3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– For the second time during the very few months that I have been its leader, it becomes my duty to inform the Senate that death has once more visited Parliamentary circles, and that, as a result,’ we have lost the ‘ comradeship of Mr. James Hutchison, late member of the House of Representatives for Hindmarsh, in the State of South Australia. I am’ sure that, although we in this Chamber were not brought so closely into touch with the deceased gentleman as were the members of the House to which he belonged, we knew him sufficiently well to recognise the great loss which has fallen upon Parliament and upon the State which he so worthily represented. Mr. Hutchison was at all times a genial- comrade, and, I think I may say, an energetic and conscientious Parliamentary representative. That his absence will represent a loss to the councils of the nation, I am certain. But there is still a greater loss to which I desire to make a. passing reference, that to his family. I propose at a later hour to offer for the acceptance of the Senate a motion which I would have submitted now, except that it was thought desirable that it should be in similar terms to that which will be submitted elsewhere. I shall ask the Senate, sir, to adopt a motion conveying an expression of its sincere sympathy with the widow, who is now mourning the most severe bereavement which she could possibly be called upon to bear, and with the family who have been so suddenly deprived of their mainstay and breadwinner.
– Death is a very sad thing at any time, from whatever cause it may arise. The fact that another member of the body to which we belong has been suddenly taken away, and that death has been, at any rate to my mind, unduly frequent since the Federal Parliament was instituted!, must indicate to the general public that the work therein is of a character which is not conducive to the well-being of the representatives of the people. To ‘ learn of the death of any one who may not have been the main support, or the breadwinner, of a father, or a mother, or a wife, or children, is sad enough-. But when we come to lament, as we are now doing, over the death of one who was a faithful representative of the people in another place, and who was also a. husband and the father of a considerable family ; when we think of all these things, and recollect that only a- week ago he was in the prime of life, and in healthy vigour, it must fill our hearts with grief. Only a week ago I travelled over from Adelaide with Mr. Hutchison. In the evening he was as well as any one could be; but on the following morning he was stricken down, and we know .the result. I was very pleased to hear that later the Vice-President of the Executive Council will move a motion of sympathy with the widow and the family of the late Mr. Hutchison. All those who knew that gentleman intimately must at all times pay a tribute to his sincerity, his earnestness, and his integrity. I hope that the Senate will not for a long time have to again lament such a sad event.
– In politics all differences dis appear on the arrival of death. As one who was a fellow-representative of South Australia with the late Mr. Hutchison, but on another side in politics, I want to bear testimony to the genuineness of his character, his earnestness, and his sincere desire to do the best he could, not only for his State, but for the whole of the Commonwealth. By his death we have lost a comrade whose desire always was to promote the true welfare of the Commonwealth. On an occasion like this, no matter on what side of politics we may be, we can all recognise the value of one who has thus been taken away. I desire to pay my tribute of esteem to the memory of Mr. James Hutchison, and to proffer my sympathy to those whom he has left behind1. No words of ours are sufficient to console and- comfort his family in this time of distress, but it will help them to bear their affliction when they know of the deep sympathy felt for them in this their time of sorrow.
– I desire the indulgence of the Senate while I say a few words in regard to our late comrade, Mr. James Hutchison. I was, perhaps, brought more closely in contact with the late honorable gentleman than was any one else, because, in the late Government, he acted for the Defence Department in another place. I feel sure that the Parliament is the better for having had him as a member of it. He was a fine man, though physically he was very weak. Notwithstanding that he suffered continually as the result of that weakness, his nature was a bright and cheery- one. He always had a sunny disposition. He met trouble and discouragement bravely, and in that sense his life will be an example to others. But he had more than that in his nature. Not born in Australia, he was a true Australian. He was one of those who looked upon political life seriously. To him it was not a sport or a profession, but his whole life. There are those who know that, even on his dying bed, his mind continually reverted to his work in Parliament, and his expressions of opinion showed that his mind was still thinking over his responsibilities as a legislator. While he may not be called a statesman, sir, he was a patriot. He was one who loved his country. He was prepared to devote all his energies and all his strength to promoting what he believed to be the ‘ true interests of his country. It is well known to his friends that, prior to leaving his home on the last occasion, he felt unwell. He was urged by his wife and family to stay at home, but in view of the fact that the session was drawing to a close, and that many important measures were to be dealt with, against the advice of those who loved him dearly, and at the sacrifice of his health, he determined to go to Melbourne and remain till the close of the session. He has paid the penalty of his steadfastness, but I am sure that the record of his earnestness, his intense devotion to his . ideals, his whole-hearted belief in his principles, and his determination to do what he considered to be his duty, will be an inspiration not only to the party with which he was associated, but also to the political life of the country. And, in sympathizing, with his widow and children to-day, we feel that when the first pangs of grief shall have passed, the best consolation will be the knowledge of his splendid political work, his great earnestness, and his intense desire to do that which he believed to be his duty.
– Before calling upon the business of the day to be proceeded with, it maynot be amiss that I, in the position which I occupy as President of the Senate, should add a few words to those which have been so well expressed. It will, I am sure, be a matter of great gratification to the family of the late gentleman to know that there has been such a tribute pf esteem and admiration paid to his good qualities. It tends to show that, however divergent our opinions on political matters may be, however much men may determine to fight for their principles and views, nevertheless there is at the bottom a strong feeling of sympathy between members, and a strong recognition of the fact that men who come here are fighting for principles and for what they believe to be best in the interests of our great community. When tributes of esteem come from all sides of the Chamber, that fact must be brought home to everybody. While death separates us, at the same time it unites us. It brings us together in this respect - that we have a sense of regard and esteem for all that was good in fellow citizens who have passed away, and feel that there is a comradeship between us all. Death has unfortunately thinned the ranks of the Federal Parliament during the mine years of its existence, but where a large body of men are brought together that, will always be the case. Death is no respecter of persons; it seizes the best of men, and frequently men whom we looked upon as being, in the prime and’ vigour of life, and the least likely to becalled away so early. I had not theadvantage of an intimate personal acquaintance with Mr. Hutchison, but from all I have known of him and have learned” he was respected and esteemed as a manwho desired to do that which was right and best in the interests of the country.
– I rise to submit the motion towhich I referred a few moments ago, and in doing so I beg to intimate that duringthe morning I propose to consult the Leader of the Opposition as to an adjournment toenable honorable senators to pay their last respects to the deceased gentleman thisafternoon. I move -
– I second the motion, sir.
Honorable senators rising in theirplaces.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he can inform the Senate of the number of growers of cigar leaf in Texas, Queensland, to whom a bountv has been paid ?
– Thehonorable senator was good enough to mention this matter to me privately, and I am obtaining the desired information. I shall be glad, during the course of the day,, to let him have it.
– And the names of the growers.
– I wish to ask theVicePresident of the Executive Council whether he has yet obtained the information which I sought yesterday, in reference, to the work of the proposed Inter-Imperial Conference on wireless telegraphy?
– The information isnot yet to hand, and therefore I would request my honorable friend to ask the question at a later stage.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question which I put to him on 25th August last, viz. : -
If his attention has been drawn to the notice issued in April last by the Naval Board (regarding boarding of vessels in time of war) reading “ Hobart south of the Une Mount Nelson Gellibrand Point “? Is he aware that such limit is within four miles of the city, would expose it to be shelled by an enemy, and has been stated by experts as too close for -safety ? Will he have the limit extended?
Upon that occasion, the reply given was -
The line mentioned indicates the location of the examination anchorage. The examination steamer would approach vessels and examine them south of this line.
The line has been determined in accordance with regulations on the subject, and is considered by the Director of Naval Forces to meet all requirements.
I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, during the recess, he will have further inquiries made into the matter, particularly in reference to the opinion of the British Naval authorities that the boarding ought to take place nearer the mouth of the Derwent?
– I will willingly do what the honorable senator asks, namely, invite the Minister to again consider the matter. But I would like to point out to my honorable friend that the subject is one which necessarily covers information more or less of a confidential nature, which it is not desirable to publish to the world at large. I would therefore suggest to him that he should see the Minister, and he then will be able to obtain information which will justify the conclusion that it is inadvisable to publish everything that is known broadcast.
– I have received an intimation from Senator de Largie that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate, to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the necessity for Federal intervention in the dispute in the coal -mining industry at Newcastle.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 6 a.m. to-morrow.
I regard the seriousness of the industrial trouble at Newcastle as of sufficient importance to warrant the step whichI have taken this morning. In my opinion, the Commonwealth Parliament cannot indefinitely continue to look idly on that dispute, and, perhaps, to close the session without taking any cognisance of it. We are charged with looking after the interests of the Commonwealth, and those interests are suffering in each of the States consequent upon the industrial trouble at Newcastle. We ought, therefore, to take some action with a view to bringing about a settlement of that dispute. The Commonwealth has the control and regulation of the transportation of mails from one State to another, as well as oversea, and without coal it will be impossible for it to discharge its proper functions. As the coal supply has been practically stopped, it is imperative that something should be done to reopen that supply. For some time past the coal trade of New South Wales has been in the hands of a trust, which is locally known as the “Coal Vend.” I hold that the Constitution gives us authority to deal with monopolies and trusts, and consequently that we have full power to intervene in the present dispute if we choose to exercise it.
– How can there be a trust in the coal trade when there is no coal about which to have a trust?
– I should like that question to be put in writing. Even Senator Dobson should know that in New South Wales there is a Coal Vend which controls the coal trade of Australia. If he is not aware of that fact he must be a rara avis indeed. Not only does the vend control the coal trade of Australia, but it controls the coal trade of the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. That being so, this Parliament has every right to interfere in the present dispute. We cannot hope that the strike will be settled as the result of action by the New South Wales Government. It may be asked, Who is responsible for the present state of affairs? In order to determine that it is necessary to go much further back than the beginning of the strike a month ago. During the past year or so, the officials of the Miners’ Union inform me that they have been paying large sums to victimized miners. An” amount of£10,000 has been disbursed by the Newcastle miners in this connexion. I claim to speak with some authority on this matter, because for many years I worked in the Newcastle district, and occupied an official position in the Miners’ Union there.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “victimized “ miners?
– I mean men who have been dismissed from their employment because they were prominent unionists. I need only mention one case to illustrate my statement. It is that of Mr. Burns, who was arrested on Saturday night last. He is the treasurer of the district organization, as well as the secretary of the Miners’ Lodge at Maitland. To my own knowledge, he has been a victimized member of the union for several months. Honorable senators must not imagine that, because the men only threw down their tools a month ago, that that represents the beginning of the trouble. The fact is that, whilst the. miners were being victimized in a wholesale manner, the New South Wales Government did not deem it their duty- to interfere. But the moment that the men threw down their tools, Mr. Wade announced from his place in Parliament that he would have the leaders arrested and put in gaol. Later on, he took a partisan action by declaring that the coal frcm the co-operative collieries would not be carried over the Government railways, thus bringing Government property into the dispute in the interests of one of the parties to it. The indignation which was aroused by his refusal to haul coal over the New South Wales railways was sufficiently strong, however, to cause him to back down. But his crowning act of follv was the arrest of the strike leaders within the past few days. T mention these matters to show that there is no hope of this dispute being settled as the result of action on the part of the New South Wales Government.
– Not so long as the law is violated by the men. senator DE LARGIE-I am sorry that Senator Dobson is so one-eved that he cannot see an offence which is committed bv the other side. He cannot see anything wrong in Mr. Albert B’rns being victimized by his employers for months. But the moment the men sav “ We will work no longer for our employers, but we will workfor ourselves on a co-operative basis,” he detects some heinous offence in their action. Personally, I think that common sense will prevail with the peoplegenerally. The action taken bv the New South Wales Government has been of a most one-sided character. Even in the matter of the pur chase of coal for the railways they have shown their partisanship. . At the commencement of the strike -they purchased about 10,000 tons of coal from the Ebbw Main and the Caledonian Company at the rate of £2 per ton. They were prepared to pay that price for it during the first few days that the strike was in progress. They did not then know whether the strike was going to end in a week or a fortnight. I do not say that that is an unusual thing to do in a time of strike. I can remember that during the maritime strike an enormous price was paid for Mount Kembla coal for the New South Wales railways. But when it came to buying coal from the miners, how different was the attitude of the New South Wales Government ! Instead of £2 per ton being considered a fair price, they have paid only 10s. per ton. The Government . that could pay £2 per ton to the coal mine-owner can only afford to pay 10s. to working miners at a time when coal has gone up 50, or perhaps roo, per cent. They did not even ask the men whether they were agreeable to sell at that price. They practically commandeered the coal. As a matter of fact, a steamer had alrendv contracted with the Young Wallsend Colliery and the Ebbw Main Colliery to take their coal, but when the vessel was brought alongside the crane there was none available, as the New South Wales Government had taken it. These facts go to show that if we look to the New South Wales Government for a settlement of the strike we shall be disappointed. I know the temper of the men ; and I can assure the Senate that such tactics will never bring about a settlement. The miners are the wrong sort of men to be bossed and tvrannized over in this manner. They will obey the law, as thev have done in an admirable wav up to the present; but if they are to be treated in a high-handed fashion bv the Government of the State taking coal at a price that would have amounted to little less than confiscation had it been done by a Labour Government, they will resist. I wonder what would have been said if a Labour Government had been in office in New South Wales during the strike and had taken coal from the mineowners and paid them merely a ridiculously small price for it? There would have been an outcrv throughout the country that the L abour Government werepractising confiscation. The Wade Government have laid down a very dangerous principle. The cat may come back to them some day or the other. They may live to rue their arbitrary ‘action in taking from the coal miners their coal 1 at the miserable price of 10s. per ton. When we survey the power possessed by the Federal Government in relation to trade and commerce amongst the States, and recollect our right to control transport and our authority in naval and military matters throughout the Commonwealth ; when we recollect that the Commonwealth has power to acquire property on just terms fromany State or persons for any purpose with respect to which we have power to make laws ; when we remember that we have power in respect to arbitra- tion in disputes extending beyond one State, we must recognise that the Commonwealth authority is supreme.
– The carriage of mails is being interfered with.
– The whole matter of Inter-State transport is within the custody of this Parliament, if they desire to take action. That being so, we are, at all events, entitled to know before the end of the session what the Government intend to do.
– What action does the honorable senator suggest?
– It is for the Government to take action. I have not the responsibility of office. It would be nothing but presumption on my part if I were to suggest a course to the Government. If the responsibility rested with me, I. should not for a moment hesitate to suggest a remedy. I hold that the New South Wales Government are the most unlikely people to effect a settlement.- Thev have done the most foolish things imaginable. Last Saturday they commited almost a criminal act. Here were two men living in Svdney during a whole week, and the Government did not arrest them, although the warrant was signed there. They were arrested in Newcastle, in an open manner, at a time when a large demonstration was being held in the streets, and under circumstances that might have brought about bloodshed, which every one would have deplored.
– That was the object of the arrest.
-If the object was deliberately to arrest the men in the presence of those on strike,I saythat it was little -short of a criminal act. Had there been a riot, the New South Wales Government would undoubtedly have been responsible. I hold that the Federal Government should do something more sensible than the New South Wales Government has shown itself capable of doing. I defy them to do anything worse. The interests of the country demand that action shall be taken at once.
– It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that, some time ago, when a question arose affecting the Newcastle coal-owners, I took upon myself the responsibility of defending their action, believing that they had right on their side. On this occasion, I take the contrary view. Like Senator de Largie, I have had a long experience of the New South Wales coal-miners. I have had a training in all the various phases of mining, as well as complete association with all executive affairs connected with the industry. I have no hesitation in expressing an opinion on similar lines to that enunciated bv Senator de Largie. This dispute dates back further than a. few months. Any one who has read the history of the northern coal industry will know that repeatedly representations have been made by the miners as a. body for the rectification of what they consider to be injustices. Thev were entirely helpless unless they could get the ear nf the mine-owners. Rather more than twelve months ago I visited the district during a time when there was a strike in Western Australia. I went to a large number of the collieries in the north, and found that complaints were numerous. Men were suffering from pin-pricks, such as I have experienced many times while I was working as a- coal miner in New South Wales. They were simplv grinning and bearing what, under ordinary circumstances, would have made men of morerash temperament take much stronger means to effect remedies. But their whole endeavour was to secure a peaceful settlement of every dispute that arose. The coal-owners from that time onward have continued to flout the requirements of the men. Undoubtedly they have done sobecause of the knowledge of the strength of their own combination.I have no hesitation in saving that the climax at which we have arrived is one that has been foreseen for a considerab’e time. Indeedithas been connived at. The whole sinpertaining to the nresent position mav righteously be charged against the coal-owners nf the northern district.It is well known to those who have had anv connexion with coal mining, that it is an industry that stands, almost apart. It differs from other industries in the fact that it is almost impossible for outsiders who are neither employes nor employers to grasp fully, and to deal with the many phases of any dispute that may arise. Such disputes have always depended for their peaceful settlement upon conferences, held from time to time between the representatives of the employe’s and of the owners. I recognise that in New South Wales there is an industrial law which is supposed to apply to this industry. I know, also, how difficult it is to apply the law to an industry in which so many disputes based upon technicalities may arise. The coal mineowners have refused to adjust or to make any attempt to redress the grievances from which the men have been suffering.
– Is that a fact?
– It is a fact beyond all dispute. They have absolutelyignored the men, and during the past two years have refused to do anything to redress the grievances which have been placed before them. In the circumstances men are forced to the conclusion that the coal mine-owners have been endeavouring, from month to month, to bring about the difficulty which has arisen in New South Wales. 1 shall not attempt to say for what purpose, but all the evidence furnished by the history of coal mining in the northern districts of New South Wales during the last few years goes to show that the employers have been endeavouring to bring about the present position. Whether the object has been to upset the laws of New South Wales, or to goad the men into rebellion against them, I am unable to say. We are told that the men who have gone out on strike have done so in violation of the law. The New South Wales Government made some attempts to bring about negotiations between the employers and employes, and failed. There are good grounds for suspecting that they never intended that their efforts to bring about a settlement between the parties should result in anything but failure. But, having failed to bring about a. settlement of the dispute by mutual arrangement, they have since done what every sensible person in the Commonwealth must regard as an attempt to bring about a bloody revolution in the disturbed districts. Many serious industrial disputes have occurred, and many strange actions have been com mitted by those concerned in them, but never before has any Government in Australia quietly permitted the law to be defied for four or five weeks, and then made a determined effort to bring about what might have been one of the greatest riots that the country has ever seen.
– They planned it.
– Undoubtedly they did. The partisanship of the New South Wales Government, and their desire to force the working men into an unbearable position, has been so apparent that it is impossible to ignore the criminal character of the act that they have committed. We who are personally acquainted with the men whom the Government of New South Wales have arrested, were astounded to learn that, after having a warrant signed in Sydney for their arrest, the Government should have gone to the trouble of engaging a special motor car ‘to carry that warrant all the way to Newcastle.
