4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– According to the general custom, I ask honorable senators to give notice of any questions on which they may desire information, and in the circumstances I request that all questions on the notice-paper be postponed.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Regulations relating to Labour and Industrial Statistics (Agents and Correspondents). Statutory Rules 1912, No. 116.
Regulations (Provisional) relating to Quarterly Returns of House Rents by House Agents. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 118.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1911 -
Redistribution Scheme, Queensland : Report and Map furnished by Commonwealth Electoral Boundaries Commission.
Redistribution Scheme, Queensland : Minority Report, together with Maps furnished by one of the Members of the Commonwealth Electoral Boundaries Commission.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 3 ; and repeal of Regulations 10, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in Heu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 204.
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 8 (c) and new Regulation (Provisional) 8 (ca). - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 53. Customs Act 1901-igio -
Proclamation prohibiting the exportation from the Commonwealth of all leather, or manufactures thereof when for human wear, containing any proportion of barium sulphate, or other barium compounds. Defence Acts 1903-1911 -
Regulati6ns (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 207. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. in. Amendment of Regulation 475. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 112. Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Part XVIII., and Regulations 293 and 294. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. no. Amendment of Regulations 1S4 and 183. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 114. Amendment of Regulation 82. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. risRegulations for the Conduct and Management of Government Factories, &c. -
Cancellation of Regulations 57-61, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof ; and amendment of Regulation 65 (2).- Statutory Rules 1912, No. 113. Excise Act igoi -
Cancellation of Regulation 134, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 5. Land Tax Assessment Act 191(3 - First Annual Report to Parliament of the Commissioner of Land Tax. Naval Defence Act 1910-n - Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulations 55 and 64. -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 10S. Cancellation of Regulations 20, 27, 29, no, and 112, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof ; amendment of Regulations 21 and 57; new Regulations 21 (a) and 21 (i) ; and repeal of Regulation 31. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 109. Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910, and Stock Diseases Act 18S8 (of South Australia) -
Papua - Ordinances of 1912 -
Public Service Act 1902-1911 - Documents in connexion with the following appointments, promotions, &c. - Mr. William Hugh .Vincent, to the position of Assistant Engineer (Electrical), Public Works Branch, Central Staff, Department of Home Affairs.
Mr. Walter Leslie Smallhorn, to the position of Clerk, Third Class, Clerical Division, Northern Territory Branch, Department of External Affairs.
Mr. Harold Cairnes Elvins, to the position of Clerk, Fourth Class, Clerical Division, Department of External Affairs.
Mr. Joseph Aloysius Carrodus, to the position of Clerk, Fourth Class, Clerical Division, Department of External Affairs.
Mr. Charles Gordon Brown, to the position of Clerk, Third Class, Chief Accountant’s Branch, Central Staff, Postmaster-General’s Department.
New Regulation (Provisional) No. 166.v. Statutory Rules 1912., No. 117.
Quarantine Act 1908 - Repeal of Regulations 10, 84 (3), and r39 I1) (c)j iia& substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 105.
Seamen’s Compensation Act 191 1 - Regulations (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 127.
Compulsory Cadet Training and Enrolment - Non-attendance at Drill - Shortage of Officers - Drill in Streets - Naval Construction - Defence Policy: European Situation - Post and Telegraph Department : Arrears of Overtime: Grievances - Federal Territory : Land Resumption - Imperial Trade Commissioner - Customs Revenue : Protection - Land Tax - Immigration - Commonwealth Bank : Appointment of Go vernor- Bank Note Issue - Maternity Grant - Referenda Proposals : Trusts and Combines - Navigation Bill - Liberal Party : Caucus and Pledge - Preference to Unionists.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Supply Bill (No. 1) 1912-13 passing through all its stages without delay.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Honorable senators are aware that in all Parliaments it is nscessary to provide funds for the carrying on of the service of the Government^ and that when the money provided by the ordinary appropriation is expended, the Government have to come to Parliament for a renewal of Supply. This is the first Supply Bill of the last session of this Parliament. On the first reading of Bills such as this, it is the privilege of every member of the Senate to express his opinion on the administration of the Government, and on all other subjects. We have postponed the consideration of another motion that gives honorable senators an unlimited opportunity of challenging the administration of the Government, and of referring to every aspect of Commonwealth affairs. In the circumstances, I ask honorable senators not to make the first reading of this Bill an opportunity for a criticism of the Government which may be offered on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I admit that there are questions of such urgent importance that every honorable senator is entitled to, and ought to, take the first opportunity of bringing before the country. Some members of the Senate have made certain questions not merely burning but blazing questions, and I feel almost certain that they will take advantage of this opportunity to refer to them. I can have - no quarrel with them on that account, but I think it would be wise on the part of honorable senators to reserve any general discussion for the debate on the Address-in-Reply. We are asking in this Bill for an amount sufficient to carry on the ordinary services, together with a reasonable and limited amount for the Treasurer’s Advance, to meet lniscell aneous out 1 a y s.
– How much is that?
– The amount asked for is £150.000, which is the smallest vote of the kind that has been asked for in a Supply Bill.
– It is one of the biggest.
– It is about the smallest amount asked for in a Supply Bill for one month. Another vcte that is urgently necessary is that for refunds of revenue, for which ,£50,000 is asked Honorable senators are aware that sometimes charges are made which must be refunded, and errors arise which require to be rectified. The amount of £50,000 is necessary at the present time for the adjustment of our finances in that way. We are asking in this Bill for a total vote of £882.768. If honorable senators will look the matter up, they will find that the total appropriation required to meet the ordinary services of last year was £8,495,304. If we deduct from the total amount asked for in this Bill the amounts required for the Treasurer’s Advance and refunds of revenue, it will leave £682,768. That is a reasonable amount to ask for one month’s services. The money, if not required exactly at the present moment, will be required very early in this month. I think it would be only a waste of time to refer to the details of the vctes5 for each Department, as honorable senators have papers supplied to them giving those details. If any explanation is really necessary, I shall, in reply to this debate or when the different Departments are being CDnsidered, see that those explanations, as far as possible, are forthcoming.
– I have listened with the care I always endeavour to bestow upon the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to discover his wishes with regard to the debate to be resumed after the consideration of this Order of the Day, but I have failed to understand what the honorable senator wants.
– I want the money as quickly as possible.
– It did not need a speech to inform us of that fact. I understood the honorable senator to throw out a sort of invitation or challenge to debate this motion, and use the opportunity which now presents itself to ventilate any subject requiring comment. Having done that, it seems to me that the honorable senator turned completely round and implored honorable senators not to speak on this occasion, but to reserve their remarks until we resume the debate on the AddressinReply. Honorable senators on this side are only too pleased to conform to the wishes of the representative of the Government in this Chamber, but they should be made clear before we are held responsible if we fail to recognise what they are. I am going to take advantage of the opportunity presented by our Standing Orders to refer to one or two matters which I think call for a Ministerial pronouncement at as early a date as possible. The matter to which I wish first to direct attention is connected with, and indeed involves, the administration of the Defence Force. The particular point to which I desire to direct attention can scarcely have escaped the notice of honorable senators - I refer to the statements which have appeared in the public press regarding the great deficiency in the attendance of the cadets who have been enrolled under our existing law.
– I thought that the honorable senator was about to refer to the impending loss of the kilt.
– If my honorable friend will give me time I may possibly make some allusion to the article of clothing that always appeals to him. I mention this matter in order that the Minister may have an opportunity at the earliest possible moment of making a final pronouncement on the subject, because it seems to me that there is something so radically wrong that unless steps are taken to remedy it the evil will continue to grow. Indeed, even now it is of so serious a character that it represents either an injustice to those cadets who are discharging their duty to the Commonwealth, or a reprehensible leniency to those who are neglecting it. I bring the matter forward at this juncture with the simple object of enabling the Minister, if he sees fit, to make a public pronouncement upon it in view of its great urgency and importance. The figures which have been published in the press of Australia indicate that 83,000 cadets have been enrolled under the existing law, but that only 54,000 have been in attendance at drills. In other words, the attendance represents only. 64 per cent, of those who have been enrolled, leaving 36 per cent, who have not attended the drills.
– Do these figures profess to be for the whole of the Commonwealth ? ,
– Up to the 30th June last?
– No, but up to the 31st March last. They are the only figures which are obtainable. Unless the Defence. Department is much more prompt in this matter than it is in others, it is scarcely likely that the figures for the year which has just closed are available.
– Anything is good enough for the honorable senator to hang a grievance upon.
– If Senator Long chooses to treat a matter of such importance with levity, I am sorry.
– Why does not the honorable senator give the latest figures?
– Because they are not available. That is a complete reply to my honorable friend. I ask the Minister for the figures “P to 30th June last.
– They are not available.
– The evil to which I have- directed attention will continue to grow unless some steps be taken to indicate plainly what is to be the Ministerial attitude towards it. When we find that 36 per cent, cf the young men who ought to be in training have failed to discharge their obligations under the law, it will be admitted that there is something seriously wrong.
– Does the honorable senator say that the percentage of cadets he quotes has failed to attend drill altogether or has failed to attend the statutory number of drills?
– The number of cadets who are enrolled is stated by the newspapers to be 83,000, and of these the total average attendance has been 54,000 - a deficiency of 36 per cent.
– Is that the average attendance at all parades, or at statutory parades only?
– I am merely quoting the figures as they have been published. But leaving them on one side, I think that the Minister himself will admit that the attendance at drills has not been as good as that for which the law provides, or as we have a right to expect.
– If the honorable senator bases his complaint on those figures I would like to know what the figures mean?
– These figures have been published in the press.
– The newspapers have been publishing a lot of figures - I do not know where they got them.
– Does the Minister mean to suggest that the attendance at drills has been satisfactory?
– No. But does the honorable senator say that only 54,000 cadets have attended the statutory parades, or have attended all parades?
– My information dees net disclose that. Whether the absentees number 30, 31,. 32, or 36 per cent, does not matter very rauch. The fact is that a number of boys are discharging, their duties to the Commonwealth, whilst a very large number are abstaining from doing so. I wish to ascertain whether there is a reason for this state of things, and what the Department is doing to correct an unquestionable evil. I quite recognise the difficulty which must confront any Minister in introducing a system of this kind. I have no desire to increase that difficulty one bit, because the principle of compulsory training is a principle to which both parties in this Parliament are equally committed. I approach the matter as a friend of the system which the Minister is called upon to administer at present, but the administration of which in time to; come will fall upon the shoulders of one of his political opponents.
– It will be a long time yet.
– Perhaps it is too much to ask Senator Needham to recognise the seriousness of this question.
– The honorable senator makes such ugly suggestions.
– The point to which I wish to direct attention is whether the deficiency in the attendance at drills arises from a want of knovvledgs of their obligations on the part of the boys, whether it is due to advice which is offered to them, or whether it is traceable to laxity on the parr of the cffkrals themselves ? I wish to make a quotation from one newspaper which is venturing to offer advice on the subject. Some time ago, when Senator Chataway quoted from a journal in which objectionable advice was offered to the cadets of Australia, the Minister of Defence said that it was not advisable to bestow any attention upon it, lest we might give it a cheap advertisement. I do not wish to give a cheap advertisement to any newspaper. But the journal from which I desire to quote, in dealing with the fines which were recently imposed upon Holland and Giles, says -
In the opening of - the struggle to maintain freedom the victory lies with us. To Mr. Holland unci Mr. Giles belongs the honour of having defied the military conspirators, and to have won the first battle for freedom. It is for us to continue their work.
This paper boasts of having distributed 100,000 copies of this and other issues. In these circumstances, surely it is time that we- considered whether publications of this character are not contributing to the failure of the youth of Australia to respect their obligations under our Defence Act. Tf they are, some penalty should be inflicted upon them. The laiw imposes a penalty upon the lads themselves, and the Minister, I presume, sooner or later, intends to see that the law is carried; out. So far, the prosecutions have been confined to the boys who have made the .default. But when grown men accept the responsibility of publishing matter of that kind, and of disseminating it broadcast, thsy ought not to be exempt from punishment.
