4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the reply to the last question, may I ask the Minister if the statement made by the PostmasterGeneral has reference to the criticism which was recently made in Hobart by Captain Evans, an ex-Premier of Tasmania ?
– I am not in a position to say whether the answer to the third question is as the honorable senator suggests, but if he is anxious to ascertain definitely whether it bears upon the criticism of Captain Evans I shall endeavour to find out for him.
– Thank you.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answer, will the Minister kindly inform me if he has any knowledge of when wireless telegraphy is likely to be initiated in Brisbane and Rockhampton?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– I would point out to Senator Sayers that his inquiry did not arise out of the question which he had on the notice-paper.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answer, I wish to ask the Minister whether it is not a fact that a certain woman who landed in Melbourne suffering from syphilis was immediately removed to the Alfred Hospital, and has been allowed to remain in Australia in spite of the fact that she is a prohibited immigrant?
– I shall make inquiries in respect to the statement of the honorable senator, and let him know later.
– Arising out of the answer to the question, I wish to know whether the Federal authorities have any power to cause intending immigrants to Australia to submit themselves to any examination at the port of embarkation, and, if so, whether it is done?
– I can hardly give a definite answer to the question. The honorable senator will understand that as the Commonwealth is not promoting any immigration it is the officers of the States who would have to see to the examination of persons. All that we can do is to prohibit the landing of certain persons under the Immigration Restriction Act, or the Quarantine Act, and that is being done as far as possible. There are several classes of immigrants coming to Australia, namely, assisted immigrants, immigrants by nomination, and those who do not come within these two categories, and it is only the officers under the Quarantine or the Immigration Restriction Act who can investigate their condition.
– There are a lot of weeds coming into Australia under the Immigration Restriction Act.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
In accordance with a promise already made, the papers on the matter will be laid on the Library table before any appointment is made.
– It is a gross piece of favoritism.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If the Government is disposed to encourage the formation of fife and drum bands in connexion with the Commonwealth Cadet Forces; and, if so, what form will the encouragement take ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is : -
Yes; and approval has been given for the formation of a band in connexion with each battalion of Senior Cadets. In view, however, of the large expenditure necessary in providing essential articles of equipment for the Naval and Military Forces, it is regretted that the granting of any financial assistance in the direction suggested is at present impracticable.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
When the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory, it did so with a view to the further development of that country, and in the hope of making it a part of Australia that would be fit for the settlement of a considerable population. There may be diversity of opinion as to whether the Government are moving fast enough with respect to the development of the Territory. Some have been blaming us because they consider that we are spending too much money. We can scarcely expect their support in any project that will involve further expenditure. But, in the same breath that they deprecate the action of the Government, those very members of the Opposition are prepared to urge that the only way to defend Australia is by the settlement of a large population. They must recognise the conflict between those two opinions.
– Are the Government going to develop the Northern Territory by stocking it with officials?
– That is all they have done so far.
– I am sure that the intelligence of the party which the honorable senator represents must recognise that before the Northern Territory can be settled in any way it must be examined and surveyed. Provision must be made for the convenience of numbers of settlers. That is all that the Government have done up to the present time. How can the Leader of the Opposition sit there and declare that we are filling up the Territory with public servants ?
– I say that that is all the Government have done so far.
– The Territory is not one-millionth part filled yet with population of any kind, let alone public servants. Moreover, not one official has been appointed who was not necessary for the promotion of settlement and development. No matter how objectionable the personnel of the officers appointed may be considered to be by some members of the Opposition, they cannot deny the necessity for the appointments. The country must be classified and surveyed, and knowledge must be obtained as to its capabilities before a substantial settlement policy can be carried out. At all events, it must be acknowledged that the country cannot be properly settled without railway conveniences. Consequently, this Bill may be looked upon as only a small modicum of what will be necessary. I shall not suggest that the Opposition will raise any objection to its passage. It is not a measure to provide for construction, but for the permanent survey of a route from Pine Creek to the Katherine.
– It should have provided for surveying the country as far as Oodnadatta.
– We cannot do everything at once. There is a limit to the expenditure of public money, and some attention must be paid to that limit. This Survey Bill is a step in that direction in which I am sure every member of the Senate desires the Government to go. Although, however, the survey of 56 miles of country does not necessarily involve the construction of a railway, yet I am sure that honorable senators will recognise that if we carry the Bill we practically pledge ourselves to vote for the construction of the line. To my mind, this railway is urgently required, and ought to be proceeded with as rapidly as possible.
– Will- the survey commit us to the line?
– If the honorable senator votes for the expenditure of between ^4,000 and ,£5,000 for a permanent survey, I think he will be in honour bound to vote for the construction of the line afterwards.
– Why do the Government need this Bill?
– Because we want the money for- a survey, which is part of the necessary work in connexion with the construction of the line. Afterwards the Government will introduce a Bill to provide for building the railway. If we had brought down a Bill for the construction of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine, and I had not been able to furnish the Senate with details of expenditure relating to cuttings, tunnels, bridges, and so forth, probably Senator St. Ledger would have been the first to ask why such a Bill should have been introduced, when we knew none of the essential particulars.. This survey will enable details to be ascertained, so that when a measure for construction is introduced, we hope that everybody will be satisfied with the information produced.
– Or dissatisfied.
– It does not matter what we might as well do; this is what we are proposing to do. I was endeavouring to show why this line should be constructed as speedily as possible. Having taken over the Northern Territory, it is our duty to do all we can for its development. Pastoral settlement is always first settlement of any new country, but the simplest form of settlement cannot be carried on successfully unless those who occupy the lands of a country are given, facilities for the disposal of the produce of those lands. It will be admitted that in order to afford facilities for the disposal of pastoral products it will be necessary to do a great deal more than construct railways. Before they can be effectively dealt with we must have freezing works established at the most suitable port of shipment. The question arose as to the best locality for the establishment of such works in the Northern Territory. Various places were suggested for the purpose, from the west of the Territory, on the shores of the Cambridge Gulf, to the eastern extremity of the Northern coast, on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The advantages and disadvantages of each locality suggested have been carefully considered, and a decision has been come to that the best place for the establishment of works of this description is Port Darwin. If these works are established at Port Darwin, the settlers must be given facilities for bringing their stock to that port. lt has been pointed out that the nature of the country between Pine Creek and the Katherine River is such that stock travelled over it would lose condition, and before they got to Port Darwin would be unfit for freezing or export. The country around Port Darwin is not of such a character that stock might be restored to prime condition upon it. In the circumstances, in order to bring the best country available for pastoral purposes into direct communication with the locality suggested as the best for the establishment of freezing works, it is necessary to continue the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River.
– Does the honorable senator not think that we require a railway to bring some of the stock down south before we export stock ?
– All these things, I hope, will come in time. If the honorable senator proposes to wait for a reduction in the price of meat until a railway is constructed from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges, he will probably become a vegetarian before his hope is realized. Everything comes to those who wait patiently, and I hope honorable senators will wait patiently until we have the line now proposed constructed, and we shall then be in a position to consider further railway construction. On the subject of the advisableness of establishing freezing works at Port Darwin, it might be as well if honorable senators considered the northern coast of the Territory. Commencing on the eastern side of the Territory, we have the McArthur, Roper, Goyder, and Adelaide Rivers. Then, west of Port Darwin, there are two very important rivers, the Victoria River, which is furthest west, and between that and Port Darwin the Daly River. Some of these rivers are smaller than others, but most are navigable for a considerable distance, and might be made navigable for a much greater distance than at present. It is considered by those who know most about the country that sufficient stock would not be likely to be available for some time on the McArthur and Roper River country. . Going to the west, we find that the State Government of Western Australia, propose to start freezing works on Cambridge Gulf, and if we established ours on the Victoria River or Daly River we should come into close competition with our State neighbours. The officers advising the Government have had to be very careful in reporting upon these questions. The Administrator of the Northern Territory, in framing his report, has taken precautions to secure guarantees with re spect to the number and quality of cattle that might be available for shipment at each of the places mentioned, and, taking everything into consideration, he has come to the conclusion that Port Darwin is the most suitable place for the establishment of these freezing works. It is considered the most suitable port of shipment for stock which will be available beyond the Katherine River. The Government have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the sooner we continue the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine the better. There has grown up in the Commonwealth Parliament, as there arises in every Parliament in connexion with certain questions, a certain amount of partisanship. I shall not say party feeling in this case, because honorable senators and honorable members in another place know that the development of the Northern Territory is not a party question. When the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory from South Australia it was understood to be under a certain obligation to connect the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek with a line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. The people and representatives of South Australia felt that that should be done. That is how I feel myself. I wish to make it as clear as I possibly can that the continueance of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River will not be a departure by a hair’s breadth from that understanding. If any honorable senator chooses to take a map of the Northern Territory and of South Australia, and to run a straight line from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin, he will see that the deviation necessary to enable it to strike the Katherine River is scarcely noticeable. It is almost a straight line from Oodnadatta through the very telegraph station which bears the name of the Katherine ‘River to Port Darwin itself. Consequently the construction of the line, the survey of which is now under consideration, will in no way interfere with the carrying out of the understanding which has been arrived at between the Commonwealth and South Australia.
– Is this line intended to be built in furtherance of that understanding ?
– I will leave the honorable senator to judge that matter for himself. I repeat that from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin is almost a straight line. As a matter of fact, the former is situated on the 135th meridian of east longitude, the Katherine River station is located midway between the 132nd and 333rd meridians of east longitude, whilst Port Darwin itself is a little over the 131st meridian. It will be seen, therefore, that a line from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin would trend slightly west. Consequently, nobody can urge that the proposal of the Government marks a departure in any way from the understanding with South Australia which has already been arrived at. I am not going to say that if the ideas of some honorable senators were carried out,and a connexion were made first with the railway systems of the eastern States, the route followed would be that which the transcontinental line will traverse. I have : nothing to do with that matter. It does not cost me a single thought, because it is the intention of the Minister of External Affairs, as soon as he can obtain properly qualified men, to appoint a Commission, consisting of a railway engineer, an engineer accustomed to harbors and rivers development, and a gentleman who is thoroughly acquainted with land settlement and land survey, and indeed with the Territory itself, to report on railway development in that Territory. Of course, it would be very easy to secure men if one chose to stand at the street corner and call for them. But when we come to examine their qualifications it is sometimes more difficult to make a selection, and I am sure that the Minister of External Affairs regrets as much as does anybody else that up to the present he has not been able to settle upon the individuals who are best qualified to constitute this Commission. But when these three gentlemen are finally appointed, *hey will go to the Northern Territory, investigate that country from east to west, and will advise the Government as to the route which the railway should follow to connect what will then be the line to the Katherine River station with the railway to Port Augusta.
– After the Government have made the men.
– We have not to make them. We have only to discover them. - The Almighty is just as good a hand at making men to-day as he was a thousand years ago.
– Where are the Government going to get a railway man for 4he Northern Territory?
– There are dozens of them quite willing to take up the work if the Minister and the Government think their qualifications are sufficient.: There is no difficulty in the matter of finding the men.
– The Government will have to make them first.
– Not necessarily. I am sure that when the work is finished the honorable senator will be quite satisfied.
– The Vice President of the Executive Council knows the result in South Australia of granting a bonus on the export of cattle.
– But that has nothing whatever to do with this question.. That bonus was granted for the export of live cattle. The Government proposals involve a great deal more in connexion with the development of the Northern Territory than the simple export of live cattle. When this Commission has reported the Government will have no hesitation in placing that report before both Houses of Parliament; and arriving at a definite policy with respect to the further construction of railways. I know a little about the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and I know that, although various South Australian Governments were repeatedly urged to continue that line from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell” Ranges, they did not do so. Seeing that they had such a long time to undertake that work, and did not undertake it, I cannot discern any reason why the Government of South Australia should endeavour unduly to hurry the Commonwealth in carrying out that work. They were negligent themselves, and now they ought to be patient. I am sure that the Government will ultimately do everything for the satisfaction of the people of Australia, and for the further development of the Northern Territory.
– Provided the report of the experts is favorable.
– Does Senator Guthrie desire the Government to write out a report and hand it to these experts with an instruction that they must go through the Territory and arrive at certain conclusions? Is that the way in which he would like to see this investigation carried out? I am sure it is not. He is the last man in the world who would want anything of that kind. When we get the men for this Commission, we have not the least doubt that we shall soon obtain their report, and Parliament will then have before it all the information that is really necessary for its guidance. The line from
Pine Creek to the Katherine River will be only 56 miles long, but owing to the country which it has to traverse it will be one of the expensive portions of the transcontinental railway which will ultimately be built in that direction. From Oodnadatta to Pine Creek the distance is 1,065 miles The line, therefore, will only be two miles longer than will the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. But in spite of this fact, a very learned and eloquent Speaker told honorable senators yesterday that it would cost from £3, 000, 000 to ^12,000,000 or ^14,000,000 to construct the transcontinental railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and that the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port August, which is only 2 miles shorter, was going to cost only ^4,000,000 or 000,000. I wish that honorable senators would think for a few moments of the inconsistency of the statements that they make, because if they did, they, would never fall into such errors in the way of exaggeration. I hope that when the ultimate decision has been arrived at to construct a line right through the Territory, it will not cost anything like the amount which was prophesied yesterday, and I have no reason to believe that it will. I believe that, with the exception of a portion through the MacDonnell Ranges, and from the coast up to the tablelands, the line will be constructed just as cheaply as the one from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. I hope that at all times during the consideration of the Bill, honorable senators will realize that it is a serious question, that this is not a flying survey, simply for the purpose of gaining an idea as to the distance, or anything of that kind, but a permanent survey on which Parliament will be asked to grant the money, and agree to all the conditions in connexion with the construction of the line. Every precaution has been taken to run the line in the right direction. There may be a difference of opinion as to the necessity of a deviation to meet mining prospects’ in the country between Pine Creek and the Katherine River, but those have been set aside. It is considered that, as this line is to form a portion of the great transcontinental railway, connecting the north and the south, there should be no additional haulage put upon it, but that it should be taken by the most direct route. And if further development is necessary to the westward in connexion with mining, or, for that matter, to the eastward, that can be carried out by supplementary lines much more cheaply than by the construction of roads in that direction. The seriousnessof the whole thing is that the proposed survey is to be the basis for the construction-, of a line, and the line is to form a portion of the transcontinental railway.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South* Australia) [3.15]. - I have a considerable difficulty, after listening very attentively tomy honorable friend’s speech, in finding whether there is really very muchto commend” this Bill at present or not. “ At one moment, he buoys up thosewho come from South Australia with thebelief that this bit of railway, when it isbuilt, is to be part of the great transcontinental line to connect the south with, the north. But in the next breath, hedashes our hopes by declaring that beforethat question is determined, even by thepresent Government, there is to bean investigation by a sort of SelectCommittee, consisting of a railway engineer, an engineer connected with> ports and harbors, though I do not know what that has to do with the construction, of a trunk line, and another gentlemanwhose functions’ are left very vagueThese three persons are very hard” to get, but they are going to be found! somewhere. Senator Guthrie thought that, they would have to be bred, but when they are found, and appointed, they are to bring; in a report, and then the Government, in the exercise of the great courage whichthey possess, will have no hesitation in laying the report on the table of Parliament,, and, so far as I could gather, allowing. Parliament to determine the matter. Thoseare the two alternatives. They have not to do with the making of this survey, and that is why, in perfect good faith, I interjected when my honorable friend wasusing those fine oracular words that thiswould involve no departure from the policy of a direct north and south line. Of course, it is all very well to say that it will involve no departure, as he pointed out, if a line be constructed right away tothe east, and into Queensland, because the line would have to be carried down perhaps to Powell’s Creek, before the diversion, which is suggested in some quarters was. made towards the Queensland border. But that is a very negative thing to say. It amounts to nothing, because, from that point of view, this is a twopennyhalfpenny extension. It may not bein itself, but as a portion of the transcontinental line, whatever route that linemay take, it is a mere triviality. So- that, when my honorable friend says that it will involve no departure, we need not be frightened about that. What we want him to say is that it is an affirmance of the policy of having a direct line from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. If he says that, then this is worthy of being regarded as a measure of importance. My honorable friend said, “ You must look upon this Bill seriously.” I want to do that, but there is no serionsness in it if it is a mere dribble, which is to mean nothing, and to go nowhere. I am not going to oppose a Bill for a survey, if it is necessary. Anywhere in the interior of Australia, a survey is always useful. We may look upon this as a survey by way of exploration, or as a survey for the purpose of, in the dim and distant future, laying down some rails along the route surveyed. It is useful.
– It is necessary.
– It would be useful if my honorable friend brought in a Bill for the survey of a prospective railway from Wyndham, in the north-west of the continent, to the overland telegraph line. It would be useful in that sense, but it would be still more important, and would have a vital significance to Parliament, which, at present, it does not possess, if we were told in “ bold and brave language,” which the Minister of Defence said the other Governments ought to use, that this line was really intended to be an instalment, though a small one, of the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. We could then understand the position. My honorable friend is quite entitled to put it in a vague way, but as he does not feel disposed to say that it has that significance, we must look upon it simply as a Bill for the survey of 56 miles of country, and we have to ask ourselves whether a good reason for a survey has been made out. Nobody can very well object to a Bill for a survey ; but we have to ask ourselves whether we ought to go to this expense at the present time.
– Vote against it.
– I am not going to vote against fhe Bill, but to support it, because every bit of railway in the Northern Territory coming down towards the south is, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has truly said, always something in a southerly direction. Even if it covers only a mile or two, it warrants support in that direction. My honorable friend said at onetime that, in this matter, the consideration of defence came into play. Can it be seriously suggested that to build a line from Pine Creek to Katherine River is likely to assist the great problem of the defence of Australia?
– Did I say anything about that?
– Yes; my honorable friend said that we had to look at the matter from the point of view of making provision for defence.
– I never said anything of the kind. I stated that some people said that it would be necessary for defence to populate the country.
– My honorable friend has forgotten that he said that the line would develop the country; the other people, spoke about populating the country, and everybody admitted that it was necessary to make provision for defence.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– If my honorable friend speaks so positively, we must accept his assurance, but that is what I thought I heard across the chamber, and it struck me as being so important that I made a note of the point that this was part of the great scheme making provision for defence.
– The main reason for the Commonwealth taking the Northern Territory over was a matter of defence.
– That is right enough.
– That reason is gone, so that it is proper that I should not say anything more about it. Then my honorable friend pictured great freezing works being established at Port Darwin. I think that is the main purpose of this proposal. I welcome the idea that there should be freezing works there. My honorable friend enumerated a great many rivers in the Northern Territory - some, perhaps, which we had not heard of before - and described, I believe accurately, Darwin as the place for these works, and said that possibly this line might be useful, as any line would be, to bring cattle there. But he did not tell us what cattle there were to bring.
– No, he did not tell us of our past experience either.
– Past experience is a little baleful. That was a great feature which my honorable friend pointed out as an immediate reason for the expenditure of £5,000 with a view to building a line. I think it would have been only proper, if he had the information by him, to have told us what cattle there were at the Katherine languishing to be put into a freezing establishment at Darwin.
– I never told you that, because I thought that you knew all about it.
