5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce the receipt of the following letter in reply to the resolution of condolence passed by the Senate on the 13th August: -
Senator Thomas Givens,
President of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Lady Lyne desires that Mr. President will convey to the Senators her grateful thanks end those of the other members of her late husband’s family for the generous motion of sympathy, which they were so good as to pass on August 13th, and to tell them that the resolution is much appreciated.
Chaceley, Cooper-street, Double Bay,
– I have to announce the receipt of the following letter from the son of the late ex-Senator Vardon : -
Grote-street, Adelaide, 19th August, 1913.
Hon. Thos. Givens,
President, Federal Senate.
Please accept my best thanks for your kindness in forwarding me copies of the resolution passed in the Senate in reference to my late father.
I can assure you that these copies will be treasured by the members of his family.
Wishing you every success in your high office.
Edwd. C. Vardon.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will be good enough to substantiate the statement he made on the last day of sitting that 5,760 persons voted twice or some other persons voted in their names; and, if unable to do so; whether he will be good enough to withdraw the statement, and apologize for having made it?
– As an exMinister, the honorable senator will know that it is not customary to answer questions when avote of censure against the Government is spending.
– You will have to answer that question.
– The question was asked of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Where is he?
– In view of the statement in a leading article in yesterday’s Argus that the Labour party had decided to refuse pairs, even in cases of sickness, to the other side, I want to ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is aware of any member of the Labour party having refused in the other House a pair to the other side in a case of sickness?
– I am not in a position to say what has taken place in the other House between one party and the other. I repeat that it is not usual for Ministers to answer questions under existing circumstances, and I assume that honorable senators will respect what has become a rule of practice here.
– In view of the answer he gave, I ask the Minister if he will answer my question as relating to the Senate only. Is he awareof his own knowledge that any member of the Labour party has refused in a case of sickness a pair to a senator on the other side? In fairness to the party, I ask the Minister to answer the question.
– I can give no other answer. If I were to answer one question, I would be under an obligation to answer every question.
-I want to put a question to the Leader of the Government, and its importance, I am sure, will elicit a ready reply. Is he aware that the mails which left Launceston at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon have not yet been delivered in Melbourne, and what action do the Government propose to take to provide better mail facilities for the people of Tasmania ? He will answer that question, surely.
Motion(by Senator Mullan, by leave) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator J. C. Stewart, on account oi urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Rae, by leave) agreed to -
That two weeks’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Gardiner, on account ofurgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Needham, by leave) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Lynch, on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Maughan, by leave) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Turley, on account of urgent private business.
– I desire to ask the member of the Government representing the Electoral Department if he will lay upon the table of the Senate the report of the Commonwealth Statistician referring to the inflation of rolls mentioned in the Government’s statement of policy.
– I will refer the question to the Minister controlling the Department.
The following sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Senator Millen) -
Standing Orders Committee.
The President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Clemons, Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert Gould, Guthrie, McGregor, ‘ Pearce, Russell, and Turley, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
The President, Senators Buzacott, Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert Gould, Keating, Lynch, Needham, and Stewart, with power to act during the recess, and to confer or sit as a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
The President, Senators Bakhap, de Largie, Long. McColl, McDougall, and Story, with power to act during recess, and to. confer or sit as a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Senators Barker, Blakey Gardiner, Henderson, Oakes, Rae, and Ready, with power to confer or sit as a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations amended, &c.-
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 213, 214, 215, 227, 228.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1912. - Statement regarding Pensions granted, &c., for twelve months ended 30th June, 1913. Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway -
Report of Engineer-in-Chief for Commonwealth Railways, for period of 18 months ended 30th June, 1913.
Lands Acquisition Act1906-
Leasing of certain land acquired in the Federal Territory - Approval of authority for. Dated 12th August, 1913.