– The honorable senator has just quoted two cases in which the parents of boys were prosecuted.
– Yes; but I am. not dealing now with the parents or the boy.
– You said that nobody but cadets were being prosecuted.
– No ; my honorable friend confused an interjection with my statement. It does not appear to be reasonable or common-sense that we should punish boys, or, if you like, their parents, while at the same time persons, in responsible positions are allowed to offer this pernicious advice and distribute it broadcast throughout Australia. Not merely dees the absence of the boys constitute a weakness in our defence system, but it imposes a distinct hardship upon the boys who are doing their duty, and upon those who have to train them. Where an area officer found that 40 per cent, of the boys were inefficient because of their want of attendance, the boys were given an opportunity of trying to rush im the number of attendances prior to the 30th June. The result was. as the Minister must recognise, that the area officer, who could have handled all the boys as well as he could handle 60 per cent, of them, had to give additional attendances, which wasrunfair to him. He had to crowd in, rush, scurry, and scamp the training, which, if the boys- had attended in the ordinary way, would have been given more effectively. It is stated that the boys, because of rushing their attendances towards the 30th June, are being made efficient on paper, but not in practice.
At Redfern they have been put on fatigue work, clearing up the’ grounds of the area officers, and doing other work on the premises, and the time so spent will be credited thein as parades.
That sort of thing does not put the boys in the same position of efficiency as their associates, and, to that extent, will lower the level of efficiency of the unit in which they are enrolled. It is not fair to the boys who have attended and honestly discharged the duty which the law imposes on them. Is it fair to the area officers? They were appointed on the understanding that only a portion of their time would be required in that capacity. They were told that they could still carry out civil occupations, giving, as it were, their odd time to the military work. What is the position now ? Because of the number of absences on the part of cadets the area officers have been called upon to give up a very much larger portion of their time than was contemplated either . by themselves or by the Department. That is another reason why I suggest to the Minister that the present state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. It is with a. view to permit the honorable gentleman, if he sees fit, to make a definite pronouncement that I have brought the matter forward today. I am not quite certain that the Department itself should not take some share of the responsibility for the figures I have quoted - or, at any rate, for the attendances. Here is a complaint which has appeared in the press, and which I am, able to confirm in regard to other areas -
The Milson’s Point boys have been transferred to the Neutral Bay area (originally of the North Shore area), simply because the North Shore area was too large, and which is still increasing in number. The boys have to go a distance of about 2^ miles to train, whereas it is pointed out they could train just as well at a distance of 1 mile. It would be far easier for the boys living further up on the Shore to train with the Neutral Bay area, and balance the matter. There are 200 boys who attend this drill from Milson’s Point. Another big item to consider in this matter is the tram fares. What about the poor boys who have to travel that distance? It is urged that the Government should issue free passes to boys when travelling in uniform to parade.
A similar complaint was given to me in regard to an area on the Illawarra line, the exact number of which I have forgotten, but later I can give the information to the Minister if he wishes. The complaint is that in order to meet the requirements of the Department, cadets are put to very considerable inconvenience in the distance which they have to travel, and no account appears to be taken of the facilities to travel. In the case I have referred to the boys are located for training at a given spot. The train and the tram to convey the boys are most inconveniently jointed in, and the result is that they have to leave their homes very soon after the tea hour and to wait a long time on the ground before the drill commences. If it were possible to enable them to train in the adjoining area they could do so without much trouble to themselves and without waste of time. The Minister will, I think, see the advisability of trying not to alter the areas, or, at any rate, making exemptions to enable boys to train at the spots most convenient to themselves. Even if it be necessary to put on an additional area officer or two that should not weigh, especially in the initial stage of the system,, as against the possibility of getting the boys to carry out more cheerfully the work which is expected from them. The Minister will perhaps pardon me if I give another instance which indicates that there is a wrong impression abroad. Here is a statement which appeared either yesterday or to-day in a Melbourne newspaper -
An impression seems to have got abroad that nothing more serious than a nominal fine will be imposed upon offenders against the Defence Act, and on this assumption it is stated that several boys have, with their parents’ consent, stayed away deliberately from drill, intending to meet whatever penalty the magistrate might fix.
In view of these quotations, the Minister will, I hope, see that he will advantage the whole system and render a service to the country by making a plain and firm statement as to the exact position which the Department intends to take up, and’ the exact responsibility which the Act throws on the shoulders of the lads and their parents. And more particularly do I think that the time has come to offer a word of warning to those who are wrongly advising parents and, as it were, inciting them to break the law.
There is another matter which seems to me to invite comment, and that is a statement in the press to-day that there is a considerable and alarming shortage of officers. Whether the statement is right or wrong, I do not know ; but it indicates that, whereas about 7,600 officers will be required as the result of the transfer of the first draft of senior cadets to the position of recruits in the militia, only 1,870 officers are available, leaving a deficiency of 5,730 if the figures be correct. The newspaper goes on to state that the Department is inviting officers from the reserves or unattached list to revolunteer for the purpose of taking up this duty. If this statement be correct, it almost appears to me that the Department has been slow to the point of danger in taking steps to make the deficiency good. We are actually in the second year’s training, and apparently a deficiency is created before steps ave taken to make it good. One would have thought that, without any special effort, the Department could have anticipated this position months ago, and made provision to meet the requirements.
May I say a few words as to a practice which I assume is general - it exists m Sydney - and that is the training of cadets in the streets ? I am not referring to the regrettable accident which occurred in Sydney recently, but to the general practice, which must have been brought under the notice of every one who moves about the suburbs of Sydney, and I suppose the same applies to other cities, of training these lads in the public thoroughfares. It is a standing disgrace to this or any other young country which requires its boys to be trained for its defence that no better place can be found for the work than the public thoroughfares. It is not fair to the boys or their officers. While I make allowances for the difficulty of inaugurating a new system, surely Australia is not so bankrupt for open spaces that we have to use the open thoroughfares to train the boys in.
– Would the honorable senator sooner march them away, perhaps for miles, to find open spaces? If open spaces, were available, they would scarcely be taken on to the streets.
– I am not prepared to believe that there are no open spaces whatever available.
– Where did the honorable senator see the boys being trained in the streets of the city?
– In Sydney.
– The honorable member has seen them marching through.
– I have seen them going through their exercises in the streets of the suburbs of Sydney. Quite recently, the officer in charge of some lads who were drilling on the road near my place asked for permission to go into the paddock near my house in order to get them off the streets. : Senator Mcdougall. - That is not the city.
– I was referring to the suburbs. Of course, I am not speaking of the metropolitan area, but since the honorable senator has mentioned it, perhaps he can tell me where the boys of the city of Sydney are trained.
– In the parks. Senator MILLEN. - Are they all trained there ?
– Yes, except when they march on the roads.
– As I was driving the other day from the railway station in the direction of the Glebe bridge, I saw a squad of them being trained on a public street. There is no park there.
– They have the Wentworth park there lit up for them. They are always in it.
– They were not there when I went past. I do not think the honorable senator believes in training boys on the streets.
– I do not. Senator MILLEN. - Then why these interjections? I am calling attention to what the honorable senator admits is an undesirable practice. I believe the Department are trying to make better arrangements, and I want to speed them up.
– I thinkNthe boys are cruelly treated.
– The matter does not require any argument, nor do I believe the Minister will say that the present practice reaches the extreme point of excellence in the training of our young cadets.
– Neither is it being done except where it is unavoidable.
– Then it seems to be unavoidable in three out of four suburbs of Sydney. I do not take a drive anywhere without seeing boys being trained in the streets.
– The area officers have to be in some central place in the area. The arms are kept there j the lads have to assemble there; and then they march from there to the places where 0 they do their drill. No doubt, the honorable senator and others have seen them parading and being put through a few simple exercises before they leave, and have jumped to the conclusion that ail their drilling is done in the streets.
– When driving through the city of Melbourne on one occasion, I pulled up for half-an-hour and watched the boys being put through their drill in the streets.
– Where? Senator MILLEN. - I cannot give the name of the suburb or of the street, because I am not well enough acquainted with Melbourne, but I can give the direction of the road I went on. The incident took place not very far from this spot.
– It takes place only in a few unavoidable places where local parks are not available.
– The Minister seems to be trying to minimize the matter, but there is no question that a big percentage of the boys are being trained in the public thoroughfares.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is aware that some patriotic local bodies have refused us the right to take the boys into shelter.
– The Minister is now admitting that there are cases where the boys are trained outside. He will have a difficulty in making the general public believe that it occurs in only a few instances.
– The general public is led awav by the practice I have told you of.
– I am so surprised at the Minister disputing the fact that a considerable percentage of the boys are trained on the streets that I am not prepared with details. It may be necessary to obtain particulars of cases if the Minister says that the instances are rare. The following paragraph recently appeared in one of the Sydney papers -
The Minister of Defence (Senator Tearce) recently asked the Minister of Public Works in New South Wales to name a date when the building of the destroyers could be commenced by the State Government at the Fitzroy dock. The answer shows that the State authorities are not in a position to give the information required. It is stated by the Minister of Works that there is not sufficient material on hand yet to enable a start to be made with the vessels, and until more is received it will be impossible to say when a commencement can bc made. It is added that a shipment of material was being landed, and later on some announcement might be made. Senator Pearce said that shortly he will appoint an officer to look into the matter and say when, in his opinion, the start should be made. The State will be asked to appoint an officer to consult with the Commonwealth representative. No question has arisen as to the cruiser that is to be built by the State, as the Commonwealth has to supply all the parts, and these are not to hand yet.
When we remember that some three years ago the naval programme which is now being carried out was finally adopted and approved, and that for two years, at any rate, the responsibility of carrying it out has been in the hands of the present Government, it is a little disheartening to find statements being given to the public to the effect that even now it is not possible to say when a start will be made to carry out the contract recently let to the Government of New South Wales. One hesitates to ask when the fleet unit is likely to be completed. The idea, when the understanding was arrived at with .the Imperial authorities, was that the whole of these vessels would be completed approximately ‘at the same time. Now we find, with regard to two of them, that not only has no start yet been made, but no one is in a position to say when the start will take place.
– Was not the whole fleet to be completed within two years?
– I believe it was to be completed by the end of this year. It is quite clear that we shall be very much behind time in its construction, and it is doubtful whether the Australia will not be here before we have the complementary vessels completed in our own docks. That is not a desirable state of affairs. It must be extremely disheartening and disappointing, and cause great anxiety to those who regard a navy as essential for the safety of the country in which we live.
With regard to postal matters, a statement comes to me in a letter dated 30th June of this year to the effect that certain- postal officials in one of the country offices in New South Wales complain that their overtime is very much in arrears, and that it has been cancelled except from the 7th March last; that is to say, that the Postal Department repudiate overtime before that date. One of the officials on whose behalf this letter was written claims to be entitled to £47 6s., and another to £46. At the same time, according to these statements, other officials in other offices, also in New South Wales, admit that they have received payment for overtime prior to 7 th March last. In view of these statements, I should like to know what the departmental explanation is.
I should be glad to know what the Government are doing with regard to the. resumption of land in the Federal Territory. When the Bill was passed, it was provided that land should be resumed at its value as on a certain date - I think the year fixed was 1908. It is now 1912, and these people cannot do anything with their land. It is pretty well known that the Government intend to resume, and ‘the owners are helpless until the Government do resume. They cannot realize, or make any financial arrangements, and they would be foolish if they improved their lands in any way. As .a matter of business and fair play, the Government should either step in and resume and pay for the lands, or intimate to the owners that it releases them from the restrictions imposed by the Act. This thing cannot go on indefinitely.