– The honorable member’s time is exhausted.
– No matter what opinions members of the Senate may hold, they will not deny that the difficulty with which we are now dealing is one which it is worth the while of the Senate to spend some time in discussing. Members of the Labour party in this Parliament have had the matter under consideration for some time, and were it not for a strong desire that nothing should be said or done which might in any way aggravate the position, this question would have been mentioned in the Senate long ago. I should willingly have brought the matter up, but we recognise that Senators de Largie and Henderson, who have had almost a lifelong experience of the coal-mining industry, and know more of the subject than do any other members of the Senate, were the -persons who might most intelligently deal with the question. It may be said that the Federal Government have nothing to do with this matter, since the dispute is confined within the borders of one State; but Senator de Largie has clearly shown that its effects are felt not. only in other States, but even beyond the Commonwealth itself. It is consequently the duty of the Federal Government to take some action to terminate the dispute. The Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Minister of Trade and Customs may ask us what can be done? Ever since the Federal Parliament was inaugurated, members of the Labour party have been saying what ought to be done, but they have never been in a position to carry out their views. Our belief is that a disturbance of this kind, which has such farreaching effects, should not be beyond the scope of the legislation of this Parliament. If we had had our way, Acts would have been passed, and steps taken long ago which would have rendered such a state of affairs as now exists in the New South Wales coal-mining districts impossible.
– Does the honorable senator refer to the nationalization of the coal mines?
– Yes, if necessary.
– Apart from that, what Other steps should be taken?
– There is only a quarter of an hour at my disposal, and in that time it would scarcely be possible for me to enter into a detailed statement of what ought to be done. If Senator Dobson will refer to Hansard, he will find that, on many occasions, the members of the Labour party have expressed their opinions upon these questions, and have indicated what ought to be done. What has been done by the Federal Parliament in the matter of industrial legislation? A Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which is sca rcely worth the paper on which it is printed, has been passed. No doubt it has done good in connexion with the difficulties in which federations of industries extending throughout the Commonwealth have been concerned. Honorable senators will find that the object of the framers of the Constitution, in giving to the Federal Parliament the power to make laws in connexion with conciliation and arbitration, was that it might legislate for the prevention, as well as the settlement, of labour disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
– This dispute has not extended bevond the limits of the State yet.
– I ask honorable senators not to interject, as the time at the disposal of each speaker is so short.
– It does not matter. I say that the influence and effect of this dispute has extended, and is likely to continue to be felt, beyond the boundaries of New South Wales. Has anything been done by legislation in this Parliament to prevent the occurrence of a strike? The Arbitration Court, and the
High Court itself, have declared that, until a dispute has actually extended beyond the boundaries of one State, nothing can be done, whilst the Constitution declares that this power was given to the Federal Parliament for the prevention of these industrial disturbances. What has been done to prevent such disputes reaching an acute stage, or to prevent their effect extending beyond the boundaries of one State? Absolutely nothing. Any attempt which has been made by the so-called Liberal party or by the Fusion party to pass legislation to deal with industrial matters, or with monopolies, such as the Coal Vend really is, has been of such a limited character that it is of no use to the people of Australia. Until action- is taken in this Parliament which will have the effect, not only of stopping strikes after they have occurred, but of preventing them occurring, we shall not be carrying out our duties under the Constitution. When the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was being considered by this Parliament, the enemies of the working classes, and, in fact, of the whole people of the Commonwealth, in both Houses, did all they possibly could to cripple and maim the measure, in order that these difficulties might continue to exist. Until we recognise preference to unionists we shall never have a satisfactory Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When the men combine to protect their own interests and do what they can for their own elevation and betterment, they ought to be supported by the Legislature of the Commonwealth and of every State. And when the employers combine for the purpose of carrying on their industry in the best way both for themselves and for the public - because at all times, and by all sides, the interest of the public should be conserved - when both the employers and the workers combine in unions for the proper adjustment of matters in connexion with the trade in which they a’re engaged, they ought to be supported by law. It ought to be the duty of this Parliament to pass a Conciliation and Arbitration Act which would assist both the unions of the workers and the unions of the employers to adjust their difficulties. Nothing of that kind has been done, and until it is. done the same confusion will exist in thefuture . as has existed in the past. A Bill) was brought down this session in connexionwith the preservation of industries. But what has any legislation of that kind ever amounted to? When not one industry. but all (he industries, of the Commonwealth are jeopardised by the action of a monopoly of any description, is it not nearly time, I ask Senator Dobson, that an Industries Preservation Bill was passed strong enough to enable the Federal Government to tell the monopolists that no longer shall they be allowed in interfere with the interests of the whole community, but that the Commonwealth is prepared to take over the industry, whatever it may be, if the workers and the employers engaged therein are not prepared to act satisfactorily towards each other. There is no doubt that legislation of that kind could be passed. lt ought to be passed, sir, and the High Court could not, I think, come to any other decision than that theFederal Parliament acted within its rights in passing such legislation. If, however, it decided otherwise, it would be within the power of the people to alter even the constitution of that Court, because I contend that the interests of the people of the Commonwealth should be considered in connexion with such legislation. Whether it is legislation dealing with the preservation of industries, or with the preservation of the rights of the workers, or of the employers to combine, it should be passed with a view to a settlement of any difficulty which would be likely to interfere with the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth.
– There is no doubt that the matter brought before the Senate this morning is one of the gravest possible importance, and I think that every honorable senator will agree with me that this is no occasion on which anybody ought to attempt in any shape or form to do anything which would . be comparable with the action of a man- taking a lighted torch amongst inflammable material. We ought to form a quiet and deliberate judgment, and to do all that we can to lessen ill-feeling and bring about peace again. I, as every honorable senator will have been doing for weeks past, have thought a great deal about this strike. I have been troubled, too, that we, as a Federal Parliament, have not expressed any opinion on the matter hitherto. The opinion which I think I would have asked the Parliament to express is that it was the duty of all parties to come to terms as quickly as possible. I take the view we must all take, that the work of the miner is hard, disagreeable, and dangerous beyond the average of the work in other industries, and that he is entitled to a great deal of sympathy from all classes of the community, and to vigilance in seeing that his interests are looked after. We are also bound to remember that the coal-owners do not consist, as is sometimes represented, of twenty or thirty individuals. That is not the case. In the northern part of New South Wales, that is north of Sydney, there are no less than eighty coal mines, and in the south and west together about forty coal mines, making a total of about 120.
– Not at all.
– If the honorable senator will take the trouble to turn up a file of the Melbourne Herald for last week, he will find the names of all the mines recited. I counted them.
– I have given the honorable senator the source of my information.
– I know better than that.
– However, that does not very much matter. I have no doubt that a number of these mines are held by one proprietary, but I am also quite certain that there are a very large number of shareholders. I. hold in my hand a copy of the Australian Joint Stock Companies Year-Book for 1907. It gives a list of most of the coal mining companies. I find one company which has 320 shareholders, and another company which is reported to have over 300 shareholders, and I have no hesitation in saying that the shareholders in the coal mines of New South Wales number some thousands.
– And most of them are in England.
– Undoubtedly; but a very large number are in Australia, too.
– Will the honorable senator tell us the dividends which they have drawn ?
– I suggest to honorable senators that the managers of these concerns stand before the public largely in the position of trustees for the rights of the shareholders. If Senator de Largie cares to take this book,- he will find a record of the dividends paid by a large number of the mines. He will find that whereas a good many of them have paid substantial dividends, more of them have paid for many years very few dividends. He will also find a record of the Sydney Colliery Company, which, after spending several hundred thousand pounds on the work of sinking a shaft and finding coal, has at last suspended operations owing to want of funds.
– What are the circumstances now in connexion with that mine ?
– The circumstance in connexion with that mine which interests us at this moment is that several hundred thousand pounds have been lost. I suggest to honorable senators that this is the time when we are bound to look the facts in the face - not the facts in relation to one side or the other, but the whole of the facts. We ought to approach the consideration of this question with a determination to do all in our power to mete out justice all round. It is many years since I first expressed the view that whenever either party to a dispute between labour and capital invited the other to a conference that request should be acceded to. I cannot conceive of any position in which it would not be wise for a conference to be held, and in this present trouble, in which the interests of the great masses of the people in all the States are concerned, conferences seem to me to be more desirable than ever. This is a time in which, I think, none should seek to stand simply upon their bare legal rights. They ought to be prepared for the gracious surrender of a portion of their mere technical and legal rights in the interest and for the sake of the welfare and the trade of Australia. I noted with some surprise that Senator Henderson spoke of the men going out on strike because of the pin-pricks which they had suffered.
– Oh, no. I said that they began with pin-pricks.
– But I am not aware of any general statement having been presented to the people of Australia which called for any public expression of opinion or any legal interference. I suggest to honorable senators that before the trade and commerce of this great continent was attempted to be dislocated in the way it has been there ought to have been a greater attempt to secure publicity to what was a wrong, or alleged to be a wrong, and some open, plain, and manly attempt made to secure a right without, in the first instance, breaking the law in any direction, and causing loss and suffering, not only within the mines, but without them. We must all feel - I have .always felt - ‘much admiration for men who are prepared to throw from them their means of support and to endanger the well-being of those who are dear to them. But it is necessary for us all to remember that men are often led into these actions by mistaken advice. Therefore, I suggest that it is desirable, above all things, that we should look at this matter quietly and resolutely, and ask all parties concerned in the trouble to do their best to come to terms. If I were asking the Senate to express an opinion to-day, I would suggest that inview of the trouble and suffering which have already been brought on the trade and commerce of Australia, and of the fact that that trouble and suffering will be appallingly increased by a continuance of the strike, it is the duty of all parties con.cerned to strive to come together and to terminate this terrible dispute as speedily as possible.
.- I suppose, sir, that every honorable senator sitting on your left will say that this is a law-abiding community, and if I were to contradict that statement it would be urged that I was saying what was not correct. It seems to me that in the existing state of affairs - disastrous’ as we know it to be - two things are required - first, that the law shall be upheld at any cost ; and, second, that we shall apply to the situation a little common sense. I should like to know if any honorable senator opposite can name one member of the Parliament who objected to the passing of the law which makes it an offence for a man to strike or for an owner to lock out? As a matter of fact, the whole of the Labour party throughout Australia agreed to that law, and assisted to pacs it. Yet that is the law which 12,000 miners in New South Wales are to-day ruthlessly breaking. Senator de Largie and Senator Henderson evidently feel that it is necessary to advance some reasons to excuse the action of the men in thus openly defying the law, and consequently they have put forward reasons which have not been urged by the men themselves, and which are not to be found in the list of forty or fifty of their grievances which were published after the strike commenced. Consequently it is idle to say that these men have been goaded into striking without notice, because of certain pin-pricks which they experienced years ago, and which they have omitted to mention in the list of grievances, which they knew would be scanned and criticised throughout the length and breadth of this continent. Senator de Largie commenced his address by declaring that this Parliament is supreme, and has power to settle this dispute. He then went on to say that the- Commonwealth- has control of the means of transportation, and chat the exercise of Federal functions is being stopped as the result of this strike. Whose fault is that? It is the fault of the 12,000 men who laid down their tools without affording the colliery owners a single opportunity of remedying any one of “their forty or fifty pin-pricks, or of considering any of the four substantial grievances, which Mr. Hughes declares should go before the Arbitration Court. In considering this question we have to recollect the words of the leaders of the strike. From them we learn that their desire is to paralyze industry, so as to maintain unionism militant. Mr. Bowling has admitted in the clearest possible language that the strike is intended to make unionism supreme. Therefore, when honorable senators opposite ask what can be done to settle the dispute, I say that I defy any man to show what can be done unless one side or the other will give way, or unless both sides will give way. The owners declare that they will not enter into a conference with the men until the latter return to work. Can any legislator say that they are wrong in taking up that position ? Are not the colliery proprietors right in saying, “ Let the men first give some evidence that they are prepared to obey the law by going back to work, and then we will confer with them.”
– They do not say that.
– That is what they have said repeatedly. The men have been asked to resume work and the owners have been asked to agree to meet their representatives in conference on the same day. But the men have refused to return to their employment. What can one do with such men? I am astonished at their courage and their tenacity, and at the fact that they are prepared to inflict such enormous suffering on themselves and their families.
– It is the leaders who are to blame.
– There is no doubt of that. T cannot conceive that the miners would inflict such enormous suffering on their wives and children unless they were wrongly advised, especially over a matter which could be settled in one hour, if they had a grain of common sense about them.. Senator de Largie has said that this Parliament is supreme, and that it has passed’ a Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. But do we not know that in the States employes have declined to bebound by the very tribunal which they have set up whenever its verdict has not been what they thought it ought to be?’ I deny that honorable senators oppositehave a right to bother us in this matter if they are not prepared to exert their influence with a view to inducing the minersto obey the law and be loyal to the courtsthat we have established. Senator Henderson has talked about pin-pricks. Doeshe think that pin-pricks are a justification for paralyzing the industries of the Commonwealth ?
– Then I can only pity his sense of proportion. Many a man possessed of clever brains comes togrief because he has no sense of proportion. But I believe that Senator Henderson has a better sense of proportionthan his answer to my interrogation indicates. Mr. Hughes has some sense of proportion, because he has discarded alf’ the other grievances of the miners by declaring that there are only four whichought to go before an industrial tribunal.
– Because the others canbe settled locally.
– To a very great extent the men have deprived themselves of our sympathy by reason of having struck without giving any notice whatever of their intention, and by having declared through their leader, Mr. Bowling, that the strikewas really an effort to uphold unionism. Have honorable senators opposite forgottenthat by the very act of striking the relations of employer and worker have ceased?’ Consequently there is no jurisdiction under our Arbitration Acts, because there is nodispute. The men have laid down their tools, and now their friends are clamouring: for Federal intervention.
– We want coal.
– Senator de Largiewas somewhat amused at my expense when I interjected whilst he was speaking that there was no coal about which to have a trust. May I amuse myself at his expense by . repeating the question, ‘ ‘ Howcan there be a coal trust when there isno coal?” There is no coal with whichto carry on industries. Let the miners resume work and hew some coal and then we will talk about the trust. An enormous amount of suffering is at present being experienced. We are all looking forward to a happy Christmas, but what sort of a Christmas will these 12,000 miners have?
– It will not be much worse than is the ordinary Christmas.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that there is not much difference between earning 12 s. and 14s. per day and earning nothing ? Would not these miners have starvation staring them in the face were it not for the support which is being dragged out of men who cannot afford to give it? Why cannot honorable senators opposite go to Newcastle and advise these men to resume work ? We shall neve/ settle this matter by talking. Somebody must give way. The miners ought at once to accept the offer of the owners that conditionally upon them resuming work the colliery proprietors will meet their representatives in conference on the same day. Surely it cannot be urged that until their four principal grievances are settled they ought not to resume work? Are not those four grievances quite capable of engaging the attention of the Arbitration Court for two or three months? In the interim is no coal to be hewed? Apparently the miners can afford to go to regattas and races, and to indulge in fishing. I believe that they would resume work but for the advice of the leaders. The whole position discloses an absolute want of common sense and honesty on the part of those leaders. It is the duty of honorable senators opposite, not to come here and talk about doing impossible things, but to counsel the miners to exercise a little common sense by receding from the position which they have taken up and by agreeing to resume work on the day that the owners meet their representatives in conference.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) ^12.29]. - I do not think that this is the time for discussing whether or not the Newcastle miners were right in coming out upon strike. The fact is that they are out - 12,000 of them. Even if the whole of the Federal Labour party and all the State Labour parties throughout Australia were to visit Newcastle and counsel the miners to resume work, I am not sure that the latter would do so. They would quickly tell the Labour members to go back.
– The Labour members would never get back.
– The fact is that these men are on strike, and will not go back unless the employers will meet them in open conference. If the employers have the good case that Senator Pulsford indicated, why will they not meet the men? If the men have no. case, as Senator Dobson says, why do not the employers let the public have an opportunity of judging ? One is tempted to enter into the merits of the case in dispute, but I do not intend to do so. I shall. confine my remarks to what can be done at the present juncture. We are faced with the situation that one side is prepared to enter into an open conference, whether they are right or wrong, whether they have a good case or a bad one. The other side say, however, “We will not enter into a conference, except on one condition, and that is that the men shall go back to work at once.” In my judgment, these men have struck as the result of serious dissatisfaction, for the purpose of riveting public attention, in a dramatic way, upon their grievances. It is now said to them, “ Go back to where you were when the public were regardless of your grievances, because, by your action, you. have lain idle the industries of the Commonwealth.” Does anyone think that the men are going to be such fools as to give up the position which they have secured, by means of which they have been able to rivet public attention on their grievances, and to bring public opinion, to bear in the dispute between them and the employers? I have before me the history of one of the .great anthracite coal strikes in America, in which President Roosevelt intervened. Exactly the same sort of thing was said to the 150,000 men then on strike. The were told, “ Go back to work, and we will consider your grievances.” But they refused. Their leader, John Mitchell, said, “ No ; before these men go back to work there must be the award of a tribunal with reference to their grievances.” When President Roosevelt intervened, he never told the men to go back to work. He set about rectifying their grievances bv means of a Board. That was in 1003. Trouble again broke out in 1906 and 1007. On these occasions, when President Roosevelt again intervened, the coal-owners said, “No, we will not confer; our terms, or none at all.” They had locked out their men. What did President Roosevelt do then ? He had to face practically the same position as we have in Australia, to-day. He said to the owners, “ Unless you do confer, I will recommend Congress to take over your mines and work them in the interests of the nation.” He did not inquire whether the employers or the men were right. He told them plainly that if they refused to confer, he would take Executive action to work the mines in the interests of the United States.
– There was no law in the United States making striking an offence.
– That it, entirely beside the question.
– Oh, is it !
