4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce that His Excellency the Governor-General has kindly consented to receive the Address-in-Reply to his opening speech in the Library at 3 o’clock this afternoon. If you,, sir, will suspend the sitting at that hour it will give honorable senators an opportunity of attending, and I hope that as many as can conveniently attend will do so.
Report (No. 3) presented by Senator Henderson and read by the Clerk.
– I ask leave to move that the report be adopted.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the honorable senator have leave to submit a motion ?
– In assenting to the request, sir, I should like to know whether this is the practice, and, if not, whether there is any reason for departing from the practice ?
– If any honorable senator objects the motion cannot be moved.
– I do not wish to object if there is any reason for doing what is proposed.
– This course has been taken previously, but the practice is to give notice of a motion for the following day. This is not the usual report of the Printing Committee. The usual report was presented and adopted by the Senate a few days ago. But in the other Chamber the usual report was referred back to the Printing Committee on account of a resolution which it contained. Consequently there has been another meeting of the Printing Committee, and the report just read to the Senate recommends that the resolution at the end of the previous report should be rescinded. Yesterday Senator Chataway asked whether the action of the other House would prevent the printing of the papers with which the Printing Committee had dealt. So far as this side of Parliament is concerned it did not prevent any papers from being printed, because all the papers which have been laid on the table of the Senate and all the papers which were common to both Houses had been sent to the printer. We had no power, of course, to deal with papers which had been laid upon the table of the House of Representatives only. Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Henderson have leave to submit a motion ?
– With all due deference to what you said, sir -
– If there is a single objection notice must be given.
– I beg to give notice for to-morrow.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
The Labour Party : Senator St. Ledger.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all stages without delay.
– I move -
That this Bill be now reada first time.
The only extraordinary feature in connexion with this measure is that it asks for three months’ Supply, which will carry us on to the end of the calendar year, that is, until the Appropriation Bill has been passed and the financial year has been provided for. We wish to avoid the neces- sity of bringing in a Supply Bill at the end of every month. The practice in most of the States is to ask for a quarter’s Supply, but that has not been done in this Parliament up to the present time. In this session we asked, first, for a month’s Supply, second, for two months’ Supply, and now for three months’ Supply. The proposed appropriation is based upon the Estimates, and is required for the purpose of carrying on the ordinary services of the Commonwealth.
– What is the amount of the Treasurer’s Advance.
– It is £150,000, and no doubt honorable senators will recognise that that is a very moderate amount in comparison with what has been asked for previously for three months. We have asked for as much as that for one month, or for two months. The Treasurer has cut down the amount of the Advance as much as possible. The total amount of the proposed appropriation is .£2,252,661. The items in connexion with the different Departments for three months bear a very fair proportion to what has. been asked on previous occasions for one month, or for two months. We ask for £8,512 for the Parliament, £9,759 for the Prime Minister’s Department, and £39,770 for the Treasury Department. We consider that, on account of the reasonableness of these requests, there will be very little opposition offered. I have no desire to curtail the right of honorable senators to ventilate any grievances which they may have, because this is a fitting opportunity for them to do so. The Attorney-General’s Department requires £12,326, while the External Affairs Department - owing to the development in the Northern Territory and otherwise - needs £106,663. Honorable senators realize, of course, that there are certain Departments whose requirements at all times . are almost stationary. For the Department of Defence we are asking for £641,700, for the Department of Trade and Customs for £88,051, and for the Department of Home Affairs for ^74,2.35-
– Will the Minister allow me to suggest that he should indicate whether any departure f rom the normal is proposed ?
– As far as I can ascertain, there is no departure from the normal amounts.
– The Minister has just mentioned extra amounts.
– That is in cases where there has been an increase of officers. In other instances demands are made for extra payments which are required at particular periods of the year, as, for instance, in connexion with, the Defence Department. These go to swell the total amount. The Postmaster-General is asking for £1,046,645. The amount required for refunds of revenue is £75,000, and the Treasurer’s Advance amounts to £150,000. In the last Supply Bill, No. 2, we asked for £1,503,574. The amount now required is only about £3,000 more than proportionately to that sum. Consequently, the amount set down in the Bill comes very near the mark. In Supply Bill, No. 1, which was only for one month, the amount was £882,768. It will, therefore, be seen that the sum now required for three months is only a little over three times that amount. The Government are submitting the measure in this form for the convenience of both Houses of the Legislature. We do not desire, when we reach, the busier stages of the session, to delay the business by the introduction of Supply Bills for one month. If, during the debate, any points are raised or inquiries made requiring explanation, I shall endeavour to furnish honorable senators with the particulars they need. In Committee, honorable senators will have every opportunity of asking questions, and departmental officers will be in attendance for the purpose of furnishing information.
– When . is this money required ?
– It is required immediately. The expenditure of it commenced on the 1 st October, but up to the end of the first fortnight, no large amounts will be expended. There may be a few sums paid on account of small contracts. But before the end of the second week of the month, money must be available for paying officers who receive their salaries fortnightly. Although honorable senators may take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the policy of the Government, and the Bill itself, it is obvious that we cannot delay this measure for a week or two. We still have the debate on the Budgetpapers in front of us, and honorable senators are thus afforded an opportunity’ of entering fully into questions of policy. Therefore, 1 am sure that they will be reasonable with respect to the discussion on this Bill.
.. -I do not intend to discuss the Bill itself on the motion for the first reading. I shall reserve my remarks upon it until a later stage. But, as honorable senators are aware, the first reading of a Bill of this nature affords an opportunity to refer to matters not contained within the measure itself. I propose to take advantage of that opportunity. The subject which I propose to discuss is a difference which arose last, week between Senator St. Ledger and myself. In the course of a speech which I made, I good-humouredly twitted Senator St. Ledger with having been at one time rather a. promising member of the Labour party; and I expressed my regret that he stopped short at promising, and did not attain fulfilment. Senator St. Ledger, being very much aggrieved, took exception to my remarks, and used some rather strong language. Of course, he was entitled to do so if he wished. I believe that yesterday afternoon, while I was temporarily absent from the chamber, he made a personal explanation, in which he denied intoto the whole of my remarks, and stated emphatically that he never had coquetted with the Labour party, and, in fact, would never have had anything to do with them - would not even have been found dead in a 40-acre paddock with them, or words to that effect. I do not desire the Senate to accept my “ say so “ on the matter at all. For anything that I say which I cannot support with evidence, I have no right to claim the credence of honorable senators. I want to call Senator St. Ledger himself into the witness box.
– He is the best man to put in the box.
– Of course. As a friend of his own once said of him, “ his wobbling propensities are so highly developed that he would be likely to wobble out of anything.” The man who said that is Mr. Duffy, then mayor of Bundaberg - not a Labour man. Senator St. Ledger was once a candidate for the State Parliament of Queensland.
– In an address to the electors published on that occasion in the Brisbane Courier, on 28th February, 1899, he said -
I am in favour of the repeal of the Polynesian Act. I would regard the existing engagements of the sugar planters. Subject to these I am in favour of the gradual deportation of the Kanakas to their native islands. The introduction of Chinese and Japanese is too important a question to be left to the chances of protocols and diplomacy. I am in favour of a rigid exclusion Bill against all Asiatic races. In a word, I am in favour of a white Queensland.
That was the most burningquestion with the Labour party in Queensland at the time. He indorsed their policyin his candidature, although he subsequently came into this Senate as the nominee andprotege of the black-labour party in Queensland.
– Rubbish !
– It is not rubbish; the statement is absolutely true. However, within the last few days Senator St. Ledger has been denouncing the injustice of excluding Asiatics from privileges which the people of Australia are extending to our own citizens.
– Nothing of the kind.
– On the same occasion, also, Senator St. Ledger delivered a speech in the Centennial Hall, Brisbane. He was reported in the Brisbane daily newspapers at the time to have said- -
He was entirely in accord with the Labour party in Parliament-
– In so much-
-I have the report here - in so much that he considered great social questions should be tentatively dealt with by legislation.
The governing words are that he was “ entirely in accord with the Labour party.” Yet Senator St. Ledger has said here that he had never anything to do with the Labour party !
– I did not say that I did not have anything to do with them. I said that I did not coquette with them. That is a different thing altogether.
– The honorable senator cited as a proof of his anticoquetting propensities that Mr. Anderson Dawson, at one time Premier of Queensland, had offered him a portfolio in his Ministry. If Senator St. Ledger had any logical faculty at all, he would recognise that the fact that a (Labour Premier had offered him a portfolio was proof positive that he had been coquetting with the Labour party. A man does not ask a woman to marry him unless he gets an encouraging glint out of the corner of her “ee.” A close connexion was contemplated in this case, at any rate. Senator St. Ledger was under the tutelage of a very able and distinguished gentleman at that time. I think that, if the prospects had been better, he would have jumped at the chance. But the probabilities of the continuance of the Labour Ministry seemed to be so slight that Senator St. Ledger, whilst willing to eat the apple, was afraid that it would turn to ashes in his mouth; and that was the reason why, the offer was refused.
– The honorable senator forgets that the portfolio was to be accompanied with a seat in the Queensland Legislative Council.
– But that would not have carried any political preferment beyond the temporary occupancy of Ministerial office for a day or two, as the honorable senator well knew at the time.
– It was not well known at the time.
– It was, and no one knew it better than the honorable senator. Senator St. Ledger takes exception to the fact that reference is made to these circumstances here, and says that it is a matter of political spite, or something of that kind. He alleges that we are making serious reflections upon him in bringing up these facts.
– I do not take exception to a single word the honorable senator is now saying.
– The honorable senator took exception to what I said in quite a good-humoured way a day or two ago. When he was standing as a candidate for the Senate, in company with Senator Chataway and Senator Sayers, he visited various Queensland towns. He went to Bundaberg, amongst other places, and the then Mayor took the chair at a meeting which the three candidates addressed. Mr. Duffy was the Mayor - a man who was always an honest straight-out opponent of the Labour party. His sympathies were decidedly on the side- that Senator St. Ledger ‘ was advocating.
– He was an opponent of Senator St. Ledger wherever he found him.
– I have stated the fact that Mr. Duffy was not a Labour man. He was on the same political side as Senator St. Ledger. He occupied a responsible position in Bundaberg at the time, and was called upon by these gentlemen to act as their chairman. He did so. Mr. Duffy in introducing the candidates, referred to
Senator Chataway and Senator Sayers in the most kindly and most eulogistic fashion, but when he came to Senator St. Ledger, he referred to him as being a man of remarkable political versatility.
– He said stronger things than that if my memory serves me rightly.
– He referred to the honorable senator as having belonged to all parties; as having tried to get into Parliament as a candidate for all parties. He said that no doubt Senator St. Ledger, being a very versatile gentleman, would be able to explain his peculiar position to the people to their utmost satisfaction.
– I got a heavy vote there, too.
– Unfortunately, only brief reference is made to the Mayor’s remarks in the daily newspaper of Bundaberg, because, as honorable senators will understand, most of the space which they could spare was devoted to the speeches of the candidates - they being such important and brilliant candidates as Senator Chataway, Senator Sayers, and Senator St. Ledger. But the Bundaberg Star of 2nd November, 1906, thus reports the Mayor’s remarks about Senator St. Ledger -
The Mayor then dealt with the qualifications of the candidates. Referring to Mr. St. Ledger, he described him as a hard political nut to crack, one who had tried hard to get into Parliament for years, and fought under every political banner possible to imagine, so that he ought to be acceptable to all parties.
Sitting suspended from 3 to 3.15 p.m.
– I have to acquaint the Senate that, accompanied by honorable senators, I have this day waited upon His Excellency the Governor-General, and presented to him the Address of the Senate in reply to His Excellency’s Speech at the opening of Parliament, agreed to on 17th July last. His Excellency has been pleased to make the following reply -
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate :
I thank you for your Address-in-Reply to the speech with which’ I opened Parliament. I am glad to receive the assurance of your loyalty to His Majesty the King. I trust that your deliberations may be so guided as to promote the well-being and prosperity of the Commonwealth.
The Labour Party : Senator St. Ledger - Vancouver Mail Service: Queensland - Defence : Compulsory Training : Registration of Cadets : Prosecutions: Broken Hill: Military Journal : Camps of Training : Defence Works and Ordnance: Government Factories : Manufacture of Projectiles - Fleet Unit Renewals - Immigration - Bank Note Issue - State Debts - Northern Territory : Appointments : Purchase of Steamer : Inspector of Education - Land Tax and Closer Settlement - Taxation of Unearned Incomes - Country Post Offices : Half Holiday - GovernorGeneral : Sydney Residence - Revenue and Expenditure : Taxation - Private Members’ Business - Federal Powers and Legislation: Payments to States : Application for Military Forces - Article in “Labor Call” - Duty on Imported Drugs - Cost of Treasury Building - Public Service : Average Pay - Sugar Industry
Debate resumed, on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was about to quote from the Bundaberg Mail, which was at the time the organ of the party with which Senator St. Ledger was associated, theremarks ofthe Mayor of Bundaberg in introducing the honorable senator to a meeting. I do not think it will be suggested that the Bundaberg Mail would twist anything that was said to the honorable senator’s disadvantage. . I have already put on record the reports of those remarks which appeared in the Bundaberg Star of the same date. I quote the following from the issue of the Bundaberg Mail of 2nd November,1906 -
Of Mr. St. Ledger, he might say that he had had a varied political career., but felt no doubt that he would be found quite able to explain his peculiar position to the meeting.
I go a little further, and say ‘that Mr. Duffy would have been justified in saying insetad of “a varied political career,” a variegated political career. “When I call into the witness-box Senator St. Ledger himself, and another distinguished member of his party, in the person of Mr. Duffy, who was at the time Mayor of Bundaberg, and chairman of the meeting referred to, I fail to see what grounds the honorable senator had for the mock heroics with which he tried to repel my remarks. I am aware thatthe honorable senator has questioned the truth of Mr. Duffy’s remarks, and a debate upon the matter previously took place in the Senate, in which he said that there was no justification for Mr. Duffy’s remarks, and repelled them with indignation. You, sir, as , a private member of the Senate-
– Need the honorable senator drag the President into this ?
– I am dragging into it a member of the Senate, as I have a perfect right to do, in order to prove the facts. In your private capacity as a memberof the Senate, you, at the time referred to, sent a copy of Hansard containing Senator St. Ledger’s remarks upon Mr. Duffy.
– Who did that?
- Senator Turley.
– I did not know that until now.
– If the honorable senator did not know, it is entirely his own fault, because it is on record in Hansard. At page11911 of vol . 46 of Hansard, you, sir,are reported as having said -
I wish to say this for Mr. Duffy.He has always been a straightout honest opponent of the Labour party. I sat with him in the Queensland Parliament for some years, and I know’ that, although he was opposed to the Labour party, he was always candid in bis statements, and told us so. As I have said, I sent a copy ofHansard to Mr. Duffy.
If Senator St. Ledger did not know of that, the fault must be his own, as it is recorded in Hansard.
-I had forgotten it.
– You, sir, went on to say -
I sent a copy of Hansard to Mr. Duffy, and promised him that 1 would use the letter which he sent me in reply. The following is his reply, dated 7th November, 1907 : - “ Your letter of the 28th ult. duly ‘reached me, and the copy of Hansard referred to is also to hand. “ There is no truth whatever in Mr.St. Ledger’s statement that my defeat at the ‘late election was due to his attitude re my remarks relative to his wobbling propensities. In fact, the St. Ledger incident was only a nine days’ wonder, and I was complimented by both friends and foes alike on speaking so plainly, and thus giving the public of Bundaberg an idea of the class of . man that was seeking their suffrages. “ Mr. St. Ledger himself was no flabbergasted with my remarks that all ‘he could say in reply was to thank me for anopportunity to explain his peculiar conduct.”
I say that it was very peculiar. We have had many instances in Australian politics of men belonging to one political party at one time changing their opinion, and subsequently becoming members of another party.. We had Sir Samuel Walker Griffith as the leader of a political party in Queensland, at one time bitterly and violently opposed to Sir Thomas McIlwraith as the leader of the opposing party, and later these two gentlemen joined in the formation of a Government. I could quote innumerable such instances; but I have never known of a case in. which a gentleman who changed his political views in that way was not subsequently absolutely ashamed of the fact that he had wobbled and had gone back 011 his previous conviction. The trouble with Senator St. Ledger is not that I am not recording these things in Hansard to remind him of the past; it is with his own conscience, which is so evidently pricking him. The one saving thing about the honorable senator is that he appears to have the grace to be ashamed of himself.
– The only politician with a conscience.
– I have not so far accused Senator Chataway of having a conscience. I have nothing to add to what I have said as a justification of the re- marks which I made a few days ago, and to which Senator St. Ledger took such violent exception. I have quoted the statements of people who are not Labour men, but who were of exactly the same way of political thinking as Senator St. Ledger himself. I have quoted the honorable senator’s own previous remarks, and I say now, emphatically, that it was well recognised amongst the State Labour party of Queensland in1899 - and I was then a member of the State Parliament - that Mr. St. Ledger, as he then was, only required a reasonable prospect of successfully contesting a seat on behalf of our party to come into the party.The honorable senator may have had entirely opposite opinions, and may have been utterly opposed to our views, but I say that his conduct was to lead members of the party, and especially their leader, the late Senator Anderson Dawson - who is, unfortunately, no more - to believe that we had only to open our arms and, metaphorically, Mr.St..Ledger would have fallen upon our bosoms. As I have already said, if I were a very religious man, and much given to devotional exercises, I should go down upon my knees ten times a day and thank God that the honorable senator did not succeed in doing so.
– On the first reading of a Supply Bill, one is at liberty to discuss the administration of the Government. There is a part of their administration which has a very close relation to the State of Queensland. I wish now to direct the attention of the Government, and also of Senator Givens, if I can bring him into line, to a matter which is of far greater importance than anything which I may have said or done in the past. I refer to the Vancouver mail service. The history of the matter is rather interesting, and, very shortly, the people of Queensland will require some clear explanation of how it is that, in the matter of the Vancouver service, their State has been, to use the language of the boulevards, “ completely left.” As you, sir, have been dragged into another matter, I may be permitted to use your name in connexion with that to which I am referring. In company with a number of us, you were a member of a deputation that waited on the Prime Minister in Queensland in connexion with the Vancouver mail service;
– After the interview with theex-Postmaster-General, Mr. Thomas, in Sydney.
SenatorST. LEDGER. - Yes ; after that interview. There was an influential deputation of representatives of both Houses of Parliament, the Chambers of Commerce, and various industries, that waited upon the Prime Minister. I am not going to traverse, though I might do so, what was said on that occasion. At previous conferences, some things were said which were necessarily more or less confidential ; but I think that everything at the conference with the Prime Minister was above board. Your memory, Mr. President, may be refreshed, as it was just now in connexion with another matter, when I recall the fact that, towards the close of the interview which the deputation referred to had with the Prime Minister, I said that the trouble with the Queensland people, and possibly with the whole of the people of Australia, was whether the Vancouver service was to continue on the deep blue sea, or be consigned to the care of His Satanic Majesty. At that time, if there were to be any oddslaid on the event, I was going to back His Satanic Majesty. Now the Vancouver mail service to Queensland and New South Wales has gone, and the half-prediction at that time has been fulfilled. The Government received ample warning between 1910 and the present year that their negotiations were likely to end in that way. I propose now to call attention to the extraordinary course which the Government took with the people of Queensland, and, to a certain extent, with the people of Australia, upon this matter. Between May or July, 1.910, and subsequently, the Prime Minister, time and again, gave the assurance that things were all right. Shortly after the Government assumed office with an overwhelming majority and an overflowing purse, the result of the policy we had initiated and carried out with the States, the question of the continuance of the service, occupied the attention of this Parliament, and representatives of Queensland drew frequent attention to the matter.
– Did not they have to face a deficit when they came into office?
– Let the honorable senator look up the finances, and he will be able to answer that question far better than I can. On the 5th October, 1910, .1 expressed in this Senate a fear that the service was to be abandoned. At that time I had reason to believe, on the highest authority, that the negotiations were being conducted in such a way that the Government must have known that, unless they altered their policy, a service from Canada to New Zealand would be inaugurated in spite of them, and Australia would be left. Senator Findley replied to my question, on the 15 th October, in these words -
There is no occasion for that anxiety. 1 still entertained fears upon the matter, and, on the 25th November, 1910, I stated in this Chamber that, although much that was said - I was then referring to the Brisbane and Sydney Conferences, at which the -Postmaster-General and the Treasurer were present - was confidential, I could- say without any breach of confidence that I had forecasted the present position. I then warned the Government and the PostmasterGeneral that it was pretty certain that Queensland was going to be “left” in this matter. That warning, however; was brushed aside. It was thought that I was playing a mere game, but it is now evident that my information was perfectly accurate. The matter was again referred to in another place on 4th October, 1910, when a specific question was asked in regard to Auckland being made a port of call. On that occasion the PostmasterGeneral replied -
The matter has been considered, and the Government have decided not to alter the present contract.
What is the natural inference to be drawn from that statement ? That, notwithstanding the warning which had been given regarding the perils of the position, the Government had determined, at all hazards, that the Vancouver service would be continued. Otherwise, why did the PostmasterGeneral declare that the contract would not be altered? He went on to say -
Canada having been notified to that effect. When a new contract is under consideration we shall determine whether New Zealand is or is not to be included. . . . There is to be no alteration in the present service.
If ever an utterance by a responsible Minister, in the light of after events, was misleading, certainly that utterance was.
– What is the difference to Australia?
– The Vancouver service has disappeared.
– Not to Australia?
– I do not regard Sydney as Australia.
– Nor do I regard Brisbane in that light.
– Will Senator Guthrie deny that the Vancouver service, as it existed in 19 10, has disappeared?
– lt is still serving Australia.
– It does not exist as it existed in 1910, and that is the point which is of considerable interest to Queensland and, possibly, to New South Wales. which were the pioneers of this service. It was a service which they instituted prior to Federation, and which was continued’ for some years after the advent of Federation. That service has absolutely gone.
– And we helped to take over the white elephant of South Australia.
– The contrast is very strong. I do not wish unnecessarily to place the interests of State against those of State. But it is about time that this matter was raised, and that the attention of the Government was drawn to the position in the sharpest possible manner on behalf of the people of Queensland, whom I represent. No amount of quibbling on the part of Senator
– Where is the quibble ?
– The honorable senator’s interjections convey to my mind something which is no more than a quibble. If the Government will vouchsafe an explanation of their position in regard to this matter, I feel sure that explanation will be little less than a quibble. The next step taken was to call for tenders for this service, and those tenders were made returnable on the 1st November, 1910. In another place, the Postmaster-General was questioned in regard to the tenders, and especially in regard to whether the fact of Auckland being made a port of call might not prove prejudicial to the claims of Brisbane and Melbourne. That was a very important point. Here is the answer which the Postmaster-General gave in all solemnity. It is a remarkably solemn reply - in fact, in the light of after events, it is rather sad to the people of Queensland -
The Government will see that in any arrangement to which they are a party the interests of Australia will be protected.
