4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President look the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– During the course of the discussion on the Naval and Military Decorations Bill yesterday afternoon I used a remark with regard to Senator Walker in, as I think was apparent to every one in the chamber, a jocular fashion, namely, that he had “almost acted the part of a political traitor by supporting the Government.” The remark appears in Hansard in cold print. It, of course, ought not to have been made, even in a jocular fashion, and I feel that an explanation is required from me and, to some extent, an apology, which I now offer to the honorable senator.
SenatorMcCOLL asked the Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council, upon notice-
If he will lay on the table of the Senate copies of all correspondence between the Governments of the several States and the Government of the Commonwealth on the question of the railway gauge for the East and West Transcontinental Line?
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
Will he include in the next schedule of postal services for which tenders may be called, direct mail services for the Flinders group of islands with both Launceston and Melbourne?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
Consideration will be given to this matter before the expiration of the existing contract.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Government include in any Post and Telegraph Rates Acts Amendment Bill introduced this session an amendment of the existing rates of postage for Savings Bank and Building Society Pass Books and similar postal articles ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The Government do not purpose making any change in the rates of postage on the articles mentioned.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That there be placed upon the table of the Senate copies of all correspondence with, and representations made to, the Department of the Postmaster-General since the passing of the Postal Rates Act 1910, relative to the now existing postal rates for Savings Bank and Building Society Pass Books, and similar postal articles.
Senate and Supply Bills - Treasurer’s Advance - Contingencies. - Post and Telegraph Department : Fatality to Line Repairer : Departmental Accounts : Telegraphists’ Grievances : Stamp Marking Machine : Increase of Expenditure : Country Offices : Post Card Rates - Development of Northern Territory: Finance - Immigration - Federal Capital Designs - Quarantine - Governor-General’s Residences - Lithgow Small Arms Factory - Payment for Warships - Site for London Offices - Old-age Pensions - Commonwealth Finance : Note Issue - Public Works Expenditure : Borrowing - State Debts - Retirement of Military Officers - Subsidized Press Cable Service - Destroyers : Crews - Compulsory Training : Insubordination : Seditious Literature.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages without delay.
– I do not desire to do more than to again draw the attention, I am afraid uselessly, to the practice which is growing up of systematically ignoring the Senate as a branch of the Federal Parliament. There is no question that it was within the competence of the Government to have brought down before to-day the business in connexion with which we are asked to suspend the Standing Orders. I expect that we shall be told later that the Supply asked for is on the ordinary footing. If so, it was just as competent for the Government to bring in this Bill a week ago as it is now. There is a systematic endeavour on the part of the Government, aided by the officials, to purposely hold back these measures until they are able to come here and throw upon us the responsibility, if we refuse to suspend the Standing Orders, of leaving them in the position of being unable to pay the public servants. We are to be coerced into legislating under circumstances of that kind. There is not an honorable senator, I do not care on which side he sits, who does not know perfectly well that the procedure which is growing up, and in connexion with which this Government has been the worst offender that we have ever had-
SenatorO’Keefe. - They have all been alike.
– I have made that statement again and again, but I hold that this Government is certainly the worst offender that we have ever had. The remarkable feature is that this Government was going to alter all the wrong-doing of the past. We are now to be told that we must suspend the Standing Orders which were shaped in order that the Senate should have a full and fair opportunity to consider any proposals submitted ; in other words, to prevent the rushing through of proposed legislation which, on maturer consideration, the Senate might desire to amend. Our rules are systematically being suspended simply that the Government may deny to us the opportunity of criticism, or throw upon those who wish to criticise the onus of blocking the payment of public servants. That this is being systematically done is proved by the presence on the business paper of this contingent notice of motion. It was put there, not because of a sudden emergency arising, but because a month ago the Government determined that there should be no fair consideration of a Supply Bill. Not merely have the Government taken up this attitude, but it is characteristic of the Department. In order to avoid, as they are doing, a full and fair examination of proposals, the Treasury hold these measures back until the last moment. I defy any Minister or officer of the Treasury to say that this Bill could not have been put in print a week or a fortnight ago. So far as ordinary services are concerned, it does not contain an item which the Department did not know of a month, aye, two months, ago. There can be only one reason why the Bill has not been submitted here before. The Department knows that if it can withhold the Bill until the clock is striking the eleventh hour, it will be saved a lot of trouble, because there will be no time for us to press inquiries on points on which we desire information. If the Senate is prepared to tolerate that state of things, the Opposition is, of course, impotent to do more than to enter a protest. I do not expect, nor should I invite, honorable senators on the other side to do anything to place the Government in an awkward position. I do not intend to take the responsibility of doing any- thing which would delay the payment of salaries which are earned, and which ought to be paid ; but I do invite honorable- senators to let their views be known to the Government, in order that we may look forward to a better state of things than that which has grown up, and which, as is shown by the presence of this contingent notice on the business-paper, it is the intention of the Government to continue until Parliament declares that it will have no more of such procedure.
– I wish to say a few words in explanation, which perhaps may avoid a debate on this subject. Senator Millen has attempted to show that the Senate has been placed in a worse position than the other House. That is not so. The other House had exactly the same time to deal with the measure as the Senate will have.
– You are wrong there, because if the other House had not passed the Bill yesterday it would have continued its consideration to-day.
– The honorable senator’s statement that the Senate is placed at a disadvantage as compared with the other House is not correct, because both have exactly the same rights in debating the measure. The honorable senator attempted to make out that some injustice was done to the other House by delaying the introduction ot a Supply Bill until . the end of the month. As he has held Ministerial office, I was rather surprised at him making the statement.
– It was because of that that I made the statement.
– The fact that the time is approaching when the Budget statement must be delivered makes it uncertain as to when the Supply Bill can be introduced, because the Government are always called upon to determine whether they will withhold certain items from Ihe Budget, or include them in the Treasurer’s Advance. There is a disposition on the part of this Govern ment to avoid including items in a Supply Bill which ought properly to appear in the Budget- statement. ‘ In such circumstances, the introduction of a Supply Bill is left as late as possible, so as to avoid the inclusion of contentious matters, which ought properly, to be submitted with the Budget. The introduction of the present Bill was left to a late date, in order to avoid the very thing which Senator Millen has been talking about, and that is the hurrying through of debatable items which ought to receive proper discussion in connexion with the Budget. With regard to the statement that the Senate has only today in which to deal with the measure, I desire to point out that there again the Government are, to a very large extent, the victims of circumstances. Had it not been for the unfortunate occurrence of Mr. Batchelor’s death-
– It is cowardly to bring that in - absolutely scandalous.
– It is only right to state the facts.
– Is that the reason why this contingent notice of motion is on the business-paper?
– The facts have to be stated in justice to the Government. We were not aware last week that a sitting of the other House would be lost this week.
– Why did not the Government bring this Bill forward in the other House a day earlier?
– Will the honorable senator allow me to make an explanation? He can believe me or not as he thinks fit.
– You are ignoring the facts.
– Had the Government known that a sitting of the other House might be lost this week, they undoubtedly would have brought in this Bill last week if they could have done so. The Government are not to blame for the loss of a day’s sitting in the other House. It was only a right and proper thing for the House to adjourn, and but for that fact this Bill would have reached the Senate yesterday instead of to-day.
– Why was not the Bill introduced into the other House a day earlier? Had that been done we could have had the Bill yesterday.
– The Bill was introduced into the other House as soon as possible. If the business of the other House had been advanced by an additional sitting it could have been introduced a day earlier. Under the circumstances, honorable senators will see that the Government have studied parliamentary control over public expenditure by deferring the introduction of the Bill as late as possible in the month, and that it is owing to the loss of a day in another place that this measure reaches the Senate a day later than it would otherwise have done. Consequently the contention of the Leader of the Opposition is entirely groundless. Further, the Bill is based upon the ordinary Estimates except so far as it relates to certain items which will be fully explained to the Senate.
– It would be an insult to the intelligence of honorable senators to expect them to believe - despite the statement of the Minister of Defence - that this Bill -could not have been brought forward last Wednesday. The Minister has failed to give anything like an adequate explanation of the reason for the delay which has occurred. But I would point out that in connexion with- this Bill there is a much larger question at issue. It must be abundantly .evident to everybody that the Senate has no control whatever over the financial policy of the Government. That has been a feature of the administration, not only of this Government, but of all past Governments. It is now the middle of October, and it will be well into November before we shall have an opportunity -of critically examining the position revealed by the Treasurer’s Budget. It is a maxim which has long been established by experience that finance is government, and government is finance. How cak the Senate at this late stage of the year discuss critically and exhaustively the financial policy of the Government as contrasted with that of other Governments, and from the stand-point of the urgent necessities of the Commonwealth - that is to say, of the enormous expenditure to which we are committed? For this reason I say emphatically that the Standing Orders should not be suspended.
– The longer the honorable senator continues talking on the motion the shorter will be the time at our disposal to discuss the details of the Bill.
– I know that -every word which I utter is delaying the payment of salaries to our public servants who have earned them. But this ad misericordiam appeal is always made in connexion with Supply Bills. On the present occasion there is absolutely no excuse for it. It is perfectly plain from the statement of the Minister of Defence that this measure could have been introduced very much earlier. But the practice is becoming more intensified every year of transmitting Supply Bills to this Chamber under -circumstances which prevent us from exercising any control whatever over the financial policy of the Government. If we could successfully resist the suspension of the Standing Orders on the present occasion we have ample justification for adopting that course, and I, for one, will willingly support it.
– I confess that I heard no reason - either from the Vice-President of the Executive Council or from the Minister of Defence - why the Government could not have introduced this Bill into another place last Wednesday, so that it might have reached the Senate yesterday. If that had been done we should have had time to adequately discuss it. But the whole of yesterday was absorbed in debating a matter which is absolutely of no importance to the Commonwealth. I am sorry that not only the present but previous Governments have adopted the practice of bringing forward Supply Bills at the eleventh hour, and asking us to pass ‘ them. We have repeatedly heard the cry raised, “ Unless this Bill be passed immediately our public servants must remain unpaid.” I hope that we have heard the last of that sort of thing, and that in future we shall be afforded ample time to adequately discuss important measures of this description. Unless a departure is made from the practice which has been hitherto followed there might as well - as Senator McDougall has remarked - be no Senate at all.
– I have no objection to the Leader of the Opposition discharging his functions by finding fault with anything that the Government may do, and I am sure that Ministerial supporters will not object if he continues to do that for a long time. We all recognize that Senator Millen is a very capable Leader of the Opposition.
– Let the honorable gentleman take the private opinions of his own supporters on this question.
– The Minister of Defence has explained the position occupied by the Government in this connexion. Had I attempted to do so the debate would have been closed, and Senators St. Ledger and Sayers would have been denied an opportunity to urge their objections - objections with which I have been familiar ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth.
-If the honorable gentleman wishes to get his Supply Bill through he had better be a little more CiVil.
– To be uncivil was the last thing in my mind, and I am sure that Senator Sayers ought not to object to the jocular manner in which I feel disposed to treat this question, because he is a bit of a joker himself. The Minister of Defence has explained not only why this Bill has been introduced a day or two later than it would have been under other circumstances, but why Supply Bills are almost invariably brought forward a day or two later than they ought to be. The Leader of the Opposition stated that it was the deliberate intention of the Government to introduce Supply Bills late in the month because a contingent motion in reference to them had been placed upon the businesspaper. I can assure him that not a single member of the Ministry is responsible for the motion save myself. I placed it upon the business- paper without consulting anybody. I did so because from the inception of this Parliament I have recognised that a difficulty may arise in connexion with the presentation of a Supply Bill, if we have to rely upon the passing of the motion without notice to secure the suspension of the Standing Orders. As honorable members know, such a motion requires to be carried by an absolute majority. Consequently I thought it wise to place upon the business-paper a contingent motion relating to all Supply Bills, so that if anybody is to be blamed in that connexion it is myself alone. I hope that honorable senators will permit the Bill to pass through all its stages to-day, and that they will exhibit the same expedition that they have always shown in dealing with Bills of this description.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a first time,
I merely wish to observe that the motion will afford honorable senators an opportunity of criticising the administrative acts of the Government, and of dealing with any other matters to which they may desire to call attention. Upon the present occasion we are asking for two months’ Supply in the hope that it will prove sum.cient to enable our various public services to be carried on until the Budget has been presented and the Estimates approved. The amount of Supply for which the Government ask is £1,409,534. On a previous occasion, when Supply was granted for only one month, the amount involved was £1,038,016. Honorable senatorsmay think that the sums asked, for by the Government are excessive when compared with the amountsgranted under previous Supply BillsHonorable senators must bear in mind that the Supply Bill for two months, passed at the latter end of last session, the Bill for one month’s Supply passed recently, and this Bill for two months’ Supply, involved a total amount of ,-£3,023,000 for five months. When we come to consider that under the circumstances previously existing the Supply asked for a similar period would have’’ ‘amounted, approximately, to £2,760,000, the amount asked for the five months of the current financial year showsan apparent increase of £323,000. But it must not be forgotten that in taking over the Northern Territory we accepted responsibility for interest payments as they matured on the Port Augusta railway andi to cover the deficit on the Territory itself. These obligations amounted in the first instance to £40,000, and in the other tosomewhere about £50,000. We must realize,, also, that during the last year or twothere has been a very material increase in the staff of the Post and Telegraph Department, and honorable senators must be aware that the ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth are gradually increasing. In connexion with the Defence Department, an increased expenditure of £206,000 is necessary to defray the cost of services that have been instituted and tc« give effect to the compulsory training of our boys and youths. This increased expenditure of itself almost entirely accountsfor the total increase of expenditure for thefive months of £320,000. As a matter of fact, the necessary increases in respect tothe items to which I have referred account for a total increase of £412,000- on the amount ordinarily provided in previous years for five months’ Supply. I am further able to show that there are very few cases in which the amount asked for in this Supply Bill for two months is double what was asked for in the previous Supply Bill covering one month’s Supply. For theParliament for the two months we are asking £4,943- For one month, in the previous Supply Bill we asked for £3,070. For the External Affairs Department we are asking in this Bill for £80,416, and: in the last Supply Bill for one month- £124,725 was asked for. For the AttorneyGeneral’s office we are in this Bill asking for ,£7,636 for two months, whilst in the last Supply Bill for one month .£3,923 was asked for. For the Home Affairs Department we are asking in this Bill for a little more than the proportion for other Departments. This is because the Home Affairs Department is the one in connexion with which most work involving expenditure has to be done. We are asking for £96,200 for the two months, covered by this Bill, whilst we asked for £30,975 for one month for this Department under the previous Supply Bill. For the Treasury Department we are asking in this Bill for £26,013 for two months’ Supply, and in the last Bill for one month only we asked for .£20,960. For the Trade and Customs Department we are asking for £58,424 in this Bill, and for one month only we asked for .£34,885 in the last Supply Bill. We are asking in this Bill for £270,215 for the Defence Department to cover two months’ Supply, and in the last Supply Bill we asked for .£233,277 for one month’s Supply. For the PostmasterGeneral’s Department we are asking for two months .£575,687, and in the previous Supply Bill we asked for one month’s Supply £366, box. There are two items which have appeared in Supply Bills for some time past to which a reference may be made. One is for refunds of revenue. In the last Supply Bill we asked, to cover one month’s Supply on this account, for .£20.000. In this Bill we are asking for £40,000 to cover two months’ Supply. For the Treasurer’s Advance account, a vote which is necessary for the purpose of keeping works going which are provided for in the general Estimates, we are asking for the two months ,£250.000. In the last Supply Bill for one month we asked for .£200,000 on this account. Honorable senators will, therefore, see that the amounts provided for in this Bill have been kept very much below double the amounts asked for in the last Supply Bill for one month’s services only. If this Supply is granted, we earnestly hope that, before it is exhausted, the Budget will be before honorable senators, and, when the Budget papers are laid on the table of the Senate, the Government will afford an opportunity for a full-dress debate on the administration and financial policy of the Government. If honorable senators will consider the matter from a common-sense point of view, they will agree that that is the occasion for which they should reserve themselves. It is not on every paltry Supply Bill, to meet the ordinary services of the Commonwealth for one month or two months, that grievances and complaints should be ventilated. They should be reserved for the debate on the Budget itself, and less time should be wasted in the discussion of current Supply Bills than has been the case in the past.