– My honorable friend need not have told us, because we knew that before. It reminds one of the old cookery receipt of “ first catch your hare.” Before you have the necessity of a railway as a feeding-tube for freezing works; you need to have the carcasses to be supplied to those works. I am not aware of great herds down near the Katherine River that are waiting to be taken to a freezing establishment at Darwin. We have been supplied with no information to show the urgent necessity for this bit of line taking precedence of the declaration of a bold and large policy by the Government as to which route they are going to adopt for the transcontinental railway. That is what I regard as the important thing. The policy of the Government does not depend upon the report of three men going out to inspect this country and reporting upon its natural features, and so on. That is not the element by which a great policy is to be determined; it is the method by which you are to ascertain the exact route which the railway is to take. But the question which ought to be determined at once, so as to relieve the whole people of suspense, is one which it is competent for the Government to determine themselves, namely, that they are going to adhere to what my honorable friend has called the understanding, or, as I call it, the solemn contract between the Commonwealth and South Australia that the transcontinental railway is to run from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. That requires no committee of engineers. That is a question which the Government themselves must determine. It is their policy, and I do not think that they ought to fight shy of it, or try to shelter themselves behind some mythical committee of three men who are to be found in the future. That is what I complain of in connexion with the Bill. It would have gone through this Parliament flying, I am sure, and with credit to the Government, if it had been brought in as part of a declared policy to run the transcontinental railway from north to south. But then my honorable friend said, speaking on the general question of a line from north to south, that there was the great duty of development. That is the great duty. It is one which the Government are not facing by this Bill. They are shrinking from it. This Bill is a mere pretence so far as that great question of policy is concerned. The development of the Northern Territory is, in my belief, if not the greatest, one of the greatest problems of the present moment, and it is not to be solved, as Senator Millen interjected across the chamber, by the establishment of a great body of civil servants there at enormous expense. ‘ The Government are beginning at the wrong end. In previous discussions I have never said a word about any individual selection. A Protector of Aborigines has been appointed at £1,300 a year - I was going to say, for God knows what ! Not a man in Australia would say a word against the appointment on individual grounds. But that is not the question
– Does the honorable senator say that he was not wanted?
– I do not say that a Protector of Aborigines was not wanted, but he is not wanted at a salary of £1,300 a year.
– Read Judge Dashwood’s reports.
– We shall have another opportunity of dealing with that ; but I am taking this opportunity of saying what I think. I feel sure that those of us- and I include my honorable friend, Senator McGregor - who are the greatest friends of the Northern Territory and its development, and who desire to secure it as a possession of the Commonwealth for all time, must feel that every pound that is thrown unnecessarily into the creation of the civil side is at the present juncture, comparatively speaking,, thrown away. Our object ought to be to get people to go up and look at the Territory. We shall not get settlers from other countries. My belief is that we shall never get a soul to come from abroad for the simple purpose of inspecting the Territory, with a view of settlement. But you may get people from the settled parts of Australia. Yob ought, therefore, at the earliest possible moment, to build railways that will induce people to go there, inspect the land, and, if possible, choose area’s for settlement.
– People from other countries would not be as well fitted for settlement in the Northern Territory as our own people.
– It is the people of Australia, who have the stuff, the stamina, and the training to fit them for developing our own country, who should be induced to go there. In the first instance, you may require to get capital from other countries, but the manhood and experience we can supply. In my opinion, the railway ought to begin from the south end, for reasons of economy and other reasons. A railway built from Oodnadatta would be one of the first things that would lead people from the southern and eastern States to go and inspect that country with a view to settlement. They will not go there if they have to take a ten-days’ voyage round more than half the coast-line. But if you open up the heart of the continent with a railway, you lead people to go there. It must also be remembered - and I am putting this to the Government in all seriousness - that from Oodnadatta to the 26th parallel is only about 200 miles, and it is only about 100 miles north of that to the MacDonnell Ranges, which is one of the most fertile and promising parts of this continent.
– What is the rainfall of this “most promising part”?
– My honorable friend will find that that part of Australia has been more or less occupied. Great and heroic attempts at its development have, to a large extent, succeeded in opening up mines and pasturage. But the mines have dwindled down, because of the difficulty of transport.
– It is a marvellous thing, if the MacDonnell Ranges country is so fertile, that South Australia did not carry the railway there.
– We know perfectly well that the South Australian people had not the means. They carried the railway as far as Oodnadatta, and then stuck there. You could not expect a people considerably under 400,000 in number to build such a railway. That is the reason why they did not go On with the project. But I think any one who knows that country will bear me out in saying that the MacDonnell Ranges constitute an uncommonly attractive part of this continent. I know, from my own personal knowledge, that there are there mineral resources that have been developed profitably, though they have not been carried on as well as they would have been, because of the transport difficulty.
– Has, there ever been a payable mine there?
– Yes, and there are other payable resources. I am putting this point with all earnestness,, because I feel sure that we should not be running this railway through country similar to what exists at Oodnadatta. We should be crossing an oasis, from which I am satisfied we should derive a reward in the immediate future. One can understand why there should not have been great results from a place like that up to now, when we consider that machinery and other requirements had to be carried on camel back from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges, 300 miles. I think I am correct in saying that the journey takes three weeks for persons travelling on camel back, without a load. I commend that to the consideration of the Government, with a view of assisting them to arrive at a definite bold policy consistent with the arrangement made with South Australia. Probably when the survey is in progress, it will be in the minds of those who make it, that it is desirable . to bring the southern end to a point that will be most convenient for the continuation of the line either from north to south, or from south to north. But it would have been far more desirable had this great trunk line, bisecting the continent and opening up the heart of Australia, been begun from the southern end. I take the view which has been urged in another place and elsewhere, that the facilities for railway construction at the southern end are far greater. There is already a railway from Port Augusta northward.
– But there is also a line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek.
– In that case, however, you have to take the men all round Australia to Port Darwin, where, also there are not the same facilities for railway building as exist at the southern end.
– Would the honorable senator be any happier if the Government proposed to build 56 miles of railway north from Oodnadatta?
– Fifty-six miles would be just as useless there as at the north end.
– I do r.ot want to make an emphatic pronouncement such as Senator Guthrie has made, but I will say that as far as concerns any explanation offered to the Senate to-day with respect to the purpose of this railway. it is just as useless at the one end as it would be at the other. I think that in introducing this Bill- the Government are merely playing with the question. I do not wish to say a word that would wound the feelings of the VicePresident of the’ Executive Council, but knowing that this problem of the connexion between the south and the north, the exploration and development of the whole of the interior of the continent, is the great question in the eyes of the people, and, knowing that this problem will have to be solved in the most vital interests of Australia, the Government fly this little flag in order to indicate that they are thinking about it. That is all that this Bill means. On a recent occasion, Senator Pearce spoke of the desirability of a Government being bold and brave, and foi1 lowing up their bold and brave words with equally bold and brave actions. That was a sound and good principle to enunciate, and I only regret that the Government are not carrying it into effect in relation to this transcontinental railway question, which is a far greater question than that with the inception of which we were concerned the other day. I shall support the second reading of the Bill, but I regret the attitude of the Government in introducing it. I am sorry to say that it will make no contribution whatever to the solution, which we are all desirous of seeing, of a great national question.
– I think it is a great pity that the Commonwealth of Australia is entering upon the development of the Northern Territory hobbled. We have heard a few remarks from Senator Symon on this Bill, but the honorable senator seems very much more anxious about getting a railway which will have its southern end in Adelaide than he is about the development of the Northern Territory.
– I think that is the most effective way of developing the Northern Territory.
– Of course, the honorable senator thinks that, but, unfortunately for the Commonwealth, the Government of South Australia made it a condition, prior to handing over the Territory to the Commonwealth, that no matter whether that was the right or the wrong route by which the railway should be taken it should follow that route.
– They made that condition because it was the right route.
– They knew nothing about it.
– They made a compact.
– Of course they did. It was a purely selfish compact ; a: compact which no self-respecting Government would ever have accepted, and which no patriotic Government would ever haveasked the people of the Commonwealth toaccept. We should all adopt as a cardinal principle in the construction of railwaysthat they shall be built where they will best, serve the people of the Commonwealth. If that is not to be the root principle of our’ action with regard to railway construction,, we shall be only so many log-rollers.
– We must qualify that statement with a recognition of contractswe may have entered into.
– I referred to thecontract. I said it was an immoral contract, which no self-respecting Governmentor Parliament would have accepted, andwhich no patriotic Government would haveasked the people of the Commonwealth to agree to. I think that we have here a duty which is far higher than even keeping to the letter of our agreement with South Australia. What we need to do is to developthe Northern Territory in the best way possible. My own opinion is that prior tothe making of any proposals for railway construction, exploration parties should besent all over the Northern Territory. TheGovernment know nothing about the Territory. Senator Guthrie laughs. Apparently he knows all about it. Senator Symon says we have an oasis in the MacDonnell Ranges, but we have no authoritative report on these things. Senators Symon, Guthrie,, and the other senators from South Australia do not care two raps about whether this railway will pay or not. All they want to do is to drag it right down toAdelaide, so that South Australia will benefit by the traffic upon it. Their purposeand object is so clear that any one can seeit. and it is purely selfish.
– This Bill will not drag it very far.
– The honorablesenator said that he was quite satisfied that it would drag it 56 miles anyhow on thedirect route. He emphasized that, irrespective of whether the country through’ which it will go is good or bad. probably by some other route, much better country would be served, Which would be moreeasily developed by means of a railwayBut that does not matter. If the line does mot go straight down to Adelaide, it will not suit honorable senators who come from South Australia.
– If it goes straight down to Adelaide, will it suit Australia?
– I do not know. That is just what I want to know.
– The honorable senator has had plenty of chances of knowing at.
– When had I any chance of knowing it? I accepted the chance I had of going to Oodnadatta, and I say it would be pure madness on the part of any Government to start a line from Oodnadatta.
– Did not the honorable senator’s visit to Oodnadatta convince him that the best thing the Government could do would be to get away from Oodnadatta as soon as they could?
– Oodnadatta convinced me that the best thing the Government could do would be to tear up the line from Port Augusta to that place. The South Australian Government lost money on it year after year.
– We are losing money on it.
– I was about to say that the burden has now to be shouldered by the Commonwealth. It was the stupidest arrangement any Parliament ever entered into.
– Order ! The honorable senator is aware that the piece of legislation to which he has referred has been passed, and that the Bill now before the Senate is to provide for the survey of a particular section of railway.
– I wish to know whether the best route for this railway is being proposed. Senator Symon accused Senator McGregor of shuffling or attempting to shuffle out of the arrangement which has been made. I do not think that the Government are going to do anything of the kind.
– I did not say that they were.
– The honorable senator went very near to saying it. As trustees of the money of the public, we should be exceedingly careful where we build railways in this comparatively unknown country. The first thing that ought to be done is to send out a number of ex ploration parties. Let us know the kind of estate we have got in the Northern Territory.
– Surely there is plenty, of knowledge on the subject? The telegraph line runs right through the Territory, and men have been employed upon it for years ; they should know all about it.
– The probability is that the men who constructed the overland telegraph line, and the men who have worked it, have never left it for a mile on either side.
– There have been men residing alongside the line ever since it was constructed.
– That may be so; but their knowledge of the country may be exceedingly limited.
– A couple of parliamentary parties were up in the Northern Territory.
– I have been a member of a parliamentary party myself, and I know what that means.
– Did not the honorable senator see anything?
– I got blinded with sand going to Oodnadatta.
– To show how little is known of the Northern Territory, the Government are sending up horses to the Territory as an experiment, to see whether horses can be bred there.
– That is my contention - that we know nothing of the capabilities of the Territory. I say that that knowledge should come first. My objection to the Bill is that the Government, apparently, are going to build a railway right down through the heart of the continent, whether the country is suitable for settlement or not, and that is the reason why I shall vote against the second reading.
– The country is suitable, but whether it is suitable or not the railway ought to be built.
– That is the honorable senator’s contention as a representative of South Australia.
– No; as an Australian.
– If the honorable senator were speaking here as an Australian he would take up quite a different attitude..
– Senator Stewart is speaking as a Queenslander.
– I am not. I am speaking as an Australian. I say that I do not know where the railway ought to go; and if it can be proved to me, as a member of the Senate, that the direct route is the best route, I shall vote for it.
– Would the honorable senator want an angel to prove it?
– No; I require proof that the direct route is the best route. Senator McGregor knows nothing about the Territory, the Government, the party they represent, and Parliament know nothing about it. We have not sufficient information to enable us to decide where the railway ought to go, and we ought to have that information.
– Did I not tell the honorable senator about all the beautiful rivers up there?
– We have beautiful rivers in Queensland, There are beautiful rivers in New South Wales, and still more beautiful rivers in Victoria. But I know that the southern portion of Australia has been settled for over 100 years, and yet its population was exceedingly sparse. Some people seem to think that we are going to rush a million or two millions of people up into the Northern Territory within the next ten or twenty years.
– We are, if we build the through railway.
– That is all that the honorable senator is concerned about. If I were he, I would try to cover up my desires in this matter a little more carefully than he is doing. The honorable senator’s speech shed a little light on the subject, from my point of view. I was in doubt, before I heard him, as to whether I should support the Bill or not, but after I had heard him I decided that it would be good business on my part to vote against the second reading.
– Does the honorable senator mean good political business?
– Yes. There is a good deal of political business about this, so far as Senator Symon is concerned. I do not blame the honorable senator for that. It seems to be the correct thing in Parliament. It is a very bad thing for the country, but there it is. If the people are exceedingly anxious to do so, they caro purge Parliament of this method of conducting business; but they seem to be just about as good or as bad as their politicians. I think that the Government are putting the cart before the horse in thismatter. Let us first know something about the Territory. Information gained now will be money saved later on, and will lead, I should imagine, .to a much better development of the Territory than is likely tobe accomplished by a merely haphazard policy such as we have before us at present. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said a good deal about the establishment of freezing works. It is rather premature to talk about that until there are some cattle in the country, and until we know where the best cattle country is. The whole thing is gone about in the most unbusinesslike fashion. If we first secure information about the Territory, we shall know what to do and how to do it, and until we have that information, it appears to me that, while any money we may spend may, by some happy accident, be well spent, the probability is that it will be ill spent. I have come to the conclusion that the Government intend to carry out the compact which was entered into with South Australia. I am very sorry for that, because <I believe that compact is opposed to the best interests of the people of this continent. At any rate, so far as I am concerned, the Bill will go no further. I am sure that, after hearing my declaration, Senator Guthrie will vote for it, although he intended at first to vote against it. I againappeal to the Government to withdraw the measure, and to send two or three exploration parties into the Northern Territory-
– Does the honorable senator desire to get away for the remainder of the session?
– I wish to obtain information about this Territory before I vote for the construction of any line through it. That is the method which I have been accustomed to follow in the Queensland Parliament, and I believe it is the policy which the Government ought to adopt. Seeing that there is an absence of necessary information in respect of this project, I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In this Bill it is proposed to amend the labour section of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905-1910. The 1905 Act, as honorable senators will recollect, was the first Commonwealth Act which made any attempt to secure to the workers engaged in the sugar industry the payment of fair and reasonable wages. The provision relating to this matter, which was inserted in that Act on the motion of Senator Pearce, reads -
Every grower of white-grown sugar who claims the bounty payable under this Act shall, in making such claim, certify to the Minister the rate of wages paid to any labour employed by him other than the labour of members of his family. If the Minister finds that such rate of wages is below the standard tate paid in the districts in which the sugar is grown to similar white labour engaged inthat industry, then the Minister may withholdthe whole or any part of the bounty payable.
The Bounties Act of 1907 and the Manufactures Encouragement Act of 1908 amplified that provision. The Act of 1905 contained a provision whereby the bounty payable was to be reduced in the year 191 1 to two-thirds of the rate previously paid, and in 191 2 to one- third. After that year, the bounty was to cease to operate. However, in 1910, strong representations were made that it was desirable to continue the bounty, and the Government decided temporarily to continue it, and to repeal the previous Act. When an amending Bill was introduced for the purpose of repealing the Sugar Bounty Act of 1905 in respect of the reduction of the bounty along the lines I have indicated, advantage was taken of the occasion to further amend the labour section contained in that Act. As a result, the following provision was substituted for the section which was inserted in the 1905 Act on the initiative of Senator Pearce -
Section nine of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905 is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “9 - (1) Every grower of white-grown sugar cane or beet who claims the bounty payable under this Act shall, in making his claim, certify to the Minister the conditions of employment and the rates of wages paid to any labour employed by him other than the labour of members of his family. “ (2) If the Minister finds that the rates of wages and conditions of employment, or any of them -
are below the standard rates and conditions of employment prescribed by any Commonwealth or State industrial authority ; or
in the absence of any such standard applicable to the case are below the standard rates payable and conditions of employment obtainable in the locality in which the sugar is grown ; or
in the absence of any such standard rates and conditions of employment respectively, are, on application by the Minister to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared not to be fair and reasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State industrial authority to whom he may refer the matter, the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable. “ (3) All the provisions of the Excise Procedure Act 1907 and of any regulations made thereunder shall apply in relation to any application under paragraph (c) of the last preceding sub-section as if the application were an application as defined in that Act, and the application shall, for the purposes of that Act, be deemed to be an application under that Act :
Provided that section four of that Act shall be read as if the words ‘ claimant for bounty’ were substituted for the word ‘ applicant.’ “
The Bill which is now before honorable senators seeks to lay down conditions which will supersede those which I have just read. The reason why we desire to substitute the conditions set forth in this measure for those which are contained in the Act of 1910 may be very briefly stated. In the first place, the grower of cane has to deliver his cane to the mills. The sugar is milled and refined, and, after these operations have been completed, the grower can make application for the bounty payable under the Act. The Minister then has an opportunity of ascertaining whether the claimant has complied with the conditions which are prescribed by the Act. If he satisfies himself that those conditions have not been complied with, he may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty. But he can only do so after the whole of these operations have been completed. This Bill seeks to effect an alteration of the law under which the Minister will be empowered to make application to a Judge for a declaration as to what are fair and reasonable rates of payment, so that the grower will know at once what wages he has to pay to his workmen, and the workmen will know what wages they are to receive, in addition to which the grower will experience no difficulty in obtaining the bounty.
– The Government do not claim the right to alter the ratesof wages ?
– As .the honorable senator is no doubt aware, the Minister of Trade and Customs recently prepared a schedule of rates, which he said should be observed in districts in which there was no standard wage, or in which there was no verbal agreement between the growers and the workers engaged in the industry.
– The Minister said between the representatives of the growers and those of the workers.
– Yes. Where there were agreements between the representatives of the growers and the representatives of the workers, those agreements would be observed, and in such cases the rates of wages set forth in the schedule issued by the Minister would not apply. As a matter of fact, there has been much dissatisfaction in regard to the conditions which have obtained in the sugar industry ever since the Commonwealth was established. The grower has been uncertain whether he would get the whole or part of the bounty, and the workmen have been dissatisfied with the conditions that have prevailed. Although the Minister had the opportunity of withholding the bounty from some of the growers, he felt that it would not be right to do so, seeing that some were in doubt as to what was to be deemed fair and reasonable conditions. Further, I think that the majority of the men who had been employed in the cane fields had left the districts in which they were previously employed.