I should like to know if there is any truth in the statement that Ministers have communicated with Mr. Campbell, their representative on the Imperial Trade Commission, as to the statements which, according to a cablegram, he made regarding the policy of the Commission. Following the publication of the cablegram, it was announced that Mr. Fisher was communicating with Mr. Campbell on the point. Was that communication sent, and, if a reply has been received from Mr. Campbell, will the Minister make it available to the House and to the country ?
– In the first place, may I congratulate Senator Millen on commencing to keep a scrap-book of all the information appearing in the daily press from time to time? When I tell the honorable senator that at least one newspaper has a gentleman’ in its employ who gives all his time to defence matters, he will realize that he will be busily occupied during the next few months in keeping up with the information appearing in that paper. With regard to the attendance of senior cadets during last year, the figures given by the newspapers, which, so far as I am aware, are not the figures of the Department, because no interim return of that kind can be of any value, are valueless, for this reason, that the parades have to be put in during the year, and the year ends on 30th June. It is the practice to have not only statutory, but voluntary parades. If a cadet misses a statutory parade, he can atone for that by attending two voluntary parades. The area officers, in making out their programme for a quarter, provide not only for statutory, but for a number of voluntary parades. An average attendance of 54,000 at every parade, including voluntary parades, out of a total enrolment of 83,000, might represent an attendance at statutory parades of 100 per cent. There is nothing really to indicate what it would represent. It is necessary to know whether the figures apply to statutory parades only. That was the question I asked the honorable senator, and which he did not answer, ff the figures apply to statutory parades only, they are an indication of a low standard of attendance at those parades, but if they apply to statutory and voluntary parades, they may indicate an attendance of 100 per cent, at statutory parades.
– What are the exact figures ?
– I have told the honorable senator that I cannot give them to hiro. The year closed only last week, and the figures are not available.
– Has not the Minister been supplied with the figures for the end of last quarter?
– I have the usual quarterly return supplied to me, but it says nothing about the attendance at parades. It gives only the total registrations, the number of medical examinations, the percentage of medically examined fit, unfit, and temporarily unfit, total exemptions granted in training areas, the number remaining to be’ medically examined or exempt, the total number liable for training, and the total number actually in training. But it does not give the attendances at parades.
– Might I suggest that these reports should be amplified? The Minister should have some report as to the number attending parades.
– The honorable senator will see that the cadets must put in a certain number of parades within the year under the Act as it stands at present”. The amending Bill now before the Senate will alter that. Under that Bill, prosecutions may take place at any time during the year, but under the existing Act we could not prosecute a cadet for non-attendance at a statutory parade until the end of the year. That undoubtedly has had a bad effect. It has tended to make the cadets believe that, as they were not prosecuted during the year, they would not be prosecuted at all. Senator Millen seems to have fallen into the same mistake, because he has been dealing with the matter as though it indicated some negligence on the part of the Department in failing to prosecute cadets for nonattendance at parades. If it be news to the honorable senator, I can tell him now that we found we could not prosecute until the 30th June. Since that date we can prosecute, and instructions have been issued that all those who ha.ve failed to attend the statutory number of parades are to be prosecuted. Those instructions are being acted upon.; but this is only the 4th July, and as legal machinery takes a little time to be put into motion, no prosecutions have so far taken place.
– I would not be in too great a hurry to prosecute.
– I am not suggesting any harsh measures, but I think that a public announcement on the matter from the Minister would do good.
– The honorable senator is again behind the fair. I have made such an announcement time after time during the last three or four months. Almost every week, when interviewed by representatives of the press, I told them that, unless the statutory number of parades were attended, it was my intention to set the law in motion and prosecute the offenders. There is not a single individual in this country who reads the newspapers who is not aware that that statement has been publicly made time after time. In the circumstances, no cadet can plead that he did not get due warning. I hope to be in a position presently to say what has been the percentage of attendance to the number enrolled. So far as we have been able to judge, it has not been what it ought to have been, or what we should like to have seen it ; but honorable senators must recognise what a revolution this Act was for the people of Australia. From the returns given to me, I find that there are 89,306 cadets actually undergoing training. That represents a revolutionary change in the lives of the youths of Australia who have been called upon for the first time to perform these public duties. It is not to be wondered at that there should have been a few attempts at evasion, or that there should have been a little grumbling. When we come to consider the matter fairly, the success of the Act has been far more astonishing than its failure, in view of the freedom of the outdoor life enjoyed by Australian youths. It is only because we believe that people require only to understand the scheme to conform to it that we have dealt with this matter gently at first.
– It would have been foolish to have been harsh. That would have defeated the object of the Act.
– I think so. That explains why there have been no prosecutions. With regard to the notice given, arrangements were made by myself that cadets who had neglected to attend statutory parades should be given a final chance during the month of June to attend special parades in order to avoid prosecution. What fault is there to be found with that ? If Senator Millen says that cadets desire to avoid prosecution, he cannot quarrel with that arrangement. It was made in the interests of the lads, and gave them a final opportunity to comply with the law. It was far better for us to take a little extra precaution in that way than to refuse to meet them at all, and come down with the hard hand of the law immediately after the 30th June. The fact that we have afforded them these facilities gives us a better justification for enforcing the law, now that the 30th June is passed.
– Does the Minister intend to make that a precedent for the future ?
– Certainly not. We recognise that as this was the first year the scheme was put into operation, it was a fair thing to give the cadets a last chance. They can have no complaint now if they are prosecuted. With respect to the complaint that cadets on attending for drill have been put to cleaning up offices and arms, I may say that, in some areas, there have been very large attendances at parades, but in other cases only a few have attended. I think I can appeal to Senator Cameron, when I say that it would not be sensible to hold a parade and keep a sergeant instructor drilling half-a-dozen lads. In some cases, where only two or three lads have attended, it was impossible to drill them as a section, and they were set to clean up offices and to clean rifles.
– Good enough for them, too.
– I think so. That may act as a deterrent. I am not yet so old as to have forgotten my feelings as a boy, and I would have considered it infinitely greater punishment to have been set to clean offices and rifles than to have been drilled as a soldier.
– Does this work make them efficient?
– Certainly not.’
– But they are passed as efficient.
– That had to be done, because they attended the parades, and we were prevented by circumstances from giving them drill. I do not look upon that work as a satisfactory substitute for drill, but the circumstances have justified it. I do not think Senator Millen was justified in saying that this has involved very great inconvenience to area officers. In many cases, the area officers are not present at all. The sergeant instructor looks after the boys, and the area officer supervises the work done. The actual drilling is done in most cases by a sergeant-major. I do not know of any case, in which an area officer, though he may have had to attend on an extra evening during the week, has been obliged to lose time in the day in consequence of this. With regard to the alteration of the training area at Milson’s Point, Senator Millen will not expect me to reply to a question like that off-hand. There are some hundreds of training areas, and they are continually being altered.
– I brought the case forward because I believe that by a little adjustment, a great deal of the boys’ time might be saved.
– Our desire has always been to meet the convenience of the cadets as far as possible. Honorable senators, as well as honorable members of another place, have frequently written to me to point out such difficulties, and wherever I could, I have tried to meet the objections raised. If Senator Millen will give me particulars of the case to which he referred, I shall see whether it cannot be met. On the face of it, it is foolish to make lads walk a greater distance to drills than there is any necessity for. We have an army of officers doing their best to carry out the instructions given, which were to study the convenience of the great majority of the cadets. Senator Millen has asked for a plain statement as to the attitude which the Government will take up on the question of making up the deficiencies of parade. The position is that lads who have not completed their service will be prosecuted. We have sent out instructions to the commanding officers, who will conduct the prosecutions, that where the infliction of a fine would impose a hardship apon the parents, they are to ask that section 135 of the Act shall be given effect to, and instead of a lad being fined, he shall be committed to a place of military detention. Where a fine is inflicted, and there is a penalty of imprisonment for nonpayment, the officers are instructed that, instead of the lads being imprisoned in a gaol, they shall be sent to a place of military detention. We wish to remove any criminal taint from these prosecutions, and to see that the penalty inflicted shall be satisfied by drill arid military duty of some kind, instead of by the offender having to go to gaol. In cases where a lad’s parents are unable to pay the fines imposed, we wish to provide that the lad shall himself suffer the penalty of his own misdeeds. With regard to what Senator Millen said about the shortage of officers, the honor able senator did not make it plain whether he was referring to the Senior Cadets or to the Citizen Forces. But I shall make a general statement of the position. Prior to this year, as honorable senators are aware, we had a very small cadet force in the Commonwealth. It was mainly organized in connexion with public schools, and the teachers of the schools were, to a large extent, the officers in charge. The new scheme has altered that position. In the case of the primary scliools, practically all the pupils belong to the Junior Cadets, and they are being instructed by the school teachers. So far as the Senior Cadets are concerned, some of the secondary schools had senior cadet battalions, but in addition to those, we have had to provide for between 60,000 and 70,000 Senior Cadets. Of course, there were not sufficient cadet officers attached to the previous senior cadet organization for the new organization. But officers have been coming forward in considerable numbers, and the present position is that while we require 2,804 as a full staff of officers for the senior cadet organization, we have at the present time 1,994 officers available. That is not a bad record for the year. Although we have 60,000 additional cadets, we are only 810 officers short. As we did so well last year, we are encouraged to hope that next year we shall get the full complement required. Regarding the Citizen Forces, Senator Millen is perhaps unaware that under the old defence organization each company of militia - so far as its rank and file were concerned - was kept on a peace establishment. That is to say, in time of war the rank and file would double its numbers. But ever since Major-General Hutton’s time, the policy has been to keep the number of its officers always up to war strength. Upon that basis we require 2,213 officers this year, having .in view the inflation of the forces by the Senior Cadets ; and there are available on the active list 1,510. We require additional officers to the extent of 703 to bring them up to war strength. But so far as the peace establishment is concerned, the number of officers is quite adequate. During the past year we have been granting facilities for the instruction of non-commissioned officers in order that they might qualify for commissions. The inducement, has been held out to’ them that if they wished to continue in the militia beyond their present term of engagement, the way was open to them to qualify as non-commissioned officers and ‘ officers. A very large number have been so qualified. I am informed that the effect will be that during the coming year we shall experience no difficulty in finding the additional officers required) particularly in the lower ranks ; but I would point out that we have also a large number of officers on the unattached list. The men upon that list are not necessarily antiquated or out of date. They have been placed upon it simply because under the existing organization there were no commands open to them, or because, having completed their term, it was necessary that they should retire to give the next officer a show. We have a large number of these officers, and this new organization will afford us an opportunity of inviting them back to senior commands in our Citizen Forces. In that way we shall be able to meet our immediate needs, and with the additional instructional staff we are securing, we shall be in a position to afford facilities for the instructional officers, and thus get the 703 we require to again bring our forces up to war strength. Senator Millen spoke of delay in the construction of the cruiser Brisbane and the three torpedo boat destroyers which are to be built in New South Wales.
– The Minister has overlooked the matter upon which I laid most emphasis, namely, the publication of certain objectionable advice, which I quoted.