– It is impossible to invoke the Federal Arbitration Act, because, technically, the dispute has not spread beyond the limits -.of one State, though it affects every State in the Union. Therefore, apparently, the Federal law has no effect. The Industrial Disputes Act of New South Wales apparently applies. There is jurisdiction under it. One of the provisions of that Act is to the effect that every man who goes out on strike is liable to imprisonment. Therefore the remedy which the New South Wales Government has for the present trouble is that every one of the 12,000 miners shall be imprisoned. Is that a practicable solution ? Would that action end the strike? Every one knows that to attempt to put the Act into operation would precipitate a riot. Certainly it would do no good, so far as relates to putting coal on the market. The State Government hold the key of the position. They can, if they wish, settle the dispute in a very few minutes. There is a number of coal-mining leases in the district. The State Government are in the position of being able to demand that those leases shall be worked. If the lessees will not work them, they can, by Act of Parliament, cause them to be worked in the interests of the State. When a previous dispute occurred in the same district, Sir William Lyne was at the head of the Government. On that occasion the mine-owners refused to meet the men in conference. Sir William Lyne invited both parties to meet him at his office. The owners at first refused, but eventually consented, to meet Sir William, though they would not meet him together with the representatives of the men. Sir William Lyne, therefore, met the representatives of the parties separately. After meeting the owners, he told them, as President Roosevelt had told the mine-owners of the United States, that it was his intention to ask Parliament to take action in regard to the leased mines. That intimation had the effect of causing the owners to change their tactics, and they agreed to meet the men. The present New South Wales Government, so far from taking any such action, has done nothing to induce the mineowners to confer with the men in open conference. When .the Broken Hill Proprietary Company locked out their men in defiance of the Industrial Disputes Act - and that they did so is not my statement, but that of the Judges of the High Court of Australia, who held the dispute to be a lockout - did the New South Wales Government put into operation the penal clauses of the Act? Since that time, or at that time, was any representative of the company pro*ceeded against? Was any one of them arrested whilst attending a public meeting or in his own home? Are we not, then, justified in branding the New South Wales Government as a partisan Government, when they allow the Industrial Disputes Act to remain a dead letter in the case of the Broken Hill Company, whilst putting into operation its penal section in a most inflammatory manner against the coal miners, and in taking action calculated to create a riot and disorder ?
– But surely the honorable senator would never say that a coalowner ought to be put in gaol ? That would be awful !
– I say that the fact, that the Act was not administered in the one case, while it- has been put into operation in the case of the strike leaders, justifies the assertion that there is no hope of the New South Wales Government being able to end the trouble. Their conduct is rather calculated to inflame the men further. It will be useless for the Federal Government to intervene unless they are prepared to do practically what President Roosevelt did in connexion with the American strike?
– What does the honorable senator say that is?
– They should tell the mine-owners plainly that unless they will meet the men in an open conference the Government will take over the mines in the interests of the people of Australia.
– The honorable senator means that the mines should be nationalized ?
– Yes; they should be nationalized, unless the owners will meet the men in conference. I believe that the Government have power to do this. We have power to make laws for the peace, good order, and government of the Commonwealth with respect to trade and commerce, intercourse amongst the States, defence and the postal service. All these matters are being seriously affected by the stagnation caused by the strike. If the Federal Government offered their services as arbitrator, they would be simply laughed at as the New South Wales Government have been laughed at. The Federal Arbitration Act is a dead letter because, technically speaking, the dispute has not spread beyond the limits of the State. Therefore, the Federal Government must either support the Government of New South Wales in putting 12,000 men in gaol, with the aid of the Military Forces, or they must’ take up the position which President Roosevelt took up, and say, “ This Government is not a partisan, but unless you are prepared to meet the men in open conference we will carry on these mines in the interests of the people of Australia.” That is the only practicable course open. The course recommended by Senator Dobson is that we should say to the men, “ Having broken the law, you must pay the penalty, and be sent to gaol.” A.re the Government prepared to do that?
– No; we should ask them to go back 1o work because they have broken the law.
– But they will not go back. We might as well ask the moon to cease shining. These men mean what they say. It is idle to pretend that the strike is the work of a few agitators. That statement is simply a hoary piece of nonsense that is always brought forward when a strike occurs. If every, one of the union officials were put in gaol to-morrow, the strike would go on as dismally and as disastrously as ever. It is so much humbug to say that the leaders are responsible. If we are going to embark upon the course of punishing the leaders, see what it leads to logically. It means that we must put every one of the 12,000 men in gaol. Is that a practicable proposition? Do the Government feel disposed to back up the efforts of the New South Wales Government in that direction by calling out the Military Forces to help the police force?
– Order 1 The honorable senator’s time is up.
– I do not propose to discuss the merits of the dispute which has broken out in New South Wales. I question whether any of us have sufficient information about it. But I do desire, as strongly as I can, to impress upon the Senate the lesson the strike teaches, that the Commonwealth Government ought to have power to legislate to adjust industrial conditions in every State of the Commonwealth. This dispute, serious as it is, affects directly only an insignificant number of people, as compared with the enormous . number who are indirectly affected by it, and who will have no voice whatever in its settlement. Within my knowledge, hundreds of men in Melbourne and suburbs are concerned. I cannot say how many, but I do know that there are hundreds already out of employment, not because they have a right to accept or refuse an open conference, not because they have refused to go to work, but because the industries in which they are engaged are unable to continue. They themselves are absolutely helpless. There was an opportunity, during the present session, to pass” a Bill asking the people of the Commonwealth whether they desired that the Commonwealth Government should take a hand in any dispute of this kind that might arise. That Bill was not carried. The present strike emphasizes,” as nothing else could, the necessity for such legislation. With reference to the action of the Government of New South Wales in connexion with the dispute, I have very little doubt as to what would be the proper course for them to pursue. The coal-fields are part of the State of New South Wales, and belong in the ultimate to the people of that State, and not to any mine-owners or miners. When the people’s property on which they depend for their daily life is withheld from them by any party, it is the duty of the Government, who are the representatives of the people, to take whatever steps are in their power to place the people’s property at their disposal. In my opinion the New South Wales Government have power to deal with the matter. I do not think that the Federal Government have the power. I do not agree with Senator McGregor that the Federal Government can, in the existing ^ circumstances, do anything whatever. We are working under a written Constitution which does not give the Federal Government the power to intervene. I hope that in the near future it will give them such a power.
– Does the honorable senator say that we have not the power now?
– I am afraid that we have not.
– We have. 1 quoted the section of the Constitution.
– We have tried to do some things under the Constitution which we very much desired to do, and have found that we have not the power to do them.
– It is time the Constitution was amended.
– I agree ‘ with the honorable senator. That is just what I have been urging. I think we ought to have this power, that the people of Australia desire that we should have it, and should be given an early opportunity of giving expression to their will in the matter. I shall in future regard the acquisition of such a power as a mission in which every member of this Parliament should join, in order that when an industrial dispute of this magnitude occurs, not some of the people, but all the people shall be considered. The effect of this strike or lock-out has been felt in every house throughout Australia already by the increased cost of living in one way or another. It has also been felt in thousands of houses in the Commonwealth; because of the lack of employment for the breadwinner, not because he did anything or refrained from doing anything, but because of a prime essential of our daily life, the fuel necessary for the generation of power and other purposes, being withheld from those who require to use it. It is not the mine-owners’ fuel or the miners’ fuel. It is the people’s fuel. A comparatively few persons in a part of the Commonwealth ought not to be in a position to cause the whole of the people of the Commonwealth to suffer.
– A very few words will be sufficient for all I have to say on the motion. It refers to the seriousness of the position which exists at Newcastle, but it has been obvious from many of the speeches made that, at any rate, one purpose of launching the motion was to urge that the Federal Government should take some action with a view to terminating this unfortunate dispute. I do not propose to say a single word as to the dispute itself, but to confine myself to the question whether or not the Federal Executive has any power to interpose in this matter. Senator de Largie and others have affirmed that the Federal Government are armed with authority to interpose. Senator Pearce, on the other hand, takes what 1 believe to be the correct view, and it is, at any rate, the view which appeals to the Government, that at present we should have no status if we attempted to interfere.
– So far as arbitration is concerned.
-The honorable senator went further, and pointed out what he believed to be the only directions in which we could move. He said that there were only two alternatives open to us. I dispute the statement he made entirely. The honorable senator said that one was that the Federal Government might send the Military Forces to assist the State Government to place the men on strike in gaol. That is not an alternative at all. It is impossible.
– Hear, hear ! I admit that.
– The other suggestion was that the Federal Government should step in and nationalize the coal mines. The fact that we have not the power at the present time to do that is shown by the terms of a motion which the honorable senator has on the business-paper asking the people to confer upon the Federal Parliament the right to nationalize monopolies. It is obvious that at the present moment the Federal Government have no power to interpose in this matter in any way whatever. The Government take the view that unless circumstances arise to bring the matter within the ambit of Federal authority it would be highly injudicious for them to interfere. We should be very much in the position of a party going into a Court where a case is in progress and claiming to be heard in a matter in which they had no status at all. They would very properly be ordered to sit down, and their action would probably be regarded by both the parties to the case as more or less impertinent. The Government will be only too pleased should an opportunity present itself to do anything they can to bring to an -end the present distressing and unfortunate state of affairs, but until an opening clearly presents itself they take the view that it would be extremely injudicious, and might be disastrous, by interposing to enter a domain which at present, under the terms of the Constitution, is closed against them.
– I think that Senator de
Largie adopted a wise course in submitting his motion. I venture to say that had we remained silent any longer upon the industrial trouble in New South Wales, the effects of which are being felt in every home in the Commonwealth, our silence would have been construed as weakness. It would probably be said that we were afraid to discuss this question in the National Parliament. During the discussion many facts have been brought forward to prove that if the Federal Parliament have not the power to intervene, they might before the end of this session be endowed with that power. A measure proposing the amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is at present before another branch of the Legislature, and, despite the decision of the High Court, I believe that a clause might be inserted in that amending Bill which would give the Federal Government power to at once intervene in this matter. I listened to Senator Pulsford’s remarks as to the amount of capital invested in the coal mines of the Newcastle district. It was probably owing to a lapse of memory that the honorable senator forgot to mention the dividends which the companies working those mines have received.
– The honorable senator will pardon me, I did refer to the dividends.
– I think the honorable senator forgot to give the figures, and I intend to give them before 1 sit down. Before I do so I wish to make a reference to the proposed open conference. We have been told that at first the men submitted a list of forty or fifty grievances, which they have since reduced to four, but whether they have one or a greater number of grievances the fact that they are prepared to submit them to an open conference, and to agree that the minor grievances shall be settled locally, is entirely to their credit. Senator Dobson has said that because the coal miners are on strike they have broken the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act of New South Wales. Apparently the honorable senator has forgotten that the mine-owners have broken the same law. That is shown by the following statement which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph: -
The proprietors had decided they would no longer be parties to the settlement of colliery troubles by conciliation. Therefore the Board lapsed.
I venture to say that in this case the men had only two alternatives left them - to strike or to tamely submit to the grievances which they are prepared to put before an open conference. I do not. suppose that any one in Australia desires that these menshould sacrifice all their privileges and liberties. On the subject of the dividends received by coal mining companies, I quote the following from a statement made by Mr. Prendergast at a social gathering in Melbourne the other night : -
In the Newcastle coal strike, the absentee land owner and shareholder had their heavy hands, upon everything. The Australian Agricultural Company owned 1,000,000 acres of land in the coal district. The shareholders lived in England, and enjoyed the fruits of a charter granted to them in 1824. In the 85 years that have elapsed, this company of foreign capitalists, who originally paid up ^483,000, have received about ^3,000,000 in dividends, or about seven timestheir paid-up capital - an average of ^35,300- per annum, equal to nearly 8 per cent. The Newcastle Wallsend Coal Company has 300- shareholders, foreign and otherwise, holding 10,000 shares, paid up to £10 each. In 1907 the reserve fund amounted to ,£28,158, indemnity account ^19,348, and insurance fund ^3,504. Added to these, from the year 1891 to 1907,. dividends amounting to ^302,250 had been paid. Allowing that ^10,000 per annum had been paid for the latter ‘half of the year 1907, and for the year 190S, and the first half of 1909, the total amount received for an investment of £100,000 was ^373,260. The capital was paid back 35 times over in iS£ years. They received’ over £20,000 per annum, and doubled their capital in a period of about every five years. TheNewcastle Coal Company has a paid-up capital of ^100,000, divided amongst 200 shareholders. Two hundred and eighty-six per cent, has beendeclared in dividends from July, 1894, to January, 1906.
Those are the figures which Senator Pulsford did not quote -
Allowing 30 per cent, in all to have been paid* for the years 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1909,. ^316,000 has been paid in dividends which, with an undivided balance of about ^3,500, gives, a total of ^319,500 for an investment of ^100,000 for 15^ years. It is no wonder thecoal owners do not agree to an open conference.
It is just possible that those figures mightbe proved to the hilt, and that may be thereason why the owners refuse an’ open conference.
If the miners of Newcastle were workingg days per fortnight, the output of coal wouldbe about 180,000 tons for that time. The output is only from 60,000 to 80,000 tons per fortnight. This answers the wages question, for it is obvious that the men, on the average, worked” less than half-time. If the men averaged £3 per week for a weekly output of 180,000 tons, they could only average £1 3s. 4d. per week for an average weekly output of 70,000 tons.
Take the A. A. Co., Newcastle, which was incorporated in 1824, and managed in England..
This company paid £2,755,250 in dividends up to 1907, say £3,000,000 up to 1909, giving an average of £35,300 per annum in dividends for 85 years, or about 7f per cent, up to 1909 upon their capital of £430,000, paid up. Up to 1907 they had paid back their capital 6 two-fifth times. If we give £3,000,000 as their dividends up to 1909, they have paid back their capital about seven time’s over. In addition, they have debentures, £97,700; reserves, £15,000; undivided balance, £55,079.
The latter part of the quotation is the answer to the statement made by Senator Dobson that the men had been earning regularly from 10s. to 15s. per day. These are figures which cannot be denied. Australia is face to face with a crisis, and some members of the Senate think that the Commonwealth Government have the power to intervene, but, if they have not, I believe that the members of this Parliament would readily run through the Conciliation and Arbitration Act Amendment Bill, which is now before the other House, with a clause giving the necessary powers, and thus enable the Commonwealth Government to intervene, and supersede the partisan action of the New South Wales Government: We have heard a lot about the miners going on strike and breaking the law. But what have their critics to say about the coal dealers in Newcastle, who have gone on strike five or six times; who have refused to sell coal for domestic and commercial purposes without an additional charge of from 300 to 400 per cent. Is not that a strike? In my opinion it is a strike of the most awful nature, but because a few unionists working the mines determined to throw down their tools, and because as a result of the paragraph I have quoted they had no alternative, they are supposed to be law-breakers, while the .coal dealers who charge exorbitant prices are allowed to go scot-free. I hope that the Government will realize the gravity of the position in which they are placed, and take all legitimate means to try to bring this industrial trouble to an end.
.- It goes without saying that every member of the Senate is seized of the far-reaching importance and seriousness of the industrial war which is waging in Newcastle. Every honorable senator who is without bias will admit that the New South Wales Government have displayed hostility to the workers, and shown a partisanship which has not, I think, ever been exhibited before in Australia. In arresting the leaders of the strike move ment they showed to what limits they are prepared to go. From day to day the strike leaders were in attendance at the Conference which was being held in, the Trades Hall at Sydney, and nothing could have been easier than for the Government to have them arrested on warrants in Sydney if they had felt disposed to take that course. But they did not do so. On the very train by which the strike leaders were travelling to their respective homes at Newcastle on Saturday night, the State Government placed about seventy special policemen. And, not content with that, they engaged a special motor car, probably the speediest which could be obtained in the State, with a view to sending on to Newcastle the warrants for the arrest of the men. Something happened to the motor car and something else happened, so the man in the street says, in regard to the plans which the Government had mapped out. I am informed, and I believe it is true, that what the Government had planned out for the Saturday night was that the motor car should arrive at a certain hour. The Government anticipated that immediately the strike leaders alighted from the train they would be received by their fellow workers, and would make their way to the place where the mass meeting was to be held, and that, when the mass meeting was proceeding, and the audience would number some thousands, the police would make their appearance with the warrants and arrest the strike leaders. Tn these circumstances, so some persons say, and I am not disposed to disbelieve the statement, the crowd would be so excited by the presence of so many strange policemen that the State Government anticipated that in all probability a riot would, be created, and would give them a splendid chance of saying, “ What disorderly folk the Newcastle miners are !” But, fortunately, because of the mishap to the motor car, the plans which they had mapped, out could not be followed.
– It was a cowardly, brutal thing anyway.
– It was an act which has brought ridicule and contempt upon the Government of New South Wales. That opinion has been expressed in the editorial columns of more than one leading newspaper in the Commonwealth, rot newspapers which have at any time shown too much friendliness towards the cause of Labour, or Labour representatives.
I believe that this trouble has arisen from a determined effort on the part of the Coal Vend to weaken and to eventually break down unionism in the Newcastle district. But they have not the slightest chance of accomplishing their object. They may gaol a Burns, a Gray, and a Bowling from time to time; but the seeds of unionism can never be eradicated from that centre. This strike is a very serious matter to everybody in the Commonwealth. The industrial and commercial life of the community is in a state of disorganization. Many trains have been cancelled, causing very serious inconvenience to travellers. In some cases mail services have been limited, and if the- industrial war continues the probabilities are that in some parts of the Commonwealth people will not be able to get their mails more than once a fortnight, or perhaps once a month. “ What can be done in respect-to this matter?” asks Senator Dobson. I think that certain honorable senators have shown, this morning that we possess certain powers, and that if they were exercised to the full we could do much. In any case, they say that public opinion has had a marvellous effect on different disputes in days gone by. In connexion, with the industrial dispute at Newcastle, many gentlemen in this city, representing commercial, industrial and other pursuits, have been invited by the newspapers to speak their minds, and the great majority of those persons have expressed themselves as being in sympathy with the miners, and against the attitude .f, and the action taken by, the coal proprietors. It has been remarked that this discussion has been, so to speak, so one-sided, because the only senators who have spoken from the other side have been Senators Pulsford, Trenwith, Dobson, and Millen. With the exception of Senators Trenwith and Millen, the others expressed themselves in opposition to the miners’ cause.
– Their sympathies, I gather from their remarks, were ,with the members of the Coal Vend.
– No, no.
– “ What can we do?” we are asked. If we are unable to do anything we can show by a resolution, or by our remarks, that we want this dispute brought to an end. Various suggestions have been made in that direction. But I do not think that any suggestion is so practicable as that which was put forward bv the Age this morning in its first leading article, viz. -
Two things are clear. First, the mine-owners refuse to work their mines except on terms intolerable to the miners. Secondly, the miners refuse to work the mines under duress. These two things, therefore, create a coal famine. That famine must end. It can only end by the Government taking possession of the mines in the name of the people, just as the commandant of a fortress would do with the common stock of food supplies. The Government made its initial blunder when it consented to the suspension of the labour covenants of the coal leases. It can rectify that mistake now only by giving notice to the mine-owners that if the mines be not working by a given date of a few days hence a Government receiver will be put into them and the mines be worked under Government supervision, pending the holding of the open conference which the coal-owners at present refuse.
Suppose that we have not that power, surely we can, in our representative capacity, express our opinions regarding the matter, and those opinions will, at any rate, be considered by the State Government, who have taken a course which is unwarrantable ; a course which is likely to create bitter feeling, and to further extend this unfortunate strike. Personally, I am inclined to think that unless something is done to speedily terminate this industrial war, it will extend to every part of the Commonwealth. If the action of 12,000 miners, in striking against unfair conditions of employment, is causing’ the. distress which we have been assured it is causing, what will be the result if many more thousands of unionists strike in sympathy with them against the Coal Vend ? Like other honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this question, T hope that the dispute will be brought to a speedy termination, and that it will be settled on equitable lines in the interests of the 12,000 men who are suffering because of their resistance to the unjust conditions which for a number of years have been imposed upon them by the coal proprietors of Newcastle.