– Would it not be simpler to abolish both the bounty and the Excise?
– That is another matter. We are not dealing either with the abolition of the bounty or of the Excise at the present time.
– Is it not a fact* that hitherto our legislation has laid down that the “ standard “ rate of wages must be paid by the grower. Is not the “ fair and reasonable” rate a new condition?
– The conditions which I have read are clearly set out in the Sugar Bounty Act of 1905.
– The standard rate is.
– No. In 1907, Mr. Austin Chapman, who was acting Minister of Trade and Customs at the time, laid down what he regarded as fair and reasonable rates. I have here a statement which is signed by Mr. N. Lockyer, of the Customs Department, and which reads -
Rates of Wages to be Paid for White Labour.
The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has temporarily approved that, for the purposes of section 9 of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905, the payment of the bounty will not be imperilled, so far as the question of- wages is concerned, if the rates paid are not less than those mentioned below : -
During off season, 22s. 6d. per week and found.
For harvesting, 25s. per week and found. Boys under 16, 10s. to 15s. per week and found.
Youths from 16 to 18. 15s. to j£i per week and found.
Old, infirm, or non-able-bodied men, 15s. to £1 per week and found.
I am informed that these conditions were not strictly observed. There were innumerable departures from them. Although Mr. Austin Chapman desired that nobody should be entitled to the bounty unless the men he employed received 22s. 6d. per week and found during the off season, and 25s. per week and found when engaged in harvesting, as a matter of fact men were paid so much an hour. The growers claimed that so long as they paid their employes so much an hour they were complying with the conditions laid down, and the payment of the bounty would not be imperilled. Some of them were actually giving only 4 1/2d. per hour to men who were engaged in one of the most trying occupations that can be found in any part of Australia.
– They had to reach the whole amount by working an extra number of hours.
– They were paid so much an hour, and they reached the maximum amount laid down by Mr. Chapman by working excessively long hours.
– Where was this done?
– I am informed that it was done in certain sugar districts in Queensland.
– Surely you can tell us where it was done, instead of making a bald statement !
– I have made the statement, and I believe that it is correct. I am not in a position, perhaps, to give any names, but if I make this statement definitely, and back it up at a later stage, perhaps the honorable senator will be satisfied that my statement is correct.
– You should follow up the statement, by giving the names.
– I was informed that these conditions were not rigidly observed by some growers in certain districts in Queensland.
– In what respect was the departure? Was more or less always paid?
– I am informed that, instead of the growers paying the men 22s. 6d. a week, and finding them, they paid the men so much an hour and found them, and the men were not paid for any , hours which they did not work. Recently an instruction was issued by the Minister that the men were to be paid during wet and dry weather, that they were not to lose any time. He also laid it down that not more than 48 hours a week should be worked in the fields, and he increased the wages of the men very considerably.
– The practice of not paying men when wet weather makes it impossible for them to work is surely followed by the present Government in many cases to-day. There is nothing novel in that.
– Do the Government pay the men engaged on the telephone works when it is wet, and they cannot work ?
– If on the men coming to their work they are not able to commence, and are not allowed to leave the place they are paid. The men in the cane-fields of Queensland are paid now for the wet and dry periods that they are engaged in the work.
– In regard to Commonwealth employment generally, if the weather absolutely prohibits the continuance of work, do you still pay them?
– If men are brought to their work in the morning, or afternoon, and the conditions are such that they are unable to commence, or if they commence, and the weather gets bad as the day goes on, and they are knocked off, but are told to remain on the works, they are paid for the time they have been there, whether working or not.
– The honorable senator means that if the men start and work for an hour, and for the rest of the working day the weather absolutely prohibits the possibility of work, they are still paid ?
– If they are kept on the works, yes. The overseer can send them off if he thinks that the weather will not clear up. But if he is under the impression that the weather will clear up, and desires them to remain on the works, they are detained and paid for the time;
– In this Bill you take that discretion away from the sugar-growers.
– We have taken away a good deal of the discretionary power exercised by sugar-growers, because they have not done what we consider a fair thing by the employes. In regard to this Bill, the main point is that, at the present time, the bounty can be withheld by the Minister after the milling operations have been completed on the ground that fair and reasonable wages have not been paid. We want to alter that state of affairs. We want to take away from the Minister, no matter whether he be a Labour Minister or an Anti-Labour Minister, the power to draw up wage and industrial conditions pertaining to this or any other industry, but particularly this industry. We want ‘ the Minister to have the power to make an application to a Judge of the Arbitration Court, a Supreme Court, or an Industrial Court, for a declaration as to what a fair and reasonable wage is. When he has that power, no Minister will lay down what he considers to be fair and reasonable wages. The Court will be in a much better position than any Minister to regulate this industry, from the industrial point of view, because it will be its business to inquire into the industry from A to Z, and to lay down what it considers fair and reasonable wages.
– The Court is a Parliament of one.
– I consider that an Industrial Court is in a better position than Parliament to deal with industrial matters.
– I do not, because it is doing purely parliamentary work.
– I consider that it is in a much better position than any Minister of the Crown to deal with this industry in regard to wages and conditions generally.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that the Parliament which created the Court was superior to the Court, and knew better than the Court. It was a different argument, then.
– An Industrial Court has opportunities which no Minister possesses. It would be the business of the Court to visit different localities, to understand the conditions of the growers as well as the conditions of the workers, and to get sworn evidence on either side. Does my honorable friend mean to tell me that, in these circumstances, the Court will not be a better institution to deal with the sugar industry than any Minister of the Crown would be?
– Is it not a fact that you are now taking away from the President of the Arbitration Court the right to refer the matter to the Judge of a Supreme Court, and allowing the Minister to do that?
– No. At the pre- sent time, the Minister has power to make an application to a Judge of the Arbitration Court, a Judge of the Supreme Court, or an Industrial Court, as to what are fair and reasonable conditions. But he can only take that step after the completion of the milling operations, before the bounty is paid. This Bill provides that the Minister shall have an opportunity of applying to a Judge before the milling operations are completed, in order that both parties shall understand what wages are to be paid, and the grower will have an opportunity of claiming and obtaining his bounty.
– You have missed my point. Under the Act of 1910 the Minister can apply to the President of the Arbitration Court, and the latter can refer the application to one or other of the authorities I mentioned; but now it is proposed that the Minister shall make the reference if he thinks fit.
– This gives the Minister a wider opportunity in order to get an award in urgent cases.
– It gives the Minister a chance of picking his Judge !
– He will have power to make application to the highest tribunal in the Commonwealth, and the probabilities are that he will make application to the President of the Arbitration, Court.
– Or to a Judge of the Supreme Court.
– In some cases it might be more convenient for the Minister to make application to a Judge of the Supreme Court.
– Then the Minister admits that I am right - that the Government are altering the system.
– The alteration is so trifling and unimportant that the point need not be laboured.
– Can the Minister tell us the meaning of the Latin words in clause 2 ? Why was not the meaning expressed in plain English?
– The meaning is pretty well known. It is, the necessary changes being made. I am not responsible for the wording of the Bill.
– The Minister is responsible for any measure that he presents here.
– I have dealt with the main provisions of the measure, and 1 think honorable senators understand that it means giving a power to the Minister that he does not possess to-day, and the exercise of which in this manner will be in the interests of the growers, and particularly of the workers, who have not, in my opinion, received a fair deal at the hands of many of the men engaged in the sugar industry.
Debate (on motion by Senator Chataway) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 3402) on motion by Senator McGregor -
That the Budget-papers be printed.
– I had not contemplated making any observations concerning these Budgetpapers, because it seemed to me that debate on a matter that has been disposed of elsewhere is rather like whipping a dead horse. I noticed that, when the VicePresident of the Executive Council was introducing this subject, he, like an Irishman trailing his coat on the ground and beseeching any one to tread on the tail of it, challenged the Opposition to say whether they would reduce any of the expenditure proposed by the present Government. He particularly alluded to the payment of pensions. I do not know that the matter of pensions has ever been a party question here. Certainly it was not the Labour party that introduced old-age pensions in the Commonwealth, though, naturally, they hoped to carry the measure, as members of other parties also did. I do not know why it should be supposed that, simply because there is a Labour party in power, the Opposition wished to cut down pensions. There certainly is no disposition to act in that way. But I am free to express the opinion that a careful inquiry ought to be made into the administration of old-age pensions. I have said before, and now repeat, that there is a good deal of fraud and misrepresentation in regard to them. Talking with an official of the Pensions Office only a few da.vs ago he admitted to me that it is known that imposition is rampant, though the officials are not able to get evidence to bring a charge home to those who are perpetrating frauds. Sometimes, when a man has property, he dispossesses himself of it nominally by dividing it up amongst his sons, and then applies for an old-age pension.
– Does not the Department inquire into such matters now?
– No doubt inquiries are made, but they need to be more thoroughly pursued to insure that there shall be no imposition.
– Does the honorable senator say that he was informed by one of the officials that what he has described is being done?
– Yes; it is known that that sort of thing goes on. We established our pension system to assist, those who are in needy circumstances. It was not to be a universal pension system. Persons in certain circumstances were to be allowed the privilege of drawing pensions. I have not the least doubt that the system is being very much abused at present. I am anxious that no one who needs a pension should be without it. But at present we are faced with the position that some who ought never to apply for pensions, and ought not to get them, are enjoying them, whilst others who deserve pensions do not make application. Of what use was it for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to .ask the Opposition whether they desired to cut down old-age pensions? We do not desire to do anything of the sort,, but we certainly do wish to see the system fairly administered. Again, military and naval expenditure is not a party matter. All parties are committed to our defence policy. There may be extravagance here and there, and expenditure in some directions might well be saved ; but that does not affect the main issue. With regard to the proposed expenditure of ^58,000 on the Northern Territory, we have not been supplied with particulars as to how the money is to be spent, except that ^1,000 is to bo applied to the establishment of a steam laundry. There are in the Northern Territory a number of Chinamen who are supposed to be excellent laundrymen. It seems strange, therefore, that it should be considered necessary to establish there a Commonwealth Laundry-
– Is not cleanliness next to Godliness?
– I have often heard that said, and if it be so, Senator Stewart is a very Godly man. I listened to his speech yesterday with much interest. He endeavoured to apply a stimulus to his own party with the object of inducing it to carry out the policy to which the Labour party is pledged. He pointed out that the Government are in a more favorable position than any previous Ministry have been, and wanted to know why they did not give effect to their policy. He stated that the land policy of the party is that the State should take the community-created value of land. In other words it should take what is sometimes called the unearned increment.
– It is incorrect to say that that is our policy.
– The difficulty is to find out what the policy of the Government is.
– T do not think that I am misrepresenting Senator Stewart.
– But the honorable senator is misrepresenting the Government and the party who support them.
– I am sure that Senator Stewart would not misrepresent his own party.
– He did in regard to that matter.
– The honorable senator laid it down that the Government should tax land up to its rental value. He has always been honest enough to say that he does not believe in any exemptions. As I took it, what he advocated was practically the single tax.
– I was not speaking on behalf of the party. Do not make that mistake.
– I understood that Senator Stewart was applying a gentle stimulus for the purpose of inducing his party to give effect to the policy they advocated. His argument appeared to be one for the single tax, plus high Protection and plus new Protection.
– How could you have the single tax with Protection?
– That is the point I was coming to. It seems anomalous to talk in that fashion. Henry George, the great apostle of land value taxation, made the position absolutely plain, and his followers lay it down that the economic rental value of land would yield revenue sufficient for all purposes, national and municipal.
– Henry George was a Free Trader.
– Exactly ; the very idea of the single tax implies that there should be no other taxation.
– I did not mention the single tax.
– But Senator Stewart wants to appropriate for the Commonwealth the. community-created value of land, which is the same position as that taken up by the single tax people. The honorable senator would have no revenue derived from a protective Tariff. He would put prohibitive duties upon all goods that could be manufactured in the country, and goods that could npt be manufactured here he would admit duty free.
– That is a very fair statement of my position.
– I confess that the difficulty is as to how we should start to carry out the honorable senator’s idea.
– Is the honorable senator a single taxer in theory ?
– No; I am not. Senator Stewart says that we need to establish industries. We all admit that, and we need also to extend those we have. The honorable senator mentioned two industries in particular, but I could not exactly understand how he proposed to deal with them. He asked why we should not establish a cotton industry; but his idea at the same time is that there should be no duty on imported cotton. He thinks we should pay a bounty on cotton grown in the Commonwealth. I know that cotton grows very well in the Northern Territory. The Curator of the Botanical Gardens at Port Darwin planted cotton seed there some time ago, and very fine cotton is produced there. But if there is to be no duty on imported cotton, and we are to grow cotton in Australia in competition with that grown by coloured labour in other countries, where they pay only as much for labour in a month as we should have to pay in a day, I wonder what sort of a bounty will be necessary, and what price will have to be paid for the cotton grown in Australia after it is manufactured.
– In some States in America, cotton is grown and treated by white labour.
– I am aware that, in many industries, black labour may be replaced by white labour with advantage. I was saying that if we are to grow cotton by white labour in Australia, in competi tion with coloured labour receiving only asmuch in amonth as we should have to pay in a day, I should like to know what sort of a bounty we should have to pay on Australiangrown cotton, and what price weshould have to pay for cotton goods manufactured from it.
– Sugar-cane is grown by coloured labour in almost every other country but Australia, and yet I believethat, with good administration, we might continue to grow it in Australia without any duty on sugar.
– We have a duty of £6 per ton on sugar, and we have also a bounty and an Excise duty in connexion with the industry.
– Those are included in the£6.
– If the bounty and Excise are included in the£6 Customs duty,why do we not do away with them, and depend simply on the Customs duty?
– I do not know.
– Why should we not get over the difficulty in that fashion? I do not see how we are to grow cotton profitably by white labour in Australia under the conditions which Senator Stewart suggests. The honorable senator also made reference to the woollen industry. That is already established here, and I believe that our woollen mills have as much or more work than they can get through at the present time. If the proprietors had only a little more pluck and enterprise, and would import up-to-date plant and extend their operations, they would find plenty of business.
– A great quantity of woollens is imported.
– I admit that; but why that should be so is somewhat difficult to understand. The foreign manufacturer has to pay freight and charges on the wool to Europe, and after it is made up, he has to pay the same charges to bring the manufactured goods to Australia, and also a Customs duty of from 30 to 35 per cent. That, it seems to me, should be a sufficient handicap upon the foreign manufacturer to enable the local manufacturer to compete with success. I think that it is, because, from what I can learn, the industry here is very fully employed, and there is no lack of work in any of the factories. They are extending their plants in all the States. I know that, last year, when on my way to London, I met a manufacturer who was going there from
Geelong with the express purpose of materially increasing his plant in order to carry out the additional business which he knew was waiting for him. Senator Stewart has said that, although our factories are in-; creasing, they are not increasing anything like as fast as they ought to. I am not quite sure on that point, because I find that, while in 1901 we had 11,143 factories in the Commonwealth, in 19 10, the number had increased to 13,822. An increase of 3,679 factories in ten years is not, I think, a bad rate of increase. In 1901, the number of employes in our factories was I97>783, and, in 1910, the number had increased to 286,831, or an increase in ten years of 89,048. From these figures, it would appear that our industries have not been languishing very much. They have made fairly satisfactory progress, and I have no doubt that there would have been a very much larger local output if sufficient labour had been available for the manning of our factories. During the last few years, we have had good seasons, and a big demand for the products of our factories, and the output of many of them has not been nearly what it would have been if more labour had been available. Reference was made yesterday to the value of the output of our factories. I have looked up the figures given on the subject by Mr. Knibbs, and I notice that Sir. Sholl, the Statistician of South Australia, supplies very similar figures. I find that of the value of the output of our factories the raw material represents 60.22 per cent. ; fuel and light, 2.18 per cent. ; salaries and wages, 19.77 per cent. ; and other expenses, including interest and profit, 17.83 per cent. It has to be remembered “that from the 17.83 per cent., the manufacturer has to pay fire and industrial insurance. I am not complaining that he should have to pay for industrial insurance, because I recognise that that is a very fair burden upon any industry. It is necessary that the manufacturer should insure himself in order to be able to meet any claims that might be made upon him under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the Employers’ Liability Act, the Workmen’s Lien Act, or at common law. I think that is quite right, but I say that it is out of the 17.83 per cent, that these charges have to be met. The premium charge for industrial insurance is about 12s. 6d. per cent, on the wages actually paid, so that it represents a substantial burden upon any industry. After all these charges are accounted for, I think it will be found that the manufacturer is left with about 7 per cent., and, when we remember that there is invested in land and buildings in connexion with our factories, something like ^20,000,000, and in plant and machinery another ,£29,000,000, it will be admitted that the manufacturer’s profit cannot be regarded as extravagant. In all the circumstances, our industries appear to me to have made very fair progress under the existing Tariff.
– Everything has progressed very satisfactorily, ‘ except wages.
– I take exception to that statement. I guarantee that if the matter is investigated, it will be found that within the last ten years, the wages in every industry have been substantially increased. I challenge the honorable senator to disprove that statement. Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts have brought up wages in every industry, and the total wage list for the Commonwealth has been increased, according to figures which were published here not long ago, by millions sterling. We are told that we now require to have the new Protection. The old idea of Protection, as I understood it, was that a duty should be placed upon an imported article to enable the local manufacturer of it to compete with the underpaid labour in other countries, and, at the same time, pay a fair wage to his employes. I do not know that any one could complain of that. Senator Stewart is anxious now for what is called the new Protection, which, according to a statement made in Melbourne not long since by the present Attorney-General, is intended to protect the local manufacturer by means of a Customs duty, and also to provide better wages for his work-people, and, further, to protect the consumer in connexion with the selling price. I do not exactly know how it is to be done, especially if the producer is, under Senator Stewart’s scheme, to pay a land tax up to the economic rent of his land, or up to the full community created value of it. I do not know how any member of the Government is going to fix the price of a pound of wool, a bushel of wheat, a gallon of wine, a pound of butter, or any other commodity. The prices of these commodities are determined by the markets of the world, and I fail to see how the new Protection can succeed in protecting the consumer if we increase the duties which are levied upon various articles, or the wages of the persons who are engaged in their production. Only one individual will pay this increased cost, and that is the individual who consumes the goods.
– New Protection does not necessarily mean an increase of duties.
– If wages are increased so that the local manufacturer cannot compete with the foreign manufacturer, what does the. former naturally want ? A higher duty. Universal Free Trade is a very fine theory, but, unfortunately, we cannot ‘put it into practice.
– Not while we have a typotheae. - Senator VARDON.- If the honorable senator is referring to arrangements in trade, I think they are very good things sometimes.
– They crush somebody.
– Will the honorable senator give me the name of any person who has been crushed?
– Let the honorable senator look up Wimble, and he will tell him.
– If Senator Guthrie will get Wimble’s Guide, I think he will find that it contains articles which very strongly urge the adoption of a typothetae. Therefore, he cannot claim that it has been the means of crushing persons out of existence.
– Those articles did say that if a man obtained a contract from a person outside the typothetae, he never got it again.
– I have never heard of that sort of thing being done, and I have been in the trade for over forty years. But I have heard of combinations amongst seamen and shipping people, whereby wages have been raised - a nice little arrangement to protect both parties.