– Who was the PostmasterGeneral then?
– 1 think it was Mr. Josiah Thomas.
– There was nothing sad in that answer.
-Perhaps the word “ sad “ is not the proper one to use. Certainly the position is not satisfactory to Queensland. On the contrary, it is extremely unsatisfactory.
– Is it to Australia?
– I am speaking of a matter which closely affects the interests of Queensland. Again, on the 8th September, 191 1, the question was once more raised, and this time the Prime Minister replied -
Negotiations for a mail service with Canada and the United States, with Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne as ports of call, are still under consideration.
It will be noticed that the United States of America had been dragged into the matter. Evidently something had gone wrong during the progress of negotiations, because that was the first occasion upon which the question of a mail service linking up the United States of America, Canada, and Australia was mentioned.
Naturally, when that explanation was given, our ears and eyes were wide open to learn the result of the introduction of this new factor. Again, on 18th November, 191 1, the Prime Minister was questioned upon the subject. Nothing definite had been done. The answer which he gave on that occasion was -
I have asked my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, to look into the matter, and he will be in a position to furnish full information in a few days.
Now, I have searched Hansard, but I cannot find that that information was ever given. I was watching negotiations pretty closely at the time, and I am not aware that that promise has ever been fulfilled. When nothing resulted from all these inquiries, and conferences, not to mention petitions from the Chambers of Commerce in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, my anxiety was increased, and on 20th December, 1911, I asked another question in the Senate. In reply, the Minister of Defence informed me - that the whole thing is in such a tangle that I cannot see my way out of it. I know the matter engaged the close attention of the exPostmasterGeneral, and I have no doubt that when the present session is closed the PostmasterGeneral will devote his attention to it.
The session closed, and though we are here again, we have never heard a single word as to how that tangle was brought about, and why the service disappeared. _ If I had not pressed the matter on this occasion we should most likely have gone back to our constituents, and had to confess to them that we did not know how the tangle was produced or how it was unravelled. The Government have no excuse for the present position. I think they will find it difficult to justify themselves, either to the commercial “ community of Queensland or of Australia. Prior to Federation - and since Federation - we have talked of our important position in the Pacific, and of the duty which devolves upon this Parliament to take a dominant hand in its trade. The Pacific Islands and the countries around them are likely to be customers of ours, and we are likely, to be customers of theirs. Trade is developing in all directions in the Pacific! and it is the desire of every Power touching upon it to capture a large amount of that trade. The most important portion of the trade to which we can legitimately look is the trade with Canada and the United States of America. Unless we get a large volume of trade, in the Pacific the Commonwealth can newer be a dominant power in the Pacific. When we find the Government with ample funds, and a strong majority, neglecting its manifest opportunities, it is no longer a matter of comment, but a matter of strong censure.
– But you have been charging the Government with reckless extravagance for weeks - aye, for months.
– So they have been. Every spendthrift throws his money about, but a wise man when he has plenty of money looks forward to judicious investments., Now, on that basis, is there a better way of developing our trade in the Pacific, holding it, and extending it, than that of subsidizing a mail service?
– Which of these services, subsidized or unsubsidized, gave more promise in itself, and had more promise in the future than did the Vancouver service? Let us see how it stood for a few years.
– It was carried on at a. loss all the. time.
– So it was; but would there have been a single railway built in Australia if that consideration had been the determining factor? If any Government in Australia announced that it would wait until there was a trade before it would undertake to build a railway, it would be turned out of office at once. So it is with the development of trade in the Pacific. The Vancouver service did not pay, but it was becoming more and more popular. We all recognise that trade in the Pacific must increase, by reason of the fact that the population and the wealth of the Commonwealth must increase, and that the population and wealth of many countries in the Pacific will also increase.
– If does not matter £1 sterling to Western Australia, so far as trade is concerned.
– Does that let the cat out of the bag ? Is that why the senators from Western Australia and South Australia were able to hold the Treasurer’s; hand, and make him withdraw the subsidy ?
– Show us where it benefited Western Australia.
– If the honorable senator will speak a little more, possibly we may get more light thrown on this matter. It is rather an unfortunate defence which he is trying to make by inter jection. This service did not directly touch South Australia or Western Australia; but will he or the Government give that as a reason why the other States were left out of consideration in this matter?
– That was one of the reasons, certainly.
– After that interjection, I think I am justified in saying that it was the reason, and possibly the only reason, why the service was abandoned In 1907 the imports from Canada to Queensland alone were worth , £39,000; in 1908, £35,000;in1909, £43,600 ; andin1910, £46,230. Although the trade f rom Canada to Queensland alone did not represent a very large amount, it was increasing, and giving promise. The exports from Queensland alone to Canada during those yearwere as follow: - In 1907, £15,000; in 1908, £11,000; in 1909, £12,000; and in 1 9 10, £37,800. While the imports to Queensland during that time had increased at a comparatively small rate, its exports had risen by 200 per cent.
– Yes, and what did that amount to per month?
– I point out the facts, and the honorable senator can tear the figures to pieces if he can. The exports to Canada from Queensland alone in 1907 were worth . £15,000, and in 1910 they had risen to £37,800. This shows that there was promise.
– There was not £300 worth of freight in the whole lot.
– Trains are not run to Oodnadatta more than once in two or three weeks, and yet the Government have seen the necessity and the importance of pledging the credit of the Commonwealth for millions in order to change that line into a profit-paying, concern ; and it comes with very ill grace - I might use a very much harsher expression: - when in the face of a small but steadily increasing trade on a mail service honorable senators, who look for so much for their own States, view with pleasure and complacency the disappearance: of this important trade factor.
– If we had spent as much upon the development of internal trade we should have had far better results.
– A whole lot of cats are now coming out of the bag. If that is the way in which it is proposed to develop trade in the Pacific, the sooner the Government make that intention clear and definite the better for them; and I dare say that the people of Queensland, as well as the people of Australia, will give them a proper answer.
– We are not foreign traders. We want trade in Australia.
– Did you, sir, ever hear a more irrelevant interjection? What on earth are we here for but to legislate in such a way that our tradeand commerce, not only internal, but external, will develop? To what markets do our great primary industries look? To the markets of the world - the United States, and Canada. The mail service to ‘Canada has been abandoned, and we are told by some strong Government supporters that we will look after our internal trade. The people of Australia will not stand that kind of thing. In 1907 we imported from Canada - mostly food stuffs of animal origin - goods to the value of £40,000 ; in 1908, £49,000; in 1909, £55,000; and in 1910 , £101,000. Other portions of our imports showed a gradual increase. This goes to show that, even if the trade was not remunerative, it was promising.
– What were the exports from Australia?
– The honorable senator can very easily ascertain the facts, and if they in any way alter the inferences which I think are inevitable from the figures he may devotehis attention to the matter.
– The ships were going away in water ballast.
– Canada, the United States and Australia talk about their Tariffs. One Government is approaching the other by means of its Tariff machinery to promote reciprocity, and the object is, of course,to increase trade. Of whatuse is it to resort to, this course if the means of carrying on trade is not simultaneously developed ? Of what use is it to talkofestablishing closer trade relations withCanada orthe United States, which we all desire, unless we give some practicablemeansby which we can bring about that reciprocity ? If we are to develop traderelations with Canada, we must have a mail service.
– What have those two countries done to increase the exports from Australia? Nothing.
– They may not have done much. From one point of view, the Tariffs themselves may be barriers to an increase oftrade. There can be no practical result in this matter of Tariff re ciprocity until theGovernment give substantial help towards the main factor in carrying on trade. All this talk about our position in the Pacific, and developing reciprocaltrade relations with Canadaand the United States is mere” hot air “ unless we subsidize a mail service in some form.
– Not a mailservice.
– May I ask the honorable senator whether the Australian subsidy to the Orient line is not given very largely for trade purposes, although it never goes intothe Pacific? If we wish to develop close commercial relations between the United Kingdom and Australia through the Suez Canal, the necessary complement to that policy, it seems to me, is to develop in the Pacific the trade between the Commonwealth, the United States of America, and Canada.
– But what will ‘be the position when the Panama Canal is opened ?
– How will this attitude help us to get over the difficulty ? To refuseto promote a mail service seems to me to be worse than for a man to cut off his nose to spite bis face. Indeed, much of the finance of the present Government is of that character. I propose to read one or two short ‘Communications which have been addressed to the Chambers of Commerce, and through them to Ministers, in order to show them the great importance of this trade. In June, 1910, Messrs. Baynes Bros., large meat exporters in Brisbane, addressed the following letter to the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce: -
We may say wehave repeatedly tried to get space for frozen produce in these steamers and were always told here that all refrigeration space had been booked in Sydney for some months ahead, consequently we have had no opportunity to work up a business at all.
That is pretty strong evidence, not only that the trade was increasing, but that the facilities for the exportation from Queensland of one of our most valuable commodities were insufficient.
– That does not follow. The refrigerating space may have been manipulated.
-Could the manipulation of the refrigerating space affect the statement of this firm that they wanted space and could not get it? I do not think that any one will attempt to cast any aspersionson the accuracy of the statement. The service, in any case, was unequal to the growing demands made upon it, and, from that point of view., there could scarcely be a stronger argument for increasing facilities. Again, Mr. Johnson, a dairy and export agent, wrote -
I have engaged space in those steamers from October, 1909, to March, 1910, for 1,000 boxes of butter per month, and if the present service is continued I intend to apply and pay for the same amount of space in each steamer from October, 1910, to March, 191 1.
The two items with which these two exporters deal, meat and butter, are certainly two of the most important exports which Australia has. The matter is a serious one, and cannot be evaded by the Government any longer. We have a right to know what their policy is regarding the Vancouver service. The facts, to concentrate them shortly, are that Queensland and New South Wales pioneered the service, and paid for it for a number of years. The trade was steadily increasing. The two States were anxious that the service should be continued. Chambers of Commerce, and other representative men, again and again, pointed out that, it seemed likely that the service would be abandoned, but they were assured that they need have no fear. Finally, the service was abandoned as predicted, and has now apparently gone to the care of His Satanic Majesty.
– Does the honorable senator mean that he is the only tenderer now?
– I do not think there is any other tender. We do not pay a penny for any service. The present position is that Canada and New Zealand have subsidized steamers to trade between Vancouver and Auckland. But that does not meet our requirements.
I should like to call attention to a few matters relating to the Defence Department. It would appear from the report of the InspectorGeneral that the registration of cadets, under the Defence Act, is not in a satisfactory position. The report alludes to the matter in these words -
The falling off of the registration of the 1898 quota cannot be attributed to a lower birth rate.
I should like to know whether the Minister has any explanation to offer on this fact? The falling off in registration is evidently going to give some trouble, and will require watching. Otherwise our defence system will be weakened. The InspectorGeneral also states in his report that -
The Commonwealth Military Journal requires a permanent editor and an increase in original contributions, and a department for the discussion and examination of practical and strategical problems as recommended by Lord Kitchener.
I regard the proper conduct of the Military Journal as one of the most important factors in connexion with the defence scheme. Unless we have well-trained, and wellinformed officers, it will be impossible even in times of peace to have a well-trained army. I hope that the Minister will appoint an expert editor for the Journal, which should be to military officers’ what the Lancet, and other medical publications, are to the medical profession. It is a most important factor in the education of officers.
– There is very little original matter in the Journal; the articles are nearly all quoted from other publications.
– That ought not to be so. The editor should be a man qualified to furnish original information and guidance as to our own military development.
– The officers ought to read Hansard. They will get a lot of information there !
– I am afraid we could not use Hansard to fight battles. If soldiers went into battle with Hansard I am afraid they would soon be food for powder.
– Bullets would never go through Hansard !
– Perhaps if we could get the enemy tied up and make them browse on Hansard a capitulation of their forces would speedily follow. It is generally understood, nowadays, that given well-trained officers on the one side, and ill-trained officers on the other, a war is pretty well over as soon as it is begun. It was said in connexion with the American Civil War that the officers who came out of West Point Military Academy were worth a whole army corps. I trust that the agencies used for the training of officers in our army will not be starved. I draw attention to another feature which makes me rather uneasy. The Inspector- General reports that 643 officers and 7,973 other members of the Citizen Forces attended camps for manoeuvre purposes, but that only thirty-three officers and 1,058 others, or a total of 1,091, remained during the manoeuvres. In other words, of those who went into camp only 13 per cent, took part in the manoeuvres. There may be some explanation.
– Business engagements.
– I presume that these people went into camp for training purposes. Camps, nowadays, are not supposed to be a sort of picnic. It was understood that we had abolished that sort of thing. Camps are intended to familiarize our soldiers with manoeuvring. If it is not compulsory for those who go into camp to take part in manoeuvres, the sooner we re-cast our Defence Act the better. I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is not present when we are discussing these matters. We have a right to expect him to be here.
– No one can say that the Minister of Defence neglects his duty.
– I did not say so.
– That was the inference.
– If the Minister of Defence needs a certificate from anybody I may as well express the opinion that he is very attentive, not only to his Department, but to Parliament. But I am entitled to say that, unless there are extraordinary circumstances which prevent him being present, he should be here when we are asked to vote thousands of pounds for his Department.
– If possible.
– If it be not possible he cannot be here. The Minister of Defence is perfectly well able to take care of himself, and does not need Senator Guthrie to jump in to defend him. In fact, I am afraid that the more the honorable senator jumps in, the worse it will be both for the Minister and himself. Major-General Kirkpatrick reports -
No progress is yet apparent in placing the arrangements for the construction and maintenance of fortifications, barracks, store buildings, and ranges, on a satisfactory footing calculated to give the military authorities control comparable with their responsibilities, and the preparation of Australian engineers for their work in war.
If, as a mere student, I understand anything about military matters, that is a serious warning to the Government by the most responsible officer of the Defence Department. What is the meaning of that report ? What is it that the Major-General is striking at? We are entitled to know what is being done to remedy the very important defects to which the InspectorGeneral here directs attention. As the Minister of Defence is now present, perhaps he will be good enough to inform honorable senators what he is doing in the matter, and whether the condition of affairs reported upon by Major-General Kirkpatrick has, in the meantime, substantially altered for the better. I have noticed also that the Inspector-General refers in his report to an accumulation of comparatively useless material in various stores, which is causing him and some other officers of the Defence Force considerable trouble.
I propose now to bring forth the “ King Charles’ head,” which 1 have exhibited on many occasions in discussing Supply.
– The honorable senator has no “ King Charles’ head “ ; his remarks cover every subject.
– Why should they not? I believe that the reason I was sent here was that those who had been sent here before did not go into these things properly, and it was thought as well that a change should be made, and that some one should represent Queensland who would go pretty extensively into things. The subject I intend now to refer to is immigration. What are we doing in connexion with it? It is evident that the State Governments are doing something, but what co-operation is there between the Commonwealth and State Governments in connexion with the matter? We are voting money for advertising the resources of Australia, but the Government are not spending half the money voted for that purpose. Let me point out what other countries of the same race and similar conditions to ours are doing in the matter of immigration. From a report of the Board of Trade on “Emigration and Immigration,” dated May, 1912, I take the following particulars. I find that between 1906 and 1911, the persons of British nationality who went to the United States of America numbered in 1906, 85,941 ; in 1907, 99,944 ; in 1908, 31,451; in 1909. 56,377; in 1910, 73,569; and in 191 1, 49,732. I find also that the number of persons of British nationality who went to all foreign countries during those years was - in 1906, 194,671; in 1907, 235,092; in 1908, 91,156; in 1909, 139,693; in 1910, 233,7°9; and in 1911, 261,809. In the year 1910, the total immigration to Canada was 311,084, and the Canadian authorities estimated that in 1912 the number would be increased to 450,000. In 1910, 121,084 persons went from the United States into Canada. I believe that these people are a desirable class of settlers for Canada and the United States, and if they are going to those countries in such large numbers, why cannot Australia secure some of them. There is only one answer to the question, lt is that the Commonwealth Government do not want to get them. Australia is as attractive as any place on earth. There is no country on God’s earth where a man has a better show to bring out what is in him than he has in Australia. If Canada can secure 300,000 or 400,000 immigrants in a year, and the United States of America about 1,000,000 each year, why is it that some of these people do not- come here? It is because they are not invited, or, if they are, they are not invited properly. There is only “ hot air,” and no more.
– We are spending more than the Fusion Government did in inviting them, anyhow.
– That is the only “ get out “ that the Government have. I admit the statement right away. But the Minister of Defence knows well that when I sat on the other side supporting the last Government, I spoke just as strongly on this matter, and commented just as sharply upon their administration in connexion with immigration. The Minister is very prone in making excuses to hope that two blacks will possibly make a white. There is this answer to his interjection, that, so far as the present Government are concerned, while they have more money than any other Government of the Commonwealth has ever had for this purpose, and they can find, money to lavish on many other purposes, in the matter of immigration, which is the very life-blood of the nation, and- without which we cannot hope to ad.vance, they are entirely indifferent. We know that time and’ again resolutions are passed’ by various Trades Hall Councils, and1 conveyed’ to us, directly or indirectly, to the effect that a policy of immigration must pui! down wages in Australia. We are told that to bring immigrants to the country at the expense of a State or of the- Commonwealth is to introduce labour which must compete with local labour, and thus bring down the wages of the working classes The present Government appear to be compelled to bow down to that delusion. In other words, they are afraid to face their masters in this- matter. We are told that the Trades Hall Councils- pass no condemnatory resolutions, and there may be some saving clauses in- many of their resolutions, but, in this matter, the Government are following, and’ seem prepared to go on following, a lead that is given them, not by this. Parliament, or by the people of Australia, but by the TradeUnions. Why dd we not hear from the Prime Minister and Treasurer a refutation’ of that awful economic fallacy that the increase of population in the country is a menace to the worker ? There- is no country in which wages are higher for city or Eurail workers to-day than they are in the United State of America and Canada. That is due to the fact that, with the increase of population, the resources, of a country aredeveloped, capital is invested, and increased development and the investment of capital must benefit the worker to some extent. It is about time that we ceased playing with this important question. If wedo not settle it very shortly, some outside nation will give us no chance of settling it, but will settle it for us in their own way. I am reminded’ by Senator Shannonof a matter which supports my argument. When the Maternity Allowance Bill was under consideration in this Chamber, it wasseveral times pointed out by honorable senators opposite that the Australian baby is an. asset to the country. If that be so, surely its adult population must be a morevaluable asset B The reason, which was assigned by the Government and their supporters for. granting a maternity allowance was a desire, to develop’ the asset which is represented by the child-life of this, coun-try. But when we; talk about the subject of immigration; we are expected to approach it with our hands encased) in velvet gloves, so to> speak.. The two positionsare absolutely inconsistent. If. it is de<sirable that we should increase the birthrate by offering a bonus of £500,000 a year, for Australian babies, why should we not expend £100,000 a year in bringing able-bodied immigrants into this country ? The- reason is that the adoption of the former course suits the book of the Government, whereas the latter does- not.
I note with some pleasure a remark whichwas made by the Prime Minister, in Sydney, the other day, in- regard to the Commonwealth note issue. It was to the effect that out of the profits of that issue money would be reserved to build up a fund’ withwhich to deal with the State debts question. That report was published in the Argus of 5th October, and- I have no reason to doubt its, accuracy. In one sense, the note issue is not a source- of profit te the people of Australia. That issue merely represents the transfer of one source of profits from the States, to the Common- wealth. From the very beginning it has been very properly contended that when the Government established a note issue the proper purpose to which to apply the profits arising from it was to build up a fund with a view to paying off the State debts. I hope that policy will be further developed. The question of the State debts must be faced, .and faced very shortly. I congratulate the Treasurer upon the beginning which he has made in that direction, small though it may be. It is the only way to deal with the profits accruing from the note issue. In this connexion I take it that the criticisms of members of the Opposition in both branches of the Legislature is having a ‘beneficial effect.
I come now to some appointments in the Northern Territory. In regard to the appointment .of the Administrator, I have nothing to say against the gentleman who was selected to fill that high office. He may be the ablest Administrator .that we have : ever had. and we all hope .that his .appointment will be followed by complete success. But it is somewhat remarkable that, though there were .a large number of applications for the position, every one of .those applications was turned down.
– Was Professor Gilruth amongst the applicants?
– No. Amongst all the applicants, therefore, the Government did not consider there was one who was competent to administer the affairs of the Territory. No other conclusion can be drawn from the circumstance which I have cited. I beg to express my dissent from that view. I know of one man who has had long experience, and who is a capable and trustworthy administrator. There is no man in Australia who possesses more knowledge of the difficulties of administration in the Northern Territory than he does, and no person, in my opinion, knows better than he does how to grapple with them. He was trusted by more than one Government, and yet, at the first opportunity he had of exhibiting his ability, the Government turned him down.
– Mr. Justice Herbert?
– Yes. I had the pleasure of meeting him in the Northern Territory, when he was good enough to recount some of the difficulties which had been experienced there, and to forecast the difficulties of the future. No man has impressed me more favorably than he did.
– Does not the honorable senator know that he was turned down because of some “ tiddly winking “ officials ?
– All I know is that he was turned down. When there are any plums in the form of responsible positions in the gift of the Government, it is not fair that such men should be turned down. It is not conducive to faithful work. It was rather a poor reward for such excellent service as Mr. Justice Herbert had rendered to the South Australian Government for many years, and of the service which he had also rendered to the Commonwealth Government.
– They are now using him in a subordinate position in Papua.
– I am not expressing dissatisfaction with the appointment of Professor Gilruth, who may be one of the ablest men for the position which he fills. But I mention this matter more particularly because of the reasons which the Government assigned for turning down Mr. Justice Herbert. When the VicePresident ‘Of the Executive Council was brought to book by the Leader of the Opposition over this matter, he said that in making appointments the Government necessarily had to choose officers who were in accord with their policy. I admit that there is something in that contention, which the Vice-President pressed very strongly. It was his trump card when this and other appointments in the Northern Territory were questioned. What was that policy? The leasehold principle. Then the Leader of the Opposition renewed his attack upon the Land Ordinance, which the ‘Government published as embodying their land policy in the Territory. That Ordinance received such a severe hammering, not only from members of the Opposition, but from many Government supporters in the Senate, that it left this Chamber an absolute cripple, and is now laid up for repairs elsewhere. Even the supporters of the Government are anxious to get it out of the hospital, in order that they may have another go at it. So that this leasehold principle was not the settled policy of the Government, and when we were told that the appointment of Professer Gilruth was justified on the ground that he was in accord with that policy, the statement was more or less in the nature of a blind. There is another appointment in the Northern Territory which calls for some explanation/
The other day I_ ascertained, as a result of a question that there are two schools in the Northern Territory, and three classified teachers, and that the total average attendance of scholars is seventy-three. Yet the Government have appointed a school inspector there at a salary of more than £600 a year.
– That is very valuable. Let the honorable senator think how it will help settlement.