– I thank the honorable senator for interrupting me. I find that I had overlooked two matters, namely, the publication of objectionable statements, and also the question of training in public thoroughfares. Now, the position is that each district is divided into certain military areas, and the area officers have to reside in the areas to which they are attached. The area office is often situated at no great distance from a public park or open space. Nobody, I am sure, will suggest that it is good for the boys to do all their drills in drill halls. Both Senators Cameron and Gould will admit that it is desirable that they should get out into the open. In addition to that, we have not anything like a sufficient number of drill halls at present. The cadets are not allowed to take their rifles home, and consequently they have to be kept at the area office. The lads assemble there, their attendance is registered in the books, and they are then formed up and marched off to the places where they have to drill. In some cases, the office may be so distant from a public park that, in case of a night drill, it may not be worth while taking them there. In such circum stances, they may be drilled in the public, streets. But I know that many complaints that have been made regarding the drilling of cadets in public thoroughfares have emanated from superficial observers, who,, seeing the lads marching down the streets,, have at once jumped to the conclusion that they were doing their parade, when as a matter of fact they were on their way to a public park. There are a large number of places in the Commonwealth where we have not proper parade grounds. In other places there are grounds which we have been forbidden to enter lest the grass should be damaged. We have appealed to the local governing bodies for the use of the grounds under their control, and in most cases, I am glad to say, we have had a generous and patriotic response; but in a very few instances we have been met with a slap in the face. In regard to what we propose to do in the future, I can only ask Senator Millen to restrain his soul in patience until the Budget is delivered. He will then see that we are not unmindful of the discomforts to which the cadets have been subjected during the winter, and that we are doing our best to remedy them. Regarding his desire that we should place the publisher of the journal from which he quoted on the pedestal of martyrdom, I wish to repeat what I stated on a previous occasion. I believe that there is less opposi-. tion to our defence system to-day than there was six months ago, and there will be less opposition to it in six months’ time than there is now. As the people understand it, they are beginning to appreciate it. The protests which have been made against it are puny and insignificant. They have scarcely rippled the surface of public opinion. But we should lend them added force, and attract to their authors a certain amount of public sympathy, if we were to make martyrs of them. There is no doubt that many persons who are in a minority, and who are struggling for what they believe to be right, will say things which are actionable and open to prosecution. But one of the strongest features in connexion with the British nation has been the latitude which it has allowed its people in the matter of free speech. That circumstance has tended to make Britain strong, and to quell the spirit of revolution in past centuries. In other countries we see that the policy of repression does not produce such beneficial results as the policy of allowing the utmost liberty.
– What about the caseof Tom Mann?
– I do not know about that. I am speaking of liberty, not of license. There is a great difference between the two things. Senator Millen. - Does the honorable senator call inciting them to break the law an act of liberty?
– T do not say that that is a fair construction to place upon some of the statements which have been made. There is a reverend gentleman in diis city who preached a sermon the other day which might easily be construed as an incitement to break the law. But we should be extremely foolish if we were to go round endeavouring to put the worst possible construction upon statements of that character. Our defence system will be infinitely stronger if its opponents are allowed their say, and the common sense of the people is permitted to decide the question.
– Then a man’ is to be allowed to break the law if he chooses?
– No. There has been no hesitancy on’ the part of the Government in that matter. Upon the question of naval construction, I wish to say that, had the order for the construction of the cruiser Brisbane, and the three torpedoboat destroyers been placed in London, there is no doubt that they would have been built sooner. They would probably have been here as soon as the other ships. But it is equally important to this country that we should commence to make ourselves self-contained, not merely in the manning of ships and the training of officers, but in the construction of the vessels themselves. The decision to adopt that course has occasioned delay. It is the sole cause of delay. I am prepared to allow the public to judge as to who is responsible for that delay. We have done our best to expedite the construction of these ships. Senator Millen quoted a paragraph from a newspaper which stated that I had requested the New South Wales Government to name a date when the construction of the destroyers shall be deemed to be commenced. That is due to the fact that, in the warship contract, it is provided that the Commonwealth shall provide the material for the cruiser. On the other hand, the New South Wales Government will provide the material for the three destroyers, and the whole of the ships are to be built within twenty-six months from the date of the commencement of the contract. The contract is to be deemed to be commenced upon a date to be fixed by an officer from the Naval Officer and an officer from the New South WalesGovernment dockyard ; and, in the event of their failure to agree, an umpire is to be appointed. Consequently, I have asked the New South Wales Government to fix a date when the construction of the destroyers shall be deemed to be commenced.
– Is that date to depend upon the date of the importation of this material?
– No; but it is a factor in the matter. We are in possession of information that certain material hasalready been landed. We have asked the New South Wales Government to fix a date upon which the construction of the destroyers shall be deemed to have commenced. They have informed us that they are not yet in a position to fix the date,, but that they hope to be able to do so shortly. Captain Clarkson is leaving Melbourne, either to-day or to-morrow, to confer with them on this question, and inorder that we may get the date finally fixed. I have no doubt that the New South Wales Government will do their best, for thesake of their own reputation, to expedite the construction of these ships.
– Could not this material have been ordered months ago?
– It was ordered months ago.
– And it is not here yet ? Senator PEARCE. - No. The question of the delay in the provision of material has caused considerable vexation and annoyance to myself and other members of the Government. But it is a matter upon which we are not the arbiters. There have been a series of delays, not merely with our ships, but also with ships for the British Government, which are very annoying and vexatious, and which we regret as much as anybody else does. I have no doubt that the New South Wales Government have been the victims of these delays in regard to our ships, as we have been in regard to the ships under construction in England. I am sorry to say that the latter ships will not be delivered ‘ until months after the appointed time. That is due to factors which the Admiralty say they are unable to control, and which they regret. We have been trying to bring influence to bear to expedite the delivery of the vessels. As regards the ships under construction in Sydney, we intend to do all we can to expedite their completion, and we have every reason to believe that the State Government’ will try to hand them over at the earliest possible moment. With regard to the land an the Federal Territory, the Budget will disclose the intentions of the Government, ;and also the precise nature of the action which they propose to take in regard to the land, and, therefore, I do not propose to say more on the subject to-day.
– In supporting the first reading of this Bill, I desire to take advantage of the suggestion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to refer to one or ;two matters which are not. burning or Iblazing, but which, at least, are agitating the minds of the people. It is fortunate for the Senate that a Supply Bill has been brought down at all, and that its members are given an opportunity to express their opinions on public matters. I regret very much that the Senate had reason to adjourn for a specific period simply because the other branch of the Legislature deemed it wise to have an argument. I entered my protest against the proposed adjournment, . as I shall always protest against an observance of that custom, because I realize that while the two Houses are constituted as they are, work can be found for both. In view of the fact that the Government have admitted that certain Bills are in course of preparation, I think that the Senate could have been very well engaged last week in discussing measures without waiting for another place to settle its fight. One of the questions which are agitating the minds of the people is the increased revenue from Customs and Excise. I admit that that revenue has been greatly increased, in fact, the last returns from the Treasury show that conclusively. As a Protectionist, I would rather see the revenue derived from another source than Customs. Just because this revenue has .increased, and is still increasing, the present Government, as well as the Labour party of Australia have been attacked for not making the Tariff much more Protective than it is. There is no necessity to make such an attack as that. It is not the present Government, or the Labour party, who are to blame for the increased revenue from Customs, but those who, when appealed to in April, 191 1, refused to vest in this National Parliament the powers which it sought in the shape of new Projection.
– Have you not a workting majority in both Houses?
– Yes; but that fact does not entitle us to do certain things which the Constitution says we cannot do. It was because the Government recognised that inability that they appealed to the people to vest in this Parliament the power to establish new Protection ; the people said “ No,” and consequently the blame for the ineffectiveness of the Tariff remains at their door, and not at the door of the Labour party or of the Labour Government. I, for one, am prepared to vote for the highest Protective Tariff which can possibly be made, realizing the necessity for doing so. I also realize that until such time as. the Protection which is given at the ports to- the manufacturers is shared by the worker and consumer, the Tariff should remain as it is. Unless glaring anomalies can be pointed out to me, I am prepared to let things remain as they are. Certainly, if any industry is suffering or struggling by reason of anomalies, I would welcome an amending Bill in that direction. But to re-open the whole Tariff, and try to make our Protection much more effective than it is, will be futile until the people recognise the necessity of giving this Parliament the powers it sought in the direction of giving new Protection. We have also been attacked by Senator Millen and others about out land tax. I claim that it has been beneficial, not only -to the revenue, but to all Australia. It.has been the means of breaking up large, estates which had been held out of use; ‘ It has been the means of increasing settlement in Australia. It has been the means of providing a few of those who have come from oversea with land which they can work and develop. It is impossible to separate the tax on unimproved land values and its usefulness afterwards from the. questions of immigration and defence. Senator Millen has referred to defence, and as the’ Minister of Defence has replied to him, I shall leave that question alone. But, as regards immigration, it is absolutely essential- before the Commonwealth spends a halfpenny in encouraging immigration from overseas, to have large estates broken up. The tax has been very effective in breaking up, at least, some of the large estates.
– It ought to be twice as heavy.
– I do not know. I think that, as far as it has gone, the tax has been very effective.
– Not half effective enough.
– I think it has been the means of providing land for those who have come from other parts of the world to help us to develop our great resources.
– There is no objection then to immigration now.
– I have never objected to immigration. The only objection I ever made was to the system advocated by the honorable senator, which was indiscriminate immigration.
– You are prepared to favour immigration now?
– Not indiscriminately.
– Are you in favour of it now?
– I am, and always have been, in favour of a judicious scheme of immigration, not a scheme which would stock the iabour markets in the cities, but one which would place the immigrants on lands where they are available.
– But they are available now, you say.
– There is no harm in bringing out men to compete with agricultural labourers.
– Some of the large estates which have been hitherto held up are now available.
– Can you name them?
– From memory, I cannot give the names, but I shall oblige my honorable friend to-morrow, if he does not take the trouble himself to get a return from the Land Tax Commissioner. The Commonwealth Government have been asked by some of the State Governments to spend a certain sum in assisting immigration to Australia, but at the same time these State Governments will not allow the Commonwealth Government to have a voice in selecting the class of immigrants.
– It can select its own if it wants to do so.
– I do not think so. But supposing that is right, some State Governments have asked the Commonwealth Government to assist them in their immigration schemes by voting a certain sum; but, at the same time, they will not allow the Commonwealth Government to have a voice in selecting the class of immigrants.
– That is Mr. Fisher’s argument in regard to the State Bank.
– We have to bevery cautious in that respect ; if we are going to pay the piper, we have at least the right to call the tune.
– Do you not think that the States are competent to select immigrants, too ?
– I do not want my honorable friend to put words into my mouth. 1 am not reviling the States. I am not saying that they are not fit to select the class of immigrants to develop our country, but that if the State Governments prefer this request for assistance, the Commonwealth Government should have a voice in selecting the class, of immigrants. Let me read only one of many complaints which I have seen in connexion with the treatment meted out to immigrants on their arrival in the various States. I hold in my hand a clipping from the Melbourne Herald of 26th June, 1912 -
Mr. J. Hackett, with his two sons, arrived in Victoria by the steamer Kaib.oura on Wednesday last, and, according to his statement, was unable to obtain the employment promised. him in England. He therefore decided to return home, and left for London this afternoonin the mail steamer Orvieto. Mr. Hackett made the following statement : - “ I had read so much about Australia that I thought if the place were anything like painted it would be a good country for myself and sons. I communicated with the Victorian AgentGeneral, and was referred by him to his representative at Cardiff. In order that my information should be first hand, I paid the expenses of the Cardiff agent to visit me at my homein Nottingham. The agent came and stayed’ at my’ place for the night. He told me, among other things, that I would have no difficulty in obtaining work at my trade as a coal miner at either Wonthaggi, Outtrim, or Jumbunna.”
This is the class of immigrant whom the Victorian Government are enticing to this; State-
The average wage for a coal miner was, hesaid, 16s. a day. The prospects seemed soattractive that I decided to come with my boys to Victoria.
Last Wednesday I visited the Immigration Bureau. The officials there told me that there, had been some trouble at the State mine, but advised me to see the manager of it. I went to Wonthaggi, and interviewed Mr. G. ‘H. Broome. He shook his head when I told himthe object of my visit, and said that he was. sorry that he could do nothing for me. Mr. Broome informed me that he was already “ weeding out “ the single men, and that unless some developmental work was undertaken, which? rested with the Railway Commissioners, he could hold out no hopes for me. I also tried’ Outtrim and Jumbunna with the same result- :
– So that after two years of Labour government you have to starve this man out of Australia.
– There has not been a Labour Government in Victoria yet, and the Commonwealth Labour Government have no control over immigration or mines, except in respect of the Northern Territory. The system of immigration pursued by the various State Governments, with one exception, is to have agents in various parts of Great Britain, and each of them is paid £1 per head for every immigrant that he sends to his State.