– Before the honorable senator resumes his seat, he might point out the items of the Bill which Senator Pearce said could not be decided on until the last moment.
– The PostmasterGeneral, for instance, could not tell exactly what amount he would require to carry him over the passing of the Budget until he knew at what time the Budget statement would be made.
– Does he know now ?
– Well, he has a better knowledge now than he had a week ago, because the Treasurer is in a better position to say how far his work in the formulation of the Budget has advanced through the returns sent in from the different Departments. Honorable senators must see that the Post and Telegraph, the Defence, and the Home Affairs Departments have not an easy task in estimating what will be required to carry on the services under then- control. The AttorneyGeneral, the Treasurer, and the Minister of Trade and Customs might put in an estimate of the requirements of their Departments at any time. They might, in fact, have a standing return to cover monthly Supply, but the three other Departments to which I have referred are in an entirely different position. I have no desire to curtail debate on the Bill, and, between now and 4 o’clock, honorable senators should have plenty of time at their disposal to say all they desire to say on the various items of the measure. If it should be necessary to reply to their statements, I hope that any information that is desired will be forthcoming. Members of the Government who represent the different Departments in the Senate will do all they possibly can to satisfy, not merely the curiosity, but the earnest desire for information of honorable senators.
– I have no desire to refer again to the matter we were discussing a few minutes ago on the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, except to reply to two statements made by Senator Pearce, who followed me in that discussion. lt is greatly to be regretted that the honorable senator should have used as a reason for the delay in the introduction of this Bill the sad event in connexion with which the Senate recently passed a resolution. To my mind, it was little short of contemptible for the Government to shield their neglect under that unfortunate occurrence. There was no reason why this Bill should not have been introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday last, and that would have enabled us to have dealt with the Bill yesterday. The attempt to shield themselves behind the unfortunate event, for which we all feel regret, was little short of contemptible, and was quite unworthy of the Minister of Defence. The statement was flatly contradicted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who asked us to permit the Bill to go through because it is intended to meet the ordinary current services. If that is what it is for, there is no reason why it should not have been drafted a month ago. Senator Pearce declared his surprise that I should have raised the objection ‘ I did, in view of the fact that I had some Ministerial experience. But it is because I have had that experience that I feel there is upon roe the obligation to say that what I saw of the attitude of the officials of the Treasury justifies me in making the statement that there is, df set purpose, a deliberate attempt to hold back these Bills_ to the last possible moment. I did what I could then, and I am doing what I can now to combat that.
– The statement is unworthy of the honorable senator.
– Is it unworthy of me when I see an evil to speak .about it? I wonder what frame of mind the honorable senator can have got into if, when he sees what he regards as an evil, he will not speak about it for fear of ruffling the susceptibilities of the Ministry he so slavishly supports. I am sure that the honorable senator would himself be the first to protest against anything of the kind. Any one who sees what he regards as an incorrect way of doing public business has imposed upon him the responsibility of speaking about it, if he is to be worthy of the position he occupies as a member of this Parliament.
– The honorable senator did not practise what he preaches.
– I certainly did ; and I remind Senator W. Russell that in the early days of the present Government the Minister of Defence was candid enough to admit that the predecessors of the present Government had done much in the direction we all desired of affording the Senate an opportunity to discuss finance. That admission can be found in Hansard. I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council for information in connexion with the items of this Bill, some of which Senator Pearce said could not have been determined upon until the last possible moment. I venture to say that the answer I received will not carry conviction to the mind of any one. He told us that the PostmasterGeneral could not determine exactly what amount would be required for the ordinary current services. There is no reason why he should not have known months before, or at any time after the ist July last.
– The honorable senator should remember that the services of the Post and Telegraph Department have been increasing every month since the end of the last financial year.
– They have not increased much during the last week, and this Bill could have been introduced a week ago, because there is that extremely elastic vote - the Treasurer’s Advance - which is intended to meet cases of that kind. And here let me draw attention to another evil which is growing, and it is decidedly an evil from the stand-point of those who believe that Parliament ought to exercise a real, and not an imaginary control, over the finances of the country. When we started Federation, the first Treasurer’s Advance amounted to £25,000. For a long time it hovered in the region of £40,000 ; but it has been gradually growing, until to-day it has reached no less a figure than £250,000 on this one Supply Bill. The amount on the last Supply Bill was £200,000. That is to say, during three months we have given blank cheques to the Treasurer to the amount of £450,000. That enormous sum having been advanced in so short a period, it means, if that rate continues, that little short of £2,000,000 a year is passed by Parliament without the Senate or another place having the slightest knowledge as to how the money is going to be spent. It is perfectly true that later on Parliament must be informed ; but we must not lose sight of the fact that we are only informed as to the expenditure of the money when it has actually been spent. I admit at once that there must be a Treasurer’s Advance Fund, but do not honorable senators think that the fund is growing to a dangerous extent, when we find £1, 800,000 a year, at the present rate - assuming that it does not continue to grow - being expended without Parliament knowing anything about the direction of the expenditure? Is it not dangerous that this Advance Fund should continue to be augmented at this enormous rate without Parliament exercising any check over the channels down which the money flows? I cannot regard as financially satisfactory a system which declares that something like a sixth or a seventh of the total revenue may be spent without Parliament being informed as to how it is to be spent. I consider that a more careful scrutiny on the part of the Government, and of the Treasury officials, might obviate the necessity for making these big demands - for asking for these blank cheques. Fuller information ought to be given to us as to “the purpose for which the money is required, and as to why the Treasurer’s Advance has been allowed to mount up from a few thousands until we are within reach of a couple of million pounds, concerning which we are not told a single thing. I wish to take advantage of the opportunity - which is furnished by our Standing Orders - when we are dealing with Bills of this kind, to refer to a few other matters. One to which I wish to direct attention is an extremely unfortunate occurrence, which will, I am sure, command the sympathetic attention of the members of the Senate. I refer to the recent fatality to a line repairer in . this city. Every one who has read the newspaper reports to-day concerning this event must come to the conclusion that there is somebody upon whose shoulders the weight of blame rests, and it is a very heavy one. The facts reported cannot be lightly passed over. The evidence is not of an ex parte character, because the Post and Telegraph Department was represented officially at the Coroner’s inquiry. We cannot assume that the gentlemen who were there representing the Department would allow an unjust imputation to rest upon the service. The facts show that the unfortunate linesman, in the course of his duty, was required to climb a pole which was so rotten that it collapsed under his weight, resulting in his death. The remarkable circumstance is that the pole was known to be rotten months ago. That information was dis closed on the evidence of the- .Department’s own officers.’ I will make first a quotation from the remarks of the ‘Coroner. He said -
The post was certainly rotten J there seemed to be definite evidence on that point. But the question seems to be how long ‘a post, should be allowed to stand after it is condemned. I think it should not be allowed to stand at all. How it stood so long I am at. a loss -to conceive.
That was the. coroner’s summing up after listening to the evidence” of the departmental officers. Further . evidence showed that the unfortunate linesman was required to climb a post which WaS known to bo rotten months ago. Here is the evidence of Mr. J. E. Braddock. lines foreman. He said that -
He had examined the post in. July, when he. saw a cross on the pole.
Other evidence intimated that when a pole* was condemned it was the practice to place a cross on it.
– That is the usual practice.
– It is the usual practice. The witness went on -
It then looked all right. He tested it with a tomahawk, and it appeared fairly sound. He condemned the next post. On an inspection on 9th September, he “shoved” the post, and -.it appeared to be all right. He would examine about sixty-six posts in a day. The condemned posts should be renewed in a reasonable time.
Mr. Durcks, electrical engineer, also gave evidence. He was asked by the coroner- -
Co you allow posts to stand until something serious happens, or leave them until you can get the contractor to remove them?
The answer was -
Until we can get material to renew them.
That answer discloses a state of impotency and stupidity little short of criminal. When a post is condemned the only. standard which the Department has for determining whether it shall be removed is when the officials can get material to renew it. If the material is not at hand the rotten post is not removed. I venture to say that if a private employer had spoken as did this official of the Post and Telegraph. Depart; ment concerning a fatal accident to a workman, there would have been: - and rightly so - an outcry of indignation from one end’ of Australia to the other. Further, thewitness said -
In some cases, a life of two years- is allowedafter the pole had been “condemned.”. On .account of cost in some districts, it is customary to renew a number of posts at a time’, and not singly. After inspection in July, steps were being taken-
And we know how long a Department can be “ taking steps “ -
Co procure material to renew these posts. The cross is a signal to men to be careful.
I direct attention to the fact that the Department, according to this evidence, knew that the post was condemned in July last. It then proceeded to “take steps” to get material to renew it. Does it not occur to honorable senators that a Department which is in constant process of requiring material for renewals ought to have plenty of that material on hand, and not wait until a post is so rotten that it is ready to fall down before being prepared to effect a renewal? Surely it would have been an ordinary business-like proceeding to have stores and material ready for use. Further, the witness said -
The pole in question was in a very bad condition. It should have been renewed some time ago. Wc had a report that the pole was condemned in July.
The coroner remarked -
But it was condemned before that?
The witness replied -
Yes; but I do not know where the previous report is.
This matter would be a subject for Gilbert and Sullivan but for the unfortunate tragedy connected with it ; and I can only say again that, to my mind, the facts revealed at the coroner’s inquest indicate an amount of stupidity which is little short of criminal. If such conduct were exhibited by private employers in the management of their business, and such an occurrence resulted as was the case here, it would, in my judgment, justify a charge of manslaughter being launched against some one.
While on this subject, may I express an opinion which I have previously enunciated in the Senate. It is that the time has arrived when we should introduce in connexion with our Public Service a provision - call it what you will - tantamount to the obligation which is imposed upon every private employer whose business requires the lives of his workmen to be risked in the performance of their duty. There should be a system by which compensation should be paid to those dependent upon a workman whose life is taken under such circumstances as these. If we call upon a private employer to make compensation, why should the Government escape? As we call upon private industry to carry this obligation, why should not the same responsibility attach to a Government Department? I hope, before long, that steps will be taken to insure that all employes of the Public Service who may be injured in the course of their duties shall receive compensation in the same way as do persons in private employment.
While I am dealing with the Post and Telegraph Department, I should like, to draw attention to another reform which is greatly wanted there. Of course, there are many reforms which are required in connexion with the Department, and I am not going to detain the Senate, and tie up this Bill, by dealing with all of them. But there is one in particular that I had hoped the Government would have seen fit to deal with. It is this : So far, we are still without satisfactory accounts to show the financial workings of the Department. We have none of that knowledge which an ordinary business man would consider that it was his first duty to require concerning his business operations. We are told in the report which has been issued by the Postmaster-General that the revenue of the Department for the year amounted to £3,901,000, and that the expenditure amounted to £4,122,000. But there is no proper system of accountancy by which we may be able to see which particular branch is responsible for the leakage, and which particular branch is profitable. I do say that we can never regard this Department as being worked on a satisfactory footing until accounts are presented to Parliament in such a way that we may know exactly how each branch stands. We are told that quite a new system of keeping accounts has been introduced. It may be new. I do not doubt it. It may be regarded by the officials as a vast improvement upon any previous system. But, so far, it does not enable Parliament and the country to understand the business side of this great business undertaking, and therefore from our point of view the new system is not one whit better than the old one. Also, dealing with the same Department, I should like to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the Department has yet received any communication from the meeting of telegraphists held in Sydney yesterday, at which four “ demands “ were formulated. The first was -
That this meeting demand that no alteration in staffs take place until after consideration of the Royal Commission’s report, and that all voting in favour sign the resolution.
The second “ demand “ was -
That this meeting strongly resents the Commissioner’s action in repudiating his ruling, as laid down in his classification scheme, that six hours be a day’s duty for telegraphists in the Head Office, and seven hours in country offices.
The third “ demand “ was -
That the executive telegraph to the Prime Minister, asking him to have the introduction of broken shifts and hours of duty lengthened beyond their statutory limit in the Sydney Head Office postponed until our delegates interview the Postmaster-General in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The fourth “ demand “ was -
That if the demand of this meeting on the Prime Minister for postponement is not complied with, Head Office telegraphists ignore broken shifts, and sign on their usual staffs on Monday.
I should like to know whether a communication conveying these resolutions has been received bv the Postmaster-General, and whether ii is the intention of the Government to comply with the “ demands “ ? It will be interesting, both 1:0 the general public and to these telegraphists, to know at once whether these “ demands “ upon the Government are to be met in the same way as they have been submitted.
Passing from the Post and Telegraph Department, I have to express a regret, which I believe will be shared by all members of the Senate, that, so far, the Government have given no indication of having developed, or even considered, a policy in relation to the Northern Territory. Whatever differences of opinion may have existed with regard to the terms upon which the Commonwealth should take over that vast area, there can be none, and will be none, as to the fact that it is one of the big tasks awaiting Australia to open up and develop that country. It was, however, idle for us to take over the Northern Territory if we are to leave it there. We might just as well have left it to South Australia as have it remaining idle under our control. It was a public pronouncement that we accepted the responsibility of opening up and developing the Territory.
