3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether the Government will print in big bold type the progress report of Mr. Deane, the Commonwealth engineer, on the survey of the route of the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, especially that part in which he says -
The country traversed is generally covered with salt bush, blue bush, and other vegetation, and does not in any way appear to answer the definition of “ desert.”
– The Age has dropped the word “ desert “ for the first time today.
– Yes, but there are others than the Age to be considered. Will the Government see that copies of the report are sent to the “ Stinking Fish “ Party generally-
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senator that that is not a correct expression to use in asking a question.
– What is not a correct expression, sir?
– I have ruled that in asking a question it is not in order to refer to a “ Stinking Fish “ Party, and I ask the honorable senator to respect my ruling.
– I am rather surprised at it, sir.
– I shall not debate the matter with the honorable senator, and I ask him not to debate it in the Chamber at the present time. He will see that the object of the ruling is to prevent any difficulty from arising in connexion with the asking of questions in the Chamber.
– I was not going to debate the matter, but simply to repeat my question.
– I think that the honorable senator is entitled to refer to his own party by whatever name he likes.
– If Senator Millen likes to take it to himself he may.
– I ask honorable senators not to interject. Senator de Largie is asking a question, and is entitled to be heard.
– Well, I will say, the party without a name.
– Order. I want honorable senators to realize that no difference should exist between a question put without notice, and a question put upon notice. When notice is given of a question that contains expressions which are considered wrong or vague, alterations are made before it appears on the notice-paper. I ask Senator de Largie to bear that fact in mind, and so far as he can, to conform to the ruling of the Chair.
– I should like to know, sir, whether I am entitled to ask a question ?
– The honorable senator is entitled to ask a question.
– I want to know whether I am entitled in a question to use the words, ‘ ‘ The party without a name “ ? and if not I hope that you will point out the standing order that I am breaking.
– A question should be clear and definite, and of such a character that the person to whom it is addressed may know what is meant. But in asking a question the honorable senator is not in order in using expressions which, by implication, are offensive. He must recognise that the expression he made use of first is invariably regarded as offensive, and when he used the words, “The party without a name,” after he had been told” that such words should not be used, he was distinctly out of order.
– If you can suggest to me any other name, sir, I am quite prepared to adopt it.
– It is not for the Chair to suggest a name to the honorable senator.
– Well, Mr. President
Honorable Senators. - Chair, chair.
-Cannot the President take his own part without honorable senators interfering?
– I suggest to the honorable senator that he should use the term “The Socialist Party.”
– I ask Senator St. Ledger to allow the honorable senator to put his question.
– What I desire is that Mr. Deane’s report shall be printed and sent to those who have been consistently-
– Order. In putting a question it is not right for the honorable senator to enter into any argument.
– There is no argument in that, sir.
– I assumed that it was an argument which the honorable senator was addressing to. the Chamber or the Chair, and I ask him to put his question fairly and straightly to the Minister, and without using any offensive expressions or attempting by a side wind to evade my ruling.
– Perhaps, sir, you will dictate the question to me.
– I have already pointed out to the honorable senator that it was no part of the duty of the Chair to state the words in which a question should be put.
– Well, sir, I have done my best in the matter. I mentioned a party in very definite terms, and then I expressed my readiness to adopt any term which you might suggest to me.
– Order ! If the honorable senator likes he can put his question now, but if he attempts to get round the ruling I have given I shall direct him to discontinue his remarks.
– I choose, sir, to discontinue. If I cannot put the question in my own way, I shall not put it in yours.
– Yesterday the VicePresident of the Executive Council was good enough to say that if I were to repeat to-day my question as to whether the Government had received from the Premier of New South Wales an official communication relative to the proposed Capital site, he would give me an, answer to-day.
– f have not had an opportunity of making any inquiry to-day ; but up to yesterday we had not received any such official communication.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he has taken any steps to procure for the Senate copies of the report of the late Mr. Oliver on the suggested site for the Federal Capital?
– I am informed that only about ten or a dozen copies of the report to which my honorable friend refers are available. All the others were circulated some years ago. I shall be glad to .lay the few copies that we possess in the club room, and on the table of the Library.
– Were not, copies of the report bound up with other Federal Parliamentary papers?
– Not copies of Mr. Oliver’s report.
– The best that we can do is to make available to honorable senators the few copies that we have.
– If the VicePresident of the Executive Council would send a telegram to New South Wales, I have no doubt that he could acquire further copies of the report ; they might be made available by Monday.
– I am told that copies of the report are very scarce, but I will accept my honorable friend’s suggestion, and will at once telegraph to New South Wales. If other copies are obtainable we shall be glad to circulate them amongst honorable senators.
– I am not quite sure whether the Royal Commission appointed by the Commonwealth Government some years ago to inquire into suggested Capital sites, reported upon Yass and Canberra.
– No ; they reported on Lake George, but not on Yass or Canberra.
– Was not Yass included ?
– Only in Mr. Oliver’s report.
– Perhaps the Minister will see that a recent report of the Water Conservation Department of New South Wales with reference to the water supply from the Cotter River is circulated. ‘
– That report was laid upon the table a few .days ago.
– I wish to ask your ruling, Mr. president, on this point. Is it in order to propose to take a ballot upon the Yass-Canberra site, seeing that there is at present upon the statute-book an Act in which Parliament declares that Dalgety shall be the site of the Federal Capital’ ?
– The question of the honorable senator is of a hypothetical char- acter. When the motion that it is intended to propose comes before the Senate, I shall be prepared to give a ruling if it is asked for.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Return showing premises disposed of under section 63 (2) at Balla Balla, Western Australia. Return showing -
Amount of bounties paid under the
Bounties Act of 1907.
Item in Schedule in respect of which each payment was made. (c) Date of each payment.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table his report to the Standing Orders Committee, tabulating decisions arrived at during Session 1907-8; also the first report of the Standing Orders Committee, dated 15th October, 1908, with amendments recommended by the Committee.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the reports be printed, and that their consideration in Committee be made an order of the day for Wednesday, 28th October.
– I wish to ask the Vice-Presidentof the Executive Council a question, without notice. When walking in the gardens this morning with Senator Macfarlane, I was approached by one of the unemployed, who asked whether something could be done to enable men to get away from Melbourne. I replied that I did not think the matter was one with which the Federal Government was concerned, but I wish to ask whether anything can be done to enable men who are unemployed to go to other parts of Australia than Victoria. My impression is that they could get work elsewhere.
– I am disposed to say that the question put by the honorable senator relates purely to a State matter.
– I thought so.
– It is not one with which we can interfere.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Prime Minister communicate with the British Cotton-growing Association and ascertain -
If the Association will send, and, if so, on what terms, an expert to inspect and report upon the suitability of tropical Australia for growing cotton? 2. If any of the land is suitable, will the Association take up land for the purpose of cotton-growing, and on what terms, particularly as to area, locality, and rent of land, and the amount of capital to be expended, and labour conditions ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
The papers in the matter, which are somewhat voluminous, will be examined in order to enable an opinion to be formed as to the advisableness of the Government approaching the Association.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) The authority is such as obtains in all similar cases, i.e., some of the information was obtained from private sources and some from official returns which are periodically compiled.
and (c) It would, no doubt, be possible to obtain the same information for prior periods, but such returns take time to prepare and involve considerable labour and expense.
Wages and Labour Conditions
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3. All contracts for public works, whether directly under the Home Affairs Department or under the several States’ Works Departments, by instruction from the Home Affairs Department, provide for the payment of a minimum wage equivalent to the ruling rate in the district and for the observance of recognised hours of labour.
The practice varies somewhat in the different States; in some a statutory declaration from the contractor that he has complied with such conditions is insisted upon before any payment is made, and in other States it is only asked for when there has been any assertion or suspicion that the conditions have been evaded.
It is considered that these provisions are now well known to employes, and that they will make representations themselves, or through others if they have any cause of complaint. The ruling rates in a district can only be known to those engaged, and to have to refer to the Minister save in exceptional cases would obviously cause delay and hardship.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages without delay.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.52]. - What is the reason for pursuing this highly unsatisfactory and unconstitutional course in dealing with Money Bills. We have reached only the middle of the month, and there should surely be no pressing necessity to comply with public obligations. If there is, the Bill should have been introduced sufficiently early to have rendered unnecessary the course the Minister now proposes to adopt. Since the Senate has been a Senate this course has been pursued every session by one Ministry after another. Members of the present Ministry are in this respect, perhaps, greater sinners than their predecessors, by reason of the fact that they are continuing the evil practice, and are practically a continuation of Ministries that have ruled, or have been permitted to rule by others, since the establishment of the Commonwealth Parliament. Time after time this course has been pursued, until, so far as this Chamber is concerned, we have lost all control over the public expenditure, because it is of little use to discuss matters when the discussion must end in a waste of time. It appears that no matter what argument may be adduced against, or what opposition given to, this practice, it is still to be continued. I suppose that I am now only uttering a useless protest, and the Senate will bow down to the higher will of somebody in another place. I suppose that we shall continue periodically to vote two months’ Supply, with an occasional vapouring, such as I am giving vent to now. I recognise that it is useless unless the Senate is prepared to discharge its duty of criticising public expenditure and dealing wife it as we have a right to deal with it.
– - I agree with every word that Senator Neild has said. It is high time that some other method of dealing with the finances of the Commonwealth was initiated. The honorable senator has correctly described the procedure hitherto adopted in connexion with these matters. The voting of money - in reality, one of the most important functions the Commonwealth Parliament is called upon to perform - has degenerated into a mere farce. Money Bills are brought here, and the Standing Orders are suspended that they may be rushed through without opportunity for criticism or consideration. As a consequence, wasteful extravagance is being encouraged, and Parliament is losing whatever control it ever had over the finances.
– If we are extravagant in this Bill, we must have been extravagant in the Estimates, on which it is based?
– This is the first Supply Bill we have had presented to us during the present financial year. Senator Best.’ - No.
– It is the usual practice now to base Supply Bills on the last Estimates.
– We have nothing to do with what this Bill is based upon. We are dealing now with the financial operations for 1908-9. This is the first Supply Bill introduced in this financial year, and, as such, offers a fitting opportunity for turning over a new leaf. At the beginning of a new year most of us frame fresh resolutions, and propose for ourselves a new plan of life. Whether we act upon those resolutions subsequently is another matter. Here we have an opportunity to discard the old system and adopt a new system.
– Would the honorable senator suggest that the deliverance of the Budget should be the first business of the session ?
– I suggest that we should deal with these Supply Bills as we would deal with any other Bill. Does my honorable friend understand plain English, even when it is spoken with a Scotch accent? Why should we not deal with this Bill in exactly the same way as we deal with other matters? Take the Seat of Government Bill as an example. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council were to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to permit of that measure being rushed through without delay, would honorable senators agree to the adoption of that course ? Certainly not ! They would insist upon being afforded ample opportunity to discuss the measure. My honorable friend behind me asks if I desire to see a Black Friday? I do not know exactly what he means. Does he mean that for the Commonwealth public servants today is pay day ?
– Surely that fact in itself constitutes a serious indictment of the Government.
– My honorable friend overlooks the circumstance that this Bill provides only for the ordinary services of the year, and is based upon last year’s Estimates.
– I. overlooked nothing. The money the payment of which this Bill is intended to authorize, is due to-day, and the Government - relying upon past experience - has purposely delayed bringing the measure forward until the eleventh hour. It is now two minutes past 3 o’clock, the Government offices close at 4 o’clock, and the banks have already closed. In these circumstances, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will, no doubt, appeal to honorable senators to pass the measure without delay.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that that question is not covered by a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, although the honorable senator’s statement may be an argument against the acceptance of the Bill.
– I have always opposed this method of doing business, and if Senator Neild can gather around him a sufficiently strong party to put a stop to it I shall gladly make one of that party.
– What ! Put the Government out of office?
– I do not wish to put the Government out of office. We might have a very much worse Government, but I think that we might also have a very much better one. I am suggesting one way in which the Government may improve their conduct. If they do so, I certainly shall entertain a very much higher opinion of them than I do at present. I oppose the suspension of the Standing Orders, and if Senator Neild presses this matter to- a division, I shall be found supporting him.
– I understand that it is intended to press this question to a division. I absolutely indorse the objections which have been urged against the course which the Government propose to follow, but I do trust that the Senate will not refuse to suspend the Standing Orders. I understand that the money, the expenditure of which the Bill is intended to authorize, is required to make payments to-morrow.
– Then why was it not brought forward earlier?
– Even if we desire to punish the Government for having left undone something which they ought to have done, we ought not to punish our public servants. There is a way, however, of marking our displeasure without hurting any innocent party. The Senate may place on record its strong disapproval of the ac- ‘tion which the Government are now taking by reducing the total expenditure .authorized by the Bill by a nominal sum, as an intimation that this Chamber will not, as a matter of form, always agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders. The VicePresident pf the Executive Council has himself given the strongest reason why the Government should not have adopted the course of action which is now proposed. He told us that the votes embodied in the Bill were based upon the Estimates of last year. If that be so, no preparation was required in the framing of this measure, which might have been presented a fortnight ago.
The statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council amounts to the strongest possible- condemnation of the action of the Government. At the same time I think that it would be unfair to penalize innocent civil servants by refusing to suspend the Standing Orders with a view to the passing of the Bill without delay.
– - I am rather surprised at the remarks of my honorable friend who has just resumed his seat, because he has apparently quite forgotten the whole of the circumstances connected with this case. I repeat, as a reason why honorable senators should agree to this motion, that the Bill is intended to authorize the payment of certain money for the ordinary services of the year, that the items embodied in it are based upon the Estimates of last year.
– Which the Senate was afforded no opportunity of criticising.
– There is absolutely, nothing new in the Bill.- Senator Millen has overlooked the fact that, last session, with a view to facilitating the prorogation of Parliament, we passed a Supply Bill to cover three months of the current financial year. That measure was based upon the Estimates of last year. We did not feel justified in asking .Parliament to grant another two months’ Supply based upon those Estimates until we were able to place before it the Estimates for the current financial year. The Treasurer was only able to obtain the data necessary to enable him to make his Budget statement yesterday. Hence this Bill was “delayed, and honorable senators are now in possession of the fullest information. I repeat that the amounts authorized by the Bill are based upon the Estimates for last year, and not upon any excess items which appear in the Estimates for the current financial year.
– Why were we compelled to wait till the Budget had been delivered ?
– For the reason that I have already explained. It was a most unusual course to ask Parliament to grant Supply in respect of a portion of the current financial year until the Estimates had been tabled. Every parliamentarian knows that. But there were special reasons why Parliament granted three months’ Supply last session on account of the services of the present year. It would have been unfair to ask for another two months’ Supply until we were able to put before honorable senators the information which was contained in the Budget, and until the Estimates for the current financial year had been tabled.
– Admitting the force of the honorable gentleman’s argument - which I do not - will he give some assurance that the practice followed on the present occasion will not be repeated almost every month of the present financial year?
– I cannot speak of future exigencies. What is more, if my honorable friend occupied my position, He would know that the adoption of a similar course is sometimes unavoidable. Every Government feels constrained by the exigencies of the moment to resort to this procedure almost uniformly. It is very difficult to avoid doing so. Honorable senators will be in a position on a future Supply Bill to discuss the Estimates for the current year at length, and certainly with greater advantage than they could at the present time. I hope that they will see their way to pass the motion.
Question - That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages without delay - put. The Senate divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Noes … … … 4
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Silver Coinage and Cartridge Blanks - Wireless Telegraphy - Letter Delivery - Mails by s.s. Bingera - Papua - Post and Telegraph Department : Administration - Military Forces- Tobacco Industry : Tariff - Land Monopoly and Immigration - Advertising the Commonwealth - Usher of the Black Rod.
Motion (by SenatorKeating) proposed -
That this Bill be now reada first time.
– I rise to bring under the notice of the Senate a matter which, I think honorable senators will agree with me. should be ventilated. It may not be agreeable to the Vice-President of the Executive Council for me to enter so fully into details as I intend to do, but I think that the subject is worthy of all the time which may be devoted to its consideration to-day. I propose to refer to the proposed coining of (silver in Australia, the proposition which was made for the manufacture of cartridges or cartridge blanks and cases in the Mint, the treatment which that subject has received at the hands of the Government, and the report of the Committee which they appointed to deal with it. PerhapsI had better first sketch what led up to the appointment of the Committee, and its report. The question of silver coinage hasbeen from time to time raised by members of Parliament, either by questions or by speeches ; and I understand that the Government have been compiling data. Two gentlemen who are associated with the Royal Mint in Australia- Mr. McCay, of Melbourne, and Mr. Corbet, of Perth - and who have taken a keen interest in this subject for many years, have supplied the Government with a large quantity of detailed information as to the prospects and possibilities of the local coinage of silver. In the course of their investigations it was brought home to them that this work would not be sufficient to employ the plant and the operators in the Mint for the whole of the year, and that therefore the minting of silver might be made somewhat costly. Their technical knowledge, and the result of the inquiries which they made, ledthem to believe that in the same building,. with some of the same machinery, and additional machinery, and with the same employes, it would be both possible and economical to manufacture the cartridge blanks and cases which are now imported. They thought that the Mint Arsenal could be run for the whole of the year, and that in that way the cartridges or blanks and cases would be supplied at a much cheaper rate than at present. During, the past year or two I have taken an interest in the question of the joint manufacture of these things. On various occasions I have asked questions, and brought information under the notice of the Minister of Defence, particularly as to the advisability of the Government pushing on with the proposal. In April, 1901, Mr. Corbet sent to Mr. Collins, Secretary ito the Treasury, a memorandum compiled by himself and Mr. McCay relative to the local manufacture of rifle cartridges and its relation to the establishment of a Federal Mint for the coinage of silver. They pointed out that the first stage in the manufacture of the cartridge - that is the making of the blank or cup - is identical in process with the making of the blank for coining, and that certain portions of the machinery are also identical. On the 24th February, 1906, they submitted estimates regarding the coinage of silver, and a memorandum which they submitted regarding cartridge blanks was referred by the Treasury on the 12th December, 1906, to the Defence Department. On the 9th May, 1906, after a request from the Government, Messrs. Corbet and McCay submitted a further detailed estimate, including building, plant, working, number of operatives, wages, and all particulars for a fully equipped mint capable of turning out silver coins, cartridge blanks, and cases. In May, 1906, the proposal came under the notice of the Prime Minister, who referred to the scheme as being very valu- able. On the 26th June Messrs. McCay and Corbet, after being requested to do so, estimated the cost of manufacturing 10,303,000 cartridges at £41,381, or at the rate of £4 3s. per thousand. Various memoranda were brought under the notice of the Defence Department, and on the 26th June, 1906, Lt.-Colonel Le Mesurier, Chief of Ordnance, furnished a short report, in which the most pregnant passage is the following -
As the question is such an important one, and not having the necessary knowledge of minting, I feel very diffident in expressing an opinion.
However, with the knowledge I possess of the manufacture of rifle cartridges, and projectiles for ordnance, etc., I do not think that the proposal is feasible.