– Will you guarantee that that is a correct statement?
– It is so far as Victoria is concerned, and I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that a similar honus is paid to their agents by other States. If it is necessary at any time to invite people to our shores, the work should be done by the Government, or not at all, and every man in the Immigration Office in London, and every agent of that office, ought to receive simply a yearly salary. His pay should be good, but no incentive should be offered to him in the shape of a bonus to send men and women of all classes and descriptions indiscriminately to our shores. The present Government have been asked to spend money in assisting an immigration scheme, while at the same time they were to have no voice in the selection of the immigrants. I venture to say that this Government, or any other Government who may succeed them., would be only too willing to assist, but would always desire to have a voice in the selection. We have been told that things are not as they ought to be in the Postal Department, and I admit that there are still postal employes who -have serious grievances.
– Your Government shirked their responsibilities by sending them to the Arbitration Court.
– Quite the contrary. Our Government have increased the expenditure of the Commonwealth by nearly a quarter of a million pounds, in order to -improve the conditions of the postal employes, giving them more remuneration for their labours.
– And there is more discontent than ever.
– I dare say that “if the Government had spent a million pounds more there would still be grievances. ;but it is not correct to say that the Government shirked their responsibilities by passing the Public Service Arbitration Act. The present Government have done more for the postal employes of the Commonwealth than any Government that preceded them. They are continuing to improve their conditions, and I dare say that that section of the Postal Service which has not yet received some consideration will receive it very shortly. The Government have been consistent in their attitude so far as the Arbitration Court is concerned. They have simply suggested that the Public Service employes should avail themselves of the same channel to settle their disputes as do employes outside. There is nothing inconsistent or suggestive of shirking responsibilities in that. The Government of the day had a policy when they faced the people at the last election. That policy was arbitration, and they have given effect to it. They say to the Commonwealth employes, “ If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Public Service Commissioner, you have your remedy. Appeal to the Arbitration Court, and we, as an employer, will stand by the Court’s decision.”
– Parliament, as the employer, ought to tackle the job.
– I cannot see anything fairer than the attitude the Government have taken up. Apparently the honorable senator wants to revert to the old system under which he and I, while we were members of Parliament, would have the giving of certain positions, and could go with a pistol to the head of a department and say, “ Unless you do so and so, things will be all wrong.” If the honorable senator wants to revert to that system, I will let him go his own way.
– I was not referring to that kind of system at all.
– I am glad to see that Australia is steering away from that system, and, so far as I am concerned, I will always advocate arbitration. I come now to the proposal to establish a Commonwealth Bank. It has been established, but on a very humble scale yet. I very rauch regretted to hear the reflections cast by the Leader of the Opposition on the gentleman appointed as Governor of the bank. It is not customary for the honorable senator to be so jUnjust.
– When did I make those references?
– When speaking on the Address-in-Reply.
– Are we to have them reviewed now?
– Why did the honorable senator ever give us the chance to review them? The honorable senator’s references to Mr. Miller were unjust and uncalled for. The honorable senator said that he was incapable and incompetent.
– I never said anything of the kind. Read your Hansard.
– The inference to be drawn from the honorable senator’s remarks was that Mr. Miller was incompetent. I should like to place the honorable senator in the pillory in the same way. Before Mr. Miller has even the chance to lay the foundations of the bank, we find the archpriest of finance, Senator Millen, castigating him without his having a chance to put his views before the country. The attack on Mr. Miller was unmanly, unjust, ungenerous, and unworthy of the man who uttered it. As to the salary paid to the Governor of the bank, we must give some encouragement to a good man to undertake such responsible work. It was because the Government realized the necessity of getting the best man in Australia that they gave him such encouragement, and it has yet to be seen whether or not Senator Millen’s unjust remarks can be proved. With regard to the Australian Notes Act, I remember Senator Vardon, when the measure was first introduced here, prophesying utter and absolute failure.
– I did not; but the Australian notes issue has not yet been put to the test.
– The honorable senator reckoned that about five months from the time of issue, the £i note would not be worth 5s. .
– Why does not the honorable senator quote properly?
– I am quoting only from memory, and if I am incorrect .I will apologize to the honorable senator, but I am confident that he made a statement from his seat in this chamber to the effect that within a few months of the operation of the Act the face value of the £1 note would not be 5s.
– No man would be such a fool as to say so.
– We find that after the Act has been in operation for two years the circulation of the notes is ;£9,’5i2,i5i, and the reserve held in the Treasury is £4>3°5>ZI5-
– The amount first quoted is the total issue, not the circula’ tion.
– I was referring: to the issue. Those figures show that there is no danger to be apprehended from the Act, and that the Government have kept their promise to Parliament to maintain a proper reserve. The Australian Notes Act has proved to be an absolute benefit to Australia. Whilst the Act was despised at its birth, and scorned and castigated by honorable senators opposite, and by people outside, it has proved a boon to several State Treasurers. Five out of six of them have been able to borrow money from the Commonwealth Treasurer under the operation of that Act
– They could have borrowed it elsewhere at the same rate of interest.
– They could have gone to London for the money, but they would then have had to pay brokerage, underwriting, and commission fees. They had not to do that here. All they had to do was to write a note to the Commonwealth Treasurer, asking him to lend them so much money, and they received it. That was the end of it, and as a result the Australian taxpayer has been saved many thousands of pounds.
– And the interest remains in Australia.
– And, as the Honorary Minister says, the interest remains in Australia.
– And the State Treasurers got £100 for £100.
– Almost. The trouble with honorable senators opposite isthat our London assistants have been deprived of an opportunity to assist Australia by lending us about ,£3,000,000.
– The honorable member should read this lecture to Mr. McGowen, who is going to Londonshortly for £6,000,000.
- Mr. McGowenhas already come to the Commonwealth Treasurer, and received such assistance as the Commonwealth Treasurer could give- him. Whilst I claim that the operation of the Australian Notes Act has befriended” five out of six of our State Treasurers, I do not claim that we are yet in a position to assist the State Governments to the extent of lending them £6,000,000. Reverting to the Commonwealth Bank, let me quote the following from the speech of Senator Millen on the Address-in-Reply -
If any criticism were required of the Government Bank -
– Order ! If the honorable senator will look up the Standing Orders he will find that no honorable senator is at liberty to allude to any debate of the Same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion. The debate to which the honorable senator proposes to refer will be revived at a later stage.
– I come now to the next matter of importance, which is the proposed maternity allowance. The Government propose to give £5 to the mother of every child born in Australia. This has been dubbed a “ baby bonus.” It has been given many descriptions, and our honorable friends opposite have described it as a bribe for women’s votes. I have here a quotation from the Age of a speech recently made by Senator McColl. I think it is worth while to make some extracts from it inl connexion with the so-called “ baby bonus,” and the policy of the Labour party -
Senator McColl remarked that this was to be his first public utterance since his selection as one of the Liberal candidates for the Senate. He intended to speak with perfect frankness. With the Labour Socialist party in power their political liberties were threatened, and their industrial liberties as well.
I am very sorry that the honorable senator is not ‘in his place. If he were, I should ask him to say in what way any liberty, industrial or political, is threatened by the presence on the Government benches of the Labour party. He went on to say -
A man was not allowed to live to-day unless he had the union brand on him. The Labour party was absolutely unscrupulous in its methods of getting place and power, and of sticking to them when obtained.
– Hear, hear; we agree upon that point.
– Then I shall ask Senator Millen, in the absence of Senator McColl, to mention the unscrupulous methods which the Labour party are using to retain office, or which they used to obtain office. I could understand the use of such expressions by a man who, having joined a party and found that it did not suit him that they should be put into power, became a “rat.” Will Senator McColl, when he speaks on the floor of this Chamber, have the courage which he had before a women’s gathering to make the same state ment, and to mention the unscrupulous methods we adopt either to attain or to retain office ?
– The honorable senator is not too scrupulous to attack the honorable senator in his absence.
– My remarks will be published in Hansard, if not in the press, and I remind the honorable senator that Senator McColl spoke in the absence of those whom he condemned. I say that such terms as those used by Senator McColl are unworthy of any member of the Senate. He went on to refer to the maternity allowance, and, having spoken of it as a bonus for babies, he said -
It was nothing less than a low-down, contemptible political dodge.
I appeal to any one in Australia to say whether that is fitting language for any public man to use.
– Senator McColl is an expert in low-down political dodges himself.
The PRESIDENT__ Order !
– I am not a judge of the honorable senator’s past character or conduct, but I say advisedly that any man who uses such language on a public platform to condemn his opponents is unworthy to be placed in a public and responsible position. After all, Senator McColl was only taking the lead from other people. The Government have proposed to grant a maternity allowance, and instead of giving them any credit at all for humane motives, their opponents at once dubbed them as “ voteseekers,” “ vote-catchers,” and “ bribers.” Whether that condemnation is merited or not, there are thousands of fathers and mothers in Australia who will welcome this proposal. Setting party bias aside, honorable senators will admit that at the time of a certain interesting event in a family an allowance of ^5 will be very welcome assistance. It has been suggested by one or two of our opponents that only those who are in receipt of an income of less than £400 a year should receive the £5 maternity allowance. Such a proposal is a gratuitous insult to a portion of the womanhood of Australia. It is because the Government do not desire to pauperize one section and exempt another that they offer j£$ to every mother in Australia, irrespective of whether the family is in receipt of an income of ^10,000 or ^100 a year. To make the differentiation proposed by our opponents would be to insult the greater number of Australian mothers. I know what the people will say when they are appealed to on this question of a maternity allowance for the motherhood of Australia. Mention has been made of the referenda, and we have been told that, because the Government proposals were defeated when they last appealed to the people, the writing was on the. wall, and spelled disaster for the Federal Labour party.
– Was it Mr. Anstey who said that?
– I believe that Mr. Anstey said that the Labour party was “marching to its Sedan”; but just as I disagree with many of the statements made by Senator Millen, I venture also to disagree with my colleague, Mr. Anstey, when he says that we are marching to our Sedan.
– The army that marched to Sedan was the German army, and they were victorious.
– I am glad that the Government do not consider the result of the last referenda as in the nature of a defeat, and that they are again going to submit their proposals to the people. I am confident that on this occasion the people will indorse them. .
– The honorable senator was confident on the last occasion.
– I was. I am rather optimistic, and I think it is just as well .to be confident. The reason I am more confident on this occasion is that I think that by the next time these proposals are submitted to the people, they will be sadder and wiser than they were before. We claimed that our proposals should have been carried because of the operation of trusts and combines and unscrupulous traders in increasing the cost of living. This Parliament seeks control over these unscrupulous people. The electors, in their wisdom, when last appealed to, cast a vote of confidence in the trusts, combines, and unscrupulous traders, and, because of that, the trusts, combines, and unscrupulous traders have since further increased the cost of living.
– Does not the success of the prosecution of the Coal Vend show that we have sufficient power to deal with trusts ?
– No. I remind the honorable senator that that case is not finally disposed of.
– It is so far as the Coal Vend is concerned. It is not going to appeal.
– Some of those prosecuted are going to appeal. But even if the case were finished, there is nothing to prevent the Coal Vend forming again under another name, and adopting the same tactics as before.
– Only the fear of the same punishment again if they did so.
– I admit that the question of the referenda opens up a very wide field for discussion. I know that the Coal Vend has been prosecuted, and does not propose to appeal against the judgment of the Court. But even that fact does not prove that this Parliament possesses the powers which it sought to have conferred upon it at the last referenda, and which it will again seek at the coming general election. I would ask the Governments of some of the other States to follow the good example which has been set by the Western Australian Government, and to recognise the penalties which have been inflicted upon the people in the way of the increased cost of living, and the imposition of higher rents. We know that rent is a big factor in the lives of most people.
– The honorable member!s party have made it bigger.