– It is valuable to the inspector. If there be any position of ease and dignity in the Commonwealth, it must be that of a school inspector who has only three classified teachers and two schools to look after. To me, the appointment appears to be a piece of pure political patronage, and to have had its origin in a desire to find a billet for somebody. It is idle for the Minister of Defence, or anybody else, to tell me that a school inspector is required to overlook two schools and three classified teachers. Further, the classification of a teacher carries with it the assurance that he or she is competent to discharge his or her duties. It is a further guarantee that when teachers are appointed to responsible positions they may be trusted to loyally discharge their duties. Otherwise they will not be classified. It is a maxim in modern education, even in primary schools, that the less the inspection of the school, and the more skilful the teaching, the better, and that inspection in the past, as carried out in every country, was rather a drag on the schools than a help to them. If you cannot trust your teachers, and they have not sufficient ability to carry on alone the work of education, inspection and inspectors do not enable that work to be done. I know of nothing more striking *han an appointment of this kind. I should like to hear from the Minister how the Northern Territory was able to get on for so many years without a special school inspector, what extraordinary circumstances have suddenly developed to cause this appointment of an inspector at a large salary, and, in the face of the answers given to my question, what is the justification for the appointment? These appointments seem to be flung about with a reckless hand.
– It is like the appointment of Mr. Ryland as Director of Lands in the Northern Territory.
– Applications were invited from persons willing to fill that position at a salary of £650, but the
Government turned down the applicants, and subsequently increased the salary of the office to £800. Fresh applications were received, and Mr. Ryland was chosen. For many years, this gentleman sat for Gympie in the Queensland Assembly. He had no practical acquaintance with the administration of the Lands Department, nor had he engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was a worthy man, both as a member and a personality, but his capabilities as a Lands Director in the Northern Territory have yet to be revealed. We have had no reason given to us, and I dare say no reason will be vouchsafed, as to why a salary of £650 for a position for which there were applicants was raised to £800 and given to Mr. Ryland. In conclusion, 1 wish to express my strongest censure upon the Government for its treatment of Queensland, especially in the matter of the Vancouver mail service. There is a story told of Byron that he went to bed one night and woke up in the morning to find himself famous. Senator Givens is doing something for me for which I wish to express my thanks. He is helping to make me famous.
– Did you need any help ,
– That is a kindly interjection from the Minister, which I much appreciate. Many a man has been accused ; even such great men as Gladstone, Disraeli, and others have had the same kind of treatment meted out to them in very much more scathing and effective terms, and probably with more reason, than Senator Givens had to deal with me. Perhaps that marks a difference there.
– But not by such distinguished men as Senator Givens.
– It is easy to see that he is absent.
– I have remained here all the time. If he chose to go away when he might reasonably have anticipated that I would deal with his attack in some form, that is his lookout.
.- As the motion for the first reading of this Bill affords an opportunity for ventilating grievances, I wish to refer to a statement made by Senator Stewart in speaking on the Budget-papers in connexion with taxation. Referring to the land tax and to myself, he said -
When he comes here he is as ready to halt as any one I see around me. The honorable senator is afraid of his own policy.
Senator Millen adopted a similar line of reasoning, and implied that, as regards the imposition of land taxation, we on this side generally are more timid when we are in possession of the Treasury bench than we are when we are asking the electors to return us. There are many points in Senator Stewart’s remarks, with which I very cordially agree. But during the course of his speech he implied, perhaps unintentionally, that our land tax has not been effective in bringing about what we, on this side, desired ; that is subdivision or the breaking up of land monopoly in Australia. I do not think that any honorable senator on this side would claim for a moment that, in the short time in which it has been in force, the land tax has done all that we require of it. I am sure that no one on this side will claim that it is, by any means, perfect. But we do claim, and, what is more, we have the figures to back up the claim, that it has done more for closer settlement in Australia than has any measure passed at the ‘instance of a State or Federal party since we have been a self-governing nation.
Honorable senators, on the other side, are very fond of implying that our Land Tax Act has not been a success, and. probably, they will tell the people so. But let me show as briefly as possible what the land tax has accomplished already. Let me put the position in a nut-shell. In the Commonwealth to-day 12,988 resident land-holders and 2,283 absentee land-holders, or 15,271 persons in all, are contributing £1,366,000 to the revenue. Last year they contributed according to Knibbs £1,370,357, or, in all they have contributed about £2,750,000. The unimproved value of the land of Australia liable to that tax is £178,446,698, and after deducting the exemption the taxable value is £115,641,772, so that the average yield per £1 of taxable value is just 3d. We have instituted a tax which has an average incidence of 3d. per £1 on the taxable value. When we study the result of this taxation we find that it has not been altogether valueless, as Senator Stewart implied, but has had a very great effect in causing the subdivision of many estates.
– That is really 25 per cent, of the economic rent.
– Yes. I would remind Senator Stewart that, in addition, there is the State land tax which, in Tasmania, ranges from rd. to 2½d. in the £1, besides other State land taxes of varying amounts. Let us look at the latest returns from the Land Tax Commissioner. According to office registration of sales on which transfer had not been completed before ist July, 1 910, large estates to the value of £2,713,000 - of this value £1,000,000 was held in New South Wales, and about £440,000 in Victoria - were cut up and sold between ist July and 30th September. During the next nine months large estates to the value of £18,000,000 weresubdivided. Of this land 3,874 persons bought -blocks with an average value of ;£2,3°°-
– Where did you get that information?
– From working out the figures given in the report of the Commissioner, and from supplemental figures which I obtained from the Land Tax office. I find that, in addition, there were 14,414 purchasers of subdivided estates with an average value of £620. That is a small holding in every sense of the word. During the first year’s operation of the land tax £21,000,000 worth of big holdings was cut up and disposed of by their owners. That is not a bad record to point to. Seeing that during the first year of its operation our land tax hass done more to encourage closer settlement than has been accomplished by all the efforts of the State Governments, surely we can point with pride to something achieved by the imposition of the tax?
– That alone is more than the whole of the Closer Settlement Acts of the States have accomplished.
– The State Governments have done nothing.’
– They have not.
– But they have spent a lot of money.
– That is so. Let me put the result pithily; 12,000,000 acres of land have been brought into cultivation in Australia, and of that area 1,000,000 acres have been brought into cultivation during the past two years, showing that the economic incidence of our land tax has had a very remarkable effect. During the first year of its operation the large estates in Australia decreased from 15,013 to 14,352. That is not a bad effect so far. Let me now briefly state what has been done in Tasmania. It is only a small State, but naturally it is the one with which I am best acquainted. We have 342 resident taxpayers and 142 absentee taxpayers, or 484 altogether. Those people pay a total tax of £32,662, or an average per head of about £68. I shall deal now with the efforts made by the Tasmanian State Government to’ promote closer settlement. I find that after five years of the policy of subdivision of big estates the Government of Tasmania have purchased 34,441 acres.
– That is just as bad as private people settling the land.
– I do not believe in the system alone. I want to show how much better is the system which we have adopted, and how much more it has achieved within a comparatively shorter time. The value of the 34,000 acres was £98,142. Taking off about £28,000 for improvements, you get, in five years, £70,000 worth of unimproved land made available for closer settlement. Now take the operation of the Federal land tax for a period of only twelve months. I find from the Commissioner’s report that in Tasmania there were 298 sales of land owned by Federal taxpayers, amounting in value to £355,676. The same taxpayers only purchased 105 lots, amounting to £203,839 in value. So that really £101,737 worth of land was subdivided and sold by Federal taxpayers. I presume that a fair proportion of this land was used for closer settlement, inasmuch as it was sold in lots under the £5,000 exemption. That contrasts in a remarkable manner with the amount of land made available for closer settlement in the previous five years under Tasmanian administration. That alone is ample justification for our policy. We can point with pride to something achieved as far as even Tasmania is concerned. The estates in Tasmania, however, are comparatively smaller than those on the mainland.
– There are some very large estates in Tasmania.
– The largest is that owned by the Van Diemen’s Land Company, which pays about £7,000 a year.
– There is one estate in Tasmania that is worth over £310,000.
– That is the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s estate. As a matter of fact, I am pleased to say that the Van Diemen’s Land Company will not be paying £7,000 a year in Federal land tax very long, because the company is selling out very largely, with the result that the beautiful land on the north-west coast of Tasmania is being made available for settlement. In New South Wales there is one estate which pays £24,000 a year in Federal land tax ; another pays £16,000, and a third £13,000. In South Australia there is one estate which pays £18,000 a year in Federal land tax. So that our largest Tasmanian estate is comparatively small compared with the estates on the mainland. I do not believe that the system pursued by some States of purchasing land will ever achieve the best results. In Tasmania estates bought for closer settlement have, in some cases, commenced to re-aggregate within a few years into the hands of the very people who were connected with them before they were subdivided. The futility of the policy of land purchase is shown by a statement made by Sir Joseph Ward in reference to the policy of the New Zealand Government. He said -
It has taken theGovernment the best part of 23 years to purchase£6,300,000 worth of land, and to settle 3,500 souls upon it.
The Federal land tax has, within nine months, settled about four times the number ofpeople who have been settled by land purchase in New Zealand in twentytwo years. So that, from all points of view, I think that any one who looks carefully into the figures will agree that our land tax has, at all events, partly achieved the results that were expected from it. Some of ourcritics will naturally attribute the increased production of Australia to the good seasons. They attribute most of the ‘good effects of our policy to the good seasons.
– Unfortunately, we have been faced with bad seasons lately.
– We have, of course, had the suspicion of a drought, and a consequent tightening of the strings of production.
– We have had the worst season ever known in Western Australia.
– But the prospects point to this being one of the best years.
– I should like honorable senators to consider some figures which show how production has increased during the short time within which this tax has been imposed. The area under wheat has increased from 5,262,000 acres to 7,427,000 acres, or an increase of 2,000,000 acres.
– Does the honorable senator think that the land tax did that?
– I think it had a material effect. The number of sheep has increased from 87,000,000 to 92,000,000, an increase of 5,000,000.
– If the honorable senator puts down that increase to the land tax he should also attribute to the tax. the fact that we have had a loss of 7,000,000 sheep during the last few months.
– No ; but the increase has been gradual since the land tax was imposed. We can fairly claim, therefore, that the land tax is responsible to a large extent for the increase.
– The increase has been less rapid since the land tax was imposed than in the five previous years.
– No, it has been more rapid ; I have quoted the figures.
– Take the figures from 1903 to 1908, and then take those for the following years, and the honorable senator will find that my statement is correct, that the increase was more rapid before the tax was imposed than afterwards.
– No, the figures are quite clear ;I will hand them to the honorable senator. The production of wool has increased from 642,0000,000 lbs. to 792,000,000 lbs. The production of butter has increased by £1,585,000; the fruit production from £2,844,000, in 1909., to £3,945,000, in. 1911. I think it can fairly be claimed, therefore, that the tax has undoubtedly stimulated production. If the figures are studied, it will be seen at once that the increase has been most marked during the two years since the land tax has been imposed.
– I have looked at the honorable senator’s authority, andI find that the figures are that, in 1909, there were 46,000,000 sheep in New South Wales, whilst in 1911 there were 45,000,000.
– I think I stated: the figures correctly. I am referring to the Commonwealth. I. should like to deal briefly with an interjection made by Senator Millen when he said that I believe in making the land tax1s. in the £1. I replied that I did. I have a perfect right, as a member of this Senate, to express my own individual opinion as to what the land tax graduation should go up to.
– Would the honorable senator reduce the minimum?
– No, because I am pledged to it, and members of the Labour party have a very faithful manner of carrying out their pledges.
– The honorable senator would make it a class tax, pure and simple ?
– That is the honorable senator’s individual opinion.
– Quite apart from my party’s policy, I have a right to advocate a tax of 5s. in the £1 if I think fit.
– Why not 19s. in the £1?
– If it were possible, in the case of some of the very large landowners, I would go up to 20s. in the £1.
– Has the honorable senator any land himself?
– I own a little bit.
– Would the honorable senator like to pay1s. in the £1 ?
– Unfortunately, I am already heavily taxed on my block. I favour making the graduation extend up to1s. in the £1, and shall be at all times prepared to make it go to that amount in the higher incidences of the tax. There are some estates in Australia that it would certainly be to the best interests of the country to cut up, and I believe that the only way of checking their growth is by making our taxation heavier on the larger values. I find from the Land Tax Commissioner’s report that there are 146 landholders holding over £100,000 worth of land. One of them owns more than £1,000,000 worth.
– That would be a company, I suppose?
– The Commissioner does not say. I say that those 146 landholders should be penalized to the extent of1s. in the £1, and that very quickly.
– Did. they steal their land?
– No ; but I could give some striking illustrations as to how some people in Tasmania got their land. It is not in the interests of this country that any one man should own £100,000 worth of land.. Nor do I believe that any man can have acquired such an estate fairly. It is too large an area for one man to have acquired by fair means. Therefore, I would deal with such land-holders as severely as possible by making the tax run up to1s. in the £1.
– Would it not be better to shoot them ?
– The honorable senator’s party would be ready enough to, shoot down strikers, but I am sure that they would object to treat large land-holders in that way. I would not only increase the tax to is. in the £i on the very large estates, but would make the tax stiffer on estates of medium size. When the Land Tax Bill was introduced, we heard some violent speeches from our honorable friends opposite. The tax was described as robbery, confiscation, and plunder; and ruin was prophesied as the result of it.
– And as a class tax. All of which was true.
– We were told that it was going to have a bad effect upon every one, and that the land-owners would be ruined.
– Will the honorable senator quote the statements?
– I have used words which were used in the Senate. Senator Cameron, speaking for Tasmania, referred to the tax as “ confiscation, robbery and plunder. I believe that Senator Vardon used practically similar terms.
– I said that it was a class tax, and robbery.
– Let us consider the facts. It is interesting to ascertain how many applications were made for the remission of the tax on the ground that it pressed hardly and cruelly upon those called upon to pay it. In section 66, I think it was, of the Act, we made provision that where a land-owner might be ruined or crippled by the tax, he should “be at liberty to apply for its remission. The matter was to be dealt with privately, and no public fuss was to be made about it.
– There was the stigma of charity.
– No; because nobody but the Commissioner, or his officers, and the applicant would know anything about it. During the first year of the operation of the tax, only nine applications for its remission were received.
– Allow me to say that a greater number privately interviewed the Commissioner and asked him for remission, but when they found that there was no hope they sent in no formal application.
– How many were relieved?
– Two cases were relieved under the Act. Where now are the prophets of confiscation, plunder and ruin?
– Only nine applied for relief, and seven of them were humbugs.
– That is so. Severn of the nine applicants were found to have no legitimate claim for the remission of the tax.
– Where would the honorable senator be if he owned land worth £10,000?
– I should be very pleased to continue sitting on this side, because I choose my company. It may perhaps be necessary to refresh Senator Vardon’s memory in this matter, and I may tell him that the owner of land of the unimproved value of £10,000 is called upon to pay land tax to the amount of only £24 6s. id. That can scarcely be said to be ruinous.
– It would be enough t» bring the honorable senator over to thin side.
– I should be pleased to pay double that amount of land tax if I owned land of that value. In spite of the frenzied prophecies of our honorable friends opposite that the tax would be ruinous and confiscatory, we believed that the land-owners would be able to pay it.
– I suppose that a land tax of is. in the £1 would not be confiscatory ?
– Possibly it would; and in my opinion that is the only step to take to bring about the subdivision of the very big estates. Land-holders who keep out of use so large an area of land commit an act which, in my opinion, should not be tolerated in an up-to-date civilized country like Australia. Honorable senators on this side, and Senator Stewart possibly amongst them, believe that the tax on the medium-sized estates is not heavy enough. I confess to Senator Stewart that, so far as Tasmania is concerned, my observation, and that of others who have been watching the operation of the land tax, shows that it has failed to cause the subdivision of some estates, because it is not heavy enough. For instance, an estate of the unimproved value of £6,000 pays only £4 6s. 2d. One worth £10,000 pays £24 6s. id; £20,000, £93 15s.; £25,000, £140; and an estate of the unimproved value of £40,000, which would be a very big estate in Tasmania, pays a land tax of only £315. In Tasmania, the bulk of what we call the big estates range in unimproved value from £10,000 to £25,000. Added to the State land tax of1d. to 2½d. in the £1, our Federal land tax is so low that our land-owners are able to pay it and laugh at the efforts of < the Commonwealth, by means of the tax, ‘ to secure the subdivision of their estates.
– The gradations should be steeper.
– We should as soon as possible make the gradations steeper. We need more revenue. We are committed to oppose the borrowing policy so often advocated by honorable senators opposite.
– Are the Labour party really against a borrowing policy ?
– Not altogether; but we are not prepared to borrow on the terms upon which Senator Walker and those with whom he is associated have borrowed in the past.
– On what terms would the honorable senator borrow?
– I should borrow only in case of absolute necessity, and then only for reproductive works with provision for a sinking fund. But I should not advocate borrowing, even on those terms, whilst an avenue is left open for obtaining the money required by the direct taxation of those best able to bear taxation.
– Then what are the Government borrowing for?
– They are borrowing under a different system from that inaugurated by the honorable senator’s party. They are not going to the English money market.
– They are draining the local market in consequence.
– I think the local money market is pretty vigorous.
– Money is dearer in Australia to-day than it has been for many years past.
– That may be due to a combination of the banks. We require more money, and I believe that legitimate avenues for obtaining it by direct taxation are still available. I find from statistics issued by Mr. Knibbs that, apart from land, there is an avenue of direct taxation which we have not yet touched. I am not speaking for the Labour party in this matter, as I have no right to do so. I am voicing my own personal opinion. I find that there are 9,257 persons in Australia with incomes of over £1,000 a year, and aggregating £30,000,000. There are 5,001 persons with incomes of over £1,500 a year, aggregating £25,000,000. There are 3,536 persons with incomes of over £2,000 a year, aggregating £22,000,000. I say that if the Government, in their wisdom, though fit to introduce a super-tax on unearned incomes of over £1,000 a year, I should be found heartily voting with them.
– Unearned incomes?
– Yes; unearned incomes. With very few exceptions no persons in Australia possess the brains and skill to command, by personal exertion, an income of over £1,000 a year.
– Why do the Government pay Mr. Miller £4,000 a year?
– Because he is one of the exceptions, and I am willing to recognise those exceptions. I believe that the bulk of the incomes of over £1,000 a year of persons in Australia are not earned by personal exertion. This may not be exactly orthodox.
– It is very green, anyhow.
– My reply to that interjection, made with all the air of superiority which Senator Vardon knows so well how to assume, is that Mr. LloydGeorge apparently does not consider it “green,” because, in his last Budget, he made a proposal for a tax upon unearned incomes.
– But what is LloydGeorge to Senator Vardon?
– I suppose that he would pale into insignificance beside the honorable senator. I say that I voice my own opinion in this matter, and not those of the party. I believe that we are wrongly exempting mortgagees from taxation. We ought to deal with them under our Land Tax Act. I believe that we need more money, and we need not borrow it if we still go on taxing wealth. I regard the medium-sized estates as still representing a legitimate source of increased revenue. I desire to see the land tax operate more quickly in bringing about the subdivision of estates.
– The medium-sized estates are a greater block to progress than are the very large ones.
– That is so. Senator Vardon asked how the owners of some of these estates secured them, and I am prepared to give him some striking instances in point. There is no doubt that many of the estates were secured by, to use the words of my honorable friends opposite, plunder, confiscation, and robbery. That is a strong statement, but it can be substantiated. Of 6,000,000. acres of land alienated in Tasmania, 2,000,000 were obtained for nothing.
– The honorable senator calls that robbery.
– It is, if we give away what we have no right to give away. So far as Tasmania is concerned, I recommend honorable senators opposite to read up its history. They may secure an ancient volume, published in 1835, by Henry Melville, the editor of the Hobart Town Almanac. He was sent to gaol for twelve months by Governor Arthur for writing it, because he exposed the abuses of the time. Everything he said was subsequently justified by other writers. If honorable senators will read that book, they will find that the greater portion of. the fertile areas of Tasmania were handed over to land robbers, whose descendants now occupy them and enjoy their benefits. An edict was sent out by the Imperial authorities to the effect that no land exceeding 2,900 acres in extent, should be given to any one by means of a Government grant. In spite of that edict, during the regime of Governor Arthur, some families in Tasmania secured over 100,000 acres for nothing.
– That was bad administration.
– It was bad administration, and’ my honorable friend’s opposite would have us do nothing to alter that condition of affairs. I may tell the honorable senator that I have in my possession a letter from one of the descendants ofpersons who obtained an extensive free grant of land whilst this edict was in existence. Even Governor Arthur himselfgrabbed a good many thousands of acres of the best lands in Tasmania, in addition to making indiscriminate grants to all his toadies and crawlers.
– Can it be proved that the land-holders in Tasmania to-day are direct descendants of those persons-?
– Yes, many of them. When a man applies for work in any capacity, I take it that it is not the province of the employer to inquire whether he is a Labour man or a Liberal. The bargain should begin and end with the question of his competency.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the employer is entitled to ask whether the applicant is a unionist?
– If he has any good sense he will ask that question, seeing that the best men are to be found amongst the ranks of the unionists, just as the best statesmen in Australia are to be found in the Tanks of the Labour party. I have here a letter dated 10th April of the present year, in reply to an application for work by a man. who occupied the position of president of a Labour league in Tasmania. This man wrote to Mr. Basil Archer, of Woodside, Cressy, asking for employment, and received the following reply:
Woodside, Cressy, 12th April, 1912.
Your letter as to breaking in horses has been received by me, and in reply I beg to state that I think if you took my horses to break in you would make a mistake, and if I let my horses go to you I would make a mistake. In the first place, the horses are mine - the property of one of those “hateful men” (as you and your party express it) who are called Liberals. In the second place-, the sires and dams of each of them belong to Liberals. In the third place, they are fed on pastures grown on land owned by Liberals, but which land the party you belong to are trying to deprive us of. In the fourth place, your party believes in eight hours for a day’s work. If you broke my horses in to that custom we should some night find ourselves stranded some miles away from home on a pouring wet night. In the fifth place, these young horses might be taught to Believe in “ preference to unionists,” and treat my other horses in the same way as non-union men had been treated by union men - “ Join our union or starve” - and sometimes, following the example of some of the party you represent, kick and assault and batter my other horses: Or perhaps, when my harvest is just ready to cut (as the horse is a very observant animal) they might all strike. I thank you for your application, but I think you willagree with me that were you in, my place you would hardly risk such a contingency.
– The author of that letter is a. very clever man.
– The letter is very clever, but it is quite a needless insult to the man who applied for employment in all good faith.
– The honorable senator has not read the letter of application, in order that we may see the terms in which it was couched.
