up time with talk upon this Bill. The money has been spent, and debate would be worthless. But I earnestly hope that next year the Government will see that the Estimates come before Parliament at a proper time.
– With regard to the item of £20,000, which is to be spent on encouraging immigration, I desire to make one or two remarks. I noted with a great deal of pleasure a speech recently delivered in Queensland by the senior member for Toowoomba, in which he dealt directly with the question of immigration. I beg to direct the particular attention of the Government to this speech. Thepolicy of immigration is an important one, and the observations of the gentleman to whom 1 refer apply not only to Queensland, but to the whole of Australia. His speech is so clear, and so much to the point, that I think the Senate will pardon me for reading it. It was delivered at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce on 27th March, and was reported in the Brisbane Courier on the 28th March.
– Who was the speaker ?
– The senior member for Toowoomba, Mr. Vernon Redwood. He said -
Three absolutely independent factors in the progress of our national development are immigration, land settlement, and railway construction; and it is in these very essentials that we display a lamentable lack of energy and prescience. When one thinks ofour enormous areas of idle land awaiting the advent of the settler, and compares this vast unoccupied region, a too great portion of it already in the clutches of the prickly pear, with the small and straggling line of emigrants finding its way to our shores ; the absurdly inadequate effort or the powers that be to fill our empty places is irresistibly borne home to me. Population we must have, and it were a thousand times more statesmanlike to pay the passage of each and every desirable emigrant if need be, rather than to fritter away valuable time, and see the hardy sons and daughters of the Old Land leaving by the steamer load0 for Canada, in response to the energetic and business-like methods of advertising pursued by the Dominion authorities. Why in the name of common-sense do we not make a serious and whole-hearted attempt to direct the stream of emigration in our favour? There is no country in the world which offers such a wealthand variety of opportunity to the man of intelligence and grit. Capital is not a necessity. It is not always the man with the most money in his pocket who possesses the most brains, and who will eventually assist most to enrich the State in his successful effort to acquire a competence for himself. Provided he be eligible in other respects, we should not debar nor discourage any intending colonist from seeking a home within our borders merely because he has not a well-lined purse. Be it remembered that the majority of our present prosperous and contented settlers are men whose initial capital consisted for the most part of strong muscles, stout hearts, and a fixed determination to succeed in spite of all obstacles. If the emigrant on arrival should not have the wherewithal to make a start, the Government should not only make him a free grant of land, but should help him tobuild a cottage, and procure the necessary implements and stock. Needless to say, I would be no party to the exclusion of our young Queenslanders from a participation in the bounties of State aid. Such assistance would be in the nature of an advance, and would be granted only on certain conditions; but I cannot conceive of any invest; ment more distinctly profitable to the State than the building up a sturdy yeomanry, who, besides constituting the permanent basis of our national wealth, would offer the soundest possible form of insurance against the dangers of an armed attack by hostile forces. The more the question is considered in its different bearings the more incomprehensible appears the almost criminal negligence of the responsible authorities.
I take particular pleasure in quoting this speech, because the opinions expressed in it are practically the same as were expressed by me on a bigger platform in Toowoomba, when I spoke upon this question. It is sometimes said that it is of little use to promote an immigration policy for Australia because there is no land available for the people when they come here. I do not intend to argue that question just now, but I ask the Senate to take notice of a few figures. In 1880 the amount of land under cultivation in Australia was 4,577,699 acres; in 1885, 5,306,762 acres; in 1890, 5,430,221 acres; in 1895, 6,450,620; in 1900, 8,812,000; in 1901, 8,412,212; in 1905, 9,131,301. It is remarkable that the increase of population took place parallel with an increase in the area of land cultivated. The population in 1880 was 2,231,531 ; in 1800; 3,151,355;in1900, 3,765,339;in1901, 3,826,286; and in 1905, 4,052,430.
-How does the honorable senator connect these remarks with the question of immigration?
– What I wish to make clear is that an increase of population has in the past kept pace with an increase in land cultivation in Australia. The two go hand in hand. I direct the attention of the Government to those matters as having an important bearing upon their immigration policy.