– Did you expect us to have developed it already?
– I did not expect the Government to develop the Territory, nor do I ever expect them to do so. But I did expect that within eighteen or twenty months they would have brought down some proposals, or at least have given us an indication of their intentions. If they had merely said that they were preparing a scheme which they hoped to submit to Parliament the position would be different, but so far as the Senate is aware we are not one whit further ahead to-day than we were when we signed the agreement wilh South Australia.
– They have reversed the policy of South Australia about subsidizing prospecting parties.
– All that the Government appears to have done has been to pass Ordinances regarding licences and the control of aborigines, but they have not done anything which has taken us one step further towards the development of the Territory. Are we to allow it to remain a dead loss as it is, or are we going to vigorously approach the solution of this problem? I am convinced that the one great problem which confronts Australia to-day, which is going to tax all our resources, financial and otherwise, and which is making the heaviest demand on the capacity of Parliament, and I believe on the capacity of people outside, is the opening up and satisfactory development and settlement of this great Territory. It presents problems from which other portions of Australia are entirely free. We all know the capacity of any Ministry to find excuses and apologies for failure to act, but I cannot help thinking that, quite apart from party politics, honorable senators recognise that the Northern . Territory represents a great responsibility and a great danger. I believe that every honorable senator regrets with me, even if he does not make the statement publicly, that we have not made more progress towards the satisfactory solution of this great problem.
I desire to refer now to a matter which I admit at once is on a very much lower level, so far as importance is concerned, and that is the trouble which appears likely to arise from the action of the Home Affairs Department in regard to the procedure for the adjudication on the designs for the Capital. Seeing that Parliament has decided on a course of action, we are entitled, I think, to seek the best assistance and advice which the civilized world can offer to us. When we find that the Minister, for what appears to be a quite insufficient reason, has decided that he will only proceed in one way, and that the members of the great unions which are concerned in the matter will proceed only according to union rules-
– Are you advocating unionism now?
– I always advocate unionism, particularly when I am in the union, but that does not put me in the position of those who, whilst standing by their unions, denounce every one else.
– Who does?
– Ask Senator Givens.
– cannot supply the information.
– This is the first time that the honorable senator has not pretended to be able to do so. In connexion with the designs for the Capital we certainly want the best ideas which the world can offer us. Irrespective of our differences as to the location of the Capital, we agree that we want to build up a city of which Australia can be justly proud for all time. That means that we have a right to ask for the assistance of the most experienced men in the world. But the procedure adopted by the Department, which might, at first, have appeared to be right and proper, is now shown to be of such a character that it will exclude from the competition all those who have made names for themselves in the world as the designers of cities.
– Architects are not the only designers of cities.
– It is not the architects alone who are concerned. What is the difficulty in the way except it is the unfortunate frame of mind into which the Department has allowed itself to drift - that, because it has said that it will do something, it is going to do it. There is no virtue in the particular composition of any Board. The Minister has said that he intends to appoint a certain Board. Those whose assistance we seek would like to know its composition before they make a start. It is only fair that they should know who are to adjudicate on the designs. If I were a competitor, I should like to know something about the men who were to judge my work ; and if the information sought is not given, men of outstanding ability may, after going to great trouble and expense, find that their work has been turned down because of the incompetence or inexperience of the judges.
– But the Minister of Home Affairs says that he could carry out any work on earth.
– I am not questioning that statement for a moment. The intending competitors are not asking the Minister to appoint a partial or incompetent Board. All that they want is a Board composed of men whose standing will afford a guarantee that they will be competent judges. Is that an unfair request? Yet, because the Department has said that’ it will proceed in its own way, it will not even make an intimation as to the composition of the Board later.
– Is it possible to get any adjudicators as competent to judge as those who are expected to take part in the competition ?
– If that is so, the correct course for the Government would be to ask one of the men who have decided to stand out to become an adjudicator. Every competitor wants to feel” assured that his plans will be submitted to competent judges. On more than one occasion, when a Government has required the services of a professional man, it has asked the association representing the profession to make a nomination. That course has been taken on more than one occasion in New South Wales, and, if I recollect aright, a Commonwealth Government - I think it was the previous Government - asked the Association of Accountants to nominate a man for a certain purpose. That course might be taken in this instance, or, if the Minister should think that it would whittle away his dignity too much, let him select three competent men, whose names will be a guarantee to the competitors that their plans will be adjudicated on by a Board whose composition and integrity no one can challenge. It will be little short of a disaster if, because of the difficulty which has arisen, we receive plans from only those who, however great their ability, may hardly possess the experience which older members of the profession can rightly claim.
– Marconi had no experience when he invented wireless telegraphy.
– He had had a great deal of experience as an electrician.
– No, because he was a very young man.
– According to the honorable senator, the men who ought to be placed on this Board are budding schoolboys from a bush township, who, although they have had no experience, may become great architects and engineers. I know my honorable friend’s tendency to humour, but I ask him not to stretch it too far on an occasion of this kind.
– Any of these villages might possess a great genius, like the “mute inglorious Milton” of the country churchyard.
– That is right, but the mute Miltons do not appear in this Chamber.
– Certainly not in the guise of the Millens in the Chamber.
– Some time ago a Bill was passed by the Senate authorizing the use of a franking machine, and if I recollect aright, it became law.
– No; it was not passed by the other House.
– Is it intended to revive this measure? When it was first brought before the Senate I expressed very grave doubts as to whether it would not be possible to tamper with the mechanism; but at a later period, after having had an opportunity to examine the construction of the machine, to see it at work, and to ascertain the experience of New Zealand, I came to believe, that it would be labour saving as well as economical to the Department, and a very great convenience to the public. I remember the Bill passing through the Senate. It is a simple little measure which might with advantage be revived. If there is still any doubt in the mind of any one as to whether the franking machine could be tampered with, the best course for the Commonwealth to take when the Bill was passed, would be to install the machine in telegraph and stamp offices, and not to allow it first to pass into the hands of private firms. At present when a man wishes to send a telegram he hands over the money and receives a stamp, which he is required to attach to the telegraph form. If this franking machine were introduced into telegraph offices the clerks at the counter would receive a telegram and the money, and the machine would make an impress on the stamp at the same time as it registered the amount received. That would be a very great advantage indeed.
– There is always a possibility of these machines being faked.
– I entered into the discussion of the measure with that belief, but I have since come to the conclusion that with ordinary precautions the machine would be as safe as any other machine which is being utilized.
– The genius who invents a machine can always fake it.
– T am not doubting my friend’s capacity to tamper with any machine - political or otherwise. Take, for instance, the cash register. Whether my honorable friend can give me his personal assurance that the cash register can be tampered with or not, it does not affect the question that it is being used more largely every day of our lives. Why? Because it is a convenience. If that is a convenience to private firms, surely this franking machine - which is at once a cash register and a stamping machine - would be a still greater convenience - a convenience both to the Department and to the public. I trust that the Government will take an opportunity to revive the Bill to which I refer. Apparently it has not very much business to submit when it allows members of its own party to spend two or three days in discussing whether or not a man should be allowed to give a medal to somebody else. Surely it can find time to again introduce the useful measure I have mentioned?
– Assisted by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Yesterday, time was so scandalously monopolized by one or two honorable senators, that I never had an opportunity of expressing my views on a matter which, at one time, seemed to me to be leading up to a national crisis.
– It is not the first time you have found yourself in that predicament.
– No; I have known the Senate to come to a decision on a big question when the honorable senator, and myself, never had an opportunity of saying what we thought.
– It was a unique experience, I expect.
– It was, as far as Senator Givens is concerned. Passing away from this banter, I wish to say a few words on another question which, to my mind, is an all-important one. That is the question of immigration. Curiously enough, we seem to have drifted into this position : that whilst the Government profess a desire to assist immigration they are not doing very much to -stimulate it. I have no wish to raise a discussion upon the general question of immigration to the settled States, but I do suggest that, if the Government can screw their courage to the sticking point in the matter of formulating a policy for the Northern Territory, they might simultaneously address themselves much more strenuously than they they have done to the question of immigration. Whatever difference of opinion may exist upon other points, there ought not to be any difference in our minds as to what we should do with the Northern Territory. It does appear to me that any scheme to develop that Territory must have closely associated with it a policy of immigration.
– We must have a big policy of State enterprise to induce immigrants to go there.
– That may be so. The task which we have taken in hand there will call for a very much more vigorous display of what Senator Rae euphemistically calls “State enterprise” than has been displayed in the older States. The conditions are so different from those which obtain in the older States, and what is more, the element of time enters so seriously into the consideration of the question of the settlement of that Territory.
– Some of the earlier settlers of Australia came out here for very serious reasons.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to load up our debates with any family reminiscences. But, speaking seriously, events of worldwide import, with which we are all familiar, must bring home to us the fact that, to-day, time is the biggest element in the contract of settling the Northern Territory. We must act, and act promptly. We cannot allow that Territory to be settled by the procedure which obtained in the older States - that is, by the slow method of ordinary pastoral development, followed by early farming settlements, and later by the establishment of towns, &c. In my judgment, we must make an effort to equip a community in the Northern Territory almost from the start. That means that we require not only any surplus people that there may be in the rest of Australia, but that we must attract a population to that Territory from abroad. This result can only be accomplished side by side with a vigorous immigration policy.
– Surely New South Wales is doing well enough.
– I have endeavoured to omit all debatable elements connected with this proposition. I wish only to centre thought upon the necessity for promptly establishing settlement in the Northern Territory. We cannot hope adequately to develop that portion of Australia unless we adopt in connexion with it a very vigorous immigration policy.
– It must be under the fostering care of a State.
– I do not wish to anticipate difficulties. I admit that they are present. But differ as we mayupon the question of immigration in regard to the settled States, there ought to be absolute unanimity on the point that in the NorthernTerritory there is room for all the immigrants whom we can attract. If we wish to people that country, we must look abroad for our settlers. Of course, the terms and conditions upon which they may be brought out from other lands is a matter for consideration at a later stage. On the main point, however, there ought to be a. pleasing unanimity.
There are other matters which I should like to discuss, but I recognise the necessity for passing this Bill to-day. In submitting this motion, the Vice-President of the Executive Council expressed the hope that before the Supply which is now asked has been exhausted, the Treasurer will have submitted his Budget. I hope that in making that statement the honorable gentleman was unduly pessimistic If we are to wait two months for the presentation of the Budget, five months of the current financial year will have elapsed. I do not know of any occasion upon which a Budget has been presented so late in the year. It has not occurred previously in the history of the Federation.
– Surely the reason is obvious.
– I admit that it is obvious. But what is the reason which Senator Long has in his mind?
– Has the Parliament ever met so late in the year before?
– Who said that the Budget would be delayed for two months?
– I have already said that I hoped the Vice-President of the Executive Council was unduly pessimistic in the statement which he made today. He merely expressed the hope that before the Supply which we are now asked to grant becomes exhausted the Budget will have been presented. I should have liked an absolute assurance that it will be submitted at an early date, instead of the pious expression of a hope. We all know how Ministerial hopes are often disappointed.
– The Prime Minister announced yesterday that the Budget will be delivered within a fortnight.
– But I am not a member of the other branch of the Legislature. No doubt it is a misfortune to it that I am not. The Vice-President of the
Executive Council should have given us the same assurance in respect of the Budget that has been given elsewhere. With Sena<tor Long, I agree that the reason why the Budget will be presented so late this year is obvious. The reason is that the Government are not prepared to proceed with business. This is not because of the long recess which we enjoyed, because the longer the recess, the better prepared they should have been to proceed with business. The financial accounts closed on the 30th June last. The Treasury- officials are competent officials, and I feel sure that they have performed all the routine work connected with the Budget, so that the only matters which the Government have to consider are matters of policy. I venture to say that the figures in connexion with the Treasurer’s Budget have been ready long since, lt is either because the Government have not been able to agree upon matters of policy, or because they have not bothered themselves, that the Budget has not yet been presented. My own opinion is that, realizing, as they do, that they have a majority behind them, they have grown indifferent. They are so confident of the individual and collective loyalty of their supporters that they have become careless to the point of arrogance in the way in which they treat this Parliament. They are thus introducing a very bad system into our public life, and one which, if they occupied the Opposition benches, they would soundly resent. If anything that I have said will impress my honorable friends opposite with the belief that a dangerous practice is growing up, perhaps their communications to the Government, even in private, will do something to bring about a great reform.
– There are certain items in this Bill which require explanation. For instance, in “the Department of External Affairs, there is an item in connexion with the Northern Territory which reads, “ Interest and sinking fund, £55, 000.” Perhaps the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs will be good enough to tell us what is the total indebtedness which the Commonwealth is taking over in connexion with the Northern Territory, and what steps are being taken to finance that indebtedness.
– There was a debt of ^2,700,000, an accrued deficit of ^800,000, and a further sum of £2,200,000 in connexion with the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway.
-Is the Commonwealth going to take over the debt of theTerritory ?
– We have to paythe interest upon that debt.
– But have we not to recognise our obligation to meet the principal upon the due date?
– We have to meet the interest upon the debt, and to providea sinking fund.
– I also notice under “ Miscellaneous,” that no reference is madeto Papua, from which I gather that there is to be no expenditure there during the next two months. I understood that we werespending ,£20,000 a year upon Papua, and consequently I thought that about one-sixth of that amount would appear upon these Estimates. Then in the Department of Home Affairs, under the heading of “ GovernorGeneral’s Establishment,” there isan item which reads “ Sydney Government House, £600.” Have the Government yet made any arrangement to renew the lease of that establishment, or have they considered the propriety of resuming a portion of the grounds - say 15 acres - upon which to establish a residence for the GovernorGeneral ?
– Why should they ?
– Does the honorable senator wish to provide a permanent residence for the Governor-General in eachState?
– I want him to be as well provided with residences as are the Governors of New South Wales, Victoria1, and South Australia.
– We will provide the Governor-General with a residence at the Federal. Capital.
– The Federal Capital seems to be slowly dragging its weary length along, and I imagine that it will be quite ten years before we get there.
– Why should the Government maintain a vice-regal residence in Sydney ?
- Senator Rae is a representative of New South Wales, and his colleagues expect him to stand up for the rights of that State.
– I entertain no such hope.