– We have not. In order to release that tension, the Government of Western Australia are about to establish State brickworks. State timber mills, andi to undertake the erection of workmen’s homes. The Navigation Bill, which is mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, will be attended to by another branch of the Legislature when the members of that House have realized the futility of wasting public time as they have been doing during the past fortnight. I hope that when the measure is considered there, we shall profit by the lessons which have been taught By the terrible disaster which befell the Titanic. We were told that the Werriwa election would result in the defeat of the Labour candidate, because our proposals at the last referenda were rejected by the people. But that election was a forcible reply to our opponents both inside and outside of this House.
– Is that the election at which the majority for the Labour candidate dropped from 1,800 votes to 300?
– It is. But I would remind my honorable friend that Mr. Conroy, the Liberal candidate, was in the fiela a month pr/or to the advent of the Labour candidate. Allowing the Leader of the Opposition all the consolation which he can derive from the drop to which he has referred, I would ask whether he would not have gloried in the fact if Mr. Conroy had been returned by a majority of twenty votes?
– That would have been a still bigger triumph.
– The honorable senator might quote the figures relating to the referenda poll at Werriwa.
– Whilst the press of Australia, with Senator Millen and others, predicted the success of the Liberal candidate at Werriwa, it is a singular circumstance that since the polling day, we have never heard a word about the (Labour victory. The result of that election was practically a vote of confidence in the present Labour Administration.
– The Liberal party had 127 organizers in that district for six weeks prior to the election.
– That is not correct.
– Upon previous occasions, my honorable friends opposite have raised a hue-and-cry about the Labour Caucus and the Labour pledge. I am glad to learn that they are following the example of our’ party. 1 find that Mr. W. H. Irvine was hauled up before the Liberal Caucus, and charged with having made certain statements about an alleged Liberal policy at a meeting which was held at Aspendale.
– The honorable senator is wasting his time. With such an imagination he ought to be writing novels.
– At any ‘ rate, 1 read a statement in the press in which Mr. Irvine declared that he had mistaken the position - that what he had attacked was not the Liberal policy at all, because that policy had to be determined by the Liberal party in Parliament. That simply meant that Mr. Irvine said to Mr. Deakin, “ Please, sir, I made a mistake. Let me off this time, and I will not offend again.” Again, we have Senator Symon, who has been called to book by the Liberal party of South Australia.
– Whilst the honorable senator is dealing with these matters, does he mind making reference to a pleasant little incident between Mr. Catts and Mr. Stuart Robertson?
– I will answei that interjection presently. From the Daily Herald, which is published in Adelaide, I extract the following -
The refusal of Sir Josiah Symon to subscribe to the conditions demanded of all Conservative candidates in connexion with the forthcoming Senate election has created what Mr. Butler calls “a crisis in the Liberal union.” The Commissioner of Public Works recently pointed out that “ Every candidate who ran under the auspices of the Liberal union would have to abide by its platform, and also would be re- quired to sign a guarantee that if he were not chosen by that organization he would stand down from the contest, and work for those candidates who were selected.”
– Is not that fair?
– Certainly. Before Senator Vardon can contest an election for a seat in this Chamber, he must agree to abide by the selection of the Liberal party, and sign a pledge to that effect. I come now to the incident to which Senator Millen made a playful reference a few moments ago. I am quite aware that the selection of Mr. Catts, who represents the constituency of Cook in another place, was opposed by Mr. Stuart Robertson.
– Who called the other man a cannibal?
– Every member of the Labour movement is at perfect liberty to stand for selection as a candidate either for a State or for the Federal Parliament. I do not see why anybody should cavil because Mr. Stuart Robertson chose to oppose Mr. Catts. The former has received, his reply - and it was a very forcible one. If Senators Millen and Vardon have to abide by the dictum of Mr. Butler, of South Australia, they may find themselves in a similar position. I will support the first reading of the Bill, and I only hope that my honorable friends opposite will continue to emulate the methods which are employed by the Labour party, so that some day they may reach the standard of that party.
– My reply to the statement of Senator Needham, that I declared that £1 Commonwealth notes would be worth only 5s. in a short time, is that it is utterly inaccurate. I do not think he can find anv such statement upon record in Hansard. If he looks up Hansard, and discovers that he was wrong, I hope he will have the grace to apologize. I am quite aware that the revenue during the financial year which has just closed has been exceedingly buoyant.
The Government have a surplus of about £2,000,000. That in itself is an indication that there was never any need to persecute land-holders, or to impose a land tax for revenue purposes. Notwithstanding the statements which have been made to the contrary, it will be found that that tax has entirely failed to achieve its object. As far as I can learn, there has been very little subdivision of big estates.
– Will the honorable senator advocate tightening up the .tax a bit to assist it to effect its purpose?
– Do the Government propose to reduce the exemption? It was urged that the tax would result in the subdivision of big estates. I admit that some big estates have been divided amongst the members of families. But beyond that, there has been very little subdivision indeed.
– Then the honorable senator savs that there has been a sham subdivision ?
– It is not a sham subdivision if a man chooses to legally transfer his estate to his sons.
– To avoid, the tax?
– It is quite on a par with Liberal ethics.
– It has to be recollected that two-thirds of the amount derived from this tax has been collected, not from large estates, but from small estates in the city, and from lands which could not in any way be subdivided. Had the Labour party been honest in their desire to burst up large estates, they would have exempted city lands from taxation, and would have levied the tax merely on the big estates.
– And thus have made the Act unconstitutional.
– It would have been no more unconstitutional then than it is now, because the present Act makes an exemption up to £5,000 worth of unimproved values. These city lands cannot be subdivided, but the tax on them can be, and has been, passed on. The result to-day is a big increase in rent which the people have to pay, and a big increase in the cost of production which they have to pay. Thus, instead of the housewife having a few extra sovereigns in her pocket - as she was promised - she has to pay more for her household commodities merely because this tax has been imposed on city lands. I do not think anybody can claim that the Land Tax Assessment Act has fulfilled the purpose of its supporters in any way whatever.
I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is absent from the chamber, because only to-day I asked him whether a certain statement published in the Register newspaper, Adelaide, was correct or not. I should have thought that anybody could have given an answer to such a simple question. But, instead, I was asked to give notice of it. Now I am quite sure that the matter to which the question related, namely, the granting of a preference to unionists, is an outrageous principle for any Government to adopt. What is the position? In this particular case a single man, with no family responsibilities, is to be granted a preference in employment simply because he is a unionist.
– No - all other things being equal.
– The instruction issued by the Minister of Home Affairs was that preference should be granted to unionists, and after that to married men. So that, if a single man is a unionist, he is to receive a preference in the matter of work over a married man who is not a unionist. But a married man with a family and domestic responsibilities, who may be paying into the revenue, perhaps, five times as much as the single man is paying, is to be refused Government employment, simply because he is a non-unionist. To my mind the thing is utterly preposterous and unjust. Two men are equal before the law and of equal ability, and are contributing to the revenue, but one man is to have work because he is a unionist, and the other is to be refused work because he is a non:uniomst.
– Do you not adopt preference to unionists in connexion with your business ?
– I have always stated here that I am a trades unionist. I believe in trades unionism, and have always worked with trades unionists, but I take it that a private employer does not stand in the same relationship to men as do the Government.
– The principle is a good one.
– A private employer has the right to say, “ I will employ this man or that man/’ and no person is entitled to complain if he is not employed. Does the Honorary Minister say that the. Government are in the same position?
– If the principle or the practice is good in connexion with a private enterprise, why condemn it in regard to a. Government enterprise?
– Because a private enterprise stands in a different position from a Government enterprise. Contrast the position taken up by President Roosevelt in America. When the president of the Labour Unions went to White House, and asked for preference to unionists, President Roosevelt took up the right position, and the one which every Government ought to take up. He said that the duty of the Government was to mete otit absolute justice to every one of its subjects, that in giving employment he could no more recognise the fact that a man was a unionist or a non-unionist than he could consider whether a man was a Roman Catholic or a Protestant, a Jew or a Gentile ; that no men, because of their religious profession or unionism or nonunionism’, could expect any preference from the Government. I protest with all the force of which I am capable against the adoption by the Commonwealth Government of so pernicious and unjust a system as preference to unionists.
A reference has been made to the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. I notice that the Government are establishing a Savings Bank branch, although a gentleman was appointed to manage a National bank. I do not wish to say one word against him. I do not think that Senator Millen ever detracted in any way from the personal or business qualities of the gentleman who has been appointed to the position of Governor at a very high salary.
– It looked very much like it.
– He said that the gentleman was not in the first rank of bankers.
– And my honorable friend was absolutely right. If the gentleman was in the front rank of bankers, why was he not approached in the first place? Why were all the front-rank bankers approached before Mr. Miller was written to?
– How do you know that he was not approached?
– Will the Minister say that Mr. Miller was so approached?
– I do not know.
– We had a statement in the press that this office was going begging, and that it was not until a long time had elapsed that the name of this gentleman was mentioned. We know from the position which he occupied that he was not in the front rank.
– Is your opposition to the man who has been chosen as Governor, or .to the principle of the bank itself ?
– I am not saying a word about the man. It has been said that he has been attacked, but I am pointing out that Senator Millen did not attack him in that way. It is a fact that he was not a first class man, as far as banking was concerned, although he has been given a very first class salary. He is able to take this position for seven years, and if he can live on £1,000 a year, ‘which I dare say he will, be will have ,£20,000 in his pocket at the end of that period.
– Good luck to him.
– I do not say anything to the contrary. It was known that the Government could not insure to him a retiring allowance, but they gave him a salary big enough to enable him to make sufficient provision for himself.
– He will make profits amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds for the (Commonwealth taxpayers.
– I would advise my honorable friend not to prophesy until he knows, because that is yet to be proved. The National bank, it seems to me, will have to stand in competition with other banks which are doing exactly the same kind of business. Unless it can give better conditions, can lend money at a lower rate, or do anything of that kind, it is not likely, I think, to get very much business. It is not the National Bank which is to be started first, but the Savings Bank branch. Why is that course taken ? Do the Government want to gather in the people’s savings so as to have money with which to carry on their bank ? What is going to be done with the deposits? We know very well that the State Savings Banks are restricted as to what they can do with the deposits. They can lend money on mortgage, invest money in Government stock, take up municipal bonds, and do things of that kind. What they can do with the deposits is laid down in their Acts of Parliament, from which they cannot depart, and whatever the money earns can be paid out in the way of interest. Now what is going to be done with the money which is deposited in the Commonwealth Savings Bank? Is it going to be taken into the revenue, or is it to be paid into a special fund and used simply for Commonwealth purposes? I do not believe that the Savings Bank will be a very great success, but if it is it will certainly be injurious to the States. What is the position to-day? The State Savings Banks gather in the people’s money and invest it. They lend, for instance, on the mortgage of freehold property. If a man is building a house, and wants some help, he applies to a Savings Bank and it lends him money at a reasonable rale of interest. Or if the Government of a State needs any money, and the Savings Bank has money to spare, the latter can take up Government bonds. A State Savings Bank promotes the interests of the State in every way. I do not hear of any statement having been made as to what is to be done with any deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank. It seems to me that the money is going to be used for carrying out any work which the Commonwealth Government have in hand. I do not think that that will be an improvement at all.
– You know that if the Commonwealth is a borrower, it must stand on the same footing as any other borrower.
– I am pointing out that the Government are not going to lend to a man who wants to build a house as a State Savings Bank will do.
– The Governor of the Bank can do so. There is nothing to prevent him.
– Perhaps the Government will tell us if they intend to do so.
– That is a matter, not for the Government, but for the Governor. The Government cannot touch a penny of the funds, and you ought to know that.
– Will the Minister tell me where the money is going to?
– I cannot. It is for the Governor to tell you.
– He can use it for the capital of the bank.
– All that the Government do is to supply the capital.