– When the applicant received that reply, he handed it to me-. I think it is rather clever; but I say. it is a direct insult to the man who asked for work. When he received that communication he naturally felt hurt about it, par- ticularly as the land about which . Mr. Archer boasts is probably a part of the very extensive free grant which was made to the family in the early days of Tasmania. If honorable senators will turn to Henry Melville’s History of Van Diemen’ Land,* they will find that, notwithstanding the Ordinance which forbade grants being made in excess of 2,000 acres, the Archer family received a Crown, grant of 70,000 acres for nothing. Yet when a working man applied to a descendant of the family for employment, that descendant talked about his liberal horses and his liberal land. The best part of the land in Tasmania has been “peacocked” in this way. In passing, I may add that Mr. Melville, in the very interesting volume which I have mentioned, advocated the single-tax as far back as 1835 - before the time of Henry George. He contended that all revenue in Tasmania should be raised from quit rents, which should be re-appraised at regular periods, and that such quit rents should be applied wholly to governmental purposes. He pointed out that in twenty-five years these quit rents would suffice to defray the cost of all the Government services of that State. And this is the man whom the authorities gaoled.
– Melville also wrote a series of articles on the hospital system- there.
– Yes, and very interesting articles they are. We have also to recollect that in Tasmania what was. known as the “ Scotch Thousand “ was operated’ for many years. Whenever a man arrived in that State with £1,000 he obtained a free land grant from’ the Crown. The head of one of the foremost families of Tasmania, who possessed £1,000. promptly went to the Government and received a grant of so many thousand acres. Afterwards, he passed the money on to his relatives, who each in turn took the bankbook to the Government to show that they possessed the required £1,000, and were each granted some thousands of acres. In this way they obtained 200,000 acres of the best land in Tasmania.
– They were financiers.
– They were mora than financiers; they were robbers.
– The honorable senator is going back to 1835.
– I am dealing with the way in which land was obtained in Tasmania. As a matter of fact, there were in Hobart, in 1835, money-lenders who were prepared to” advance a couple of hundred pounds to any person who could not too readily clear out, to enable him to go to the Government and work the “ Scotch Thousand “ wrinkle. The authorities winked at this practice, which continued for years. During that time they brought out immigrants to Tasmania-
– They “ brought “ them out irrespective of whether they liked it or not.
– I am speaking of immigrants, and not of convicts.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to immigration ?
– I prefer to deal with this matter in my own way. In those days immigrants were brought to Tasmania, but unless they had friends at court they could not get their grants of land surveyed. The result was that the big land-holders used to acquire these grants from them for the sum of £20 or £30, and even less, and the areas covered by those grants were added to their already large holdings. That is the way in which a good deal of the land in Tasmania was obtained.
– What the honorable senator is saying happened about three-quarters of a century ago.
– Order !
– That is the system which is, to a certain extent, responsible for the position which obtains in the State from which I hail. Personally, I would like to see our land tax increased in its middle incidence. After we return from’ the elections - and I am satisfied that the members of the Labour party in this Senate will return here - one of the first questions which we shall have to face is that of making the middle gradations of the land tax heavier than they are at the present time.
– Has the honorable senator anything to say with regard to the exemptions?
– My honorable friend need not waste time by making an interjection of that sort. I stand by the platform of the Labour party, which favours an exemption of £5,000. I wish to see the land tax reach is. in the £i upon unimproved land values.
– Will not that involve a lowering of the exemption?
– -No. I would point out that there is a principle of unimproved land values taxation which favours the big man. We have been told by political economists that land values taxation acts equitably in the case of small and large holdings alike. That is a fetish which many have come to believe. As a matter of fact, the principle operates to the detriment of the small estates, and to the advantage of the large estates.
– Very often it does.
– Our definition of “ unimproved value,” and also the definition of that term which has been adopted by many of the State Parliaments, is based upon the selling value of lands. If there are two blocks of land side by side, and each is of equal value from the standpoint of situation, soil, &c, many persons assume that if one block, which contains 10 acres, is worth £10 per acre, the other block, which contains thousands of acres, must also be worth £10 per acre. Under the definition of unimproved basis adopted by both this Government and the Tasmanian Government - that is the selling value - that is not so. A small piece that is worth £10 an acre will sell for that price. A large piece, if subdivided into10-acre blocks, might sell at £10 an acre, but, sold in the aggregate, it might fetch only £8 an acre, and, therefore, it would be assessed at £8, and the small man, through having a small holding, would thereby be penalized. I advance that fact, which must be well known to many honorable senators, as an additional reason why we should increase the taxation on the bigger estates. Our Government, with their customary fairness in spite of the great excitement which has been worked up from the other side in connexion with certain appointments-
– There are some shocking appointments among them.
– I know of one very shocking appointment, and that is the appointment of a Liberal ex-member of the Tasmanian Assembly as a valuator. Judging by the way in which he has valued lands whichhave been brought under my notice, and the opinions which have been expressed by persons more competent than myself, this Liberal ex-member of the Assembly has been very favorably inclined in his valuations towards big estates. I expect that his appointment, which I suppose my honorable friends opposite must regard as a partisan one, will result in a considerable amount of trouble.
– That is a very serious reflection on the Land Tax Commissioner.
– No. It is an instance which shows that the Government have been absolutely impartial in making appointments; that they have not considered whether the applicant for a certain position was a supporter of themselves or the Opposition. I shall give one instance of this gentleman’s valuations, and facts, we are told, are far better than arguments. It is furnished by Mr. Norman Cameron, ex-M.H.R. of Federal fame, and now Tasmanian M.H.A., who holds the key of the situation in the Tasmanian Parliament.
– Not more than any other member does, except that he is more of a wobbler.
– He holds the key of the situation this much that he was able to force the Government to delay a train for an hour on a special line, a thing which is practically unheard of so far as other members of the State Parliament are concerned. In the State Assembly, he said that he had a great deal of fault to find with the State valuation of his estates. I may mention here that a new State valuation has just been made on the same definition of unimproved value as is contained in the Federal Act, because the two are very similar in that regard. Mr. Norman Cameron told the House of Assembly that the State valuator had assessed his land at . £33,000 unimproved, and that the Federal valuator had assessed it on the same basis at£19,000.
– What is the argument?
– That the State assessment was too high.
– The argument is that either the State valuation is very much too high, or the Federal valuation is notoriously an under-valuation.
– I think that the latter is the case.
– I am inclined to think that both valuers may have erred. The State valuation may be unduly high, and the Federal valuation may be unduly low. There may be a happy medium.
– Did he appeal?
– Mr. Cameron appealed, naturally, against the State valuation, but not against the Federal valuation. I have had the privilege of meeting some gentlemen who know his estate very well, and they say that the error, if any, is, as Senator Stewart interjected, on the part of the Federal valuator. The valuators of the district, who know Mr.
Cameron’s property - I do not know it - assured me that to say it is worth only £19,000 unimproved value is absolutely a travesty. If such a condition should continue in Tasmania, particularly under the gentleman who has valued this property, there will be room for a searching inquiry as to the methods of valuation. I called upon Mr. P. C. Douglas, the Deputy Commissioner - a very capable officer, who, no doubt, thoroughly understands land values - and he is going into this case. I believe that the instance quoted by Mr. Norman Cameron could be multiplied if one liked to look round Tasmania, and take notice of the Federal valuations. That, again, is an additional reason why we should increase our graduation. I believe that if this kind of thing is allowed to go on, our land tax will not be effective in Tasmania, and we shall not be able to ‘ secure what we promised the people when it was imposed, and that is the subdivision of many of these estates.
I should like the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to take a note of the objection which is urged in Tasmania, and I think in other States, to the present system of allowing the municipal council to decide whether- a small-allowance postmaster shall have a half-holiday or not. It may have been the best method which the postal authorities could devise for obtaining an indication of local opinion, but it is one which is very seriously open to condemnation and criticism. Every honorable senator will, I am sure, admit that these allowance post-offices are a continual source of pin-pricking and worry. I have found in several instances that, while the people of the district were quite willing that a small-allowance postmaster receiving £°> £J5> £2°> °r £25* a Year should be allowed to have a half-holiday every week, some of the local councillors, particularly those who represented the ward in which the post-office was situated, refused to give their permission to the postmaster to close it.
I know of one instance where a woman who lives in a very small place on the Tamar is unable to get to Launceston to do her shopping for the simple reason that she has to be at her allowance post-office every day. At the instance of the “ Great I Am “ of the municipal council, who is, like a number of other authorities, dressed with a little brief authority, that body has refused to give this poor woman a half-holiday. A similar instance was recently brought under my notice. All the residents of the locality desired that the allowance postmaster should get a half-holiday. The matter was brought before the municipal council, and in a high-handed way its consent was refused. I happened to be in the locality.
– The local authority can neither refuse nor grant permission, because the responsibility is with’ the Postal Department.
– That is so, but a practice has grown up of the Department acting on the advice of the municipal council. A case was brought under my notice where this permission was refused by the municipal council. I told the people that I was not prepared to speak for the locality, as I did not know its circumstances, and promised that if they would get up a petition I would present it to the Deputy Postmaster-General. At my suggestion practically every resident of this hamlet signed a petition.
– Except the municipal councillors, I suppose.
– The councillor who influenced the council does not live in the hamlet. He is the “ Great I Am,” who passes through the hamlet from time to time.
– But there must be other councillors.
-The “Great I Am” is the one who was primarily responsible. I forwarded the petition of the people to the Deputy Postmaster-General, and to my surprise I received ‘a reply stating that he would again consult the municipal council with the idea of obtaining their consent. That is how the case stands.
– To allow the Commonwealth Government to do a certain thing.
-The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, no doubt, has been waiting, for a recommendation from the municipal council. This system is open to serious objection. I, for one, feel rather surprised at the thought that, after all this trouble on the part of the residents and myself, the Deputy Postmaster-General who, I understood, would recommend the request to the central authorities, sent it back to the municipal council, and asked the advice of that august body. I think that if it can be shown clearly that the people of a hamlet want their postmaster to have a half -holiday - and surely a petition signed by a majority of them does show that - there should be no bar in the way of them getting their request acceded to as speedily as possible.
– The question is not whether the local people want the officer to have a half-holiday, but whether they want the post-office closed.
– In the case I have mentioned the petition asked for a halfholiday for the officer, and the residents knew clearly what they were signing.
– Should not the central authorities call upon the Deputy Postmaster-General for an explanation?
– Yes. I understood from the Deputy Postmaster-General that if a petition were sent in for the closing of the office on the weekly half-holiday he would recommend that the prayer be granted, but he merely sent the petition back to the municipal council, and there is an end of the matter. The name of the place I may mention is Gravelly Beach, on the Tamar. I believe that a system could be inaugurated whereby a majority of the people in a hamlet would be in a position by means of a petition to secure their desire at once, and so enable the postmaster who is getting what is merely a pittance to enjoy the benefit of a weekly halfholiday.
– I do not propose to even make a pretence of following Senator Ready through some of the strange economic windings in which he has been travelling for the last half-hour. But I do want to direct his attention to the great advantage which underlies such a casual attention as he has been paying to certain figures in the little pamphlet which he has handed to me, and I do this in the hope that he will not repeat outside the very grievous error into which he has clearly fallen here. I am rather pleased that I am able to save him a certain repetition of the mistake. He quoted certain figures, and I think he will agree with me when I say that he quoted them to show that there has been a considerable increase in cultivation and production since the Federal land tax was imposed.
– That is so.
– I have looked through those figures for myself. I do not take merely the wheat crop, picking out one form of cultivation from another, but the total area under crop. It is shown in the pamphlet which Senator Ready has handed to me mat, in the year19089that is to say,a year before this Government came into office - the increase in the area under crop was over 1,000,000 acres.
– In Tasmania?
– No, in the Commonwealth, though Senator Ready spoke of Tasmania as though it were the whole Commonwealth. In the year 1909-10 the increase had fallen to 900,000 acres, whilst in the year 191 1- 12 - the first year the land tax was in operation - the increase fell to 211,000 acres. So that, in the year before the Government took office, there was an increase of 1,000,000; in the first year they were in office the increase was 900,000; and in the first year of the operation of the land tax the increase fell to 211,000. This shows with what ease Senator Ready can misunderstand figures. I come now to the matter of sheep, to which, also, he drew attention. I do not take the value ofwool in this regard, because the price of wool ‘has a habit of rising and f alling. I take the number of sheep; and Ifind that from 1901 to 1907 - a period of six years - the average increase was 2,600,000.
– Years of drought.
– When Senator Ready was speaking I interjected that, if he took the years from 1902, he would find that the increase was greater before there was any talk of a land tax than was the case afterwards. But he denied that.
– Because the flocks had been depleted by drought.
– Senator Ready denied my statement ; and it was at that juncture that he handed me his pamphlet, and said that I could see for myself. I have seen for myself, and find that the average increase from 1901, for six years, was 2,600,000 sheep, whilst the increase in the first year of the land tax was a shade over 1,000,000. If I turn to cattle, I find the same extraordinary state of affairs.
– I did not deal with cattle.
– Of course the honorable senator did not. He evidently knows enough about figures to refrain from quoting those that do not suit his case. The figures as to cattle tell exactly the same tale. The increase of stock in Australia for the first year under the land tax was less than for the preceding years.
– How does the honorable senator account for the subdivision of land since the land tax ?
– Let me deal with one thing at a time. I turn to’ another instructive statement in the same pamphlet. I find a table setting out the value of our agricultural products. I submit that if the land tax is operative at all, it must make its effect felt more powerfully with regard to agricultural production than as to any other form of production associated with land. The very purpose of the land tax, according to its advocates, was to turn land from sheep to the plough. We have a Eight to see what has been the net result of the tax, if it has had any effect at all, upon agricultural production. The fact is that the agricultural production of Australia has fallen from £41,000,000 in, 1909, to £39,750,000 in 1910.
– What was the nature of the harvest of each year. ?
– When it was suggested to Senator Ready that the increased production in special lines was due to good seasons, Senator de Largie interjected that there was a bad season. I do not object to; my honorable friends opposite either accepting or rejecting the seasons as a factor in the matter, but I do object to them doing both at once in the same argument;
– Thehonorable senator has common sense enough to know that a 14-bushel harvest will return a bigger yield than a 10-bushel harvest on the same acreage.
– Only yesterday, Senator Pearce’s colleague, Mr. Hughes, at a gathering at which we were both present, twitted those who put forward the argument that Providence has been a great factor in the progress that has been made in this country. Mr. Hughes discounted Providence in the matter. He said, “ You have had Providence all. the time, and this progress did not take place; it is only now, when you have the Labour party in power, that you ascribe the prosperity to Providence..” I thought Providence would never dare to raise its head again after that statement. While I listened with all the satisfaction in the world to that declaration yesterday, I point out that Senator Pearce is again trying to reinstate the ‘Providence which Mr. Hughes, only a few hours ago, sucessfully destroyed. Let the Government make up their minds as to whether they are going to enter into an alliance with Providence or not, but I object to their calling Providence to their aid on one occasion, and scurvily kicking Providence out of doors the next.
– All this is said to get out of the difficulty about the harvest.
– No Government that ever existed could be as potent a factor in: regard to the production of Australia as one bounteous season. These elements have always to be considered in relation to the statistics of a country like Australia. Senator Ready, however, when quoting figures as showing the effect of the land tax, altogether ignored those still more potent factors.
– What about the 2,000,000 acres that have come into cultivation ?
– I have shown that they have not come into cultivation.
– Here is the Land Tax Commissioner’s report.
– I have takenthe pamphlet which the honorable senator handed to me, and from which he quoted. It shows that there has been, in the year in which the land tax has been operating, only an increase in the total area under crop of 211,207 acres for the whole of Australia, whereas, in the two years before, the increase was over 2,000,000 acres in extent. Although I admit, even there, that the seasons may have an effect upon the acreage put under crop.
– Large areas of land might not be fit to be ploughed for want of rain.
– The condition of the soil at the ploughing season is a factor.
– The acreage of the land sold is also a potent factor.
– The concrete fact is that since the land tax the increase of land under cultivation has fallen off.
– The value of land is steadily increasing.
– Yet we were told that the result of the land tax would be that we should get cheap land.
– The fact that the cultivated area has increased so little is not to be answered by the fact that land values have gone up. That will not affect the matter at all, until you have a re-valuation.
– A re-valuation has been made, and the Commissioner says that values have gone up.
– We have had no revaluation of the hand of Australia under the land tax up to the present moment.
The Commissioner has only announced that he is engaged on a check valuation.
– Which is nearly complete.
– The’ recent increases cannot be said to be the result of a revaluation which is admitted to be not complete. I turn to another matter, in which Senator Ready has served a very useful purpose. Speaking only for himself, he has rendered a service to the people of this country, and has done something to which he is entitled to credit, more particularly as he is a young member of Parliament. He has held up a warning hand to the electors in the references which he has made to increased taxation. His remarks, to be understood, must be taken in conjunction with a statement made by Senator Pearce during the debate on the Budgetpapers. He has pointed out that he himself believes that the Commonwealth ought to ‘levy tribute or toll upon the larger incomes earned in this country. In other words, he spoke in favour of an income tax.
– A tax on unearned incomes.
– To what remarks of mine is the honorable senator alluding?
– I am coming to that. Senator Ready expressed a willingness to go up to great altitudes, indeed, in the matter of land taxation. I forget whether he said that he was willing to tax land up to ss. in the £i, or up to £i in the 5s.; but apparently there are no limits which would frighten him. With regard to income tax, he went on to say that the larger incomes, which appeared to be particularly attractive and alluring to him, should bear additional taxation. He was even engaging enough to indicate the source to which he would resort, and ranged himself alongside Mr. Lloyd-George - much, no doubt, to the satisfaction of that gentleman. Senator Pearce, speaking not long ago, defended the action of the Government in reference to the expenditure disclosed by the Budget, and argued that, the Government having the money, either from revenue flowing into the Treasury or from the Trust Fund, were justified in spending it. He added that within the next year or two, if expenditure continued at the same rate, the Government would find that only certain courses were open to them. One was that the Government would have to face the problem of additional taxation. . That is where the remarks of Senator Ready fit in with those of Senator Pearce. Senator Pearce indicated clearly that if the present rate of expenditure is to continue in the next financial year, we shall have to face the problem of additional taxation; and we now have Senator Ready indicating the source from which, in his opinion, that additional taxation should be raised. There is a prospect of additional taxation clearly indicated by the Budget-papers, and to which Senator Pearce has directed attention, and now we have a member of the party opposite indicating the means by which it could be raised.
– I did not direct attention to it in the way the honorable senator suggests.
– The honorable senator is putting up a bogy-man that he may knock him down again.
– Not at all. What I proposed to ask Senator Ready was whether, in view of the emphasis which he laid upon the statement that he was voicing his own opinions and not those of his party, he was not indulging in a little “ kite-flying “ in the interests of his party? They may be the honorable senator’s opinions, and remain so until the party adopt them, but he is not the only member of the party who has expressed the same views. His views were frankly and openly applauded by Senator Stewart.
– We must get more money from some source.
– I am trying to direct attention to that fact. I have referred to what Senator Pearce has said.
– No; the honorable senator has not.
– Perhaps the Minister will do me the courtesy of turning up what he did say. Tn some language or other, the honorable senator pointed out that next year, if the present rate of expenditure be continued, the Government will be faced with the problem of additional taxation. No man can study our national balance-sheet without coming to the same conclusion. Senator Pearce does not stand alone in arriving at that conclusion. I make the statement now, if the honorable senator does not care to make it. We are, this year, spending £2,250,000 more than is coming into the Treasury. If that rate of expenditure is maintained next year, and assuming that the revenue will be no greater - and the Treasurer anticipates that it will be less - it is quite clear that we shall, next year, be faced with a deficit of £2,250.000, or we must raise that amount by additional taxation. It cannot be too frequently emphasized that we are not, this year, living within our income. There would be a deficit in this year’s national balance-sheet but for the fact that we are drawing upon the surpluses of previous years.
Turning for a moment to other matters, it might be as well to recall the fact that there is a Supply Bill before us. We have been told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that it provides for three months’ Supply on a normal basis of the year’s expenditure. I wish to do no more than point out that there is no justification for introducing this measure, and suspending the Standing Orders in order to carry it through at one sitting. I ask honorable senators to consider the business with which the Senate has been engaged at any time since the first of this month. Let me take it for granted that the Bill proposes the appropriation of an amount equal to onefourth of the year’s expenditure at a normal rate. It is quite obvious that every item in the Bill is to be found in the Estimates presented weeks ago with the Budget-papers. The clerks in the Treasurer’s Department had only to divide the several items of the Estimates by four to discover what would be required for three months’ Supply, and that information could have been available to honorable senators at least a fortnight ago. There was no business in the Senate, or in another place, to prevent us having a fair and reasonable opportunity to consider the proposals in this Bill. I am sorry to say that the practice is becoming established of introducing these Supply Bills at a time when it is absolutely impossible for any one to look into them, or to get information upon the various items, unless by continuing the sitting indefinitely into the night. The Senate appears to have agreed to accept it as inevitable that the Government should bring forward these Supply Bills with the intention of carrying them through at one sitting. I am satisfied that the practice is followed with the one object of denying to Parliament a fair and full opportunity of getting the information to which it is entitled, and of considering the sums it is asked to appropriate. It is not possible in regard to any single item in this Bill to know how the expenditure proposed compares with that for last year. If we compare the items in this Bill with those set out in the Estimates-in-Chief , we can do so. But I ask honorable senators to say whether it is possible, during the time the Bill will be before the Senate, to compare the different items with the Estimates, in order to see whether there are any differences between them calling for examination and inquiry. It appears to me that honorable senators behind the Government are quite satisfied, and so long as the Government say that they want the money, they are prepared to vote it. In the circumstances, we might just as well dispense with these periodical Supply Bills, let the Government take what money they want, and adopt some other method for the discussion of grievances.
– The Government would never think of such a thing.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council may jest upon the matter, as he invariably does, but I challenge any honorable senator supporting the Government to get up and defend this practice. The money asked for in this Bill will be required at the close of this week, and yet the requirements of the Treasury were known two months ago.
– The honorable senator cannot complain of any lack of freedom of debate here to-day.
– I am not complaining about the freedom of debate, but of the absolute impossibility of the Senate exercising any control over public expenditure proposed in a Bill which was presented here only an hour or two ago, and which the Government intend to carry through at this sitting. If there were any necessity for that, I should not complain, but I do not hesitate to say that the Treasury officials had all the information available, and ready to be printed, over a fortnight ago. What I am complaining of is done systematically, with the object of denying to honorable senators a proper opportunity for the careful examination of the various items contained in the Bill. It is brought forward at this stage deliberately for that purpose. Ministers will say that if we require any information they will give it, but we have no opportunity to study the Bill in order to see what information is* required. It would be just as well to pass the measure without any pretence of going < through the items. I direct attention to one rather curious fact. The first Supply Bill passed this year was for one month, and the amount appropriated was £882,000. Even the moderation of the
Government in this Bill excites my suspicion. We were told that the first Supply Bill was based upon- the amount required to meet the normal .services of the year. This UL11, therefore, should propose the appropriation of three times ‘the -.amount asked for in the monthly Supply Bill, or £.2,648,000. But .the Government ask for £400,000 Jess than that amount. We were told that the amount asked for in the -first monthly Supply Bill represented, on :a normal (basis, one-twelfth of the -amount that would be required for the whole year. If that were so, 1 wish to know how it is that the amount asked for in this three months’ Supply Bill is £400,000 less than three times the amount asked for in the first Supply Bill for one month?