Further on, he suggested that the papers should be forwarded to Mr. Hake, Chief Inspector of Explosives in Victoria. In July, 1906, that was done, and Mr. Hake submitted a report in which he criticised at some length Mr. Corbet’s qualifications, and pointed out as an objection that the two processes - the minting of coins and the manufacture of cartridges - were regulated by two separate Acts of Parliament. To sum up the remainder of his objections, he regarded the manufacture of cartridges in the Mint as dangerous. Any one who reads his report can see that he looked at the question entirely from a chemical point of view, being chemical adviser to the Defence Department. Apparently he did not look at the question from an economical point of view, and regarded the proposal as one for the exclusive manufacture of’ cartridges in the Mint rather than for the mere manufacture of cartridge cases and cups. Messrs. Corbet and McCay then submitted estimates of cost, buildings, plant, and salaries, in detail. These were forwarded to the. Defence Department, and Senator Playford, who was then Minister of Defence, minuted them to .the effect that, in his opinion, there was “ no one in Australia competent to express an opinion upon this matter.” He suggested that the documents should be forwarded to Captain Collins, in London, for the purpose of obtaining information from expert authorities. Sir John Forrest, who was Treasurer, thereupon issued instructions that the papers should be sent to Captain Collins, and they were duly forwarded on 6th August, 1906. Mr. Hake’s report was submitted to Messrs. Corbet and McCay later in 1906. In reply, they pointed out that their only recommendation was that the cartridge blanks should be made in the same building as the silver coins, but not that the cartridges should be filled at the same place. This disposed of Mr. Hake’s only argument against their scheme. On 12th October, 1906, Captain Collins sent a report from London, in which he said that he was awaiting reports from the Royal Mint, and from various other authorities ; and he mentioned that he had had . conversations with the Governor of the Royal Mint, the Right Honorable W. G. ‘ EllisonMacartney, who disagreed with the esti- mates of Messrs. Corbet and McCay as to the working expenses and the profit on silver coinage, and had submitted the estimates to the Colonial Ammunition Company’s directors in London, who also stated that the expenses were underestimated. The Governor of the Mint said that, while it might be inadvisable, he regarded the proposal to manufacture cartridge blanks in the Mint as perfectly feasible. Moreover, as to the similarity of the plant used, he said that the Mint were about to establish a new building in Sydney, and that an experiment might be tried there. Captain Collins wrote :
As regards the proposal that a nucleus for an arsenal might be formed by a Mint, I may remark that it is obvious it would not do to have a Mint forming part of an arsenal wherein operations in regard to explosives were also carried on, but as regards the contention that a Mint might undertake to supply blanks for the manufacture of rifle cartridges there appears to be no doubt that such a proposal would be perfectly practicable. The machinery necessary for a Mint is remarkably similar to that required for the operation of making cartridge cases, and it would be possible to have this. For instance, say our present factory at Footscray was supplied with the blanks” from the Mint instead of importing the brass cups from England, the Mint would then roll the metal necessary for the cartridge cases and would manufacture the cups. The Governor of the Mint pointed out to me that they are about to establish a Mint at Sydney on another site, and he thought that if anything was to be done in the way of manufacturing cartridge cases the time might be opportune in the establishment of this new Mint at Sydney for the Commonwealth to arrange with the New South Wales Government and the Mint authorities for the manufacture of small-arm blanks for the requirements of the Commonwealth.
– Would the manufacture of cartridge blanks and silver coins go on simultaneously ?
– Not necessarily. When the manufacture of coins was completed, the machinery could be used for the manufacture of blanks. On the 2nd November a new critic came into the field, about whom I shall have something to say later on. I refer to Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, of the Albion Works, Leeds, who, apparently at the request of Captain Collins, made a report on this subject. I particularly ask honorable senators to notice the hostile attitude taken up by them from the commencement. Later I shall show that they had a special reason for their hostility. In their communication of the 2nd November, 1906, they say -
In reply to your letter of the 13th September, enclosing a copy of a memorandum from your
Government respecting the coinage of silver and the manufacture of small arms cartridges, and asking us to give you our views on this subject. Our company manufacture among other things (a) mint machinery of all kinds; (b) machinery for making cartridges, shells, rifles, and other munitions of war; (c) rifle cartridges. Our chairman, Mr. Arthur Greenwood, is also chairman of the King’s Norton Metal Company, who manufacture (a) rolled metal of all kinds for cartridges, coins, &c. ; (b) Q.F. cartridge cases from 3 pdr. to 8°; (c) silver and bronze and nickel coins.
– There are rolling mills in Birmingham where that kind ot work is done.
– Quite so. The letter goes on to say -
The coinage of silver and copper is a simple process when compared with trie manufacture of the above war material, although the process of forming the blanks for coins and cartridges is somewhat similar.
And further on -
In conclusion, we would suggest that the mint for the coinage of silver and bronze with the machinery for workshop for the repair of tools and making of the necessary dies, should be kept quite distinct from any proposed arsenal, or, that should the arsenal be established, the mint should be a subsidiary branch of such arsenal, the work carried on there being by far. simpler than the manufacture of war material.
The other letters from which I shall quote are too lengthy for me to read in their entirety. I shall only read such * portions as are pertinent to the issue. I can skip other portions, because I believe that there is now little or no objection to the coinage of silver in Australia. It is merely a matter of the most convenient time for bringing the new system into operation. A far more formidable witness who is hostile to the proposal, and who is -not open to the objection that I shall shortly bring “against Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, is the Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, to whom the matter was also referred. His letter is dated 5th November, 1906, and was forwarded in a covering letter from the War Office. He finds little fault with the estimates of Messrs. Corbet and McCay, although he thinks that in some respects they have under-estimated. But, coming to the question of the joint manufacture of cartridge blanks and silver coins, he says -
The writer assumes that the required metals for making the blanks for the cartridges could be worked with the same plant as that proposed for the mint. This is open to the gravest ob- ‘jections if it is not absolutely impracticable. It would be necessary to separate the scrap and ashes of the valuable metals used in minting from those of the metals used in cartridge manufacture; the difficulty of doing this would be great. In the same way it is doubtful whether the annealing arrangements for gold and silver strip would be readily adaptable for brass and cupro-nickel, &c.
As Messrs. Corbet and McCay point out, in their reply to that letter, it is framed as if they had recommended that the two operations should be carried on simultaneously. That is the reason for that reference to the mixing of the scraps.
– It would not be necessary to carry on the two operations together.
– That was not proposed or intended by Messrs. Corbet and McCay. The letter goes on to say -
Though copper and zinc are produced in Australia, it must be remembered that only certain brands have been found suitable for the very exacting conditions of cartridge manufacture. Most of these are American, and, though a certain amount of Australian copper has been used in the manufacture of brass strip, we ar<compelled to rely chiefly on American copper for “use with cupro-nickel.
With regard to Australian zinc we have had no experience, but it is quite possible that it would prove unsuitable.
I shall quote a reply to that letter, in which it is shown that a firm which is engaged in the manufacture of cartridges made a proposition for turning out a machine for the manufacture of silver coins and cartridge blanks. The subject was also referred by Captain Collins to the authorities of the Royal Mint in England, and Mr. W. G. Ellison-Macartney, the Deputy Master, reported as follows’: -
The answer to the main question proposed, viz., could a mint, if established, be made advantageously to serve the dual purposes of coining and manufacturing small-arms cartridge parts, is in the affirmative.
The rest of the report deals altogether with the question of coinage, and argues that the estimate of Messrs. Corbet and McCay of a profit of .£50,000 was too high. The Deputy-Master himself . estimates the profit at .£35,000 a year, and he devotes the remainder of his letter to that issue. I do not propose to enter into that question. Messrs. Corbet and McCay, to strengthen their position, submitted the question to Messrs. Taylor and Chal- len, who are also manufacturers of this particular class of machinery, and who do work on the same lines as the firm of Greenwood and Batley. They replied from Birmingham, on the 23rd August,. 1906, as follows -
We are only too pleased to be of any assistance to you, and shall be happy to give your any further information in our power. Wilh regard to the “ combination of processes,” therewould be no difficulty in using the meltinghouseand the rolling Department for the two purposes, also the repair shop, and we have no hesitation in recommending your proposed scheme. That is, of course, looking at thematter from the stand-point of satisfactory working only. We expect that the chief difficulty would be that the various “ heads “ would”wish to keep their Departments entirely separate. Should your proposed scheme come tofruition we should be pleased to hear from you.-, further. We have sent you a CopY of our red catalogue on minting machinery by foreign book post, and enclose a price list, and shall be pleased to receive any inquiry for any machinery illustrated.
The various criticisms which I have quoted’ were sent out to Australia by Captain Collins, and were submitted by the Defence Department, or by the Treasury, to Messrs. Corbet and McCay, who replied to thecriticisms by pointing out that, so far asthe Royal Mint was concerned, the report of Mr. Ellison-Macartney was distinctly in their favour, so far as related to thejoint processes. They then went on to deal with the arguments regarding silver coinage, which I do not intend to quote. To thequestion raised by the Superintendent of Ordnance Factories, they replied somewhat lengthily, and made this statement -
The so-called difficulty of dealing with mixed scraps of base and precious metals is one which is daily surmounted in most mints. Gold, silver, and bronze are normally coined in mints. It will” be noted that the Deputy Master of the Mint (Mr.. Ellison-Macartney) makes no objection on this score. The fact that he is responsible for theannual manufacture of millions of coins, comprising gold, silver of various finenesses, and! bronze, would make him familiar with the difficulty’ that is referred to twice in the report of the Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Factories. This report does not deal specifically with the. subject of the manufacture of cartridge blanks: in a mint, except so far as the above extracts; are concerned. The numerous references to thecomplete manufacture of cartridges will be considered elsewhere. Messrs. Greenwood and” Batley, in their letter of 2nd November,. 1906, refer to the “ similarity between the blanksfrom which a coin is struck and f.he blanks, from which cartridge cases and bullet envelopesare formed.” Later on, they say: “The process of forming the blanks for coins and cartridges is somewhat similar.”
They then quoted the opinions of the various gentlemen to whom I have referred as being in favour of their proposition, and they said that -
The Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Fac- tories suggests that the quality of the copper- used ‘is more important in the case of cartridges than o’f coins. Messrs. Greenwood and Batley say that the metal for cartridge making has to be of the very best, and requires the greatest technical skill in all the processes of mixing, melting, casting, rolling, and annealing. The Deputy Master of the Mint might reply that the extremely narrow limits imposed by the law in connexion with the coinage of sovereigns make the melting and rolling and annealing of gold-copper alloy an exceedingly delicate series of operations, and the success attained in the evenness of the strips is really much less remarkable in its way than anything the cartridgemaker can boast of.
Dealing with the objection of the Chief Superintendent to Australian copper, they remarked -
The remarks of the Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Factories seem to indicate that, in his opinion, Australian copper is more or less suitable for brass, but is unsuitable for cupronickel. Wallaroo (South Australia) copper ranks with the best in the world, and it is quite possible that with a slight modification it might be found suitable for cupro-nickel as well as for coins and cartridge cases. It must be noted, however, that the Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Factories does not say explicitly that Australian copper is unsuited tor cupro-nickel.
I come now to the question of cost. In their criticism on the recommendations of Messrs. Corbet and McCay, various estimates are submitted from different firms, and a somewhat remarkable estimate from Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, the firm to which I drew particular attention. Various people submitted estimates for a rolling mill for cartridge metal, and for a rifle cartridge factory. Messrs. Greenwood and Batley’s quotation is £45,000; Messrs. Taylor and Challen, of Birmingham, the firm to whom Messrs. Corbet and McCay wrote, gave an estimate of £12,678, or less than one-third of Greenwood and Batley’s estimate.
– Is that for buildings, machinery, and everything else?
– Yes. The Woolwich Arsenal people, through the Chief Ordnance Inspector, submitted an estimate °f j£j5>25°> and Corbet and McCay’s estimate is £8,500. Honorable senators will see that the estimates .range from £8,500, according to Corbet and McCay, to £45,000, the estimate submitted by Greenwood and Batley.
– The cost of the site might vary. Much would depend on that. Is allowance made for the purchase of land for the erection of the necessary buildings ?
– I think that Messrs. Corbet and McCay reckoned on the erection of galvanized iron buildings, and not of stone buildings. Here are the esti mates of the cost of plant. The Superintendent of Ordnance estimates the cost of a plant to turn out 15,000,000 cartridges at £10,450. Taylor and Challen give an estimate of ,£7.000 for a plant to turn out 12,000,000 cartridges, and Corbet and McCay estimate that £8,500 would be required for a plant to turn out 10,000,000 cartridges. In view of the varying quantities provided for. these estimates are very much alike. This is the way in which the criticism of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley is dealt with -
The Chairman of Greenwood and Batley is also chairman of King’s Norton Metal Company. The King’s Norton Metal Company manufacture rolled metal of all kinds. Q.F. cartridge cases and silver, bronze, and nickel coins. This is a great part of the ultimate scheme put forward by the writers. The King’s Norton Metal Company is in itself a sort of Mint-Arsenal or Arsenal-Mint. It is associated with a similar company - Greenwood and Batley, which manufactures rifle cartridges.
Greenwood and Batley state that the proposal of the writers is “ That in addition to the coinage of silver and bronze, the Mint should also undertake” the manufacture of blanks for rifle cartridges, of rifle cartridges, or Q.F. cartridge cases, of shot and shell, and of rifles. This misunderstanding of the proposals made by the writers unfortunately affect almost the whole of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley’s criticisms. It is suggested nowhere by the writers that, say, the rifle factory should be a sub-department of the Mint. “ The coinage of silver and copper is a simple process when compared with the manufacture of the above raw material.” Bronze and silver coinage is certainly less difficult than gold coinage. The manufacture of Q.F. cartridge cases may also be more difficult than “bronze currency. ‘In the King’s Norton Metal Company these two activities are closely associated. It is usual in an arsenal for differing industries to be associated. Granting that the “ mixing, melting, casting, rolling, and annealing” of brass for cartridge cases requires the greatest technical skill - just such skill is required in the manufacture of gold currency, where good coins and a high percentage of output from bars is a requirement.
Messrs. Greenwood and Batley estimate the cost of plant at .£10,000, the Superintendent of Ordnance at .£2,850, Taylor and Challen at ,£1,181, and Corbet and McCay at £2,360. Continuing the criticism of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, they say -
The first thing required in regard to smallarm ammunition was the local manufacture of blanks. Messrs. Greenwood and Batley are probably aware of the existence of the Colonial Ammunition Company in Australia -
I shall show later on that they were perfectly well aware of it - seeing they supplied the plant which does not include casting shop or rolling mill.
The writers have not and never had any desire to see this Company supplanted, but it is obvious that the practice of importing blanks should be stopped. Hence the proposal that the Commonwealth Mint should supply the blanks, as far as possible from local material.
The establishment of a Commonwealth Mint would bring into existence a technical and mechanical staff. Why not use this staff to inquire into the military requirements of the Commonwealth in all matters regarding the manufactures of metals?
I am sorry to have to be somewhat tedious in dealing with this matter, but to explain the point I desire to make’, it is necessary that I should go into some detail. The summary, of Messrs. Corbet and McCay’s reply to the criticisms of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley is as follows -
Greenwood and Batley admit it can be done. The Arsenal is unfavorable.
All agree that the estimated cost of plant is too low.
The writers contend for the substantial accuracy of their estimates, while admitting certain defects which are not serious.
And they asked for a Departmental Board of Inquiry. Their request came before the Treasurer, and I quote that portion of the minute by the accountant to the Treasury referring to the appointment of a Board of Inquiry -
Such a Committee mightinclude a Treasury officer, a Defence officer, and (say) the Chief Mechanical Engineer of one of the State Railway Systems. Inquiries would be made at the Australian Mints, at the factory of the Colonial Ammunition Company, and such other places as might be found necessary.
That was the recommendation made to the Minister of Defence. The next development was a letter from the Colonial Ammunition Company re a suggested contract. This was addressed to the Minister of Defence, and is as follows -
London,11th May, 1907.
We beg to acknowledge your letter of the 6th instant, and submit herewith our proposals for the, erection of such additional buildings and plant in Australia as would be required for the manufacture of materials used in making cartridge cases, bullets, and caps : -
Such rolling mill would involve this company in a capital expenditure of some£20,000, and they now propose that in consideration of such expenditure being incurred, that your Government make a contract with this company for the supply of all smallarms ammunition for a term of years.
We are, Sir,
Your most obedient servants,
The Colonial Ammunition Compy. Ltd., (Sgd.) Sidney T. Batley, Secretary.
The Hon. Alfred Deakin,
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Hotel Cecil, London, W.C.
On the 19th July, 1907, they wrote -
We are, Sir, your most obedient servant,
The Colonial Ammunition Co. Ltd., (Sgd.) Sidney T. Batley, Secretary.
The Hon. Minister for Defence,
Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne.
Then followed a further letter on the 21st March from the Colonial Ammunition Company’s Melbourne office -
The Acting Secretary for Defence,
Victorian Barracks, St. Kilda-road.
In reference to our conversation re the manufacture of discs for cartridges at the Mint, I have the honour to suggest that it would be far more practicable for my company to make the silver discs required for coinage, should the making of silver coins be adopted in this country, than for brass and cupro-nickel cups to be made at the Mint. Mere brass and nickel discs are of no use to us, as they cannot be fed into our machines; cups are made by being cut into discs and cupped at one operation. The quantity requiredby your Department , is very large, and the carriage from the Mint to our works would be a very serious item, and the same thing would apply to the return of scrap metal to the Mint. The quality of metal would, if not treated as exactly required for our work, cause great trouble, and probably give very unsatisfactory results. The sum of money, I understand, mentioned as being considered sufficient, would not anything like meet your requirements. Our friends, Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, have made large plants of coining machinery for nearly every country in the world, and with the use of their machines we could turn out all sizes of silver coins in any quantity required, the nature of the work being similiar to cartridge making, but it by no means follows that cartridge making could be done by people used to coining.
I have the honour to be, &c., &c., (Sgd.) John Whitney,
The significant part of that letter is that, as I shall show later, the very people who condemned most strongly Messrs. Corbet and McCay’s suggestion that the two operations could be performed by the same machinery, and under one management, in this letter actually themselves proposed to do the work. On the one hand they have said that it is utterly impossible to do this work at a Common- wealth Mint, and on the other hand they make the statement, “ Give us an extension of our contract, and we will do the work at our factory at Footscray.” I shall show that Messrs. Greenwood and Batley are really the Colonial Ammunition Company under another name. I should say that the letter which 1 have just read is a letter which was substituted for the following letter, dated 21st March -
The Acting Secretary for Defence,
Victorian Barracks, St. Kilda-road.
In reference to our conversation re the manufacture of discs for cartridges at the Mint, I have the honour to suggest that it would be far more practicable for my company to make the silver and copper discs required for coinage, than for brass and cupro-nickel discs, such as has been suggested to be made at the Mint. We do not use discs, as this is not the process of our manufacture. The quality of the metal would, if not treated exactly as required for our work, cause great trouble and give very unsatisfactory result’s.
The technical work of cartridge making commences where coining ends, and there is nothing further analogous between the two manufactures.
My company would be prepared to make discs’ for silver and copper coinage for the Commonwealth at, or near, cost price, the Government providing the metal.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) John Whitney.