– And amongst the printers. When did the honorable senator hear of that?
– I have heard something about it from the honorable senator himself.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Vardon has just stated that he heard from myself that a certain thing had taken place. I deny his statement, and ask that it should be withdrawn.
– If Senator Vardon has made a statement which is objectionable to the honorable senator, I am sure he will withdraw.it.
– Certainly 1 will withdraw it. But I was talking to the honorable senator at one time, and I understood from him that an arrangement had been arrived at which was beneficial both to the seamen and to the shipping companies.
– The honorable senator knows that the seamen are working today under an award of the Court.
– I was referring to a time prior to that award. My remark was made in reply to an interjection by the honorable senator to the effect that I was connected with a combination which might crush somebody out of existence.
– 1 understand that the honorable senator has withdrawn the statement to which I took exception.
– I withdraw any statement which may be regarded by , the honorable senator as offensive; and, perhaps, he will withdraw his assertion that I had something to do with crushing somebody.
– I did not say that the honorable senator had something to do with it. I said that the master printers had.
– As a Commonwealth. we are committed to. the doctrine of Protection. It is the settled policy of the country, and, consequently, we ought to seek to make it as perfect as possible. The Government have no right to say that they will not interfere with the Tariff until we obtain new Protection. If there are anomalies which require to be rectified, that work should be taken in hand immediately. If a Board of experts were appointed to determine whether anomalies do exist, and to suggest how they could be removed, we should be in a much better position to deal with them.
– What kind of experts would the honorable senator have on the Board - Free Traders or Protectionists ?
– I would have business men. There may be anomalies from a Free Trade and also from a Protectionist point of view. If such anomaliesexist, they should be rectified; and I take it that a Board of experts would be appointed as neither Free Traders nor Protectionists, but as men who would be competent to make inquiries and to submit recommendations. I do not think that ‘weshall have an equitable Tariff, until we adopt that course. I have nothing moreto say. I am quite sure that, so far as this expenditure set out in the Estimates is concerned, we are committed to it. Even if I desired to object to that expenditure, I am afraid that my objection would not be effective, in view of the composition of the Senate at the present time.
– I propose to offer a few remarks upon some of the criticisms to which the Budget has been subjected, and I also intend to embrace the present opportunity to make a statement in regard to naval development, because of the misconception which exists in the minds of some honorable senators, .and because certain misstatements have been circulated by the press which ought to be corrected at the earliest possible moment. In the first place, I wish to say a few words in reply to the criticism of Senator Stewart, and in answer to the construction which has been placed upon that criticism by Senator Vardon. It is not a fact that the Labour party have not given effect to their platform. It is an incontrovertible fact that practically every plank of the platform upon which that party went to the electors in 1903 to which effect can be given without an alteration of the Constitution has already been given effect to. The only plank of that platform which has not become law is the Navigation Bill, and the Government are pledged to pass that before the present session closes. In regard to our attitude upon the land question, there was no uncertainty as to the platform which was put before the electors, either by the Prime Minister in his opening speech, or by other members of the party subsequently throughout the Commonwealth. We declared that we were in favour of a progressive tax on the unimproved value of land, with an exemption of £5,000. That plank has been interpreted by the only persons who are authorized to interpret it in the way that they deemed right, and legislative expression has already been given to their interpretation. So that whatever Senator Stewart, or anybody else, may say to the contrary has nothing whatever to do with the case. Before that policy can be altered the electors will again be consulted. Senator Stewart was equally unfortunate in some of the remarks which he made in regard to the Tariff. The Labour party are pledged to the new Protection. That is to say, they are pledged to Protection, provided they have the power to accompany Tariff duties with protection to the worker and the consumer.
As a party they have deliberately refused to place Protection upon their official platform, unless it be accompanied by the new Protection. To that plank every member of the party is pledged. At the same time no member of the party is prevented from holding the most extreme views in regard to what is known as the old Protection. Senator Stewart is quite free, as is every member of the Labour party, to hold and express extreme views upon that matter. But, nevertheless, he is pledged to do his utmost to give effect to the new Protection. When he chides others with not doing their duty in this regard, one would naturally expect that he, himself, was perfect. He has told us that he is in favour of abolishing all revenue duties. Unfortunately he has a record, and before one starts 10 boast it is always well that one should be sure that his record is without blemish. If anybody chooses to turn to Hansard for the year 1908, pages 8067 and 8082, 8085 and 8086, he will find that Senator Stewart voted for a very high duty upon such an article as rice - clearly and distinctly a revenue duty. There was no rice grown in the Commonwealth at the time, and not a single bushel has been grown since. Upwards of £382,000 worth of uncleaned rice, upon which duty to the extent of ,£65,000 was paid, and ,£116,000 worth of rice n.e.i., upon which ^35,000 was paid in duty, was imported into the Commonwealth during 191 1. That duty was imposed with the aid of Senator Stewart’s vote. So that the value of the rice, imported during the year mentioned, was approximately £500,000, and the duty paid upon its importation was £100,000. It is a revenue duty of the worst kind, because it is a duty upon food.
– Why not grow rice here ?
– Of course, we can grow anything in Australia. But, as a matter of fact, we do not grow rice, notwithstanding that there is a Himalayan duty upon it. Then, again, Senator Stewart had no compunction about voting for the imposition of a duty upon arrowroot. Although he can vote complacently for duties on such articles as tapioca flour, which are not produced in the Commonwealth, he has the temerity to lecture members of his own party because they are maintaining a Tariff which contains revenue duties. The present Government have made no secret of their intention, if they are vested with the necessary power, to introduce a system of new Protection, and to substantially alter the existing Tariff. The electors are not in ignorance of the fact that the Labour party are pledged up to the hilt to make that Tariff effective, conditionally upon their having the power to insure that the benefits of Protection shall be extended to the workers of the community, and that the manufacturers are not allowed a free hand in exploiting the consumers.
– That is to say, you want both. forms of Protection, or neither.
– That is to say, our present programme. We appealed to the people for that increased power, but we failed to obtain it. We intend to again appeal to the people, and, in my opinion, on the next occasion they .will answer “ Yes.” However, that is a matter for future history to reveal. I wish to quote a few figures, because an attempt is being made, and Senator Stewart gave voice to it yesterday, to make it appear that not only is the present Tariff not thoroughly satisfactory - I suppose we are all prepared to concede that, in many respects, it could be made more Protective - but it is thoroughly ineffective, and goods which could be made here are pouring in in an ever-increasing stream over the Tariff barrier. To those who take up that attitude I wish to commend some figures. The first Tariff was passed in 1902, and I shall take the figures for 1903, because it was then in full operation, and compare that year with the last year for which we have figures, and that is 191 1. In 1903 we imported £26,013,008 worth of dutiable goods and £11,798,463 worth of goods on the free list, making a total value of £37,811,471. During last year we imported dutiable goods to the value of £38,276,394, and goods on the free list to the value of £28,691,094, making a total of £66,967,488. Those who have quoted figures have always been careful to merely quote the total imports, and not to analyze the character of the goods; imported. The total increase in the value of the imports in the period I mentioned was £29,156,017, but of this increase only £12,263,368 represented dutiable goods, whilst imports to the value of £16,892,631, or four-sevenths of the total value, were on the free list, and, therefore, not dutiable at all.
– Was the honorable senator prepared to put tea on the dutiable list?
– Certainly not. But that is not the only thing you have motor cars on the free list.
– If the honorable senator will look through, the free list; he will find that we have a surprisingly small one when he comes to think of the large number of articles which are taxable. These figures are extremely striking. They show that four- sevenths of the total increase represent goods that are on the free list. It has to be remembered that a considerable proportion of the dutiable goods are subject to what are practically revenue duties of 5 and 10 per cent.
– Would you lower those duties?
– Given new Protection, I would be prepared to make a duty either protective or wipe it out.
– Your answer now is “ an alteration of the Constitution.”
– I wish to refer to a statement which I am informed has been made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in the country districts of New South Wales. I am told by Mr. Foster, the member for New England, who says he can produce a newspaper to back up his statement, that Senator Millen has stated that the Fusion Government, when they retired from office, left to the Labour Government a surplus of £3,000,000.
– I may say at once that that is not correct.
– Mr. Foster told me that he can produce a newspaper in which that statement is attributed to the honorable senator.
– What I did say was that the Government is avoiding a deficit this year by drawing upon the surpluses of previous years.
– The statement which Mr. Foster assures me the honorable senator is reported to have made was, “ It appears that the surplus of previous years was a surplus left by the previous Government.”
– Some portion of it was.
– Was it left by the previous Government?
– By previous Administrations.
– How much?
– I shall repeat in the chamber directly what I said on the occasion referred to.
– The last general election took place on the 13th April, 1910 ; the financial year ended on the 30th June, 19 10, and the Labour Government assumed office in May, 19 10. Whatever the financial position of the Commonwealth was at the end of June, 1910, obviously the Labour Government could not be held responsible for it. According to Knibbs - 1 take the figures from pages 794, 802 and 809 - the revenue for that year was £15,540,669, and the expenditure, £15,991,952, showing a deficit of £451,283. If honorable senators will cast their minds back, they will remember that one of the first Bills which the Labour Government had to introduce was one to validate an action which the Labour Treasurer had to take when he came into office. He found that the commitments of the Fusion Government, and the expenditure which had to be faced before the 30th June, were such that he had to have resort to the Trust Fund in order to make up the deficit, and one of the earliest Bills introduced in the ensuing session was one to validate his action in using trust money for that purpose.
– These trust funds were the surpluses of previous years, I think.
– That is so, but they had not been added to by the Fusion Government, and therefore were the product of other Governments. Not only had we to do that in order to meet a temporary difficulty, but the obligation was cast upon us by that Bill to meet the current liabilities for the year, and, in addition, to restore £451,000 odd to the Trust Fund. That we were able to do, and to finish up with a handsome surplus. So much for the statements that are being made to endeavour to lead the public to believe that the greatest and weakest link in the Labour chain is that of finance. The facts are that the Fusion finance left this country with a deficit of nearly £500,000, and that Labour finance converted the deficit, in the short space of a year, into a handsome surplus.
– Will you talk about the future?
– Yes, I am going to talk about the future.
– Will you talk about the immediate future?
– Order I The Minister of Defence has a right to continue hisspeech without continual interjections from, the honorable senator.
– I know that, Mr. President, without yOU informing me.
– I wish to point out to Senator St. Ledger that when an. honorable senator has the floor, it is of nouse for him to continuously make interjections which are taken no notice of.
– Just so.
– Order ! When f stand here and address an honorable senator, I do so in the interests of order in this chamber. If Senator St. Ledger continues to interject after I .have warned him two 01 three times to desist, I shall have totake other proceedings.
– Is that a threat,. Mr. President?
– Yesterday we hada statement from Senator Gould, who was dealing with the present situation, and his remarks were typical of the general remarks, of members of the Opposition on the financial position. They quote the huge expenditure. They say, “ Here is so much for Naval defence, so much for old-age pensions, and so much for something else,” and having trotted out these millions they ask, “ Where is it going to lead to? What is the country coming to? How are you. going to meet the outstanding liability?” Senator Gould told us that we -ought now to be laying by a nest egg for future daysHe has a pretty long record to his credit in State and Federal Parliaments. It never was typical of the regime of the party of which he is so distinguished a member,, when they flourished in the State Legislatures, to make any provision for a rainy day, and the magnificent legacies which they have left to the people of Australia are the enormous State debts, now amounting to about .£300,000,000. That is theway in which they provided for the future. As to our provision, we have challenged the members of the Opposition to lay their fingers upon, a single item, and say that it is a needless expenditure. Senator Gould says that it is the duty of the Treasurer torun his pencil through items, and to use the amount which he thus saves to meet liabilities which may occur in the sweet byandby. Let us consider the statement. Here is a country which to-day we all admit has an enormous revenue, and that revenue is being paid apparently without any hardship to the taxpayers. We can all, perhaps, disagree with some of the sources from which the revenue comes, but there it is. When money is pouring into the Treasury, and we look around this country and see the demand for expenditure in this and that direction, and find upon inquiry that it is absolutely justifiable, would ir be sound finance to borrow money to carry out the works, and to put the surplus revenue into a Trust Account, or something of that kind, for possible contingencies in the future? or, on the other hand, strike the works out altogether, and leave them as a legacy to the future. The need for them will increase as time goes on, and the demand for them will not die out. If you strike a particular work out of the Estimates this year, and refuse to provide money for it, you have not done away with the necessity for it. The probability is that the demand will face you in the future, when you have not the revenue available ; and then you will be forced to borrow. The Government have taken the wiser course. They have decided that, having the money available for necessary works, they will spend it now. If it is found in the future that the revenue is not sufficient to enable us to continue this policy, it will be for the Government to determine whether they will refuse to go on with works, or whether they will proceed with them and either impose additional taxation or borrow the necessary money. Those alternatives are always open to us. I think, therefore, that we are working on sound lines in proceeding as we are going. Now I wish as succinctly as possible to lay before the Senate the position in regard to naval expenditure. I admit that there has been some confusion, possibly because of the way in which the report of Admiral Henderson was submitted, and afterwards affected by the proposals of the Government; as well as in consequence of the figures supplied by the Budget-papers. Perhaps some misunderstanding was inevitable, because Admiral Henderson was dealing with proposals for which he could give only forecasts of expenditure, whilst we are dealing with proposals which are tangible, and for which we can furnish actual estimates. In order to make the position clear, I wish to give a brief summary of Admiral Henderson’s proposals. When the Labour Government assumed office in 19 10, they found that negotiations were in progress with the Admiralty for the construction of vessels of a Fleet Unit. The Government decided to take the advice of an officer recommended by the Admiralty.
-Colonel Cameron. - The Unit had been decided upon previously to the Government coming into office. Is that so?
– That is so; and, as I have said, when we came into office negotiations were proceeding with the Admiralty as to the construction of the vessels.
-Colonel Cameron. - That was prior to Admiral Henderson’s report?
-Colonel Cameron. - Will the honorable senator enumerate the Unit?
– It is to consist of one battleship cruiser, three second class cruisers, six destroyers, and three submarines. We decided to obtain the advice of an experienced naval officer recommended by the Admiralty, so that we might have a well-defined plan upon which we could set to work. The Naval Conference of 1909 merely laid down plans for the creation of a Fleet Unit, and for the co-operation of the Dominions in respect thereto, but did not take into consideration the local provision for manning, and matters of that kind. The Labour Government also decided that of the Fleet Unit one of the second class cruisers and the three destroyers should be built in Australia. Admiral Henderson, on the advice of the Admiralty, was selected to prepare a report. His report is dated 1st March, 191 1. In regard to the construction of the vessels of the Fleet Unit, on 8th December, 1909, a cable was sent to the Admiralty asking them to arrange for the construction of the vessels. Contracts were accepted on 18th June, 1910, for the Australia, on 20th February, 1911, for the Sydney, on 25th February, 191 1, for the Melbourne. The contracts were signed by the Admiralty on behalf of the Commonwealth. The contract for the supply of material for the Brisbane was signed about the same time, and contracts for the building of the Brisbane and the three destroyers in June of this year. The time fixed for the commencement of work upon them was August. I wish to say a word or two about Admiral Henderson’s report, to explain the figures which I shall give, and to show that the charge that we have not kept up to date in regard to carrying out the Admiral’s recommendations is unjustified. The statement that we have not done the things which he suggested we should do is also insubstantial. In paragraph 19 of his report, Admiral Henderson says -
In order to obtain the necessary efficiency with the minimum cost, continuity of policy is essential, and the development of the Commonwealth Naval Forces must proceed on definite lines with a definite goal in view, so that each step taken will advance the completion of the whole, and the development must be regulated by her resources both in population and in wealth.
The reason why I quote that statement is this : We have been taunted several times that we have not said whether we accept the whole of Admiral Henderson’s proposals or not. In that paragraph Admiral Henderson himself recognises that his proposals as a whole must be tentative, and the carrying out of them must be governed by the two factors of population and wealth. I quote from page 9 of his report his recommendations, in which he summarizes his proposals, and places them in order. He says -
I have divided my recommendations into three parts, comprising -
Part 1, the completed fleet (the goal to bc attained).
Part 2, the initial stage - requirements of the fleet unit and first seven years (the foundation).
Part 3, successive stages of development (culminating in the completed fleet).
There we have the necessary stages. This is what Admiral Henderson says as to the four eras within which the requirements of the completed Fleet should be divided -
It is recommended that the requirements of the Commonwealth completed fleet should be divided into four eras, consisting respectively of -
First era, seven years.
Second era, five years.
Third era, five years.
Fourth era, five years.
Making a total of twenty-two years. In paragraph 7, he says -
The total period of 22 years is taken as the maximum required; the higher ranks of officers cannot be obtained in a shorter period, and a period of 22 years is also convenient because it is the length of service, from the age of 18, which continuous service men in the mother navy are required to complete to be eligible for pension, and is the period which is recommended for adoption for “ long service “ in the Commonwealth Fleet.
It will be seen, therefore, that Admiral Henderson, in making his recommendation as to a twenty-two years’ period, was governed entirely by that consideration. He himself would be the last to prophesy that in twenty-two years a battleship, as we know it to-day, would be the chief item in our Fleet. It may even be obsolete.
But, as he pointed out, he had to formulate a plan extending over a number of years, and he had to show in each era the provision that would have to be made for the next both in manning and provision. In paragraph 9 of his report, he says -
It is specially recommended that the first era should cover seven years, as this longer era will give the Commonwealth time and opportunity for devoting her energies to providing and equipping the necessary harbor establishments, naval bases, &c., as well to putting the recruiting system on a sound basis.
It is well to know the importance that Admiral Henderson attaches to those things as compared with the building of the Fleet. On page 15 of his report, paragraph11, he says -
Of the 2,501 required for the fleet unit the following ranks and ratings cannot be provided by Australia in the two years available, and must therefore be obtained from the mother country, under the agreement made at the Imperial Conference of 1909 : -
Commissioned officers, 98.
Subordinate officers, 12.
Warrant officers, 34.
Chief petty and other petty officers, 406.
Leading ratings, 305.
Other ratings, 768.
The balance, 878, should be provided by the Commonwealth by the time the vessels of the fleet unit arrive in Australia.
Those vessels will arrive here in May or June of next year. That is the present position. The Melbourne arrives in January. The following is a statement of numbers required to be recruited in Australia for the Fleet Unit, together with a statement of the numbers available. The number required is 863. The number available is as follows - 82 A.N.F. ratings serving in H.M. ships and establishments in home waters in 191 1. 15 A.N.F. ratings sent to England in Powerful. 247 A.N.F. ratings sent to England in Challenger. 14 R.A.N. ratings sent to England in R.M.S. Ophir. 156 Ratings,recruits, now serving in Encounter. 172 Recruits now serving at H.M.A. Naval Depôt, Williamstown. 140 Boys now training in Tingira. 39 A.N.F. ratings borne in Cambria. 865 Total.
That is to say, the total available at the time the Fleet Unit arrives in Australia will be 865. Practically the total that Admiral Henderson said we should provide in two years, we have provided in less than eighteen months.
– It shows that there is some naval spirit in Australia.
– But they are not Australians.
– They are all Australians.
– Enlisted in Australia.