– I am sorry that I have not a little more to reply to than has been advanced during this discussion. The attitude taken up by the Government is one of “ do nothing.” If such an attitude will result in the settlement of the Newcastle strike, I shall be very much surprised. It is idle to suggest that the Commonwealth has not the power to intervene in this industrial dispute. The Constitution gives us full power in that connexion if we choose to exercise it. For instance, we have power to make laws with respect to -
The acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
Another section of the Constitution empowers us to legislate regarding-
The control of railways with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth.
And still another section authorizes us to enact laws in respect to - the acquisition, with the consent of a State, of any railways of the State on terms arranged between the Commonwealth and the State.
Consequently, I contend that we have authority to settle any phase of this industrial dispute. Some reference has been made to the condition in which the miners of the Newcastle district to-day find themselves. Now, I am pretty intimately acquainted with the position that obtains there, and, though a good deal of hardship is being experienced, I can assure honorable senators that that hardship is not very much greater to-day than it would be if the men were working. The fact is that they labour for a miserable pittance, and many of them have doubtless realized ere this that the difference between starving whilst working and starving whilst being unemployed is very small indeed. I dare say that they will be able to keep body and soul together with the assistance which will be granted to them by their fellow unionists. The strike is not inflicting nearly so much harm upon the miners themselves as some persons imagine. Indeed, to many of the men it will be regarded very much in the light of a holiday. Anybody who is familiar with the mining industry knows that the work of the miner is the hardest that is carried on in the community. Yet for such work the men receive only a bare pittance. Senator Dobson has said that the men have put forward no substantial grievance*. I admit that many of their grievances, by reason of their technical nature, cannot be understood by everybody. But I venture to say that one grievance has been ventilated by the men which all can appreciate. For instance, they demand an eight-hours day. Now, an eight hours day is supposed to be well established throughout Australia, but, strange to say. in this arduous and hazardous calling it does not exist. It must be remembered, too, that the coal miners of Newcastle have to travel enormous distances undergound to their work - they have frequently to travel anything from one to four miles in a stooping position, and with a load of picks or ammunition tied round them in addition to their tucker tins and water bottles. This travelling is about the hardest part of the miners’ existence, especially in the case of the older men.
– Bad as are the conditions, the miners are not required to carry their tools with them every day ?
– I can assure the honorable senator that they have tocarry their own picks and their own ammunition with which to blast the coal.
– But have they’ to do that every day in the week ?
– Yes. Every day a miner’s picks must be sharpened, to enable him to do his work properly, and, consequently, he carries only sufficient picks for one day’s work.
– Is it not possible for his tools to be carried by the skips ?
– That is a suggestion which has been made time and again - a feasible suggestion, to. which effect should have been given long ago. Further, the trucks in which the coal is carried from the miners might easily be used to convey the men to work in the morning. These brutal conditions, which would have been abolished years ago had common sense prevailed, still continue. I repeat that one of the demands of the miners is for an eight-hours day from bank to bank.
– Are not most of them paid bv contract, at so much per ton ?
– Yes. It is practically piece-work.
– Then how does the eight-hour principle affect the position?
– The miners are obliged to travel at certain times. It is obvious that they could not walk on the roadway at the -same time as the skips are running.
– Why cannot they travel in the trucks?
– They are prohibited from doing so. In the great majority of mines in the Newcastle district there are inlets instead of shafts, and great trains of trucks coupled together are run at the .one time. If a miner boards one of those trucks he is fined. Indeed, it is quite a common thing for men to be fined for riding in them, not because the employers wish to be unfair, but because, should a breakaway occur and injury result to the miners, the employers would be liable to pay them compensation. Consequently they insist on the men walking to their work at a certain time. I do hope that before the miners resume work they will secure a recognition by the collieryowners of the eight-hours principle.
– Then this eight hours from bank to bank is not a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, but one of convenience?
– It means pounds, shillings, and pence, too. If the eight-hour principle were recognised in the Newcastle coal-mines, the men would work a shorter day, and consequently the output would not be so great. I think that this discussion will serve to show that there is a real necessity for the Commonwealth taking action to terminate the existing dispute: For this Parliament to disperse without having attempted to do something in that direction would be verv disappointing to the country. I do hope that the Government will reconsider the whole position, and that they will see their way to intervene, with a view to settling this trouble. I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I lay upon the table a report from the Joint Library Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
– With the concurrence of honorable senators, I now propose to leave the chair till a quarter to 8 o’clock this evening. I think that this lengthened suspension of the sitting is advisable, in order that honorable senators may be enabled to show their respect to the memory of their late friend, Mr. James Hutchison, M.P. I have also to inform them that I have had a document handed to me, which states that a memorial service will be held in the Queen’s Hall at twenty minutes past 3 o’clock this afternoon, and that the funeral will start from the front of the Parliamentary buildings at half-past 3 o’clock for the Spencer- street railway station. Arrangements have been made for carriages to be available at that hour, in order to convey those who may desire to attend the funeral to the Spencer-street railway station.
Sitting suspended from 1.30 to7. 45 p.m.
– Iam unfortunately, under the necessity of. informing honorable senators that the other House has not made that progress which was anticipated when the President left the chair this afternoon. I, therefore, ask the President to leave the chair again, until 9 o’clock, by which time we anticipate that the Appropriation Bill will be received.
– May I ask why the Navigation Bill’, which is the next Order of the Day, cannot be proceeded with ? There is also time to deal with private business. I have a few items on the businesspaper.
– May I ask whether it is intended to deal with the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill?
– It will be obvious to an old Parliamentarian like Senator Neild, and even to a young one like Senator Needham, that there would not be time to deal with any of the business referred to this session. It would be useless to discuss matters which there is no chance of disposing of.
– With the concurrence of honorable senators, I will leave the chair till 9 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 7.48 to 9 p.m.
– I understand that the Appropriation Bill has not yet come up from the House of Representatives, but it is anticipated that it may be received within a few minutes. It is impossible to predict what may happen, and, therefore, I propose to leave the chair now until 9.30 o’clock. If the Minister should be prepared to introduce the Appropriation Bill at an earlier hour, the bells will be rung for five minutes before I take the chair.
Sitting suspended from9. 2 to9.30 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir Robert Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill read a first time
[9.27]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I do not desire to discuss the Bill, but to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he is prepared to make a statement in regard to the operation of woman’s suffrage in this country similar to that which was made in the House of Representatives last evening.
– May I suggest to my honorable friend that that is rather ‘a matter to bring forward on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– Very well. I thought that the honorable senator might prefer to make the statement in Committee on this Bill.
– May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether this will be an opportune time for him to acquaint the Committee with the contents of the report which he promised some time ago in connexion with the position of the female workers in the Stamps Branch?
– On the vote for my department I shall be very happy to do so.
– I do not desire to occupy the time of the Senate longer than to enter a protest against this practice of bringing down the Estimates at this late stage of the session. There is no time at our disposal now to give anything like adequate attention to their consideration, and, furthermore, we are handicapped by the absence of the Auditor-General’s report. Although it is nearly six months since the accounts for the last financial year were closed, yet we are completely in the dark as to how the votes were expended in . that year. I am under the impression that at about this time last year we had the Auditor-General’s report on the accounts for the previous year ; certainly we had an opportunity of perusing the document before we finally dealt with the Estimates. At present, honorable senators are not in a position to give to the Estimates that close consideration which the people expect them to receive. I hope that in the future, instead of resorting to the practice of passing monthly Supply Bills, the Estimates will be brought down earlier in the session, so that honorable senators may have a chance of dealing with the items exhaustively, and not be compelled to deal with them when some senators have gone to their homes, and others are making arrangements to depart, or- are fatigued and unfit to devote proper attention to the most important matters which can come before the Parliament. In what way are we now exercising our power of the purse? We are dealing with the Estimates at the fag end of the session without a report from the Auditor-General on the previous year’s accounts, and with no information as to how the votes for that vear were disbursed.
– I am willing to assist the Government to dispose of the measure as speedily as possible, but I think it would facilitate its passage if the Minister of Trade and Customs would inform the Senate whether it sanctions any, and, if so, what, alterations of the usual appropriations for any constantly recurring items. If honorable senators were supplied with that information it would be possible’ for them to devote their attention to those items. But if, on the other hand, we are simply asked to revote, as we do revote year by year, appropriations for specific purposes, I think that I am voicing the opinions of a good many honorable senators when I say there will be no opposition offered to any votes of that kind. If there are any increases proposed which might be lightly passed by the Senate without full consideration, and passed simply because of a disposition on its part to fall in with the other House and to early terminate the session, I think the Minister would not be treating us exactly as we would expect to be treated. But if there are anv items on which increases are proposed, and on which there might be a reasonable ground for dis- cussion, I trust that the Minister will furnish us with that information so that any discussion may be concentrated thereon. I know of no such items, but if the Minister will assure us that there are none, I wish a safe and speedy passage for the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
– I ask the Minister to give the Committee an assurance that the Bill contains no item which will commit the Commonwealth to any expenditure in excess of -the ordinary expenditure for the previous years without indicating what the excess is.
– The honorable senator means any extraordinary increase, does he not ?
– Yes. When I asked that question in the Senate just now I indicated to Ministers that I did not do so in’ a hostile spirit, but rather to facilitate the passage of the measure. I think it is due to honorable senators, who have just consented to the suspension of the Standing Orders, to facilitate the passage of the Bill through all its stages, that they should know whether it authorizes any extraordinary increases, using that word in the usual Parliamentary sense, and, if so, what they are. I have received no reply to my inquiry. If I receive an assurance of the kind I have asked for, I am quite prepared to accept it. 1 believe that if honorable senators received an assurance that the schedule, which covers over 200 pages, sanctions no extraordinary increases of expenditure, they would be prepared to meet Ministers and enable them, without delay, to get the ordinary supplies for the year
[9.41]. - I think it will be recognised that Senator Keating is asking a little too much when it is borne in mind that the Estimates show increases on the votes for the various Departments for the last financial year. It is difficult to answer a broad question as to whether it contains any increases of items of a non-recurring character. Take, for instance, the Department of Trade and Customs. This year we are asking for a vote of . £25,040 under the head of Quarantine, whilst last year only . £8,500 was expended, because the Quarantine Act only came into operation on the 1st July last. Honorable senators will see that necessarily a larger vote is required this year. In that case there is a substantial increase in these Estimates. There are also the ordinary increments of the salaries of public servants. If my honorable friend asks me whether I can call to mind any item of an extraordinary, contentious character, I confess that, at this moment, I cannot. Seeing that the Estimates were distributed amongst honorable senators months ago, and discussed in the Senate very fully for many days, and that various Supply Bills have been submitted, and the Estimates discussed in connexion with them, surely in these circumstances they should commend themselves to honorable senators. No doubt the schedule contains contentious items, but no item of what I might call an extraordinary character.
– Are these Estimates the same as those which were discussed here some months ago?
– Yes, literally the same. I hope that Senator Keating will realize the difficult position in which he placed me. I know of no extraordinary, contentious items in the Estimates. They are just the ordinary Estimates for the year which were circulated here months ago.
– I think it is only fair to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that these Estimates contain an item which did not appear in the previous Estimates, and that is a vote for an Archivist under the head of the Library. I know what the item means, but I thought that perhaps some honorable senator might desire an explanation of it.
– I listened with a great deal of attention to the remarks of the Minister. But I still think that it would be very much better if he would give the Committee an assurance that the ordinary annual expenditure for the public Departments is not in any way exceeded in these ‘ Estimates except in specific instances which he may enumerate. I believe that the Minister of Trade and Customs would insure the passage in globo of the items contained in this Bill much more speedily if he gave that assurance. He has already informed us that amongst other items not included in the previous Estimates is one relating to the expenditure which has been incurred in connexion with the Quarantine administration. Was it not a fair thing that in introducing this Bill the honorable gentleman should have taken the Senate into his confidence by pointing out that above the ordinary Estimates of expenditure for the year we are asked to sanction an expenditure of so much for Quarantine ? I think, in his procedure, he has fallen away from grace.
– When we come to the different Departments, surely it will be time enough to talk about the items.
– Upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill, or, better still, upon, the motion for its first reading, he might have made a general statement.
– I never heard of such a thing.
– I think that on the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill the Senate is entitled to discuss matters at large.
– Matters irrelevant to that Bill.
– If the Minister, upon the motion for the second reading of this measure, had said “ This is an Appropriation Bill for the whole year. We have already granted Supply for several months based upon these Estimates, and the only expenditure to which they commit the Commonwealth above that which has been sanctioned from year to year is represented by certain items,” I believe that the Committee would have been prepared to meet him.
– I would invite the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that the question before the Chair is the postponment of the first schedule.
– I submit that under that proposal I am at liberty to debate the. whole Bill.
-I do not think so. The honorable senator will see that if he discusses the whole Estimates, as he appears to be desirous of doing, upon this question, the door will be open to two discussions, and I do not think the Committee desires that.
– The first schedule provides for the expenditure of £5,393,556
– But the question under consideration is the postponement of that schedule.
– I object to its postponement for the purpose of voicing my protest against the procedure which has been followed in introducing this Bill. After I have entered that protest it will be open to me to withdraw my objection.
– The honorable senator would have been very much more in order had he taken up that attitude before the Bill had reached the Committee stage.
– That may be so, and I did ; but, nevertheless, I contend that I am now perfectly in order. I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he is prepared, before ‘ we enter upon the consideration of the first schedule of the measure, or of any other portion of it, to give an assurance to the Committee that it contains no provision for any expenditure beyond that which has ‘been ordinarily incurred year after year?
– There must be some increases.
– Undoubtedly. . I merely ask for an assurance that the Bill contains no -provision, other than the regular increments, for any expenditure beyond that which is ordinarily incurred year after year.
– Any information which I can supply to the honorable senator upon the different items, T shall be glad to furnish.
– I agree with Senator Keating that if the Minister of Trade and Customs in moving the second reading of this Bill had made a short statement regarding increases of expenditure, honorable senators would probably have been satisfied to allow it to pass through Committee without much discussion. But I find that under this Bill the increased expenditure, as compared with, the expenditure for 1908-9, aggregates . £645,779.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That question is not involved in the proposal to postpone the consideration of the first schedule.
– I think that the reason advanced by Senator Keating is equally applicable to my own case.
– I should like to know how the honorable senator intends to connect his remarks with the question that is before the Chair.
– If the explanation desired by Senator Keating and myself - and probably by other members of the Committee be given, there will be no need to postpone the first schedule. It will be accepted by the Committee without further question. If the Minister of Trade and Customs will tell us how it is proposed to expend the increase of £221,000 odd in the Postmaster-General’s Department, the increase of £289,000 odd in the Defence Department, and the increase of £40,000 in the Customs Department-
– I gave all that information when we discussed these very Estimates before.
– The probability is that the Minister has not the information handy, and is, therefore, not inclined to supply it.
– One has only to look at the Estimates’ to see that the amounts in questions are made up of hundreds of small items.
– There is an increased expenditure proposed in the Defence Department of £289,000. Why cannot the Minister tell us how that money is to be expended? Why can he not tell us how the increase of £221,000 in the Postal Department, and of £50,000 in the Department of Home Affairs, -is to be expended ? The increased expenditure under this Bill aggregates £645,779. A very short statement would satisfy the members of the Committee. Certainly it would satisfy me.
– It seems to me that we ought to determine whether we intend to postpone the first schedule, and then we can proceed to debate the items which are grouped under the various Departments.
First schedule postponed.
The Parliament : Hansard Typists : Archivist : Repairs to Parliament Building.
Divisions 1 to 10 (The Parliament), £32,066.
– Some months ago I brought under the notice of the Senate the position of the sessional typists who are engaged in connexion with our Hansard staff. I understand that they are only temporary employes, and the time has now arrived when their services will be dispensed with. They occupy rather an unfortunate position, in that most of them desire to be re-engaged - they have no complaints that they are not well paid - and very few commercial houses are inclined to employ men who they know will remain with them only a short time. It does seem remarkable that in connexion with the Commonwealth Public Service no suitable arrangement has been made whereby these men can be transferred to other Departments whilst the Parliament is not in session. I understand that some difficulty is experienced in that connexion. I have been informed that during the past, few months consideration has been given to the question of effectively dealing with their case, and that we are likely to be favoured with a statement upon the position this evening. I shall, therefore, content myself with expressing the hope that some definite action will be taken in their case in the near future.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.58].- Some time ago the honorable senator saw me in reference to the sessional typists who at the present time are merely temporary officers. These officers, at the close of each Parliament, usually receive a week’s pay in lieu of notice, and their services are then not required until they are re-engaged. It has been urged that they should be placed on the permanent staff. The matter has occupied the attention of Mr. Speaker and myself, and a recommendation has been made that they should be placed on the permanent staff at a fixed salary. The conditions of their appointment will probably be that whilst Parliament is not in session their services will be utilized in any other portion of the Commonwealth Public Service in which it may be found necessary to employ them, subject always to the approval of Mr. Speaker and myself. Upon our recommendation these typists will be placed in an exactly similar position to that of other officers of the permanent staff, and will have a fixed salary. It is contemplated that their salaries will range from £160 to £200 a year, and it will be necessary for them to pass a satisfactory examination before they are permanently appointed.
– I think it is only right that the Committee should recognise that under the heading of “The Library,” there is a new item, namely, “Archivist from 1st September, 1909, at £500 per annum, £417.”
I think that all honorable senators are aware that Mr. Petherick has been engaged in that capacity.
– The fact has never . been mentioned.
– The item has appeared upon the Estimates for many months. Every honorable senator knows that Mr. Petherick has been appointed Archivist.
– I did not know it;
– His collection was exhibited in the Queen’s Hall for some time. He has been engaged by the Government at the salary stated, and we have secured the benefit of some of the most valuable records which he has brought into the Library.
– In connexion with the vote of £462 for Queen’s Hall, I wish to point out that it is obvious to everybody who enters the Hall that it is somewhat out of repair. The walls present anything but a satisfactory appearance. I wish to inquire upon whom the responsibility rests of keeping the building in order, and particularly of mending the cracks which cause Queen’s Hall to look much more dilapidated than it would otherwise do.
.- Some time ago, at the instance of a number of men out of employment, J made a request to a certain Department of the Commonwealth with reference to the subject which has been mentioned by Senator Keating. I understood that as the result pf that request Departmental officers visited portions of this building, and reported that no repairs were needed. Nevertheless the men, at whose instance I took action, and who are very experienced in connexion with building work, assured me that the structure is in a very bad way. On the score of economy, if for no other reason, it should be attended to. I do not know whether any improvements have been made since I directed attention to the matter, but I trust that it will receive the consideration of the Government.