Leases of lands in the Federal Territory -
Approval granted -
G. A, Boreham, Ginninderra.
J. S. Robertson, Weetangera.
Land acquired under, in the Federal Territory, and leased to -
G. A. Boreham, Canberra.
I. Cameron, Pialligo, and W. P. Bluett, Yarralumla.
Land acquiredunder, at -
Congwarra, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Malvern, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Tweed Heads, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act 1902-1911 -
Appointments - Department of Home Affairs - as Surveyors, Lands and Survey Branch, Federal Territory -
J. D. Reid, Class C.
R. J. Rain, Class D.
A. Percival, Class D.
F. M. Johnston, Class D.
H. Mouat, Class D.
Promotions - Department of Trade and Customs, Central Staff -
G.F. Parkes, as Clerk, 3rd Class, Lighthouses Branch.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Supplv Bill being passed through all its stages forthwith.
– I desire to move that Government business be postponed until such time as notice of motion No. 2, standing in my name, has been dealt with. The motion has regard to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn, Supervising Engineer on the transcontinental railway. I am rather reluctant to take this course, but the Government have declined to deal with this matter, and the only way-
– Order ! The question before the Senate is that the Standing Orders be suspended. The proper course for Senator de Largie to take, if he desires to accomplish what he has indicated, is to allow the Standing Orders to be suspended, and then, when the Supply Bill is called on, to move its postponement until after the motion which he desires to move has been disposed of.
– Why not move the motion after the Supply Bill has been dealt with ?
– I willact on your advice, Mr. President.
– I point out that I am not advising the honorable senator. I have merely pointed out the course that is open to him.
– I will take that course.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– I wish to move that the debate be adjourned until after Notice of Motion No. 2, Private Members’ Business, has been disposed of. I put the motion on the paper with a view to its being discussed to-day, because it deals with a matter of urgency.
– The honorable senator cannot debate the motion he proposes to move.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.31].- May I suggest that the motion should be for the adjournment of the debate, and if it is carried it will be possible to fix a time tor its resumption after Senator de Largie’s motion has been disposed of?
Motion (by Senator de Largie) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to-
That the resumption of the debate be an Order of the Day first after Notice of Motion No. 2, Private Members’ Business, has been disposed of.
– I wish now to move the motion appearing in my name on the business-paper.
– The honorable senator cannot move his motion unless the Standing Orders, which prohibit the conduct of business by the Senate until the Address-in-Reply has been disposed of, are suspended.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 2, Private Members’ Business, being proceeded with without delay.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
Thata Select Committee be appointed to inquire and report upon the dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn, Supervising Engineer on transcontinental railway.
As to whether Mr. Henry Chinn has been justly treated by the present Government.
That the Committee have power to send for all persons, papers, and records required in the case.
– I move -
That the Select Committee consist of Senators Bakhap, Blakey, Henderson, Maughan, Story, Rae, and de Largie.
I may say that I endeavoured to induce some honorable senators on the Government side to consent to be members of the proposed Select Committee. There were only three honorable senators, exclusive of members of the Government, to whom I could apply. I did not think it was proper to ask any Ministers to act as members of the Committee. I could only induce one of the three private senators on the other side to whom I applied to consent to be nominated as a member of the Committee. Consequently, the Committee proposed is not what I should like it to be. A Select Committee dealing with a matter of this kind should, I consider, be representative of both sides of the Senate. It is no fault of mine that the proposed Committee is not more representative of the Government side than it is. I make this explanation in order that it may be known that supporters of the Government in the Senate were given an opportunity to act on the Committee if they so desired.
– Under the Standing Orders a ballot can be demanded for the selection of the members of a Select Committee. If a ballot is not demanded, the motion will be dealt with by an ordinary vote of the Senate. I will now put the question.
– Is that, sir, the question for nominating the Committee, or for carrying the original motion?
– The original motion has been carried. The question I am about to put is merely to appoint the members of the Committee; and, in accordance with the Standing Orders, Senator de Largie has nominated them. It is the right of any honorable member to demand a ballot if he so chooses.
– All right, sir; that I have no desire to do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
That the Committee report to the Senate on this day four weeks.
Electoral Bolls : Alleged Irregularities : Card System - Naval Base at Cockburn Sound: Conduct of Work - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway: Dismissals: Steam Shovel - Increased Cost of Living - Ministerial Policy: Preference to Unionists - Maternity Allowance - Immigration - Small-pox - Inter-State Commission : Mr. Swinburne - Appointments by Fisher GovernmentCockatoo Island and Fitzroy Dock: Purchase and Administration of : Condition of Plant.