– If these two companies are the same, how is that one appears to have submitted a tender of £20,000 for a factory, and the other a tender of £12,000?
– The estimate of £12,000 was for a factory without the plant. They submitted an estimate of £32,000 for factory and plant.
– How do the two tenders work out?
– The £20,000 does not represent the amount of a tender, it is merely a statement of theprobable cost. The other people say that the cost to the Commonwealth would be £32,000.
– Does not one of the estimates represent the cost of a proposed addition to an existing plant, whilst the other provides for the purchase of an entirely new plant?
– No. The proposal of Messrs. Corbet and McCay was for a new Mint, as was also the estimate of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley. But the Colonial Ammunition Company’s quotation of £20,000 was intended to cover the cost of the additional machinery required at their Footscray works. Mr. Hake then came upon the scene, and on 31st March, 1908, he wrote -
Further information contained in the papers submitted consists of additional memoranda by the authors of this proposal. Opinion on same by the Deputy Master of the Mint, London ; opinion of the Chief Superintendent, Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, and others ; and very lengthy criticisms by the authors of the proposal, on the views expressed by the abovementioned authorities and others.
After going into the matter pretty extensively, he says -
In these circumstances, does it appear reasonable to entrust the establishment of a nucleus arsenal and its development to Mint experts, possessing no practical Knowledge of the manufacture of warlike material ? Is it not obvious, from the point of view of common-sense, that such an establishment must, in order to succeed, be under dual control ; that is to say, the main operations under the responsible supervision of arsenal experts, who possess a special knowledge of metals, in their application to the manufacture of warlike material ? L, think that Messrs. Corbet and McCay have certainly made out a case in favour of the minting of bronze and silver coins for and within the Commonwealth, and, in spite of their apparently optimistic estimate of profit, there is, I think, no doubt that a very handsome profit would ensue, and, moreover, the scheme would employ local labour. The proposal to devote this profit to the purposes of defence does not, in my opinion, affect the question in any way, as the allocation of public funds is purely a matter of Government policy.
It will be noticed that Mr. Hake is practically an echo of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, and that he almost takes up the position of a special pleader, because, in speaking of the Colonial Ammunition Company’s offer, he declares that what that company can do at their works at Footscray cannot be done in Commonwealth works of the same character. I have here a letter from the Great Cobar Copper Company Limited, in which they take exception to the statement made regarding the quality of Australian copper. They say -
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that my company are producers of the finest grade of electrolytic copper that is made in the Southern Hemisphere. . . . We are willing to submit our copper to any test against any other copper that is produced. The New Zealand Government are buying nearly 100 tons a year from us,, having turned all other coppers down after using ours.. .
A letter from the British Insulated and Helsby Cables Limited to the Minister of Defence, reads -
In connexion with the estimates you are now obtaining for a combined mint and cartridge manufactory, we beg to draw your attention to the Bates and Peard annealing furnaces, which are now acknowledged to be essential for both mint and cartridge work. We forward pamphlet dealing with these under separate cover, and would draw your particular attention to pages 12 and 24.
That letter evidences that amongst British firms it is generally recognised that it is possible to secure machinery which, up to a certain point, will perform similar operations in connexion with both mint and cartridge work. .On 14th April, 1908, the Colonial Ammunition Company again appears upon the scene. Addressing the Minister of Defence, the general manager of that company wrote -
I have the honour to request that you will bring the question of rolling mills being established by my company before the Cabinet, with a view to a definite answer to our proposals, and, further, to say that we do not view the suggestion that the Mint should make our cups with any favour. The quantity of metal that we require is so infinitely greater than the quantity required for the Mint, that it would be making the greater industry subservient to the lesser, and we should object to be held responsible for cases made from metal over- which we have no control.
Yet at the present time that company is making cartridges from material over which it has no control, inasmuch as every cartridge which it manufactures for the Commonwealth is made from imported cups. The letter continues -
The parties proposing to establish the Mint have absolutely no experience of our requirements, a batch of bad metal has in the past led to the rejection of some millions of finished cartridges and consequently a loss of thousands of pounds. On the other hand we could smelt and roll all the silver and copper and punch the discs required for coinage at a minimum expense to the Government and deliver the same to the Mint by weight, charging a very much less price in consequence of our skilled staff and appliances than it would cost the Government to do the same work. The Mint would then only incur a moderate outlay for machinery to mill and stamp the discs.
So that the very experts upon whose testimony the Committee based their finding that Messrs. Corbet and McCay ‘s scheme was impracticable, offered to do the very thing which they affirmed was impossible. The Minister of Defence was asked by Messrs. Corbet and MoCay to appoint a departmental Committee. I also preferred a similar request in the Senate, and on the 6th April, 1908, the Minister wrote as follows to the Prime Minister -
You are aware of the discussion that has taken place from time to time with regard to the question of a mint-arsenal. I have now gone into the matter again, and had a further conversation with Mr. Hake, and it appears to me that there is considerable justification not for a mint-arsenal but for an arsenal-mint. That is to say, in establishing a rolling mill and making the cups for cartridges, the work could also be carried out of preparing silver and bronze blanks for the mint. The question physics, chemistry, mechanics and general mint management requires to be taken into consideration. I think sufficiently well of it to suggest a Committee consisting of Mr. Wardell, Deputy Master of Mint, Professor Lyle (physics), Professor Masson (chemistry), Professor Kernot (mechanics), to which Committee should be handed all papers, and asked to prepare a report. I do not suppose they will ask for payment. Do you concur?
Writing subsequently to the gentlemen who were to constitute the Committee, the Minister of Defence stated -
I shall be glad to know if you are prepared to give the Government the benefit of your ad,vice. After perusal of the papers, I think that perhaps a meeting of an hour or two would be all that would be necessary.
After reading the report, I believe that the Committee acted upon the Minister’s suggestion, and met only for an hour or two. The report is practically an echo of the criticism by Messrs. Greenwood and Batley of the scheme of Messrs. Corbet and McCay, and its recommendations are the embodiment of the recommendations of the Colonial Ammunition Company, and of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley. Upon the first page of their report, the Committee say -
We have held several meetings, and have fully considered the file of papers submitted to us. We have also obtained further information from Mr. H. D. McCay, from Major Whitney, of the Colonial Ammunition Company, and from other sources, and have visited the Melbourne branch of the Royal Mint and the Colonial Ammunition Company’s works.
They say that they have acted upon several assumptions, one of which is No. 4, which reads -
That the question whether the Government shall renew its contract with the Colonial Ammunition Company, or itself at an early date undertake the whole cartridge manufacture, is a question beyond the scope of our inquiry though it is raised in some of the correspondence submitted to us.
After reading that statement, honorable senators will be surprised to find that their third recommendation reads -
We recommend that the brass and cupronickel cups required for the manufacture of rifle cartridges should in future be made at a cartridge factory instead of being imported, as hitherto.
They also recommend -
We find that this can be arranged with the Colonial Ammunition Company without extra cost to the Government, provided that the company be granted an extension of their lease.
The point that I ‘have been leading up to is that in almost every line, the report bears the impress of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley and the Colonial Ammunition Company. All the objections to the proposal of Messrs. Corbet and McCay are founded upon the objections of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley and the Colonial Ammunition Company. I hold in my hand the record under the Companies Act of Great Britain, of the shareholders in the Colonial Ammunition Company. From it, I learn that that company is merely a sport of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley - that is, it is a small subsidiary firm which has been established, apparently for Colonial purposes. The total number of shares’ in the company is 4,107, of which Mr. Arthur Greenwood holds 252, Messrs. Greenwood and Batley 375, Mr. Sidney Batley 164, or a total of 791. It is quite probable that the holders of the balance of the “shares are the other partners in Messrs. Greenwood and Batley.
– That company, apparently, indorses all the objections urged by Messrs. Greenwood and Batley.
– Yes. Messrs. Greenwood and Batley practically say, that it would be better to get this work done in Australia, and they suggest that it should be undertaken by a firm such as the Colonial Ammunition Company. Messrs. Corbet and McCay submitted a proposal which was reported on bv a number of gentlemen. Their estimates were criticised, “ riddled,” I might say, and doubt was thrown upon them in every possible way by Messrs. Greenwood and Batley. In order to get some light upon the matter, the Minister of Defence appointed a Committee, which practically indorsed all the statements of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley. That Committee thrust aside the statement of the Governor of the London Mint that the two processes are similar, and could be, undertaken at the same works. It refused to accept the conclusions of Messrs. Corbet and McCay, both of whom ho.ld high and responsible positions in different branches of the Roy a/ Mint in Australia. But it accepted, in globo, the statements of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, and recommended that the Colonial Ammunition Company should be given an extension of its lease, conditionally upon it undertaking to carry out this work. In passing, I may mention that some time ago, Messrs. Corbet and McCay received a quiet intimation that they must hot continue to supply information to the Commonwealth Government without special permission. Consequently, they have had no opportunity of replying to the statements contained in the Committee’s report. I trust that the Government will not entertain any suggestion for an extension of the Colonial Ammunition Company’s contract, that they will give to the Senate a promise that no extension will be granted unless the Parliament is consulted, that if the matter of silver coinage is to be held over no contract will be entered into which would render the operation here less profitable, and that, at any rate, the findings of this Committee and their condemnation of the proposal will not be taken as the last word on the subject.
– I do not care to allow this opportunity to pass without calling attention to the all-important question of wireless telegraphy, and endeavouring to obtain some information as to the real intentions of the Government in that direction. On several occasions I have asked questions here with a view to elicit what they intended to do in connexion with the establishment of wireless telegraph stations on various portions of the Australian coast, because I recognised that for the purposes of defence and commerce a service of that kind was all-important. I thought that in their replies to my questions of the 25th March last the Government had clearly defined their position, but in view of their replies to subsequent questions I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that they are not altogether sure as to what their intentions are. On the 25th March last I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence -
Is he in a position to inform the Senate as to the exact locality on the Australian coast where the proposed wireless telegraph stations are to be erected and for which tenders have been called?
In replying for his colleague, Senator Keating mentioned the exact localities in respect to which tenders had been called, namely, Cape York, Thursday Island, Goode Island, Port Moresby, and Fremantle, with a limitation as to distance from the central position. On the 7th October I called the Minister’s attention to the fact that it was rumored in Western Australia that the Government had abandoned their intention of erecting a station at Fremantle on the mainland. I was actuated by a desire not so much to obtain information about that particular portion of the Continent as to find out whether or not the Government were determined to go on with their idea of installing wireless telegraph stations right round our coast. The Minister replied to my questions in a somewhat nebulous manner. He gave these answers -
On the 9th October I called the Minister’s attention to answers given on page 9796 of Hansard for the 31-st March last to my inquiry as to whether or not a promise had been given that a station would be erected at Fremantle. In answer to my second question, in which it was alleged that a promise was given, the Minister replied -
I do not think so. The answer given last session to the honorable senator was merely an intimation as to the intended location on the mainland as a more suitable site than Rottnest Island of a proposed wireless telegraph station when erected, and not a promise for its actual erection at Fremantle.
I shall take that answer for what it is worth. Putting all the answers together and coupling them with the statement in the press by a witness before the Postal Commission, I am under the impression that the Government do not intend to proceed with the erection and installation of wireless telegraph stations on the Australian coast. That is the information I desire to obtain if the Minister is in a position to give it to me. I understand that the Budget speech was made in another place last night, and that the Estimates of Expenditure are now before its members. Can the Minister, in accordance with his promise, tell the Senate this afternoon whether1 or not provision is made in this year’s Postal Estimates for the erection and installation of the stations which have been enumerated, and if not why it is not made? Is it because sufficient money is not available, as has been stated by the witness I referred to, or is it because the Government have abandoned their intention to erect those stations? Provision is made in the Navigation Bill for ships to carry, a wireless telegraph ‘equipment, but it would be fruitless to enforce a provision of that kind unless we first put our own house in order. When I interviewed the Minister of Defence a few . months ago he assured me that any station which would be deemed suitable for the purposes of commerce would be considered by himself and the Department as suitable for the purposes of defence. In my opinion this question of wireless telegraphy is indissolubly connected with the Defence Bill and the Navigation Bill. I think that the present is an opportune time for the Min-‘ isterto declare the intentions of the Government, and to say whether it is proposed to call for fresh tenders, as I understand that a mistake was made in connexion with the tenders which were called for.
– I desire to draw the attention of. the Government to the continued delays of the connecting steamer Bingera with the ports of Gladstone and Townsville. I do not suggest that the Government are entirely to blame, because I learn from a return tabled in another place that the contracting company have paid fairly heavy fines, and that repeatedly special trains have been engaged in order to keep up the connexion, between the metropolis of Brisbane and the important centres of Charters Towers and Townsville. I assume that the cost of those trains has had to be paid in default by the contracting company ; but I am not sure about that. Notwithstanding the repetition of the fines no later than last week the Bingera was held up. That is a very grievous inconvenience. The delays cause a great deal of trouble, and I believe that sometimes they involve a large loss. I hope that the Postmaster-General will do his utmost to remedy the matter. During the last two years the passage of this steamer has been delayed twenty-six times, which means that during one-fourth of the time communication has been interrupted between Townsville and Charters Towers and Brisbane. It is of great im portance to Queensland to connect the rich northern portion, both pastoral and mineral, with the busy commercial centres in the south. If the service is kept up uninterruptedly, or, at any rate, with no less than the usual delays in large steam-ship lines, business people are very much convenienced and mutual arrangements can be made with great satisfaction to their clients and the promotion of commerce. Charters Towers and Hughenden are distant from Brisbane about 1,200 or 1,400 miles, and if the connecting steamer does its work punctually it is quite possible for persons at Hughenden, Charters Towers, and Townsville, to send communications to Brisbane and receive replies to them within seven or eight days. In the days before Federation we looked upon this convenience as most valuable, lt was almost as valuable as any railway upon which we had spent millions. Indeed, the railways would lose very much business if it were not for this valuable connecting link with the steam-ship Bingera carrying mails and passengers very rapidly between the ports of Gladstone and Townsville. Perhaps it is the most valuable link in the whole of Queensland. Some of us have privately voiced the complaints of our constituents on the subject to the Minister. I wish to recognise the attention which the Minister and his officers have given to us. But there is certainly a big screw loose somewhere, either in the Bingera or in the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department. It is the duty of the Minister to see that this screw is quickly put in order, because a great deal of dissatisfaction is at present being caused, especially in those districts that are particularly entitled to consideration. The residents of Townsville and Charters Towers, and those in the north and west, have claims upon our attention. I hope that this will be the last occasion on which I shall have to draw attention to the inconvenience from which Queensland has suffered in relation to this service. Before sitting down I wish to draw attention to the question of Papua, and what we are going to do with its administration and development. What is needed is the appointment of a responsible officer to take charge of the administration. Things cannot be conducted satisfactorily so long as the appointment remains, so to speak, in the air. I do not wish to reflect upon the Government, but certainly they have little or no excuse for failing to appoint a permanent administrator. We are also entitled to know what are to be the main lines of administration, especially in regard to the lands of Papua. It appears that it is the intention of the Government to advertise the Territory all over the world. But I am astonished to find that the Government intend, to. pay some of the expenses of a lady reporter who is to go to Papua. I dare say that the lady is perfectly competent. No doubt she will discharge her duties satisfactorily. But it cannot be expected that a lady can face the exploration of Papua in such a way as to give authoritative information to the world.
– Does not the honorable senator think that she would be able to write much better on spring frocks ?
– I cast no reflection upon the lady. But it seems to me to be somewhat incongruous to send to Papua a lady who probably is not so strong as some men who might be selected for this purpose. Is it’ to be supposed that she will undertake exploratory work in Papua? We must, I suppose, take it that this is merely a beginning. But I regard Papua as a most valuable possession, and the sooner it is developed the better it will be for the whole Commonwealth. I shall be glad to take this appointment as the indication of the beginning of a new policy. We want, not only to have Papua advertised, but the whole of Australia vigorously advertised to the world. I shall carefully study the Estimates and Supply Bills that come before us, in the hope of seeing, not £20,000, but a far larger amount, devoted to the advertising of our resources. If ladies are needed for that work, well and good. God speed to them ! But in my opinion it will require a very vigorous class of men, thoroughly well acquainted with Australian conditions, and able to bear discomforts and hardships, to explore our unknown territories, and proclaim their potentialities to the world.
-32]. - I join with Senator St. Ledger in wondering whether the action of the Prime Minister, in engaging for work in Papua a lady who has written some very interesting matter from the tourist stand-point, is likely to do much good. The lady in question has done some admirable writing relating to island customs, and she has written .guide-books for certain of the steam-ship companies.
But, of course, that is tourist business, and we do not want tourist business for Papua. What is wanted there is, as Senator St. Ledger has pointed out, the collection of information as to the potentialities of the Territory, and not the collection of little oddities relating to native life as observed in the coastal settlements. We want an investigation of the position , in Papua that will be useful fo persons who are willing to invest their money in developing the resources of the’ country. The tourist business will never make Papua a success, will never relieve the taxpayers of Australia from the sums that, they are now contributing for the purposes of Government there. . Possibly the lady in question will undertake explorations which some strong men have attempted to make, and have failed. Many, have been stricken down (with fever. Personally, I think that it is most undesirable that any white woman should be expected to explore the savage wilderness of Papua. What is to become of the poor lady if she is taken ill ? The proposition is almost revolting to the mind of any man who has any regard for decent treatment of our womanhood. I think it deporable that a lady should undertake an investigation of the kind. So far as relates to tourist matters no doubt a ladycan make tourist comments, and take snapshot pictures along the coast line, as as well as any one. But that is a totally different matter from exploring with a view of developing the resources of the country, which could only be adequately undertaken by men having a practical knowledge of what work of this kind means. We must have men with a practical knowledge of mining, of timbers, of the soils suitable for different classes of tropical and sub-tropical cultivation. I say sub-tropical, because although Papua is well within the tropics,’ I understand that there are plateaux 3,000 or 4,000 feet above sea level upon which there is magnificent grazing country, and great areas of meadow land equal in beauty to anything that is to be found in the islands across the water from which some of us come. I have a few things to say with reference to the awful muddle that still prevails in the Post and Telegraph Department. I recently found that a letter addressed to me by the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, in typewritten characters on an official envelope, and with all the designations that officially attach to my name - so that there could not possibly be any mistake as to my identity ; a letter addressed to the house which I built, and in which I have lived for over thirty years - was actually sent up the country to some wayside place that is not even a township, although there is a small postoffice there. That letter did not reach me for four days, although it ought to have been delivered within an hour or two. I consider that such evidence of muddle requires a little more attention than it appears to have received. I have had some correspondence with the Deputy Postmaster -General about it, and, of course, the mistake was regretted. Being a member of Parliament, I was not called upon to pay the fee of 2 1/2 d. to have the matter investigated. But had the letter been addressed to a common or garden citizen, he would have had to pay 2 1/2 d. before his grievance was inquired into. This sort of thing is happening all over the Commonwealth. The last time I was in Western Australia a letter was addressed to me on board the India at Fremantle. It was taken to the ship after I came ashore. I pui up at the leading hotel in Perth, which is only a few yards from the post-office. There were interviews with me in the newspapers almost daily-
– I hope that the honorable senator will not anticipate discussion on a motion on the business-paper.