– The bulk of them are Australian born. The honorable senator must not run away with the impression that I am not giving the figures of men recruited by the British Squadron. These are recruits whom we ourselves have enlisted. They are mostly young fellows under the age of twenty-five. The great bulk of them are about eighteen years of age, and they are mostly Australian born. Admiral Henderson goes on to say -
On the assumptions that the ptoposals will meet with the concurrence of the Admiralty, and that the ratings to be obtained from the United Kingdom will be available, the immediate measures to be taken by the Commonwealth for the provision of the 878ranks and ratings required for the vessels of the Fleet Unit are as follows.
Then he suggests that we should -
Establish and open recruiting centres and develop recruiting.
That has been done.
Acquire the Sobraon as a training ship for toys.
That has been done.
Erect barracks and naval college at Sydney.
We are providing for a naval college at Geelong temporarily, and afterwards there will be a naval college at Jervis Bay.
Erect barracks at Fort Western.
That is proceeding.
Arrange for the transfer to the Commonwealth service of such Australians now belonging to the Imperial service and serving in certain of H.M. ships on the Australian Station and elsewhere as volunteer for transfer.
That has been arranged, as the figures which I have quoted indicate.
All recruiting in Australia hitherto performed by the Imperial Naval authorities for service in the Imperial Navy to cease forthwith, and such recruiting to be taken over at once by the Commonwealth.
That recommendation has been adopted, and is being carried out.
The vessels of the Imperial Navy now employed in training Australians to continue recruiting and training for the Commonwealth Navy.
That lias been varied, in that we have taken over the Encounter, and are training men upon her.
Pending the arrival of the fleet unit . . . temporary arrangements to be made … in the Naval Barracks at Garden Island.
That has been varied. We are sending our men to Williamstown. Garden Island will be handed over to us by the Admiralty on the 1st July next. Dealing with the subsequent eras, to use his own expression, Admiral Henderson, on page 22 of his report, recommends that the following additional vessels should be provided between 1913 and 1918 : -
One depôt vessel, to be ready by end of 1914.
Three submarines, to be ready by end of 1916.
Three torpedo boat destroyers, to be ready by end of 1917.
Three torpedo boat destroyers, to be ready by end of 1918.
The depôt vessel was provided for in the Works Estimates, and instructions have been given for her construction.
– In England or Australia?
– In England; she is a special type of ship of which the Admiralty have the plans. No vessel of the kind has ever been constructed in Australia. The other vessels mentioned will be here in sufficient time if they are ordered within the next two or three years. It will be time enough even then to have them within the time Admiral Henderson has set down for their construction. The time allowed for the construction of a torpedo boat destroyer in Great Britain is twelve months, so that if the order were given in 1915 the vessels would still be constructed within the time for which Admiral Henderson allowed. I contend from these facts that not only have we kept within the time limit laid down by Admiral Henderson, but in certain respects we are in advance of what he thought we should be able to do.
– The honorable senator admits that there is a delay in construction.
– There is a delay in construction, but there is no delay in the placing of the vessels in Australian waters as contemplated by Admiral Henderson. He did not contemplate that the Fleet Unit would be available in Australia before the middle of 1913.
– Does the honorable senator anticipate that we shall have the Fleet Unit here by the middle of next year ?
– Yes, we are so advised by the Admiralty authorities. The Melbourne will be commissioned on the 1st January, and will leave for Australia shortly afterwards. The Sydney and Australia, it is promised, will be in these waters, possibly, in April next, and not later than in June.
– And as to the vessels that are being built locally?
– They will not be ready for some time, but I remind the honorable senator that the Encounter will take the place of the Brisbane until that vessel is available. So that practically the Fleet Unit available will be the same in strength as that decided upon at the1909 Conference, with the exception of the three destroyers which are being constructed in Sydney.
-Colonel Cameron. - When does the honorable senator expect the
– Not later than June next, and, possibly, in April. The actual expenditure upon the construction of the Fleet Unit up to the 30th June, 1912 - not the appropriation, but the money actually expended - amountsto£1,875,999. Some confusion in the matter arises in this way: A sum of£3,750,000 has already been appropriated by Parliament for the Fleet Unit. Only £1,875,999 has been expended of that amount, and the balance is there to meet future liabilities.
– In the Trust Fund?
– Yes. The amounts provided on the Estimates for 191 2-1 3 for the Fleet Unit, in addition to the money in the Trust Fund, are: - (1)£110,000, which it is estimated will be the cost of the submarine depot ship. This amount will not be paid out of the Trust Fund. (2) Works under the Home Affairs Department, £95,000; under the Naval Department, £200,000, or a total of £295,000.
– That includes expenditure on the naval bases?
– Yes ; I am giving what we propose to expend next year, and showing what that expenditure will commit us to, because, as honorable senators are aware, naval bases cannot be provided in a year. (3) The balance of the amount required to complete the works for which preliminary provision has been made, as I have just indicated, will be - Works under the Home Affairs Department, £255,000; and under the Naval Department,£360,000, or a total expenditure to complete the works of £615,000.
– When will that be required ?
– I shall refer to that, but I wish now to indicate what the works to be carried out by this expenditureare. In the Home Affairs Department they include the Naval College at Jervis Bay, £130,000; the Naval College at Geelong, £8,000 ; the Flinders Naval Base, £200,000; and the Williamstown Gunnery and Torpedo School, £12,000. Towards these works there are included on the present Estimates £95,000, leaving a balance to be voted of £255,000. Under the Naval Department the works include the Flinders Naval Base,£400,000;. Cockburn Sound,£45,000 ; Port Stephens, £15,000; dredgers and plant,£100,000; or a total of£560,000, of which amount £200,000 is provided for on the present Estimates, leaving a balance of £360,000- to be subsequently provided for. As regards the Cockburn Sound and Port Stephen’s Naval Bases, no estimate can be given as to the final expenditure upon, them, for the reason that the work now being carried out is merely survey work on which to establish data to enable us to frame our estimates of cost. Therefore, these figures do not include any money for Cockburn Sound and Port Stephens Naval Bases, except to enable us to provide preliminary data, or for Sydney, for which no final scheme has yet been proposed. It is further estimated that the expenditure indicated by these figures will be spread over four years. Now as to the cost of maintenance and of the Naval Forces. The Fleet Unit for last year, 1911-12, cost for maintenance, repairs, upkeep, salaries, and pay, £248,738. For the current financial year, during part of which we shall have the Melbourne in commission, and the battleship, and one of the other cruisers in commission possibly for a couple of months, the estimated cost of maintenance is £659,378. In 1913-14, on the assumption that we shall have in commission the complete Fleet Unit, including the depot ship and the ships being constructed in Sydney, the annual expenditure for maintenance and upkeep is estimated to amount to£1, 086,000.
-Colonel Cameron. - That is the total estimated annual cost for upkeep, material, and personnel?
– Yes. That will include reserves, instructional staff, cadets, maintenance, and repairs.
– But it will include nothing for depreciation.
– No; there is nothing included in that estimate for depreciation. The statement has been published that Admiral Henderson foreshadowed an expenditure of £15,000,000 on works. I was very much puzzled by this figure, and so were the members of the Naval Board. We could not understand how it was obtained, but I think we have discovered how it has been arrived at. Admiral Henderson introduced some estimates on the last page of his report. Prior to the introduction of those estimates, he assumed, for the purpose of making his point, that the Government would spend on the Navy, say, £3,000,000 a year during the first seven years, and £4,000,000 a year in subsequent years. On the basis of the Fleet which he suggests, he set down so much for recurring charges, and so much for nonrecurring charges, and he assumed that the balances which would be left - and according to his figures a balance would be left in each year - would be utilized by the Government for works. He could give no estimates for works, because, obviously, he had no data on which to base them. As I have already said, we are unable at present to give any estimate for the naval bases at Cockburn Sound and Port Stephens until surveys have been made to secure the necessary data. So, in a rough and ready fashion, Admiral Henderson said that for the purpose of his calculations, he would assume that the Government would spend £3,000,000 a year in the first seven years, and £4,000.000 in subsequent years, so much in each year for recurring, and so much for non-recurring charges; and the balance left each year, which might be £1,500,000, or £2,000,000, wOuld be spent on works. Those who have discovered the figure £15,000,000 have done so by adding up the assumed balances for each year, and they contend that Admiral Henderson said that we should spend that much on works. As a matter of fact, he never said anything of the kind. The statement made is misleading, and does not represent the views of Admiral Henderson.
– Was the figure referred to used by” Mr. Harper?
– It was; but the honorable member was justified in using it, because, unfortunately, though I do not know how it occurred, it has found its way into the Commonwealth year-Book.
– Is the honorable senator dealing specifically with Mr. Harper’s statement ?
– No ; Mr. Harper is only one of many who have made statements. I am dealing with many statements which have been made. I am trying to put before the Senate the actual position and to explain exactly what we are doing, how it fits in with Admiral Henderson’s scheme, and what our immediate commitments are. The position which the Government take up with regard to the scheme and its commitments is this : We say that if Parliament is going to adopt the scheme, complete the naval bases, and build the. ships proposed in the seven years’ period, the amounts which I have mentioned indicate what it will be called upon to vote. It will be for Parliament to say each year whether it is prepared to vote them. There is a reason why Parliament should know, and should, 111 a sense, give a tentative approval to expenditure ahead in connexion with naval defence. In Germany, I understand, they have one great advantage over the British Admiralty, inasmuch as their naval estimates are brought in under a naval law. which practically authorizes expenditure over a certain number of years ahead. Having passed that law, they can go on expending money on the Navy up to the limit of the law they have passed, and, should the necessity arise, they can amend the law.
-Colonel Cameron. - That is only as regards specific sums for specific purposes.
– That is so.
– The Government are doing the same thing here through the Trust Fund.
– There can be no doubt that the Trust Fund was, and is, a useful expedient for meeting the difficulty.
– For evading the Audit Act.
– It has been a very great convenience, as the Treasury officials and the Auditor-General admit, in enabling the construction of our vessels to go on without interruption.
– The difficulty could be met by an amendment of the Audit Act. Before the honorable senator passes from the matter with which he has been dealing, I should like him to say whether we are to understand that Admiral Henderson’s programme is being carried out, and is costing less than was set out in his estimate?
– I do not say anything of the kind. It is being carried out» but is costing more than he estimated.
– And is up to time.
– With the modification I have stated, and which I need not again repeat, it is being carried out up to time, and in some respects we are in advance of what Admiral Henderson thought it would be possible for us to do. As to the cost, Admiral Henderson accepted the estimate of cost of the Fleet Unit as set out at the 1909 Conference. But what are the facts? The original estimate of the 1909 Conference of the cost of the Fleet Unit proposed was .£3, 695,000. We asked for certain alterations in the second-class cruisers, to render them more suitable for our seas. Allowing for those alterations, the amended estimate of cost was £4,040,000. Then we decided that certain ships should be built in Australia, and again we had to amend our estimate, with the result that £4,256,000 is now estimated to be the cost of the Fleet Unit, which was originally estimated to cost £3,695,000
– What is the total amount expended up to date?
– I have already given that figure. The total expenditure on the Fleet Unit up to the 30th June, r$i2, amounts to .£1,875,999.
– How far do the votes on the Estimates go to meet the balance of the expenditure ?
– It will be necessary to appropriate £500,000 more for the Trust Fund than is provided for on the Estimates. That will increase the Trust Fund to the total sum I have mentioned of £4,250,000. I do not think there is anything further I need say on this matter, but it was desirable that honorable senators should be given a clear idea as to where we stand, and that Parliament should know exactly what are our liabilities for the future in this connexion. I do not know that any other remarks which have been made by members of the Opposition call for any reply. Members of the Opposition shelter themselves behind such statements as, “ We attack the Government Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, but it is not for us to suggest what alterations should be made.” That is all very well. But I would point out that we are approaching a general election. The expenditure behind the Budget involves political principles of a very high and important character, and Opposition and Ministerial supporters alike are responsible to*” the people. It is the people’s money which is being expended, and if the Opposition condemn that expenditure, they should tell the electors which item of it they condemn, and why they condemn it. They should take their courage in their hands, and say boldly, “ We are going to oppose the maternity grant ; we condemn old-age pensions and also the expenditure upon defence.” But they will not do that. What, then, must we assume? Whilst they are endeavouring to create a feeling of unrest in the minds of the taxpayers, they will not inform them of what they would do to remedy the existing state of affairs if the taxpayers were so foolish as to place the destinies and the finances of this country in their hands.
– They would borrow, and burst !
– That assumption is justifiable, because when they were in power they proposed to borrow.
– We proposed to borrow, but we did not get the money.
– Fortunately, they went out of office just in time to prevent the money being borrowed”. I trust that when the Leader of the Opposition speaks he will tell us to which items of the Budget he objects, and what sources of revenue the Opposition would exploit as an alternative to those which we are exploiting. When the Land Tax Assessment Bill was under consideration in this Chamber, we know that members of the Opposition objected to it. Consequently, it is a fair thing to ask them on the eve of a general election, in view of their repeated statements that it is an iniquitous measure, whether they are prepared to repeal it?
– Will the Government repeal the commitments which the next Government will be bound to honour?
– If the Opposition are prepared to repeal the land tax, the whole gamut of other legislation is open to them. We are prepared to defend the present land tax. Honorable senators opposite affirm that it is iniquitous. Very well. Let them outline their measures of taxation, and let the country judge between us. Is the Leader of the Opposition going to say, “ We do not believe in the progressive land tax. We think it is confiscation. It is wrong and iniquitous, but, because the Labour Government spent so much money, we feel that we must spend the same amount. Therefore, we are going to accept the revenue which is derived from the land tax, tainted though it may be. We will do so just to keep up the reputation “-
– Just to honour the obligations into which the Government have entered.
– If the Opposition came into power to-morrow, it would be perfectly open to them to bring down the expenditure next year to the figure at which it stood when the present Government came into office. That is, of course, assuming that they are prepared to wipe out of existence the measures which they have denounced in this Chamber. They say, “ We are very sorry that we cannot repeal any of these measures. But we must retain the progressive land tax, notwithstanding that we are opposed to it.” The people of this country may be very gullible, but before honorable senators opposite can attain the cosy shelter of the Ministerial benches again they will have to tell them a little more freely what they propose to do in regard to the Budget.
– No doubt, sir, when you took the chair this afternoon you noticed- the subdued air which marked honorable senators occupying seats on your right, due to that speech which was delivered last evening by the militant member of that militant party, Senator Stewart. We are deeply grateful to Senator Stewart for stating from the ranks of his own party what, so far, has not been denied, and what has been stated frequently, though less effectively, by honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber. We thank him for his declaration that the Labour party have failed to redeem the pledges which they made to the electors two and a half years ago, and we have also to thank him for bringing the Minister of Defence to his feet this afternoon in a belated attempt to traverse some of his statements. It is interesting to note that Senator Stewart stated that the party to which he belongs have failed to make good the promises which they made to the electors of this country in regard to land monopoly. The Minister of Defence endeavoured to counter that charge by declaring that the party had redeemed the pledge which they gave to the electors by reason of having passed a progressive land tax. But it was not merely the tax which was promised. Honorable senators opposite declared that the operation of the tax would achieve certain results. In other words, the tax was not the end itself, but merely the means to the end. They said it was” the mere instrument. They were going to destroy land monopoly.
– Will the honorable senator give the instrument another screw up?
– It is’ not my instrument. The pledge which honorable senators opposite gave to the people, which Senator Ready was indiscreet enough to put in black and white, and to publish, and which Senators Pearce and Findley gave from a thousand platforms, was that they would destroy that land . monopoly f which, they affirmed, was throttling Australia. That is the pledge which Senator Stewart affirms his party have not kept. That they have put a Land Tax Assessment Act on the statute-book of the Commonwealth is perfectly true; but has it been effective for the purposes for which it was introduced ?
– To the extent of £18,000,000.
– To the extent that the Government estimate that they will collect from the tax this year £4,000 less than they collected last year.
– If it has not broken up the large estates, it has not ruined the persons who are on those estates.
– I am dealing with the pledge of my honorable friends regarding what they would do if the electors trusted them with their votes. The electors kept their part of the bargain. What have my honorable friends done? The answer was given by Senator Stewart, who cited the number of applicants that there were for certain blocks of land. It is only a little while ago that, for a few allotments in the Forbes district in my own State, there were over 1,000 applicants.
– Does the honorable senator say that we are not going far enough in the direction of land reform?
– I say that either my honorable friends are not sincere in the pledge which they gave to the electors, or they do not understand the effect of their own measures. They erred either from ignorance or from deceit ; let them take their choice. At the present moment I am endeavouring to arraign them at the bar of public opinion. They are on the eve of appealing to the country, and of asking, for a. mandate from the people. Consequently, it is our duty - a duty which was freely discharged by my honorable friends when the position of parties in this House was reversed - to criticise their actions and the effect of their measures, and to direct public attention either to their failure to carry out those measures or to the failure of the measures themselves to achieve the results which were expected to flow from them.
– The electors would be tools if they believed the honorable senator.
– Then my honorable friends have a promise of another lease of life. It is not necessary for me to go beyond the statements which were made by Senator Stewart last night. Theycome with greater force from one who has always been sincere, even to the point of tediousness, in dealing with this question of land values taxation.
– He is more often at variance with the Government than is any honorable senator on this side of the Chamber.
– I will admit that, in this matter, there is a very marked difference between Senator Stewart and Senator Ready. When he was seeking votes, Senator Ready was just as pronounced as is Senator Stewart upon the question of land values taxation. But Senator Stewart is always pronounced upon it, and not merely when he is seeking votes. One gentleman has not forgotten the views which he expressed before he entered the Senate, whilst the other is prepared to sleep upon them.
I wish now to say a word or two in regard to the Tariff. Here, again, I must remind honorable senators - as Senator Stewart did - of the different picture which is presented to-day, when the attitude of honorable senators like Senators Russell and Findley is contrasted with their attitude of two or three years ago. I should be only indulging in a very pardonable figure df speech if I said that it was nothing short of a miracle which saved the roof of this chamber on many occasions when Senator Findley rose to denounce the failure of a previous Government upon this Tariff question. Both he and Senator Russell frequently became pathetically indignant at what was not being done. The Labour Government have had two and a half years of office, with the strongest majority behind them that has ever been behind any Government in this Parliament, and yet these honorable senators have sat as quiet as tame tabbies, quite content to be dragged at the tail of their party, rather than to give effect to their public utterances: The whole position may be summarized in this way : That the Labour party not merely promised the electors bread, but bread heavily covered with jam, and promised that it would be served up on a silver salver. Now they come here and contemptuously fling a stone and say that, because they have been successful in securing the enactment of certain laws, they have redeemed their pledges.