– I desire to take this opportunity of bringing under the notice of the Government a serious matter in connexion with the contract for the carriage of mails on the north-west coast of Western Australia. The contractor is the Adelaide Steam-ship Company. The mails are carried between Fremantle and the north-west port of Wyndham, though on some trips the vessels do not go quite so far as Wyndham. The trip ends at Derby. In the contract there is a clause providing for the carriage of cargo and passengers at certain fixed rates agreed upon between the Department’ and the contractors. Recently the contractors refused to ship cargo at the port of Geraldton, with the object, apparently, of centralizing the shipping of cargo at Fremantle, to the detriment of other ports that are entitled to a fair share of the trade. Geraldton is the next port in importance in Western Australia going north-west, and many of its merchants do a considerable trade with the north-west, as it is much nearer than Fremantle is. But, as the Adelaide Steam-ship Company are practically the only company who do business on the north-west coast as far as Wyndham, if the merchants of Geraldton are refused the carriage of their cargo to the north-west, it must injure them, and of course benefit the port of Fremantle. I am not in a position to say whether the Shipping Company are working in with certain merchants in Fremantle or not, or whether this move has been made to extend the trip, and of course secure a larger amount of freightage. I have an idea that there is a little bit of truth in both.
– I wish to know whether the honorable senator is going to connect his remarks with the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department or not. He appears at present to be speaking only with reference to what he considers improper conduct on the part of a certain shipping company. We are not at present entitled to try that company or consider their conduct. Remarks of that kind might be in order on the first reading of this measure, but they are not in order at this stage, unless the honorable senator connects them with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– I propose to connect my remarks with the Post and Telegraph Department, because the Department has a contract with the Adelaide Steam-ship Company.
– If the honorable senator is going to connect his remarks with the Post and Telegraph Department, I shall not interfere with him.
– That is the only Department with which I can connect them. The contract is, in the first place, for the carriage of mails ; but it is also for the purpose of securing fair dealing as between the various ports, and the company should not be allowed to refuse to ship cargo or passengers at any particular port. Yet that is what they have been doing, and I take this opportunity of pointing out to the Government that they have a chance to bring the contractors to reason, seeing that the contractors have recently asked for an alteration in the terms of the contract in order that the trip may be cut short at Derby on some occasions, according to the movements of the tide, instead of going to Wyndham. The Government can therefore insist on inserting another clause to insure that the contractors shall give fair play to all the ports in the north-west. That is so eminently fair that the contractors cannot reasonably object to.it. In my opinion, and in that of most people, the company are evading the terms of the contract now. The Government, in the interests of the community, should take the opportunity of saying to them, “ If we agree to the alteration which you want, you will have to agree to give fair treatment as between all the ports along that coast.” The present contract certainly provides that passengers and cargo must be carried at certain rates, but in the opinion of the law officers of the Government, we have no case against them if they refuse to take passengers or cargo. I have looked into that opinion, and it is. hard to discover on what grounds it was arrived at. It is to the effect that the company could argue, if the matter were tested, that they had not sufficient space on board for the carriage of the cargo. If they had no space, of coursethatwould be a proper reason for refusing cargo, because the navigation laws prohibit overloading. But every one who knows anything about the trade on the coast, must know that cargoes are very scarce there.
– What has that to do with the third reading of the Appropriation Bill?
– It has everything to do with it. This is a contract entered into between the Government and the shipping company for thecarriage of mails, and provision is made for it in the Bill.
– Does the contract relate to ordinary freight conditions ?
– Yes ; besides being a mail contract, it deals with the carriage of cargo and passengers.
– The contract is more than a mail contract.
– Perhaps Senator Mulcahy knows all about it.
– I ask the honorable senator to address the Chair, and not to take notice of interjections.
– If honorable senators take it upon themselves to poke into a matter that they have taken no trouble to investigate-
– I have already asked the honorable senator to continue his speech. I understand now that there are in the contract provisions relating to freight. If honorable senators desire to take objection to Senator de Largie’s line of argument, they can raise a point of order, but I ask the honorable senator not to reply to interjections, especially when he has been asked by the Chair to proceed with his speech.