.- This is certainly a matter that requires consideration in connexion with the building which we a.re now occupying. As we are tenants, it is our obvious duty to keep it in good condition. We owe a great deal to the Government of Victoria for allowing us to remain in occupation for so long a period. I understand that the building is being seriously damaged by reason of the smoke from a chimney in the neighbourhood. This smoke pours forth in great volume, and, not only blackens the building, but contains some chemical property which injures the stonework.
– I remind the honorable senator that we are dealing with the division relating to the Queen’s Hall.
– The same nuisance affects the inside as well as the exterior. I do not know whether the Federal Government have any authority in the matter, which certainly requires serious consideration. If necessary, they should approach the municipal authorities with a view to putting an end to the nuisance. All that is required is probably the regulation of the draught of the furnaces which produce the smoke.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.5].- These buildings are occupied under an agreement made between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to maintain the structure. A little while ago a considerable sum of money was spent on painting and other improvements. The Joint House Committee are’ exceedingly anxious to see that all necessary work upon the building is properly done. As to the matter referred to by Senator Findley, the authorities must, of course, be guided by the reports of their responsible experts, whose duty it is to see that property occupied by the Commonwealth is not allowed to get into a state of disrepair. It would be quite impossible for us to take action against the advice of our officers in relation to the building. I quite agree with Senator McColl as to the smoke nuisance. I am not aware as to whether it is a matter with which the municipal authorities can deal ; but I will endeavour to ascertain what the position is.
– It is not a matter in which the Committee is very much interested just now.
– We are certainly interested in seeing that the agreement made with the State of Victoria is observed.
Proposed vote . agreed to.
External Affairs : Administration of Papua : Delimitation of Boundaries - Advertising Resources of Commonwealth - Immigration : Retired Army Officers - Repatriation of Distressed Australians.
Divisions 11 to 16 (External Af fairs Department), £79,805.
– I shall be glad if the Minister of Trade and Customs will explain the position regarding the increased expenditure on account of Papua. I observe that there is an increase of £6,000. Last year the expenditure was £20,000. I have no desire to cavil at the increase. I realize the responsibilities that devolve upon us, but I should like to ask an explanation.’
.- T should like the Minister to tell the Committee how long Judge Murray has been Administrator of Papua, and what reasons have induced the Government to grant him twelve months’ leave of absence. Is he to . receive his full salary during that period ?
[10. 11]. - Judge Murray has been the administering officer in Papua for about three years. He has been, for about six years in the service of the Government in the Territory. It must be borne in mind that the climate is severe, and the Government consider that they are doing, justice in yielding to his request for furlough.
– Is he to have twelve months leave on full pay?
– He is to be away six months on full pay and six months on half pay.
– On what date does his leave start?
– It commences in April next. As regards the increased expenditure on account of Papua, it is quite true that the original grant was £20,000. The expenses of administration for the current year are £25,000. The system adopted is gradually to bring the coast under discipline. The administration is moving inwards from the coast. Officers are stationed at various posts, and they have to assist the native police, by means of whom an endeavour is being made to instil ideas of good government and discipline into the natives. As to the £t,ooo that is to be spent in connexion with the delimitation of the Territory, it is hardly necessary to remind the Committee that Papua adjoins the possessions of the German Government. An Anglo-German Commission has been sitting for some time past, to define the boundaries of the two possessions.
– Is any territory in dispute ?
– There is some doubt as to the exact line between the German possessions and ours.
– Item 5 in division 16 is a sum of £20,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. A few days ago a. paragraph appeared in the local press to the effect that some retired army officers were coming to Australia as the result of the advertising of the resources of Australia in India. I understand that the advertising in that country has been done by a Captain Holden. It was stated in the paragraph that the Federal Government had no knowledge of this gentleman, nor had it made any arrangement . with him ; and it was added that he was not acting for the State Governments either.
– He has no authority from us.
-Captain Holden called upon me while I was a member of the late Government, and made certain proposals which were not adopted. But -he struck me as being a. man who could do good service in this regard if the Govern ment desired to do what he proposed. I did not know whether the statement that appeared in the newspapers was accurate. All this only goes to show the insincerity of continually inserting this line in the Estimates. The announcement is made that this officer is prepared to send to Australia some 300 or 400 retired English officers who have been serving in India, many of whom are possessed of substantial sums of money. Apparently the Federal and State Governments are not prepared to co-operate with him. Captain Holden had a scheme which he laid before the late Government, but it was left in an unfinished condition. It had been sent on from the Defence Department to the Department of External Affairs for report. He proposed to secure as emigrants to Australia members of the English contingent of the Indian Army who had retired. At present most of these men go to Canada or New Zealand, and very few of them come to Australia. Captain Holden is a retired Indian officer himself, and knows all the circumstances. He said that he would be able, with very little trouble, to induce a large number of these men to emigrate to Australia. They have been accustomed to a tropical climate, and would soon become acclimatized to Australian conditions. Most of them have a knowledge of farming, and would be prepared to take up agricultural pursuits. If we are to have an immigration policy, it seems to me that they are the type of “men whom we should desire to attract to th’is country. I must admit that many of my colleagues were not very enthusiastic about Captain Holden’s offer, and the pressure of the work of preparing for the session made it impossible for the last Government to deal with it. I should like to know whether the present Government have given the matter any consideration, and whether they have received any reports from the officers of the Defence and External Affairs Departments in connexion with it, and, generally, what attitude they take with regard to the offer ?
– What did Captain Holden propose?
– He proposed that he should open in India an emigration office, practically to secure these men. So far as my memory. goes, he did not ask for the payment of any salary by the Commonwealth, but that he should be recouped the expense of clerical assistance in collecting the men and sending them away. He proposed that he should be authorized to carry on negotiations with the Army authorities in India to select the men, and have them sent to Australia. The Commonwealth Government, on their part, were to undertake to be responsible for the payment of the pensions of these men in Aus-, tralia, getting the money, of course, from the Imperial Government, and to co-operate with the States Governments in order to find them land, put them upon it, and give them such assistance, in the shape of plant, as they would require to make a start. It was certainly a business-like proposition.
– We hear a great deal about these offers. This is like the Scotch fishermen yarn, and there is about as much business in it.
– The paragraph which appeared in the newspapers yesterday shows that Captain Holden has already sent one batch of these men without any Government aid, and would be able to send several hundred more if he could secure the co-operation of the Government. The Lands Department of Victoria say that they do not know what to do with these men, and I can. quite believe the statement. I dare say that the authorities of the Lands Department in Tasmania would be in the same fix. In each case they would require, first of all, to secure the consent of the landlords before they could do anything. But the proposal brings us up against the question whether it is of any use to continue voting money for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth unless we are prepared to take the necessary consequent action. Of what use is it to advertise our resources amongst these men in India, if they are not given an opportunity to take advantage of them when they come to Australia?
– The Commonwealth has no land to offer them.
– The Commonwealtk Government might enter into negotiations with the State Governments. But in a happy-go-lucky style they are spending money in advertising the resources of Australia without any plan of co-operation with the States. I think that the State Governments are largely in fault, because I know that various Prime Ministers have endeavoured to induce the State Governments to co-operate with the Commonwealth authorities in this matter. Up to the present, apparently, they have not been inclined to do so. I should like to hear from the Minister of Trade and Customs what is the present position in regard to this vote.
– I also wish to say a word or two upon the vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. We voted £20,000 for this purpose last year, of which £8,644 was spent. This year another vote of £20,000 is asked for the same purpose, and I submit that until some arrangements are made between the Commonwealth and State Governments for the allocation of lands for immigrants it is futile to vote this money. There is plenty of good land in Australia, but the Commonwealth does not own an inch of it. In Victoria and New South Wales, we find that there are hundreds of applications from people already in Australia for every block of land opened for settlement. If the State Governments cannot supply the demand for land for the people who are already here, it must be impossible for them to meet, in addition, the demand for land by people introduced from oversea. The fact is that a vote of this kind should be preceded by the introduction of a Bill for the taxation of unimproved land values, which would have the effect of bursting up the large estates, and so making available lands for those who might be induced to come to Australia from oversea. I do not desire to repeat statements I have already made on the subject. But I hope the Government, even at the eleventh hour, will recognise that it is futile to vote £20,000 for advertising the resources of Australia when, if people come here from abroad, there is a difficulty in making land available for them.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (VictoriaMinister of Trade and Customs) [10.22]. - I thank Senator . Pearce for bringing under special attention the matter to which he has referred. The position is a little complicated. Captain Holden desired that he should be appointed agent of the Commonwealth in India for the purpose of procuring this particular class of immigrant?
– And securing a job for himself.
– That is true. He represents a number of commercial firms here, and we found that there would, perhaps, be some little difficulty in assimilating the various positions, and so have not proceeded very far in connexion with this matter. I dare say that a very valuable class of immigrants would be secured in the way proposed, and I will take the opportunity of bringing the representations of Senator Pearce under the notice of my honorable colleague.
– There is a vote of £20 set down for “Repatriation of distressed Australians. ‘.’ I understand that it is intended for the assistance of persons who would like to get back to Australia, but who have not sufficient means. I should like to know whether it is possible to secure assistance from the vote for Australians who are outside the Commonwealth at the present time?
– The object is to bring back unfortunate Australians who are stranded in foreign countries.
– I understand that ; but I want to know whether there are any further sums available to assist persons outside of Australia who want to get back to this country ?
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (VictoriaMinister of Trade and Customs) [10.26]. - I understand that the practice is that where special cases are brought under notice, and are shown- to be deserving of assistance, some advance can be obtained from this vote for the purpose of helping them.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Attorney-General - Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes : Refund of Legal Expenses - Conciliation and Arbitration Court : Registrars.
Divisions 17 to 20 (Attorney-General’s Department), £16,172.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote of , £3,781, Division 17.by £1.
My reason for submitting the motion is that about two months and a half ago, the Senate decided, by a majority, that something should be done towards defraying the expenses incurred by a number of men who, unfortunately, were involved in the new Protection cases before the High Court. I do not know whether honorable senators were serious when they supported the motion to which I refer. But I take it that they really desired that the Government should give serious consideration to the unfortunate position of these men. Without going into details, it is sufficient to say that from the beginning to the end these men were hocussed and made the catspaws for the political interests, not of parties, but, to a large extent, of the party in power today. I make the following quotation from a speech made by the Prime Minister on nth March -
No one would look forward to once more considering the Tariff, but it was possible that this House, after the publicly-announced intention of. the Government, would supplement it with what is popularly known as new Protection, and whatever might be the result of present proceedings the Government is absolutely bound by its undertaking.
Since we carried the motion to which I. have referred, we have had no intimation that the Government intend to give it any consideration. I believe that on one occasion there was a bald announcement that the Government would do nothing in the matter at all. Surely, when a majority of the Senate give expression to their opinions, they are entitled to consideration by the Government, and not to be merely put aside by those who were responsible for the position which was created. Why did the men engage in this struggle? It was not a case of men striking or entering into open rebellion, but a case where, owing to laxity on the part of the Government, men felt themselves compelled to take action to secure the proper administration of the law of the Commonwealth. Through the neglect of Ministers to discharge their duty, the men appealed to the Court, and produced evidence to prove that the manufacturers, who were receiving the benefit of a law which individual members of Parliament supported on a definite promise, were not observing the conditions which they had agreed to comply with, and which that law imposed upon them. Not only did the Government fail to administer the law, but, within a few hours, the Parliament is to be prorogued, with no provision made for the establishment of new Protection, or to meet the just and reasonable claims of the agricultural implement workers. No doubt we shall be told that the present Government are not responsible for the actions of their predecessors. But let me remind the Senate that nearly one-half the members of the last Deakin Ministry, who were responsible for this mess, owing to lax administration, are members of the present Government, and that we have had a declaration from the Prime Minister that their policy has been accepted by those who belonged to the other party. If it is a fact, as claimed by the Prime Minister, that the Fusion Government accepted the whole of his programme, what has become of the assurance that they would mete out justice to the workers through the medium of new Protection? It may be very interesting to honorable senators to know that the last Deakin Government believed that the workers had so successfully proved their case in the Court that they issued a writ for £20,000 against Mr. H. V. McKay. Why was the writ issued? Because the men had proved their case up to the hilt, and so compelled the Government to take steps to enforce the law which should have been, vigorously administered six months previously. Since the men have been loaded up with a debt for law costs, no stand has been taken by the Government, beyond saying that they would not accept the responsibility of paying the bill. The Senate, after a full debate, and in the light of all the facts, declared, by a majority, that reasonable costs should be paid to the men. But the Government said that, inasmuch as the law had been declared to be unconstitutional, they could accept no further responsibility in regard to the matter. Next we had the hoax of the men being promised that the law would be amended in some shape, or brought into operation prior to the termination of this Parliament. We are all aware of the changes of Government which have taken place. But I am not aware, nor is anyother honorable senator, that there is any change in the opinion of the majority of the members of both Houses that the workers should participate to a reasonable extent in the benefits derived from the Protectionist policy. What was the object of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act? On the 21st September, 1906, Mr. Isaacs said -
The Government have given their anxious consideration to this matter, and I take it that every member of this Committee acquiesces in the idea that we do not wish to impose duties merely to enrich manufacturers.
Clearly, the fact is that the members of each House were deliberately asked to vote for high Protection to many industries, on the distinct promise from responsible Ministers that the men, through the medium of new Protection, or in some shape or form, would be permitted to participate. Yet, here we are to-night asked to pass this item, and to close the last session of this Parliament in the course of a few hours. The manufacturers are enjoying all the benefits of a high Tariff, but the workers are not permitted to share in them at all, and are still each contributing 3d. or 6d. per week towards the cost of an action undertaken to secure the administration of a law which should have been administered by the Government of the day. I am not quite clear as to what will be the position at the coming elections in connexion with this matter. Can the Minister of Trade and Customs, who put the Tariff through the Senate, with a distinct understanding in the mind of every honorable senator who voted for high duties that the workers were going to enjoy a fair share of the benefit of the Protection, say to-day that the Governments with which he has been associated have honestly and fearlessly endeavoured to extend that measure of justice to the men? Or, are we to take it that the promise made by . Ministers was not made seriously, or was not intended to be carried out? To further delude the men, a Bill was brought into the Senate a few weeks ago which purported to extend the benefits of new Protection through the medium of an InterState Commission. What has become of it? Have the Ministry abandoned it? Was it because a few honorable senators criticised certain portions of it that it was immediately relegated to the same position as the Navigation Bill ?
– Would the honorable senator have helped to’ put ‘the Bill through ?
– Certainly not ; because mine is not the responsibility of introducing legislation to the Senate, or redeeming promises made by the Minister of Trade and Customs. My duty is to endeavour to see that the Government carryout their pledges.
– The honorable senator prevented us from carrying them out.
– I do not know whether the Minister thinks that at this stage of the session it is time for him to play with public business; but I have no hesitation in saying that the accusation that we on this side prevented the enactment of a new Protection law for the benefit of the workers is without any foundation. Nor can I give my honorable friend credit for believing that his statement contains the slightest truth. We refused to accept a Bill which required the workers, after they had been involved in law costs to the sum of £1,100 or £1,200, to appeal to the State Premiers, to. Wages Boards, to Industrial Courts, to a Judge, to the Inter-State Commission, and thence to the High Court on constitutional points, because the men had asked for a simple, effective law which would secure finality on an industrial question without being subjected’ to enormous law costs. Will my honorable friend assert for a moment that the Government attempted to establish an easy, simple, and effective Court to which the men might directly appeal in order to have their labour difficulties adjusted? On the other hand, can the Government say that the Minister of Trade and Customs has not shirked the responsibility of his position? The Government have a majority when they want to crack the whip on some item. Seeing that they can induce honorable senators to vote against their convictions and their principles, surely if they were really honest and believed that the Inter-State Commission Bill would have redeemed their promise to the workers in the protected industries they could have made a little judicious use of the whip? It seems to me that it is never used when it is a case of trying to get a little justice extended to the workers. When, however, it is a case of doing something which will cripple the workers, the whip will always be cracked by the Government. So fair the employes in the agricultural implement industryhave subscribed £25511s. in small coins, because it has been proved in the Industrial Court of the Commonwealth that they are receiving less than a reasonable living wage. If men in receipt of small wages can make an endeavour to pay what they believe to be their honest debt in that manner, surely the Government cannot shirk the responsibility of helping them in some form or other? Let me illustrate the class of men whose cause I am pleading. When a workmate was recently killed the men, instead of taking the half -day off to attend the funeral, went to work, and gave the half-day’s pay to the widow. In other words, in one establishment alone the men contributed £200 to maintain the widow of a mate who had been killed at his work. That case should indicate their character. These are not men with a weak claim, or no claim, who are endeavouring to drag money out of the Treasury, but men who honestly desire to obtain justice, who were backed up by the promises of the last Deakin Government, who provided the very money to pay the rent of the halls in which Mr. Deakin made to Australia the promise which brought him back to power, and in which a Minister who sits in this Chamber spoke. How can the Minister of Trade and Customs tell these men, whose subscriptions paid for the advertisements of his meetings at which he told his hearers that they would share in the benefits conferred by a Protective Tariff, that he is not going to redeem his promise? I have no desire to be personal, but I say that the Minister accepted the assistance of these workers to provide a fund whereby he might carry on propaganda work for the purpose of educating the people up to the claims of the new Protection. He endeavoured to obtain that Protection, but failed to do so. The Prime Minister then promised that, in some shape, his pledge to the workers in the protected industries of Australia would be redeemed. But has it been redeemed? When this Parliament has ceased to exist, can the Minister face those workers, and say, “ We would have dealt with the question, but we had not time?” Is that the explanation which he intends to give to the men who have so generously assisted him in the past? I ask for some assurance from the honorable gentleman that serious consideration will be given to their claims, and that some respect shall be paid to the majority decision of the Senate that the expenses incurred by the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Union shall be paid by the Commonwealth. I see my friend, Senator Walker, smiling, and he may well smile, because he has the enthusiastic admiration of those who sent him to this Parliament, and who are glad that the Fusion Government have proved sufficiently powerful to play the hypocritical game of introducing a measure which they never intended should become law. We know that when the Fusion Government was formed outside assistance was required to bring the various parties composing it into agreement. One section of the Fusion party had previously been described by the Prime Minister as “ the wreckage of all the reactionaries of the Commonwealth, the remnants of the black labour party, and of all the other defeated elements in Australia.” When the various parties to the Fusion had been brought together, representatives of the Chamber of Manufactures and the Chamber of Commerce actually met and made the Fusion what is today. While some honorable senators opposite were excluded from the conference between the Prime Minister and Mr. Joseph Cook, representatives of these institutions were allowed to enter it. Apparently the dropping of the new Protection by the Government is the reward of those persons for the magnificent services which they have rendered to the Fusion party.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator is getting very far away from the request which he has submitted. For some time he has not made the slightest reference to it.