Passing from this matter, I wish to turn to the Budget. I am not at all sorry - indeed, I am rather glad - that the Minister of Defence has given me an opportunity of contradicting a statement which fell from his lips, and of repeating what I have been saying, not only in the New England electorate, but in the metropolitan districts of my own State, and what I propose to say whenever I have occasion to deal with the Budget figures. I venture to think that the Senate will believe what I am about to say, unless honorable senators are goingto impugn the figures presented by the Government themselves. I am about to state facts, and my deductions will follow. The facts which I placed beforethe audiences, in New England in particular, were that two and a half years ago, prior to the advent of the Labour party to power, the cost of the Federal Government was £8,000,000; that the Federal Government then collected, approximately,£16,000,000, out of which they returned, approximately, £8,000,000 to the States, leaving £8,000,000 which was available for Federal purposes, and which was found sufficient for such purposes. Two and a half years later, the Labour Government collected £20,500,000, and returned to the States only £6,000,000, leaving £14,500,000 in the hands of the Commonwealth, being an increase of £6,500,000 on the expenditure of two and a half years ago. But, in addition to that increase, they are drawing upon the surplus revenue - and here is an expression which may have given rise to some misunderstanding - of their predecessprs to the extent of £2,250,000.
– That is not correct. The surplus we are drawing upon is the surplus left from our last year. None of it was contributed by our predecessors.
– The honorable senator is partially correct there. In spending £6,500,000 more this year, derived from the revenue received this year, in order to avoid a deficit, they are spending£2,250,000 of the surplus of previous years.
– The surplus of last year.
– It is not the . surplus of last year, because there was a surplus in the Trust Fund beforelast year. Let me put the thing in another way. Two and a half years ago, the Federal Government cost £8,000,000, but to-day it costs£16,500,000, so that there is an increase of over 100 per cent. in the expenditure.
– I suppose that you would have no difficulty in finding a reasonable explanation for the increase if you wanted to do so.
– At the present moment I am stating facts, and the honorable senator can draw his own deductions. These are the facts which I stated then, and which Senator Rae said the people wouldi not believe.
– I did not say that they would not believe your facts.
– Every one of these figures is to be found in the Budget. The serious part of it is that this year, with the biggest revenue that the Commonwealth has ever had, and with the big revenue which the Treasurer estimates to receive next year, we are unable to live within our income, and the Government would be absolutely face to face with a deficit this year but for the fact that there is a surplus to draw upon. Judging from the utterances made, not merely by the Treasurer elsewhere, but by spokesmen on behalf of the Labour party, it is quite clear that there is no intention, either next year, or the year following, if the Government have their way, of cutting down the expenditure. On the contrary, there is every justification for saying that the demeanour of the party indicates a tendency to swell the expenditure still further. That being so, one has to ask whether we are not immediately in sight, should the Government remain in office, of additional taxation. They have avoided a deficit this year by having a surplus of previous years to fall back upon, but they cannot live upon that for ever. That surplus is being exhausted, and it will not be long before it disappears entirely, and if the present rate of expenditure is continued, it is quite clear that next year they will be under the necessity of proposing a heavy increase in our taxation.
– Will they have to build a fleet unit every year?
– The Minister of Defence will tell the honorable senator, if he does not know already, that we cannot look for any relief in the naval expenditure for the next few years.
– Can we not look for relief in the postal expenditure?
– At the rate at which my honorable friends are going, it seems to me that that is a Department in which-
– Have we notbeen making up for the neglect of previous Governments ?
– That is one of the things which my honorable friends talk about as though this Government had done something wonderful in spending money.
– We increased the wages of the men, which you neglected to do.
– Yes ; and the honorable senator, aone-time advocate of the adoption of the report of the Postal Commission, is now struck with that muteness which characterizes Senators Findley and Russell, who have nothing to say now about the neglect which these public servants are receiving, because the Government would not adopt that report.
– I still advocate its adoption.
– Let us see what is the position in the Post Office. We are spending enormously more in that Department than ever we spent previously.
– On wages?
– All round. The public will not object to money being spent provided that there is an adequate return. The question I submit, to test whether the expenditure is being made properly and well, is: Are the public getting a better service to-day ? Let them answer.
– Certainly, they are.
– Is the country getting a better service as the result of the expenditure? There is no honorable senator who goes into any country district in his State, whatever that State may be, but will bring back report after report of not merely the want of facilities, but the diminution of them.
– Has the country got penny postage to-day?
– That is said to occasion an annual loss of £400,000; but, strike it out, and my remarks remain. Not only are the public not better served as the result of the increased expenditure, but the Department is not more contented. It was reported only a few weeks ago that there was to be taken in a branch of the postal service in Sydney, a ballot as to whether the men should strike, and to-day there is as much dissatisfaction in this great service as there has been at any time in its history.
– That is a most ridiculous statement.
– I see by to-day’s newspaper that the telephone girls propose a strike, too.
– The men are complaining - I think with every justification - that whilst they were promised certain definite things the moment the Labour party got into office, the Labour Government not only handed them over to the Arbitration Court, but then turned round and questioned the jurisdiction of that Court to deal with their grievances. No men were ever sold more like a lot of bullocks than were these public servants. Having persuaded the men that they would be allowed to go before the Arbitration Court, and the men having gone there, the Government did just the same thing as many employers have done. They questioned the jurisdiction of the Court itself.
– You know that that is not strictly accurate.
– At any rate, it is something for me to get an admission from the Minister of Defence that a statement of mine is partially accurate.
– You know that so far as pay and conditions of labour were concerned, the men were given freedom to go to the Arbitration Court. It was only when they wanted to bring in questions not affecting their grievances that the jurisdiction of the Court was questioned.
– When the Labour party sought votes they did not tell the public servants that they would be left with an Arbitration Court at all.
– Yes, they did.
– The Labour party promised that they would remedy the grievances of the men, and many of them, like Senator de Largie, were persuaded that the Commissioners’ report would be adopted.
– The Arbitration Court has been a principle with us for years and years.
– The honorable senator can go and tell that to the postal officials.
– We tell it to everybody, and everybody knows it.
– It is about as good a get-away as the honorable senator can find, I have no doubt, but the fact is that it was not the promise given by the Labour party to dissatisfied public servants.
I want to deal now with the claim which Senator Pearce has raised, and which is repeated frequently by honorable senators opposite, who ask what we have done. They say, “Your party left a deficit; we paid that off, left a surplus, and spent so much more money.” Surely, when Senator Pearce talked just now of a statement of mine not being wholly accurate, he must admit that that statement is entirely misleading. It is perfectly true that the Estimates presented by the last Government clearly faced a deficit. We knew that within the next year the Commonwealth would, owing to the expiration of the Braddon section, receive an augmentation of income, and have a financial freedom not previously enjoyed, and we said, therefore, that the plain ‘and sensible thing to do, rather than impose additional taxation to meet the deficit of one year, was to meet the deficit by a temporary overdraft. That was a plain, business-like proceeding.
– The naval loan was not a temporary overdraft, surely?
– No; that was to be spread over a period ; but, at the same time, it was not a deficit; we made provision to meet it. There was a deficit of£450,000. In regard to that paltry deficit, I wish to say that our proposal to provide for it for twelve months, and to meet it the moment the Braddon section expired, when we should be able to handle larger sums, was a businesslike act on the part of a Government which did not believe in going in for additional taxation.
– Did you mean to pay that deficit out of the loan?
– The honorable senator, if he knows anything about the Budget, knows that we did not.
– That is the usual practice.
– The honorable senator talks a great deal about loans. One would think that his Government were not dealing with loan money to-day. Why, he himself put through a loan Bill authorizing the Government to borrow £2,500,000, which they have used to the extent of £700,000.
– To whom are we in debt?
– The honorable senator seems to think that, so long as we are indebted to the people of Australia, it does not matter; but I shall deal with that aspect of the question a little later. Getting back to my point, I wish to remind the Government that, during the three years they will have been in office at the end of this year, they will have handled £18,000,000 more than did their predecessors in a corresponding period. Surely they ought to do something with that.
– What a mercy to the public that somebody can be trusted with the handling of that money.
– The question is whether the Government are to be trusted. The honorable senator seems to believe - and here is the danger to the public finances as shown at once by the interjection - that the one end of government is to spend money.
– Is Senator Millen aware that his leader said that the present Government have received £14,000,000 more than did the late Government? Which statement is correct?
– The fact is that the honorable senator is incorrect. What Mr. Deakin pointed out was that £14,000,000 was the extra amount of Customs and Excise revenue handled by this Government, because of the expiration of the Braddon section; but, in addition to that, they will have collected, at the end of this year, £4,000,000 in land tax. When they make this bold boast about what they have done, they ought to state that they have done it by reason of taking £18,000,000 more out of the pockets of the people in the three years.
– But the people know very well that you cannot do what is necessary without the funds.
– I am not dealing with that point now. If the honorable senator can show that, whilst handling the same amount of revenue, they have done more than we did, it will be something to boast about; but the mere fact that they have been able to spend £18,000,000 more than we did in three years, does not seem to me, by itself, to constitute any sound reason for the boast in which they indulge.
– We have not imposed any fresh taxation.
– That is quite true; but the effect of the Government retaining this larger portion of the Customs revenue has been that the State Governments, having received less revenue, have had to impose additional taxation. That has been the case in New South Wales.
– But the Government get more revenue from the same sources.
– Undoubtedly. They have shared in the abounding prosperity with which, I am sure, we are all delighted. When my honorable friends talk about penny postage, and a variety of other things, they should admit, if they want to be fair, that they were able to do those things, not because they had the courage, but merely because they had that measure of financial freedom which came to them with the disappearance of the Braddon section.
I do not propose to enter into details concerning the Budget itself, because I recognise that the debate elsewhere and the discussion in the public press have rather made it a threadbare subject; but I do want to take advantage of this opportunity of dealing with the position of the public finances in relation to the very serious financial position which I conceive to be developing in this country, and which I venture to say that honorable senators opposite admit to be developing. I shall do that by mentioning one or two very important factors. Having just stated the increased cost of Federal Government, I shall give in very bald outline an account of the expenditure in my own State, New South Wales. I should also like to give figures for other States, but have not been able to get them. New South Wales, however, contains one-third of the people of the Commonwealth, and therefore its financial system must have a bearing upon the whole Commonwealth. If money were to become short in New South Wales, or if a financial crisis were brought about, the other States of the Union would necessarily be affected. Another reason why I wish to refer to the matter is that my accusation against the party opposite is that it is invariably reckless and extravagant. At this stage it is suggested to me that I should ask leave to continue my remarks on a subsequent occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the Government should offer a reward of not less than £$,000 lor the invention and successful Working of a sugar-cane cutting apparatus.
Honorable senators may think that my proposition is rather an extraordinary one, but they will see that it is justified when 1 tell them that if we could accomplish what is desired we should probably reduce the price of cane sugar by something like £2 or £2 10s. per ton.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company permitting.
– If the price of sugar were not brought down it would be the fault of the Government themselves. They could reduce the import duty on sugar. The remedy lies in their own hands. Some years ago the Government of India offered a reward of .£10,000 for a machine that would successfully cut and top sugar-cane. That reward was never claimed, because the machine was not invented. In 1895, in Louisiana, a reward of £250 was offered for a canecutting machine. In Louisiana sugar-cane is grown to a greater extent than in the whole of Australia. No invention followed the reward. In 1901 or 1902 the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association opened a competition, in which I myself, with the assistance of a civil engineer, took part, and offered a reward of ,£5,000 for a completed cane-cutting machine, £1,000 for a machine which, with alterations, would be successful, and ,£250 for detailed plans of a’ practicable machine. I mention these instances to show that the matter has not been neglected. In Queensland it has been seriously considered. A civil engineer named Tyler, in 1894, made a remark which I believe to be very true. He said -
All inventors are not blessed with big deposit receipts, or even with being in localities where the conditions are favorable for them to bring their particular discoveries to the surface, and unless a helping hand is held out from some direction, it will no doubt, for perhaps long periods, be an absolute loss to the deviser as well as those calculated to benefit.
In 1894, Mr. Boch, in Bundaberg, invented a cane-cutting machine, though I cannot discover that it was successful. Later on, in Louisiana, Le Blanc successfully worked a machine for this purpose. But in Louisiana, the conditions are very different .from those of Australia. There crops of cane are usually grown for about ten months, and are then cut down, and practically buried, to avoid the frosts of the winter season. In Australia, we do not bury our crops.
– What difference does that make in regard to cutting?
– The difference is that in Louisiana cane grows straight up to a height of not more than 6 feet. It grows like wheat, and can practically be reaped ; but in Queensland any crop over 45 tons to the acre will lie down. You then have to deal practically with a mass of cane lying on the ground. If crops were very poor, the Louisiana machine could be employed, but we do not desire to grow poor crops in order to use an American machine. We have not neglected this subject in Queensland. Mr. Paul, a son of the late Judge Paul, invented a canecutting machine, of which I have a photograph here. The machine is worked by compressed air with reciprocating chisel action. Dr. Maxwell, in a report upon the machine, stated that he believed the prospects of its success were encouraging. I do not think I am betraying confidence when I say that the late Judge Paul told me, when I asked him why further work had not been done upon this machine, that it was absolutely due to want of funds. In 1902, an anonymous correspondent - I do not know who he was - suggested that a special kind of cane should be grown to suit the cutting machine. Later on, Mr. J. Edwards pointed out that inventors had already spent a great amount of labour, time, and money in the preliminary investigation of various machines, leaving out the rewards that had been offered, of which there have been a considerable number. There is a machine known as Hurry’s machine, and another known as Bravo’s. I am not standing as the advocate of any of these machines. T have no axe to grind, except that I honestly want “to reduce the cost of producing sugar-‘ cane in Australia. I hope honorable senators will take my word for that. I have seen a machine called the Little Giant, which I think was made in South Brisbane. I shall not say whether I think it is constructed on right lines or not. I have also seen Mr. Hurry’s machine in Melbourne. I believe he has spent something like £4,000 or £5,000 upon it - no small amount certainly. It is a large machine, a- good deal larger than the Senate table, and is run by a motor. To my mind, it must be a most expensive machine. If, however, it will do the work required, it will be of great benefit. Mr. Bravo, the inventor of another machine, is, I think, the manager of the Queensland Molasses Company, which carries on business in Melbourne. Some years ago, I inspected his machine, the principle of which was something like that of Mr. Paul’s. It cut and topped every individual cane. It introduced into cane-cutting a machine somewhat on the lines of a sheep -shearing machine. Sugar canes grow of different lengths. They are not planted on the flat, as wheat is, and some have to be cut higher or lower than others. My personal opinion is that each cane will have to be cut separately. Thousands of pounds are being spent to produce an apparatus likely to successfully cut and top cane. I do not see why the CommonwealthGovernment, who apparently can give bonuses for the production of the physical features of members of the community, or of certain agricultural products, should be debarred from giving a bonus for the production of a successful new invention in machinery.
– Does the honorable senator not think that to adopt his proposal would be to interfere with State rights?
– I do not know that State rights have anything to do with the matter.
– Is it not necessary that the sugar cane should be cut under the surface ?
– Yes, just under the surface.
– I wish only to hear the honorable senator’s views. Does not that fact present some difficulty?
– Not the slightest. My views as to the actual process of cane cutting do not appear to me to be of any great value to the Senate at the present time. I am asking that a reasonable reward should be given to any one who
Can devise an apparatus which will successfully harvest sugar cane. I am willing that the Government should attach to any award they may offer a condition that they may buy the successful machine at a reasonable rate, manufacture it themselves, and sell it to the people. I think that the matter is sufficiently important to agree to such a condition.
– That would be Socialism.
– Are not the Government in favour of Socialism?
– Then is there to be a complaint because I am in favour of Socialism?
– The honorable senator should come right over to this side.
– I shall go over to that side in due course, next year, after the elections. I wish now to direct the attention of honorable senators to a most important point. In Europe, machines are employed which dig, top, tail, and load sugar beets at 4½d. to5d. per ton. A ton of beets contains as much sugar, on the average, as a ton of sugar cane. An acre of land will produce as many tons of beets as the number of tons of sugar cane which are produced on an acre of land in Australia. Roughly speaking,10 tons of sugar beets, or 10 tons of cane, will produce a ton of sugar, so that a ton of beet sugar can be harvested for 4s. 2d.
– Does beet sugar realize the same price as cane sugar?
– It does ; but we are very prone here to compare 88 per cent. beet sugar with 99.7 per cent. cane sugar. Taking quality for quality, the average price of beet sugar is almost exactly the same as that of cane sugar. Chemically, the quality of both is the same. The old idea that beet sugar is not as good as cane sugar has been exploded.
– I tested beet sugar on the Continent, and it was not equal to the sugar we get here.
– So the Colonial Sugar Refining Company say..
– I agree with them.
– I do not know that that matter is worth discussing. At the present time, 88 per cent. beet sugar is worth11s.10½d. per cwt., f.o.b., Hamburg; and 88 per cent. Queensland sugar is worth within a penny or two of the same price. The cost of cutting cane runs from 4s. 6d. to 7 s. per ton, or from 45s. to 70s. per ton of sugar. As I have said, the cost of harvesting sugar-beets is from 4d. to5d. per ton, or from 3s. 4d. to 4s. 8d. per ton of beet sugar. One might safely say that, if we can get a machine which will do for cane what machinery is now doing for the harvesting of sugarbeets, we shall save £2 10s. upon every ton of sugar produced in Australia.
– Are the beet harvesting machines referred to by the honorable senator in general use?
– According to the newspapers they are. I admit that I have not been in the countries in which they are used; but these machines have been advertised for the last ten or twelve years in the German, Belgian, and French trade journals, namely, Die Deutsch Zuckerindustrie, Le Sucrerie Indigene, and Les Fabricants de Sucre. Setting aside altogether the question of whether we are prepared to make things easier for sugar producers in Australia, it is quite certain that, if we could reduce the cost of producing sugar in this country by £2 10s. per ton, the Government would be perfectly justified - and I say this deliberately, and with a thorough knowledge of the sugar industry - in asking Parliament to reduce the import duty on sugar. A day might come when other sugar-cane growing countries would Introduce similar machinery, and then possibly we should have to reconsider the position. If we could do what I suggest should be done for the cane-sugar industry, more would be done for the benefit of the people of the whole world than Napoleon did when he introduced the cultivation of sugar-beets into Europe. I have mentioned various machines not on the market, but in course of manufacture. I have seen Mr. Hurry’s machine several times. He has taken it up to Cairns, into the Mackay, Burdekin, and Bundaberg districts, and further south. He has spent enormous sums of money upon it. I believe I am correct in saying that he has practically ruined himself in connexion with it, and the machine is very nearly right. Honorable senators require to remember that the inventor of one of these machines must make provision for its construction in a big industrial centre, and it cannot be tried in a big industrial centre. He may have to travel 2,000 miles before he can put it into practical use. I am asking for a bonus, not for any particular individual or machine. I am asking that the Government should fall into line with, the Indian Government, and with the Louisiana, Hawaiian, and Java Sugar Planters Associations, and see whether they cannot discover amongst the engineers of the world one who will be able to do for the sugar industry, and therefore for the consumers of sugar, what has been done in other directions by the men who invented sheep-shearing and other machines which have done so much to benefit humanity as a whole. I ask the Government to treat this proposal seriously, and not as a joke, as Senator McGregor seems inclined to do. The matter may be considered from a practical as well as a sentimental point of view. If a man can invent a machine which will benefit the people engaged in the settlement of the tropical portions of the Commonwealth, who are building up a white wall of flesh and blood against the yellow hordes of the East, and which will reduce the cost of sugar, which is at a famine price at the present time, I ask that the Government shall not hold back and say that while they are prepared to give a bonus for this, that, and the other, they will not give any similar encouragement for the production of a machine which will reduce the price of sugar.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
– I move -
That in the opinion of the Senate, and in furtherance of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910, the Oodnadatta railway should be extended northward to the MacDonnell Ranges at the earliest possible date.