– At any rate, he was not sent here to decry the State which elected him. I wish also to know whether the Department of Trade and Customs controls Papua in the matter of quarantine? In the Defence Department, in connexion with the Small Arms Factory, there are contingencies for which £2,000 is provided. Does that amount cover the cost of preparing residences for the staff? I happened to be in Lithgow a few weeks back, and the train by which I travelled was met by 200 or 300 people in the belief that a very important person would arrive by it. I see that he has since arrived and had a very hearty reception. I think his name is Dixon. I understand that the vote of £2,000 for contingencies is to cover residences for the staff, and I should like to say that there is a school there capable of accommodating about sixty people, which would be available on reasonable terms if required by the Department. I desire to ask the Minister what steps have been taken to finance the building of our ships in the Mother Country. The amount must run into £1, 000, 000, and there is no reference to the matter in this Bill, unless some instalment is provided for in the vote of £250,000 for advance to the Treasurer.
– Does the honorable senator not recollect that we put £960.000 into a trust fund for this purpose at the end of last year, and that £250,000 was out into the same trust fund before.
– But have we not to pay some amounts upon account as the work progresses?
– Could they not he paid out of the fund to which I refer? Does not the honorable senator recollect, also, that at the same time we put about £900,000 into a fund for old-age pensions ?
– I know that, by something which approached very near to tiddly- winking, the State I represent did not get what she was entitled to on that account.
– I did not hear the honorable senator stand up for his State.
– I did, indeed, many times, and long before the honorable senator entered the Senate.
– I was referring to last . year.
– I referred to the matter last year also. I pointed out that, under the Constitution, the States were entitled to so much, and that the fixed payment of 25s. per head should not have commenced on the 1st July of last year, but on the 1st January this year. .
– Was not that in accordance with the agreement arrived at at the Premiers’ Conference?
– It was not right to evade the provisions of the Constitution in that way. I am glad to hear that something is to be done to provide premises for the High Commissioner in London, and 1 should like to know whether it has been decided to secure the Strand site. Senator Millen made a very trite remark with regard to the Northern Territory, and I am going to make a suggestion which, I think, will bring the matter prominently before us. Would it not be well to have a special session of this Parliament at Port Darwin? That would enable us to better realize our responsibilities, in view of what is taking place at the present time in the north of Africa. We know that a certain Power has seized Tripoli, and what is there 1o prevent some Power seizing the Northern Territory without giving us any notice ?
– The honorable senator should not raise imaginary difficulties.
– I wish to see the Northern Territory populated. I do not think We properly realize our responsibilities in this connexion. I think we might have a special session up there.
– We could try it on the Opposition.
– With regard to the Federal Capital, I desire to emphasize what Senator Millen has already said. It really looks as if the Government were playing ducks and drakes with that question. We had hoped that an opportunity would be afforded to the best experts available to assist us in establishing here one of the finest capital cities iri the world. Yet, apparently, the Government are prepared to discourage the very best men from sending in plans for the city, since they do not know what Board will be appointed to judge their work. Much as one may respect the present Minister of Home Affairs, he is not exactly an Admirable Crichton. I am not aware that he can claim to be an architect, engineer, surveyor, and capitalist combined. I know that he has said that if he had been presented with £1,000.000 to manage the Commonwealth, we should now have been the richer ; but I think it is likely that we should have been £999,999 19s. 11d. the poorer. I do not wish to waste time in the discussion of this Bill; and, speaking asI have done on the first reading, I shall probably not have much to say when the items of the schedule are under consideration in Committee.
– I join with Senator Millen in taking exception to the large vote set down for the Treasurer’s Advance. But I direct attention to what I regard as a more serious matter indicated by some of the items in this Bill which we are asked to hurriedly consider. As the Bill has been placed in our hands only this morning, there is not time to go into the details of the expenditure proposed, and discover what the different items really involve. I can quite understand that Senator Millen, with Ministerial experience, should realize that here begins the battle between the Departments and Parliament. The Departmental officials, knowing that inquiry may be made into the Estimates, may endeavour to delay their preparation so that Parliament may be deprived of a proper opportunity to discuss them. I direct attention not only to the enormous amount asked for the Treasurer’s Advance, but to the extraordinary amount set down for contingencies. If honorable senators will look at the votes for the Attorney-General’s Department, they will see that, under the heading of the Crown Solicitor’s Office, there is a vote of£570for salaries, and one of £300 for contingencies Under the next heading, that of the High Court, the salary vote is £480, and the contingencies vote £1,000. Under the following heading there is a vote of £100 for salaries and of £400 for contingencies. It would appear that the bulk of the Estimates is made up of contingencies. Are these contingency votes to cover fees to barristers? Is some one being paid to inquire into something that we know nothing about? If honorable senators will look at the vote for the Home Affairs Department, they will find evidence of the same objectionable system. Under one heading there is a vote of £1,400 for salaries, and a vote of£2.300 for contingencies. For the Public Works staff a vote of . £1,500 is asked for salaries, and a vote of . £1,400 for contingencies. I direct attention to the fact that these votes are set down for Departments that have been on a working basis for years. It may be that I am new to the Senate, and to the way in which estimates of public expenditure are prepared ; but I have to confess that I fail to understand why such enormous votes should be set down for contingencies as compared with the votes for defined expenditure. I should expect that the heads of Departments would have, as any ordinary business man would, such a good idea of what was required to carry them on, that only very small amounts would be asked for to meet unforeseen expenditure. These huge votes for contingencies indicate, to my mind, looseness in administration. I do not desire that the debate should be reduced to a discussion of whether the present or previous Governments are responsible for this kind of thing. I may say that, in common with the bulk of the people outside, I look for better administration and management of the country’s affairs from the present Government than we have had from previous Governments, and I complain of the very vague way in which these votes are submitted to honorable senators. Even at the risk of compelling the whole of the public servants of the Commonwealth to wait for a month for their salaries, I am prepared to compel Ministers to give some definite statement of what all these contingency votes are required for. I believe that the public servants have sufficient common sense amongst them, if such a course were taken, to put the blame on the right shoulders, and not upon those who are asking for better administration of our public affairs. In a total vote of about £1, 250,000 asked for, we have contingency votes running into about £250,000, and a Treasurer’s Advance of , £250,000; and I venture tosay that probably no one outside the Ministry knows how this money is to be expended.
– If the honorable senator were to consult the complete Estimates for last year, or the Estimates for the present year, when they are presented, he would discover what alt these items are for.
– No doubt, if one had time, one might be able to go into the details, in that way.
– Surely the honorable senator does not want the whole of the Budget with a Supply Bill?
– I donot see much advantage in these Supply Bills. The Government cannot plead want of time on the present occasion, because, judging by the Bill which was under discussion here yesterday and at the previous sitting of the Senate, the Government have any amount of time on hand. Why the whole Budget could not have been submitted at the commencement of the year I do not know.
– Because it was not ready.
– I admit that there may be difficulties, in preparing the Budget for the whole of the year. There should be some excuse made for the present Government, because, in- the carrying out of their public duties, Ministers were separated for a considerable time, and could not give attention to the works they proposed to carry out and the amounts which’ ought to be expended upon them. But I think there is still a good deal of pretence about the plea of want of time in connexion with this Bill.
– I think that is a very cruel statement.
– I do not care very much what the honorable senator thinks about my statement ; but 1 should be greatly pleased to know that he is thinking about anything.
– I think the honorable senator ought to sit on the other side.
– I shall be happy to take my place there, as soon as honorable members on this side indicate that I am no longer of any service to them, or as soon as I get an intimation from them that I have outstepped what they consider to be a reasonable exercise of my rights in this Chamber. I recognise that if I were dealing with the party opposite I might have to submit to what Mr. Willis had to submit to - bottles, books, and that kind of thing.
– That is the Liberal party.
– I quite recognise that. But, so far as this party is concerned, I think there will be no serious objection to any reasonable criticism of the administration of the Public Service of this country. Referring to the Northern Territory I quite agree that, having been taken over by the Federal Government, we ought not to waste one day, or one hour, in undertaking its development. From the very moment when that huge responsibility was assumed the duty rested upon the Commonwealth Government, upon the party that supports it, and upon Parliament, of seeing that it was put to good use.
– There are some parts of New South Wales that are not developed yet, although that State has had responsible government for fifty years. We have not had control of the Northern Territory for more than a few months.
– The very neglect of previous Governments to do things has brought into existence in Australia a new kind of Government. I do not want this Government to follow the example of its predecessors.
– Would the honorable senator bring immigrants into the Territory before we know anything about the country ?
– 1 was led to believe, particularly by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the South Australian representatives, that there is a large quantity of most excellent land in the Territory.
– So there is.
– Then the sooner it is developed the better it will be for the Commonwealth.
– What is the use of putting people there unless we have roads and railways? We cannot have them in a day.
– Give people facilities for getting there, and we can make the roads and railways as they are required. Of course, such works take time. But if we are to wait until roads and railways are built before populating the country we shall not do much good with it.
– Railways must piecede settlement.
– I think the two should go side by side. If the money for the purpose is not forthcoming from any other source I should be prepared to allow some of our naval expenditure to remain in abeyance for awhile, and use that money for developmental purposes. I am satisfied that the settlement of the Northern Territory would afford us a far more efficient means of defence for that north-west corner of Australia than the expenditure of money on an army and navy.
– I would borrow heavily to develop the Territory.
– I am not anxious to borrow money for any purpose. I think that a rich country like Australia, where the people are probably the lowest taxed community in the world, ought to be able to carry out developmental schemes for such a national purpose as this without running to the money-lender. We all know that there is a tendency for Governments to leave things as they are. “ Leave good enough alone,” it is sometimes said. But we cannot allow that policy to be pursued by a Labour Government. I supported the taking over of the Territory, and am anxious to see an active policy of development immediately entered upon. As far as immigration is concerned I am one of those who do not believe that there is any great amount of surplus employment in Australia at the present moment. There is more than sufficient labour for immediate purposes. Men are looking for jobs in this very city. Of course, there are never enough workmen for the kind of employer who likes to skim the cream of the labour market, and who is never satisfied unless there are a dozen men clamouring for one job. But there are quite enough for the employer who is willing to pay a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. At the same time it has to be recognised that the fact that a Labour Government has been in office eighteen months has done a great deal to promote prosperity, and cause a demand for labour. Every ship that comes to Australia is bringing a desirable class of workmen who are anxious to settle in this country.
– Does the honorable senator attribute that fact to the existence of a Labour Government?
– We have just as much right to attribute the present prosperity of the country to the existence of a Labour Government as honorable senators opposite had to predict that if a Labour Government came into office capital would leave the country, and there would be no employment for anybody. At the end of eighteen months of Labour administration, not only is there general prosperity, and not only are ships bringing hundreds of new immigrants, but passages are being booked months ahead.
– Does the honorable senator attribute the seasons to the Labour Government ?
– The seasons are very much the same now as they have been for years.
– Does the honorable senator recollect the Drought Relief Fund in New South Wales?
– I am not speaking of exceptional periods when droughts have to be encountered. I am quite aware that recently there has not been sufficient rainfall in some parts of Queensland. But, nevertheless, the prosperity is so general that the effect of a drought is not felt so severely as it was under the administration of past Governments. A number of factors tend to relieve the ordinary effects of a drought. For one thing, we have £1,400,000 coming into the Treasury in land tax paid by about 15,000 people. Previously that amount of money, if required by the Government of the country, would have had to be made up by thousands of the poorer members of the community who would thus have felt the effects of a drought the more keenly. But I am not satisfied with things being “ good enough.” I am not satisfied with what has already been done. I want things to be much better, and I want this Government, between now and the time when the Budget is brought down, to lay before us some proposal for the development of the Northern Territory, so that we shall have something tangible to point to as another accomplishment of good government by the Labour party. I am not anxious that thousands of people shall be brought to this country to compete with artisans in our cities. But by all means let people be brought to the Northern Territory, and participate in its development for the good of the country and for their own advantage. Senator Findley has reminded us that roads and railways will have to be built. I admit that. But I hope that the Government will devise some means whereby developmental works can be carried out by people who would be prepared afterwards to make their homes in the Territory. Recognising the great affairs with which the members of the Government have been dealing in the brief period since they have held office, I can quite understand that they have not been able to do all that they would have desired in this connexion. I quite recognise the strenuousness of departmental work, and the strain that has been thrown upon Ministers. But while giving them credit for what they have done, I must point to the work that remains to be done. For one thing, I hope that we shall have no more .of these Supply Bills. I trust that the Budget will be introduced as soon as possible, and that we shall be able to deal with the finances effectively. I quite admit that this Government have done better than previous Governments did. All Governments are bad, though some are better than others. But we want our Government to be better than other Governments, not worse. I wish to bring a matter under the notice of the
Minister who’ is responsible in the Senate for the Department which administers the Old-age Pensions Act. In the asylums of New South Wales there are, to my knowledge, a few men who, under the State law, were unable to obtain old-age pensions. As far back as three years ago, one of them was unable to get an old-age pension under the Federal law. These men have been of good character for three years, and I want to know whether the Minister cannot go out of’ his way to give them at least a chance, towards the close of their lives, to obtain old-age pensions. They are anxious to get out of institutions and to maintain themselves, but they always find themselves confronted with the fact that some two or three years ago they were refused old-age pensions.
– And the Federal authorities are acting on old State reports.
– In many cases, they do. Possibly, there is a fear in the minds of the managers that, if too many of the old men were allowed to leave, the institutions would cease to exist. I want the Government to deal generously with the old men.. I think that, in the closing years of their lives, they are entitled to be dealt with generously. Suppose that a man did expend in a free and easy way the last few hundred pounds of the money which he had hardly earned. It is too great a penalty to inflict upon that man to say, “ Because you have spent your money in that way,” or “ because your conduct for two or three years has not been good, you will not be allowed to go outside the institution, and enjoy some freedom.” Months ago, I brought some cases under the notice of the Department, but the men are still in the same position. My efforts on their behalf have been fruitless, probably because the Department has to depend on old reports by State officials. I find that the bitterness of party spirit - and I admit that I am not free from that spirit - has so permeated the management of many State Departments that it is better for me to get somebody else to urge the claims of old men seeking old-age pensions. That is particularly the case where State Departments have to report on claims. I could give the names of men who have applied for old-age pensions under a particular Ministry, and who have been told that if they wanted to succeed they would have to apply to the State members. That is going on at the present time.
– It is not so much a question of party as a feeling between State and Federation. I am equally conscious of the existence of the feeling to which the honorable senator refers.
– Perhaps I have been misled by. my own bitterness of feeling. I confess that I formed the impress sion that the other side were “ getting home “ upon me through the poor old men. At any rate’, this bitterness of feeling should cease altogether. The sooner the granting of the pensions is controlled by the Commonwealth Government absolutely free from State officials the more effectively will the Department be managed. In other words, the sooner the Commonwealth Government get sole control of those who administer the old-age pensions the better it will be for their good name. Perhaps I may be excused for mentioning these matters, which, although they may seem little to us, are of great importance to the persons concerned. I hope that, in the future, the amounts for contingencies will bear a fair proportion to the amounts for salaries, and then, perhaps, the Budget will go through the Senate with less criticism.