– I am aware that I cannot anticipate a debate, but I do not think that I am doing so by giving some instances.
– The honorable senator cannot discuss a matter which would anticipate debate on a motion of which he has given notice, although he may allude to the subject incidentally.
– My motion has reference to the action of the Government, and not to the action of the Department, and I am now referring to the action of the. Department. The letter I have mentioned, was not delivered on the steamer, because I had left the vessel. I was staying in the principal hotel in Perth, within gunshot of the General Post Office, and yet that letter, which was important, and the non-delivery of which was the cause of certain unpleasantness to two gentlemen, was sent to the Dead Letter Office, and subsequently reached me many weeks after I had left Western Australia. It was sent on to me to show that my intending correspondent had done his share, and that it was the Post and Telegraph Department that was in the wrong.
– The honorable senator had failed to do something. ‘He failed to give notice of his change of address when he left the steamer.
– I do not pretend to be a miracle of all the virtues. .
– If the honorable senator had one or two, they might be redeeming features.
– The trouble is that I have so many that Senator Trenwith is envious. He would like to see the number of my virtues reduced to one or two, so that I might be more on a level with himself. I wish to direct attention to what is going on at the present time in the Post and Telegraph Department. Officers who have been drawing salaries .of between £200 and ,£300 a year, on retiring on the score of age or sickness, have their places filled by boys of seventeen. This is actually happening at the present time. There is a penny wise and pound foolish business going on in the administration of the Department, which renders all hope of improvement impossible, because untrained and inexperienced lads are being appointed at a few shillings a week to do work for which hitherto hundreds of pounds a year have been paid. 1 do not wish to deal with anything which might be discussed on the motion of which I have given notice; and so I shall say no more at this stage about the Post and Telegraph Department. I should like to recall to the mind of the Minister of Home Affairs, that some months ago, he very courteously gave me a promise that he would use his Ministerial influence to secure just treatment for certain professional members of the military staff in the Defence Department. I dp not doubt that the honorable senator did all he could; but what is the position today ? I have a letter in my pocket at the present time, which shows that some of our best and most experienced soldiers, who have had excellent training in Australia, and years of capable service in South Africa to their credit, and who are amongst the smartest men in the Defence Forces, are seeking, and are being offered, employ.ment in foreign countries, because they cannot get decent treatment in Australia. That is a crying shame. We have voted increases of salaries for officers and the promotions involved have never been made. I remember that I insisted in this Chamber that justice should be done to a certain lieutenant. Parliament voted the salary for a captain and all hands were coaxed into the belief that the officer in question would get the promotion to which he was entitled, and the increase of salary” voted by Parliament. What has been the result? The salary has never been paid, and the promotion has not been made. This undue treatment, which is the very mildest term I can use to describe it, is still continued towards some of the best professional soldiers we have.
– The Government are trying to break down the present scheme as an argument for adopting a new one.
– The honorable senator is perfectly correct. I have seen a statement published in the press, from which “it appears that the Minister of Defence said that two months after the last Easter encampment, 2,000 men left the Forces. Why did not the Minister at the same time give the reason for their leaving ? It was simply this : Two months after the Easter training comes the end of the financial year, and these men’s term of enlistment being up, they did not resign, but left. The Minister and honorable senators are aware that men cannot resign from the Forces except under monetary penalties; but they can leave at the termination of their periods of enlistment; and that is what happened in the cases referred to. It is a shame that these things should be so misrepresented. Senator Millen very properly puts it, that it is a most undesirable condition of affairs that, in order to bolster up a brand new scheme, the existing Forces of the Commonwealth upon which, if .we are to have any land defence it all, we must rely for years to come, should be discredited by “Ministerial or Governmental action. I should like particularly to direct the attention of honorable senators to a certain provision in the Defence Act, that the enlistment and engagement of professional artillery is to be restricted to garrison artillery. There is a ‘ Bill under discussion somewhere in the Commonwealth, in which it is proposed to omit the word “garrison” from the section in question, thus leaving it open to the Commonwealth authorities to engage as many artillerymen under regulations as they may consider necessary.
– Professional soldiers., the honorable senator means?
– That is exactly what I do mean. The omission of this one word “ garrison “ from the section of the Act, will alter the whole intention of Parliament in respect to a professional force and a standing army. I take advantage of the present opportunity to direct attention to this. The omission of one word only is in question; but it means all the difference in the world between the citizen force about which we hear so much trumpeting, and the professional force which it is designed to establish.
– Is it the intention to remove the artillery from the control of professional officers?
– No; but to permit of the engagement and establishment of a professional force of artillery. Parliament in passing the Defence Act insisted, upon limiting the engagement of artillery to garrison artillery, men to handle the guns in the forts. The omission of the word “ garrison “ from the section of the Act to which I refer as now proposed’, would give the Government of the day, under statutory rules, the right to engage any number of professional artillerymen they please, for any purpose connected with field, horse, or any other kind of artillery. And why? Because the scheme we read about iri the newspapers is notoriously unsuited to supply the artillery or scientific branches of the profession. I wish to take strong exception to the practice followed in issuing statutory rules. They come out every week in shoals. I have asked a question on the matter, and have, I think, been promised a return of the number of statutory rules dealing with financial matters issued by the Defence Department, and the numbers of Orders in Council made in the last two years.
– They cover about 300 pages.
– I have no doubt the honorable senator is quite correct. They are issued in a most extraordinary manner. In connexion with the position and promotion of one officer attached to the little University corps of Scouts in Sydney, there have, to my knowledge, been some six Orders in Council issued within the last six months. Apparently the Department is unable to say exactly what should be done with him. They issue a regulation about him one day, and in the following week the Governor-General, poor gentle- man, has to set to work to issue a new Order in Council for this one officer abour, whose position there is apparently more uncertainty than it is possible to believe. What I wish particularly to emphasize is that all these statutory rules, no matter by what Department or under what Act they are issued, are enforced at once “on account of urgency.” We have passed a law requiring these rules and regulations to be laid on the table of Parliament thirty days before they are enforced, except in cases of urgency. Every single Order in Council is issued as a matter of urgency, and Parliament is, I was going to say, practically swindled out of the opportunity to apply its powers under the various Acts. Of what use is it for Parliament to speak of its right to insist that these regulations shall be laid on the table a month before they are enforced when these wretched words “ on account of urgency “ are to be found on every Order issued, and Parliament knows nothing about them until they are stale. I have one here which has just been distributed, and which is dated 8th September. It is out of date in the sense that we do not receive it until the time within which opportunity is afforded to urge objections against it has expired. This is the sort of game that is going on. Parliament is simply hoodwinked, and regarded apparently by some people in authority as a good-natured body of imbeciles who will take no trouble to differ with anything that Departmental officials may decide to do.
– We are having trouble enough now.
– I may tell Senator Trenwith that as the big brother of the Ministry in this Chamber he will have some more trouble. In connexion with defence matters I would invite the attention of honorable senators to the fact that for months past the Government have been proclaiming their interest in the cadet movement. At the Military Review which took place at Flemington in connexion with the reception of the American Fleet, the cadets constituted one of the great features of an admirable display. But we now find that all the enthusiasm of the Government in the cadets has evaporated, and that they are attempting to kill the Cadet Forces just as they have endeavoured for some considerable time to destroy the Militia, and the Volunteer Forces. Honorable senators are perhaps aware that when the public- school vacation comes round at Christmas time, it is customary in New South Wales for the teachers who hold commissions, and for the elder scholars who are noncommissioned officers, to go into camp for a week’s training without pay. The Government provide them with rations, “ and also bear ‘the cost of carting a few tents, but do nothing more. This year, however, orders have been issued to the Sydney cadets that they are not to make any arrangements in connexion with this annual camp.
– And during the American Fleet festivities the Ballarat boy.s were compelled to walk to Melbourne.
– That is so. In order to take part in one of the most remarkable reviews which had been, or is likely to be, held on British soil for many years, the Ballarat cadets were obliged to walk to Melbourne. The occasion was a memorable one, because it is one of the only instance upon record in which a foreign power has been permitted to march its troops under arms, and with bayonets fixed, through the streets of a British city to take part in a parade with the local forces. As Senator W. Russell has observed, the Ballarat cadets - notwithstanding that the Commonwealth could afford to spend over ,£30,000 upon guzzle and pictures - were obliged to walk to Melbourne because the Government could not spare sufficient money to enable’ them to ride down in the train. That incident is one of the most contemptible to be found in the history of the Commonwealth. The plea that has been urged to justify the Government’s action is that boys could not very well be brought together in the city. But if they cannot be trusted from their mothers’ apron strings now, how can they be trusted when they will be the defenders of Australia, as they are to be under the proposals of the Government? In Committee I may have something more to say upon this matter. If honorable senators refrain upon occasions of this sort from criticising the administration of the, Government they abrogate their legislative functions and the Senate will thus become a Chamber for registering the decrees of another place. I am quite aware that with the strain imposed by long sessions and almost interminable railway travelling, there is a disposition for men to lose their fighting capacity in the Legislature. Still there are occasions when it is necessary to pull one’s self together in order that we may not be charged with entirely abrogating our functions.
– It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that yesterday I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question, upon notice, relating to the delivery of dutiable articles intended for use in the tobacco industry without the payment of the Customs duties. In his reply, the honorable gentleman gave a long list of articles which had been so delivered, and concluded -
I might further explain in connexion with the answer to the second question that, as the honorable senator is probably aware, these ingredients mean added weight to the tobacco; and, as we charge Excise on that added weight, the return to the Commonwealth is much, in excess of the amount stated, ^13,950.
I venture to say that no statement of a more misleading character has yet been made within the walls of this building. I wish to draw special attention to the fact that manufactured tobacco is subject to an import duty of 3s. 6d. per lb., whilst unmanufactured tobacco is dutiable at is. 6d. per lb. Tobacco manufactured in the Commonwealth has to pay an Excise of is. per lb., making a total of- 2s. 6d. per lbThere is thus a difference in favour of the local manufacturer of is. per lb. But, according to the figures quoted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, no less than 450 tons of commodities other than tobacco have been used in the production of the locally manufactured article. Thus the tobacco which would otherwise have been used would have been required to pay Customs duty to the extent of .£75,000. That tobacco has been replaced by articles which ought to have yielded a revenue of £13,950. But even this small amount has not been collected. Section 24 of the Excise Act of 1901 reads -
Excisable goods and goods liable to duties of Customs may, in prescribed cases, and subject to the prescribed conditions, be delivered free of duty or subject to such lower duty as may be prescribed for use in the manufacture of excisable goods.
I am’ quite sure that, when that measure passed this Chamber, no honorable senator contemplated that that provision would be put to the use to which it has been put. Nor indeed were we aware that it was being put to that use for a long period afterwards. I presume that, under regulation, leave has been granted for the delivery of the commodities mentioned by the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, to the tobacco industry free of duty, notwithstanding that the brewing industry, which uses a large quantity of sugar, is required to pay the full amount of duty upon that article. The brewing industry has to pay the Customs duty upon sugar as well as thefull amount of the Excise upon the beer which it produces.
– Is smoking tobaccoanywhere made entirely of tobacco?
– It may not be. My own view is that many of the articles which are added to it probably have the effect of considerably improving it. But, at the present moment, I am viewing this question entirely from the stand-point of revenue. I desire to know why one industry is allowed to escape the Customs duties levied upon some of its ingredients, whilst another industry is not. A very large sum is at stake in this matter. The revenue has already sustained a loss of many thousands of pounds. The Vice-President of theExecutive Council was entirely wrong when he intimated yesterday that so far from revenue having been lost, it had been gained.
– If it be a fact that under a different system an additional 450 tons of tobacco leaf would have been used in the manufacture of local tobacco, the revenue has gained.
– The tobacco which leaves our factories is required to pay an Excise duty of so much per lb. Those factories have been supplied with 450 tons of materials upon which they did not nay the is. 6d. per lb. import duty. When the Tariff was under consideration, theprotectionist element in this Parliament was very careful to provide a wide margin between the Excise duty and the Customs; duty levied upon tobacco, so as to encourage local manufacturers. By administering the Excise Act in the way that I have indicated, the margin iri favour of the tobacco manufacturers has been immensely increased.
– Before the Bill is read a first time, I want to refer to the declared policy of theGovernment, part of which is to attract population. I understand that it is nowspending money, and proposes to spend a good deal more, in advertising in Great Britain the resources of Australia. Weall agree, I think, that, compared with our population, our resources are very extensive. Where we part company with theGovernment, and with the advocates of indiscriminate immigration, is at this point : We say that until certain things have been done, no profitable employment can be found for added immigrants ; and that the bringing about of those results should precede anything in the way of a general immigration policy. No doubt, when looked at generally, the spectacle of a territory comprising between three and four million square miles, and containing a population of only four millions - that is, one person to the square mile - would lead any one who did not know the facts to conclude that there was abundance of scope for a much larger population. But when we come down to facts, when we analyze the ebb and flow of population in the States, we find that in Victoria for over thirty years, population, instead of increasing, has decreased, more especially in the country districts. I have here a publication entitled Monopoly and Democracy, by Mr. Frank Anstey, a member of the State Parliament. He gives very detailed information in regard to the various counties. Take, for instance, the counties of Hampden, Ripon, and Grenville. The populalation of those counties in 187 1 was 82,100, and in 1904 71,160, showing a, decrease of 11,000 in thirty-three years. Those three are agricultural counties.
– They ought to be agricultural, but they are largely pastoral as well as agricultural.
– They are agricultural, dairying, and pastoral. In 1871, they comprised 3,617 holdings, and in 1904 only 2,317 holdings, showing a decrease of 1,300. In 1871 123,609 acres were cultivated, and in 1904 122,121 acres, showing a decrease of about 1,500 acres in thirty -three years. In 187 1 the area held was 2,180,000 acres, and in 1904 2,287,000 acres. So that, although the area held had increased, the number of occupiers had diminished; the area cultivated was less, and the population had decreased by 11,000. That, as Senator Trenwith interjects - and he ought to know something of the subject-is one of the most fertile districts in Victoria, and when one says that, it means that it is one of the most fertile districts in Australia. That exodus of population, while not so serious now as it has been in the past, is still going on. Before the Government spends money in Great Britain for the purpose of attracting more persons here, I think that its evident duty is to stop the leakage, to try to find out why persons are leaving Victoria; why for a number of years they have been leaving the various States. When the Government have discovered that reason, and stopped the leak, then will be the time to spend money in trying to induce other persons to come here. I think that it is high time that the Government gave us some indication of its policy in this regard, if it has any policy. We know that it proposes to spend money - £20,000, I believe - for the purpose of advertising Australia. But what does it intend to do with a view to stop the leakage, which I think is undoubted? Let me now take the counties of Bourke and Grant, in which Melbourne and suburbs are situated. I want to direct attention to the fact that, while the rural districts of Victoria have been losing population almost continuously, the urban areas have had their population added to repeatedly, The population of Melbourne and suburbs in 1871 was 196,000, and in 1901 466,000, showing an increase of 270,000 souls in thirty-three years. The rural districts previously alluded to had lost 11,000 persons in thirty-three years, but Melbourne and suburbs had gained 270,000 persons. When we come to the small shires surrounding Melbourne - Preston, Heidelberg, and so on - we find that their population was 16,000 in 1871, and 36,000 in 1901. The other shires in the County of Bourke - that is outside the urban shires - which comprise an area of 884,000 acres, had a population of 24,006 in 187 1, and 20,000 in 1 901, so that even within a very short distance of Melbourne, this depletion of population has been going on. Now take that part of the County of Grant which contains Geelong, Queenscliff, and Ballarat East, and which comprises an area of 11,000 acres. Its population in 1871 was 39,000, and in 1 90 1 44,000. In the shires in the County of Grant - which, with an area of 1,153,000, had a population of 34,000 in 1871, and 26,000 in 1 001 - there was a decrease of 8,000 persons. The number of holdings in the western shires in 1871 was 3,890, of which 3,254 represented 350 acres, and under; while, in 1904, it was 3,676, showing a decrease of 214. Instead of the number of holdings increasing, as one would naturally suppose, in almost every district of Victoria it has continually decreased.
– Owing to Victoria having imposed protective duties.
– My honorable friend, who believes in free-trade, attributes that fact to protection.
– In days gone by.
– If that is the case, how is it that while the country districts have continually lost population, the town districts - as the figures I quoted prove - have continually increased their population ?
– Having been protected the manufacturers have been able to give employment to persons from the country.
– That is a strange explanation. I . should like the honorable senator to look at his own statement for half a moment. He says that the manufacturers in the towns were so busy that they were able to give employment to a large number of persons who were drawn from the country districts. . If the population in the towns increased so rapidly as he says, surely one would expect that more persons would be required in the country districts to grow food for the towns?
– Through protection manufacturers were able to give .much larger wages than farmers and others who were not protected could afford to pay.
– My honorable friend may try to flatter himself that that is the reason, ‘ but I do not believe that it is. If Victoria had favoured a revenue Tariff not only would the drain of population from her rural districts have been as great as it was, but her towns also would have suffered because she would have had neither rural nor town industries. But if the policy of the Labour Party had been adopted - that is to say high protection, or, if you like, new protection-
– High protection is . not the policy of the Labour Party.
– New protection is.
– Protection is an open question.
– It is my policy, anyhow, and I am speaking for myself. If that policy, with such an instalment of land values taxation as would have broken up the land monopoly, had been adopted, we should have had a much greater addition of population not only in the towns, but also in the country. If Senator Walker is really anxious for the prosperity of Australia - his adopted country, which I am sure he loves - I ask him in all sincerity to revise his political beliefs. If the policy ‘ in which he believes is persisted in, adversity will continue to dog, the steps of this country. My experience of men has taught me. that if a prejudice once lodges itself in the mind of a man it is not easily dislodged, no matter how formidable an array of facts be presented to him. I am afraid that my honorable friend, Senator Walker,, is the victim of such a prejudice. I donot intend to trouble honorable senators with more details of the population of Victoria, as the same thing applies te other States. People continually leave the country districts and pour into the towns> or go to other States. Queensland happens, to be getting a large number of Victorians at present. We are very glad to have them. It is a good thing for Queensland but it is not good for Victoria or for the Commonwealth that Victorians should be driven from their own State to any other part of Australia because they cannot find land on which to settle in the State where they were born, although there are millions of acres in Victoria ready for occupation.
– Many who havegone to Queensland have, sold land in Victoria before going.
– I am well aware of that. Let me summarise the case as to Victoria before dealing with other States. In the six principal counties of this State there was less population in 1901 than in. 1871. Occasionally I read articles in the daily newspapers about the birth rate in France being lower than the death rate,, and as to how France is losing population. It is pointed out that the end of such a state of things is inevitable. Then, again, Ireland is pointed to as the horrible example among the nations, her populationbeing 50 per cent, smaller to-day than it was fifty years ago. These facts are indicated as evidence of national decadence. But those who write in that strain should apply their principles nearer home. We have a much worse example of the evils of bad government and a vicious land system in Victoria; than can be found anywhere else on the globe. I challenge any man to bring before me any example of a country that has suffered more in this direction than Victoria has done. ,
– Ireland has sufferedmore, but I do not think that she is suffering more to-day.