– The .£882,000 asked for in the first Supply Bill included revotes of considerable sums.
– All the lectures we have had about extravagance are having effect.
– I have two statements in reply from my honorable friends opposite, and, as usual, they do not agree.
– That shows the honorable senator how little truth there is in the statement that we concoct our proposals on this side.
– It does not show anything of the kind. There was no caucus before my honorable friends interjected. If they have a caucus now, I have no doubt that to-morrow they will make the same interjection. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will not deny that he explained that the first Supply Bill for this year involved an appropriation of onetwelfth of the amount required to meet the ordinary normal services of the year. He makes a similar statement in connexion with this Bill for three months’ Supply, and if he is correct, the amount asked for now should be .three -times the .amount asked for in the first Supply Bill submitted, this year.
– If more were asked for in this Bill., the honorable senator would mot be satisfied.
– If Senator Lynch comes here without feeling any responsibility for the way in which public money is voted, he .may regard that as satisfactory. If it be the view of honorable senators opposite .that we have no right to bother about these things, and need no opportunity to ascertain what is in these Bills, we should -avoid the pretence every month or two months of wasting the time of Parliament in connexion with proposals for public expenditure. Let us .alter the Audit Act, and say that so long as we are asked to pass one annual Appropriation Bill to cover the total amount required for the year the Government may do as they please between times.
– Cannot the honorable senator move to strike out any item in the Bill if he desires to do so?
– If I had any better hopes .of .Senator Lynch than I confess I have, I -might attempt to consume time an that way. If I do not do so, it is because I have no hope at all that, however much honorable senators opposite may feel that what I am saying is correct, .any of them will assist me.
– That is unfair to some honorable senators who have been supporting the honorable senator in this matter for the last three years.
– They have only supported me by words. If I moved a reduction on any of the items in this Bill as a protest against what is being done, no one would more readily find a good excuse for voting with the Government than would Senator Russell.
– When did the honorable senator bring in his Supply Bills?
– I can claim for the Government of which I had the honour to be a member that they introduced at least two reforms in the Senate. One that ‘is being continued was by a motion for the printing of the Budget-papers to give honorable senators an opportunity to discuss the finances of the Commonwealth, which we never had before. Further, I may say that in regard to the Budget-papers, we gave more time, even though under greater pressure, for their discussion than has been given this session by the present Government.
– The Minister of Defence says “ No “ ; but we did not introduce a three months’ Supply Bill, and .expect it to be passed in the same day when it was possible to have introduced it a fortnight before.
– -No:; but the honorable senator’s party applied the closure in the House of Representatives to the debate -on the financial statement.
– I am dealing with the Senate. I may reply by saying that if the closure was applied, it was an instrument created by my honorable friends opposite, and surely they intended it to be used.
– No, it was the Deakin Government who introduced the closure.
– The Deakin. Government of that day would have been powerless to have the closure included in. the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives were it not for the aid of our honorable friends opposite.
– Does the honorable senator say that since it is there it should be used?
– Did not my honorable friends intend it to be used ? Though the world at large would find some difficulty in believing it, Senator Rae and I hold some views in common. We have both frequently said, and supported the statement by our votes, that we are not in favour of the application of the “ gag.” I wish now to refer to a little trouble which appears to have been created between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales concerning the Governor-General’s tenancy of Government House, Sydney.
Silting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was about to refer to certain statements which have been made in regard to the. Governor-General’s occupancy of Sydney Government House. But I am unable to continue my remarks under that heading for the reason that, though I am assured that nobody has been here, the particular newspaper extract which I laid on my seat immediately prior to leaving the chamber has disappeared. As, however, a later opportunity will be afforded me of dealing with the matter on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I shall make good the loss by stating then what I had intended to state now. In- the meantime, I have had an opportunity of looking at the Hansard report of the speech which was made in this Chamber by the Minister of Defence last week.. AsI merely desire to quote his utterance correctly, I propose to give his exact words in order to show honorable senators that my presentation of his statement was substantially correct. The report of the Min ister’s reference to the matter to which I was directing attention reads -
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.
– Hear, hear ! There are three alternatives there, and the honorable senator endeavoured to make it appear that I referred only to the one which was mentioned by Senator Ready.
– I did not say that the Minister referred only to the alternative which was mentioned by Senator Ready. What I. said was that he did say that we should have to do something which we are not doing to-day. One of the alternatives which he mentioned was the necessity for increased taxation.
– If the revenue is not sufficient. I have not said that it is not sufficient.
– On the figures supplied by the Treasurer himself, it is not sufficient this year. As a matter of fact, this year we are spending £2,250,000 more than we are receiving in revenue. Does the Minister anticipate that next year’s expenditure will be £2,250,000 less?
– Some of it will be less next year.
– And some of it will be more. With no opportunity for reasonably anticipating a reduction in our expenditure next year, we shall be face to face with the other two alternatives which the Minister has indicated. We shall either have to borrow, or resort to additional taxation.
– Which would the honorable senator do?
– The first thing I would do would be to stop the waste which is taking place at the present moment.
– In what direction?
– Does the Minister seriously address that question to me:?
– I have already indicated certain items in these Estimates which are unwarranted.
– What are they?
– Some of the socialistic experiments.
– The establishment of a steam laundry at Port Darwin, for example. Will all public servants be at liberty to send their linen to that laundry? Will it undertake the washing of the Administrator’s Chinese cook?
– If he pays for it, why not?
– Because I thought it was the desire of honorable senators opposite to get away from what Senator Blakey has referred to as the “ almondeyed “ Chinese. I dissent from this policy of starting Government factories when there are private factories already in existence which are quite capable of doing all the work that may be required of them.
– Will the honorable senator close it down ?
– It may be absolutely foolish to establish a Government factory, but, when once the plant to run it has been provided, it is quite another proposition to abolish it. Take, for instance the bank which the Government have established. Much as I opposed it, an entirely different position arises after it has been started. Men have deposits there, and others have secured overdrafts from it.
– In a year or two the honorable senator will be saying that he was always in favour of its establishment.
– There is nothing my honorable friends will have to do in connexion with that bank during the next year or two, except to apologize. I repeat that, as the material which I had intended to use in dealing with the matter of the occupancy by the Governor- General of Government House, Sydney, has disappeared, I shall, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, seek to make good that omission from my speech now.
– The Leader of the Opposition has challenged certain figures which were given by Senator Ready, or, rather, he has put forward figures which Senator Ready did not use, and challenged them. In. order to supplement the figures which Senator Ready did use, and which supplied a complete answer to the question of whether or not the land tax has been effective, I would refer Senator Millen to pageIII of the Budgetpapers. I would particularly draw his attention to the area under our principal crops from 1903-4 to 1911-12. He will there find that, from 1903-4 to 1908-9, the area under these crops was practically stationary. It varied from 9,301,785 acres in 1903-4 to 9,891,243 acres in 1908-9 - a variation in six years of about 590,000 acres.
– During a succession of good years.
– Yes. The year 1908-9 was a 12-bushel year. In 1909-10 the Labour Government came into office. In that year the area under our chief Australian crops was 10,972,299 acres. During the first year of their advent to power the Government brought forward the progressive land tax. In 1910-11, during the whole of which year the shadow of that tax was looming over the big land-holders, the area under our chief crops increased to 11,893,838 acres - a greater increase than took place during the whole six years preceding 1909-10.
– Why does the Minister drop out the year before the advent of his party to office?
– I am not dropping out anything.
-What was the increase during the twelve months prior to the Labour party’s occupancy of office?
– The increase was 500,000 acres..
– On the Minister’s own figures it was more than 1,000,000 acres.
– We came into office in May, 1910, and the figures which I have quoted cover the period up to June, 1910. In 1910-11 the area under our principal crops was 11,893,838 acres - a gain of nearly 1,000,000 acres. In 1911-12 the area under those crops was 12,105,125 acres - an increase of another 500,000 acres.
– An increase of 211,000 acres.
– That is so. During the three years that the Government have been in office, and that the land tax was either threatened or in operation, the increase in the area under our principal crops has been more than double that which took place during the previous six years.
– Those figures are correct, except that the Minister still misses the twelve months prior to the Labour party coming into office.
– To show how wrong is the basis upon which the honorable senator wanted to argue one has merely to divide the Australian wheat production by the area under wheat cultivation during the years 1908-9 and 1911-12. It will be seen that during 1908-9 the average yield was over 12 bushels per acre, whereas in 1911-12 the average was only 9$ bushels per acre. To show whether the land tax has had any effect I wish to refer honorable senators to page 24 of the first annual report of the Commissioner of Land Tax, on the Land Tax Assessment Act. The Commissioner says -
This return throws some light on the effect of the tax in bringing about the subdivision of large estates. Through the inspection of contracts of sale produced by sellers of land in support of claims to be divested of taxable ownership at 30th June, 1910, the Department is aware that immediately prior to the date named many land-owners, in anticipation of the imposition of tax, sold largely. .In the period between June and September the concession of separate taxation of the areas, made the subject of sale, was given by law. In this period land to the value of ^,’2,712,775 was sold by taxpayers, and the land thus sold was not aggregated with the remaining estate of ‘ the taxpayers.
Then again he says -
This return throws additional light upon the effect of the tax on land ownership. It shows that taxpayers sold more than ^18,000,000 worth of land in 18,288 separate transactions, and other taxpayers, or, in some instances, the same taxpayers, bought over ,£9,000,000 worth of land in 2,874 transactions.
This indicates a substantial subdivisional movement as a result of the tax, and the purchases by taxpayers show that the fact that the tax has to be paid has not deterred many from increasing their holdings. It is probable that there will be a reduction in amount of tax in the ensuing year as a consequence of the change of ownership. As a rule those who have relieved themselves of tax are the taxpayers who are subject to the higher scales -
That is the class of taxpayers whom we want to get at for that purpose.
– Whom you want “ to get at”?
– Yes. And we make no secret of the fact that we want to get at the big land-holders. If the honorable senator thinks that he has made a discovery on that point, I can assure him that it is only due to his recent arrival in the Chamber.
– I am glad that you own it.
– We have never disguised that desire. This is a very important point - but the buyers of land, as a rule, are those who are subject to the lower rates, or are wholly exempt from the Commonwealth tax.
That is, whatever aggregation of estates there has been has been the aggregation of estates about the £5,000 margin. The estates which have been cut up are those which were taxable at 6d. in the £1, and going up to £80,000 in value.
– They have not been cut up for small settlement.
– They have. The honorable senator heard Senator Ready give the average area as 600 acres.
– No; £620 value, and 14,000 altogther.
- Senator Stewart can draw what deduction he likes from the figures.
– As people are still leaving Tasmania, it is evident that they are not settling on the land.
– Senator Millen has stated that, while our progressive land tax may, for the purpose of argument, be taken to have had the effect of bringing more estates into use, it has not had the effect of reducing land values generally. There is a certain amount of truth in his statement. I ask honorable senators for South Australia to take their minds back to a practical instance, where, by the subdivision of an estate, the land values were not reduced, but probably have actually been raised.
– But that was not a subdivision.
– Yes, it was. Take the well-known Yongala Estate, near which I lived for many years. The value of that land after subdivision was infinitely greater than its value a year or two prior to that event, for the very reason which causes land to have any value at all. In other words, where there used to be one settler and a number of sheep and cattle, there are now some hundreds of settlers and many more sheep and cattle, and, consequently, the land in the district has gone up in value.
– Is that an isolated case, so far as South Australia is concerned ?
– Then your argument goes for wind.
– It is an illustration of what always happens when an estate is subdivided. The very increase of population in a district brought about by a subdivision increases the value of land generally in the district.
– Is the only land which has increased in value the subdivided land?
– No; this applies to all the land in the vicinity of the subdivided estate. Our land tax has had the effect of making available for closer settlement£18,000,000 worth of land. That has not only increased the value of: the land cut up, but it has also increased the value of land generally as the result of the increased settlement.
– I thought that your main object was to keep down the cost of land.
– Our main object is to make the land available. The two things are in complete accordance. You can have a tax which, on an estate that is not put to its full use, is of a penal character, and will lead to a subdivision, and, at the same time, the very fact of the subdivision will raise land values generally in the district.
– I understand you to say that some of this £18,000,000 worth of land has been purchased by those who were already taxpayers?
-And just now you stated that £18,000,000 worth of land has been cut up for closer settlement?
– I did. The Land Tax Commissioner points out that the land has been bought largely by those who do not come under the land tax, or by those who are paying the lowest rate ; that is about the £5,000 margin. We have admitted that £5,000 unimproved value cannot be called a very large estate.
– You also admit that the value of land which has been subdivided has gone up, and not down in price.
– I do; but the penal character of the tax is causing the man we want to get at - the large land-holder - to cut up his land. Senator Millen, who, we recognise, is one of the keenest members of the Senate, naturally expected that, during the dinner adjournment, I would look up my statement in Hansard, and, therefore, got in ahead of me.
– Which confirmed what I said.
– Apparently, the honorable senator forgot the point which he intended to make when he quoted Senator Ready. Senator Ready was explaining the difference of his view-point on the land tax question from that of Senator Stewart ; he was saying that he was prepared to increase the tax on those having the big estates, and to do that for the purpose of revenue. Senator Millen drew from that statement, and a statement which he said I had made, the inference that Senator
Ready and I recognised that, next year, there would not be sufficient revenue: to meet the liabilities, and that, therefore, the public outside could assume from that that we had committed ourselves to increased taxation during the next session. The quotation which my honorable friend read shows that by no reasoning can one draw such an inference from what I said. My statement is all governed by the opening words -
If it is found in the future that the revenue is not sufficient to enable us to continue this policy -
I do not admit that it has been proved, or can be proved, that the revenue will not be sufficient. But if it is insufficient then - 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.
That is a statement of fact which the Government of the day, whoever they may be, will have to face, and it is governed by the qualification as to whether or not the. revenue willbe sufficient.
– Do you think that it will be sufficient?
– I do.
– Although you are £2 , 2 25,000 short this year.
– I do think that it will be sufficient, because, as I pointed out, although we have such a big Customs revenue, it is increasing ; and, moreover, the prosperity of Australia is continuing, and, given a Labour Government next year, there is every prospect of it continuing still further. I wish to refer to one or two points which, I understand, Senator St. Ledger made in regard to my Department. I understand that he drew attention to the small percentage of men and officers available for training in the camps - only 30 per cent.
– No; 13 per cent.
– That, is worse. The honorable senator should re-read the General’s report ; he will find, on page 6, the number of those attending camp at the time. The total number was 8,616; and on the day on which the General made bis visit, there were 1,091 remaining in camp. That is about 12 per cent. Let me now refer to the point the honorable senator made about the Inspector-General commenting on the radical re-organization required inthe Ordnance Department. That is an absolute fact which cannot be gainsaid, but we are taking action. We propose to ask the
British War Office to lend us an experienced ordnance officer to thoroughly re-organize our Ordnance Department. That has been recognised for some time as being absolutely essential. When one thinks of what the .Ordnance Department is to-day compared with what it -was two years or eighteen months ago, he can see that there is a .reason for its disorganized state today.
– Does it deal with artillery, or with ordnance stores generally ?
– With ordnance stores generally. It is a Department in which money can be wasted more quickly than in any other Department. Prior to Federation, the States had six different systems. In some States, it was purely a. Public Service Department, dealt with by a layman; in other States, it was purely a Military Department dealt with by a soldier; whilst in other States it was a mixed Department. The Commonwealth continued the systems of the States, and when a public servant dropped out, a public servant was put in his place, andi a soldier was replaced with a soldier. This method did all right while we had simply Militia Forces; but when we began to introduce the new system, we soon realized how .such a mixed Department must come to grief.- We have now reached a stage when a radical re-organization is absolutely necessary. We are in communication with the War Office, .and the name of an officer is shortly to ‘be submitted to us. It is proposed to ask him, when he comes here, to lay down the lines on which the Ordnance Department should be reorganized, and action will be taken on his report. It is obviously impossible to re-organize the Department without proper advice. There is no more intricate Or difficult Department to deal with in the whole of the Defence Service. Therefore, we need the .advice of men who know bow the Department ought to be run. It is no reflection upon our own officers to say that they have not the necessary experience. We have not had a properly equipped Ordnance Department yet. Of course, we shall have to do the best we can until we can secure proper advice, and then it will be for the Government to take the ball by the horns and do what is proposed. Undoubtedly, what is proposed will be in the nature of a radical alteration. But, until that is done, things will not be entirely satisfactory.
– Is it intended .to manufacture projectiles locally ?
– At the present time, we have a Committee inquiring into the manufacture of projectiles. Up to the present, we have not had a sufficient consumption of field artillery ammunition .to keep a factory going all the year round ; but with the increase of the Forces, it is anticipated that there will be a sufficient consumption of practice ammunition to warrant the establishment of a factory ; and a Committee is now preparing a scheme which will be submitted with .the next Estimates. Senator St. Ledger made a remark about an editor being required for the. Military Journal. That is provided for on the Estimates, but of course, it cannot be dealt with until they have been passed. The Journal, however, is still being published. We propose in future to publish it quarterly instead of monthly. “We have not a great deal of talent from which to gather articles.
– It does not require much talent to use scissors and paste.
– We desire to obtain more original articles from- Australian officers, and for that reason the Chief of General Staff has arranged for a quarterly publication. We hope to publish more articles of local interest. As soon as the Estimates are passed arrangements will be made to appoint an editor. The Journal is of considerable value to militia officers. It ls supplied gratis to them, and enables them to obtain the benefit of each other’s experience, “ and to gather information of interest to them in their work.
– I have listened with much pleasure to some of the previous speeches, and desire to contribute a few remarks of my own to the debate. In regard to defence, I wonder whether the Government have thought of the wisdom of providing a fund from which to replace the vessels of our Fleet as they become obsolete. .An annual amount ought to be set aside, so that we may be able to purchase new war vessels without a tremendous amount of additional taxation, if they are to be paid for out of the annual revenue.
– We .do that practically now, by means of a. Trust Fund-
– But a .fixed proportionate amount ought to be set aside annually
– Any surplus that is available we place to a Trust Account for that purpose.
– I believe that war vessels become obsolete in about ten years.
– Not so quickly as that.
– I was in hopes that more would be said about a residence for the Governor-General in Sydney. 1 take it that the New South Wales Government are more to blame in the matter than the Federal Government, though our own Government have had an opportunity of rectifying a very serious mistake. To judge from the way some parliamentary people in Sydney speak, one would think that the GovernorGeneral ought to live only in the Federal Territory. I take it that he ought to have a choice of three residences, one in the Federal Territory, a second in Sydney, and a third in Melbourne. Apparently the New South Wales Government want the Federal Government to pay a rent of £3,500 a year for Government House, Sydney, and 10 to 12 acres of land. I think that, as a business matter, the Federal Government would be justified in acquiring Government House, with 12 acres of land. On the basis of a rental of £3,500 a year, they could probably obtain the property for £100,000. When we have erected a residence for the Governor- General in the Federal Territory, if Parliament saw fit to abandon the residence in Sydney they would find that the investment had been a very profitable one.
– Could we resume the property ?
– We can resume State land.
– Let me contrast what took place in 1900 with what has taken place in 1912. As soon as the Commonwealth Constitution Act was passed by the Imperial Parliament, the New South Wales Parliamentpassed an Act by which that State undertook to contribute annually towards an additional £10,000 to be paid to the Governor-General, making his total salary £20,000 a year, an amount similar to that paid at that time to the GovernorGeneral of Canada and the GovernorGeneral of India. The other States did not fall into line, but if they had done, the proportion paid by New South Wales would have been £3,600 a year on the basis of the present Commonwealth population. Yet the New South Wales Government now object to the GovernorGeneral occupying in Sydney a residence valued by them at a rental of £3,500. I consider that the Labour. Government in that State have disgraced their position. Let me remind the Senate of what happens in the little island of Ceylon. The island has an area of25,332 square miles, and in 1901 its population was 3,578,000. Its present estimated population is 4,294,000. In Australia we have a population of 4.500,000. Ceylon gives her Governor three residences, one in Colombo, a second in Kandy, and a third in Newara Eliya. There is evidenced a difference between an Imperiallygoverned Colony and Australia.
– The Governor of Ceylon wants three residences because of the climate.
– The climate in Melbourne has been very trying during the last few days. I do not think that the salary of £10,000 a year which we pay to the Governor-General is sufficient. There are many private persons who, to my own knowledge, have larger incomes than that. The Governor-General has to travel around Australia, taking a suite with him, and his hand is continually in his pocket. The Commonwealth pays £4,000 a year to the Governor of its Bank, though the largest and oldest bank in Australia only pays £4,000 a year to its general manager, who, moreover, does not get four guineas a day for travelling expenses. We pay the Governor of our Bank a larger salary than we pay to the Chief Justice of Australia.
– Is he worth it?
– I hope he is. I like him personally.
I desire, also, to say that I think the Government are to blame for the way they are treating private members’ business during this session. To-night private members’ business has been set on one side for this Supply Bill, and next week, probably, something else will intervene. I can speak with some knowledge of the great difficulties under which private members’ business is handled in this Parliament. Senator Pearce is the only member of the Senate who has ever succeeded in getting a private Bill through Parliament. I had the pleasure of cooperating with him. I have not been so fortunate on my own account. I brought in a Bill nearly three years ago, and it passed through the Senate. It was brought in again this session, and went to another place. Now we learn that all private members’ business has been set aside. There seems to be no chance for a man with special knowledge to get a Bill passed. I shall not have the honour of being here in the next Parliament, and can speak freely on these matters now. I wish, also, to refer to legislation which has been passed in breach of the Constitution. We have continually passed measures which, on appeal to the i High Court, have been ruled ultra vires. There is not the slightest doubt that there is a constant endeavour on the part of some unificationist members of the party opposite to circumvent the Constitution.
– It has been chiefly the Acts passed by a Liberal Government that have been ruled ultra vires.
– But they were passed with the approval and strong support of honorable senators opposite. It is far from pleasant for me to refer to breaches of the Constitution, but I feel it to be my duty to place my views on record, because I feel very strongly about the matter. I was a member of the Convention that drafted our Constitution. We endeavoured then to provide that the Commonwealth Government should not unnecessarily interfere with State powers. The Convention appointed a Committee to draft certain resolutions, and I may as well read a portion of the preliminary motion submitted by Sir Edmund Barton at the meeting of the Convention in Adelaide. It provided -
That, in order to enlarge the powers of self government of the people of Australia, it is desirable to create a Federal Government which shall exercise authority throughout the Federated Colonies, subject to the following principal conditions : -
Section 87 of the Constitution should also be quoted, because, in connexion with it, I shall show how the first breach of the Constitution took place.