– This is the only opportunity which I shall have of entering my protest against the action of the Government in failing to give effect to the majority decision of this Chamber, and in dropping the new Protection after having promised the workers that such legislation would be enacted. I take it that I shall be in order in quoting a newspaper extract, which expressed jubilation that the workers had been defeated, and that the expenses incurred by the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Unions had not been paid. The extract reads -
The President of the Chamber of Manufactures, Sydney, announced that New Protection is settled, for which he added manufacturers were thankful, as they had always felt disquieted at the thought of New Protection being forced upon them.
It does seem very peculiar that such jubilation should have been manifested by members of the community who are responsible for the existence of the Fusion party at the very time that the Government were endeavouring to lead the country , to believe that they wished to enact legislation’ relating to the new Protection. The statement which I have quoted was made on1 st September of this year. The Fusion party was then in existence. The Bill which was designed to enable the workers to share,in the benefits flowing from a Protective policy, was introduced after that date. May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs why he introduced that Bill whilst one of his political’ creators in Sydney was declaring that new Protection was settled? If the Government do not intend to pay the expenses of the Agricultural Implement Makers’. Employes Union- .
– Will the honorable senator agree to the Government paying, some of the expenses incurred by the employers ?
– The employers were breaking the law?
– What about the union label ?
– I am willing to consider any application for the payment of expenses incurred by employers; when it comes before this Chamber, upon its merits. But so far we have had no requests of that sort.
– I do not think that the honorable senator would ‘give it much support.
– Because Senator Vardon is not willing to do justice to the men he assumes that my attitude towards any proposal to pay the expenses incurred by the employers would be- a vicious one. I do not think that he can point to- any action of mine which warrants that belief.
– : No more than the honorable senator can point to any action of mine which evidences that I am unwilling to do justice to the men.
– Then why, does the honorable senator sneer?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Will Senator E. J. Russell address the Chair?
– I will, but the honorable senator has no right to sneer at my statements. I trust that those honorable senators who on a previous occasionaffirmed that the expenses incurred in litigation by the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Unions should be paid try the Commonwealth, will support my request in order to re-assert the position of this Chamber. If they are not prepared to do so I hope they will assign some reason for their change of attitude.
.This matter- has been exhaustively debated in the Senate. On the 9th December a motion was submitted by Senator Neild expressing the opinion that the Commonwealth should bear the legal expenses incurred by the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Union in enforcing the provisions of the Excise Tariff Act 1906. The result of the division on that motion was that fourteen senators voted for it and eleven against it. The Government, nevertheless, said that they did not intend to pay the slightest notice. When the next Supply Bill was brought forward, I moved a request with the object of reaffirming the opinion of the Senate that justice should ne done to the men. It must be apparent to everybody that they have been subjected to a gross wrong. Parliament, under the guidance of the Deakin Government, passed a Bill embodying the principle of the new Protection, and enabling Excise to be collected in the event of certain employers not paying reasonable wages and observing reasonable industrial conditions. The chief manufacturer in the agricultural implementmaking trade was not observing decent industrial conditions. So much “was shown when the subject was investigated in the Law Courts. If the Government of the day had enforced the law and had collected the Excise due they would have had a fund from which to pay the expenses incurred by the men, and they would at least have shown their sincerity with reference to the Act which they have placed upon the statute-book. But they were half-hearted, and seemed indisposed to defend their own Act. Consequently, a number of men had to provide out of their own earnings a fund to test the validity of the Act. We all remember how certain industries were picked out for special consideration under a Tariff which was brought before Parliament twelve months before the general Tariff Bill was introduced. The clear understanding was that these manufacturers were to observe the principles of new Protection, and pay their employes reasonable wages. They did not carry out their undertaking. Had . the Government enforced the Act, the employes would not have been compelled to pay these legal ex?penses out of their own pocket. I consider that an overwhelming case has been made out, and that the Government should accede to the request now made.
– I regret that this matter should have had to be brought up again. I can sympathize with the position of the Government, and their reluctance to initiate a novel precedent. But it has to be remembered that one branch of the Legislature has already expressed its opinion, and that the Government have refused to act upon it. In view of all the circumstances, I feel that the Government might well have acceded to the request that has been made. The men in question proceeded in all good faith under an Act of Parliament. If the law had not been discovered to be ultra vires I presume that costs would have been paid to them.
– They could not have been. I have explained that before.
– At any rate, had the men secured a material increase in their wages they would thereby have been enabled to bear these costs much easier. I think that a mistake has been made in imparting a controversial spirit to the application instead of endeavouring to get the money for the men by other methods. It is advisable that we should discuss the question temperately, having always in view the object which we profess - to get for the men affected the amount for which they have become liable. That is what I am anxious to do. I shall vote for the request submitted by Senator E. J. Russell, although its adoption may have the effect of sending the Bill back elsewhere. I shall vote for it, because it will be a means of obtaining an emphatic expression of opinion from one branch of the Legislature. The men have undoubtedly sustained hardship. They are an association of honorable men. They have not endeavoured to get out of their liability by refusing to pay. They are week by week endeavouring to accumulate a fund out of which to pay the money. Having regard to their current responsibilities, it is probable that the debt will hang upon them like an old man of the sea for months, and, perhaps, years. Therefore, I consider that the Government ought, even at this late hour, to reconsider their position, and to meet the obligation. I am inclined to think that they, might try to modify the Bill that has been presented. I understand that an undertaking was given by their predecessors in office that they would ask Parliament to grant to these men, not all that they claimed in the way of costs, but a substantial modicum of what they claimed, in order to relieve them of the heavier part of their burden. If the whole Bill cannot be paid by the Government, I earnestly urge that they should, if necessary, have the costs taxed. At any rate, they should arrive at a fair and proper decision, with a view of relieving the men of the great obligation that has been entailed upon them, as I think, unfairly. There is reasonable ground for complaint that action was not taken by the authorities before the men took proceedings. They were forced into action by tardiness on the part of the responsible authorities to accent responsibility. Consideration should surely be given to that fact.
[11.14]. - I am sorry that my honorable friend, Senator E. J. Russell, has seen fit to bring this matter up again. It has been twice before the Senate, and I do not see that any useful end is to be served bv blocking the Appropriation Bill. I wish to correct what is evidently a misapprehension in the minds of some honorable senators. The Government are just as full of sympathy for, and as anxious to do justice to, these men, as are any other honorable senators. But they have a serious public responsibility, which I hope they will discharge according to their best wisdom and judgment. First of all, it must be realized that the proceedings in which these men took part were entered upon voluntarily, and of their own volition.
– Because the Government did not do their duty.
– Under the Act it was possible for an application to be made to the Arbitration Court for the purpose of securing a declaration that the applicant, by reason of paying fair and reasonable wages, was exempt from the payment of Excise duty. The application was an ex -parte one by the manufacturer. Mr. Justice O’Connor dealt with it as an ex parte application, but he said that if any of the unions desired, in their own interests, to be represented, the Court would not stand in their
Way, but would be willing to hear any information they saw fit to tender. Consequently, when Mr. McKay made hip application there was a request by certain unions that they should be heard. They made the request because they felt that it would be to their interest that represenations should be made to the Court, on which, possibly, they might secure an increase of the wages then being paid by Mr. McKay. But this was a voluntary action on the part of the men.
– Because they were satisfied that Mr. McKay was not paying fair and reasonable wages, and so was evading the law, and the Government neglected to do their duty and collect Excise from him.
– Suppose we concede that Mr. McKay was not paying fair and reasonable wages. It was in their own interests that the men made certain representations to the Court. They voluntarily accepted the responsibility of doing so, and so incurred these expenses.
– They had to do so because the Government neglected to collect the Excise dutv.
– My honorable friend is wrong. The Government took proceedings against Mr. McKay to recover arrears of Excise duty to the amount of £20,000, and they also took proceedings against Mr. Barger for not having taken out a licence. It was not the men by their voluntary proceeding, but the Government by their proceedings against Mr. McKay and Mr. Barger, who tested the validity of the Act.
– The men say that the reverse is the case. That they took action and the Government afterwards issued the writ.
– That is where they are under a misapprehension. The statement which has been made requires to be revised.
– I should say so. The men proved that the law was broken before the Government took action.
– I am stating the exact procedure, and that it was by reason of the proceedings on the part of the Attorney-General against Mr. McKay and Mr. Barger that the validity of the Act was tested, and it was discovered to be ultra vires. Under the Constitution the High Court is invested with great functions. It has to decide as between the States and the Commonwealth as to what the jurisdiction of the several parties are. If it could be admitted for a moment that where Acts of this Parliament are held to be ultra vires the parties affected must be compensated by the Commonwealth, an alarming state of affairs would be opened up, and an unheard of principle of law would be asserted. The Government feel that if they were to pay the expenses of the men in this case, they would necessarily be called upon to pay the expenses of parties in every case of the kind, and one of the first results in this case would’ be that the Government would have to pay the expenses of Mr. McKay and the other parties to the proceedings.
– Of Mr. McKay, who reaped an advantage of £20,000 by exemptions from Excise?
– Yes, Mr. McKay would have to be paid if these men are paid. It has been stated that Parliament authorized the payment of these expenses. The matter has been fully discussed in another place, and if it had been resolved there that the payment should be made, provision for it would have been included in the Estimates. It is true that we have recorded our view, but before the payment can be made it must have the sanction of both Houses of this Parliament. I would urge upon Senator E. J. Russell that nothing is to be gained by persisting with the request he has submitted. It can only have the result of blocking the passage of the Bill unduly.
– I think that Senator E. J. Russell will be wise in persisting with his request, whether to do so will block the passage of this Bill or not. It is not wise to rush a Bill of this kind through in a few hours, and we might very well call a halt to consider this very important question. Some little time ago a majority of the Senate, after due deliberation, decided in favour of the Government paying the legal /expenses incurred bv the men in this test case. It is a remarkable fact that on the afternoon on which we came to that decision, the same matter had been discussed in another branch of the Legislature, and the Prime Ministerhad stated that he would not be a partv to the pavment of the expenses incurred bv the Employes Union. Senator Best, sneaking on the motion in the Senate, said that the Government would consider the Question, though the honorable senator knew that his chief had said that the Government would not pav the money.It is evident that there must have been hedging somewhere. I shall support the request, which, if carried, will involve no reflection upon the Department, but merely a ratification of the decision of the Senate that the expenses incurred by these men in testing an Act of this Parliament should be paid. The Minister of Trade and Customs has said that a misapprehension has existed. That may be, but it will not help the men. Senator Best, along with his chief, was an ardent advocate of the principle of new Protection. This Parliament passed a measure which initiated the principle, and these men incurred considerable expense in testing the validity of the Act.
– Does the honorable senator think it fair to be raising all these points in the closing hours of the session?
– I am not concerned just now about the closing hours’ of the session, but about the expenses which these men have incurred through an Act of this Parliament, which Senator Pulsford helped to pass. I do not care if the closing hours last until to-morrow morning. If honorable senators vote to-night as they did on the motion submitted a few weeks ago, they will carry this request, and this second expression of our opinion will be bound to receive further consideration at the hands of the Government. I shall embrace the opportunity on this request to vote as I did on a former occasion.
– Mr. Dobson -
– Why should the honorable senator prolong the discussion at this hour of the night?
– I think that the honorable senator might permit something to be said on the other side. I wish to direct attention to a phase of the question which was put before the Senate on the 15th October last, when certain correspondence ws read in this chamber. The following letter, addressed to Mr. Fisher, is quoted on page 4619 of Hansard -
Federated Saw Mill Timber Yard and General Woodworkers Employes Association of Australia.
Carlton, 24th September,1909.
Fisher, M.H.R., Leader Labour Party,
Russell informs me that he is sending you on the account of his Society, re the Excise Case;I will enclose mine.It will be a little more moderate than his. I had no legal advice, but conducted the cnse on behalf of the following myself : - Woodworkers, Carpenters, Ensrine-drivers, Painters, Pattern Makers, Coachbuilders, and others, for 27 days, and done, I consider, for the men every bit as good as the legal gentlemen, only a greater strain on me, and I consider I should be paid for it whilst I had to arrange my own work when engaged on it. If you are successful in getting the Government to pay, which I consider they should, it was no fault of ours the Act was declared unconstitutional, therefore, the Government should pay. Thanking you in anticipation.
I am, yours fraternally,
Then follows the account -
Expenses of the following societies represented before the New Protection Court by Mr. ]. Sutch, Saw Mill Employes, Carpenters, Enginedrivers, Painters, Pattern Makers, Wheelwrights and others : -
Statement of expenses incurred in the presentment of the Agricultural Implements Makers Union case against the manufacturers in the Excise Tariff Court : -
It will be seen that this is not quite the sort of charge which I think the honorable senator has represented. The account seems to me to include very debatable items to say the least of them - sums which it is injudicious to press upon the judgment of the Committee. When we were discussing this matter before I said I thought that the men had suffered a certain amount of injury, and were entitled to some sympathy, and I offered if a subscription were started to contribute a guinea.
– They do not want charity, but justice.
– We need not talk about charity. I am not thinking of anything of that sort. The honorable senator’s interjection appears to me to indicate a desire rather to create trouble than to procure the justice which he professes to require for the men. ‘
– They do not want a cap or hat sent round for subscriptions.
– I suppose that they do not. They have represented that they are out of pocket a certain amount, which they think ought to be recouped, and I put forward the view that there is no legal claim against the Government. Were the Government to consent to the demand! they would lay down a precedent which might lead to trouble of a very grave character in the future. I am sorry that there has been this block at a time when we desire to wind up the work of the session speedily.
. -I understand that the Government, not simply the present Government, but the Fisher Government too, were asked to recoup the costs of one of the litigantsin the Harvester case. Whether the amount claimed is sufficient or not neither the Senate nor the other House is competent to judge. On this side, as well as’ on the other, it has been admitted that, inasmuch as the men were driven to test, and were defeated in testing, the constitutionality of an Act, consideration ought to be given to their claim. I suggest to honorable senators that if the claim is to be justified on a fairly equitable, ground, we cannot determine the amount. I think that the claim of Mr. Russell, who evidently gave a great deal of attention and time to the case, ought to be submitted, like every other claim, to the taxing master before we areasked to vote any money.
– . We all agreed to that course.
– Then why did the honorable senator bring up the case onthe very last day of the session ?
– The claim was. brought up before, and approved . of by a “ majority.
– Assuming that the claim of Mr. Russell is a proper and” a just one, it ought to be referred to the taxing master. Senator Pulsford has pointed out that there are some items whichapparently are exorbitant.
– Let us have a vote.
– Yes, vote. What is the good of the honorable senator addressing any remarks to us? He cannot convert us.
– No, but I am making a suggestion which I think is a-‘ fair one.
– We want’ to catch the: last tram.
– No matter what we may think about the merits of Mr. Russell’s claim, it ought to be referred’ to the taxing master, and if it is reason-, able - and apparently from what Senator Pulsford said it is not, because it contains; some extraordinary items - we can then determine whether “equitably or legally the amount should be paid. While on this side we have given fair and open consideration to the claim, it has never been presented to one Chamber or the other as a business transaction to be viewed on its merits.
– Is not that the fault of the present Government?
– The same question arose when the last Government were in office, but they seemed to exhibit no particular interest in the matter.
– Is the honorable senator justified in making us lose our trains?
– If that is the position I will say no more.
– As Senator St. Ledger has made me miss my last tram-
– I do not think I did. I only spoke for four or five minutes.
– I do not see why I should not say a few words on the question. He stated that it should have been brought forward earlier. As a matter of fact, that was done. If ever a claim was made which had a basis of justice it is the claim which is now under Consideration. The employes in the agricultural implement industry took a certain action under an Act of. this Parliament, which every one had a. right to assume was constitutional, but on account of an imperfection in it they were mulcted in very heavy law costs, which they request should be recouped to them, as their action had the effect of proving that the law was ineffective. In other words, the request is that the Government, which ought to be responsible for the Act being imperfect or inoperative, should pay the costs of the appeal to the Court. In my opinion it is a perfectly just claim. I think that the action of any Government in resisting the just application of the men, who acted on the assumption that the Act of Parliament was quite reliable, is deplorable.
– Let us catch our trains.
– I am continually asked, sir, whether I will allow honorable senators to catch their trains. An enthusiastic supporter of the Government, through rising when a vote might have been taken, made me miss my last tram. I do not see why I should not have the sympathy of some honorable senators in my misfortune, and the only way in which sympathy can be secured is by their being placed in similar circumstances. What I wish to emphasize is that the Commonwealth Parliament enacted a law under which certain steps were taken by employes who were interested in the observance of that law. Upon being appealed to, the High Court declared that that law was’ unconstitutional. All that these men now ask is that they shall be reimbursed the costs to which they were subjected in instituting proceedings before that tribunal. Senator St. Ledger claims that this question should have been dealt with earlier in the session, but I hold that the Government are entirely to blame in that connexion. Personally, I think that the men engaged in the agricultural implement industry have established a reasonable claim to compensation.
– Upon a former occasion I voted in favour of a motion having a similar object to that which Senator E. J. Russell has submitted. But it seems to me that tonight he was much more desirous of attacking the Government than of securing justice for those whose cause he advocated’. Since I voted upon the motion to which I have alluded, I have made inquiries into the legal position, and I am advised that the payment by the Commonwealth of the costs of the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes’ Union would establish a very dangerous precedent. Whilst everybody must sympathize with the men who have been led into this impasse, we must consider what would be the result if the Government conceded their claim. In addition, it cannot be denied that extravagant charges have been made in connexion with their costs. For instance, we find an ordinary mechanic charging £5 5s. per day for’ attendance at the Arbitration Court, when his ordinary wages would probably be about 12s. a day. Is not such a charge an attempt to rob the workers. But that is only one portion of the trouble. I am led to believe that under our system of government the constitutionality of any law enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament may be tested in the High Court. When this case came before that tribunal three Justices declared that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was unconstitutional, whilst two others affirmed that it was constitutional. If we are going to establish a precedent under which the parties aggrieved may take every law of doubtful constitutionality to the High
Court, and if their expenses in case they are successful, are to be paid by the Commonwealth, we shall commit the Commonwealth to untold damages. To-night I repeat the offer which I made on a formeroccasion.If my honorable friends opposite can get thirty or forty men who will each subscribe £10 towards reimbursing the agricultural implement makers’ employes the costs to which they were subjected in testing the validity of the Act,I am prepared to subscribe my share.
– Have not the people as much right to be protected as the Parliament ?
– But if we establish the precedent that laws of doubtful constitutionality may render the Commonwealth liable to untold costs, we shall be making a grievous mistake. Consequently I have to consider whether I shall allow myself to be led into such a dangerous path or whether I am not bound to safeguard the Constitution by voting against this proposal.
– Notwithstanding these reasons the honorable senator voted for the motion which was submitted by Senator Neild.