– The differencebetween Ireland and Victoria is this: Ire* land is an old country. Probably, if her population were about 10,000,000 she would be able to grow enough food for them. The area of Ireland is about the same as that of Tasmania. But her population is about 4,500,000, while that of Tasmania is 178,000. So that, as compared with any portion of Australia, Ireland may be said to be densely populated. Victoria, however, is a young country. We expect the population in young countries to in- 1 crease and multiply continuously. Victoria in respect to soil and climate possesses advantages which should enable her population to grow. If it does not increase there must be something radically wrong. If the people of this country are leaving, if the flower of its youth are going away to other countries to look foi opportunities that are denied them here, undoubtedly there must be something radically wrong either with the condition of the country or with the system of government. No one can say t’Eat the soil df Victoria is bad. It is not. _ Or that the climate is unfavorable. It is not. We must look in some other direction for the evil which is producing such serious results, for the cancer which is eating into the body politic, and which, unless it is cut out, will some day have much more serious results than any we can foresee. Why are these people leaving Victoria? Every one who has turned his attention to the subject knows perfectly well that it is because of the land monopoly - because of the great areas that are held by a few men.
– King Charles’s head coming in again !
– King Charles’s head came off, and the honorable senator can rest assured that this land monopoly evil is ‘ 1 coming off ‘ ‘ too. Although he and his friends may, like Mother Partington, try to sweep back the Atlantic, I can assure him that the Atlantic in the shape of the Labour Party will overwhelm them. If he is wise, he will get into a cockleshell and ride the storm. Senator Neild may say that protection has been the fatal flaw in Victoria’s policy.
– So it has been.
– He may say that that is the policy that has driven people out of the State.
– Undoubtedly it has.
– If that be the case, may I ask Senator Neild to explain how it is that New South Wales has, since Federation, under a protective policy, increased her population much more rapidly than at any time during the last thirty or forty years?
– The statement is not correct.
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension.
– The population both of Sydney and New South Wales has increased since Federation much more rapidly than was the case for a long time before; much more rapidly indeed than the population of any other portion of Australia has increased, although land monopoly is almost as rampant in New South Wales as in Victoria. I turn to the case of Tasmania. I have paid a few visits to that State. I was charmed with the beauty of the tight little island. But when I looked about me I could not help saying to myself, “ What a magnificent country Tasmania would be if only it had sensible people to govern it.” Tasmania is in almost the same condition as Victoria is. She has been continually losing population. Her young men and her young women go to New Zealand or to Western Australia or elsewhere. Tasmania has resources within her own borders sufficient not only to keep all her own people but to attract tens of thousands more. She has vast farming areas, an abundance of mineral resources, and water-power if properly utilized, sufficient to manufacture enough goods for the whole population of the Commonwealth and many more. Bui in Tasmania the blight of land monopoly is also doing its evil work.
– Let the honorable senator ask Senator Cameron what he thinks about it.
- Senator Cameron is, I believe, a land monopolist himself, and cannot be expected to look at the matter with my eyes. If I were in his position probably I should do as he is doing. 1 should hold on to what I possessed. My honorable friend knows -
The good old rule, the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.
There is no doubt that an artificial scarcity of land exists in New South Wales. There are hundreds of thousands of applicantsfor every little bit of good land that i; made available. That is perfectly wel) known, and Senator Walker knows it very much better than I do. But for this ev of land monopoly, I am sure that New South Wales, instead of having a population of 1,500,000, would have probably double that population. Senator Walker, I presume, is a property-owner in Sydney, and is directly interested in a large increase in the population of New South Wales. It would render his property very much more valuable. Instead of losing something by the imposition of a land tax he would gain a great deal. The same remark applies to Senator Neild. That honorable senator is the owner of a beautiful property in the suburbs of Sydney, which, with increased population in that State, would become very much more valuable than it is, and so much better known that the postal authorities, instead of sending the honorable senator’s correspondence away up country, would have no difficulty in finding his place of residence. Senator Gray is, I believe, in the same position. These honorable senators are all keen business men, eager to turn the nimble shilling, and I would advise them to vote for a sprat in the shape of an effective land tax in the hope of catching a mackerel in the shape of largely increased land values. I need not say very much with regard to Queensland. The position there is rather a peculiar one. We have immense areas of land in that State, and we are being continually told that they comprise so many millions of acres that my mind is lost in the effort to contemplate them. It is very true that we have in Queensland a very large area of land which is still the property of the Crown, but it is also true that pressure is continually brought to bear upon the State Government to repurchase estates from private individuals, so that land may be secured on which to settle people.
– That does noi worry the Commonwealth.
– But it ought to worry the Commonwealth.
– It is not within the scope of the Constitution.
– With all due deference to the honorable senator, it is within the scope of the Constitution. The Commonwealth Government is responsible for the defence of Australia, and Australia cannot be defended without population. The Commonwealth Government recognise that. It is a part of the policy of the Commonwealth that we shall encourage more immigration.
– It is not the policy of the honorable senator’s party
– We are asked to vote ,£20,000 a year for the purpose of publishing abroad, to such people as care to read, the advantages of Australia. Yet Senator Neild says that the Commonwealth is not interested to know whether Bie Queensland Government are being compelled to buy back land from private owners or not.
– It is not the function of the Commonwealth to interfere in the matter.
– I know that it is not a function of the Government, but the Commonwealth Parliament, I will not say the Commonwealth Government, is interested in getting a much larger population here.
– The policy of the honorable senator’s party is to keep people out.
– That is untrue.
– I object to that, Mr. President.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that interjection.
– I withdraw, and say that the statement is incorrect.
– If we are satisfied that land monopoly is standing in the way of an increase of population we have every right to try and break down that monopoly, to roll away that obstruction. If Senator Neild does not think it is an obstruction his- duty no doubt is to pievent the breaking down of land monopoly by every means in his power.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to say that I am always most glad when I see large estates broken up, so that people may settle upon them.
– Then why does the honorable senator charge the Labour Party with a desire to keep people out of Australia ?
– Look at the legislation which they support.
- Senator Neild has got in his interjection beautifully. It will be recorded in Hansard, and to the credit, I suppose, of “ Senator Colonel Neild “ ; but when the honorable senator is asked to do something which will help to break up the big estates and make land so plentiful that the people we desire to help, will be able to get some of it, his professions do not amount to much. He pro- fesses to be anxious to promote settlement, but when asked to do something which would have that result the honorable senator shies off.
– Is not the honorable senator forestalling Senator McGregor ?
– I am not forestalling anybody. This is a subject which will bear talking about on this and on many future occasions.
– The honorable senator is discussing Senator McGregor’s motion.
– I am not discussing a land tax at all, but the policy of the Government in seeking to attract people to Australia. Honorable senators are aware that this is a question in which I take a great deal of interest.
– The honorable senator has been discussing a land tax for the last quarter of an hour.
– I have certainly said that I believe that a land values tax would help to break down the land monopoly. Senator McGregor cannot object to that because instead of forestalling his motion, I am helping to cany his policy and the policy of the Labour Party.
– Honorable senators opposite know very well that the honorable senator will not get another chance. Let the honorable senator say all that he has to say.
– I know that honorable senators on my right are men with open minds, always ready to be convinced if sufficient facts and arguments can be brought before them. I ask them to direct their attention to New Zealand, where a sincere and serious attempt was made to deal with the question of land monopoly. In 1891, there were 32,479 holdings in New Zealand. In the same year, there were 30,626 holdings in Victoria. I ask honorable senators to pay particular attention to these figures. In 1891, there were 1,853 more holdings in New Zealand than in Victoria. In 1906, fifteen years later, when the policy of Mr. Ballance, Sir John McKenzie, Mr. Seddon, and the leading men of New Zealand, had time to operate and produce results, the number of holdings in New Zealand had increased from 32,479 to 49,000, whilst in Victoria the number had decreased from 30,626 to 27,000. So that in the fifteen years referred to, New Zealand surpassed Victoria in the number of her holdings by 21,874. That was a direct resultof the policy which we ask our honorable friends here to adopt. That is what was accomplished in New Zealand, and I say that we could do a great deal more in every one of the Australian States. I do not wish to occupy the time of honorable senators very much longer, but before I sit down I wish to read a quotation from a newspaper published in New South Wales, which has some bearing upon the advertisement of the Commonwealth Government appearing in a newspaper called The Standard of Empire.
– That is the newspaper which the Commonwealth subsidizes.
– I find that it is “ printed and published by Walter Edward Hobbs, Standard Office, 104 Shoe Lane, Fleet-street, in the City of London.”
– The great tory paper of England.
– I will say this for it, that it is not responsible for the wording of the Commonwealth advertisement. It may be bad, but it is not bad enough for that. Here is one paragraph, I quote from the advertisement -
Where your children are educated at good schools for nothing, and any child of exceptional ability can obtain the highest education free.
That is, no doubt, true to a certain extent. In Australia, children are educated at good schools for nothing. I do not complain of that, because there is ample opportunity in Australia, so far at least as a very large section of our children is concerned, to obtain a good education.
– It is not strictly true, because even though no charge is made for tuition, the cost of books and other things involves a heavy charge upon parents.
– It is not strictly true, and there are exceptions which I think the Commonwealth Government, if they cannot remedy, should expose to the people whom they are trying to induce to come here.
– Will the honorable senator be good enough to read the remainder of that advertisement?
– I did not intend to read the whole of it.
– It contains a striking paragraph in reference to the land.
– The paragraph to which the honorable senator refers reads -.
The Prime Minister of Australia has intimated to the people of the Commonwealth that they have three duties to perform - (1) to occupy the land; (2) to utilize it; (3) to keep it for our flag and race.
– That is very fine sentiment, but the Prime Minister is not doing anything to give effect to it.
– It is all sound and fury, signifying nothing unless some action be taken to break down the monopoly to which I have referred.
– And the present Government will never take that action.
– I am not so sure about that. I do not think that the Government are beyond redemption. With a little judicious persuasion they may be induced to see eye to eye even with the Labour Party in this connexion. But I particularly desire to draw the attention of my honorable friend from New South Wales to an article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 6th inst. It is headed “ Child Labour,” “ Four hours sleep per day.” “ The rabbiting evil.” It reads-
More than one school inspector in his last annual report drew attention to the effect of the dairying industry upon school attendance, one roundly asserting that the conditions of child labour on farms practically amounted to slavery. Recognising the, serious effect upon education, and the necessity for more definite knowledge of the conditions if redress is to be obtained by legislative action, the Teachers’ Associationinvited its country branches to report generally upon the question of child labour. These reports are now pouring in, and, although the sub-committee appointed has not yet been able to prepare a general statement, some of the reports read at a council meeting onFriday show that the matter of child labour has reached the stage that calls for immediate action. The strictures of the inspectors appear to be justified. Not only is the “dairying industry found, to be responsible for unsatisfactory attendance, regular unpunctuality, and general listlessness through sheer physical weariness, but other industries - particularly “rabbitting” - prove to have even a worse effect upon the physical, mental, and moral development of the country child. The Bathurst branch of the. Teachers’ Association has forwarded a report, with a number of letters from teachers of small country schools. These state that children are engaged in dairying, rabbitting, farm work, and orchard work. Children eight and nine years old are compelled to rise at 5 a.m., milk five or six cows, and feed calves and pigs’ before school. One teacher says -
The most striking case I have had is of a boy about13 years of age, who had to milk from twenty to twenty-six cows, separate the milk, and feed calves and pigs by himself. Then he would come to school, arriving there at11 a.m. generally, but sometimes when the roll was being called at 12.25. He would always ask to leave school early in the afternoon. If he had any trouble with his cows he would not come to school at all, and when he did put in an appearance he was half asleep. He usually got up at 4.30 a.m., and went to bed at 10 p.m.
This is typical of the conditions in varying districts. Another teacher reports in connexion with the rabbiting industry -
Children, regardless of age, are employed in carrying traps, setting them, and taking rabbits to the works or waiting at the roadside for the collectors. The time occupied goes into many hours out of the tweny-four hours. A start is made immediately after dinner in many cases, so that a sundown visit is made. The traps are visited again at 9 p.m. and at midnight. An early morning visit is then made at daybreak, when the rabbits are got in readiness for taking to market. In many cases when rabbits are plentiful four visits are regularly made to the traps within the twenty-four hours. The roughness of the country where traps are set makes the work very hard and tiring. As many as eight and ten pairs are carried by a boy of twelve to a certain place for taking out the entrails. The children come to school completely worn out. I have seen children fall asleep over their studies and not engage in the play with others, being content to prostrate themselves while recess is on. I have repeatedly questioned them as to the time they got up and went to bed, and four hours’ sleep is more than some of them have had. One boy told me that he is too tired to disrobe, so falls on the bed and goes to sleep at 2 a.m. until roused for the morning rounds.
– That is as bad as making women and children work in the Queensland cane-fields.
– I assure the honorable senator that nothing of that kind has ever happened in Queensland.
– Even if the statement were true, that is no reason why we should multiply wrong.
– Exactly. The article proceeds -
This is not by any means an isolated case. Another teacher says the scholars come late and leave early, notes being received to the effect that if the boy is not allowed out early he will not attend at all the next week ; and he adds - “One may as well try to ride a bicycle up a hill with a log tied behind it as teach a school under such circumstances. The work itself is demoralizing in the extreme, and the great rabbit industry should not be established at such cost. In one school of about thirty boys, every boy. above the age of seven is directly engaged in rabbiting, and in some cases girls help their ‘ brothers.
On this the teacher writes -
By their association with men who use strange arguments concerning this trade, boys become imbued with the belief that it is the primary interest of the world. Rabbiting becomes his whole existence. His education, his moral training, his ambition, his everything that goes to make a good citizen, finds places after his infernal rabbiting. While I have known respect- able people engaged in catching rabbits, the person who becomes a rabbiter mostly does so from choice - the choice of an irregular, lazy_ living. I have often been prompted to call it a .” larrikin “ industry.
– That is the secret of it a.ll.
– It may be a means of obtaining a lazy livelihood for adults, but it is certainly not so for children, if what the teachers say is true. Still another report says -
Children from eight years, both boys and girls, must leave school early to set traps’, which are visited twice before midnight. The traps are very heavy, and have to be carried .from place to place. The rabbits have to be cleaned and carried to the roadside. These children are worked very hard, and lose very much sleep, five hours being about the average time for sleep, as they must rise at 5 a.m. or earlier to go around the traps. They come to school tired and unfit for their school, which, in consequence, becomes distasteful to them. These children are self-supporting, earning from 10s. to 20s. a week, or even more; but very small children can easily earn 2s. or 3s. a day. Parents complain about the distance from school, if two miles, but we do not hear anything about the miles the children travel before and after school after cows or rabbits. Almost without exception the teachers recommend a more stringent compulsory Act with increasing fines, the extension of the 2-mile limit; the definition of what constitutes a half-day’s attendance, and immediate action to follow default.
– What has this matter to do with .the Commonwealth?
– I will tell the honorable senator. I have read an advertisement which is published under the authority of the Government, and within which the statement is .made that every child in Australia is afforded an opportunity of receiving an excellent education. That statement is quite true. The Government advances that as a reason why numbers of people in the Old Country should settle in the Commonwealth. I have brought- this matter forward because, while - so far as a large number of children are concerned - it is true that they are afforded an opportunity of receiving a good education, it is equally true that there are some children here who live under conditions such as those to which reference is made in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. That journal, on 7th October, in a leading article headed “ Child Slavery in New South Wales,” says -
Never since Hood wrote the Song of the Shirt has there been a more pathetic revelation of white slavery than that contained in the recent reports obtained by the Teachers’ Association on the over-working of children in some of the country districts of this State. The in dustries responsible for cruel desecration of child life therein revealed are dairying and rabbiting, in which it is shown that mere infants are often overworked by their parents in a manner calculated to shock the feelings of any normally-constituted man. That children of 8 and g years of age should be compelled to do with four hours’ sleep out of twenty-four, and that education, recreation, and play should have to be sacrificed to the earning of money in a country like this, borders on the incredible. Yet evidence is produced showing that a number of children are compelled to do with that amount of rest, while the remaining twenty hours of the day are occupied mostly in hard drudgery that would tax the physical powers of an adult. Under these circumstances’ it is inevitable that attendance at school should be little better than a farce. The children are allowed to snatch a few irregular hours per week for nominal attendance, during which they are too tired to pay much serious attention to school work. What could be more pathetic than that story told in our columns yesterday morning of children, who, when the short play-hour comes, throw themselves down to get a bit of a sleep which tired nature insisted upon, to be afterwards woke up and goaded through the vain formality of lessons. The very cows which some of these unfortunate children have to milk and feed have better lives. Legislation has prevented . such oppression of child life in the factory, and the time has come when it should make some effort to do the same on the farm. When this abuse of childhood is permitted the degeneration of the race is inevitable, and any industry that can only be sustained at such a cost the State would be infinitely better without. To those parents who plead that only by working their children in this inhuman fashion can they make their dairy farms or their rabbit traps pay, that should be the prompt and practical answer. To say that dairying demands such a sacrifice is, however, plain moonshine, for the great majority of dairymen treat their children as children ought to be treated and still prosper. Those who cannot do the same are the wrong men in the wrong places, and the sooner they are routed out of them the more creditable it will be to our common humanity, and the better for the future of our race.
– Who opposed the bringing of these people under Labour legislation ?
– My honorable friends on the right, and the “ anti-sosh “ party with which, of course, they are allied. In any case, I think that every one of us must agree with the sentiments of that article. There is only one portion of it with which I disagree, and that is the concluding sentence -
To say that dairying demands such a sacrifice is, however, plain moonshine.
It has been proved times without number that dairying does demand such a sacrifice, that unless, in many cases, the dairyman becomes a slave, and makes slaves of his wife, his children, his man-servant, his maid-servant, his ox, and his ass, he cannot continue the industry profitably. -Why is that? We come back to the door out of which we went a little while ago. It is because of the evil of land monopoly. It is because the capital value of land is so high that it is utterly impossible for persons who work it to make a decent living.
– That kind of thing obtains on small holdings purchased on easy terms from the Crown.
– If it does obtain on small holdings purchased under good conditions from the Crown, it ought to be altered.
– It ought to be.
– In any case, it ought to be altered. The chief cause’ of this child-sweating, more especially in the dairying industry, is land monopoly, and the high price of land which has been caused by the artificial scarcity brought about by monopoly. Of course, my honorable friends on the right shake their heads to indicate that, in their opinion-,, the,, land monopolist is a public benefactor, and one of the elements of progress in the Commonwealth. I hold exactly the opposite opinion. I look upon the land monopolist as a public enemy, and I think that every man who is an enemy to the welfare of the State ought to be put down in some way or other. If the Government wish to attract persons from other countries they should first make Australia worthy to receive them by breaking down the land monopoly, opening up avenues of employment, and thus creating opportunities for immigrants to make a good living. If they do that, then, instead of being compelled to advertise and to spend large sums to induce persons to come here, we shall have them coming from all the ends of the earth in tens of thousands to assist us in building up a great Commonwealth in thesouthern seas.