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, of the [iso] net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and of Excise, not more than onefourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure.
The balance shall, in accordance with this Constitution, be paid to the several States, or applied towards the payment of interest on debts of the several States taken over by the Commonwealth.
What occurred ? The ten years’ period did not expire until the 31st December, 19 10, but the Government of the day brought in a Bill to give the States 25s. per head of their population as from the ist July, 1910, or six months before they had any right tomake such an alteration. During the first six months of 1910-1911, the Commonwealth Government nominally returned three-fourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise to the States ; but in the latter half of the financial year they retained so much of the amount payable to the States as would be in excess of a payment of 25s. per head of population over the full twelve months.
– I rise to order. I wish to ask whether it is in order for an honorable senator to state that this Parliament has committed breaches of the Constitution in legislation passed by both Houses, and assented to by the Governor-General, and which has never been challenged in the High Court. I take it that that legislation must be assumed to be valid until it is successfully challenged in the High Court. It appears to me that it must be out of order for Senator Walker to accuse this Parliament of having committed breaches of the Constitution when no proof exists that that has been the case.
– I think that Senator Walker is in order. The honorable senator was referring to a number of Acts passed by the Federal Parliament, some of the provisions of which were subsequently declared to be ultra vires pf the Constitution. It is a common thing, when a Bill is introduced in another place, or in the Senate, for members of either House to take exception to it on the ground that, in their opinion, it contains provisions which are ultra vires of the Constitution. They may still adhere to that opinion, though the Bill may be passed, and subsequently be assented to by the Governor-General. They may continue to hold the view that if the question were tested before the High Court the measure would be declared to be outside the constitutional powers of this Parliament.
– I am surprised that none of the State Governments has gone to the High Court on this question. I have not the slightest doubt that if they were to rake up that question, and have the matter referred to the High Court, the Court would say that the Act to which I have referred should not have come into operation before the ist January, ion; and that the States should have received 12s. 6d. per head of their population for the half-year ending 30th June, 1911, instead of about 6s. per head which they did receive, if so much.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the State Governments would take the advice of their Crown Law officers on a point like that?
– I am not so sure that they would. As the honorable senator is aware, some of them were Labour Governments. The second breach to which I wish to refer was a more recent one. It was, in my opinion, a breach of section 119 of the Constitution, which reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
I am not a man who believes in shooting down anybody. Far from it. But when the Government of Queensland applied to the Commonwealth Government for assistance, the Prime Minister had only to say that he would inform the local Forces that they were available, and the whole trouble would have been at an end. I think it will be admitted that on the occasion referred to, the Federal Government failed to comply with the first clause of the resolutions submitted to the Federal Convention -
That the powers, privileges, and territories of the several existing Colonies shall remain intact, except in respect of such surrenders as may he agreed upon to secure uniformity of law and administration in matters of common concern.
There was a surrender of the control of Military Forces, and it was because of that surrender the State Government of Queensland found it necessary to make their application for assistance.
– Can the honorable senator prove that there was any domestic violence in Queensland?
– The constitutional provision is that assistance is to be rendered “on the application of the Executive Government of the State.” The Executive Government of Queensland did make such an application. I understand that they have since expressed their intention to send in a bill to the Commonwealth for the costs to which they were put at the time, and, if it is not met, to appeal to the High Court. I have been interested to note the clever way in which the present Government and their friends have tried to get round the Constitution. Although the Constitution is not sacrosanct, the Government of the Commonwealth should be the first persons to prevent the slightest infringement of it, excepting by referenda. We have heard of an individual called Machiavelli, ‘ and there would appear to be some person / in the present Government possessed of a wonderful brain, a fertile imagination, and ! an acute intellect, and whether it be of the Machiavellian or of the Mephistophelean order, future Australian historians will perhaps be able to decide. Having been absent during the earlier part of the session, the Senate will excuse me for having taken up a little time on these matters.
My impression is that, once we get into Committee, this Bill will go through in about half-an-hour. As Senator Millen has said, it is simply impossible to find fault with items contained in it when there is no opportunity to compare the expenditure proposed with that voted for the corresponding period of last year. I may say that I had occasion to speak to a member of the Ministry regarding certain amendments of the Navigation Bill. I asked him whether, in another place, the Government occassionally accepted amendments from the Opposition? When he said they did, I told him that we could not succeed in getting any one’ to accept amendments from us in the Senate yesterday.
– - I listened with a good deal of interest and some amusement to Senator Walker’s impeachment of the Ministry and the party on this side on constitutional grounds. It is well known that the Acts of this Parliament which have been declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the High Court were passed prior to the advent of a Labour Government. If Senator Walker was not aware of the fact, he must have been strangely forgetful of the proceedings in this Parliament.
– Have no such Acts been passed since?
– Nearly all were passed with the assistance of the Labour party.
– The Labour party had to be on one side or the other.
– The members of the Labour party warned Parliament at the time the measures were being considered that certain provisions were unconstitutional.
– It is unfair, and the poorest kind of party tactics, to make such accusations against a party that was not in office when the measures referred to were passed.
– If I am wrong, I am willing to withdraw any incorrect statement that I have made, but I am under the impression that I am right.
– The honorable senator and other members of his party told us last year that the provision in the Electoral Bill compelling the signing of political articles published during a certain period before an election would be declared unconstitutional.
– I never heard any one here say so.
– Honorable senators opposite said it was outrageous, and denounced it in the most vehement language. Yet we find that the learned Justices of the High Court have unanimously declared the provision referred to to be within the powers of this Parliament to enact. Each of the Judges gave a learned judgment, expressing the view that, as a matter of common sense, this Parliament should possess the powers we exercised on that occasion.
– Let us all say “ Hooray for the High Court ! “
– I am neither hooraying for it, nor denouncing it.
– The High Court would not sanction the asking of certain questions by a Royal Commission.
– I am not alluding to that matter at all, but to a provision in the Electoral Act which honorable senators opposite so loudly denounced last year. When Senator Ready was speaking this afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition challenged his figures, and, as Senator Pearce has pointed out, subsequently quoted figures dealing with other phases of the question in order to prove that those used by Senator Ready were not correct. That kind of slim politics may appear very clever, and may raise a laugh amongst those who have not even the ability to use such tactics, but they are not valuable for purposes of criticism..
– The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that Senator Ready missed the figures for one year in order to make his calculations fit his purpose.
– The Minister of Defence gave the figures for every year in his reply, and still proved the statement made. By manipulation figures can be made to prove anything, for as much may depend on those which are left out as on those which are used. I am not going to try and prove a case by anything which is open to refutation in that way. Speaking of the effects of the land tax, I think it is fair to admit that a certain amount of subdivision has been going on for a number of years, and, with or without a land tax, it would continue to a certain extent. But the question is whether the land tax had anything to do with accelerating that subdivision ? Honorable senators who opposed the tax, and said it would be confiscatory in its operation, informed us that the markets would be flooded with land, which would have to be disposed of at a ruinous sacrifice, because no one could hold it and expect to make a profit from its use when such a tax had to be paid upon it. Those statements were made throughout the discussion upon the Land Tax Bill. I do not attempt to repeat the exact language used by honorable senators opposite, but they will not deny the general accuracy of my statement.
– Why does not the honorable senator tell ‘us who they were ?
– Practically every member of the Opposition.
– I was not one.
– Then the honorable senator is’ the exception which proves the rule. Either they overstated the case for purely party purposes, or through ignorance of the operation of the tax they were wrong in their predictions.
– Land has gone up, rather than down, in value.
– We have experienced a number of fairly good years. While partial droughts may have prevailed here and there, we have, on the whole, been blessed with good productive years. Population has been increasing, and trade and commerce have been flourishing in nearly every part of the Commonwealth. Any effect which the tax might otherwise have” had has been neutralized by that upward growth, which has resulted in general prosperity. Naturally, as one set of circumstances operated to considerably neutralize another set of circumstances, the effect of the tax has not been so apparent as it otherwise would have been. I point out this circumstance, not with a view to instructing honorable senators opposite, _ but because I think it ought to be’ admitted that there are many factors in these complex matters which tend either in one direction or the other. Sometimes the contrary operation of these factors confuses the minds of those who endeavour to ascertain the facts, and it is to be deprecated that, for party purposes, politicians sometimes attempt to confuse these very complex matters. I agree with Senator Stewart that the land tax has not had such a marked effect as it would have had if it had been heavier. .
– If the seasons had been worse.
– That point is one which I have already put from the other side. The good seasons have helped to minimize the effects of the tax. I consider that it would have been wise on our part if we had made the gradations of this tax so steep, and its higher incidence so heavy, as to put beyond all dispute the result of its operation.
– If the honorable senator’s party had done that, what would have been the effect in our cities?
– That is the old argument. I would remind honorable senators opposite that we should have incurred very considerable risk in having the tax declared unconstitutional had we differentiated between city and country lands.
– And every political economist says that the tax cannot be passed on.
– The average landlord does not profess to be a philanthropist. As he is already getting all the rent that he can, he cannot, in the very nature of things, do anything to increase it. The pressure of population on the small habitable area in our cities has had the effect of raising rents. If there are more people looking for houses than there are houses available, they will naturally have to offer premiums to obtain them.
– The higher the tax, the higher the rent.
– No, because the landlord “is getting all the rent that he can.
– The honorable senator is aiming at a pigeon and sometimes shooting a crow.
– We can achieve nothing in this world unless we are prepared to accept some risks. I should be prepared - -if it were possible to pass on rents - to put a sprag in the landlord’s wheel by means of other legislation. While the Labour party remain in power, our object is to achieve certain beneficial results. We do not pretend to be so infallible as to enact legislation which can withstand all the onslaughts which may be made upon it by time. Should our legislation prove ineffective, we must devise some other means of dealing with the difficulty. We are out to benefit the people, and if we cannot do that in one way, we must do it in another. To quote an old saying, “ If the sword will not win a battle, perhaps shot-guns may.” We have a majority in both Houses of the Legislature, and consequently we are able to apply the remedies that we advocate. If we apply those remedies in a sufficiently drastic manner, there will be no room for my honorable friends opposite to argue as to the effect of their operation. I would make the tax very much steeper than it is in its gradations. When once we commence to tax land, there should be no doubt whatever that the tax should be high enough to compel the land-holder either to put his land to the best possible use, or to sell it to somebody who will do that. In the higher grades, I would do away with all the complicated machinery which permits of an exemption of so much, taxes- so many pounds’ worth of land at a halfpenny in the £1, and so many pounds’ worth at a penny in the £i. In such circumstances, I would not allow any exemption at all.
– That is where the. honorable senator’s party must go.
– That is what I advocate. I would make the higher gradation apply to every pound’s worth of land that a man owns. Estates of £80,000 value and over should have no exemption and no gradations. That would force them into market, if nothing else’ would. But if it did not, I would double the tax until it did. If I have a goal in view, I will not stop until I reach it.
– But the honorable senator would not do away with the exemption, of £5,000?
– Not at all. We have been twitted with requiring more revenue, and with having incurred commitments which ought not to have been incurred. When the Leader of the Opposition was challenged to point to these commitments, he trotted out the insignificant item of the proposed laundry at Port Darwin - a most ridiculous anti-climax to his heroics as to’ what expenditure he would save. In regard to <these Socialistic institutions, I would point *out that the experience of every country has been that, in times of war, army contractors, taking them by and large, are the biggest unhanged scoundrels that the world has ever evolved. There may be honorable exceptions, but I have not heard of them. In times of emergency, every country has to put up with the most rascally plundering tactics of army contractors, whether the supplies which are needed take the form of saddlery, rifles, -cutlasses, or anything else. Every country has to accept supplies which are so far below the specifications that they not only -cause ruinous loss from a monetary standpoint, but bring loss of life to thousands of troops. There is nothing in our commercial system more natural than that such things should occur. For instance, we find that what was supposed to be leather for the boots of soldiers in the Crimea was mainly brown paper.
– They are making boots qf that material here in time of peace.
– Just so. They are making that material in the factories which are run by private enterprise, and which honorable senators opposite deify. Whenever there is a chance for rascality to score in commercial circles, it does score.
– And yet the honorable, senator protects them.
– Possibly it is better to ^protect them than to import materials from the other side of the world. ‘
– The importer is just as hig a rascal as is the manufacturer.
– Absolutely. At the present time there is actually a market in a certain kind of clay which is sent to Great Britain to the extent of thousands of tons annually, in order to load up the calico which is imported with stiffening. If necessary they would put it into flour as readily as they would put it into calico.
– Can you give me the name of the clay, or tell me where it comes from ?
– I am unable to do so at present. I do not carry my authority with me.
– As the Customs Department controls all exports, they could “trace it.
– I am not doing any defective business; but I may inform the honorable senator that samples of this clay have been reported upon as being highly suitable for that purpose.
– That does not prove that it has been exported.
– It has to come from some country before it can be put into the calico. The point is that, while my honorable friends opposite are always booming enterprise, all commercialism is so honeycombed with rascality that they are prepared to import calico which, in the aggregate, is loaded up with thousands of tons of clay. In the same way all kinds’ of deleterious or useless material is incorporated in nearly everything that we eat, drink, and wear. It is manifest that, in the time of war, when large supplies have to be obtained in a very limited time, there are very much bigger opportunities for that rascality to operate than there are in the ordinary times of peace, when you can to some extent pick and choose whom you want to deal with. If we are to have an effective Defence Force, we should take steps to see that, as far as possible, the material required for making uniforms, saddles, or other articles, should be of the best possible quality. Honorable senators must admit that there is no more effective way of attaining that object than by having the commodities made in Government ‘factories, where no person has an interest is spoiling or adulterating material.
– In times of peace would you have the factories on a war footing?
– We must establish the factories in times of peace, in order to have a trained and efficient staff to provide a large output in the event of war being threatened. It is all nonsense to say that we could establish the factories in three months. We know that, whenever there is an urgent demand for locomotives for the State railways, the cry is that there has been no time to get them made locally, and so the orders are sent abroad1. That would be an unanswerable statement for any Ministry to make if a war were threatened or mooted. If we are to have anything like honest and faithful work done in the way of supplying our troops with everything necessary for their comfort and efficiency, and even for their safety, then in times of peace the necessary - provision should be made for the manufacture of the articles.
– The Minister of Defence never complained about clothing manufacturers giving bad stuff. He complained that he could not get the clothing from them fast enough.
– That is so; but even that is a very sufficient answer. If they cannot get sufficient private enterprise willing to take on the work, then they must establish -their own factories.
– The Department did not give them time enough.
– I am acquainted with the people who run one of the woollen factories in New South Wales, and their statement to me was not that there was not time enough, but that the orders did not extend over the whole year. They said that at one particular period the Department wanted so many thousand yards of cloth, and that to undertake the contract they would require to have a larger staff than they could guarantee to keep permanently employed. Rather than extend their works and increase their staff, they declined an order of that kind, preferring to fulfil ordinary orders. If special conditions apply in regard to the provision of commodities of any kind for the Defence Force or other Commonwealth services, it is well to have our own factories, because it would dislocate private factories to supply unusual orders. Senator Ready made some remarks regarding the demand on the officials of little country post-offices for a halfholiday. Recently I asked a question as to the number of allowance offices in New South Wales which had a Saturday halfholiday, and further questions as to the conditions under which it was granted. Instead of having anything to gain, perhaps I may have something to lose by expressing my opinion here, but I shall do so in what I deem to be the public interest. I was informed that twenty-eight allowance offices have been permitted to close on Saturday afternoon. I happen to live in a district which is somewhat isolated from railway communication, and in which there is a number of little settlements, each with a post and telegraph office. One has to find a postal official in order to get access to the telephone. I found that one or two of these offices, perhaps several, have been closed on Saturday afternoons - they are all within 20 or 30 miles of Sydney - as the result of a petition having been sent in by the local residents. I have a personal knowledge of how these petitions are got up. A postal official, or perhaps a charming daughter, will go round the district and ask the resi dents if ‘ they have any objection to the postal official getting a half -holiday ; and the neighbourly feeling which exists in little communities prevents those who may be very adverse to the closing of the postoffice from refusing to sign the petition. They also ask young fellows and girls whom they have met at social functions to sign the petition. There is no oversight on the part of the Department, and to a petition’ may be attached the signatures of children of ten years of age, for all that it knows to the contrary. Consequently, these petitions should have no weight or value attached to them. These places, .situated1 many miles from a railway, are just those places which above all others should have their post-offices open on every day in theweek. Instead of finding the telephoneoffice closed on Saturday afternoon, I would be glad if there were some means by which it could be, kept open on Sunday.
– And all night, too.
– It is not possible to dothat.
– It is possible ;. but it may not be profitable.
– I only want to deal withthe question of public safety. In the district in which I live - and there are districts farther out - it costs nothing less thai* £5 to get a medical man to attend a person. If a death occurs, or an accident takes place, there is no possible way, whenthe post-office is closed,’ of getting telephone communication with the nearest townor the metropolis from Saturday at noon until Monday morning. If the officials are not paid enough to allow them to have one member of the family available in a case of emergency, the Commonwealth, at any cost, should provide them with sufficient salary to be able to demand that, their services shall be at the disposal of the general public. I know that many of these officials, as Senator McColl pointed out on the last Estimates, are miserably underpaid, but that is largely their ownfault. They have a. good deal of that black-leg instinct which leads them to compete against one another. They take theoffices at next to nothing, and, grumble afterwards. I hope that the position willbe very much harder if the Department does not pay these men a fairer salary for the very valuable work” which they have todo. I deprecate the idea that, so long as the means of communication are madeavailable at any hour of the day or night in the metropolitan areas, country places* must put up with any deprivation. If we are to effectively settle the country districts, we should not take away any facilities that exist, but rather grant more. Of what use is it to me to go to Sydney and find that a telephone-office is available if the post-office at the other end with which I want to communicate is closed? Of what use it it to have the telephone-offices open in the big towns, where medical aid, doctors, police, fire-brigades, and ambulance corps, are available, if you take away the very few facilities which exist in little isolated country places? If the Department is going in for that retrogressive sort of administration, it will meet with my uncompromising hostility. It s a mean way of escaping the just obligation that there is upon the Department to pay these officers an adequate salary, and then expect them to be available when they are wanted. In the district where I live, a petition was recently taken round by the local postmistress. It was sent along to my residence with a vacant line at the top, for my signature there would be useful. It was accompanied with a polite note asking me to sign in this place. Although the postmistress was a friend of my wife and myself, I refused to sign in the public interest. I said, “ We want the telephone open at all times, and1 the mail-bags also should be despatched. I shall be no party to depriving the district of these conveniences, no matter how many persons may sign the petition.” No opportunity is given to those who think differently to voice their opinions. If this matter is to be settled by the voice of the people in the district, a much fairer way would be to cast upon the official who wants a half-holiday the obligation of convening a public meeting by an advertisement and a local notification. Every one would then have an opportunity of being present, and a fair decision would be obtained as to whether the majoritywere in favour of it or not.
– Suppose the majority were in favour, that would not remove the difficulty that the facilities would not be there for those who did want them.
– Just so. It really is not a matter upon which there should be a majority decision. But if any representations are to be made on the subject, they should not be made by means of a faked petition. The matter should be threshed out in the light of criticism. A petition which is taken round by a person individually interested, and who may have it in his power to perform little favours for people whom he asks- to sign, should not be seriously regarded in a matter of this kind. Country people sometimes go late for their mails, and put themselves under a little obligation to a postmaster or postmistress. They cannot then refuse to sign a petition when it is brought round to them. The occasional accidents and calamities which occur in country districts are a sufficient warrant for demanding that country offices shall not be closed ; and if those who look after them are not sufficiently paid for their work, the Government should pay them properly, and then expect their services to be available in the public interest.
– Does the honorable senator know that the Government are increasing the allowances?
– There is need for increases. In the district where I live, an increase of £20 a year would not have been out of the way, considering the duties which those who look after an allowance office are called upon to perform. But when application was made for an increase, the Department granted one of something like 30s. a year. I do not believe in running our Departments in a mean and pettifogging way. The Post and Telegraph Department is really the most important service under our control, because by means of it we maintain communication from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. It should not be starved out of any desire for profit-making. I wish to refer to the rather slim treatment extended by Senator Millen to Senator Ready’s figures. The honorable senator did not seem to recognise that he did not deal with the same set of figures as Senator Ready did.
– I dealt with the main facts. Senator Ready’s contention was that there has been a gradual increase of cultivation since the land, tax was imposed. I showed that that was wrong by comparing the figures as to area under crop.
– There are three separate factors to be considered-the area under crop, the amount of production, and the value of the production. The area may increase or diminish without necessarily affecting the aggregate wealth derived.
– The main factor was that in the year before this Government came into office there was an increase of 1,000,000 acres ; in the next year, the increase was 900,000; and in the next year 200,000.
– Was not the honorable senator comparing area with amount of production ?
– That is so.
– He compared the amount and value of production, and then tried to represent that the area under crop was not as great as Senator Ready tried to make out. It was like trying to argue that so many yards make a quart !
– The honorable senator himself admitted that the production of land depends on the seasons.
– Every one must admit that. There are so many factors that enter into the value of land, and the value of production, that it is useless to quote one factor and try to prove a case from it. The charge against the Government of expending money wastefully and extravagantly has not been borne- out by anything that Senator Millen said. His one illustration, by way of interjection, was that the proposed laundry in the Northern Territory should not have been built, and that in that way the Government could at least have saved something. If the honorable senator cannot bring a more direful indictment against the Government than that, the charges do not amount to much. I quite admit the perfect soundness of his argument that a Government may start enterprises or works which another Government would not have started, and that nevertheless a new Government would be unable to abolish those that had been started. But nevertheless it is a fair thing to challenge the Opposition as to which of these enterprises are in themselves extravagantly conducted df”* will not prove profitable in the broader aspect to the Commonwealth. Take our Small Arms Factory. Would Senator Millen leave the manufacture of small arms to private enterprise? Take the Cordite Factory. Would he leave that to private enterprise? If we want honest and serviceable commodities for our troops, surely it is a wise and statesmanlike thing to provide factories for their manufacture? We need to provide good material during times of peace, and to have factories that can work up to a war capacity if war should become imminent. Why allow ourselves to be placed at the mercy of rascally ‘army contractors of whose services we should have to avail ourselves if we did not provide for these things in time of peace? Surely we should! take warning by what has happened inother parts of the world, and should start on new and better lines ourselves. It is. “up to” Senator Millen to point out which’ of these Commonwealth enterprises is initself a mere Socialistic fad, or which is objectionable from a national stand-point. He should indicate which of them is beingextravagantly or recklessly managed. As he has failed to do that, we must assume that he cannot make out a fair case. Themoney which has been expended by thisGovernment hitherto has been raised fromtaxation, mainly through the Customs. Personally, I am one of those who think that we are raising too much money from Customs. I am very much surprised at Senator Millen, devoted Free Trader as we know he used to be, stating that any form of taxation of a direct kind that is proposed is infamous - that it is a hideous thing for us even to suggest by a chance remark or by an alleged observation from’ a Minister which he can piece together with a statement made by a private member of our party, that there is even a suspicion in the Ministerial ranks of favouring directtaxation. Senator Millen thinks that he has in that way obtained a weapon withwhich he will be able to punish us before the people of the country at the next election. If it be such a deadly sin to propose to raise more revenue from direct1 taxation, what becomes of the muchvaunted Free Trade views of the honorable senator ?