– I have already said that since then I have looked into the matter more closely, and I find that the precedent which we would establish by giving effect to that motion, would be such a dangerous one, that I cannot repeat the vote which I then cast.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote, Division 17, £3,781, by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In connexion with division 20, which relates to the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, I desire to know whether the Registrars in the various States have been instructed in accordance with the question which I asked some time a go?
– The representations of my honorable friend were brought under the notice of my colleague, Mr. Fuller, and I understand that he has communicated with Western Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Home Affairs : Agricultural Bureau.
Divisions 21 to 29 (Home Affairs Department), £305,845.
– I should like- to have an assurance from the Minister that item 13, division 29, if agreed to, will not be taken as authorizing the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau. Is it proposed to spend any money under the item ?
– I can give my honorable friend the assurance that the Government have no intention of proceeding on the lines of the Agricultural Bureau Bill until that measure becomes law.
Proposed Vote agreed to.
Treasury - Old-age Pensions : DeputyCommissioners : Salaries : Appointment of State Officers : Special Magistrates - Government Printing Office : Engineer-in-Charge : Allowance to Government Printer - Distribution of Parliament ary Papers - Governor-General : Services Rendered by State Railway Departments - Coinage - Stamp Printing : Employes’ Salaries.
Divisions 30 to 39 (Department of Treasury), £395,514.
– In connexion with the Old-age Pensions branch of the Treasury, I notice that in New South Wales there is a staff consisting of a Deputy Commissioner, thirteen clerks, a caretaker, and a messenger, their total salaries amounting to £3,039- In Victoria, the staff consists of a Deputy Commissioner, and twelve clerks, the total salaries amounting to £1,995.I should like to know why there is this disparity between the two States? Why is it necessary to have so expensive a staff in New South Wales, and why are the rates of remuneration higher there than in Victoria ?
[12.5 a.m.]. - The explanation nf the disparity pointed out by. Senator Findley is, first, the larger number of pensioners in New South Wales than in Victoria; second, the larger territory to be covered, and, third, that it so happens that the staff employed in the Old-age Pensions Office in New South Wales before we took it over, was a more expensive one than the staff employed in Victoria. We took over the officers just as we found them. They were experienced in the work, and, moreover, it has been the practice of the Commonwealth in taking over Departments from States to utilize the officers who have acquired experience in the work.
. -I think that Senator Findley . was justified in drawing attention to this matter. It appears to me that the Deputv Commissioner for Old-age Pensions in New South Wales receives as much as the Deputv Commissioners of all the other States put together. The administration in New -South Wales has evidently been most expensive. It is reallv a serious matter, because we find the cost of the Public Service extending in all directions. ‘It behoves us to look after these small leakages. Tf we are not careful, we shall have a “ Black Wednesday “ in the Commonwealth, such as we had in Victoria many years ago. If the Government had to take over the officers of the New South Wales office, they should have been put in positions commensurate with the salaries received.
– Whilst it is true that the Deputy Commissioner in New South Wales receives £600 per annum, it should also I se remembered that the Deputy Com missioner in Western Australia, who is also Public Service Inspector, is paid a total of £700 per annum.
– The Victorian and New South Wales Deputy Commissioners hold no other office.
– In Western Australia the Deputy Commissioner receives a total of £800. The Deputy Commissioner in New South Wales is in the first class, but the corresponding officer in Victoria is in the third class. Doubtless there are cases where that state of things is reversed,’ but I find that in this instance the Western Australian man is the top of the lot.
– These officers are in different classes, but I’ have yet to learn that the Deputy Commissioner for New South Wales is any more qualified than the gentleman who is performing the work in Victoria, and who had many years’ experience in administering the State Old-age Pensions Act. Will the Minister explain why four clerks in New South Wales are getting between them £1,070, while four clerks in the same grade in Victoria are paid only £715?
– Can the Minister explain why the position of Deputv Commissioner for oldage pensions in Tasmania is given to a State officer? He is a man of remarkable capabilities, and has distinguished himself on many occasions, but his hands are full with his State duties: There is in Hobart an officer representing the Commonwealth with regard to the works and electoral branches of the Home Affairs Department who . has also distinguished himself in those capacities. He may not have had as many opportunities as the other officer to show his capabilities, but without reflecting in any way upon the State officer, who at present draws £100 per annum from the Commonwealth in addition to his State salarv, may I ask why the Commonwealth officer has been overlooked? He was an officer of the Commonwealth Department of which I had charge, and T can say that whatever duties were assigned to h’m he discharged with credit, despatch, and ability. Why should we go outside of our own service to employ State officers, however capable, and give them additions to their ordinary State emoluments, to carry out Commonwealth obligations and responsibilities? Why should not we employ our own public servants? I have nothing to say against Mr. Douglas, whom I believe to be one ot the best and smartest men in the service of State or Commonwealth, and a most energetic and enthusiastic officer ; hut I should like the Minister to explain whv he has been appointed to discharge these duties when the Commonwealth has in
Hobart an officer who may be willing and is able to do the work.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [12.17 a.m.]. - The Deputy Commissioner for Tasmania was appointed by the late Government, after full inquiry.
– No one questions his capacity.
– I am aware of that. It was felt that the electoral officer, to whom my honorable friend has referred in terms of well-deserved commendation, had already such multifarious and burdensome duties to perform that it would be unwise to add to his work, whereas the gentleman who has been appointed was in close touch with the magistrates and others with whom he has to work in the administration of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act.
– I am glad to have had the explanation. I understand now that there was a good and sufficient reason for the appointment.
– As to the question raised by Senators Findley and McColl, the Deputy Commissioner for New South -Wales was engaged in the administration of the State law, at the salary of £600, and we took him over; but since the preparation of these Estimates he has resigned, and another officer has been appointed in his place at the salary of £45°-
– What about the clerks ?
– They were taken over from the State.
– The administration of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act costs in Western Australia £330, and in Tasmania £465, or £135 more. Seeing that the distances between the centres of population are longer, and the area over which population is scattered much greater, in Western Australia than in Tasmania, there should not be this difference.
Sitting suspended from 12.22 to 12.50 a.m. (Wednesday).
– When the sitting was suspended, I was pointing out the disparity in the cost of the administration of the Old-age Pensions Office in Western Australia and Tasmania. I see that there is a footnote, which states that the Deputy Commissioner in Western Australia is also paid £700 a year as Public Service In spector, and that the Deputy Commissioner in Tasmania is paid by that State as Under-Secretary. Nevertheless, considering the greater area of Western Australia, and the probability that there are not so many applicants in Tasmania, and the delays there have been in the payment of the pensions to genuine applicants, I should like to know the reasons for the disparity in the cost.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [12.57 a.m.]. - There is but one explanation, and that is that in Western Australia there are 2,462 applicants, as compared with 3,236 in Tasmania, and that, in the two States respectively, the applications granted are 1,773 an(i 2>797- The honorable senator will see that there are a greater number of old-age pensioners in Tasmania than there are in Western Australia.
– I do not think that the reply of the Minister is an explanation. I take it that, when the staffs were appointed to the Old-age Pensions. Offices of the various States, it was not known how many applications would be made, nor how many old-age. pensioners there would be. In Western Australia there is a Deputy Commissioner at £100, a clerk at £185, and another clerk at £45, making a total of £33° > while in Tasmania there is a De,puty Commissioner at £100, and two clerks at £185 and £160 respectively, with a long-service increment “of £20. Surely the clerk in Western Australia, who now receives ,£45, is* entitled to the same grading as the Tasmanian clerk, who receives £160? I take it that it is a matter of grading, and not a matter of the number of applicants, which could not have been known when the appointments were made.
– The Statistical Office would know the number within a small percentage.
– I do not think that is a reply to my question. When we compare the greater distances, the increased trouble in obtaining evidence in proof of the bona fides of the applicants, and so forth, the position should be reversed so far as the cost of administration is concerned. In Western Australia a number of the applicants have had to refer to relatives or to acquaintances in the other five States. The inquiries from other States entailed a greater amount of work on the staff in Western Australia; and, ia the circumstances, I cannot accept the Minister’s explanation as final.
– In connexion with the vote of £17,000 for the services of special magistrates and others, I should like to know how many special magistrates have been appointed in the various States, and what they are being paid ? We have one, if not two, in . Western Australia. Mr. Fairbairn is one, and I should like to know whether his appointment is a temporary appointment ?
– It is.
– I ask because he was pensioned off long ago from the State service, and we ought not to appoint State derelicts to these positions. I wish to say, again, that 1 think Mr. Green, the Public Service Inspector in Western Australia, should be relieved of this work. I do not think he is by nature fitted for it.
– He is a man of great capabilities, and one of the most straightforward officers in rhe Commonwealth service.
– I quite admit that, and I look upon him as an ideal man for certain purposes. I believe he is kind of heart, but he does not show it in his manner, and he is not the right stamp of man to deal with the old folk who are applicants for old-age pensions. They are often illiterate and timid in approaching any one in an official position. Though the object of the Commissioner may be merely to hurry them along and get their explanations, if they are treated in a brusque and somewhat overbearing manner, they go away under the impression that they have been treated unkindly. I have no desire whatever to injure Mr. Green ; but the numerous complaints I have received force me to the conclusion that he is not the best man for this work. I could mention other officers in Western Australia who would be much better fitted for it. Mr. Green’s office is in the Federal building in Perth, and from what I could judge, he should have plenty to do with his duties as Public Service Inspector. If a Treasury official is visiting Western Australia, I would urge that it would be well to relieve Mr. Green of the work of Deputy Commissioner of old-age pensions.
– I believe that the officers charged with the responsibility of operating the old-agepensions scheme are doing their best to give effect to the intentions of this
Parliament, and the wishes of the people. But, in some cases, the Act is not administered with the sympathy we have a right to look for. On one occasion, I witnessed the administration of the Act by a police magistrate, and I regretted to observe that it was not sympathetic. The applicant was an elderly woman who had no one to represent her, and she was treated with a brusqueness whichI am certain did not betoken unfriendliness, want of heart, or lack of consideration, but was nevertheless calculated to inspire the applicant with the feeling to which Senator Pearce has just referred - the feeling of doubt and misgiving m approaching persons in authority. The applicant in this case was told to come again and to produce certain evidence and documents ; and I felt sure she left with the intention that she would never come again, to undergo a repetition of the humiliation to which she had then, as she thought, been subjected. We have a right to ask that all officers administering the Act should administer it kindly, with a true sense of the responsibility imposed uponthem, and with a due regard to the feelings which actuated this Parliament, and the people behind it, in passing such a measure.
– I should be glad if the Minister would take note of what has just been said. It would be very much to be regretted if an Act, the spirit and intention of which is so kindly, should be administered in an unkindly fashion.
– Not deliberately.
– I quite understand that those administering it are not deliberately unsympathetic. It would be well if the Treasurer would give some instructions which would prevent any unsympathetic administration of the Act.
– I should like to emphasize’ what has already been said about the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act. I have received a very large number of rather serious complaints from my own State. The investigation of manv of the cases has been perfectly satisfactory to me, and in most of them to the applicants themselves ; but the evidence goes to show that there must be something wrong; with the administration of the law in WesternAustralia, I do not know what it is, but- I am of opinion that it is wanting in sympathy, and I think that if the Governmentadopt the attitude suggested by Senator
Keating, they will do well. I admit at once that one cannot make a man sympathetic if he is not built that way, and that therefore, in some cases, a bad choice has been made. I do not think there has been any intention on the part of the Government to select an unsympathetic officer, or that there is any intention on the part of an officer to be unsympathetic, but there are men whose natures are not warm enough to permit of their dealing properly with a system of this kind. I emphasize the plea for a sympathetic administration, and particularly the point raised by Senator Pearce in regard to the desirableness of relieving Mr. Green of his duties under the Old-age -Pensions Act. I have every respect for that officer ; I know his capabilities as a Public Service Inspector, but I think that his busy life as such may tend to deprive him of that bent of mind which is required to enable a man to deal with these old people as they ought to be dealt with.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [1.13 a.m.]. - I desire to assure honorable senators that the policy of the Department, and certainly the policy of the Treasurer, is that those on whom is thrown the responsibility of administering the Old-age Pensions Act shall extend the utmost sympathy to the aged poor whom we are desirous of helping in their declining years. I shall certainly draw the attention of my right honorable colleague to the statements that have been made. Among the vast number of officials associated with the administration of the Act, there must be men of different temperaments. There are men whose intentions are good, but who have an extraordinary way of exhibiting what are perhaps the best of natures. On the other hand, they have sometimes a very difficult task to perform by reason of the neculiar disposition of the applicants themselves. Some of the applicants in the cases that have been investigated have been, to some extent, to blame for what has been the subject of complaint. As to’ Mr. Green, I am clad to hear the testimony to his recognised ability.If it is a fact that he is overburdened by his duties as Public Service Inspector, and that his duties under’ this Act are thus made more or less irksome to him,I shall draw the attention of mv right honorable colleague to it.
a.m.]. - I note that in the Government Printing Office there is an officer classified as an “Engineer-in-Charge” who is in grade D and receives a salary of £335 per annum. I may be wrong, but I think that his duty consists of supervising the linotypes that belong to the Commonwealth, and that he does not exercise any control over the printing machines, which are in another part of the Government Printing Office. On more than one occasion when I have drawn attention to the unsatisfactory way in which the office is being worked, from a Commonwealth point of view, the promise has been made that there would be appointed a gentleman who would be able to state exactly what property we had in the office, the extent to which it had depreciated, and the value of the type and other material there. I wish to know whether such an officer has been appointed.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [1.17 a.m.]. - The duties of the EngineerinCharge are to supervise the working of the linotype and the monotype machines and also the machinery in the Stamp Printing Branch. Indeed, it is his duty to attend also to other machines belonging to the Commonwealth. As to the necessity for the appointment of some one to attend to our interests in the office, the Treasurer is moving in the matter, and hopes very soon to complete arrangements in that regard.
– I wish to have an explanation in regard to the item -
Allowance to Government Printer, Melbourne, for services rendered in connexion with printing for Parliament, £150.
I understand that there is one Government Printer to supervise the printing of both the State and the Federal Parliaments, and that he receives a fixed salary. “ We have been told, when taking action in connexion with the management of the Federal branch of the Government Printing Office, that we have a Government Printer whose supervision is good, and that he is performing all the work required of him for a fixed salary. If I read the item aright, it must represent an allowance in addition to the salary which he receives.
– He is a State employ.
– We have been told that he supervises the printing for the Commonwealth Parliament.
– For which he receives an allowance of £150 a year from the Commonwealth.
– A very moderate sum, too.
– What I desire to know is whether the Federal Government contributes a fair proportion of the salary which the Government Printer receives, or whether we are allowing him £150 a year for supervising our printing?
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [1.22 a.m.]. - I have given such elaborate explanations from time to time regarding this matter that I am almost surprised at the honorable senator asking for further information.
– Not on this point.
– Under our arrangement with the State a record is kept of all the work that is done for us, and the Commonwealth is charged according to that record. For instance, if some men are employed for a certain time if doing work for the Commonwealth, it is debited with the cost. This item represents an allowance to the Government Printer, who has a great responsibility in supervising the work done for the Commonwealth. It is a very fair allowance, having regard to the manner in which our printing is attended to.
– I notice an item of £1,600 lor the distribution of Hansard and Parliamentary papers. I am under the impression that a very great deal ought to be saved in connexion with our printing.’ When I observe the quantity of literature which is thrown away and wasted in one way and another, and find that our printing bill is running up to about £too,ooo a vear, it suggests to me that a very great saving might be effected. It seems to me that £1,600 is a very large sum to vote for the distribution of Hansard and Parliamentary papers. We ought to be able to make some saving, especially in regard to the printing and distribution of papers.
– I should like the Minister to furnish some information with regard to the item of £2,000, under the head of Governor-General’s Office, for services rendered by State Railway Departments. Last year £750 was appropriated for this purpose, the expenditure amounting to £2,tt6. and this year we are asked to vote £2.000.
– We are asked to vote more, because we are asked to vote an item of £500 for “travelling, incidental and petty cash expenditure,” which probably includes railway travelling.
– Last year £500 was appropriated for travelling, and only £220 expended. As a great deal of misconception exists with regard to these matters, I should like the Minister to explain for the information, not only of the Committee, but of the general public, why a vote of £2,000 is required to cover services rendered by the State Railway Departments.
– To cart about one man and a few of his hangers-on.
– That remark is, I think, uncalled for. If the GovernorGeneral travels he should do so under conditions and in circumstances commensurate with the high office which he holds.
-Not at a cost of £40 a week though.
– I do not believe in cutting- down the expenditure which is necessary if the Governor-General is to familiarize himself with the whole of the Commonwealth.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [1.26 a.m.]. - My honorable friend knows that we are all anxious that the Governor-General should visit the various States. This item represents the expenditure which is incurred by His Excellency in doing so.
-It is understood then that the Commonwealth pays for all his special trains and anvthing of that kind ?
– Certainly the Commonwealth pays for all his train services.
– £40 a week?
– I do not think any one could possiblv complain of the amount. If the GovernorGeneral is willing to go to the trouble of travelling, I am sure that the desire is to encourage rather than discourage him. I know that every State is anxious that His Excellency should visit not only the capital, but also various parts of the State. I believe that honorable senators will willingly appropriate this item for the purpose.
– I will not do so willingly.
– With regard to the item of £10,000 under the head of “ Coinage,” I desire to know when the new coins will arrive in Australia.
– About the end of February.
– With regard to the vote of £1,267 for stamp printing, I have made several protests against the treatment of certain employes in the Stamps Branch. I have been told several times that various reasons for continuing a degrading position of things are quite apparent. I intend to offer an effective protest unless I receive from the Minister very satisfactory reasons why the female employes are paid from 7 s. 6d. to £1 a week, and a distinct promise that the employes, particularly the long service employes, who have been working for sixteen, eighteen, and twenty years, will receive at once a considerable advance on their present wages. If that promise be not forthcoming, I shall move for a reduction of this item, and press my proposal to a division. I hope that the Minister will give the Committee such information as he mav possess in regard to the matter.
– Like Senator Henderson, I have on more than one occasion called the attention of the Minister in charge of this’ Bill to what I regard as the unfair treatment which is being meted out to certain female employes in the Stamps Printing Branch. We have been told that in some instances female employes who have been more than twenty years in the service of the State are not receiving the minimum salary prescribed in our Public Service Act, namely, £110 a year. We know that when the Commonwealth took over a number of State employes in other branches of the service their salaries were immediately jumped to that minimum. I dare say that the opinion of the gentleman who is in charge of the Stamp Printing Branch was sought by the Public Service Commissioner, but I have yet to learn that the provisions of a Statute are to.be set aside merely upon his opinion. He himself has been granted a very considerable increase. Will the Minister of Trade and Customs tell the Committee what was his salary when he was in the employ of the South Australian Government?
– At the date of Federation it was £275 per annum.
– I do not know that his salary was increased after Federation.
– It was raised to £310 per annum.