Debate resumed on motion (by Senator Clemons) -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– I have no intention of opposing such a very moderate request from the Government. In fact, the amount asked for in the Bill is under £1,000,000. The present Treasurer has always been in the habit of discounting even millions; therefore, I am surprised that the Government did not ask for a little over £1,000,000. I would not have been surprised if a request had been made for two months’ supply. I think that that would have been a reasonable request, because of the very large amount which is set down for a Treasurer’s Advance. A quarter of a million for a Treasurer’s Advance in a month’s supply seems rather extraordinary; it alarms me to a considerable extent that such a request should be made. In the days that have gone I heard honorable senators opposite ask why ‘ ‘ this very large amount” was required. Even a smaller amount than £250,000 was deemed extraordinary by them as a Treasurer’s Advance. We used to be asked whether a Treasurer’s Advance was required for the purpose of carrying on some Socialistic enterprises, and I am wondering whether this £250,000 is not being placed at the disposal of the Treasurer for the purpose of carrying on some wild-cat anti-Socialistic scheme in the future. But be that as it may, if the Opposition in the House of Representatives were prepared to give him £250,000 to play with, I do not think that we in the Senate ought to be very much alarmed. Even that item may be passed as fairly formal. Hoping that the Treasurer and the Government generally will be careful with “this very large amount,” and discriminate in what they do with it, I do not oppose the motion.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) [4.47].- Earlier in the sitting I questioned the Vice-President of the Executive Council in regard to a statement he made on the last day of sitting, and the Leader of the Government, on his behalf, said it was customary, when a no-confidence motion was before another place, for the representatives of the Government in this Chamber not to answer any questions. Of course, that is an old custom.
– It is imitating your own procedure.
– I intimated this afternoon that I would have another opportunity to ask Senator McColl to substantiate the serious, and, let me say, the slanderous statement that he made here.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to use the word “ slanderous,” and to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the word, sir, and say that the statement of Senator McColl was a serious and absolutely incorrect one. It was a statement that could not by any stretch of imagination be characterized as a manly one. At the Fitzroy Town Hall, on 31st July last, the honorable senator indulged in skyrockets and fireworks of a fusion kind, and, in order to tickle the ears of his auditors, he made statements without any justification in respect to the party sitting on this side. He said ‘ ‘ they resurrected the dead,” meaning that the Labour party throughout the Commonwealth had been guilty of corrupt practices.
– Do you fit the cap, then?
– No, the cap does not fit me at all, nor does it fit any man or woman belonging to the Labour organization in any part of Australia. There has not been a tittle of evidence to justify that statement made by Senator McColl. I said on the last day the Senate sat that in the circumstances he ought to have had the common decency to await the result of the Government inquiry before making the statements as published in the daily newspapers. I feel sure that members of the Cabinet could not have been pleased with his utterances on that occasion. He said, “they were going straight ahead.” The first time he attempted to go ahead he bumped his head against a wall, and it has been hurting him ever since, and will continue to hurt him. He said that we had “ resurrected the dead.” One would think from his remarks that the Fusion, or so-called Liberal, party is endowed with every virtue and exempt from every vice, that they are a party incapable of wrong-doing, and that the only persons who did anything wrong at the recent elections were the members of the Labour party. When Senator McColl anticipated that he was not going to be elected, common rumour had it that he went round mouthing to different people that his defeat was the result of organized corruption. He further had a consultation with the Government Statistician. I am extremely anxious, and so is every fairminded man and woman in this community, to see what the statement of Mr. Knibbs really was. I have my doubts that Mr. Knibbs made the statement which Senator McColl attributed to him. What was the statement that the latter made ? He said that there were more names on the rolls than there were persons entitled to vote, and that he had the figures from Mr. Knibbs. He made Mr. Knibbs, the Government Statistician, say that there were 60,000 more people on the rolls of New South Wales than were entitled to vote.
– I will say that at one time the number was nearer 80,000.