In submitting this motion for the consideration of honorable senators, I think I may fairly repeat the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council this afternoon in introducing the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Survey Bill. He said that when the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth it was expected that every effort would be made by this Parliament to develop and settle it. Some time ago, feeling that no move had been taken by the Government in that direction, I asked whether it was their intention, during the present session, to take any steps towards the development of the rich mineral areas to be found in the southern portion of the Northern Territory. The official reply which I received was -
The matter will be brought to the notice of the Director of Mines and Government Geologist for the Territory who has recently been appointed, and is coming to Melbourne next week to confer with the Minister before taking up his duties in the Northern Territory. When that officer has studied the situation and made recommendations, the Minister will give this important subject full consideration.
That answer seemed to me to imply that the matter was to be delayed for a very considerable time. If the Government Geologist is first to be afforded an opportunity of examining and reporting upon the Territory, it is obvious that some months must elapse before any practical steps are taken to develop it. That would be a serious mistake. Last year an opportunity was given to the members of this Parliament to visit the northern part of the Territory. Many of us had a prior acquaintance with that portion of the country^ and, in common with others, I felt it would be a good thing if a parliamentary party could be, afforded an opportunity of inspecting the southern portion of the Territory - in fact, of making the trip right through from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I know that several members of the Parliament expressed their anxiety to undertake that trip. I went to some little trouble to gain information in regard to the equipment that would be required for such an undertaking, and the cost that would probably be incurred. I supplied full particulars to the Minister of External Affairs, but the only reply which I received was that the Government had decided that nothing should be done in that direction at present. I propose to show that we have ample evidence of the quality of the country that requires to be developed in the southern portion of the Northern Territory, and of the urgent necessity which exists for the extension of railway communication in that region. I intend to place before the Senate the testimony of a number of men who have travelled through this country, who know it well, and who are eminently qualified, by reason of their training, to express an opinion as to its value. The gentleman who has kindly supplied me with information as to the best route to be followed, and the equipment which would be required by a party to cross that country, is Mr.’ T. B. Wells, of Adelaide, who has been through it a number of times, who is a practical farmer, who has been engaged in pastoral pursuits, and who possesses a fair knowledge of mineralogy. At my request he has furnished me with a description of the land lying between Oodnadatta and Birts Well, which is a few miles north of the MacDonnell Ranges.. His letter contains a lot of valuable information, which I hope will have the effect of dispelling from the minds of honorable senators the idea that this is a desert country, and that it would be a waste of public money to build a railway through it. Mr. Wells writes -
In fulfilment of my promise I am now forwarding you a few notes of my impressions of the country between Oodnadatta and Birts Well, north of the MacDonnell Ranges. I have been, four times over the country, spending in alf fifteen months on the trips, and from a practical experience extending over thirty-five yearsof our Northern country I feel, without wishing’ to be egotistical, confident to speak with some degree of authority regarding its possibilities from a mining, pastoral, and agricultural view.
Leaving Oodnadatta the country commencesto improve at Storm Creek - 18 miles out - and the Wire Creek Bore is met 3 miles further on, the overflow from which goes about 7 miles itv a north-easterly direction over a comparatively level plain, well grassed in ordinary seasons %. between there and the Alburga Creek low sandhills for 3 miles are met with, then 2 miles further on the Stevenson, a large gum creek is crossed and Macumba Head Station is come to. A few miles to the eastward these two creeks junction, and a large area of flooded flats - growing immense quantities of feed after ordinary rains. Country being timbered with gums in the creeks, and to a lesser extent wilh mulga on the sandy rises. Ten miles north of Macumba Station a bore has been put down on the edge of the Stevenson, and a large supply of water struck. To the ‘ north and east of this point, lies Dalhousie Station, on which are the famous Dalhousie Springs (artesian). The next bore met with is the Hamilton - approximately 70 miles north of Oodnadatta - this bore has been re-cased lately, and an enormous amount of water is running daily into the Stevenson.. At ros miles Bloods Creek Station is come to - here we are getting on to the outer edge of the artesian area, and the water does not come within 50 feet of the surface, in this neighbourhood are stations owned by Kidman, Bailes, Harvey, and Sandford, stocked principally withsheep - wool from here is scoured and sent by teams to the rail head. Settlement to the west extends for over 100 miles, and to the east 75 miles, when the Anacoora sandhills are met with. Sixteen miles further north the Adminga Creek is crossed - country each side, low ranges with rich flats, small creeks with mulga, well grassed. At 135 miles the Charlotte Waters Telegraph Station, the southern border of theNorthern Territory, is reached. The country here is flat, covered with gibbers, large and small, but carrying good grass with a smalt rainfall. A bore has been put down here, but water only rises to within 70 feet of the surface, from where it is pumped to the surface. Following the telegraph line, New Crown Point cattle station is met, but another track going N.N.W. passes through magnificent country, well wooded and grassed right through to the Goyder Creek. Undulating ranges fairly well’ timbered and grassed are crossed when Old Crown Point on the Finke is reached. The same description of the country applies until Horseshoe Bend cattle station, on the Finke, isreached. Westward of this station lies Erldunda cattle and horse station, 3 miles north,, the depot sandhills have to be crossed, and at 15 miles the depot well is reached. These sandhills are covered with desert oak - many of the trees are from 2 to 3 feet in diameter - thewood is impervious to white ants, and would, be invaluable for cabinetmakers if a means, could be’ found to get it to market. When dryit is exceedingly light in colour and weight.. An enormous quantity is available. After rain. these sandhills are covered with “parakyla’ - a succulent growth on which cattle fatten and can go without water for weeks. Twelve miles further on is the Alice Well, on the “ Hugh,” the head station of the “ Hayes “ - father and sons who own Mr Burrell and Undoolza, in fact, the whole of the country north from here to the centre of the MacDonnell Ranges. At 22 miles the Frances Well is come to - country in between low sandhills - clay flats with mulga - well grassed between here and the Deep Well. Sixty-five miles south of Alice Springs the country is undulating with stony rises and well grassed. From the Deep Well to Temple Bar reek - 12 miles south of Alice Springs - the -same class of country is met with, but to the eastward the ranges commence to get much bolder, rockholes become more frequent. . Between Temple Bar Creek and Hearitree Gap - (the entrance to the MacDonnell Ranges at this point) - occurs the Emily plain, of enormous extent, and in an average season heavily grassed. Alice Springs, which is situated on the “ Todd,” and about 3 miles in the ranges, is on a sandy flat surrounded by hills. Eastward 12 miles is Undoolza Station, through which the track to Arltunga passes’ (75 miles distant)’. North is Bond Springs cattle station, south-west Owen Springs cattle station, and further west Henbury and the Mission Station. The area of pastoral country to the westward unoccupied but fit for pastoral purposes, is enormous, and the same thing applies to the country north of Bond Springs station, and eastward from Arltunga to the Queensland Border.
With the exception of the Quartzite and Granitic Hills or Ranges, the whole of the MacDonnell Range country that I have passed over, is magnificently grassed, the schist hills to the top fairly well covered with mulga and well grassed.
North from the MacDonnell Ranges and eastward we come upon the long rolling tablelands, unstocked, but well grassed, and capable of Carrying millions of head of stock. The great drawback to this country is the lack of rapid and cheap communication with the sea-board. With a railway, provisions would be at least -50 per cent, cheaper. Boring plants could be get for testing likely, localities for local artesian supplies, and country now lying useless could be put to a profit. It is pitiful to see the enormous areas of well-grassed land without a hoof on them. The same remark applies to most of the country north from Oodnadatta.
In the Rangy country (which will not carry -sheep, cattle, or horses), which is the home of the Angora goat, there is room for millions.
The reference to the goats seems to have caused a titter in the chamber, but the Angora goat, where it can be successfully acclimatized, is, I think I can safely say, a more valuable animal to breed than is even the sheep. The quotation continues -
With a railway, abattoirs, and freezing works at several places along the line, an enormous trade could be opened up in frozen goat, mutton, and beef with the “Straits Settlements” and adjoining Eastern countries. From Oodnadatta to Pine Creek and the country east and west, it would be the rankest of rank folly to attempt to grow wheat or other cereals - it would only mean ruin to whoever attempted it. The country is purely a pastoral one, and with proper means of communication there is an enormous future before it. The Angora goat industry would yield enormous profits’ - the mohair is in great demand - three clips are obtainable every two years, and the carcases if frozen would; as I have already stated, command a ready sale in the East.
Minerals. - So far as is known no payable minerals exist south from the MacDonnell Ranges to Oodnadatta. In the Ranges itself- and I can speak from practical experience - gold exists, and in payable quantities. The best deposit by far is the White Range, and if proper facilities for mining were given, the group of mines at this place would eventually prove to be one of the biggest gold propositions in Australia. In a diorite belt (3 miles north of the White Range) about 8 miles long and 5 to 6 miles wide, are hundreds of small fissure lodes all carrying good gold, some of these which have been sunk on are increasing in width at depth (75 to 100 feet) and carry values from 30 dwt. “to 3 oz. per ton. (The White Range lodes are fissures in quartzite.) Genuine prospecting would no doubt eventually lead, to many other discoveries.
Mica. - Very large deposits of clean mica exist in the Hart Range, 40 miles north from Arltunga, the sheets are large and very clean, unspotted ; and small consignments sent to London have commanded too price, but the cost of labour, transit, &c, was so high, that after £2,000 was spent, operations were discontinued.
With a railway in the neighbourhood, I know at least six deposits worth working.
That is the opinion of a gentleman who says that he has been in the country for fifteen months, and who is really qualified to express an opinion as to its value. I have a few more witnesses to corroborate his opinion, and these are all gentlemen who are well known in the exploring world. In furnishing a report to Mr. J. G. Knight, who was then the Government Resident in the Northern Territory, Mr. Alfred Giles says -
In answer to your request to be furnished with replies to a few questions relative to the character of the country between Adelaide and Port Darwin, and its suitableness or otherwise for agricultural and pastoral purposes, in the event of the construction of a transcontinental railway, I have travelled six times across the continent from Adelaide to Port Darwin ; five out of the six journeys with stock, i.e., sheep, horses, and cattle. These trips have not been, wholly confined to the course of the telegraph line, having made several tracks to the east and west of the line from different startingpoints and for considerable distances.
Taking Charlotte Waters as the southern base of the Northern Territory of South Australia, the principal creeks crossed on this route are the Goyder, Finke, and Hugh, the supplies of water in which are dependent upon the periodical floods. The country, although of such a sandy nature, cannot in the strict sense of the word be termed a desert. Large areas of these sandhills are richly grassed, and the flats of the Finke and Hugh Creeks, after a fair rainfall. are clothed with rich herbage and grasses. The latter also stand well in dry seasons of reasonable duration. This country is fit only for pastoralpurposes, and several cattle stations are now formed in its centre as evidence of its suitability.
Mr. Charles Winnecke, who had charge of an expedition known as the Horn Expedition in, I think 1894, and who spent three years in the MacDonnell Ranges surveying, has made a report. I might mention here that I have in my possession his original plan showing the country to a very considerable extent. He describes the character of the country right along the route of the telegraph line, which, in all probability, will be the route of the transcontinental railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. With your permission, sir, I shall have the map hung either in the chamber or in the lobby, in order that honorable senators may make themselves conversant with the character of the country. It is a very valuable map, and ought, I feel sure, to be very instructive. Mr. Winnecke says -
My experience of the Northern Territory extends over 35 years. I have been astounded at the freauent mention of desert country. My experience is that some of the finest pastoral country in the world is found in Central Australia. Water, principally artesian, is more abundant than supposed. Gold is scattered all through this vast area, one quartz range showing gold for fully 36 miles. The Orabarra Reef, in the Jervois and Tarlton Ranges, has never been visited by any white man but myself. Professor Tate and Experts Watt and Achimiovitch (members of the Horn Expedition, of which I was commander) all stated that the best indications of diamonds exist to the west of Charlotte Waters. Coal of good quality is found in the MacDonnell and more northern areas. It speaks for itself that more than a fourth of the Territory is settled with stations, mines, &c. I have no hesitation in declaring that it will be the finest and most remunerative country in Australia. The extent of auriferous country is simply unknown, and a railway would increase all these resources a hundred-fold. My past remarks on the fertility of the Northern Territory should be a guarantee that I am not in error.
Professor Spencer, another explorer, says that we have areas of magnificent stock country, which only requires water to make it habitable, and the needful water can be obtained partly by artesian boring and partly by conservation -
There is no finer climate in the world than that of the MacDonnell Ranges. Indeed, the winter in the interior was of the most perfect kind - bright, clear days and cool nights - admirable conditions for a consumptive sanatorium. With its splendid areas of pastoral lands, its gold-fields on the MacDonnell and Murchison Ranges; and, further north, the valuable copper deposits of the Gulf country, which has also the advantage of a good rainfall, Professor Spencer sees a future full of promise before that vast tract of country lying between the Bight and the Gulf.
If, instead of building up a few crowded cities on the seaboard, we were unlocking the treasures of the interior, there would be a gleam of additional cheerfulness in the outlook for Australia.
Mr. J. A. Giles, another explorer, says ;
From Alice Springs to Charlotte Waters Station - a length of 232 miles - there are large tracts of splendid land and plenty of water ; there is also an abundant growth of paper-bark timber, one of the best woods for railway sleepers or bridges.
Mr: Allan Davidson, a gentleman who spent three years in prospecting in the central region, says-
There were vast fields where prospect trials had yielded at the rate of 15 dwt. to 2 oz. to the ton. With the extension of the railway from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin the conditions would be modified, and the mineral resources of the interior would then become the great factor in the development of Central Australia.
From Oodnadatta to the northern boundary of South Australia is 120 miles. This is the driest region, with an annual rainfall of 5 inches, and vet it is fair stock country right away to the West Australian boundary, and 100 miles east to the sandhills. A few miles off the route to the eastward are found the wonderful nest of springs called Dalhousie - a group of springs nestling in a hollow surrounded by low hills. Here we find hot springs, cold springs, and intermittent springs, all fresh drinkable waters. Some with fish, some without. An inexhaustible supply for all purposes, including irrigation. Some are on top of mounds, some are on level ground. The growth of acacias, prass and reeds show the water is fit for irrigation. From the hot springs a strong stream of water flows for two miles Or more; losing itself in a swamp covered with rushes and reeds. Eastward for many miles the country stretches away level and suitable for irrigation farms.
When crossing the boundary line - the 26th parallel of latitude, 808 miles from Adelaide - one is struck by the sudden change from open stony tablelands to a country where trees, grass, and bush are growing in profusion - a marvellous change of scene, giving promise of fairer lands as the rainfall increases the further north one travels. Along the Coglan Creek there is rich pasture land. Salt and cotton bush and grasses and herbs of many descriptions. Water is of the finest quality and inexhaustible. Along the Finke River, which has a wide sandy bed, a fair number of gum trees grow luxuriantly. Numbers of sleepers could be obtained in this locality. For 30 miles, to the Goyder River, the country consists of mulga scrub, open plains, sandhills, and stony rises, patches of good grass.
From Charlotte Waters for a distance of 90 miles the road passes over the Goyder, Finke, Hugh, all large sandy rivers, winding through a sandhill country, broken by stony hills and rises. Large areas of these sandhills are richly grassed, and the river flats after rains are clothed with rich herbage and grasses in luxuriant profusion. The grass stands well in dry seasons.
This is a fair pastoral country producing a large number of fine cattle for the Adelaide markets, the prime quality of the beef being subject of comment by the newspapers. There are several prosperous and profitable cattle stations in this belt of country.
The Angora goat would thrive and be very profitable on the drier portions where the feed is rougher. To 980 miles at the south foot of the MacDonnell Ranges the country is decidedly better, the James Range being the limit of the high red sandhills, undulating plains, slightly stony and intersected by numerous creeks and hills richly grassed. There are several permanent springs and abundance of water obtainable at shallow depths. ‘ This good country has a width of about 150 miles east and west. The rainfall has now increased to ro inches. The surveyed line goes through Heavetree Gap with a ruling gradient of 1 in 80 to the top of the saddle, a few miles north of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, 989 miles from Adelaide,, having an elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level, the highest point to be crossed.
I could quote at least half-a-dozen other authorities, all agreeing as to the character of the country which would be traversed by a railway from Oodnadatta northward. On his late visit to the Northern Territory, the Minister of External Affairs took with him Mr. Matthews, the Inspector of Mines for South Australia. This officer has visited the MacDonnell Ranges, and reported on the whole of the works there. He reports that there were 43 claims which had been worked, and had returned on an average over an ounce of gold per ton, but he points out that the expense of getting supplies to the MacDonnell Ranges makes it absolutely unprofitable to treat any stone that had less than from 11 to 12 dwts. of gold to the ton. I am sure that any of my honorable friends from Western Australia will agree that in Kalgoorlie and other mining towns in that State, stone containing at least 3 dwts. of gold per ton can be crushed profitably.
– As low as 3 dwts. ?
– Yes. That will more than pay the expense of milling and crushing.
– Will it not depend upon the size of the ore?
– In the MacDonnell Ranges there are at grass thousands of tons of stone, which was rejected because it contained only about 10 dwts. of gold per ton, but which with the provision of a railway could be profitably utilized.
Captain Matthews, referring to. the value of the stone, says -
I find the general average of the stone raised in bulk from the nine principal claims on the White Range for the past half year is 10 dwt, of gold per ton. This, with a moderate amount of sorting, could be increased to probably *i’. dwts. or 12 dwts. per ton by picking out the large barren portions that contain little or no cellular stone. This yield would not be of a sensational character, but with a good supply of water, economical management, and with the appliances indicated should prove remunerative and a fair mining investment.
The present mode of working is chiefly COPfined to the surface and to a vertical depth of from 15 feet to 30 feet, following the seams, vughs, and cellular quartz that contain the most valuable material. Below this depth the vein matter and enclosing rock are exceptionally hard, and the question of its size and value remains to be determined.
The mines that have been worked in the other parts of the field are not of such hard, dense nature, the enclosing rock being principally schist and granitic formations, but, in most instances, the veins are smaller, and the stone raised requires the same careful selection to bring the yield up to a payable standard. This is partly necessary owing to the high cost of transit from the claims to the reduction works and the gold contents not being equally distributed through the vein matter.-
Gold Yield. - The total quantity of ore treated^ from this field ended the 30th June, 1905, is 6,562 tons, yielding 7,949 ounces of gold, valued at ,£29,093, or an average yield of 1 oz. 4 dwts. of gold per ton.
– Does he say that 6,562 tons yielded that actual amount of gold, or that that was the estimated yield?
– The stone actually yielded that amount of gold. With regard to the mica fields, I have here a comprehensive report by Mr. Schlosser, an expert imported to report upon the subject for a foreign company. He estimates that there is at least 7,000 square miles of micabearing country, and that the mica is of a payable character. They get sheets up to 12 inches, which is an extraordinary size. Mr. Schlosser quotes the value of mica as procured in other parts of the world. Sheets 2J inches by 6 inches are valued at 2s. 6d. per lb; 3 inches by 6 inches, 6s. 6d. per lb. ; 3 J inches by 8 inches, 8s. per lb. So that it would appear that the mica field alone would be of immense value to Australia, and would lead to the employment and settlement of a large population, quite apart from the gold deposits.