– The Government will not be able to supply the capital, and they are going to use the deposits in that way. That will not be an improvement upon the present system. I only rose to enter a protest against preference being granted to unionists, and to make clear what I said in regard to the Australian bank note.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [5.5]. - I desire to say a few words on the question of the cadets, which Senator Millen raised. I think it is a little early to criticise at very great length our system of universal compulsory training. No doubt, there are certain matters which possibly may be ventilated, and I understood from his speech that Senator Millen was drawing the Minister’s attention to them,, rather than indulging in hostile criticism. But no movement of such stupendous proportions as is this movement can possibly be brought into working order without there being some little difficulties to overcome. With me, at present, minor details are of very small importance compared with the grand step which has been taken both in initiating and in developing what has unquestionably been generally accepted by everybody as a national and nonpartyundertaking. I wish the Minister of Defence success in carrying it through as he has begun. I do not intend to say a hostile word concerning this important part of our defence system, because I think it goes in the right direction, and while that is so minor matters should be left for departmental treatment, and not discussed so much here. I feel called upon again to utter a note of warning. I do not think that I shall be out of order in drawing the attention of the Senate, and of the Government in particular, to the fact that ever since the Minister of Defence and his colleagues visited the Old Country a very serious state of affairs has pervaded the world. The amount of com- ‘ bustible material lying about in all directions has vastly increased since the Ministers were taken into the inner councils of the Imperial Government. A vast change has come over the situation, at all events as it is presented to statesmen at Home. When the Minister of Defence was there such a possibility as the Mediterranean Sea being handed over practically to the safe keeping of another Power, no matter how friendly our relations with it were, was not even in contemplation at that period. Within the last eighteen months, also, we have seen the centre of gravity of the Naval Forces of the Empire shifted from the Mediterranean, practically one of the granary routes of Great Britain, to the British Islands. That, in itself, is an extraordinary happening, and must be of great moment to us. There is also a consequent difficulty arising from our position in India. We have had to hand over the Mediterranean practically to the protection of a great friendly Power, with whom our relations are of the closest character, but who at the same time is not an ally ; while in the Pacific Australia is practically under the protection of another ally, Japan. So far as that is concerned, the material advantages have hitherto been mutual, but now the situation is very different. India is in a serious position. It is being denuded of British troops. It contains only a white garrison which has hitherto been considered necessary for the maintenance of our position there, irrespective of outside pressure. The numbers of the white garrison of India were determined upon at a time when Russia was no nearer to us than a line drawn slightly north of the southern end of the Caspian Sea. That was at the time of the Mutiny. Since then Russia has absorbed the Khanates of Central Asia until now she is practically co-terminous with the British Empire in Afghanistan ; and actually Russia and Great Britain have divided Persia into two great sections or spheres of influence. We are actually now, therefore, coterminous with the greatest land force, not even excepting Germany, in the world. When I refer to Russia as the greatest land force, let me call attention to the fact that its population is something like 160,000,000, of which no less than 120,000,000 constitute a homogeneous people, comprising the Slav element. In Russia, therefore, we have to deal, not with a congeries of different nations, but with a solid mass. Fortunately, at the present moment Russia and ourselves are on good terms; but how long is that going to last ? Afghanistan, a buffer State, is in a state of rebellion, and it is very doubtful how long it will take to repress the trouble. In Persia, again, the conditions are ominous, indicating that at any moment a conflict of interests may occur, necessitating intervention on our part. In face of these facts, I venture to say that if Australia were called upon to lend assistance, she could not send a brigade, she could not send even a regiment, of trained soldieis fit to meet the trained soldiers whom the Military Forces of the Empire would have to meet. We cannot admit of a reverse in India. Experts who have spent their lives in that country, and know the native character, have one and all said that a reverse wouid mean the subversion of our authority there.
– If India goes first, Australia may go afterwards.
.- Without question. There is nothing to prevent it. At this juncture, in all solemnity, and with all the earnestness at my command, I urge the Government, who have an immense majority at their back and an immense following throughout the country, to consider the gravity of the situation. We all admit the necessity for holding this country at all hazards and at all costs; but we must not forget that our ability to hold it may not be settled within the seas surrounding our coasts. That question must be settled elsewhere. I do not urge the Government to pass panic legislation of any sort; but I do call on them to lay the foundation of a system which the present militia or national guard, although a step in the right direction, will not of itself produce. We shall require efficient troops to meet the emergency that is imminent. I want to strengthen the hands of the Government, and of the Minister of Defence, in this matter; and I am sure I speak for the whole of the party on this side when I say they will back the Government up loyally and thoroughly. I make these representations on account of the urgency of the position. Without questioning the policy of other nations, or their right to adopt any policy they like, we must without delay take such a course that, whatever eventuates in the future, whatever the aims and ambitions of other nations may be, we shall be able to still” make good our claim to hold our own and to develop our own in our own way, irrespective of their threats or their desires. I have touched upon the position in the Mediterranean, and I have touched upon the position in the Pacific, where Japan is the Power that practically secures the integrity of this country. I have touched upon the question of India, and all that that means to us. I have also touched upon the difficulties in Persia and Afghanistan, which are certainly sources of great and deep anxiety. I urge the Minister of Defence without delay to put in train the formation of a Military Force of a more permanent character than we have at the present time, with the object of producing an efficient body of troops capable of meeting any requirements. The training to which our youths and young men are being put is a move in the right direction, and will lessen the amount of work that we shall have to give the more permanent men when they are called upon, but it is not enough. Delay is dangerous. I have pointed to the dangers that are threatening us, and- in conclusion I should like to read a few pithy words which put the matter better than I can put it -
Regular troops alone are equal to the exigencies of modern war, as well for defence as offence, and when a substitute is attempted it must prove illusory and ruinous.
No militia will ever acquire the habits necessary to resist a regular force. The firmness requisite for the real business of fighting is only to be attained by a constant course of discipline and service.
I have never yet been a witness to a single instance that can justify a different opinion, and it is most earnestly to be wished that the liberties -
Here I will substitute the words “ of Australia “– may no longer be trusted, in a material degree, to so precarious a defence.
Those were the words of Washington, who could not be accused of being a partisan. He stood for his country, and his country’s good. This is a matter in which we are all united for our country’s good. I would disregard minor questions, in the face of the great question that lies before us, of the maintenance of this section of the Empire, which our troops may be called upon to defend outside the four seas that wash its coasts.
– None of us will dispute the fact that a man who devotes all his time to any particular profession- or calling - everything else being equal - will become more efficient than one who does not do so, and who may be called an amateur in that profession or calling. The professional soldier idea is out of the question in this country,, and there is no use in bothering about the matter. In Australia, at the present time, so far as defence matters are concerned, the question we have to consider is : How much money are we going to spend on our citizen army ? I have from the start taken a very lively interest in the question of general compulsory training. I think that, with ex-Senator Dobson, I was one of the first to move in this direction in the Senate. Reviewing the history of defence matters in Australia during the last ten or twelve years, I hold the opinion that we have made very satisfactory progress indeed. In the early days of Federation, when about £750,000 was being spent on defence, it was contended by some that too much money was -being spent for that purpose. If we compare our defence expenditure of those days with the amount that Australia is able and willing to spendfor the same purpose to-day, we shall seehow great has been the advance we havemade. Australia has adopted a new principle of compulsory training, and in all thecircumstances it is really astonishing that the system should have been brought; into operation so satisfactorily, and with so very little friction. We know that, inconnexion with our military system, everything in the nature of compulsion wasstrongly opposed in the past. Compulsory service was opposed to the traditions of our people in Australia and in the Old Land. When we bear in mind the opposition that has always been- given to anything in thenature of compulsion, and consider that thisnew system has’ been projected in Australia with so little friction, we should be very careful indeed before we find fault with the work which has been done by the Defence Department. I was disappointed tohear Senator Millen find fault because there was a small percentage of boys who had’ not been prosecuted for non-attendance at drill. If we approach defence matters in that spirit, and display an anxiety to rushinto the Police Courts to prosecute cadets -
– I did not ask for their prosecution at all. I never expect the honorable senator to be fair ; he might at least be accurate.
– I do not know what the honorable senator was asking for if it was not for the prosecution of the boys.
– Probably the honorable senator does not know.
– You did not make it clear what you intended should be done, if it was not that the boys should be prosecuted.
– I made it clear to the Minister, as his reply showed.
– I do not think so. I could take no other meaning from, what you said, but that you thought that the lads should be prosecuted.
– Order ! The honorable senator should address the Chair.
– I am alwaysprepared to speak through the Chair in the Senate ; but if an honorable senator interjects during my remarks, I am obliged to answer him, and it is your duty, sir, in such a case, if you find fault with the natureof the debate, to call the honorable senator who interjects to order.
– Order ! Every honorable senator should address the Senate through the Chair ; but the honorable sena- tor was not addressing the Chair, but referring personally to Senator Millen, and saying, “ You said so-and-so.”
– I addressed you, sir, when I rose to speak, and was continuing to do so when interjections were made which I answered. I hope that if further interjections are made you will call the honorable senator who interjects to order, and not the honorable senator who has the floor. I was saying that, in view of the fact that a great and new principle has been introduced by the Defence Department with so little friction, we have no right to challenge the action of the Department on this occasion. T consider that there is nothing to find fault with, and I was objecting to Senator Millen finding fault with the operation of the new principle. If we wish to discredit this great principle of compulsory training, and are looking for trouble, the shortest course we can take is to rush to the Courts to prosecute boys who did not attend their drills regularly. -I should like to add that both sides in politics in Australia recognise that defence is not a party question. Honorable senators on both sides should, therefore, be very careful that no action they take in this matter shall be used for party purposes. If we allow the defence of Australia to degenerate Into a party question, we shall defeat our great national project for the establishment of a citizen army. If this question is dragged into the arena of party strife, the desires of both parties in this regard will be defeated. Honorable senators should, therefore, be very careful not to find fault with the operation of this new principle which, in my opinion, has been so satisfactorily introduced in the defence of Australia.
– I must’ thank honorable senators for the very reasonable manner in which they have dealt with this Supply Bill. There has been no unusual delay, and there is nothing really for me to reply to, unless it be some remarks by Senators Vardon and Needham, which, can be appropriately replied to in the debate on the AddressinReply. I need do no more now than thank honorable senators for the manner in which they’ have assisted the Government. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a first time. Bill read a second time. Clause 1 agreed to. Clauses 2 and 3 postponed. Clause 4 agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department - Land Tax Assessments - Northern Territory : Government Secretary - Cadet Registrations - Homing Pigeons - Telegraph Operators’ Overtime and Increments - Townsville and Rockhampton Post Offices - Land Acquisition, Perth - Government Secretary, Northern Territory.
-36]- - I do not know whether I am correct in supposing that, since we last had an opportunity tq consider these matters, some movement has been made in the direction of creating what is called a Department of the Prime Minister. I should like to know to what extent we are committed in this matter, and what this new Department is costing the Government. I do not know whether any statement has hitherto been given to the Senate to elucidate the matter.
– - The vote to which the honorable senator refers is based on the last Supply Bill. I call his attention to information at his disposal, which shows that a Department of the Prime Minister has been created, and has certain work to carry out. He will find that the chief items of expenditure proposed for this Department in this schedule are in connexion with the Auditor-General and the Public Service Commissioner’s branches of the Public Service, both of which have been transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department. A vote of £1,800 is put down for the Auditor-General, and of £1,300 for the Public Service Commissioner ; and these amounts, which comprise almost the whole vote for this Department, do not represent new expenditure, but a transference of expenditure from other Departments. Previously, the Public Service Commissioner’s branch was under the Home Affairs Department, and the Auditor-General’s branch under the Treasurer’s Department.
– I should like to know whether the Government can give us any information in connexion with the vote appearing under the heading Land Tax Office. I haveheard it stated from time to time that a number of the valuations made under the Land Tax Assessment Act are absurdly low. One person who resides in thelocality has assured me that there is land’ in the Mudgee district, in New Southi
Wales, which for taxation purposes was valued at from £7 to £7 10s. per acre, but which was in reality worth £49 or £50 per acre. He stated that portions of the area in question had actually realized £49 per acre, and that for other portions that price had been refused. He added that there were fully 3000 acres which were worth at least £50 an acre.