– Before the Minister replies, I desire to ask for a little information regarding the vote for quarantine. First, we are asked to vote for general purposes . £260 for salaries, and . £220 for contingencies. Then we are asked to vote for New South Wales . £150 for salaries, and £700 for contingencies ; for Victoria, nothing for salaries, and £900 for contingencies ; for Queensland, nothing for salaries, and £600 for contingencies; for South Australia, nothing for salaries, and . £350 for contingencies; for Western Australia, £35 for salaries, and £700 for contingencies ;for Tasmania; nothing for salaries, and £200 for contingencies ; and for the Northern Territory, £100 for contingencies. I cannot understand why, in conducting the business ‘of quarantine, so much is required for contingencies for each State as compared with the amount which is asked for salaries. I hope that the Minister will be able to furnish some information on this point when he replies.
– I desire to refer to one or two items. In regard to immigration, I would point out, in the first place, that the interim report by Commissioner A. B. Piddington, which is being made so much of by the press, is not to be taken as final. In the second place, notwithstanding the high attainments of Mr. Piddington, and, I believe, fairness, I would point out that the value of the report was vitiated by the disclosure of the fact that one unscrupulous employer in New South Wales discharged immediately a girl who had given evidence against his wishes. We have every reason to believe that there has been nothing like that free submission of evidence that there would have been only for that scoundrelly intimidation which was practised by an unscrupulous employer, who escaped scot free under the law of the State. We have no right to pay any special attention to the report, whatever its ultimate form may be. There is not the slightest doubt that those who were most competent to give evidence on the other side of the question were prevented from appearing by fear of consequences. I hold that once an inquiry is poisoned at the very fount, the report becomes valueless, no matter how high or honorable the Commissioner may be. That so far dismisses Mr. Piddingtons report from consideration. As regards the Northern Territory, we should not hesitate one moment about putting our heads together to devise a scheme or method by which it can be effectively settled.
– I think that it should be carefully studied before much money is spent.
– A thing is not carefully studied by being left alone. In fact, a good many of the matters in connexion with the Northern Territory are so entirely novel that the only way of studying them will be by experiments, and profiting by our failures and mistakes. I wish to reply to an interjection which, I think, Senator Findley made as to the length of time we have allowed things to drift in the other States, notably in New South Wales, without effecting certain developments. That is entirely beside the point. The sole reason for taking over the Northern Territory was that the Commonwealth might develop it as South Australia admittedly could not do. Therefore, it devolves upon us to spare no time in perfecting schemes to that end.
– Do you not recognise that necessary preliminary steps are being taken?
– I do not know anything about what is being done.
– You received a copy of the report which was circulated, and which shows what is being done.
– I have not heard anything definite.
– The route of the proposed railway is not fixed yet.
– That is a proposal which is embodied in the agreement, and for which I voted. While I agree that a railway is necessary before we can obtain anything like closer settlement through the Northern Territory generally, yet there is a coastal belt which could be reached by means of vessels. Some action might be taken towards settling the northern littoral without waiting for the construction of railways. It is of no use for die Commonwealth to drop immigrants into the Northern Territory, and allow them to shift for themselves. Most of them would . drift into the more highly developed southern and southeastern States, so. that as fast as they were dropped in at one end they would pour out at the other. It almost goes without saying that the foundation of any scheme for the settlement of the Northern Territory must be State subsidized enterprises, which will pave the way for many of those necessities and comforts of life being bestowed on settlers in that country, which the residents in more favoured regions enjoy.
– There is an item of £70,000 set down on the Estimates for this year.
– Yes; but most of that money is required for purely administrative purposes.
– A large portion is to meet interest.
– Yes; and the remainder is required for purely administrative purposes.
– Not altogether;, it shows that there are new things being undertaken.
– I think that a comprehensive scheme must be undertaken before we can hope to hold the country by means of population.
– lt shows that an honest attempt is being made to get a basis for future operations.
– We must have a comprehensive developmental scheme prepared, which Parliament will have an opportunity of discussing. A mere increase of the protectors of aborigines, or the resident magistrates, or anything of that kind,, will go a very little way towards attaining ‘our object. It would take a thousand years to develop the country on such lines. It is a matter of urgency. The defence of this continent is absolutely impossible unless the
Northern Territory can be effectively settled -and held. I shall take every opportunity of urging, both here and elsewhere, the necessity for the Commonwealth losing no time in this matter. Concerning the Capital, Senator Walker made some very heated remarks about the rights of the State, as if I was not upholding them. That was in connexion with the expenditure on Sydney Government House. I fail to understand the antediluvian view-point that expenditure on Government Houses in State capitals is in any way upholding State rights. 1 make bold to say that in an alleged democratic community that is an indefensible expenditure. I consider that our Government is much to blame for consenting to such a tremendous expenditure on house rent for one man and his missus. We are called upon to vote £600 for Sydney Government House; £1,000 for Melbourne Government House; and £800 for non-recurring works, whatever they may be - repairs, I suppose. We are asked to vote £2>4°o in a Supply Bill, which covers two months’ Supply. Multiplying the amount for rent by six, we find that nearly £14,000 is expended in housing one man. It is a rotten thing for a democratic country to spend such an unreasonably large amount in housing the GovernorGeneral. In reply to the remarks of Senator Walker I wish to say that I am defendingthe rights of New South Wales by condemning this unwise and extravagant expenditure. Let the Governor-General be provided with a residence at the Seat of Government, and if anything more be necessary, let him be reimbursed the expenses which he incurs in travelling through the different States. But to maintain a gubernatorial establishment in each capital when such establishments are not occupied for nine months out of the year, is a sheer waste of money.
– The Commonwealth is not maintaining a gubernatorial residence in each of the States, but only in two of them.
– If this policy is to be pursued by a. Labour Government, I should not wonder if the present expenditure were multiplied by four should our opponents ever regain office. To spend money in renovating the Sydney Government House, which the State Government propose to resume, would be an indefensible proceeding.
– There is no reason why the people should not have the use of the gardens when the Governor-General is not residing there.
– At any rate, the people are absolutely shut out from those gardens, which form one of the most beautiful portions of the city of Sydney. In regard to the question of immigration, there is ample evidence to bear out the statement of Senator Gardiner that in nearly every branch of industry throughout the country the cry for more workmen is merely part of a conspiracy to obtain cheap labour.
– Is it not evident that we cannot develop Australia unless we have more people?
– I quite admit that.
– Then why does the honorable senator blow hot and cold?
– I am not blowing hot and cold. I am quite aware that Australia might well hold ten times her present population. If 5,000,000 people in this country can help each other, 10,000,000 can do the same thing. But the cry for more labour, which is being raised by employers and by the press which exists for employers, is largely a false one. It emanates from employers who wish to see tiptop workmen waiting on .their doorsteps for jobs.
– Our cry is for. more people.
– The shopkeepers say that they cannot obtain dressmakers, and the factory-owners declare that they cannot get sufficient factory hands. It is the same in other branches of industry. The employers generally are responsible for the outcry. A similar cry is being raised in regard to domestic service, and, at the bottom of it all is the fact that employers cannot obtain hands at the wages which they are prepared to pay. Take the industry in which I am engaged - that of fruit-growing - as an example. In a big belt of orchard’ country quite recently one of my neighbours said to me, “ I cannot get men.” In reply I stated, “ If you pay good wages you can get them.” He answered, “ I offered 8s. a clay, and could not get them.” My reply was, “ But you offered them only a fortnight’s work.”
– Does the honorable senator pay enough to a man for a fortnight to keep him the entire year?
– I do not say that. But I do say that it is only casual labour which 1 is scarce at the wages which are offering. If employers will pay good wages they can get ample labour. I know very well that there is no difficulty in securing the services of good men for any class of work so long as good wages are forthcoming. We were told in by-gone days that we must not strike for, or form trade unions to, demand higher wages, because of the inexorable law of supply and demand. But now that men and women can command higher wages than they could previously, the employers object to the law of supply and demand.
I protest against the statement that the crying need of this country is immigration. We are meeting the demand of Australia for population by means of land taxation, which will have the effect of breaking up the big estates, and thus affording more people an opportunity of sharing the land which has hitherto been held by a few. The cry for State-aided immigration is a hollow sham, so far as there is any need for it, but a very real thing from the point of view of cheap labour. If we make this country sufficiently attractive by improving the position of the workers in every calling, ample labour will be available to double its population within a very few years. When we reflect that the waste places of the earth are being rapidly filled - that the United States and the north-west provinces of Canada are being speedily settled, because they are nearer than we are to the congested centres of Europe - we must recognise that the time is fast approaching when the stream of immigration will be diverted in this direction, and when possibly we shall have more immigrants than we can find room for. But the way to attract people to our shores is to continue to improve the conditions which obtain here, until immigrants are prepared to come voluntarily. These are the best class of immigrants. Those who come out with the aid of the State will include wasters of the worst type - the flotsam and jetsam of the Old World. But if we improve the conditions which obtain here we shall attract to our shores the most self reliant of the people from abroad.
– There are millions in England who have not enough money to pay their fares to London.
– That may be true. Certainly it should never be the policy of the Government to subsidize employers to bring to Australia immigrants who will make it more difficult for the men here to obtain employment at remunerative wages. When there is only one man looking for a job he can demand a good wage, but when there are two or three men looking for the same job the successful individual has to accept a lower wage.
– And when there are two or three jobs looking for one man?
– Nothing but a tissue of misrepresentations has been brought forward by the press to substantiate such a claim.
– Then when Mr. Fisher made the statement in London he was wrong.
– I am not aware of what Mr. Fisher said. But I do say that .no reliable information has been forthcoming to prove that there has been anything more than a temporary demand for a little more labour than is available, and the reason for this temporary shortage is that the wages paid in some industries are so low that men have been driven out of them into more remunerative industries.
– If we raise wages in the industries which they have deserted, they will go back to those industries, and leave the industries in which they are now employed short of hands.
– Fluctuations of that sort are inevitable.
– The Melbourne Trades Hall officials admitted in the inquiry, instituted by Mr. Watt, that a shortage oE labour does exist.
– But in most instances that shortage is due to the temporary improvement in other industries.
– Was it because of a temporary shortage of labour that Senator Findley sanctioned the admission of a number of contract immigrants?
– I do not deny that there may be some new branches of industry in which the supply of labour may be rather short.
– Scarcely a day passes without three or four men calling upon me to ask if I can direct them to some employment.
– I have a similar experience.
– That merely proves that this is not the time to expend the taxpayers’ money by introducing immigrants to this country to compete with those who are already out of work.
– If a. blacksmith asks for a job, that does not prove that there is not a shortage of labour in the saddlery industry.
– There may be a shortage of labour in skilled trades, but certainly there is none in unskilled branches of industry.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m.
– As the time for the consideration of this measure is limited, it is not my intention to prolong the debate on the first reading.
– I wish to make a few observations on some outstanding features of what must be the financial policy of the Government, as I anticipate that there will not be much time afforded to discuss the question when the Budget is under consideration in the Senate. It will be remembered that a short time ago I asked some questions with regard to the relation between the note issue and the gold held by the banks and the Treasury, and the position of the Government on the matter. I find that notes have been issued to the value of £9,600,000. The gold held against these notes amounts to £4,683,684. The Government have disposed of this by investments in loans to the States to the extent of £4,642,500, and there are contingent and outstanding liabilities on current accounts which the Government must have amounting to £600,000. A simple sum in addition will show that the whole of the note issue is thus accounted for, I am pleased to say, exactly as it was anticipated it wouldbe by the Statute and by the Administration. But if attention is given to the figures, it will be found that they show that so far as the note issue is concerned there is not a single penny available, by reason of it or of its administration, for carrying out the huge works expenditure to which this Commonwealth Parliament is committed. I mention the fact for the reason that it is notorious that many of the Government supporters, and possibly members of the Government, believe that there is some magic in a. note issue by which it may be used or manipulated to provide, in a cheap and easy way, for the construction of public works. I take it that honorable senators opposite will soon become convinced that that is a delusion.
– The honorable senator said so when the Australian Notes Bill was under consideration.
– What did I say ?
– That the Act would be a failure.
– I give that statement an emphatic denial. I said nothing of the kind, and I am not aware that a single honorable senator on this side made the statement that the Act would be a failure. In order to refresh the memory of the honorable senator, which is growing internally somewhat hazy, I may tell him that what I did say was that there was not the slightest necessity for that measure.
– Lid not the honorable senator, in common with other members of the party to which he belongs, describe the Australian notes as “ flimsies “?
– I never used the expression “ flimsies “ in or out of this Parliament to describe the notes.
– The honorable senator has forgotten.
– I have not forgotten, and I challenge honorable senators now to show that I did so, and remind them that there isHansard to refer to. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if I did use the word “ flimsies “ in connexion with our notes it was only by way of a joke, as I referred to some honorable senators opposite yesterday.
– The honorable senator is pleading guilty now.
– No; I say that, so far as my memory serves me, I never used the word, but 1 repeat that my criticism of the Australian Notes’ Bill was that it was unnecessary. I hold that opinion still. The point to which I wish to direct attention is that the banks now hold the notes against the Government. It is true that the Government have received gold for them. But we have to look at the expenditure to which we are committed, and if there is one thing which not even the grossest cant or whistling by the other side to keep up their courage can obscure, it is that there is not a single one of the works to which this Parliament is especially committed, or to which past Governments were committed, that can be constructedexcept from loan money.
– The only other method would be to construct them from revenue derived from direct taxation, and we have already exhausted that source of revenue to the limit.
– I am glad to hear that remark from Senator Rae, because I know that he believes that the resources of direct taxation are not yet exhausted, and that he has a considerable following on the other side; but I know also that if the honorable senator and those who agree with him in this matter could force the Government to give effect to their views, the Prime Minister would be compelled to admit that the tenure of office of his Government would not be worth an hour’s purchase. The whole financial history of the States of Australia goes to show-
– Nonsense ; but I shall deal with that remark in a moment. The history of finance in the different States goes to show that public works cannot be carried out without recourse to loan expenditure. I am prepared to give Senator Rae his alternative, and let the party on the other side attempt to carry out the public works to which this Parliament is committed by having recourse to revenue derived from taxation, and I am confident of what the result would be. I dismiss the possibility of the Government seeking to carry out the works to which we are committed by further taxation, and that means alone, and what then is the alternative? They must borrow. That is the only alternative, and if they borrow, the banks holding our notes will have the Government at once at their mercy.