– Then, since histransfer to the Commonwealth, it has been increased from £310 to £325.
– Is that the only increase which he has received in eightyears ?
– The StampsPrinting Branch has only been in existenceabout twelve months.
– It is not a very large increase.
– It is not, but if it were granted to some of the lower-paid employes it would be regarded as a very substantial increase. If we wish to get the best work, we must pay our officers in accordance with the value of the work which they perform. Senator Henderson’s complaints in regard to many girls and women who are employed in this branch of the Public Service are thoroughly justified. I hope that the Government, in order tosecure efficiency, will see that justice is done to every one of their employes. If they can afford to grant a large increase tothe head of this branch, there is strong, justification for increasing the wages of other employes in it.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [1.37 a.m.]. - Of course, I have dealt with thisquestion fully on a previous occasion, and: Senator Findley has had an opportunity of looking through the report bearing upon it of the Public Service Commissioner.- The position is that the Commonwealth determined to take over the Stamps Printing Branch. In doing so it took over fourteenemployes who were previously engaged init. Three of these were permanent employes, who were appointed to permanent positions in the Commonwealth service at the maximum salary at which they had* been employed by the State, namely, £72- per annum. Eleven temporary employes,, whose duties are of a simple character, such as -perforating and counting postagestamps, were also taken over. Their dutiescan be readily learned by any girl in a fortnight or three weeks. Some of these temporary employe’s, it is true, had been inthe service of the State for fourteen or fifteen years. They were taken over by the Commonwealth at the same salarywhich they had been previously paid.
– At what salary?
– Thethree permanent officers were taken over at. £72 per annum, and ten of the temporary employes at .£52 per annum. One young girl was transferred at 7s. 6d. per week.
– What does the Minister call a “ young “ girl?
– I am told that she is about fifteen years of age. All these temporary employes were taken over by the Commonwealth at the salaries which they had been paid by the several States. The position is this. We started a new branch of the Public Service. It was considered that no injustice would be dene by allowing the employes in that branch to continue for some time on the old terms. In the meantime it was desired to ascertain what the requirements of the branch were, and what new machinery was necessary. The Public Service Commissioner has undertaken to revise the whole of the conditions in February next. He will” then determine what permanent staff is required, and what wages shall be ‘paid. Under the circumstances, I suggest that my honorable friend might wait until the decision of the Public Service Commissioner is given. If the arrangement then made is not satisfactory, the matter can be brought up again.
– I have had an opportunity to peruse the report which the Minister of Trade and Customs has before him, and I am dissatisfied with it. I do not doubt that the wages paid to the employes in the Stamps Branch axe those which were paid by the Victorian Government. I am quite satisfied that the Commonwealth took over the employes on the old terms. My complaint is against those wages being continued to be paid by the Commonwealth of Australia. Liberal advances have been made by the Commonwealth to most public servants. Some officers within a few years have been jumped up from £.180 to £200, £300, and _£3’5°. V** annum. The salary of the Commissioner himself has been raised from £1,200 to £1,500. Yet this same Commissioner has not been able to persuade himself that the women taken over at a wage of £1 per week are worth 25s. The time has arrived when a strong protest should be made against such administration. There is no necessity for the Commissioner to- wait until February next before determining that the services of any women are worth more than £t per week. It is an absolute disgrace to us that we should be paying such wages. A woman is worth more than £1 per week if she does no more than sit on a doorstep and sell matches. These women have to maintain themselves in respectability, and the wages which they are now receiving are quite insufficient. Though it has taken the Commissioner nearly twelve months to find out whether a woman is worth more than £1 per week, it did not take him long to find out that, in his own opinion, he himself was worth more than £1,200 a year. I, therefore, move by way of protest -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote, Division 37, Stamp Printing, £1,267, by £*
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [1.47 a.m.]. - The Minister might have made a more definite statement on this question. I remember that some time ago he stated that if the wages of the employes in the Stamps Branch were increased, it might mean their dismissal. That was tantamount to a threat.
– Did he say that?
– That was practically what Senator Best told the Senate, as Hansard will show. He has also stated that the Commissioner will reclassify the employes in February next. In the meantime, however, it is necessary that this Committee should affirm the necessity of a living wage being paid. I agree with Senator Henderson that the wage at present paid to these employes is a disgrace to the Commonwealth. Yesterday we passed a measure increasing the salary of the Public Service Commissioner by £300 a year, yet there axe girls and women employed under the supervision of that gentleman receiving sums varying, to take the Minister’s own words, from 9s. to £1 per week, after rendering fourteen or fifteen years’ service to the States and Commonwealth, while the Public Service Commissioner has given us only nine years’ service. The Minister tells us that if we are determined to increase their wages they will be dismissed.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– The Minister said that there was a danger of their dismissal and the engagement of other people. The time has come for this Parliament to insist on all its employes in every branch of the service receiving at least a living wage. If the Minister thinks that from 9s. to £1 a week is a living wage, the sooner he reconsiders his position the better.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Trade and Customs - Patent Office, Administration - Bank Exchange.
Divisions 40 to 50 (Department of Trade and Customs), £353,296
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister the administration of the Patent Branch, more particularly as regards the Commissioner of Patents. I have received from Messrs. Griffiths and Allen - I think that is the name - the following statement of a case -
On the 30th March, 1909, the applicants through our firm made application to the Registrar of Trade Marks for an order for the lodging of , £40 as security for costs under section 46 of the Commonwealth Trade Marks Act, which reads as follows : - “ If a person giving notice of opposition or appeal does not reside in Australia the Registrar, Law Officer, or the Court may order him to give security for costs, and if the Order is not complied with the opposition or appeal shall be deemed to be abandoned.”
On the 26th April, 1909, we received the decision of the Registrar of Trade Marks, to the effect that the opponents should lodge security for costs for the ^amount asked, on the condition that a similar amount be lodged by the applicants onthe ground that they also were resident outside the jurisdiction of the Victorian Courts, i.e., in the State of New South Wales. To this latter condition we objected on the ground, that the Courts of any State are com-‘ petent to recover costs granted by the Registrar equally with those of Victoria, and that if permitted to stand without protest, this decision would place Australian applications outside the State of Victoria at a distinct disadvantage.
Without going through the whole history of the case, the facts are that the Commissioner was held by Mr. Justice Isaacs to have wrongly laid it down that security, for costs must be given in another State as if people in any State other than Victoria were outside the Commonwealth ; and his decision was therefore reversed. It is singular that the Commissioner of Patents should interpret, as applying to a person residing in New South Wales, a provision which allows the Registrar to order a person not resident in Australia, on giving notice of opposition or appeal, to furnish security. He appears to me not to be au fait with the law which he is administering. On the 24th. November, I asked a series of questions of which I will read two, and the answers returned to them. They are these: -
Will he (the Minister) ascertain whether it is a fact that in connexion with patent application No. 1 1396, the Commissioner for Patents compelled the applicant to pay a fine of£3 because his application had lapsed through not being “ accepted “ within the statutory period, and whether the delay had not been caused by the Commissioner himself?
To that the reply was -
The Commissioner of Patents had no alternative but to ask the applicant of No. 11396 to pay the fee prescribed by Regulation 14 for the necessary extension of three months.
The delay in acceptance - which rendered necessary the payment of the fee - was partly due to an oversight in the Patent Office (one month) during the Commissioner’s absence, but for the principal delay (two months) that office was not responsible.
The next question was -
Is it not a fact that after the applicant’s Patent Attorneys, on the 15th of March last, replied to some objections raised by the Examiner, no further action was taken by the Patents Office for several weeks, andthat the Commissioner’s letter consenting to hear arguments on the matter was not received by the applicant’s attorney till after the application had lapsed, i.e., on the 3rd May last?
To which the Minister replied -
The Applicant’s Attorney did reply on the 15th March last to objections raised by the Examiner. Owing to the absence of the Commissioner, who had previously dealt with, the application, the papers were held until his return, and reply was sent on the 29th April, and was received by the Applicant’s Attorney too late to avoid a request being made for extension of time.
Although the fault was admittedly that of the Department, a fine was inflicted on the patent attorney, and the money has not been refunded, the Department contending that it has no power to refund it.
– One month’s delay was the fault of the Department, but there were two months further delay for which the applicant was to blame.
– Had it not been for the delay occasioned by the inaction of the Department, the application would have been in time. The applicant’s attorney replied on the 15th March to the objections of the examiner, but the papers were not sent on until the 29th April, after the application had lapsed. These cases are not altogether creditable to the Commissioner. Let me refer to a third case about which questions were asked in another place. The Commissioner has objected to the application of one firm for the use of certain words, and has allowed another firm to use precisely similar words. He objected . to the use of the word “ Dudley,” presumably because that is the name of the GovernorGeneral, and allowed the use of the word “ Chelmsford,” although that is the name of the Governor of New South Wales. When the head of the firm to which I have referred, greatly irritated by the lapsing of the patent, and the damage likely to be done to their business, wrote a stronglyworded letter to the Commissioner, the latter threatened to suspend him for disgraceful conduct. I have read the letter, and do not think that under the circumstances it should have been objected to. However, the firm was not wealthy enough to appeal to the High Court, and, therefore, felt constrained to withdraw the letter and apologize. The Commissioner’s action appears to me to be very high-handed) and in view ot the facts that 1 have put before him, I think that the Minister should inquire whether he is showing a proper capacity for his duties.
[2.9 a.m.]. - The Commissioner of Patents holds a high and important position. About 1,400 applications are dealt with by him every year, but, like the Justices of the High Court and every one else, he occasionally makes mistakes. I have no doubt that he honestly strives to do his duty, and it must be admitted that he is a man of great experience, having filled the office for a considerable time, and having had State experience in Queensland. It is quite possible that the Commissioner has made the mistakes mentioned, though I am not going to admit all that has been alleged, certainly not in one of the cases. In regard to exacting security for costs because a company was registered outside Victoria, the Commissioner was held by the High Court to have been wrong ; but, as to having refused permission to use the title “ Dudley,” while giving permission to use the title “ Chelmsford,” he may have been perfectly right. According to law no name can be used which is essentially and merely the name of a person; but “Chelmsford” is not only the name of a person, but the name of a place. It is by reason of that distinction that the Commissioner in his discretion saw fit to grant the application so far as “ Chelmsford “ was con- cerned. I am sorry to say that there is very strong feeling, at least on the part of Mr. Griffiths, against the Commissioner, and the latter has complained to me. I am not going to say for one moment that the Commissioner has been completely right or tactful in all he has done.
– Speaking generally, he has the confidence of the public, except a few patent attorneys.
– Yes, I have said so.
– This is not the way to keep that confidence !
- Mr. Griffiths is a patent agent ; and it is quite true that Mr. Townsend did summon him under a particular section for misconduct. That summons was for misconduct, in regard to which the Commissioner thought he had power to take action, in connexion with a most improper letter, containing a charge, which, if true, or bearing the semblance of truth, would quite unfit Mr. Townsend for his office. I pointed out to the Commissioner that, in point of law, he had, in my opinion, exceeded his duty ; and I was also interviewed by Mr. Griffiths. On looking into the matter. T conceived that, before anything further was done, Mr. Griffiths should either pro-, secute the charge or withdraw it. and Mr. Griffiths elected under the circumstances to take the latter course. On further consideration, T satisfied myself as to the law ; and the matter dropped. When a fearless- officer, such as T take Mr. Townsend to be. seeks to do his dutv, and has to deal with such a large number of cases, it is easy to pick out one or two in which he- may have made mistakes. On the whole, however, I do not think there is quite room for the complaints which Senator Pearce has suggested.
– I see that under the heading of bank exchange, Western Australia is charged £100, whereas in the case of New South Wales it is only £10, and in the case of Victoria, £5.
– In Tasmania there is no charge.
– Seeing that payments are received at every Customs House throughout the Commonwealth, it ought to be an easv matter to abolish this charge.
– Would it not be possible to arrange, seeing that the Commonwealth has accounts in banks in all the States, to so adjust the balances that there would be no necessity for imposing exchange on Commonwealth cheques? Senator Walker seems to be amused, but what I am suggesting is only common business. No one knows better than the honorable senator that there is, in this case, no necessity for imposing exchange in the nature of a toll - for that is all it means - as if on the transmission of specie from one bank to another, because, as a matter of fact, there is no actual transmission of specie, but only a bookkeeping adjustment. I hope that the banks, in regard to Commonwealth cheques, will follow the example which is set in connexion with Government cheques within a State, on which no exchange is charged, no matter in what part of the State they may be paid or presented.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs)[2.18 a.m.]. - The honorable senator will be glad to hear that the course he suggests is actually being followed in the several States, save and except on the north-west coast, and in the northern portion of Queensland, where the exchange is very high, thus accounting for the item to which exception is taken. Tn other respects, there is reallv no charge for exchange, arrangements having been made to put the balances one against the other.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Defence - Visit of Lord Kitchener: Military Camps - Military Board, Chief of Ordnance - Imperial General Staff - Inspector-General - Grants to Rifle Associations - Tasmania : Commandant, Staff Officer for Works.
Divisions 51 to 196 (Defence Depart- ment), £1,004,062.
– In connexion with the Estimates for the Defence Department, I should like to direct attention to the fact that a military camp is to be held in January at Seymour, which it is understood will be visited by Lord Kitchener. The Defence authorities of this State do not regard as satisfactory the replies they have received to inquiries as to the number of men who will attend the camp. It must be remembered that it is proposed to hold an eight days’ camp, which will start almost immediately after the Christmas holidays. In the circumstances, it is rather too much to expect the men to put in so much time in camp at such a period of the year, without some compensation. It is all very well to appeal to their patriotism; but that will not pay the landlord, the butcher, or the baker, and it. will not provide the men with clothing for themselves and families. If the Government wish to make a military display with a large number of men at that time of the year, they should be prepared to pay them for the four extra days which they will be asked to put in at the camp. I may mention that yesterday in another place, a half promise to give consideration to the matter was made. The Minister of Defence said that he could not give a definite promise because he was not Treasurer ; but that cannot be regarded as satisfactory to the men. I hope that the Minister representing the Department in the Senate will be able to give some assurance that the men attending the camp at Seymour will receive just compensation.
– I desire to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council, when the Government propose to fill the vacancy of Chief of Ordnance on the Military Board? I should say that there never was a time in the history of the Commonwealth when the services of such an officer were more urgently required. We are initiating a new military system, and are ordering large quantities of ammunition and material. The position has now been vacant for over six months. I should like to mention also that it was understood that a British officer would come to Australia to take the place of Colonel Bridges on the Imperial General Staff, as that gentleman is now in England acting as our representative in the Imperial General Staff there. I should like to know whether that understanding is to be carried out. Then perhaps the Minister will be able to say whether the office of Inspector-General is to. be abolished or allowed to remain vacant, and whether, if it is to be continued, an Australian or an Imperial Officer will be appointed. At this hour of the morning I do not intend to debate these matters. But in view of the fact that the salaries for these positions appear on the Estimates although they have been vacant for six months it is not unreasonable to expect that the Government will be able to make some statement in connexion with them.
.- I am not able to speak as definitely as I should like to be able to do. But I may inform Senator Pearce that with respect to the officer in exchange for Colonel Bridges some little hitch occurred at the time due to the fact that Colonel Bridges was sent from Australia before proper, exchange had been made, at Home. That is a matter for which the honorable senator himself must accept some responsibility.
– Colonel Bridges had to be sent Home to attend the Imperial Defence Conference.
– The difficulty is that arrangements should at the same time have been made for the exchange, and it was not discovered until later that my honorable friend’s instructions were not complete. With respect to the filling of the vacancy in the position of Chief of Ordnance, and the other position referred to, the delay is due to the fact that the whole of these questions may be brought under review in consequence of the alteration necessary on the passing of the new Defence Bill. I can say no more than that I shall early in the morning bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Minister of Defence. I can give Senator Findley no more assurance in connexion with the matter to which he has referred than he says was given ‘by the Minister of Defence. The honorable senator will recognise that what he proposes would involve a considerable increase of expenditure.
– And if granted in Victoria it would be asked for in the other States also.
– I gathered from the honorable senator that the Minister of Defence contemplated conferring with the Treasurer as to the possibility of doing something in the direction desired,_ and I can only say now that I will bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– In connexion with the vote of £.100 for the Commonwealth Council of the Rifle Association of Australia, I should like to refer to the fact that some time ago I brought under the notice of the Senate the inequality in the- grants to various rifle associations throughout the Commonwealth. The Minister at the time promised to bring the matter under the notice of his colleague with a view to having the grants made in proportion to the population of a State, the number of riflemen in the State, or the number of efficients. At present the grants are distributed on the principle that kissing goes by favour. I should like to’ know whether any alteration is to be made in the distribution of the grants?
– I remember that the matter was referred for inquiry and report to the Defence Department, and I admit that I. am probably somewhat to blame, for which 1 ask the honorable senator’s forgiveness, in* not having at hand the necessary information. I promise the honorable senator that I shall endeavour to obtain for him this afternoon a copy of the minute prepared on the subject.
– Under the head of Tasmanian Military Forces, on page 207, I’ observe an item of .£1,084 for “ Commandant, including pay for retiring Commandant on leave.” I desire to know the rate of salary for the present Commandant.
– Under the same head I see an item°f j£6o for “ Engineer, pay for officer detailed for the duty of Staff Officer for works.” I desire to know what that officer is receiving from the military point of view, and whether the works are military or general ?
– This sum of £60 is. paid to Captain Parker, who is, I understand employed in other ways. It is additional pay for some extra wonk that he does.
– He is a civilian, of high professional standing, and his services are obtained by us very cheaply.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 197 to 203 (PostmasterGeneral’s Department), £3,206,796 agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3, first schedule, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request, and passed through its remaining stages.
Motion (b.y Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Owing to an expression of opinion given by the Prime Minister in the other House, I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will afford to the Senate an opportunity to affirm the following motion -
That, as foreseen by. its advocates, its effects have been : -
The object is to enable the women of Australia to cable Home the testimony of this Parliament that woman suffrage has justified itself from all points of view. The message is not necessarily to be sent with the idea of defending the tactics adopted by the advocates of the principle there, but merely to state the effects of the operation of the principle in this country. I have already intimated to the Minister what is desired, and I hope that he will fall in with the request.
– I understood that the desire of the honorable senator, and those who are moving with him, was to have submitted the motion he has just read to this and the other House. I am sure he will see that it would be impossible,, not merely, at this late period of the session, but at this early hour of the day for us to discuss a proposition of that kind. At the same time, if he is content to take my assurance on the subject, I feel satisfied that there is no one in the Senate, and no section of the people outside, who would now venture to controvert the affirmation laid down in the motion.
– I should like to ask the Minister a question.
– The Minister has replied, and the debate is closed.
– Can no other honorable senator ask a question, sir?
– Not on a motion for adjournment which has been replied to by the mover.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.48 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 December 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091207_senate_3_54/>.