.- I should not have risen but for the fact that a matter of great moment to the citizens of the Commonwealth was noted by me at a recent function. I refer to the action that has been, and is being, taken by ‘the Government in extensively advertising the potentialities of the Commonwealth, and putting forward what I regard as an untrue statement of the affairs existing in the various States. What the Government is paying for the advertisements which are appearing in The Standard, of Empire is the subject-matter of a ques tion of which I have given notice for tomorrow. But that it will amount to a considerable sum goes without saying. Thisis a newspaper which, I am informed, isrigidly conservative so far as its policy isconcerned, and circulates in an atmospherewhich the working class, as a rule, do not inhale. It seems to me a rather strangeact for the Government to advertise in a rigid conservative newspaper which doesnot reach the masses and is not read by those who are invited in its advertisementsto come to these States.
– What circulation has it?
– That I am unable to say.
– They say that it hasa circulation of 100,000 copies a day.
– This newspaper cannot have that circulation, because it comes out every week, not every day.
Senator- Walker. - I meant the Standard, which it represents.
– It contains somuch “ tripe “ that I should say that if it appeared once a year it would be just as useful as it is when coming out once a week. I want to elicit from Senator Best some information in respect to the policy which isbeing pursued in respect to advertising in The Standard of Empire. The advertisement is signed “ R. Muirhead Collins, representative of the Commonwealth in London.” Has Mr. R. Muirhead Collins a free hand in advertising Australia; in exercising his discretion as to the manner in which advertisements shall be drawn up, and the newspapers in which they shall appear? If Mr. R. Muirhead Collins has that free hand the Senate has a right toknow. If he has not that power I want to know who is providing him with the pabulum contained in the advertisements. I shall also want to know on the morrow how much per inch per issue is being paid for this class of advertising, and the main reason why, above all other newspapers, The Standard of Empire was selected in order to bring the resources of the Commonwealth under the notice of the people of Great Britain.
– Surely Captain Collins would not draw out the advertisements and select the newspaper on his own account ?
– That is information which I Have a right to seek, and which senators have a right- to be supplied with.
– That newspaper was selected because it represents the Chamberlain Party in England, with which the Government of the Commonwealth are in sympathy.
– If it represents the Chamberlain Party, that is no reason why it should be utilized by the Commonwealth Government.
– Yes, it is.
– Then anything can be a reason for utilizing any organ which is published in any part of the world. The advertisement is rather interesting reading.It is headed “ The Commonwealth of Australia, Striking Facts that Court Comparison,” and the first paragraph of it reads as follows -
Australia offers the people of the Motherland a new home, where there is a chance for all. Any one, with no other capital than energy and perseverance, may prosper in a land which possesses inexhaustible and, for the most part, unexploited resources.
– Hear, hear.
– That is not correct.
– Yesterday afternoon, within a few yards of this building, there assembled a large number of men who sought an interview with the leader of the Labour Party in order to move, if possible, the Commonwealth Government to give them the wherewithal to leave Victoria, because they said that work would be made available to them if they could get to New Zealand, and yet to this paragraph Senator Dobson says “ Hear, hear.” That is not an isolated case of workless men. I venture to say that in almost every large city in Victoria - Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Mary- borough, particularly those mining centres where there is a very great depression, not to speak of other centres in the State - thousands of men are out of employment and are anxious to get work.
– Will they go to the Northern Territory?
– Let us deal with one thing at a time. In my opinion one of the most important questions which this Parliament has to consider is how to provide work for the workless and land for the landless, and when the Commonwealth inserts in a newspaper advertisements that are, I assert, incorrect and untruthful, a voice should be raised in order to point out in what direction wrong is being done to those who are in search of land here to-day, and are unable to get it, and to those who are out of employment, and are unable to get permanent work. The advertisement continues -
To the British man or woman who wants to emigrate we say come to Australia ;
Where every man who likes to work can have his own home on his own land.
– Hear, hear.
– At almost every. Land Board meeting, and at almost every auction sale, in connexion with the cutting up of big estates in Victoria as well as in New South Wales, there are innumerable applicants for the available blocks. Not long ago in Victoria small areas were thrown open for selection. Those who took an interest in the question of land settlement are aware that the Age and the Argus called attention to the fact that men walked as much as 25 miles, “ biked “ 50 miles, and “ trained “ nearly 200 miles to be present on the day when the land was to be made available by ballot. Not one in twenty was successful. What occurred at that time is occurring constantly in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is dealing with selected properties cut up for settlement purposes. There is great competition for them. But cannot a man get Crown land in any State?
– In Victoria, it is not possible for those who want land to get what they are in search of.
– Cannot they go and buy land at the Lands Office?
– The Crown lands are more or less tied up. If there are lands available, why should the Government of Victoria be purchasing private) estates at high prices for settlement purposes? The result of this system is that some of those who have settled upon the repurchased estates under the Government policy have paid such prices for their holdings that a considerable period must elapse before they can secure any return for their labour.
– The honorable senator says on the one hand that men cannot get land at. all, and on the other hand that the Government are buying land for settlement purposes. How does he reconcile those statements?
– What I said was that there are innumerable applicants for land that is made available. Senator Dobson asked me why people did not take up Crown lands, and I replied that if Crown lands were available the Government would not be purchasing estates from private owners and paying high prices for them.
– And for those highpriced lands there are scores of applicants?
– Yes, because there was a hungry desire on the part of the people to get land upon which to settle.
– If that is so, it is a very bad state of things, and the Government of Victoria ought to do something to put matters right.
– It is almost impossible for the sons of farmers to get land in this State. We have been losing our rural population for years past.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– I rise to order. I submit that the hour has arrived for private business to be taken. I am quite well aware that a motion was adopted this afternoon for the suspension of the Standing Orders. But I take it that it is not possible for something to be read into a resolution which is not expressed in it; and that if the honorable and learned senator who moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders this afternoon had intended to interfere with the orders of the Senate with reference to private business he would have expressed his intention in the motion that he proposed. But he did not express it. He succeeded in carrying a resolution for the suspension of the Standing Orders, and there is nothing in the Standing Orders that affects the present position. The order under which private business is dealt with at 7.45 o’clock is not to be found in the Standing Orders. Therefore the honorable and learned senator has not by his motion interfered with the direction of the Senate that fixes private business for a quarter to 8 o’clock on Thursdays. According to the practice of the House of Commons, a practice followed in the Parliament of which you and I sir were members for so many years, the orders fixing the course of business were treated always as sessional orders, were printed as such, and were embodied session by session with the Standing Orders. There were sessional orders and standing orders. I admit that the resolutions carried at the commencement of the session with regard to the order of business, the hours of meeting, and so on, are not, in the practice of the Senate, called ses sional orders. But they are distinctly orders of the Senate, passed in precisely the same manner, and with exactly the same effect as our Standing Orders. They are voted upon, and become the orders of the Senate. My honorable friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, did not ask for the suspension of the orders that fix our business. He merely asked for the suspension of the Standing Orders affecting the rules of business, not the order of business. I wish to make that quite clear. Senator Best moved for the suspension of the rules under which our business is conducted, but not of the orders that fix the order of our procedure in respect of a certain class of business - private business to wit. I am not quite sure that there is a phrase of our Standing Orders that refers to private business in the sense in which we are discussing it. The orders of the Senate are twofold’. There are standing orders that govern the machinery of the Chamber, and there are sessional orders passed at the commencement of each session, fixing the business to be transacted on certain days and at certain hours. 1 submit that the Minister in moving the motion, had he desired to get rid of private business to-night, should have taken a different course. But I make bold to say that he never expected to interfere with that business. I am sure that he will not contradict ‘me when I say that he contemplated getting the Supply Bill out of the way beforedinner time.
– Ofcourse I did. I provided for the contingency though.
– Wild horses would not drag secrets from me, but the honorable senator knows what I know.. Will you kindly allow me, sir, to make quite clear the essential words that are omitted from Senator Best’s motion agreed to this afternoon? He moved -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended…
The words which the honorable and learned senator should have put in if he wanted to mop up the time allotted to private business, are, after Standing Orders, “and sessional orders.” Then he would have covered the contingency. But he did not cover it; and I urge, with great respect, that iis the duty of the Chair not to read into a resolution what is not there. I am quite sure that Senator Best will ask you to do something that he omitted to- provide for in the resolution. But I say that it is too late. It may be a matter of convenience that I should be ruled against. But there is a larger question involved than that of convenience. You sir, as a lawyer, know that it would often be very convenient for Judges to forget some of their rules of Court, and to get round corners in a slip-shod manner. But I object tothe introduction of slip-shod methods into the procedure of this Senate. If my honorable friend had desired to get rid of private business, as laid down in the rules of this Chamber, passed at the commencement of the session, he should have so expressed it in his motion. He has not done so. He succeeded in carrying a motion enabling him during Government time to rush his Bill through. That I freely admit. But I deny thatany motion was carried authorizing the Government to take from Senator McGregor the opportunity of discussing a question of large import which stands on the noticepaper in his name.
– My honorable friend, Senator Neild, somewhat surprises me. His point is one which has not only been raised before in the Senate, but has been decided ; and one of the chief persons acquiescing in your decision, sir, was my honorable friend, Senator the Honorable Colonel Neild himself !
– On the 21st November last. We had a case exactly parallel with that of to-day. The usual precaution was taken by me of moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders in exactly the same form as I did to-day. As halfpast 6 o’clock approached, the question was raised, and my honorable friend, in speaking upon it, said -
ShouldI receive the assurance for which I ask from the Vice-President of the Executive, Council, I shall be prepared to withdraw my notice of motion, whilst I am prepared to withdraw the other matters I have on the business paper in any circumstances.
– That was a personal concession on my part.
– My honorable friend should wait a moment.
– I may remind the honorable senator that the consideration of the Supply Bill will becontinued at a quarter to eight.
– I had overlooked the suspension ofthe Standing Orders. It appears that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and I cannot trade, and I congratulate the honorable gentleman upon having the best half of the transaction. I hope, however, that the honorable gentleman will be able to give the Senate an assurance that the drastic change proposed will not be made until Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss the proposal.
The position, therefore, is that not only has the President given a ruling on this point, but the honorable senator wasa party to it and at once admitted it, acquiescing in the decision of the President.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I have quoted the honorable senator’s words.
– The honorable senator is now doing a great deal more.
– First of all I suggested a “ trade “ with the honorable senator, and as he was not ready to close with me I had a little more up my sleeve, and when I played my trump card he realized at once, according to his own acknowledgment, that I had the best of the transaction. I say that the honorable senator acquiesced in the President’s ruling on that occasion.
– The President did not give a ruling.
– The fact remains that the President said that the Supply Bill was to be continued in private members’ time.
– No point was raised to the contrary.
– I say that we have laid down our own practice in this matter. I speak subject to correction, but I think that Senator Neild, amongst others, was anxious that the practice of the British House of Commons should be disregarded.
– No; the honorable senator is speaking very wildly tonight.
– It was originally set out in our Standing Orders that where not otherwise provided for we should resort to the practice of the House of Commons. That was not good enough for a majority of honorable senators, who, to the best of my knowledge, included Senator Neild.
– It was good enough for me.
– Consequently we deliberately struck that out of our Standing Orders with the idea that we should establish our own practice. We have established our own practice in this matter. It has been acquiesced in by Senator Neild, and it does not become the honorable senatorat this juncture to interrupt very important and urgent public business by a technical point of order such as that which he has raised.’ -It is quite clear that when we suspended the Standing Orders, as we did by a large majority, we intended that there should be a clear run given for the completion of the Supply Bill introduced contingent upon their, suspension. It was intended that nothing should interrupt its passage. On the principle that the greater includes the less, the Standing Orders having been suspended, minor orders are necessarily suspended. My contention is that having already established our practice we are now bound by it, and I am satisfied that it is. a practice which will be readily acquiesced in.
– I should like to say that I think Senator Neild is on very sound ground in raising his point of order, although I admit that it may be inconvenient.
– I admit that also.
– I should like to see the Supply Bill got out of the way, but I cannot help thinking that the honorable senator’s point of order is well founded. Standing order 433 appears to me to be definite enough on the subject. It reads -
In cases of urgent necessity any standing or sessional order or orders of the Senate may be suspended on motion duly made and seconded, without notice : Provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators.
– Then the Sessional Orders might be suspended now.
– That is so; but no notice has been given for their suspension.
– Will the honorable senator refer to standing order 435?
– It provides that the suspension of Standing Orders shall be limited in its operation to the particular purpose for which the suspension has been sought. Honorable senators will notice that standing order 434 also differentiates between Standing and Sessional Orders. It reads - :
When a motion for the suspension of any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders appears on the notice-paper, it may be carried by a majority of voices. I think that if it was intended that one motion for the suspension of “the Standing Orders should cover a suspension of Sessional Orders as well, the standing order would have read “ Standing and Sessional Order or Orders” instead of “ Standing or Sessional Order or Orders.” I can see that there would be some danger in the adoption of the practice now proposed, because by a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders it might be possible to accomplish something that was never intended by a majority of honorable senators.
– The Sessional Orders are made under the Standing Orders, and when we suspend the Standing Orders we suspend the Sessional Orders.
– All our legislation is passed under the Standing Orders.
– When the Standing Orders are suspended, we can go as we please.
– I must say that I think Senator Neild is on sound ground. I do not think, sir, that your remarks which have been quoted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council can be regarded as a ruling. They were merely an expression of opinion in reply to a question. I think you would be laying down a dangerous precedent if you were to rule that the suspension of the Standing Orders includes the suspension of the Sessional Orders.
– It seems to me that if the Government expect honorable senators to give up time set down for private business they should be prepared to allot to private members some of the’ time set down for Government business.
– The question now before the Senate is whether we should proceed with the Supply Bill.
– Then I am afraid that I shall be rather circumscribed in what I wish to say. I think that there is a great deal of common sense in Senator Neild’s contention. If I had understood that the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders meant that we should give up the time set down for private business this evening, I should not have voted for it. I think that some time should be set down for the consideration of private business
– I remind the honorable senator that the only question whicli can be discussed now is whether the Senate shall proceed with the Supply Bill.
– I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I think that when the Standing Orders have been suspended’, to permit public business to be transacted without delay, everything that would interfere with its transaction is suspended. It has been said that the suspension of the
Standing Orders on this occasion debars me from going on with my motion to-night. Of course, the motion is of very great importance to me, but it is of still greater importance to me that money should be available for the payment of the public servants at the end of the current fortnight, and unless this Supply Bill is passed tonight there may be some difficulty about that. I think we should go on with the Supply Bill without further delay.
– On the point of orderraised by Senator Neild, I may say that I do not think the question was definitely raised before. But there is no doubt that, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council has already pointed out, when a similar difficulty arose on the 21st November, I made the statement -
I may remind the honorable senator that the consideration of the Supply Bill will be continued at a quarter to eight.
Though that statement may not be regarded technically as a ruling, it was certainly an expression of opinion from which no dissent was expressed.
Seantor Best. - Which was acquiesced in.
– As the VicePresident of the Executive Council suggests, it was completely acquiesced in, and the Senate proceeded with the Supply Bill after the dinner adjournment, although there was private members’ business on the paper for consideration. I find that in March last, on a Thursday, which was a private members’ day, a similar thing occurred, and I quote the following from the Journals of the Senate : -
Supply Bill (No. 5). - The Minister for Home Affairs (Senator Keating) moved - Thatthe Supply Bill No. 5 be now read a first time.
Suspension of sitting. - At half-past six p.m. the sitting of the Senate was suspended until a quarter to eight p.m.
Resumption of sitting. - At a quarter to eight p.m. the Senate resumed.
Supply Bill No. 5. - Debate interrupted by the suspension of the sitting, resumed.
Question put and passed.
Bill read a first time. .
The Minister for Home Affairs (Senator Keating) moved - that the Supply Bill (No. 5) be now read a second time.
Question put and passed.
Bill read a second time.
The Senate, according to Order, resolved itself into a Committee for the consideration of the Bill.
Prior to this the Vice-President of the Executive Council, pursuant to contingent notice of motion, had moved -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Supply Bill (No. 5) passing throughout all stages without delay.
– Will you permit me to remind you, Mr. President, that on the date to which you refer, as it was near the end of the session, the Sessional Orders had been suspended, and there was no private members’ business on the paper.
– As I have not had time to look up the matter I am unable to say whether that is so or not. Even if it were not so there might have been no private business on the paper. I take it that when we suspend the Standing Orders we must consider the purpose for which we have decided to suspend them. Undoubtedly in this case the suspension of the Standing Orders was moved in order that the Supply Bill might be proceeded with uninterruptedly, if Ministers were prepared to take it through its different stages. I am confronted with the question of how far Sessional Orders control the action of the Senate when the Standing Orders have been suspended for the express purpose of enabling particular business to be proceeded with uninterruptedly. I am not prepared to accept the position that when we have suspended the Standing Orders for the express purpose of proceeding with a Bill through its various stages without interruption, any sessional order, which I regard as a purely subordinate order, should be allowed to interfere with the manifest intention and desire of the Senate when it determined on the suspension of the Standing Orders. I should like further to remind honorable senators that no new departure is now proposed, and it may fairly be assumed that the Senate, having acted in this way on a previous occasion, laid down a line of action which was considered most convenient for the transaction of public business. Let me add a word or two in regard to May and the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. It is perfectly true that a number of honorable senators, including, several members of the Standing Orders Committee, were anxious that we should have resort to the practice of the House of Commons where we had laid down no practice for ourselves. I believe that Senator Neild was one of those who took up that position.
– I desired the reference.
– So did I.
– I took that view myself ; but the majority decided otherwise, and reasons were given why it was undesirable that we should tie ourselves down to any particular practice and why we should .Ourselves lay down laws to guide us in the conduct of our business in future. It was pointed out that this would give the President and honorable senators the fullest opportunity to take advantage of any convenient practice which might prevail in the House of Commons, in the United States Congress, in the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, or’ in any other Legislature. The Standing Orders of the House of Commons were expressly excluded in order that we might lay down our own course of procedure. I think that in this matter a course of procedure has been laid down for which abundant and substantial reasons have been given. I have therefore no alternative but to rule that the point of order has not been sustained, and that the consideration of the Supply Bill may be proceeded with.
– I was pointing out, prior to the adjournment for dinner, that in consequence of the loss of population by Victoria that State had to content itself with one member less in the House of Representatives after the last elections. I was endeavouring to show that that loss of representation in this Parliament was largely due to the system of land monopoly which obtains in Victoria.
– It was due to the fact that in the other States population had increased more rapidly than had Victoria.
– That fact evidences that in the other States greater facilities are offered to persons to settle upon the land than are available in Victoria. A recent Year-Booh issued by the Government Statist of this State contains much valuable information in reference to the land question. Two paragraphs in particular provide very interesting reading. Mr. Allen, who is a very important officer in the Lands Department in Victoria, says -
It is a fact that the maps “of many of the early settled parishes, subdivided as they originally were into numerous valuable farm sections, present the appearance of so many draughtboard squares, from which the men are missing - the land of whole parishes having become, in .many instances, merged in one large estate, the property of one person.