– Has not injudicious borrowing prevented Australian progress?
– I make bold to repeat what I have said here, and on many a platform, and that is that, allowing for the errors and, if honorable dilators please, the extravagance of State Governments in the past, there has been no Government expenditure on the face of the earth which has proved a sounder asset than has most of our loan expenditure. I have taken this opportunity to refer to the matter with a view to emphasize the line which must, and I hope always will, separate the financial policy of the Opposition from that continually urged by honorable senators opposite. We urge that it is only by a judicious repetition of the loan policy of the past that the States of Australia, or the Commonwealth, can successfully carry out the necessary developmental works for the advancement of the country. I repeat now what I have said before, that the £160,000,000 odd of borrowed money invested in the railways and other public works of Australia is not a debt, except technically, for . purposes of bookkeeping. Treasurers are bound to enter on the debit side of their books every £1 that is borrowed. In that sense the loan money invested in railways and public works in Australia represents a debit, but not a debt. Our railways are to-day, and have been for some little time past, paying every penny of interest on capital cost, as well as working expenses, and many are returning a substantial surplus to revenue.
– That is largely accounted for by further influxes of borrowed money, and indicates only a hollow prosperity.
– Honorable senators opposite appear to me to be always reasoning in an inverted circle. The £160,000,000 invested in Australian railways represents a revenue-producing asset, and if we borrowed another ,£150,000,000 with a similar result, it would also represent an asset to the country.
– Talk about reasoning in an inverted circle !
– Has the honorable senator ever seen an inverted circle?
– What I mean is that honorable senators opposite reason in a circle, and continually go back upon their reasoning. I will leave this matter and proceed to deal with another. From all the information we can gather, it would appear that the Treasurer does not intend to be tied down very much longer to the restriction requiring him to keep a reserve of 25 per cent, of gold against the issue of Treasury notes, and I say now that any serious departure from that policy will be followed by the consequence that when the Government enter upon loan expenditure they will be more at the mercy of the banks who have their notes in their tills than any State Government has ever been in the history of Australia.
– We shall have a Commonwealth bank to help us.
– Exactly ; but that is too big a subject to go into at present, and we shall deal with it only when the occasion arises. The reference to the possibility of the Government entering upon a borrowing policy at once suggests the fact that they have taken no step towards the settlement of the most pressing financial need of Australia at the present time, the consolidation and conversion of the State debts. The indebtedness of Australia amounts to nearly £250,000,000, and I remind honorable senators that one of the great reasons which induced the States to approve of Federation was the hope that a centralized and national authority having control of the Customs, and indirectly control over other sources of revenue, would, in an elastic state of the money market, be able to convert the loan debts of the States at a less rate of interest than those at which they were originally incurred.
– What need is there to go to the trouble to convert book entries ? The honorable senator said just now that they were nothing but book entries.
– If the Commonwealth Treasurer, in one of his deliverances, were to tell the bond-holders that these debts were only book entries-
– It was the honorable senator himself who said so, just now 1
– Honorable senators opposite are simply insulting themselves when they misunderstand an argument in that fashion. I said that these loans were practically book entries so far as the State Treasurers were concerned. I also said that these book entries were not so much debts as debits. My reason for making that distinction was to mark the difference between what people commonly called our “national debt,” and what is really implied by the term “book entry.” When you have assets of a reproductive character standing against loans, and when those assets are more than paying interest on the loans, it is not fair, nor is it sound bookkeeping, to regard those loans as debts, though it is sound to put them on the debit side of the account.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the State Governments have been the principal opponents of the Commonwealth in regard to the conversion of the State debts?
– I am not aware that that is so. It has been pointed out repeatedly that, by the conversion of the debts at lower rates of interest, there would be a saving of £7,000,000 to the respective States and, further, by the establishment of a sinking fund, it would be possible, in fifty or sixty years, to extinguish the debts altogether. That is surely a financial operation that it is desirable to accomplish. The subject has been referred to the people by referenda, discussion and criticism have taken place with regard to it, and the electors have authorized the transfer of the State debts to the Commonwealth. But, hitherto, no Commonwealth Government has had sufficient confidence in our financial soundness to put to the test statements made before we entered into
Federation, as to whether or not we can assist the credit of the States, and,’ at the same time, maintain our own credit by at once promulgating a scheme of conversion.
– What is the use of taking over the present debts if the States are going to establish new ones immediately after ?
– How would the honorable senator establish a sinking fund ?
– A sinking fund is established simply by the insertion of a a short section in an Act of Parliament authorizing a loan.
– Does not the honorable senator anticipate being able to establish a sinking fund by savings by conversion ?
– But the honorable senator, the other day, quoted Mr. Coghlan to prove that the Commonwealth could not borrow more cheaply than could the States.
– How the honorable senator mixes up things ! The proposition is frequently advanced from the other side that the conversion of the State debts cannot take place until the States are restricted in regard to further borrowing.. It is said that the Commonwealth should have the money market to itself. That was what Mr. Coghlan’s statement, furnished to his own Government, was directed against. I agree so far with Mr. Coghlan that, rather than attempt the conversion of the State debts at the price of restraining the States from going into the market to borrow further, I would take no action in the matter at all.
– What was the honorable senator’s object, then, in quoting Mr. Coghlan the other day?
– I do not know whether the honorable senator recollects the quotation, and how I applied it.
– I have done the honorable senator the justice of reading his speech.
– Then, it is not my fault if the honorable senator fails to understand my point. The quotation from Mr. Coghlan was clear and distinct. At that time, a clamour was being raised against the States for their borrowings. It was urged that the Commonwealth Parliament was about to undertake the conversion of the State debts, and that the reduction of State indebtedness could not be successfully carried out unless the States were restrained from further borrowing. That has been the bone of contention throughout. I do not believe that the present Government would be allowed by its supporters to attempt the conversion of the debts, unless it secured power to restrain the States from going into the loan market. There is another matter to which I wish, briefly, to refer. This also arises out of questions which I have asked. It relates to the expenditure of the present Government upon immigration. I speak from memory, but I think that the Government has spent about £15.000, and that £20,000 is the sum which was voted for the purpose. I admit, at once, that the expenditure of the Government on immigration, in comparison with the expenditure of past Governments, reflects very creditably upon them. Expenditure in this direction is in a high degree judicious and necessary. Of the . £15,000, £5,000 was spent on publications printed in Australia and distributed elsewhere; whilst£10,000 was spent in Great Britain for similar purposes, and in connexion with the agency at the High Commissioner’s office. To the further question, whether any money was spent anywhere else, the Ministerial answer was in the negative. Though there is a temptation to follow Senator Rae’s remarkable utterance with regard to immigration and its relation to the Australian labour market. I do not wish to follow him. I do, however, wish to say that, when we talk about immigration to this country, we are not talking about the importation of labour only. We are talking about the necessity of bringing people of every class. To suppose that the object is to flood the labour market, is wilfully to misunderstand the position. Population is needed by Australia in the interest of her own safety. An important cablegram, which has recently been published in the newspapers, bears upon this point. We read that the Japanese Government is about to apply itself to the building of a Navy in the Pacific, which will be little inferior to the Navy of any European Power, excepting Great Britain herself. In other words, Japan intends to take the command of the Pacific if she possibly can. At present she is our ally. How long she will remain our ally we do not know. But it is no disrespect to the Japanese to say that they, and other nations, are looking with envious eyes towards this unpopulated country. We can not continue to keep Australia in this conditon for fear of Senator Rae’s spectre about the labour market. The question of population, and the question of the sufficiency or the insufficiency of labour, are in no way related. We are bound, as a matter of high policy, to see to it that the population of Australia is rapidly increased. To raise 5,000,000 of people as quickly as possible to 10,000,000 or 15,000,000, is the first great task of statesmanship in this country. If we do not solve the problem, we shall continue to present Australia, with its vast unpopulated areas and its immense resources, as a provocation to every country in the world. Therefore, looking at the matter from the high national point of view, we cannot allow that policy to be interfered with by talk about the congested or uncongested condition of the labour market. Unfortunately, whether there are five millions or forty millions of people in the country, there will still be unemployed. There will always be men looking for jobs, and there willalways be jobs requiring men. I have never heard of a Government on earth, and I cannot conceive of a Government that will ever exist, that could solve that difficulty satisfactorily, so that it would be able to say that for every job there was a man and for every man a job. But the fact that there will always be some unemployed is entirely apart from the great national question that confronts us. The greatest of duties and obligations resting upon us is that the number of people in this country shall be increased as rapidly as possible. I should have thought that this argument would appeal strongly to the High Tariff party. They ought to realize how economically desirable it is to increase the population of the country. The best market we can have is our own home market. If there is anything economically sound in the Protectionist doctrine, it is that the best way of building up your home manufactures is to increase your home market. Unless we have an increased population in Australia, the Protective policy cannot be effective. The very best way to make that policy effective, from the point of view of manufacturers and artisans alike, is to develop the home market by increasing the population and so keeping up a continuous demand for our manufactures. I cannot understand any Protectionist, whether he is representative of the workers or of the manufacturers, who does not urge upon every Government incessantly the necessity of adding rapidly to the population, because the most remunerative of all users of manufactured products are the consumers in the home market.
– Hear, hear; you are coming on to good ground now.
– I am putting the Protective policy as soundly as the honorable senator has done.
– It is a pity that your votes have not been as sound.
– I do not suggest that that is the first and last necessity. I hope that when we do get the Tariff, which seems to be the skeleton in the closet with this Government, we shall use this very argument against my honorable friend. When I was a little more than a schoolboy I undertood the proposition which I have put. But that to me, although it is a pretty strong reason in itself, is not areason why I should go on assenting to higher and still higher duties. Even if I were economically wrong in not supporting the Protective policy of various Governments on that point, I am glad to hear from Senator E. J. Russell that on the other ground I am sound. It is almost the corollary of Protection itself that we should build up rapidly our population. I am astonished to find Protectionists on the other side who, whenever we call for further means to increase the population, try to block us and speak about the introduction of people as a deliberate attempt to flood the labour market. To speak of these two things in the one breath is to speak with a contradictory tongue. It is almost as foolish as to say to a lad in the one breath, “ It is hardly necessary that you should learn to swim, but there is one thing you must never forget - you must never go near the water.” The two things cannot stand together.
– Or, to use another simile, it is like an anchor which is always in the water but never learns to swim.
– I hope that in this matter the Government will learn to swim. I trust that they will not give undue prominence to the vexed questions of the bringing of people into the country and occasional unemployment on the part of the worker. The two things are not necessarily correlated. If there is unemployment in the market the introduction of people who will be industrious will mean an addition to the consuming resources of the country, and will, indirectly, promote labour. Further than that, the most power ful magnet you can have for attracting capital is that of population. Capital always follows population. If the doctrine of Senator Rae is sound, how does he explain the fact that there is not a country to-day which has gone ahead faster than has Canada during the last six or seven years? And in the influx of population it is still going ahead by leaps and bounds. The rates of wages have never been so favorable to the labourer in Canada as they are to-day, when it is carrying out strongly its immigration policy. I believe that great as the resources of Canada are, they are in some respects almost insignificant as compared with our resources. If Canada and the United States of America have not suffered - and they have not suffered - from the point of view of labour and industry generally, how can it be said that if we were to bring in thousands exactly the opposite result would be produced? The fact is that on the question of borrowing money and encouraging immigration the Government are obsessed with the craven fear of being great. We on this side believe that our country can absorb millions of the finest population, and many of those millions will find in Australia as good homes as they can find anywhere on earth. They will find here a Government which will insure, not only to the worker, but to every class, as fair a chance of advancement and promotion as any other Government can offer.
.- I join with other speakers - and they do not all belong to this side of the Chamber - in objecting to the late introduction of this Bill. I can remember that at one time this was an opportunity for the Government of the day to declare their policy to a. considerable extent, and for a searching examination of the public finances. But the introduction of a. Supply Bill seems to be regarded as a mere matter of form. We are expected to rush this Bill through practically under duress, because, if it goes over to-night, the public servants will have to wait for their money. It is not a fair way of treating the Senate. It is little wonder that we hear, all round, talk about the decadence of the Senate. Not only are we criticised in leading articles in the press, but our fellow members go about the country saying that the Senate is a useless encumbrance on the body politic, and ought. to be swept away. All these things tend to lower the Senate in public estimation. Unless honorable senators are prepared to stand up for the right of the Senate, to have the public business done in a legitimate manner, to see that revenue and expenditure are properly criticised, it will simply sink lower and lower in public opinion. I do not propose to occupy very much time to-day. I do not often trouble the Senate with a speech, but there are a few matters to which I wish to call attention. I join with Senator Millen in protesting %’ery strongly against the manner in which the competitive designs for the Federal Capital are likely to be treated. I feel that the Commonwealth is in a somewhat disadvantageous position with a man like Mr. O’Malley at the head of the Home Affairs Department, and having full control of this matter. I hope that the Cabinet will take it into their own hands and see that a Board is appointed which will be competent to examine the designs and report on them, and will not leave the Minister of Home Affairs to be the final arbiter. It will be nothing short of a calamity, 1 think, if, as is threatened, the leading architects, builders, and engineers of the United States of America, Great Britain, and Australia, are shut out of this competition. Ours is the latest capital to be built, and so we ought to employ for this purpose the best skill and talent that we can secure. The Minister of Home Affairs professes to know everything, and talks of the great work which he has done.
– And so he has.
– The earliest reference I find in Who’s Who to the man who manages the Home Affairs Department is to his arrival in this country. If he had carried out stupendous works, as he claims to have done, and was such a great man in the country from which he came, surely there would be some reference in the book to his career in that country.
– Is there any reference in Who’s Who to the work of any other men whose ‘names are mentioned therein ?
– Who are they?
– In many cases the honorable senator will find such references.
– By men who wrote their own biographies. It shows how modest Mr. O’Malley is.
– I had hoped that on this measure we would have had a definite statement made in regard to the Government’s policy on immigration. During the recess I travelled 300 miles about the north of Victoria, and since then I have been over New South Wales for a few hundred miles, and everywhere the cry is for more workers. We cannot get our lands cultivated and dairies carried on because of the scarcity of labour. There has lately been published a report by Mr. A. B. Piddington in which he, after having gone carefully into the matter, without political or trade bias, recommends that there should be imported 3,247 workers, namely, 1,722 men for the Sydney metropolitan area ; 205 men for the country ; 416 men for the Government Dock; 255 men for railway construction and maintenance; and 550 female workers. His recommendation does not include any rural workers, that is, men who are required to develop the country, te work our farms and dairies, in order that we may have that measure of production of which the country is capable. I admit that previous Governments have not faced this question as they should have done, but I hope that the present Government will take it in hand. I am not satisfied with the way in which the question has been treated. In my opinion the exhibition of the beautiful picture, a copy of which is exhibited in the Queen’s Hall, will not attract one person to the Commonwealth. If we had representations of farm life and products it might have some effect, but certainly that picture will not. If we want people to come here we shall have to pursue the same policy as Canada and the United States of America.