– He is not a. Free Trader, but a Revenue Tariffist
– I am not. But Protectionist and Free Trader may well meet in this respect. Absolute Free Trade would abolish the Customs House, and absolute Protection would abolish the revenue from Customs. Consequently both doctrines pushed to their logical conclusion would reach the same goal. If you are to have good government you must have an. ample revenue. You must get that revenue from land, from income, or Customs taxation. Personally, I am in favour of decreasing the purely revenue items in the Tariff. If we are to have Protection, letus make it effective right up to the hilt ; although I must say that I am not muchof a believer in the efficacy of Protection, because, instead of encouraging, people by means of heavy duties to manufacture commodities, I would start factories to manufacture them under the Go-. vernment. I am an open, undisguised, wholehog Socialist, and should not hesitate to put my principles into force.
– As long as it paid the honorable senator.
– Not as long as it paid one, but as long as it would pay the community. I resent the most unfair insinuation that I wish it to pay me in any way.
– The honorable senator would agree to Socialism if, when things were divided up, he had just as much money as the other fellow.
– The honorable senator is repeating one of the most familiar and absurd fripperies that ever came from a muddled brain. So far from Socialism being favorable to dividing up, it makes for collective ownership. We have in the Post Office a Socialistic institution. Is there any dividing up there? On the contrary, the whole community has a personal and collective interest in it as a beneficient in:stitution. So it should be with every other institution.
– And we cannot get replies to our calls.
– Of course there are things that require to be remedied ; but this played-out yarn about dividing up is unworthy !of any man of intelligence. Socialism, which means collective ownership and the pooling of interests, is the opposite of dividing up. I say that that is the course I advocate, and will continue to advocate, as opportunity affords. So far as the Customs House is concerned, I am in favour of doing away from time to time with the purely revenue Tariff items, and of doing that as compensation for the increase of taxation on land values, and, if necessary, on incomes not gained from personal exertion. I desire by the gradual, but not too gradual, operation of those principles to relieve the classes which now bear the greatest burden of taxation, and are least able to bear it, and at the same time to place it equitably upon the shoulders of those best able to bear it. Any efforts I can make publicly or privately in that direction I shall be prepared to make.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) (9.47]. - It is a matter for regret that the Government have seen their way to interrupt the order of business as they have done. It is nearly a fortnight ago since Senator Millen was interrupted in a speech on the motion for the printing of the !Budget-papers. It is a week or more ago since a speech of mine on the Sugar Bounty Bill was cut short. We have now two half-completed speeches on two different subjects, and a considerable number of partially completed debates on different Bills.
– When this Bill is dealt with, the honorable senator will get a chance to complete his speech on the Sugar Bounty Bill.
– As Senator Rae took about an hour and a quarter to explain the position of the Government, Surely I am entitled to say something. By their management of the business of the Senate, the Government have so mixed up things that we hardly know where we stand. There are various matters to which one might refer on this Bill. I asked some questions the other day in connexion with a steamer which the Government bought for work in the Northern Territory at a cost of £1,250 or £1,500. I saw recently from a photograph in the Australasian that she is now hung up at a wharf in Mackay.- The Government paid something like £350 to have her taken up to the Northern Territory, but apparently she has not been able to get more than a few hundred miles up the coast.
– It may be because of the attractions of Mackay.
– The people of Australia cannot afford to pay too much even for the attractions of such a splendid place as Mackay. I am referring to the steamer on which the Minister of Trade and Customs-would not trust her own crew. He made a contract to have her taken up to Port Darwin, but she is not getting up there. I do not know to what extent we can trust the newspaper reports, but I notice ‘that at Broken Hill they are still passing resolutions, and doing all they can to oppose the system of compulsory military training. I admit that I have some good things to say for the Defence Department, but when we rind lads and their parents penalized, I ask the Minister of Defence whether, after all that has happened, he is now prepared to deal with those adult societies which are doing their level best to induce the boys of Australia, to break the law, and defy himself as Minister of Defence. I hope that the Defence Department are not treating my son better than the sons of any other person. If I may be allowed to refer to a purely personal matter, I should like to say that my son sent in a medical certificate to excuse his absence from drill. Nothing was heard of it for a time, but eventually, when he. made inquiries he was told that in view of the medical certificate presented, he would be considered as having been present at the drills from which he was absent. That was playing, as I think, and as the boy thought, very fairly with him. But I wish to know whether all other boys are being treated in the same way. In one case after another we find that cadets are being prosecuted, and themselves, or their parents, fined, and yet we have certain organizations - I do not care whether they are Conservative, Liberal, Labour, or Socialistic organizations - holding meetings and doing all they possibly can to induce lads to break the law. In the circumstances I say that if the Government intend to do what is fair by everybody it is up to them to tell these people to “ turn it up.” or they will be prosecuted. I brought this’ matter up some twelve months ago, and the Minister, in answer to certain questions I put, said he thought it advisable to let the matter alone for the present, and not to take too much notice of these people. The same thing is still going on, and though boys and parents are prosecuted, the people who have been preaching sedition and violation of the law from one end of the country to the other are left untouched. I do not wish to suggest motives in this matter, but I repeat that it is up to the Defence Department to deal with these people as they should be dealt with, rather than with the ignorant boys and their ignorant parents, who pay attention to those who say, “ We should not train our sons to shoot down their fathers,” and all that sort of rubbish. If trouble arises later on the blame will be placed on the right shoulders. It will be no use then for any honorable senator to ask why this matter was not brought up for consideration, because it cannot be denied that I have referred to it on several occasions in the strongest terms I could use. The question of the Vancouver mail service has been dealt with very fully by Senator St. Ledger. He referred to a certain meeting held in Brisbane. At the request of Mr. Thomas, who was then Postmaster-General, I went over to Sydney and attended a meeting there in connexion with this matter. You, Mr. President, attended that meeting and strongly objected, in common with others,to the expression of certain views which, if adopted, would have put the interests of New Zealand before those of
Queensland, New South Wales, and the rest of Australia. Mr. Thomas, at the time, asked* us to regard the views stated as confidential.. I ask why in Heaven’s name we should regard them as confidential, when we are being jewed out of the business we established . and continued for many years in Queensland ? Later on a meeting was held in Brisbane, which Senator St. Ledger attended, at the request of the PostmasterGeneral, to meet representatives of ‘ the Chamber of Commerce. I received a similar request, but was unable to get away. In the language of the music hall I had done my “stunt” in Sydney, and I had had’ quite enough of it. Again those who were present at the meeting in Brisbane, with the hushing of the melodramatic stage, were asked to keep what was said secret, notto give it away, and to regard it as confidential. What has been the result? Theinterests of Queensland have been turned down, and she has lost a big trade infrozen meat and frozen butter, which she had built up with Canada. Why should Queensland’s interests be turned down in this way? We are told that something, may be done to secure a renewal of the Vancouver service when we have arrived at a reciprocal Tariff agreement withCanada. We have a right to complain inthe matter. We have a right to complain that, there is no business now being done on certain wharfs on the Brisbane River, becauseQueensland has lost the Canadian trade. We shall certainly make such’ a complaint at the next election, unless the Government submit some reasonable arrangement for the renewal of the Vancouver mail, service.. The Queensland people can have no use for a Vancouver mail service by which their produce must be taken to Sydney, and thence to Auckland, before it can reachVancouver. Such a service will be of nouse to people who had built up a direct trade with Vancouver. We know how thefeelings of the people of the State were expressed in 1906 over the loss of theOrient trade, and we can anticipate what their feelings will be when they discoverhow they have been compelled to lose theVancouver trade. I shall not detain the Senate by going into the details of that trade. I have the figures by me, but this does not appear to me to be an opportune time to deal with the matter at length. I say that Queensland considers herself badlytreated by the manner in which she has had to lose a trade which she had built up. Her interests have been turned down* by a Minister who calmly said, at the meetings held in Sydney and in Brisbane, “ You mustkeep it dark.” That is not the way in which public business should be transacted.
– Was this a love letter which the honorable senator was asked to keep dark?
– No; it was a letter breaking off the engagement. That is our trouble. It is a breach of promise case. There is only one other matter to which I wish to refer. An attack hasbeen made on a man called G. L. A. Field, who, on the 8th October, appears to have written a letter to the Hobart Mercury in reference to the maternity allowance, in which he says -
They are going to pay a like bonus of £5 to the deserving mother and to the debased slut.
– He is a debased cur.
– I note that this matter has been referred to in the other branch of the Legislature, and I was occupied about three hours to-day in discovering the expression which was really used. For publishing that letter it was suggested that the newspaper in question be excluded from our Parliamentary Library. Let me now turn to another newspaper, which calls itself the organ of the Political Labour party of Victoria. This journal published an article on 2nd May of the present year, which is headed “ Sapphira on Tramp.” It will be recollected that Sapphira was the wife of Ananias. The article begins with an alleged extract from the Bible. The verse which it purports toquote is Ezekiel, chap. 23, v. 20 -
For she doted on her paramours (political), whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.
Naturally, the newspaper inserted the word “political” to save itself from a libel action. But it did more than that - it misrepresented the Bible, because the quotation in Ezekiel reads -
For she doted on their paramours - not on “ her “ paramours. This cowardly cur, who signs himself “ Mural,” is, I am sorry to say, alleged by current gossip to be a member of this Parliament. He writes -
A flatulent female named Cameron -
He is referring to a daughter of the late Mr. Angus Cameron, of New South Wales.
– Why give the matter an extended publicity now?
– Has the honorable senator ever ceased to give an extended publicity to anything when it suited him to do so ?
– Then, does it suit the honorable senator to do so?
– It suits me to show that the decision of the High Court, that articles and reports dealing with elections shall bear the signature of their authors, is right.
– The honorable senator opposed the proposal to compel the writers of such articles to sign their names to them.
– But the publication of this article would convert me any day in the week. It has convinced me that what the High Court has decided is, after all, a good thing. The article reads -
A flatulent female named Cameron held forth in the ‘Mechanics’ Hall, Warrnambool, on political matters last week. She went there to assist the Western District squatters and the Collinsstreet rooks to defeat certain Labour candidates at the next Federal elections. In the course of her remarks she pointed the skinny finger of prophecy at Wannon, Indi, and Corangamite, and exhorted the fatty degenerates present to fight on and pour out their gold for the reconquest of those electorates. She claimed to represent the Women’s National League, but like the rest of that whiskery brigade of pup-cuddlers and poodle-kissers, who rage about the marriage tie and the purity of the pram, she lied with the ferocity of a fiend about the Labour party and all its works.
– That is a common thing.
– This is the kind of stuff that we generally get from the other side -
Sapphira, the frothy, was listened to by a few red-faced females, who spend their time in efforts to hide their pimples and blotches with toilet powder, and by a handful of bulbousnecked and bald-headed Fatmen of the type that generally get close up to the footlights when giddy girls are giving a wild and whirlsome exposition of the art of high-kicking. Sapphira belongs to the common - we might say very common - variety of Tory organizers. She has neither beauty or eloquence to back her. Economically, she is grossly ignorant. Were she to attempt to pass off on an audience of well-informed people the Tory taradiddles she regaled her hearers with at Warrnambool, they would rise up in a spasm of disgust and walk out on the pavement. Sapphira’s statements about the Labour party were at once false and slanderous. She repeated the bulk of the parrot chat of Mrs. Morton who, when she was at Framlingham some ‘time ago, told the people there, among other things, that “Although members of the Labour party did not say openly they would take the children away from the mothers, that was their secret intention.” Instead of two impudent liars like Sapphira and Morton being reported in detail by the allegedly respectable press,they ought to have their tongues slit publicly as a warning to other vicious females of the parasite class not to enter on a campaign of falsehood and vilification in the interests of the sweater and landlord class.
That appears to be fairly strong language. If we are going to enforce decency on the press through our Library Committee-
– Read the whole of the article.
– I have no objection to doing so. It continues -
Sapphira told the people of Warrnambool that the Labour party is against the Federal form of government. This averment of Sapphira’s is a lie, and if it was the only one she had ever told, it would likely have stuck in her false throat and choked her with the convictive persistence of an Adam’s apple. She said, too, that the Labour party loaded the primary producer with a double tax.If is probable that this cryptic allusion of Sapphira is to the People’s party lie that the State Land Tax, with which, in a spirit of revenge, Murray hit the farmers, is the work of the Labour party. If that is what Sapphira said, meant, or inferred, then she is the most impudent liar that sniffed the atmosphere of this planet since Leathersnout died. I think he is probably one of Balzac’s characters -
The Stale land tax was the work of Murray and his gang. That is unchallengeably true. If Sapphira believes she ‘ statesthe truth, let her put up£100 and it will be promptly covered with another £100 by the party, which is prepared to prove that, politically, she is a wilful and malicious liar. But she is like the crowd to which she belongs; her programme is a programme of wind, and she attempts to deceive the people with blatant falsehoods. When she and others of her class are bowled out and convicted of trying to gull the electors for the lowest party purposes, they have never the decency to apologise. They simply pass on with the sullenness of routed pigs to the consummation of further mischief.
Sapphira accused Fisher of having torn down the Union Jack, and trampled it in besodden degradation in the blood of slaughtered Fatmen. If she didn’t say that she tried to say something equally tragic. Here again Sapphira lied. Fisher is a loyal Scotchman who, time after time, has repudiated to the satisfaction of the public the dirty charges made by a lot of dirty political harridans and hooligans - the pimps and bootwipes of the trust bosses and Freetraders. Sapphira raged about the Caucus domination and other vague imbecilities, that haunt the barren minds of Tory windbags of either gender. Of course, there is no such thing as domination of Labour members of Parliament by the Caucus or by the Union, outside the imagination of Conservatives afflicted with political jim-jams.
There is another column, but I do not intend to read the lot. I wish to draw attention to the last paragraph, as it bears more particularly on a Bill which was passed a short time ago. But before making the quotation, let me mention, inorder that there shall be no mistake, that this newspaper was bought by my wife at the office of the Labour Call on the 20th June, 1912, and that her signature is attached to it. The last paragraph reads -
If Sapphira would but take to herself in matrimony some robust young man, the mad flickers which now obstruct and disorder her mental vision would pass away, and she would be enabled to take a saner view of the whole field of politics.
That is written about a perfectly respectable young woman, whose only vice, if she has a vice, is the fact that she is opposed to the organ which represents the Labour party in Victoria. I make the.Victorian Labour party and the rest of: the Labour parties a present of it.
– There is a matter in connexion with the; Customs House, of which I should like the Minister to take a note. Several complaints have come to me about the extraordinary amount of duty which is charged on some medicines. A person who has been suffering from asthma for the last twenty years was advised to try an American remedy which is well recommended. He has to pay £5 for the medicine and the advice which comes with it… It is a good medicine, which has done him a lot of good. The value of the medicine is 18s. 9d., while the duty charged at the Customs House is 16s. 9d. Two cases of a similar character have been brought under my notice. I think that the matter deserves to be looked into closely. The heavy duty is very hard upon, poor people. It is a matter which seriously affects a number of suffering persons. I wish to remind the Minister of Defence that three or four months ago he promised to supply audited balance-sheets of the various Government factories.
– They are with the Auditor-General now.
– A little while ago I moved for a return as to the cost of the new Treasury building. I made no charge against any person, nor did I cast a single reflection. The return was laid before the Senate, and there was a good deal of flaunting as to the cheap way in which the work was carried out with day labour. I mentioned that the State had been perfectly satisfied, but I wish to withdraw that expression of satisfaction, because it appears in the light of fuller information that the building has cost far more than it ought to have done. The latest statement is, that while it cost 9.8 pence per cubic foot a similar building alongside cost 6.75 pence per cubic foot.
– Yes, but when?
– These are the statements which are made.
– By Mr. Edgar, the State Minister for Works, and blown to pieces by the reply made to them.
– No. There was a further statement, made at some dinner, that 2,000 barrels of cement had gone into that building, but had never been charged. That statement has not been contradicted.
– Who made it?
– Mr. Swanson.
– Do you back it up?
– No. This statement has been made, and ought to be answered. Mr. Swanson said he was prepared to give £100 to a hospital if it were shown that the building did not cost 50 per cent, more than a building of a similar character alongside. In view of these statements, the question of cost ought to be set at rest by an inquiry.
– I listened to the debate on land value taxation which was initiated by Senator Ready in a very, instructive speech. While he claims that the tax imposed by the Labour party has done something to break up land monopoly, he admits that a good deal more requires to be done. That is exactly the position I took up. Tasmania has not gained in population. It is the one State in the Union which is losing population. I think that proves conclusively that our land tax has not been effective there. My own opinion is that Tasmania, with its great natural advantages, ought to be the most prosperous State in the Commonwealth ; but, instead of that, it is the most reactionary in politics, and the least prosperous as regards social conditions.
– Do not forget that during the last few months the social and industrial conditions in Tasmania have been brought to a level with those in the other States.
– The exodus from Tasmania still goes on.
– To nothing like the same extent as it did.
– When a young State like Tasmania loses population, it is ample evidence that there is something seriously wrong with the country or the people, or the government. I am satisfied that there is nothing wrong with the people; I am satisfied that the State is a good one ; and, therefore, the only conclusion I can come to is that the government is bad. Senator Rae has asked me would not people naturally leave Tasmania, so that they may visit a larger territory? There may be something in that suggestion, but my experience of the human family is that they usually congregate where they find themselves most comfortable. With regard to land monopoly generally throughout Australia, we have the members of the Opposition contending that the land tax of the present Government has done nothing to break up that monopoly. On the other hand, we have a majority of the Government party maintaining that a good deal has been done to destroy the condition of monopoly which existed before the passing of the Land Tax Act. It is quite natural that Government - supporters should claim credit for a measure which they have helped to pass ; and probably it is just as natural that members of the Opposition should say that it has had little or no effect. I have attempted to take, from the party stand-point, a disinterested view of the position, and I have come to the deliberate conclusion that the land tax has done little or nothing to destroy land monopoly. Land monopoly is just as rampant in Australia to-day, as it was before the tax was imposed. The price of land, instead of going down, as it ought to do if the tax were effective, continues to mount up. No doubt, the good seasons have had a considerable influence on this movement. Owing to the seasons and the high price of various commodities produced by agriculturists, there has been quite a rush 01 people on to the land during the last seven or eight years. But if we have three or four years of drought, and that will inevitably take place sooner or later, land values will fall, and the rush to take up land will not be nearly so great. The complaint hitherto has been that, owing to monopoly, land was scarce, and consequently dear.
– At present, the Crown is the greatest land monopolist in Australia.
– That has nothing to do with the question that I am discussing. People who require land for settlement cannot get it at present at a price which they are able to pay. My complaint against the Labour party is not that it imposed the land tax, but that it refrains from pushing the tax home. The party got a mandate from the people of Australia to destroy land monopoly. The mandate was not to impose this tax or another. It was simply to break the neck of land monopoly. But land monopoly is as strong to-day as ever it was. Unless the present policy is altered, what will happen will be this : Estates will be cut up and people settled upon the land. The fact of their settling will increase the value of neighbouring lands, and values will increase, until the, tax itself will be only of very slight assistance to people who desire to get land upon which to settle. What every rational reformer desires is that land shall be made so cheap and so readily available in Australia that any man who wants a good piece can get it. There is plenty of land in this continent. There is enough along our railway lines, and contiguous to our ports, to settle 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 people. Yet when people want Crown land in Queensland, where it ought to be fairly plentiful, they are driven back from the railway lines into country where the land is of comparatively poor quality, where the rainfall is scanty, and where they have to drag their commodities over miles of bad roads. There is plenty of land in Queensland, but, unfortunately, it is not available.
– Senator St. Ledger said it was.
– But* Senator St. Ledger belongs to a party which buttresses land monopoly. I do not trouble my head about what he says in this connexion. In Queensland, if a man wants a selection from the Government, he has to wait from a year to eighteen months before he can get it. In a young country like Australia, with so much good land, it should be as easy for a man to get a piece of country upon which to settle as it is for me to go down Bourke-street and buy a suit of clothes. As a matter of fact, not only has a man to wait a considerable time before he can get land, but in a great many cases he never gets a piece at all. I mentioned some time ago a case where there were 400 applicants for two pieces of very indifferent country. In the Claremont district recently two grazing areas were thrown open - one of 5,000, and the other of 7,000 acres. For the 5,000-acre area there were ten applicants, and for the 7,000-acre area there were sixty-seven.
– What was the value of that land?
– I have no idea.
– The rental was about fd. per acre.
– That is probably near the mark. The fact that sixty-seven people applied for one piece of land proves conclusively that there is a land famine in Queensland. If there is a dearth of available land there, the state of affairs in the other States must be much worse. The safety of Australia depends on our getting a big population as quickly as we possibly can. The only way to get that population is to offer, not only our own people - who ought to have the first chance - but people from other countries who are looking for outlets for their energy, cheap and good land. A large area is of no use to an immigrant. Immigrants who come here from other countries have little more than their strong right arm. But a man who wants to .settle under favorable circumstances in Australia to-day must have money. Ordinarily, a man with money does not want to leave his own country. He is well enough off where he is. He is not going to tempt fortune by going elsewhere. The people who desire to leave their native land are those who have nothing save their own health and strength. To these people we absolutely offer nothing in Australia.
– I saw twenty immigrants cadging tucker on the wharf here not long ago.
– We offer them nothing. The principal reason I have for blaming the Federal Labour Government in this connexion is that it is the only Labour Government in Australia which has the power to deal with the question. It has a majority in both Houses.
– And no Legislative Council to fight against.
– And no Legislative Council to contend with. If it will only put its hand to the plough, it can completely destroy the condition of land monopoly that exists on this continent, and, whatever the after effects may be, it ought, as a reform party to seize the opportunity which the electors have given it to do them this great service. The immediate after effects might be very bad for the party. It has very often happened in the political history of a country that the people who have carried reforms have been turned out of power soon after by those in. whose interests they have been working. I do not believe, however, that such a thing would happen to the Labour party. I am satisfied that the benefits of this policy would become so apparent that, instead of being turned out of power if they carried it through, they would be given an almost permanent lease of office. The people of Australia would be so convinced - in fact, the evidence of the benefit of ‘this policy to the country would be so complete - that no one would dream of ever substituting for them such a party as we find now in Opposition.
– How much further would the honorable senator go, “according to his policy?
– I would destroy land monopoly by a land value tax. Does the honorable senator want anything more?
– He is fishing for something, out of which to make capital at the next general election.