– I have no desire to disregard your direction, sir, but surely when an honorable senator makes an interjection of that kind I am entitled to reply to it?
– I have told the honorable senator what course I desire him to pursue.I ask him not to debate the question with the Chair. I have already given aruling, rightly or wrongly, and I desire the honorable senator to accept it. I do not wish unduly to interfere with his remarks upon any subject that is pertinent to the Bill.
– Then I ask that Senator Mulcahy’s disorderly remark be withdrawn. It was to the effect that the subject which I was dealing with had nothing to do with the Bill.
– That is not a remark that T can call upon the honorable senator to withdraw. The honorable senator, by interjection, simply expressed an opinion which appears to be incorrect, but he did not charge the honorable senator with having made any wilfully false statement.
– Anyhow, I withdraw it.
– I always thought that all interjections were disorderly, and must be withdrawn when’ objected to.
– Order ! Will the honorable senator take his seat?
– I am doing little else.
– It seems to me that little else than a difference of opinion between the Chair and the honorable senator is going to take place for the next quarter of an hour. That is not at all desirable. I ask the honorable senator again to obev the ruling of the Chair, and proceed with the debate, without taking notice of interjections that have passed. I have given the honorable senator fair latitude and warning, and told him, as I have told other honorable senators, that the ruling of the Chair must be obeyed. There are means to compel the honorable senator to obey it.
– I quite agree that there are such means. I think I am justly entitled .
– Order ! I will not have any altercation with the honorable senator with regard to the ruling that I have given, and that must be obeyed.
– I do not know what you object to, Mr. President. Before I had finished a sentence-
– Order ! I wantto know whether the honorable senator is going to obey the ruling of the Chair. If he will say definitely that he is not going to do so. the Chair will take the necessary action to see that its ruling is obeyed.
– The action of the Adelaide Steam-ship Company in regard to Geraldton is a grievous breach of contract, but if we have no means of proceeding against the contractors, we should at all events take the.opportunity of altering the terms of the contract in order to insure fair play.
– Senator Givens spoke to me yesterday and to-day with regard to the non-delivery of certain electoral papers posted in connexion with the last Queensland’ State elections. He has asked repeatedly for the production in the Senate of the papers relating to that matter. There has been some delay in obtaining all the papers, because inquiry was being made. But I have now the complete file of the papers from the Department. The honorable senator seems to be under a slight misapprehension, because he stated that I promised to lay the papers on the table of the Senate. What I wished him to understand was that 1 and the Department are prepared to lay the whole file on the table of the Library. If it is laid upon the table of the Senate it becomes the property of the Senate and not of the Department. . If necessary, and if time permitted, I should have no objection to having a complete copy of all the documents relating to the matter tabled, but I propose to lay the papers on the table of the Library now, and if Senator Givens or any other honorable senator interested will indicate any particular papers of which he wants copies, copies will be supplied to him or be laid upon the table of the Senate. So that every honorable senator may have what he wishes, but the file must remain the property of the Department. Every information will be made available, and, if desired, copies of particular documents will be supplied to any honorable senator. If at a later stage any honorable senator should desire a copy of any particular portion of the file to be laid upon the table we shall be prepared to accede to his request. I regret that I had not an opportunity of conversing with Senator E. J. Russell regarding the matter which he has brought forward. It was raised at a time when it was impossible for me to communicate with the Post and Telegraph Department. I have taken a note of his representations, which I will communicate to my colleague and the chief executive officers at the earliest possible opportunity. Senator de Largie has referred to certain mail contracts in Western Australia. I was in a position to state that they were not ordinary mail contracts, but mail contracts containing certain conditions regarding trade. The matters to which the honorable senator has referred are engaging the attention of the Department. It has been seeking the advice of the law officers of the Crown as to the extent to which it can call upon companies to fulfil certain obligations to the public. I can only assure the honorable senator that so far as it can the Department will insist upon the companies fulfilling in the letter and the spirit the obligations which they have incurred, and the experience which we have been gaining in that regard will be a good guide to us with regard to the conditions in future contracts.