– But something would have to be allowed for improvements.
– His statement - and he is possessed of a knowledge of land - is that in its unimproved condition the land is worth that sum. I have also heard statements to the effect that many of the valuations in New South Wales are notoriously low. If that be so the purpose of the tax is being defeated. If we have not efficient valuators there should be some method of checking their valuations, of ascertaining who are incompetent, and of firing them out without mercy. The Commonwealth is being robbed by reason of these absurdly low valuations. I suppose that, like many other Departments, there is a liability that laxity will grow up among the officers of the Land Tax Department if we do not constantly bring to l-‘ght any such facts as may be available. The Labour Government should insist upon getting from the tax every penny which is due to the Commonwealth. These undervaluations are stated by more than one person to be responsible for the falling off in the revenue which has been collected from it.
– - I may say, for the information of the Committee, that I, too, have heard many complaints of the kind which has just been- voiced by Senator Rae. Many of these, when investigated, proved to have no foundation in fact, whilst others were based upon good grounds. I am sure that Senator Rae will acknowledge that the Land Tax Office has been, in existence only a very short time, and that during the first year of its operations it had necessarily to accept to a great extent the valuations of the land-owners themselves. Since then it has been making check valuations, but no matter how exacting a Department may be! so long as there are taxpayers who are anxious to avoid their responsibilities, there will be evasions. I am sure, however, that the Government and the Land Tax Commissioner himself will be only too glad if honorable senators who know of glaring instances of that kind will inform them of the fact. The Land Tax Assessment Act provides such drastic punishment for evasions of its provisions that no taxpayer can avoid his responsibility, even after the lapse of years, if it is discovered that he has undervalued his land. If Senator Rae can give specific instances of undervaluations steps will at once be taken to institute such inquiries as mil prevent anything of the kind recurring in the future. But no good can be accomplished by any honorable senator making a general statement to the effect that something is being done in Murrumbidgee, or Mudgee, or Cootamundra, or anywhere else.
– How are we to get the evidence ?
– If the honorable senator, or any other honorable senator, can establish a strong suspicion that anything is wrong in connexion with any land valuation, the matter will be inquired into and justice will be done to all parties.
– I do not quite understand the meaning of the item under the Northern Territory estimate which reads - “ Government Secretary’s office, salaries, £105.” The Administrator’s office explains itself ; but is the secretary’s office a separate Department, or is the secretary an official working under the Administrator? It is desirable, I think, that in future the Northern Territory estimates should be prepared in exactly the same way as the estimates of other Departments.
– 1 am informed that the Government Secretary in the Northern Territory is a recent appointment, and that this officer ranks next to the Administrator. If Senator Millen, or any other honorable senator, is dissatisfied with the arrangement of any departmental estimates, he has merely to state the fact here. I will certainly take a note of what he has said, and when the next Supply Bill or Appropriation Bill is before the Senate, I will see that satisfactory explanations are forthcoming.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has informed me that the secretary’s office is a new one, but he has not told the Committee what are to be the duties of this officer, nor the name of the gentleman who has been fortunate enough to secure the position. Merely to say that the office is that of secretary is to leave us in a delightful state of doubt as to the duties which he will have to perform.
– Before the Bill is passed, I shall endeavour to obtain that information for the honorable senator.
– I am quite content to accept that assurance. There is just one other matter to which I desire to direct attention. It has reference to the Defence Department. In view of the alarmist reports which have been published in the press, I should like to know from the Minister whether any of the lost cadets have been discovered - I mean the lads who did not register during last year.
– In reply to the Leader of the Opposition, I. wish to say that at the end of May last the registrations of the lads who were born in 1898 were some 1.0,000 short of the average registration of other years. But it must be remembered that in the one case we are dealing with the calendar year, and in the other with the financial year. In other words, the year which has just closed permitted of only five months’ registration. We may assume, therefore, that the lads who have not registered are gradually being ferreted out and obliged to register. Before many months have elapsed, we believe we shall catch up to the average registration of other years.
– Should not they have registered long ago?
– They should all have registered in January, but that is a bad month for registration, because all the schools are then in recess. In the amending Defence Bill we piopose to fix another month for registration in lieu of January.
– When are these boys supposed to commence their training?
– On the 1st July of the present year.
– I desire to ask the Minister if any of the items includes a prize for the homing pigeon associations of the Commonwealth ?
– This Bill is based upon the last Estimates, and on those Estimates there was no vote for homing pigeons.
– On the first reading of the Bill I referred to statements which reached me by means of a letter that the overtime due to the telegraph operators in one of the country post-offices in New South Wales has not only not been paid, but has been repudiated, so far as it was earned before the 7th March of this year; whilst in regard to other country offices, the overtime has been paid. I shall not delay the passage of the Bill while the Minister looks up the information, but I expect that he will ascertain for me how far these statements are true, and seek an opportunity when the Senate re-assembles to furnish the information if it is forthcoming.
– I shall endeavour to get all the information I possibly can in regard to the matter. Senator Millen will understand that if I am not able to get it during the dinner adjournment, I shall get it as soon as possible for him.
– I can help you by “supplying the names of the officers.
– [5-58J- - lOn two or three occasions I have described here the state of the fine postoffice buildings in Rockhampton and Townsville as a discredit to the Department, and pointed out that they ought not to have been allowed to remain in such gross disrepair for so long. Quite recently, I have beai in both places. There is an indication of a slight improvement if one’s eye is very critical, but not much more than that. I wish to ask the Honorary Minister if anything is to be done directly and immediately to restore these two magnificent buildings to something like the condition they were in when they were handed over to the Commonwealth ?
.- Honorable senators on the other side of the Chamber will, I think, agree with this statement, that no matter how much they may feel disposed to remove this Government, we have done more than any previous Government to place the post-offices throughout the .Commonwealth in a better condition than was the case before.
– I did not make any reflection.
– No, I am making that statement. The Government are not inactive in regard to post-office buildings. We do know that some of them are now, and that some of them were, up to a year or two ago, in a very bad state indeed. Great energy and much money are being expended to-day in order to put the buildings in a more satisfactory condition. Senator St. Ledger does not expect me to be conversant with the condition of the two offices which he named, but I shall take an early opportunity of making inquiries in respect to his statement”, and if the buildings are in the condition which he alleges them to be in - anything but creditable from the public point of view - he can rest assured that very speedy steps indeed will be taken in the interests of the residents of these towns.
– The Government have recently acquired certain properties in Wellingtonstreet, Perth, for the purpose of erecting a General Post Office. I should like the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to inform the Committee when the work will be begun.
– I feel sure that the honorable senator does not expect at this stage to get any information which will be satisfactory to him. I ask him to bear with the Government, and exercise a little patience. All the information he requires will be given to him and other senators when the Budget is placed before the Chamber.
– Perhaps the Minister can inform me if he referred to that block in Perth with premises which was resumed recently by the Minister of Home Affairs, and on which, I understand, there are a hotel, said to be a thriving concern, a coffee palace, tea-rooms, pawnbrokers’ shops, tradesmen’s establishments, and a hoop-la saloon?
– What is that?
– It is, I understand, a sort of means by which hard-pressed Labour members enjoy a little recreation on Saturday nights. Personally, I do not know what sort of a saloon it is, but I have no doubt that Senator de Largie does. I should like to know what the Government are going to do with the various establishments which they have taken over in this indiscriminate way ? Do they intend to go into the licensing business, or to run pawnshops ?
– I do not take the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition seriously.
– Are you going to run this saloon ?
– I can tell the honorable senator that the tenants pay their rents regularly, and that none of them is in arrears. When the Budget-papers are submitted, every honorable senator will know exactly what is proposed to be done in respect of this land and the buildings thereon. I hope that honorable senators will wait until the papers are submitted, when, of course, they will have an ample- opportunity to discuss the matter.
– I have no objection to wait for the information which the Minister evidently is not in a postion to supply now. But I want to draw attention to this fact : that if the Government intend to take over whole blocks of city properties, the proper place in which to decide the matter is on the floor of Parliament, and it is not for a Minister, as if it was “ off his own bat,” to go into a city, as Mr. O’Malley did in Perth, and pick out a valuable block of property carrying a number of business houses, and, without any reference to Parliament at all, resume it. The Minister who was responsible for the big resumption in Perth is the gentleman who proposed to resume the very heart of Sydney.
– There is nothing in this Bill dealing with that matter.
– If he had resumed the heart of Sydney he would not have torn it out. It would have still remained.
– My point is that if any land acquisition of -this sort is contemplated, the proper place to discuss the matter is in Parliament.
– I agree with you.
– It is Parliament which has the right to say whether or not it will sanction any Department going in for any wholesale acquisition of land. That is the only point I wish to bring under notice now.
– I contend that Parliament has already given the Minister of Home Affairs power to acquire city or other properties. It was under the Lands Acquisition Act that he resumed, on behalf of the Commonwealth, the block in Wellingtonstreet, Perth, for the purpose of erecting a new General Post Office.
– All of the land is not required for public purposes.
– The honorable senator’s implication was that we ought to discuss a proposal on the floor of Parliament, before the Minister of Home Affairs does anything; but I point out that full power was given to the Minister by a Par- liament of which the honorable senator was* a member, when it passed the Lands Acquisition Act. It was under its provisions that the Minister, on behalf of the Commonwealth, acquired the block in question.
– Senator Needham has something to learn yet. I admit that the Lands Acquisition Act _ does empower the Minister of Home Affairs to resume land required for a public purpose, and not an inch beyond that ; but in the Perth case more land was acquired by the Minister than is needed by the Commonwealth ; and the intention is - the Honorary Minister can say whether I am right or not - to erect on the block buildings for the purpose of letting them out to traders and the general public.
– He has power to make provision for any extension of public business.
– The honorable senator knows what the Act provides. His eoi-, league can resume when a Department says that it wants a block for a public purpose; but he has gone beyond that point. He was unquestionably going miles beyond it when he talked of acquiring a big block in Sydney. The recent resumptions may be good or bad ; but if they are good, and the Government are going in for an extensive scheme of this kind, parliamentary sanction ought first to be obtained.
– In acquiring the block in Perth the Minister of Home Affairs has set an example to other Ministers.
– To avoid.
– To avoid expense, to the Commonwealth. When the owners of various properties put in claims for compensation, the Minister, by his businesslike procedure, saved the Commonwealth thousands of pounds.
– I desire to know whether it is true that the junior telegraphists in the Sydney General Post Office have been entitled for three months to receive their annual increases and cannot get them ? That is not treatment which a private employer would be allowed to mete out to bis employe’s.
– I am not aware that junior telegraphists in Sydney have been denied increments to which they are entitled. I shall take an early opportunity to get in touch with the Postmaster-General and find out whether there is any truth in the complaint or not.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed- clauses 2 and 3, and preamble and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a third time,
I wish to inform Senator Millen that the office of Government Secretary in the Northern Territory was in existence during the last Administration. I understand that there is merely a re-arrangement, and that the amount included in this Bill provides for the salary of that officer and three or four, subordinate officers in . the Department. He. occupies a position corresponding to that of the Government Secretary in Papua. So far as a new appointment is concerned, that has only been rumour. I shall make inquiries, and let the honorable senator know when we meet again what information I have gathered with respect to the person who occupies the position, and his relation to the Administrator in the Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator- McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesdav, 17th July.
Question put. The Senate divided. Ayes … … … 16
Barker, S. Buzacott, R. Cameron, Lt.-Colonel de Largie, H. Findley, E. Henderson, G. Long, J. J. McGregor, G. Millen, E. D.
O’Keefe, D. J. Pearce, G. F. Russell, E. J. St. Ledger, A. J. Story, W. H. Turley, H.
Teller: Ready, R. K.
McDougall, A. Needham, E.
I Teller: (Rae, A.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 6.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120704_SENATE_4_64/>.