In Victoria that sort of thing has been in progress for a considerable period. It is quite three decades since Sir Graham Berry introduced into the Victorian Parliament a Bill, the object of which was to burst up large estates. But instead of the measure accomplishing that object, the estates have consistently become larger, with the result that from year to year the rural population has diminished. Official documents show that in 1891, when a census was taken in this State, there were 69,021 persons of Victorian birth resident in New Zealand and other States, whilst at the last census, which was taken in 1901, there were 136,638 Victorians resident in those countries.
– Many of them have settled in Western Australia.
– I cannot say where the bulk of Victoria’s lost population has drifted. It is more than likely that it has made its way to Western Australia and New Zealand, both of which countries offer greater facilities to intending settlers than does Victoria.
– The honorable senator has always claimed that Victoria is the land of Goschen.
– I have a very exalted opinion of Victoria, and indeed of the whole of Australia, but I feel that I ought not to allow this opportunity to pass without calling attention to some of the difficulties experienced by native-born Victorians in obtaining suitable land upon which to settle.
-Why not acknowledge that the ideal policy of protection has utterly failed?
– The fiscal policy has nothing whatever to do with this matter. To-day every State of the Union enjoys the same measure of protection. If a protective policy is a bad thing - as Senator Gray would have us believe - it is remarkable that since that policy has been uniformly adopted throughout Australia, the population of New South Wales has rapidly increased, while that of Victoria has remained almost stationary. I repeat that innumerable difficulties confront those who desire to become permanent settlers in this State. Y”et to-day the Commonwealth Government are telling the people of the Old Country that if they want work, and are possessed of energy and perseverance, they need only come to Australia. They are being as- sured that work will be provided for them here as well as opportunities to obtain homes of ‘their own.
– Does the advertisement say that work will be provided for them?
– No. But it declares in language as clear as it is possible to make it, that the man in the Old Country who is without capital and . out of employment can not only obtain work, but land, if he chooses to come to Australia. That is not a fair way of presenting the possibilities of this country. By all means let us tell intending immigrants the truth.
– In Queensland, where immigrants are provided with a free grant of land, the statement is absolutely correct.
– It may be correct so far as Queensland is concerned, but it is not correct so far as Victoria is concerned. Nor is it true in regard to New South Wales, where we know that there are numerous disappointed applicants for land.
– And many of them already possess land.
– That may be so. But many of those who hold land took up only a limited area in the early days, and ‘ now that they have reared families, their sons are unable to secure holdings for themselves.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we should reserve sufficient land round each selector’s home to provide for succeeding generations?
– No. But I say that large areas should not be utilized for grazing purposes when they might be successfully cultivated, thus ‘ maintaining a large army in the ordinary comforts of life. That there is a dearth of land available for settlement in New South Wales is abundantly evidenced by the applications received at every Land Board meeting. In that State tenants are securing land which was formerly used for grazing purposes, upon the share system, the worst form of sweating of which I can conceive.
– That depends.
– One case was recently brought under my notice, in which the owner of certain land in Victoria, who had been using it for grazing purposes, thereby deriving an income from it of not more than £50 per annum, leased it upon the share system to an energetic man, who set to work and cultivated it. The crop raised by the tenant realized .£750, and of that amount he was compelled to hand over one-third to the land-owner. This swearing is mainly responsible for the employment of child labour in connexion with the dairying industry. This afternoon Senator Stewart quoted extensively from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, with a view of showing that a number of country school teachers in New South Wales have found it almost impossible to impart any education to their pupils, because of the excessive drudgery to which they are subjected by their parents who are en-, gaged in that industry. That is not typical of New South Wales only. It exists in Victoria, too.
– Does the. honorable senator put that dawn to land monopoly?
– Does not the honorable senator think that it takes place in the case of families where the head owns the land and is doing well, just as much as in the case of the struggling man?
– In some cases it may; but I venture to say that in the majority of them it is due to earth monopoly, and to the sweating conditions which the owners of land impose upon those who take it up on the leasing system.
– It is just as bad on the northern rivers of New South Wales, where there is very little share farming, as it is in the south, where there is a great deal of it.
– Let me quote an extract which was taken from the Weekly Times, essentially a farmers’ paper, and published in Melbourne. It reads as follows : -
The writer, describing the dairying industry in a portion of Victoria of which he had art intimate knowledge, said : - “ The farmers are tenants of the large landowners. Some of them work their farms on’ the share system, while others pay an annual rent. Rents are high. Were it not for the great amount of free labour furnished by their children it is quite certain that the present conditions of occupation would not enable the tenants to obtain a living.”
– Does the writer give his name?
– The extract was taken from the leading columns of the Weekly Times, and the honorable senator can take my assurance that the writer of it knew what he was writing about. If I had anticipated that he would require absolutely accurate information, I should have made it my business to ascertain, if possible, the name of the writer.
– Is the honorable senatoraffirming that the bulk of the farmers of Victoria are tenant farmers? Because, if so, the statistics do not show that.
– I am not affirming anything of the kind; but I am affirming that a large area of Victoria is being cultivated on the share system.
– Where ?
– In the Western District.
– Not a large area.
– In the Gippsland district, too.
– Not a large area.
– In Victoria, large areas are being cultivated on the share system.
– In the Western District, they are making fortunes on the dairy farms.
– It is true that in the Western District some dairy farmers are making a very comfortable living; but it is also true that in Victoria there are many cases where the father, the mother, and all the members of the family have to work year in and year out, only to find that at the end of each year, owing to this sweating system having been introduced by the large land-holder, they have hardly sufficient left to get the necessities of life.
– At dairying or cropping?
– At both dairying and cropping.
– Those conditions can be found in districts where there is not a tenant farmer, and are due largely to seasons.
– For every effect there is a cause; but I am endeavouring to show that the employment of child labour in some dairying districts of Victoria is due to the earth monopolist exacting unfair and unjust tribute from the man who takes up the land on that system.
– The honorable senator must not generalize too much.
– Is the honorable senator arguing against profit-sharing under any conditions ?
– I am arguing against sweating on the land as I would argue against sweating in any industry. It is just as baneful; in fact, it is more so.
– Farming on the share system is not sweating.
– It is sweating of the worst kind in many parts of Australia.
– It means prosperity of the best kind in other parts.
– The extract from the Weekly Times continues -
The hours the children have to work are very long, and the work, for them, is very heavy and monotonous. A lot of milk is produced in the Western District with the assistance of child labour. Some of these children have to take their places in the milking sheds when very young. Very little recreation for them. Up in the morning at daylight to get the cows in, and assist to milk. Then to school. After school hours the cows have to be brought home and milked again, it frequently being dark before the milking is completed. Supper follows; then a rush through with the home lessons, and to bed. Such is the routine, year in and year out, of the children of the tenant farmers who provide free labour partly for the support of their struggling parents, but mainly to nd c to the wealth of the already wealthy landlords.”
So far as my knowledge goes, almost every word used1 by the writer of that article in condemnation of the system introduced into Victoria to sweat the genuine farmer is absolutely correct.
– Not the system, but the exceptions, the honorable senator means?
– I condemn the system, because . a man should be entitled to the full reward of his effort and industry on the land. In spite of the sad picture I have presented of an industry in which a large number of men, women, and children is engaged, in spite of the difficulties which Victorians have in getting land, and in spite of the fact that Victoria is rapidly losing its population in consequence of this, its Government is subsidizing, I expect as largely as the Commonwealth is doing, The Standard of Empire, in which it has an advertisement headed “ Victoria, the Garden State of Australia.”
– Is that the part of the advertisement with which the honorable senator is quarrelling?
– No. I think that it is the garden State of Australia.
Victoria was named after Her Majesty the late Queen.
I do not know whether that fact is likely to attract immigrants. The advertisement continues -
Opportunities fob Farmers.
The enlightened closer settlement, policy of Victoria enables the State to offer unrivalled opportunities to farmers with moderate capital. Possessing good soil, a splendid climate, aa abundant rainfall, a free education system, and light taxation, no country in the world offers such advantages for wheat growers, dairy farmers, wool growers, cattle raisers, orchardists, and for lamb-raising for export.
I ask whether the senators from other States believe that Victoria offers greater facilities than does any other State in the Union ?
– Is that a Commonwealth advertisement?
– No, it is a Victorian advertisement.
– What has the Commonwealth to do with that?
– The Commonwealth may not be paying a penny towards the cost of the advertisement, but I think that the Commonwealth Government, when it advertises that it has land and will provide homes and work- for those who come to Victoria, and the Government of Victoria has an advertisement immediately below the Federal advertisement, it has much to do with Federal representatives, especially when we are told that -
The Prime Minister of Australia has intimated to the people of the Commonwealth that they have three duties to perform, i.e. - 1. To occupy the land. 2. To utilise it. 3. To keep it for our flag and. our race.
Those are very nice sounding sentiments, but there is too much ambiguity about them for me.
– It is too Deakinesque.
– What is the Government of the Commonwealth doing to force those who have been in occupancy of land in different States almost since the introduction of responsible government, or what does it propose to do to force those people to utilize the land to its fullest extent? It is not doing anything; it does not propose to do anything, yet in effect it tells the people of the old land that that is its policy. What do the Government of Victoria advertise in this newspaper ? -
Government Assistance to Settlers.
The Government gives liberal financial assistance towards the improving of properties. Farmers may be granted £1,500 worth of land, agricultural labourers £200 worth, and workmen £100 worth, the payment being on very easy terms. The Government assists £1 for £1 UP to £5^ towards fencing and building. Advances are made on easy terms up to £2^0, repayable in twenty years, for the purpose of “building and effecting improvements on the land. Emigrants from the United Kingdom may thus count upon a warm welcome from their brothers in Victoria, Australia.
I am inclined to think that if any of the persons who read that advertisement in this conservative organ come to Australia in the full anticipation of getting work and being assisted in getting upon the land in the direction indicated by the Government of Victoria, they will be very sadly disappointed. I think that it is the duty of a Federal representative to point out that the statements contained in these advertisements are incorrect and misleading. If the Victorian Government desire to, increase the population of Victoria they only need to offer to the native-born some of the facilities which are promised to persons abroad, and the former would very gladly make their way to any part of the State where such opportunities were offered. During the speech of Senator Stewart one or two honorable senators opposite said that the policy of the Labour Party is to prevent the population of Australia being increased by the introduction of desirable immigrants.
– The honorable senator does not seriously dispute that?
– I do. The Labour Party do not offer any objection to desirable immigrants; but they do offer an objection to facilities being offered to persons abroad until the people of the Commonwealth are first provided for. That is clearly laid down in the resolution carried by the Conference recently held by inter-State laborites in Brisbane. It reads as follows : -
That the Australian Labour Party, recognising the necessity of developing the resources of Australia, will welcome desirable immigrants to States whose Governments having first provided land and employment for their own people, have also afforded facilities for settlement of such immigrants on the land or their absorption into appropriate industries.
The Labour Party as a party offers no objection to desirable immigrants coming to those States of the Union where land is made available for them.
– Is a mechanic a desirable immigrant?
– If there is work for him, certainly.
– Apparently that resolution ignores him.
– It does not, because it contains the words “ or their absorption into appropriate industries.” No objection is offered by that resolution to the introduction into Australia of desirable immigrants if land is made available to them. No objection is made to any man, woman, or child coming to Australia provided there is work for them to do.
– Will the honorable senator tell us when a mam is a desirable immigrant in his’ opinion?
– And will he tell us when his party has approved of any im*migrants who have arrived?
– I am not here to be cross-examined as to what are desirable immigrants. Although Senator Walker’s views and mine are in contradistinction, I am sure he would be the first to say that undesirable immigrants should not come to Australia under =present conditions, so far as the land policies of the States are concerned. I urge that the advertisement inserted by the Commonwealth in The Standard of Empire should be withdrawn. If it is not withdrawn, it ought to be remodelled, and the plain, unvarnished truth should be told to the people of Great Britain as to the conditions of industrial life in Australia, and the possibilities of land settlement. I have entered my protest, in the hope that attention having been called to the matter, this misleading advertisement will not be continued, and I trust that the Government will take the first opportunity of pointing out the true facts to the people of Great Britain.
– I have listened with a considerable amount of interest to the debate on the first reading of this Bill, and especially to the observations which fell from Senator Pearce with regard to the question of coinage in Australia, and the manufacture of cartridge blanks in connexion with any works which may be started for coinage purposes. I am sure that the honorable senator would not expect a Minister, after listening to what has been said on the subject, to speak with anything like free- dom; but I may say, for myself, that much of what the honorable senator said was new to me, and certainly opened up a field for investigation and consideration that must necessarily be entered upon before any course of a committal character can be followed. Senator Needham has referred to the subject of wireless telegraphy. There has been a rote on the Estimates for last year and the previous year of £10,000 in connexion with this subject. The honorable senator seems to be somewhat impatient, because the Government have not taken steps to establish wireless telegraphy installations in different parts of the Commonwealth. I have to assure him that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has not been regardless of its responsibilities and duties in this matter.
– It is pleasant to know that there is one duty of which the Department has not been regardless.
Senator- KEATING.- Wireless telegraphy is a matter as to which remarkable developments are taking place. The Government has been .approached from time to time by different bodies from different parts of the world, offering to establish some particular form of wireless telegraphy as being the best that could be adopted. There is a considerable amount of competition among rival concerns, each of which offers to the Government its own system as the best. There is sufficient evidence at the disposal of the Government for them to know that they might easily adopt a system of wireless telegraphy which at the present time might be unsurpassed, but which in six or twelve months would be practically out of date. 4
– Will the Government never take action because of that consideration ?
– I certainly do not say that; but it is desirable that the Government should be most careful before committing itself to any particular course. We all know from the history of the States that telegraphic and cablegraphic developments were entered upon by them in the past, which they regretted for years afterwards. Though there is no express pro-‘ vision on the Estimates for the current year, as there was in previous years, nevertheless my colleague, the Treasurer, informed another place last evening that it is his intention during the present year, more especially if the revenue receipts warrant it, to grant from time to time out of his advance such sums as may be required by the Postmaster-General for this or kindred purposes. Of course, such sums when advanced will subsequently appear as items in a Bill which will be submitted to Parliament.
– Will the Minister kindly explain the position of the Government with regard to calling for tenders for wireless telegraphy ?
– I am not in a position to inform honorable senators of the exact position with regard to those tenders, but if the honorable senator will give notice of a question I shall be only too happy to consult the PostmasterGeneral, who I am sure will furnish him with all the information that he desires. Senator St. Ledger has referred to a subject that I can understand is an active case of annoyance and inconvenience to the people of Queensland. He has pointed out that the mail steamer Bingera, which connects Gladstone, the northern termination of the southern railway system of that State, with Townsville, and the northern, ports, has frequently been running late. Senator Chataway and Senator St. Ledger mentioned the matter to me yesterday, and I had already brought it under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral. Inquiries are being made into the subject. As the honorable senator has mentioned the subject again, and has stated that the steamer has been late twenty-six times in two years, necessitating the employment of special trains and putting business people who depend upon this means of communication to considerable inconvenience, I have not the slightest doubt that” steps will be taken to give notice to the contractors that the conditions of their contract, so far as speed and time are concerned, will have to be rigidly observed in future. I shall take another opportunity of dealing with one or two matters that were referred to; but as to what Senators Findley and Stewart have said regarding the advertisement of the Commonwealth in The Standard of Empire, I wish to point out that my honorable friends are, I think, under a misconception. The Commonwealth Government has for some time past been advertising the resources and productiveness of this country with a view of attracting suitable immigrants from Great .Britain. We have adopted several methods of advertising - by the circulation of year-books, and the publication of special pamphlets, like a little publication known as the Commonwealth of Australia - its Resources and Production: We have also advertised in the . newspapers. The Standard of Emfire has been singled out for attack and opprobrium on account of its political proclivities. The Government, in selecting The Standard of Empire as the medium of advertisement, had no regard to the political principles that it advocates. That journal was selected because it marks a new departure in British journalism. It is a newspaper having for its particular mission the publication of news from the outlying portions of the British Empire to a greater extent than is the case with any journal that has hitherto been published in Great Britain.
– Any newspaper will do the same thing if the subsidy paid to it is large enough.
– It is not a, question of subsidy in this case. It is true that The Standard of Empire does not publish our advertisements for nothing. But there is no other newspaper in the United Kingdom which for such a small, outlay will give us such a return in the way of advertisement. The whole sum per annum that we are paying for the advertisement we get in The Standard of Empire is, I am informed, less than was paid for one single advertisement in a single issue by a State Government in an English daily newspaper. I am not in a position to mention the amount at the present moment, but notice of a question has been given on the subject, and when that question is answered to-morrow I have no doubt that all the information that the Vice-President of the Executive Council can give will be furnished.
– Who” pays for the cable service that this newspaper contains?
– I cannot say.
– The advertisement may be cheap in one sense, but we may be paving dearly for it in another.
– It may be so, but the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to furnish information tomorrow which I have no doubt will satisfy honorable senators. It is, however, simply because this particular newspaper decided to embark upon a different course, and to issue a weekly . number devoted almost wholly, if not entirely, to giving the people of Great Britain news about Canada, Australia, South Africa, and other parts of the British Empire, that the Government saw fit to publish an advertisement to which Senator Findley has referred.
– Without regard to the truth.
– There is no question of the disregard of truth in the matter at all.
– The advertisement is not true.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator has read the advertisement. The Commonwealth advertisement was not read by Senator Findley. What he read was the advertisement of the
State of Victoria, for which we are not responsible. Other States have also inserted advertisements. If New South Wales, Tasmania, or any other State chooses to make its own arrangements for advertising its own resources in The Standard of Empire, we ‘as a Commonwealth Government cannot object, and say that we will not have a State advertisement inserted above or below or next to ours. It is a matter as to which each State must necessarily make arrangements independently of the Commonwealth. I consider that we should have been neglectful of our responsibilities if, seeing that a journal of this kind was established, we did not utilize it for the purpose of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth.
– Does not the Minister think that we are practising a deception upon the people of Great Britain by stating that there are lands available in Victoria when that is not the case?
– We are not doing anything of the kind. We simply put a Commonwealth advertisement in The Standard of Empire, just as we might advertise in a Victorian or New South Wales newspaper. As to the particular form of the advertisement, of- course every one knows that an advertisement necessarily contains something of what is generally called puffing.” The reader who peruses an advertisement always I suppose discounts it to some extent, because he knows that usually the advertiser resorts to puffing to proclaim his wares.