– The trouble is to get ships to bring persons out.
– You will alway.s get ships if you have the freight.
– If we have a drought for a few years where will they be?
– I notice that there is a large increase in the expenditure on the Post and Telegraph Department. Acr cording to a statement which has been laid before the other House, the increase since the 1st January, 1910, has’ been £79,700, distributed in the following manner : - Telegraph messengers, ,£18,000; telephonists.- £18.000; letter-carriers, £13.000; mail drivers, £600 ; assistants and postal servants, £17,000; linemen, £6,500; mechanics,. £6,000 ; and monitors, £600 The ultimate increased cost for these classes of officers will amount to £107,000. I do not intend to raise any objection. I have no doubt that all the increments were deserved and that we are doing, perhaps, tardy justice to a number ot valuable public servants. But I do object to the fact that the increases are confined to persons employed in the towns - that is in places where a number are bound together, who have a certain amount of political influence - while nothing is done for poorly-paid persons anywhere else. A little while ago I raised the question of the mail services. I do not intend to raise it again to-day, but I wish to refer to the case of the receiving officers. They are not mentioned* in the Postal Guide, and, therefore, I do not know the number. There must be some hundreds who are taking mails on two, or three, or four, or five, or six days a week. The highest rate paid is £8 a year, and the lowest is £1. That is simply a scandal. If it is desired to do justice to those who are in the centres of population, I ask the Government to lay before the Postmaster-General the condition of the people in the country, and pay them something better than the mere pittance which they now get. I think that for being always in attendance for mails, the least allowance which the Department should pay is £5 a year, and I commend that suggestion to the Government. Had the Minister of Defence been here this afternoon, I should have asked for some information regarding the retirement of certain officers a few months ago. As the matter was put to me - and I may mention that it was not put to me by any one who has been retired, as I have not spoken to any of them - it seems to me that a very great hardship has been inflicted on a number of men who have rendered splendid service - one man had left the country for Africa, and done magnificent work there - by retiring them several years before their time. To some of them pecuniarily it did not matter, because they had means, but to others the retirement came like a thunderclap. They had made no provision; they thought that they had five or six years’ salary to look forward to. It was most unjust to come down on them without warning and dragoon them out of the service.
– Tell us the names of some who had five or six years of salary to look forward to.
– Some men were retired at 56 and 57 years of age, who had expected to be retained until over 60.
– I do not know them.
– I can deal with the point on another occasion. I am bringing the matter forward to-day in order that we may have justice done. I am told that some of these men did not receive the courtesy of an official notice that they were to be dispensed with. Whether that is so or not I am not prepared to say. I join with Senator Gardiner in taking exception to the number of items marked “Contingencies.” Under zoo items in the schedule between 90 and 100 are marked “ Contingencies.” If the accountant, to a company were to prepare a statement for its shareholders in which nearly half the amount involved was put down as “Contingencies,” it would be returned at once with a request that the details be supplied. In the future we should be supplied with the fullest details. I think, too, that the points which have been raised by Senator St. Ledger ought to receive the serious attention of the Government. That honorable senator devotes a great deal of time to the preparation of information for the Senate, and his remarks concerning the note issue are worthy of the closest scrutiny.
– There are one or two matters to which I desire to refer before the motion for the first reading of this Bill is agreed to. In the first place, I wish to direct attention to an extraordinary article which appears in the Standard of Empire - a newspaper in which the Commonwealth advertises largely - in regard to the press cable service, that the Commonwealth is subsidizing. This matter might not be of so much moment if the Standard of Empire were not a paper of such high standing, and if it did not excuse the article in question by declaring that the Commonwealth Government are manufacturing war scares by the aid of this press cable service, in order to encourage the people of Australia to adopt compulsory military training.
– We have adopted that principle already.
– The Standard of Empire of 8th September of the present year - the last issue which has reached Australia - in an introductory paragraph, apparently editorial, says -
An Australian in London writes asking if he may be permitted to draw attention in England to what he regards as the “ dangerous misleading of Australian public opinion.” It must, of course, be remembered that the most intelligently patriotic section of the community in Australia has had, and may still be said to have, a great task to perform, in arousing in the minds of the Australian public a full and alert sense of citizen responsibility for National and Imperial defence. Australia’s isolated position and sparse population make very urgent indeed the need of public-spirited realization and action where defence is concerned. We feel that these facts should be borne steadily in mind in judging the tenor of newspaper interpretation of despatches dealing with an undoubtedly critical situation. We print our correspondent’s statement hereunder.
This is the article in question -
If the people of Australia paid much regard to the cable service of the new Independent Association they ought to have been greatly alarmed over the information supplied by that organization respecting the Morocco crisis. The two daily papers served by the Independent service are the Sydney Sun and a new Labour paper, the Adelaide Herald. These and some weekly papers publish syndicated cablegrams, in nil respects alike. The news is mostly gathered at Vancouver from Transatlantic sources, and cabled across the Pacific at threepence a word. Press messages from England cost ninepence a word.
The cablegrams selected in Vancouver from Transatlantic sources (unfortunately Canada is largely served by United States organizations) frequently show a tainted origin, and are sometimes absolutely groundless.
On July 29 there appeared the following, with big double-column headlines : “ Is it War?” “ Moroccan Crisis.” “ Fleet and Army Preparing.” “ Serious Outlook.” And then these words, displayed in heavy type : “ An official cable was received in Sydney yesterday to the effect that Great Britain had issued an ultimatum to Germany on the Moroccan question.” Next came a few words setting forth Mr. Asquith’s statement of July 27, and more headlines : “ Immense Excitement.” “ Prepare ! Prepare !” “ The excitement in London reached an unusual pitch of intensity when it became known that rush orders ‘ had been sent by the Admiralty to all the naval depots. Similar orders have been sent from the Horse Guards to the Woolwich Arsenal. These sensational actions have convinced the British public that ‘ the day ‘ long toasted by German officers is very near, and may possibly come before many hours are over.”
I would remind honorable senators that this is the sort of stuff for which the Commonwealth is paying £2,000 per annum. The article proceeds -
This is followed by another scare headline : “ Bitterness in Germany,” and the sentence : Mr. Asquith’s speech has not been well received in Germany, and armed class bitterness has been displayed over it.” Another big headline is : “ Volunteers Mobilising,” and the cablegram proceeds : “ As the Volunteers are mobilising for the annual manoeuvres Britain will be found with her Army primed and ready. Throughout London the excitement is intense, and eager crowds are watching the bulletin boards for the final word. The King is positively ill with worry and fatigue over the foreign tension, and the constant conferences that he has been holding.” - Still more startling was the news published in this Adelaide paper on July 3r. Two or three inches of headlines contained such statements as : “ Remarkable International Activity,” “ British Fleet under Full Steam,” “ France Hopeful,” “ Germany and Lloyd George.” Then followed a telegram, professedly from “ Paris, dated July 29 “ :- “ All the French cavalry regiments have been ordered to be in readiness for active service, and train-loads of arms, munitions, and provisions are being rushed to the forts along the German frontier. Also leave of absence for all soldiers has been cancelled.” Then comes a cheerful ray of sunshine in a cablegram from London, under the usual heavy-typed headlines, “ A Hopeful Sign.” And this is the sign : - “ The King has definitely arranged to attend the regatta at Cowes. This is regarded as a hopeful sign. Also, the Ministers are preparing to leave town for the week.”
Nevertheless, the clouds have not wholly rolled by, for we read in the next sentence, under more crushing headlines : “ Throughout last night Portland Harbor was a hive of industry. Orders were given to the First Division of the Home Fleet, including the Dreadnoughts attached thereto, that all provisioning and coaling should be completed at 5 a.m. The orders were obeyed to the letter, and at 4 a.m. the last ship signalled ‘ All ready.’ “ Next follows a most disturbing announcement, dated London, July 30, to the effect that “ Germany has demanded the dismissal of Mr. Lloyd George for his bankers’ banquet speech on the intentions of the British Government.” Though the newspaper in question admits that this story requires confirmation, it compares the incident to the dismissal of M. Delcasse on Germany’s demand in connexion with Moroccan affairs six years ago. On the following day the Herald’s cablegram from London, dated July 31, reverts to the fate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It sets forth that “ telegrams from Berlin contain indications that there was some truth in the story that Germany may demand Mr. Lloyd George’s dismissal. This is causing increased bitterness in some quarters against the Germans.” In the same telegram Australia is told that the Second Destroyer Flotilla has left Portland with sealed orders, and it is popularly supposed they are going to Agadir. It is sententiously added : “ Many people regard this as a serious move.”
This is the comment of the paper -
This is curious stuff with which to feed Australian readers, and the circumstance is the more remarkable when we remember that the new cable service is supported by the Federal Government of Australia. The Commonwealth Parliament grants it a subvention of .£6,000, spread over three years. That sum was advanced on the demand of Labour members. The political intelligence sent from England by this service is equally grotesque with anything above described.
– Do the Government advertise in the Sporting and Dramatic News?
– Not to my knowledge. I have absolutely nothing whatever to do with that newspaper, though I have often had occasion to quote the remarks made by Labour members which have appeared in it.
I did so in the recent referenda campaign, and the result seems to have justified my action. Is it reasonable that we should subsidize a press cable service which produces such absolute rubbish as that which I have read?
– It is a far better service than is the other one.
– My honorable friend is evidently a partisan. He is a newspaper man, and believes in publishing that which will sell best. But I do not believe in endeavouring to manufacture public opinion here by raising war scares about happenings in Europe.
– That is what the daily newspapers have been doing ever since they came into existence.
– Then, why should we subsidize a cable service to enable other daily newspapers to do the same thing ?
– We have only the honorable senator’s statement that they are doing it.
– My honorable friend has the best possible evidence of the accuracy of my statement. If he can get all the war scares that he wants from the daily newspapers, why should we subsidize another cable service to manufacture new scares. The other day I asked a question to which I did not receive a clear reply. It had reference to sending to England a number of men to be trained in naval matters. My information is that we sent Home a considerable number of men to be so trained, and that, since their return to Australia, these individuals, who cost the Commonwealth at least £25 and £30 each - probably a great deal more - have left the service. As a matter of fact, we have had on our torpedo-boat destroyers what is little better than an absolute mutiny. The greater number of the men on board those vessels have turned round to the Government and said, “ We wish to leave the service,” and the Government have allowed them to do so, although they were under agreement to serve for a considerable time. This matter of discipline in our Defences Forces is not a small one. I referred to it the other day in connexion with the publication of a certain article which urged insubordination amongst our Cadets. Upon that occasion the Minister of Defence, and others, declared that I had gone too far, and that I was attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill. But what are the facts? An article appeared in a newspaper called the Pioneer, which is published at Mackay, in Queensland, on 9th September last. Three weeks later the Standard, another journal which is published in the same town, contained the following paragraph -
The insubordination among the local detachment of cadets grows more serious, and the most stringent measures should be adopted toput down the gross insolence that is displayed by the children. On Monday night one of theofficers was subjected to a most discreditable attack after leaving parade, the cadets following him and hurling various epithets at him, accompanied by not a few stones. Last night during drill, at intervals, eggs were thrown at the officers -
It is to be hoped that, at least, they were fresh ones - in such a manner as to render the detection of the culprit impossible, but the co-operation of parents should be secured to put down these unseemly acts of lawlessness. A few constables at the parade ground might have a good effect.
I ask the Senate to picture to itself thisgreat Australian Government, with its wonderful military system for the training of our people, calling in the State police to keep order and prevent the cadets throwing eggs at their officers.
– The Government donot suggest that. That is the suggestion of other persons.
– No ; what the Government suggest is that I should hold my tongue, and say nothing about the matter. That is what the Minister of Defence suggested the other day. This difficulty is not becoming less serious, as the Minister anticipated, but more serious, since the publication of the article to which I referred on a previous occasion. Numerous instances have occurred in different parts of the country in which cadets have been fined for one form or another of insubordination and insulting behaviour, I notice that, according to the Brisbane Daily Mail of Saturday, 7th October, a case was inquired into at Townsville in which a boy pleaded guilty to a charge of disobedience and insolence to his officer on parade. The magistrate imposed a fine of1s., with professional costs amounting to £1 is. The Commonwealth Government are collecting fines and costs from the unfortunate parents of these lads, who have been instigated by seditious and really treasonable articles, to cheek their officers.
– Articles which the Government will not suppress.
– But here is the most delightful part of the whole business : The magistrate in the case I have just referred to warned the defendant - this small boy of thirteen or fourteen years of age, who put out his tongue at his officer on parade - that he must understand clearly that, in the event of a similar offence in the future, the punishment would be much more severe, and he reminded him that he had power under the Act to impose a sentence of three months’ imprisonment. I ask the Government, in all seriousness, if they intend to permit magistrates to commit children to gaol for three months rather than take action to suppress the seditiousutterances of grown-up people, who ought to know very much better than do what they are doing? The longer the matter is left undecided, the worse things will become. The practical desertion of large numbers of men from the torpedo flotilla is only an indication of the way in which the spirit of insubordination is spreading in the ranks. If military training is to be placed on a proper footing, the Government must insist upon discipline, whether it costs them votes or does not. Another matter to which I should like to refer is the curious position which has arisen in connexion with our postal rates. We have a penny postage on letters, and also on post-cards, which, of course, is absurd. I get many post-cards from the Old Country, and they come out for a half-penny postage. I ask whether the Government intend to take any action to remove this anomaly. A card with the words “ post-card “ printed on it can only be sent through the Post Office on payment of id. postage, but if these words do not appear upon it it can be sent through the post for “fd.
– The same card ?