– I should like to deal with the various matters which have been mentioned by honorable senators, but probably the wiser plan will be for me to’ state generally that they will be duly represented to the PostmasterGeneral, and receive consideration. The matter to which Senator Stewart has referred is receiving the attention of my honorable colleague, who for some days has been engaged in making certain inquiries. I was more than surprised at the’ remarks which fell from Senator Chataway. He referred to a surtax on Queensland sugar exported to South Africa. I believe that no sugar from that State does go into South Africa at the present time.
– Some Queensland sugar did go there,I think.
– Not Queensland, but other sugar.
– On the 28th February, the Prime Minister took action in regard to this very matter, and made certain representations, and a conference is to be held within a month or two. Senator Chataway asked in the Senate what representations had been made, and thereupon the correspondence was laid upon the table, disclosing that the Government were fully alive to everything which was going on. As a conference was likely to take place in a short time, we - yielding to hissuggestion - went sp far as to send a cablegram on the subject, and now, after courteously noticing his suggestion, the honorable senator, in a most ungenerous manner, has reproached us with inactivity. I resent the attitude which he has taken, because we have shown that we are fully alive to bur duties, and are desirousof conserving the best interests of this industry. The matters which have been mentioned’ by Senators Sayers and St. Ledger will be duly considered and representations made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
. -I rise to move that at its rising the Senate should adjourn until Wednesday, the 29th April. It is contemplated that another place will sit to-morrow and next week for the purpose of dealing with the Seat of Government Hill - which I had fondly hoped would have reached the Senate tonight, so that it could be discussed tomorrow - the Public Works Estimates, the Additional Estimates of Expenditure, and . the Senate’s requests for Tariff alterations. Senator Needham. - Why not ask the Senate to adjourn until the 6th May?
– The other House will be engaged with public business on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next, whenI believe, it will be asked to adjourn until the 21st April.
– Until the . 28th of April, I understand.
– No. I am advised that it will re-assemble on the 21st April, to sit oh four days during that week. The question which wis have to consider is the probability of the other House completing theconsideration of the Seat of Government Bill, the Senate’s requests for Tariff alterations, and any other incidental matter during thait period. I have no desire to bring honorable senators back unless I have a reasonable prospect . of keeping them busily employed until we ultimately close the session.
– I think that the honorable senator had better give us another week.
– Hear, hear !
– Why bring us down from Queensland a week too soon ?
–And from Western Australia, too.
– I admit that there is a good deal to be said from that standpoint. ‘ I feel sure that honorable senatorsgenerally are anxious to deal with the business as rapidly as possible, with a view to a prorogation. I thought that there was a possibility of the other House dealing with our requests for Tariff alterations, so that when we returned, as I suggested, on the 29th April, we might deal with its message. If, however, honorable senators fear that there is a probability that it will not have completed its work by the date I mertioned
– There is a very strong probability that it will not have finished its work.
– I want to consult the convenience of honorable senators, because I realize that they are just as anxious as the Government to despatch the public business. I hope that the other House will finish the consideration of the Seat of Government Bill to-morrow, and deal with the Senate’s requests for Tariff alterations next week.
– That, of course, we cannot definitely say. I do not desire to bring honorable senators back unnecessarily, and if there is any general feeling that the adjournment should be made until the 6th May, of course, I am not going to stand in their way.
– The honorable senator might as well move an adjournment until that date.
– Well, as that seems to be the general desire of honorable senators, I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Wednesday, the 6th May, at 2.30 p.m.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.41]. - I only rise to support the proposal of the Minister. I was asked by honorable senators on this side to oppose any proposal to adjourn until the 29th April only ; but, as the Minister has given way, I merely express on their behalf entire coincidence with his motion.
– I also concur in the proposal to adjourn the Senate until the 6th May, because it will be a convenience, not only to the representatives of Queensland’ and Western Australia, but also to the Treasurer, who has stated that it will take the other House a fortnight or three weeks to deal with our requests for Tariff alterations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– On behalf of Senator Chataway, I beg to ask the following questions, which he, but for his late arrival, would have asked this morning -
Queensland, and from previously discharged operators who can pass a practical telegraphy test, without any educational pass being required ?
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies to the questions -
Question resolved in the affirmative!
Senate adjourned at 6.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080409_senate_3_45/>.