– Have the Commonwealth Government discovered that art?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I may inform honorable senators, as my honorable colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, has already intimated, that what is asked for here is based upon the Estimates for last year. We are asking for two months’ Supply, and the total amount required is £727,749. Of this amount, £717,749 is required for the ordinary votes of the year, and £10,000 for what are known as refunds of revenue. This is an item which appears in every Estimates, and, as honorable senators may remember, it is intended to provide a sum from which the Treasurer may repay to certain administrations or Departments moneys which are properly due to them, but which have been collected by others. I may give as an instance the administration of the Pacific Cable Board and the administration of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. When a message is sent, the cost of the whole message is paid into a Commonwealth post-office, and a certain amount has afterwards to be paid to the cable company, because we have collected their portion of the cost as well as our own. Honorable senators are .aware that the same thing arises in connexion with adjustments between money -order offices and the postoffices. In many instances, postal notes are issued which do not exactly meet the requirements of the persons .to whom they are issued, and the required amount is made up by the purchase of a few stamps. The revenue derived from the sale of the stamps belongs to the Post and Telegraph Department, and one Department is entitled to the money, though another gets credit for it. This is a Supply Bill for two months. The last was dealt with by the Senate in June, and covered three months of the present financial year. In that Supply Bill, there was included a large amount of £200,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance Account. The ordinary votes were for £1,172,635, -and that, with the Treasurer’s Advance and refunds of revenue, made a total passed in the three months’ Supply Bill, under which we have been working until now, of £1,412,625. The total amount asked for in this Bill is, as I have said, £727,749. In stating that this Bill is based upon last year’s Estimates, I wish honorable senators to understand that it contains no provision which will in any way commit Parliament to any increase in the salaries of officers other than the ordinary annual statutory increments on salaries of less than -£i6o a year.
– For instance, I notice by the papers distributed that it is proposed to increase the salaries of secretaries in certain Departments.
– This Bill will in no way commit Parliament to those increases. The only increases of salary anticipated by this Bill are the ordinary annual statutory increments due to officers in receipt of not more than £160 a year. There are two or three verbal alterations in the Bill to which I invite the attention of honorable senators. These are consequent upon the fact that we have altered the title given to some of the items. Honorable senators will find, on page 4, under the heading of “Department of External Affairs,” the following, in Division 16 - Read -
No. 3 Commonwealth Literary Fund,£220. In lieu of provision in Act No.21 of1908, vis.,
No. 3, Australian Men of Letters Fund.
Honorable senators will remember that in the Estimates for the last year or two there appeared a vote of £500 or a little more for the “ Australian Men of Letters Fund.” In pursuance of a recommendation of the Committee appointed to advise upon applications made for payments out of that fund, it has been decided to adopt the title “ Commonwealth Literary Fund.” A similar alteration will be found on page 7 of the Bill. Honorable senators will find under Department of Home Affairs, the following -
No. 6, Cost of Commonwealth Elections, £200,
In lieu ofprovision under Act No. 21 of 1908, viz. : -
No. 6, Cost of Commonwealth Elections, £350.
In that case we actually provided more in the last Supply Bill than we required, and we are now asking Parliament to give us £200 instead of £350. Another change will be noticed at page 10 of the Bill. Under the heading “ New South Wales Naval Forces “ there is the following -
It will be seen that we previously separated the two branches of Permanent Force and Naval Militia, and it is now proposed to combine the items under the heading “ Permanent Staff and Militia.” And we ask for a vote of £2,290 instead of the vote of . £1,310 asked for in the last Supply Bill. I do not think that there is anything else in the Bill which calls for special attention, or which honorable senators would expect me to bring under their notice.
– Where is the vote for immigration to be found in this Bill ?
– It is included, in the votes for the External Affairs Department in precisely the same division and subdivision in this Bill as on the Estimates in Chief. If the honorable senator will refer to page 17 of the Estimates in Chief he will find under the heading “ Miscellaneous,” External Affairs Department, the item “ Advertising resources of the Commonwealth, £20,000.” The honorable senator is probably aware that in a Supply Bill it is impossible on each occasion to set out in absolute detail ever)’ one of the items as they appear in the Estimates. When a Supply Bill is under consideration honorable senators would always do well to have by them a copy of the Estimates, as they would then be in a’ position to relate any particular item in the Supply Bill to its particular division in the Estimates, and to see there, in more extensive detail, what is covered by a particular vote.
– I have noticed in the schedule for the Postmaster-General’s Department that the amount paid in salaries in South Australia is very much less than the amount paid in Western Australia, where there is a smaller population. I find that the salaries set down for South Australia in this Department amount to £23,011, and in Western Australia to £28,200. I have been led to refer to the matter because of a paragraph which I noticed in one of the Adelaide newspapers last week, and which it occurred to me might explain the reason why these salaries are so much lower in South Australia. I quote the following from the Adelaide Advertiser of 9th October -
STOCKWELL, October 6.- Complaints are rife at the delay and inconvenience to business people caused by the substitution of the telephone for the telegraph service. If the telephone were on the trunk line matters would be all right, but as it is all messages have to be telephoned to Nuriootpa whence they are telegraphed to their destination, and vice versa. In only two or three cases is this plan not observed. The local people are allowed to speak by telephone to Angaston, Nuriootpa, and Tanunda. No notice to that effect is exhibited, but one learns from experience. Such is the efficiency of the service that a message sent to. Kapunda,11 miles distant, by road, or 17 miles by wire, if sent between 2 and 3 p.m., gets there at 10 a.m. next day, or a message from Tanunda sent between i and 2 p.m. gets here the next day at 10 a.m., and the distance by road is 8 miles. Two years ago this was a telegraph office, employing a regular Commonwealth officer at over £100, and the revenue paid the officer’s salary. In addition to that the Savings Bank agency is stronger than those at most of the surrounding townships. The postmistress is also registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, Commonwealth electoral officer, stamp agent, money order officer, has parcels post, &c, and has to deliver telephone and” telegraph messages in the town. For this the magnificent salary of ^40 is paid. It is that new kind of office, instituted in recent years, and termed a contract office. Altogether it is a state of things that the people away from the conveniences of cities have a right to complain about.
I wish the Minister, if possible, to find out whether this practice of sweating and inducing people to do all this work for the beggarly pittance of £40 a year is a common thing in South Australia, and whether it is because of that practice the salaries voted for the Department in South Australia are so much less than those voted for Western Australia. About twelve months ago, when Mr. Chapman was PostmasterGeneral, he said that he was working with the object of making the salaries paid to those in charge of contract post-offices uniform, and at least equal to the Commonwealth minimum salary of £110 per annum. Perhaps the Minister will be able to learn from his colleague the PostmasterGeneral whether the kind of thing referred to in -the paragraph I have quoted prevails to any great extent in South Australia or other States, and if it does whether it is not considered necessary that some attempt should be made to put a stop to it.
– The Minister of Home Affairs has just said that by voting for the second reading of this Bill we shall not commit ourselves to anything in excess of the expenditure voted last year - to any increases of salary, except in the case of officers receiving not more than £160 per annum. I wish to direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that from the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs it appears that the Secretary of that Department is to have his salary increased1 by £100 a year. What I wish to know is this : If we pass the vote of £708 set down in this Bill for salaries, for the administrative division of the Department of External Affairs, shall we commit ourselves to the increase of salary of the Secretary of the Department ?
– No. The salaries of these officers will be paid as heretofore until both ‘Houses of the Parliament have , passed the Estimates. Then if the increased salaries are agreed to, the officers will be paid arrears from the beginning of the financial year.
– I am afraid that the comparison instituted by Senator Story between the salaries payable in South Australia to officers in the Postal Department, and the salaries payable in Western Australia to officers in that Department does not hold good. If he will look at page 251 of the Estimates, he will find that the total amount of the salaries payable in the Post and Telegraph Department in . South Australia is £148,504, whereas the amount payable in Western Australia is only £97,552. In other words, £50,000 more per annum is being expended in salaries in South Australia than is being spent in Western Australia
– Earlier in the evening, Senator Findley discussed at considerable length the conduct of certain officers who are engaged in the Commonwealth Offices, London. I entirely disagree with the speech which he made. Though some of his assertions contained a certain amount of truth, his statements were garbled, and I am very sorry that any honorable senator should have felt called upon to make such a speech, which is calculated to inflict great damage upon the Commonwealth.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that at this stage his remarks must be strictly relevant to the provisions of the Bill.
– I am sorry that I am prevented from replying to the statements of Senator Findley at the present juncture. I shall avail myself of an opportunity to do so upon another occasion.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.13]. - I desire to refer to subdivision 2 of division 13, “ Contingencies £1,310.” I understand that a large portion of this sum is to be utilized in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth ?
– I have made inquiries, and I understand that that is not so.
– Then where is the expenditure connected with advertising shown?
– Under sub-division 2 of division n.
– I have no desire to deal with this question at length, because it was discussed very fully by Senator Stewart. As a matter of personal explanation, however. I should like to reply to the charge which has been levelled against me of being a strong supporter of land monopoly. Such a charge has no foundation whatever, because I think, sir, it will be within your recollection-
– If the honorable senator desires to make merely a personal explanation, this is not the stage at which it should be addressed to the Senate. It should have been made at an’ earlier stage.
– I understand that a personal explanation may be made by an honorable senator at any time.
– It may. with the concurrence of honorable senators. But the proper time to make a personal explanation is immediately after any particular statement to which an honorable senator objects has been made.
– I find that I was mistaken, and that the vote for advertising purposes is not included in these Estimates. ,
– I have also made inquiries, and I. find that no amount for advertising is included in the Estimates which are now before the Senate, and consequently the honorable senator will not, at this stage, be in order in discussing the advertisements which have appeared in the London press under the auspices of the Government.
– I am sure that honorable senators will permit me to say a few words By way of personal explanation. In reply to the charge that I am a strong supporter of land monopoly, I merely wish to say that years ngo I drew and introduced into the New South Wales Parliament a Bill to enable leaseholders, whose leases had twenty years and upwards to run, to acquire the fee-simple of their holdings. That is a. sufficient refutation of the charge which has been levelled against me. There are one or two items on page 4 of the Estimates to which I desire to direct attention. For instance, there is the vote in connexion with the Commonwealth Men of Letters Fund. Last’ year we voted ,£500 under this heading, but so far none of that money has been expended. Yet, as a matter of urgency, we are now asked to authorize the expenditure of a further amount under that heading. I also desire to enter my protest against the cruelty which is practised by the Post and Telegraph Department, in advertising publicly for applicants to fill positions which’ they have not the remotest chance of securing. My remarks in this connexion have special reference to contract or non-official post-offices. The practice is for the Department to invite applicants from worthy citizens who are kept upon tenter-hooks until the authorities are able to discover some overgrown telegraph boy who is coaxed to accept the position. These citizens are then told that the application of Mr. So-and-So, ex-telegraph messenger, has been accepted. In one case which I have in mind applications were to be lodged by the 1st July last. Several persons applied for the position, amongst them a worthy individual who had over and over again been promised such an appointment bv successive Postmasters-General. , Mr. Austin Chapman had promised him such an appointment in writing, and so had Mr. Ewing when the last-named filled the position of Acting Postmaster-General. The last I heard of this matter was- that the appointment of a non-official postmaster at Ulladulla, on the south coast of New South Wales, had been deferred for the present. Apparently that place will have to do without a postmaster until the Department can make up its mind - if it is burdened with such an encumbrance - as to who is to receive an appointment which is worth about £7% per annum. This system of inducing citizens to apply for positions which they have no chance of securing has been continued for years. The gentleman to whom I have alluded is well known in Sydney. He has been systematically humbugged by the Department. He holds credentials from the general manager of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, for which institution he has done a good deal of accountancy work. I am astonished at the temerity of the Department in asking for money at the hands of Parliament. Apparently it has become perfectly case-hardened in its incapacity. There are other matters to which I intended to refer, but at this hour I will refrain from doing so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
– Some time ago, I put to the President a question with regard to the position of Usher of the Black Rod. I did not then get the information that I wanted ; but the President gave me the distinctly comforting assurance that when certain appointments were made public, I would no doubt be perfectly satisfied with them, which was very good so far as it went. But, on looking at the Estimates for the current year, I find that no change has been made. The late Usher of the Black ‘Rod has been appointed Assistant Clerk, and another gentleman has been placed in the former position. The old system is to be continued.
– Have not their salaries been increased?
– I do not think so. In any case, I am not particularly troubling about an increase in the salaries, if such has taken place. What I did want then, and what I want now is, to abolish what I believe to be a- useless office. I think that in a case of this kind, the Government ought to be responsible, seeing that the country has to pay the piper. What are the duties of this officer? I see him occasionally attired in a very handsome uniform. When the Governor-General -happens along, this officer performs the duty of usher, that is to say, he heralds the approach of ‘His Excellency. He sits in the chamber while discussions are proceeding ; but I do not see that he is required here. I do not observe that he ever takes any particular part in the business of the chamber. Another reason, I believe, for the existence of such an official is, that in the case of any senators becoming unruly, or offending against the Standing Orders, or being suspended or expelled, the Usher of the Black Rod does duty as a policeman by taking the offending senator, so to speak, into custody, and escorting him outside the chamber. Really, the idea of any one occupying a position of that kind in this chamber is absolutely ludicrous. You might as well place a policeman in charge of a flock of sheep in case they might become disorderly, as have any one taking care of an assembly of decent, respectable, quiet, peace preserving gentlemen such as we have here. I think that the Government might very well have adopted the suggestion I offered a little time ago, that was, to appoint the previous Usher of the Black
Rod as Assistant Clerk and Usher. That course, as I intimated then, has been taken in Queensland, where the Legislative Assembly comprises seventy-two members. When I was there, there were some unruly gentlemen about, and there might possibly have been need to resort to the services of the Serjeant-at-Arms.
– I think that seven members at a time used to be suspended there.
– I have seen quite a number suspended and conducted outside the chamber by that functionary. But as I said, he also acted as Assistant Clerk, and there were seventy-two members irthe chamber, that is exactly double the number that we have here. I should like to have an explanation from the representative of the Government as to why a useless expenditure is being continued.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [9.31]. - To my mind, Senator Stewart has given a number of reasons why the position of Usher of the Black Rod should be retained. The honorable senator asked what were the duties of the officer, and then proceeded to’ tell us some of those duties. He remarked that the Usher is not required for the purpose of conducting honorable senators outside the chamber, as they are like a flock of sheep. But I would remind him that even a flock of sheep require a shepherd to look after them, or sheep dogs to take care of them. I should be very sorry indeed to liken honorable senators to a flock of sheep. The Usher of the Black Rod has to perform certain duties, which I admit are principally of a ceremonial character. He also used invariably to see that when we had divisions none of the sheep strayed through the gates. But be that as it’ may. If honorable senators will ‘look at the Estimates, they will notice that this gentleman is designated as Clerk of Select Committees, which conveys a distinct idea of certain duties, Usher of the Black Rod, with duties which, as I have said, are principally of a ceremonial character, Secretary to the Joint House Committee, and Controller of the Refreshment Rooms, In addition to performing those specific duties, his services when he has any time to spare are utilized by the Clerk in the clerical work of the Department. I was very anxious to see if a rearrangement might be made by means of which we could dispense with one of. our officers; but, on making inquiries, I found that it was quite impossible to reduce the staff of the Senate. The gentleman who has been appointed to this composite position has a large number of duties to perform, and, whether he performs the duties of Usher or not, his services will still be required. Probably honorable senators have noticed that recently he has not been spending the whole of his time in the chamber as he did previously. He has his work to do during the day. lt is true that he remains at night time, but he also’ has work to look after then in connexion with his office. I can assure honorable senators that any change in the designation will mate no change so far as the necessity of retaining the number of our present officers is concerned. If the Clerk Assistant were also charged with the duties of Usher of the Black Rod, it would still be necessary for the other gentleman to remain in the position which he occupies, drawing the salary which is allotted thereto. As Senator Stewart is always of an economical turn of mind, I would point out to him that, instead of these two gentlemen taking the positions at the salaries of their predecessors, they received on their promotion an increase in salary, and can only reach the maximum provided on the Estimates by increments on the recommendation of the President. Hitherto we have been in the habit of voting a salary of -£50 to the secretary of the Joint House Committee, but that is no longer submitted, because the one salary covers all the duties.
– The President has twitted me with having stated some of the duties of the Usher of the Black Rod. I notice that in the Estimates he is designated as Clerk of Select Committees. . Probably that is regarded by the President as Jas chief employment. If that is so, I should like to know how many Select Committees were appointed last year,, and how much work was done by that officer during that period. I find that £100 was voted last year towards the expenses of Select Committees, but not one farthing of it was spent. I conclude from that fact that no Select Committees were appointed. That disposes, at least to a certain extent, of one position. The President admitted that the duties of this officer in connexion with the Black Rod are mainly ceremonial’. Of course, we all knew that, and, being a democratic people, I think that our desire is to do away as much as possible with useless ceremony - above everything with ceremony which involves, an expenditure of money. I do not believe in that kind of ceremony, so I adhere to my original idea, that the payment of this sum of .£475 is, to put it mildly, a piece of extravagance. Then the President said that an allowance of .£50 a year was made formerly to the secretary of the Joint House Committee. That places a distinct value on that position. The position of secretary of the Joint House Committee is valued at £50 per annum. At what amount does the President value the position of Clerk of Select Committees - an office in connexion with which, I believe, no work at all was done last year? Perhaps we may also be informed as to how much the work done by the Usher of the Black Rod is worth. There are only two or three occasions during the year in which he appears in full costume and takes part in certain ceremonials. It would be most interesting to have some idea of the monetary value placed upon the work done in these various capacities.
– Has not the officer other duties to perform?
– What other duties ?
– General duties.
– If they are not duties performed as Clerk of Select Committees, Usher of the Black Rod, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee, what are they ? The President has also told us that the officer assists in doing certain clerical work. No doubt that is so; but for the character of the work done - some of which is absolutely useless - the payment is too high. The position of Usher of the Black Rod is one for which we have no earthly use whatever. It is a superfluity, a sinecure pure and simple, and ought to be abolished.
– The honorable senator might say the same about the King.
– Certainly, I should say the same about the King ; and if I had the same power or the same opportunity I should move for the abolition of the Monarchy and the institution of a Republic. Most undoubtedly every one who knows me knows that, and I am not ashamed of it, either. But we are not discussing that now.
– Would the honorable senator vote for the abolition of senators?
– I would vote for the abolition of some senators, undoubtedly. I have no personal grievance against this particular officer - none whatever. It is a most unpleasant thing for me to have to get up and speak in this way, and I can assure the Committee that it is only a strong sense of the duty that I owe to the country that impels me to do so. I do not like to see public money wasted.
– Ithink that this is a very unfortunate time to raise such a point in view of the very long session we passed through a very short time ago and the heavy duties performed.
– What heavy duties? They were just about as heavy as the duties performed by the honorable senator himself last session, when he was not here at all. I shall be glad to hear some explanation with regard to the matters which I have mentioned.
– The President has pointed out the duties performed by the officer to whom Senator Stewart has been referring. 1 think that my honorable friend will remember that apart from the duties that devolve upon him as Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of the Joint House Committee, and Clerk of Select Committees, he has a great deal of work to do in the management of the affairs of Parliament. We have obligations to the State Government of Victoria, who are the owners of this building - obligations in connexion with its proper maintenance, and the maintenance of the grounds surrounding it. In order that that work shall be effectively and properly done, it is necessary for records to be kept and accounts paid. The whole of these accounts are dealt with by the officer in question. It is work that does not appear on the surface, and is not associated with the officer’s title; but Senator Stewart can, I feel sure, satisfy himself any day by seeing the officer at work in one or two of the many capacities in which he is called upon to act, as to what his duties are. I hope that the honorable senator, having expressed himself’ as he has done, will be satisfied.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clausez agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported’ without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 9.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081015_senate_3_47/>.