– Does that expert say what size sheets of mica can be obtained?
- Mr. Matthews, in his report, says that they can be obtained np to 9 inches. All this evidence goes to prove that the MacDonnell Range country is eminently adapted to carry a large population. lt enjoys one of the finest climates in the world. There is an immense extent of the range country, extending from east lo west 400 miles, and from north to south from 20 to 50 miles. The area is roughly estimated at 10,000 square miles. Nearly the whole of the country is at an altitude of over 2,000 feet above sea level, varying from that to 4,000 feet. There is a good, though not heavy, rainfall amounting to about 11 inches, and plenty of water can be procured by boring and sinking. Quite a number of precious stones have been discovered. At one time, what were believed to be rubies were to be obtained almost by the bushel, but it was afterwards stated that they were garnets. They are certainly handsome stones. Genuine rubies have been found there, and also diamonds. There are immense possibilities, because the country has never been fairly developed. The cost of carriage from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges amounts to is. per ton per mile.
– That ought to pay on rubies !
– If Senator St. Ledger had to pay is. per ton per mile on everything he ate, drank, and wore while searching for rubies, he would require to find an enormous number of stones to pay the cost. I’ have said enough to show that the country is worth developing. When the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory it became responsible for the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, upon which there is a deficit of about £80,000 a year. The reason for the deficit is that the line really stops in a desert, whilst, as Mr. Wells tells us, 40 miles further on the country begins to get better. There is every reason to believe that if the line were pushed into the good country it would be made payable. The sum of £80,000, capitalized at 4 per cent., amounts to about £2,000,000. Surely it would be wise, instead of allowing the deficit to increase - for it is growing at the rate of about £3,000 a year - to borrow £2,000,000 at 4 per cent, to carry the railway into the good country, make it profitable, and get rid of the deficit. In the country occupied by sheep, the wool has to be carried by teams, and in very dry seasons by camels, from 70 to 100 miles to Oodnadatta. That shows the disadvantages under which the pastoralists are work ing, and the enormous development which* must follow the construction of a railway. A preliminary survey has already been made by Mr. Graham Stewart. He surveyed three alternative routes, and I have before me a copy of his report, with plans explaining exactly the character of the country traversed by the line. Mr. Graham Stewart thoroughly agrees with what I have quoted as to the value of the country.
– Does he give an estimate of cost?
– His estimate is- £3,500 a mile with a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I assume that the Government would in this case do the same as they propose to do in the case of the Pine Creek to the Katherine railway, namely, construct to carry a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge railway, and lay down rails on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in order that supplies may be conveniently carried until the line is finished. Mr. Graham Stewart, in concluding his report, gives this very valuable advice to the South Australian Government, which I recommend the Commonwealth Government to follow. He says -
In conclusion, I would respectfully urge the advisability of having the route of the transcontinental railway between the Angle Pole and Pine Creek definitely fixed by trial survey. The advantages of such a course would be - 1. That the line could be constructed in sections as required, with the absolute certainty that the best route had been selected. 2. That the water supply could be provided along the route in advance of the construction. Before the trial survey could be extended north of the MacDonnell Ranges it would be necessary to make an examination of the country between those ranges and Pine Creek, similar to that recently completed from the Angle Pole- northwards, which forms the basis of this report.
I have shown that the country to be traversed is good country, but that, owing to the lack of facilities for getting supplies, it remains in an undeveloped state. I have shown that, in the very centre of Australia, there exists an immense area of rich country with a magnificent climate, a good rainfall, and a plentiful water sup- ply
– And plenty of gold.
– And, as Senator Rae interjects, with plenty of gold and other valuable minerals, which might easily be developed if prospectors had the advantage of railway communication to the country. The Federal Government have made- a start in taking the line from north to south, and with their proposal in that connexion I am in entire agreement. I think that a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River is necessary for the immediate development of that part of the Northern Territory. But I desire to impress upon the Government, and upon the Minister of External Affairs particularly, that the rational way in which to develop the Northern Territory is to construct the line from south to north. If it is decided to construct the line from north to south we shall have to send men round to Port Darwin by a long sea voyage. They will be landed in a tropical region, and in conditions to which they are unaccustomed, and, in all probability, the majority of them will become invalided in a few weeks, or months, and will desire to return to the south.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that it is not healthier at Port Darwin than it is at Oodnadatta?
– Certainly. Every one knows that, with the exception, perhaps, of the climate of Alice Springs, the climate of Oodnadatta is the healthiest in Australia.
– Just as is the climate of all the interior country of Australia.
– Undoubtedly the climate of the high, central table lands of Australia is the best in the world. In the summer time, though the days are warm, the nights are always cold, and the air is dry and very healthy. It would be a comparatively easy matter to construct the railway from south to north. We could draw the men required for the work from the southern parts of Australia, and many of them would, no doubt, take their families along with them. They would not remain permanently at work on the railway, but would engage in prospecting and mining, and so would settle the country as the railway progressed. By the time it was completed as far as the MacDonnell Ranges, there would, in all probability, be a large settlement in that salubrious district. As the line progressed further north, into the tropical regions, some of the men from the southern parts of Australia engaged upon it would probably suffer from malaria, but, instead of having to go to a hospital at Port Darwin, or round to Sydney, they would find, in the MacDonnell Ranges country, a magnificent sanatorium to assist their recovery. Everything points to the fact that the difficulties of developing the Northern Territory from the north are immensely greater than the difficulties in the way of its development from the south? The Federal Government have had possession of the Northern Territory for two years, and all that they have attempted to do in order to develop it has been to repeat what the South Australian Government did for forty years without success. But the Commonwealth Government are doing what South Australia did in a very much more expensive way. As they have more money at their backs than the South Australian Government had, no doubt the country will be developed under the Commonwealth, but the process will be very costly, and must necessarily be very slow. The South Australian Government proved, years ago, by experimental farms, that almost all kinds of products can be grown in the Northern Territory, and that is what the Federal Government are now endeavouring to prove by’ the experimental farms they are establishing. When it has again been proved, how will the Government induce people to go there? People will hesitate to take a long sea trip and settle in a tropical country so long as land is available for them in the southern districts of Australia. I do not think I need detain the Senate any longer. I commenced by quoting the first sentence of Senator McGregor’s speech in introducing the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Survey Bill, and I may appropriately conclude with a sentence which the honorable senator used a little later in the same speech. He said it is the duty of the Federal Government to endeavour in every possible way to develop the great Northern Territory. In my opinion, the best possible, and the only effective, way to develop this great territory speedily is by constructing a railway from Oodnadatta into the MacDonnell Ranges, to open up for settlement that enormous area of rich country.
– I can say, with perfect sincerity, that I have listened to very few speeches in the Senate with so much pleasure as I had in listening to the speech by Senator Story on this motion. I say so because, whether the honorable senator intended it or not, his speech was a corollary to much that I said yesterday in dealing with the Budget. As a South Australian representative he has quoted authorities whom he is entitled to regard with respect, and assuming that their descriptions of the MacDonnell Ranges country are correct, the honorable senator, and every other representative of South Australia, are entitled to ask the Government to reconsider their policy in this matter.
– Why the representatives of South Australia alone?
– If the honorable senator pleases, I shall say the representatives of Queensland, and of the other States as well. Senator Story has pointed out exactly what we, on this side, have said over and over again.
– Does the honorable senator support this motion?
– No one better understands, or more keenly follows, my speeches than does the Minister of Defence.
– I understand the honorable senator’s position in this matter very well.
– I can return the compliment, and say that I understand the position of the honorable senator and of the Government in this matter. Assuming that the reports quoted by Senator Story are correct, the Government who are committed to the transcontinental line through the Northern Territory should not hesitate for a moment to advance the line from Oodnadatta, and to say just what they intend to do in the matter. Although Senator Pearce and Senator de Largie are smiling, they both recognise the dilemma in which they are placed. o
– That is why we smile.
– By smiling is the only way in which honorable senators meet their difficulties. Senator Story towards the conclusion of his speech mentioned that we have to face a deficit of £80,000 or £[90,000 per annum on the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, because it terminates in a desert. He said that; by the extension of the line, we should be able to make it pay. I was delighted to hear so faithful and consistent a supporter of the Government ask them why they hesitated to borrow money to advance the line from Oodnadatta into the MacDonnell Ranges, because I said, yesterday, that, sooner or later, the Government would have to take such action in connexion with all these big railway pro posals. Knowing the financial policy oE the Government, I was delighted to hear Senator Story, in asking for the continuation of the Oodnadatta line into the Mac-. Donnell Ranges district, recognise that the Government must undertake the construction of the railway by loan moneys for the benefit of South Australia, and indirectly of every other State in the Commonwealth. He is quite right. His conclusion is perfectly sound, and it is the duty of the Government to investigate the soundness of the premises upon which he bases that conclusion. The same remark is applicable to the other railway undertakings which are necessary for the development of Australia. I make this statement with the usual reservation that lawyers attach to their written statements “ without prejudice “ to any future action that I may take in regard to further railway extension either towards Queensland, or north and south. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion, and if the districts^ the Northern Territory are what they are represented to be, the Government are in duty bound to answer the question which has been put to them by Senator Story, “ Why delay ?” If we have not sufficient money to build this line out of revenue, why do not the Government boldly submit a loan policy for its construction? I shall support the motion.
– We are so accustomed to hear Senator St. Ledger beat the air on matters of this kind that I do not think anybody takes him seriously. I believe that a majority of the Queensland representatives, who occupy seats on the Opposition side of this Chamber, dare not support the extension of the transcontinental line from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin. They would drop their political bundles if they did.
– What about the New South Welshmen?
– There are a number of them who are very favorable to the proposed eastern deviation of that line.
– There are seven Queensland representatives in this Parliament who have just as strong convictions, and just as much courage to express them,, as has the honorable senator.
– I am not discussing the question of who has courage. But there are some New South Wales representatives in this Parliament who believe that it would be wise to adopt the proposed eastern deviation. From what study I have given to this question - and I have read a good deal upon it for years past - I believe that the transcontinental line to the Northern Territory should be continued from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and that it should not go by any circuitous route through Queensland. Whether the people of New South Wales, as a whole, differ from me or not, I do not know, nor do I verv much care. I am of opinion that a good many persons in New South Wales and Queensland desire a more eastern route, and I am rather suspicious that there are some Western Australians who think that it would be better for the line to traverse a route in the direction of their State. But all the evidence we have in our possession is in favour of the proposal of Senator Story. I go further, and say that the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, which embodies the agreement that the Commonwealth entered into with South Australia, should be honoured irrespective of whether or not the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek route is the best. Having deliberately adopted that agreement, it would be a scandalous breach of faith if we failed to give effect to it. We are not a lot of children who enter into agreements without responsibility.
– Assuming all that, how would the honorable senator carry out the agreement?
– While it would be a scandalous breach of faith to adopt any other than the direct route, it would be a very much meaner breach of faith if, because no time is mentioned in that agreement, we postponed the project indefinitely. That would be keeping the word of promise to the ear, and breaking it to the hope. The manifest and inescapable obligation is thrown upon this Parliament, whatever Government may be in power, to proceed with the construction of that line at the earliest possible moment. In the best interests of the people of Australia, I believe that we should proceed with the building of it from the south to the north. Had I thought that there was the slightest possibility of defeating the Government proposal for the survey of a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, I would have voted against it, because I believe it is like attempting to climb a tree from the top instead of from the bottom. If we build the railway from the north to the south, and the Eastern menace ever materializes, we shall be offering it facilities to invade the country by giving it a base from which to fight, and by doing exactly the opposite of what a nation inspired by common sense would do. The arguments which have been advanced by Senator Story as to the advantages of using the existing line to Oodnadatta for the carriage of the materials required for its extension northwards are so obvious that it is almost a shame it should be necessary to repeat them. Yet while everybody tacitly acknowledges that the agreement with South Australia should be honoured, no active move is being made to give effect to it.
– It is a question of money, and not of faith.
-If there was any sense in the Commonwealth taking over from South Australia the liabilities that she had incurred in connexion with the Northern. Territory, we have a right to expect that some substantial effort should be made, not merely to recoup ourselves those losses, but to carry out the work which she failed to carry out. Everybody must praise South Australia for administering the affairs of the Territory as well as she did. But it is admitted that she bit off more than she could chew.
– South Australia had not sufficient pluck. Queensland did much better.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to talk about South Australia’s lack of pluck. There is no doubt that the resources of Queensland enable it to start works from different points which were quite out of the question in the case of South Australia. The whole of our Defence system, on which we are spending millions of money, will be a farce unless we do something to effectively defend the Northern Territory. To commence building a transcontinental railway from the north to the south is to offer our assets to the enemy.
– Unless the line be completed immediately after it is started, we shall be simply offering a prize to the enemy.
– Certainly we shall be offering a probable prize, and for that reason I would oppose the construction of the Pine Creek to the Katherine River extension, ignoring the plea that it will provide a link in the proposed transcontinental line, if my vote would effectively settle the matter. We should have the pluck to say what route we intend the transcontinental line to follow without fear of the consequences. The electors of this country would rather support a party which did that, than they would a party which indulges in shilly-shallying. In regard to the financing of the project, I can see no great difficulty. Admittedly the construction of a railway from a place distant from the sea-board - I mean from Oodnadatta - to Pine Creek, would not be a rapid undertaking. A considerable time would be occupied in obtaining proper surveys of the country, and in transporting the necessary material to the points where it would be required. The work would take years to complete, and that is the reason why not a moment should be lost in commencing it. The very fact that it w’ould take years to complete renders it possible to construct the line without resort to borrowing. I can well understand Senator Story’s idea that the pastoral and mineral possibilities of the MacDonnell Range country might make the railway a payable one when it reached that region. I submit that, if we can construct a Navy without the aid of borrowed money, we can also build this line out of revenue. For some years, at any rate, it would be principally a strategic line, and I am of opinion that it could be constructed on a cash basis.
– Will the honorable senator show us where the money is to come from?
– I do not suppose that more than £500,000 annually could be spent upon its construction if the work were proceeded with contemporaneously with the building of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line. Consequently, the money to pay for it could be found without recourse to borrowing.
– Where will you get it from?
– From where we get our money now, but only more so.
– Exactly; from land tax and all that kind of thing.
– Exactly. “ I contend that what Senator Vardon said to-day, if I may be permitted to digress that far, justifies me in believing, as no doubt he does, that the land values of this country are ample to provide funds for all the purposes for which it requires development.
– It is bad finance to assume that you can have your cake and eat it too.
– It is equally bad finance to consider that you can borrow money and hand over the debt to posterity, because, as a matter of fact, you have to pay interest from the moment of flotation. We are the posterity of the fellows who started that game, and are now sending out from £9,000,000 to £10,000,000 annually to meet the interest on the debts of the six States.
– Posterity means the nation.
– It means the future people. We are the posterity of the generations who started this spendthrift game, and the sufferers by it. The financial aspect of the matter has, of course, to be considered by the Government, who have to prepare the Estimates and so forth ; but the end from which the line shall start from, and when and how it shall be constructed, is a matter of policy, which we need not necessarily mix up with the question of finance at the present time. I think that Senator St. Ledger will agree with me there.
– You cannot build a yard of railway without paying for it.
– Of course you cannot, and I am not attempting to say that you can.
– Where are you going to find the money?
– The determination of the route is a matter of policy, which can be settled irrespective of finance, because, whether we start from the north or from the south, or link up with existing lines in Queensland, money will be required. I think that there should be a declaration, without any delay, that this Government intend, whether they are able to start now or not, to honour the agreement which was solemnly entered into by this Parliament, and that so soon as they can fix up the financial proposals necessary, the construction of the line will be commenced from this end with the determination to carry it through as one means of effectively defending Australia in the future, and, at any rate, as a necessity if we are to open up this vast Northern Territory. The authorities quoted by Senator Story did not prove that the country is all that we could wish. We must all admit that, not only there, but in the inland parts-of the large States, there is a great deal of country which is a long way from being first-class, mainly, of course, by reason of its deficient rainfall. No one could follow the extracts from the diaries of the friends of the honorable senator without realizing that there are large stretches of sandhills from time to time met with, that there are places where there are rocks and stones strewn over millions of acres, and so on, and that we cannot expect to find it equal to the best of the fringe of country which has been settled along the eastern coast.
– It is fair pastoral country.
– Yes, it was shown that much of it is fair pastoral country. I take it that if a means of transit were provided very much of that country now carrying cattle would carry sheep, and would be much more remunerative. We find that in the other States country which, at the outset carried cattle, became, after development had taken place, more fitted for sheep, and returned a very much larger profit per mile from sheep than it formerly did from cattle. I believe, therefore, that while the coastal fringe and that country which grows dense strong grasses and rank herbage will not, perhaps, be suitable for other than cattle, the inland part will carry millions of sheep in the future. For that purpose, there is no doubt that a railway is absolutely necessary. It is far easier to transport wool through dreadfully uneven, rough, mountain country for a short distance than it is to take it for a long distance on even open plains, in country such as is sketched, without railway transportation. For settlement, development, and safety, the construction of this railway should be commenced at’ the earliest possible date, and this or any other Government that do not honour the agreement solemnly entered into by this Parliament are not worthy of the support of any honest man. We should get to work as soon as we possibly can to give effect to the agreement, first, by deciding upon the route, and then by taking the necessary steps to commence the work.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Senator FINDLEY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Quarantine Act 1908. - New Regulation 85. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 185.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– - To-day, I asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question, without notice, with reference to the provision of wireless stations at Brisbane and Rockhampton, but I was too late to give notice of the question for to-morrow. I beg to inform the honorable senator that to-morrow I shall ask the question, without notice. I have since heard that the wireless station at Pinkenba is under construction. I should like to have an intimation as to when the Department think that that station, and the one at Rockhampton, will be working?
.- The honorable senator desires to know, I understand, when the wireless stations at Brisbane and Rockhampton will be completed and in working order.
– That is my question.
– I shall endeavour to get the information for the honorable senator. ‘
– I wish to make a personal explanation regarding a statement I made during the debate on the Budget-speech yesterday. In answer to an inquiry with regard to the gold reserve of Canada, I said that the Dominion, with regard to its notes, held gold or its equivalent up to 80 per cent. That statement was not quite correct. I was speaking on the authority of an article which I had read.
– I thought not.
– In justice to the writer of the article, as well as in justice to myself and the subject, I propose to quote my authority. The passage is from the Australasian Insurance and Banking Record of August, 1912, page 656 -
Against the first $30,000,000 a reserve of 35 per cent. in specie ; against allissues in excess of $3,000,000, a reserve of 100 per cent. in specie. The specie held by the Canadian Treasury on 30th April,1912, amounted to $98,570,939. Of this amount, $5,754,170 repre sented the lawful reserve of 10 per cent. against the deposits in the Post Office and Government
Savings banks. The remainder - $92,816,758 - represented the specie reserve against the issue of $113,169,712 of Dominion notes. The specie therefore represented 82 per cent, of the issue of notes. It consists almost altogether of gold -British and United States coins.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120926_senate_4_66/>.