– I care nothing for that. I am willing to put all my cards on the table, so that the people of Australia may see them. I believe that the policy I am advocating is the only policy that will do the working men and women of Australia any good, and, believing that, I am not afraid to tell them so. I believe this policy is the best for the people who are settled upon the land, or who intend to settle upon it. The only people who will be injured by a policy of this kind, if it is carried out to the fullest extent, are the land speculators, the land monopolists, the men who buy up huge areas without intending to use them. Have honorable senators ever considered what land monopoly means? We hear a great deal about the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which has a monopoly of the manufacture and distribution of sugar; but the land monopolist corners everything. He corners our food, our clothing, our furniture, and everything else that we require.
– Even the good results of our virtue.
– Quite so ; and yet we hardly ever hear a word about him in the Federal Parliament.
– We hear of him every time that the honorable senator speaks.
– And as long as I have a seat in the Senate the honorable senator, if he is here, will continue to hear me. I do not know whether that time will be long or short, but as long as I have breath to enunciate my views, I shall give utterance to them. I do not intend to labour this question. All I wish to do is to try to impress upon the party with which I am associated the absolute necessity of dealing with this question, not in the half-hearted fashion in which it has already dealt with it, but by pushing it right home, and breaking up land monopoly, which is undoubtedly doing the people of Australia a great injury. There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. Senator Millen, I think, asked Senator Pearce whether the Government intended to resort to additional taxation to meet the expenditure, which is going up, as the phrase has it, by leaps and bounds. The honorable senator replied that he thought that the revenue from Customs and Excise, together with that obtained from the present land tax, would be sufficient to meet all expenditure without imposing additional taxation. If that statement reflects the mind of the Government on the question, it is, from my point of view, one of the most serious statements that has been made in this Chamber for a considerable time. It simply means that the Labour Government intend to persist in the policy of revenue.tariffism.
– The honorable senator voted for revenue duties every time. For instance, he voted for a duty on rice and tapioca.
– I voted for duties on those articles because I believed they could and would be produced in Australia. What I desire now is an opportunity to reverse those votes, because only a few bushels of rice have been produced in Australia during all these years. I am exceedingly anxious to have an opportunity of abolishing the duty on rice; but the Government - Senator Pearce being one of their number - are not very anxious, apparently, that I should have that opportunity. If the honorable senator desires to see me reverse certain votes that I gave, let the Government give the Senate an opportunity to deal with the question.
– We told the honorable senator that rice would not be produced he.re.
– But the honorable senator’s judgment was no more reliable, from my point of view, then than it is now, when he seems to think that the best thing for a Labour Government to continue is a system of revenue-tariffism.
Such a system is directly opposed to every principle of the Labour movement. The Labour party’s policy with regard to taxation is direct, as opposed to indirect, taxation, and the sooner we have a clear statement from the Government on this question the better it will be for all concerned. I cannot, and never will, be a party to the continuance of a system under which we get such a huge revenue from Customs and Excise as we are obtaining. If I am here next session, and an attempt is made in this direction, most undoubtedly the Government will have me against them upon that question. I do not wish to enter into the question of taxation at any great. length. Senator Ready seemed to think that a super-tax on incomes would be very desirable. There is only one policy for the party which genuinely desires reform, and that is to exhaust first community created values. When those Have all been garnered into the Commonwealth Treasury, and are found not to be sufficient to carry on the government of the country, it will be time 60 talk of imposing taxation.
– Such a policy would ignore exemptions.
– Undoubtedly. Why should there be exemptions? The only reason for them is to try the effect of the policy.
– There is another reason ; the heavy burden of Customs duties?
– The working people of Australia have everything to gain and, nothing to lose by changing the system of taxation. Each family pays, on the average, from £10 to £20 a year in Customs taxation, but if we had a system under which the bulk of our revenue was raised from land values, probably the taxation would not be more than a few shillings, the bulk of the revenue coming from huge city values. It is extremely desirable that we should have a clear understanding of the intention of the Governmnt with regard to the Tariff. If Senator Pearce is right, and the Government is leaning on the Tariff for its revenue, good-bye to Protection. Every one knows that if the Tariff were made protective, it would yield much less revenue. The Government needs revenue, and if it is not going to take other measures to raise it, the Tariff must remain as it is, without revision. That is a fine look-out for the young industries of the continent, and very disappointing to those of us who have gone up and down the country trying to persuade the people that the best policy for Australia is to begin with protection against the land monopolist, and, in the next place, give protection against the cheap sweated labour of foreign countries. The Government will have the support of the Opposition in maintaining the Tariff as it stands.
– That is a second improbability.
– No doubt, the honorable member hopes that next Parliament he will be on the other side of the chamber. I do not know what may happen, but if this Government remains in power, and desires then to maintain the Tariff as it stands now, it will have the support of the present Oppositionists.
– As Fusionists, the members of the Opposition cannot help themselves.
– No. They are revenue Tariffists. But we who are members of the Labour party cannot consistently support a policy of that kind. The bulk of our revenue must be derived directly. Such a great change in our financial arrangements could not be brought about suddenly; it must be accomplished gradually. We have only to guide us as to the intention of the Government its inaction and the statement of Senator Pearce, which indicate that the existing Tariff is to be maintained. 1 object to that. If the present Government is still in power in the next Parliament, I trust that better counsels will prevail, and that something will be done, not only to increase the land value taxation, but also to make our Tariff more effective than it is at the present time as an instrument of Protection. If the Tariff does not protect sufficiently to enable us to establish industries, the wall must be heightened. If the people of Australia prefer Free Trade, I would rather have that pure and simple than the present revenue Tariff, because it would make direct taxation inevitable, and with direct taxation and the freeing of our natural resources which would result, Protection would not then be nearly so necessary as it is now. But my preference is for high Protection with direct taxation. That policy will break up land monopoly, and give to our people the opportunity to settle on the soil, or to those who wish to engage in manufacturing, the opportunity to use and develop the great natural resources of this new country.
. -As I do not wish to repeat what has been said by other senators regarding the Vancouver mail service, I will only say that Queensland spent a lot of money in trying to establish that service, thinking that it would greatly benefit her industries. We were promised that Brisbane would always be a port of call, but we find now that that promise, like many others, was not intended to be kept. I join in protesting against what has been done, but I shall not speak more fully on ‘the matter now, because of what has been said by Senators Chataway and St. Ledger. Honorable senators opposite have said that we on this side were opposed to the land tax. I opposed it, not because it was a tax on land, but because I thought that the right to impose such taxation belonged to the States. I am in favour of the taxation of land by the State Parliaments, and always voted for such taxation when a State member. It is the business of the State authorities to open up the country by the construction of railways and the making of roads, and it is not right that the Commonwealth Government should reap the results of their enterprise. In Queensland, only about ‘6 per cent, of the land has been alienated, and the revenue from any taxation on land should go to the State Government to be used in its development.
– The land tax should pay for the defence of the country.
– Who will pay for the defence of the country ?
– The people will pay for the defence of the country. It was never suggested, when Federation was proposed, that the land should pay for defence. All these things were kept in the dark. It was represented that the State rights would not be touched, but we know how promises are made when it is- desired to engineer a thing through.
– The taxing power is given in the Constitution.
– And I think it ought to be, but only to meet a case of great emergency, such as an invasion. We have been told that for one piece of land there were sixty or seventy applicants, but it ought to be explained that there may not have been more than three or four, or halfadozen, and that each put in twenty or thirty applications on the chance of being successful at the ballot.
– That is not allowed in every State.
– It is not supposed to be done, but it is done in my State, and
I believe in other States. Where is the vast amount of settlement that we were told would result from the land tax? In Queensland land has actually gone out of cultivation.
– Sugar land.
– Not only sugar land, but other land, as is shown by the latest return issued by the Government Statistician. What would have been the state of affairs if there had been a drought ?
– There was a drought for nine months.
– That was nothing like the droughts we have had of six or seven years. Land has gone out of cultivation because the people have no confidence in the Federal Government; they do not know the day or hour when there may be some drastic legislation, under which they will have to suffer.
– What are they doing for a living?
– A great many of them are going into the towns, and in Victoria and Queensland a fictitious prosperity is shown in the cities which will crumple up when adversity comes.
– Melbourne is not a fiction.
– I have seen Melbourne poor and poverty-stricken when the boom burst. Like other cities, it depends on the prosperity of the country ; and a few bad seasons would make a change. There are some facts disclosed in the Budget-papers in reference to the Public Service that require explanation. I see that in the Postmaster-General’s Department the average pay of the officers in New South Wales, in 1902, was £n6 4s., and that it gradually increased until now it is £128 2s. In the same period the pay in Victoria has increased from £123 8s. to £130 8s., but in Queensland it has decreased from £136 4s. to £129 is., though in 1903-4 it was £142. In South Australia the average pay has increased from £ir6 5s. to £135 5s., and in Western Australia, from £126 2s. to £137 3s.
– Has any public servant’s salary been reduced ?
– In all of the States except Queensland an increase is shown. In Tasmania the average wage has increased from £99 7s. to £136 5S-
– There must have been a large increase in the number of junior public servants in Queensland.
– The Queensland public servants urge that they are not receiving the fair play that is extended to others nearer the Seat of Government. At any rate, the figures require some explanation. The number of public servants in the Post and Telegraph Department in Queensland has increased from 1,502 in 1909 to 2,977, but in Victoria there has also been an increase from 2,400 to 4»529 > and I suppose that some juniors must have been appointed in the latter State. The public servants of Queensland believe that they are not getting fair play. I am not in a position to say whether they are justified in that belief, but I give the official figures supplied by the Post and Telegraph Department, and I say that they require explanation. Honorable senators are bound, I think, to say what they believe to be true, and I believe that some system is adopted which places Queensland in an invidious position. I hope that Ministers will be able to explain the matter, not for my sake, but for the sake of the people who feel aggrieved. _ I asked a question to-day in connexion with the matter, and was told that it was under consideration, and would be remedied. I had to put up with that answer, but I now quote specific figures, and why lower rates should be paid in Queensland than in other parts of Australia I do not know.
– All wages are lower in Queensland than in the other States.
– The honorable senator may talk through his neck, but I say that wages are as high in Queensland as in any other State in the Commonwealth.
– The “ cockies “ in Queensland pay the lowest wages paid in Australia.
– As a “cocky” himself the honorable senator should know what wages he pays in Western Australia.
– Better wages are paid in Western Australia than in any other State.
– I know that in Queensland miners are paid far better wages than are paid in New South Wales or Victoria.
– They do not pay miners at all in Victoria.
– Senator Russell admits my statement, and I defy Senator McDougall to prove the statement he has made.
– The poorest paid coal-miners in Australia are the Queensland coal-miners.
– In every other calling it is the same.
– Probably Senator McDougall knows most about the wages paid in Sydney, and I know that as good wages are paid in any Queensland port as are paid in Sydney.
– Nothing of the sort.
– I shall not continue the argument. The facts speak, for themselves. I do not know what wages are paid in the coal mines of Queensland, as I have never had anything to do with coal mining in that State, but I say that in the gold-mining industry there are still being paid in Queensland, and have been paid for the last forty years, higher wages than are being paid in any other State with the exception of Western Australia. We know that a big rush took place to Western Australia when gold was discovered there, and as things were very dear, it was necessary that the wages paid should be very high. But we find that they are now gradually coming down more nearly to the level of those paid in the other States.
– What nonsense t They are going up.
– I read a statement of the wages at present being paid in Western Australia in a newspaper which I saw only to-day. I suppose honorable senators will admit that wages are not as high in Western Australia to-day as they were ten years ago?
– Yes, they are.
– I shall not continue the argument, but I adhere to my opinion.
– The difference is that I know something about it, and the honorable senator does not.
– I can read a newspaper with as much intelligence as can Senator de Largie. I have seen statements, of the wages being paid in Western Australia, and I read that there is now a dispute there between employers and employes.
– The miners are asking for an increase.
– I am aware of that. But the increase asked for is not as large as the honorable senator would have us believe. I know that the standard rates in North Queensland, in the mining industry, range from £3 to £3 10s. per week, and from £4 to £4 10s. for enginedrivers.
– Much higher rates are paid in Western Australia.
– If we take into consideration the cost of living in the two States, I think we shall find that the wages paid in Queensland are really higher than those paid in Western Australia. We have heard a lot about what the land tax has done for Australia, but my reading leads me to believe that, instead of the area of land under cultivation increasing, as it ought to do, by thousands of .acres, the figures show a falling off.
– There has been an increase of 2,000,000 acres in two years.
– I do not regard land under grass, and used for dairying, as agricultural. ‘
– I am talking of cultivation. In two yeaTs there has been an increase of 2,000,000 in the area under cultivation.
– I know from the returns that in Queensland there has been a decrease in the area under cultivation, and unless the people of Queensland can secure better terms from the Federal Parliament the area under cultivation will continue to decrease. Honorable senators have said something about a match industry in Victoria, which employs 400 people. I have every sympathy with the people engaged in that industry, but we have in Queensland an industry which supports, not 400, but some 25,000 people, who are not getting what they asked for from this Labour Government.
– Are they not getting Protection?
– Within the last ten years the Federal Parliament has bled the people concerned in, that industry to. the tune of £2,100,000. According to the official returns, that amount of money has been taken from the “ man on the land “ in Queensland. It is he who finds work for the mills, the shipping, and the labour on the wharfs. But is there any consideration extended to him? We know there is mot. We have done away with black labour. I was in Queensland forty years ago, and long before Senator Givens, who mentioned my. name in connexion with the matter to-day, saw the place. There is no man who can say “that I did not fight my best from 1873 or 1874, when the first kanakas were introduced to be taken out west, to prevent their introduction.. When Sir Thomas Mcllwraith and Sir Samuel Griffith became members of the same Government in Queensland, although I was returned to the State Parliament to support Sir Samuel Griffith, I crossed the floor of the House, and spoke against the Coalition Government. I have all my life been against the introduction of any black labour into this country. We have got rid of coloured labour now. It was done away with some time ago ; but we still continue to exact an Excise duty of £1 per ton on sugar in excess of the bounty paid, and that is taken from the grower. No one can deny that, because the millers have said that if the Excise duty were done awa]’ with they would be prepared to give the growers 2s. 2d. per ton more for their cane. Has the Federal Parliament risen to the occasion in dealing with the sugar industry ? It is indifferent to those engaged in that industry. They are 2,000 miles away, and, apparently, do not concern us. I have stated that since Federation those engaged in the industry have paid into the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth no less than £2,100,000. Now they ask that the Excise should be abolished. I contend that the Commonwealth is not dealing fairly with the sugar growers of Queensland, who were induced to embark upon the industry in the expectation that they would be fairly dealt with.
– -I would point out to the honorable senator that he is anticipating the discussion upon the Sugar Bounty Bill which appears upon the businesspaper.
– I am under the impression that upon the motion for the first reading of a Supply Bill I am at liberty to refer to any -matter. We do not know when the Sugar Bounty Bill will be considered, or what will be the fate of it. Last month, when I visited Queensland, I saw growers who were practically white slaves.
– I call the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that, under our Standing Orders, no senator is allowed to anticipate the discussion of a subject which appears on the notice-paper. The first matter which appears on the notice-paper, under the
Orders of the Day, is the Sugar Bounty Bill, which will permit of a full debate upon the matter with which the honorable senator wishes to deal now.
– I was dealing with the land question.
– The honorable senator was dealing with the sugar bounty.
– Incidentally, I had to mention it. But I have no desire to delay the Senate. I shall have ample opportunity of discussing that matter when the Sugar Bounty Bill is under consideration. Therefore,. I bow to your decision and shall deal with it on a later occasion.
– There are two questions to which I feel it is my bounden duty to refer. The first is the statement of Senator Stewart, that for a block of land of 7,000 acres, in Queensland, there were sixty-seven applicants, which, he said, conclusively proved that a land famine exists there. The honorable senator did not tell us the value of the land - probably he does not know, nor does he care, what is its value. But I would point out that the value of the land is a very important factor.
– It was grazing land.
– I do not care whether it was grazing or agricultural land. If it was worth more than the Crown had put upon it there would naturally be more applicants for it. If the honorable senator were to advertise sovereigns for 15s., how many applicants would he have?
– There would not be a soul to buy them.
– Probably the honorable senator is correct. People would not trust him, I suppose. In South Australia there have been as many as 200 applicants for a single block. So long as a man puts up the deposit that is necessary in the case of the most valuable block for which he applies, he is at liberty to apply for every block that is available. So that the honorable senator’s argument does not prove anything. I also desire to refer to a statement which was made by the Minister of Defence. If his argument was intended to apply only to that one piece of land which was purchased by the South Australian Government, there might be something in it. But the value of the country in which I knew him first has risen from 15s. per acre, a year or two ago, to £6 or £7 per acre, because its productive capacity has increased under improved methods of culti vation. It was the Yongala Estate which he had in his mind. It was purchased by the South Australian Government for something like £3 per acre, and it is a fact that the adjoining estate has been sold during the past few months at £6 or £7 per acre. But it is not the circumstance that people have been settled on that land which has raised its value. Its enhanced value is the result of its increased productive capacity.
– How could its producing value be ascertained until people were put upon it?
– They were there before. I sold land in that neighbourhood a few years ago for 15s. per acre. The enhanced price is due to the adoption of an entirely different system of cultivation. It is directly traceable to the use of the combined seed and fertilizer drill in the cultivation of crops, and to the adoption of bare fallow. It is not due to the fact that the Labour party occupy the Treasury benches. When the Minister of Defence quoted figures with a view to showing that the area under our principal crops had increased largely since the advent of the Labour party to power, he was asked by the Leader of the Opposition to state the increase which occurred during the year 1911-12 as compared with 1910-n. He stated that that increase amounted to 500,000 acres, but when the Leader of the Opposition pinned him down he saidit was 300,000 acres, and eventually he confessed that it was only 211,000 acres. If that is the way in which the Government want to hoodwink the Senate, I am very sorry. I had .a much better opinion of the Minister of Defence. I thought that if he had to quote any figures he would quotethem correctly, and not try to mislead the Senate.
– The honorable senator knows very well that I quoted the totals on the spur of the moment. Senator Millen asked me the difference, and I gave the result of a rapid” mental calculation ; but, immediately afterwards, I corrected theerror I made. Does the honorable senator dispute that I gave the correct totals?
– I do not think that the Minister came down to the correct totals.
– The honorable senator has permission to see the Hansard, proof of mv speech to-morrow, and I invite him to compare my figures with the figures 1 was quoting.
– It is one of those things of which I do not quite approve. It is a sort of straw which shows which way the wind is blowing. I am satisfied with having corrected any wrong impression which might have been formed from the Minister’s statement.
. -I should not have risen to reply if honorable senators had allowed the measure to pass a little earlier, but there is still plenty of time. I want to correct one statement made by the Leader of the Opposition. There are many other statements which I would also like to correct, but I shall not waste the time of the Senate by doing so to-night. When the honorable senator referred to one month’s Supply of £882,000 and multiplied it by three, making a total of £2,600,000 odd, he thought that he had discovered something. But if he had looked down, he would have found that the one month’s Supply included £50,000 for refunds of revenue, and £150,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance; while the three months’ Supply with which we are dealing includes only £75,000 for refunds of revenue, and £150,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance. If you multiply the £150,000 by three, and the £50,000 by three, you will get a difference of £400,000. That does away with anything in the argument of Senator Millen with respect to the disparity between the first one month’s Supply and this three months’ Supply. I think it is only fair that it should be pointed out, in the hope that Senator Millen, before he makes rash statements again, will take the trouble to find out the correct position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sill read a first and second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
– On page 8, I observe an item of £260 for “Education salaries” in the Northern Territory. In my first-reading speech, I referred to the item in terms which, of course, I am not going to repeat. I think that the appointment of an inspector was unnecessary and somewhat extravagant. I should like the Minister to tell me what relation this item of £260 for “ Education salaries “ has to the appointment of the highly-paid inspector?
– The honorable senator will recollect that a question was asked here with respect to the number of schools and teachers in the Northern Territory, and that in reply it was stated that there were three teachers. He will also recollect that the provision in this Bill is only for three months. So far as I know, the appointment of the highly-paid officer he referred to has not yet been made. The honorable senator will see that this vote is for the teachers who are already there. With respect to the appointment of the highlysalaried officer to whom reference has so frequently been made, I may say that if honorable senators will turn to the Works and Buildings Estimates which we have already passed, they will see that provision was made for the erection of several schools for the purpose of teaching native children, and also schools exclusively for halfcastes. These schools will be in operation probably before this highly-paid officer has an opportunity of exercising his ability in the Northern Territory.
– With reference to the proportion of members of the Defence Forces attending camp who take part in manoeuvres, I direct attention to the fact that the InspectorGeneral in his report states that some improvement has been shown. The proportion quoted by me was 13 per cent., not 30. I am glad to hear of the improvement, and am also pleased to know that the Minister appreciates the. importance of the point.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
. -In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I wish to make a statement for the information of honorable senators. The Maternity Allowance Bill was assented to by the Governor-General to-day, and a proclamation was issued. Consequently all those now entitled to the maternity allowance may send in claims from to-day. But, payments cannot be made before the1st November. It is impossible to bring the necessary machinery into action before that date. I may add that until the1st November it will be necessary for claims to be sent to the various State capitals. They cannot be received elsewhere. As soon as the Department is properly organized, officers for receiving claims will be appointed in various parts of the Commonwealth. It will, however, be recognised that some time must elapse before the printed application forms, and other papers respecting this legislation, can be distributed, and officers authorized to receive claims and make payments. The Government are doing all they possibly can to make the maternity allowance available to the women of Australia as speedily as possible.
– Iwish to bring under the notice of Ministers a curious practice which has recently been followed in relation to calling for applications for positions in the Public Service. They are advertised in such a way that officers in distant portions of the Commonwealth are not enabled to send in applications at all. Cases have been brought under my notice where the last date for sending in applications has been so fixed by notice in the Government Gazette as absolutely to preclude persons in Western Australia from sending in applications.
– Applications for what ?
– For positions in the Public Service. This happens even in regard to the coastal districts of Western Australia, where people have the best opportunities of sending in applications through the ordinary channel. It applies still more forcibly to persons situated in far-distant localities. I bring this matter under the notice of Ministers in the hope that a speedy alteration will be made. I do not say that other distant parts of the Commonwealth are not similarly situated in this regard, but it is manifestly unfair to call for applications in such a way as to debar possible applicants from distant parts of the Commonwealth from competing on equal terms with those residing in the Seat of Government or close athand. I do not say that the people of the West are more anxious to secure positions in the Public Service than are residents in any other part of the Commonwealth. We are quite prepared to pay our share of the bill in respect of the Public Service ; but we are certainly anxious to have equal opportunities with people resident in towns and districts nearer at hand to obtain employment in the Service. I merely bring the matter under the notice of Ministers in order that greater care may be exercised in the future, so that persons residing in remote parts of Australia will have just the same chance of competing for positions in the Public Service as have residents of Melbourne, Sydney, or any other big centre of population near at hand.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121010_senate_4_66/>.