– Yes. One has only to scratch out the word “post-card,” and write “ Printed matter “ in its place, and it can be sent through the post for “rd. I discovered this in the following way : Not very long ago I had occasion to change my residence, and I thought it would be a good idea to send cards to various people I knew notifying my change of residence and my new address. I got a number of cards printed, and had one taken down to the post-office in Melbourne to find out what it would cost to send it through the post. I was told that if the word “ post-card “ appeared on the card the postage would be id., and if those words did not appear upon it the postage would be id. I sent 400 or 500 of these cards through the Post Office for Jd. each. This is a matter which the Vice-President of the Executive Council might very well bring before his colleague the PostmasterGeneral. It is a silly, stupid sort of thing,which should be remedied. There are many other stupid things in connexion with the Post Office, but this particular stupidity seems to have been created by the introduction of penny postage on ordinary letters. At present it costs a man, in the ordinary way, as much to send a post-card through the Post Office as to send a half-ounce letter. I did not hear the whole of Senator Gardiner’s remarks, but I learned from him subsequently practically all that he said, and I must say that his observations were very much to the point. This Par:liament has pretty well, if it has not already completely, lost control over the finances of the Commonwealth. I took up a newspaper a few days ago, in which I read that the cost of running the Post and Telegraph Department had been increased by from ,£70,000 to £100,000 a year. This was due to increases of salary. I am not saying whether the salaries should be raised or lowered, or kept as they are.
– If these cards are to be delivered for fd. each, can the honorable senator wonder at the increased cost of running the Department?
- Senator W. Russell is an old card himself, who has done pretty well. Apparently the honor-, able senator -bas just woke up, and is trying to fit something which I said ten minutes ago into what I am saying now. I do not say that because cards may be sent through the Post Office for £d. each we should lower or raise or keep as they are the salaries of postal officials. The statement to which I have referred was a tabulated statement, and such particulars are supplied to the newspapers by the Department itself. The point is that the cost of running the Post and Telegraph Department has been increased by £100,000 a year bv a Ministerial order. Parliament was nowhere in the matter. I have to go back to my constituents and tell them that the taxes must be raised to find the money required to carry on the government, while I am given no opportunity of saying whether Ministers should have incurred the extra expense which renders such extra taxation necessary. If there is one thing more clear than another in the history of British constitutional government it is that the Parliament must always control the public purse. One King lost his head, and another his throne, because they chose to butt up against that principle. But now King Demos is at the head of affairs, and he wants to be an absolute autocrat, with the right to spend money just as he likes, without consulting the representatives of the people. The sooner the Government are true to the promises, pledges, arguments, and opinions which they expressed when on this side, and give the Senate an opportunity, such as that given by the Deakin-Cook Government, to fully discuss the financial affairs of the country, the better it will be, not only for us and the country generally, but also for the working man, whom my honorable friend Senator W. Russell always mouths about when he is on a public platform.
– I have a matter to bring before the House, and this is the first opportunity I have had to refer to it. During the referenda campaign I was- in Queensland, and in what is called the far north. While there, I was shown post-offices the condition of which was a disgrace to the Department. Time after time requests have been made for repairs to old buildings or the erection of new buildings. 1 was shown buildings the boards of which had been so eaten through by white ants that it was possible to stand in the street and see what was being done in the office. We have been told by Ministers that the Post and Telegraph Department has been placed on a better footing. I should like to know where is the evidence of that. It may be evident around Melbourne, and within a short radius of Parliament House; but let me say that the outside districts, inhabited by the pioneers of this country, are being starved by the Department, while money is being squandered in the southern parts of Australia. I draw attention to this important matter, and to the practical rebellion in the service. The statement was made only last night in another place that the Post, and Telegraph Department is now almost perfect, and is, at all events, in a far better condition than it was under any previous Administration.
– I call attention, sir, to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.’]
– To my surprise, I read in the newspapers this morning that the telegraphists of New South Wales had made demands against the Government and were threatening trouble. It is quite possible that there are not many honorable senators who take an interest in the matter that I have been speaking about, because the place is too far from the centre of Government. But, unless steps are taken to remedy this disgraceful state of affairs, we are likely to hear of more trouble in the Department. Whenever I mentioned this subject previously, the reply was that there were no funds. But now the Government cannot make that excuse. They have more money than they know what to do with. They are lending to the States at 3§ per cent.
– Cheaper than the States were ever able to borrow before.
– The honorable senator’s statement is incorrect. I know that a number of loans have been arranged by the States at 3^ per cent., and a few at as low as 3 per cent. We all remember how Ministerial supporters clamoured for the rectification of grievances when they sat in Opposition. What sort of men must they now appear to the people at large when they do not say a single word to force the Government to remedy evils that they know to exist? As long as I am a member of this Parliament I intend, no matter what party is in power, to use my best endeavours to compel the Government to do what is right and just. I shall not be restrained by any party ties. I do not go to a party meeting and enter my protest against something that is proposed to be done, and then vote with the majority in favour of doing it. I claim always to be a free man; and no matter what is done at party meetings, I reserve to myself the right to express my views fearlessly upon the floor of the Senate.
– The honorable senator should not allow himself to be drawn off the point as to what the Government are going to do with the Sydney telegraphists.
– I do not intend to be diverted from that point. When Ministerial supporters were sitting in Opposition they drew sorrowful pictures of the hardships of widows and children of postal employes. Now they sit supporting Ministers, and are dumb. They have forgotten all their previous expressions of sympathy; But the people will not forget what they are now doing. I have protested, no matter what Government was in power, against this sort of thing, and shall continue to do so. Whenever honorable senators opposite meet with the case of a man who is a bad employer they denounce him. The worst employers in the Commonwealth sit on the Government benches to-day. If they liked, they could put the service on a proper footing. Their supporters, if they liked, could compel the Ministry to do so. We should not then hear of all this strife and discontent. Why should people be compelled to put up with such hardships as I have described ? I know of post-offices in the north of Australia that are so rotten that one can poke his finger through the boards. If those buildings were in the suburbs of Melbourne they would be condemned by the press, honorable senators opposite would take out parties to inspect them, and Boards of Health would denounce them. Yet the Government do nothing. Another matter to which I wish to refer relates to the Defence Department. I saw that the Minister, in answer to a question, stated that the Commonwealth sent Home sixty-four men to be trained to take positions in the Australian Navy; but that since fifteen of them have left the service. That is a little over 22 per cent. What service on God’s earth could be carried on under such conditions? Why were these men either dismissed or allowed to leave the service before their term was completed?
– They broke their agreement.
– I suppose the Commonwealth Government were not prepared to make them stick to their agreement. We are spending vast sums of money on the construction of vessels in the Old Country. I had the pleasure of seeing some of them while I was there. How can we conduct a navy if 22 per cent. of the men who sign agreements leave the service before their time expires?
– Not 22 per cent.
– The honorable senator has no right to interject ; and I particularly object to his giving me the lie direct.
– Some of them were sick men, and had to leave.
– Why is not the honorable senator man enough to stand up on the floor and say what he wishes to say?
– Do not get angry.
– I am angry when I see men expounding one set of views when they are in Opposition, and not having the courage to maintain the same opinions when they are sitting behind a Ministry. What are we to say to the taxpayers of Australia when they ask us why these things are so? No explanation is made by the Government. We are simply told that fifteen men out of sixty-four have left this service which we spent a considerable amount of money on training them for. If 22 per cent. of our men are dissatisfied with the conditions, how can we hope to build up an Australian Navy? There must be something rotten. Either the men are not being paid sufficiently, or their treatment makes them discontented. We talk a great deal aboutour great Commonwealth, and of the liberality with which we are prepared to treat men. I say that this great Commonwealth is not treating its men liberally and fairly when they want to leave the service in this fashion. The Minister of Defence owes some explanation as to why there have been such a number of desertions.
Question - That the Senate do now adjourn - put under sessional order, and resolved in the negative.
– The interjections from the other side have caused me to speak longer, and, perhaps, a little more warmly, than I had intended. To-day we have heard a lot about immigration. When I was in England a short time ago a large number of persons questioned me about the facilities which Australia offered to immigrants. The Prime Minister made certain statements on the subject. I am sorry that he made some of the statements, but, perhaps, he spoke with a fuller knowledge than I possess. I do not agree with him, for instance, that there is ample room in Australia for miners. I think that we have plenty of miners here to-day. There is ample room, however, for men who are willing to go on the land. Whenever I was questioned by persons on the subject I said, “ Are you prepared to take any job you can get? If so, there is plenty of room in Australia for you, but if you want a particular job, or are not prepared to rough it, I advise you to remain where you are.” There is a home for people in Australia if they like to put up with the rough usage of the bush for a few years, but if they wish to remain in towns, go to theatres, and sleep under mosquito curtains, they should stay in England. I was written to from various parts of that country. Some of the letters I took to the Queensland Emigration Agent. I mentioned that I had seen the writers, and asked him to communicate with them. I told him that’ I was advised that they were mainly farm labourers. I was interviewed on behalf of a gardener who was working about a house. His employer came to me and said, “ Now that the lad is getting on in years I cannot afford to pay him a fair wage, but I am prepared to help him to emigrate to Australia if you think it is a good country for him to go to.” I said, “ It is, send him along to-morrow morning.” When he came he seemed to be a hard-working man - just the type of man we need. We do not want men to come here to hang about the towns. If, instead of having 500,000 persons in Melbourne and nearly 600,000 in Sydney, we had a much larger number distributed throughout the country we should be a great deal more prosperous than we are. If we wish to people the land we should hold out inducements to settlers. Compared with Canada there was no inducement, so far as I could see when in England, held out to persons to come to Australia. In nearly every street, Canada announced that it was a desirable country for persons to emigrate to. In the Mall, in London, there was an arch showing the resources of that great Dominion. They also had a building where every article they produced was exhibited. But what was the position in regard to this Commonwealth. One had to climb two. flights of stairs, or to go up in a lift, to ind the office of the High Commissioner. Compared with the results we have obtained we have spent far too much money J think. Instead of the money being spent in a proper manner it has been frittered away, and wehave got practically no return. Perhaps, in our eyes, Canada is not of as great importance as Australia. Judging by what I have seen I prefer Australia to Canada, or any other portion of the British Dominions, as a country for young men to emigrate to. We have only to look round this chamber to realize what a fine opportunity Australia offers to young men. How many men do we see here today who, if they had remained in their own country, would have had a chance to obtain a seat on. the floor of the House of Commons ? I came to this country fortyseven years ago, . but young men who arrived here only a few years ago, have been in this Parliament pretty well since they landed. In Great Britain they could not win a seat in Parliament or get £600 a year there.
– The costof living is higher here.
– That is a great inducement to young men to leave the plough’ or to drop the pick and shovel, and to’ come out to Australia. It is about time, I think, that the Government took stepsto reorganize the Post and Telegraph Department. I do not doubt that my opinion is shared by honorable senators sitting on the other side. There can be no excuse on financial grounds. I hope that, before this session ends, the Government will takesteps to put the Department on a proper’ basis, and to secure to those who are a long way from head-quarters reasonable accommodation and a proper scale of pay. I wish to make some remarks on the subject of old-age pensions, but very likely I shall have an opportunity to speak fully on another occasion. I find that there is a vast number of eligible persons who, for some technical reason,’ are unable, even after a delay of twelve or eighteen months, to get old-age pensions. It should be made as easy as possible for a man who is qualified to get an old-age pension. I have referred to the Prime Minister two letters from persons who before I left for the Old Country tried to secure an old-age pension each. I can take an oath that they are over the prescribed age, but, for some reason or other, they tell me that their application has not been approved of yet.
– Perhaps they could not get a birth certificate.
– Surely when a man can certify that he has known the applicant in this country for forty years the authorities ought to be satisfied. These old persons do not know as much about the procedure as we do. They go to a. neighbour who fills in a form and forwards it to the Department. The Government should find some means to assist theapplicants. Why should persons be kept’ waiting for a year or two for old-age pensions? That is a hardship which I hope the Government will find a way to rectify.
– Mr. President-
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– I regret very much that so much time has been wasted in dealing with discursive mattersInordinary circumstances I would be very pleased to reply to the remarks of honorable senators, but, on the present occasion, I ‘ find that it would notbe advisable to make the attempt. I can assure honorable senators, however, that when the Budget is before the Senate, and there is ample time at our disposal, I shall have very much pleasure in dealing with the matters to which they have referred today, and I am sure that my colleagues here will be only too willing to assist me. I hope that the Bill will now be read a first time and passed with expedition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first and a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Flags and Shields in Queen’s Hall - Papua : Quarantine - Compulsory Training : Circulation of Seditious Literature.
– I desire to refer to a matter which, I believe, comes more under the control of the President and the Speaker than of any one else. Some time ago we entertained Admiral Sperry, and other representatives of the American Fleet, in the Queen’s Hall, in which we had put up some flags and shields. The flags arc motheaten, collecting dust, dirt, and fleas, and everything else you can think of. They make the Queen’s Hall look like the stage of a theatre during the daytime, when nobody is about. Generally they are giving to the Queen’s Hall, which, I believe, is Grecian architecture, a tawdry and miserable appearance. I ask whomever may be responsible to see that’ these stage effects which were put up for a banquet for one evening, are taken away. The wooden shields are covered with badly-drawn lions, tigers, and other animals. All this rubbish is entirely out of keeping with the place, and the architecture of the Hall. They are a complete eyesore, not only to members of Parliament, but to those who visit the building. I hope that the Minister will bring my request under the notice of those who are responsible for the appearance of the Queen’s Hall.
– I shall bring the matter before the House Committee, which, I am sure, will do its duty.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) which has nothing to do with the matter. The House Committee is not the body which erected the flags and shields. I ask the honorable senator whether he will bring my request, before the President and the Speaker, or whoever is responsible for the decoration of the Queen’s Hall?
– I will make inquiries of the House Committee, and if that body be not responsible for the decorations, I will find out who is the responsible authority, and make representations in that quarter.
– I should like to know whether Papua is under our quarantine law ?
– Yes; but its administration is under a local Ordinance.
– Will the Minister of Defence give me a more definite reply as to what action the Government propose to take in order to stop the circulation of seditious literature? The offence is not dying out. but is growing, according to the information which I have received.
– I was notpresent when the honorable senator spoke, but I will take an opportunity of perusing bis remarks upon the subject.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request, report adopted.
Bill read a third time. .
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act1908-1909 -
Statements in accordance with Section 54 of the number of pensions granted, &c, daring the year1910-11.
Defence Act 1903-1910 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Mili tary Forces of the Commonwealth - New Regulation 64A. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 161.
Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 107. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 162.
Amendment of Regulation 166. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 163.
First Annual Report of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council tell the Senate definitely what will be the order of business on Wednesday next. According to the businesspaper to-day, the medal joke was to be proceeded with before the Electoral Bill.
SenatorO ‘Keefe. - Is the honorable senator in order in referring to any business of the Senate as a “ joke “ ?
- Senator Chataway is entirely out of. order. He has no right to refer to any business of the Senate as a joke.
– All 1 desire to know is what will be the order of business for Wednesday next.
– The order will be the same as that of to-day’s business-paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111013_senate_4_61/>.