– I know that the honorable senator would make many statements which perhaps he would find it very difficult to prove; but let me deal first with the statements of his colleague. Senator McColl said there were 60,000 more people on the rolls of New South Wales than were entitled to vote, 60,000 more on the rolls of Victoria than were entitled to vote, 30,000 more on the rolls of Queensland than were entitled to vote, 17,000 more on the rolls of South Australia than were entitled to vote, 11,000 more on the rolls of Western Australia than were entitled to vote, and 7,000 more on the rolls of Tasmania than were entitled to vote. I make bold to say that Mr. Knibbs never made such statements. I have no doubt that Senator McColl consulted Mr. Knibbs, and wis supplied with certain figures, and then he read into the statement that this immense army in the different States, totalling many thousands, had either voted twice or personated others. Thehonorable senator also said that the late Government had opened every door for corrupt practices. I say that the late Government closed every door in respect to corrupt practices at the recent election. I say that in days gone by every door and every avenue were open to that purpose.
– What door did you close ?
– We closed every possible door against dishonesty that had been opened by past Administrations.
– Name one.
– And we opened every door for honest voting.
– Name one.
– The honorable senator can speak afterwards. We know how, in days gone by, elections were contested and won - by the influence of newspaperdom and by the money that was at the disposal of organizations that had not a penny to bless themselves with at any other period. The last election furnishes evidence that mighty influences were exercised on behalf of the party which Senator Millen represents here, and if it had not been for the influences of newspaperdom and financial institutions the certainty is that the present Government would not be occupying the Treasury bench. When this matter was brought before the Senate by Senator Russell on the last day of sitting, Senator McColl made a statement which I feel sure he cannot substantiate. If a man cannot substantiate a serious statement which he has made, he ought to have the manliness to withdraw it and apologize for having made it. This is the statement that Senator McColl made -
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is the honorable senator proposing to quote from Hansard ?
– The honorable senator cannot do that.
– Then I can remember the figures without quoting them from Hansard. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that, as the result of that inquiry, the fact had been disclosed that 5,760 persons voted twice, or some other persons voted in their names. Does he adhere to that statement?
– I said there had been a duplication of votes to that extent.
– The honorable gentleman did not say anything of the kind. Hansard records what he did say. Hansard represents him as saying that 5,760 persons voted twice, or some other persons voted in their names.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Did he make that statement during the present session of Parliament?
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Then I submit that the honorable senator is not in order in quoting the Hansard report of a speech which was delivered during the current session.
– But I heard the honorable senator make the statement.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I do not object to the honorable senator quoting from a newspaper report, but I do take exception to what Senator McColl may have said in this chamber during the present session being made use of by him.
– Senator Findley is not entitled to quote from the Hansard report of the debates of the present session, but, under our Standing Orders, he is entitled to repeat from memory what has taken place here.
– My memory is clear in regard to the statement made on the occasion to which I refer, and the Hansard report is proof of it. I feel rather warm upon this matter, and when it was previously under discussion, I informed Senator McColl that if he did not withdraw his statement, and apologize for having made it, he would regret it. I do not intend to allow the matter to rest where it is. The statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council are wicked statements. They are the veriest fabrications, and are an insult to every man and woman associated with the Labour movement throughout the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable senator give the figures as they have been corrected ?
– The Honorary Minister is aware that a report has been obtained from the Department of Home Affairs in regard to alleged electoral irregularities, and that that report conclusively shows that the statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council are absolutely incorrect. The Honorary Minister has that information in his possession. I have not a copy of it. Apparently, the Government do not think that honorable senators ought to be supplied with a copy of it at the present time.
– The honorable senator says that certain figures are inaccurate. Can he produce accurate figures?
– I cannot at the moment produce proof that they are inaccurate, but Senator Clemons has that proof. It is, let me again repeat, certainly up to the Vice-President of the Executive Council either to substantiate the statements which he has made, or else to withdraw them, and apologize for having made them.
– I do not desire to unduly delay the passing of this measure, which aims at providing the necessary funds for the payment of our public servants. But I deem this a favorable opportunity to call attention to certain matters of public import, particularly in view of the fact that, during the past few weeks, the members of this Chamber have not been able to express their opinions upon those matters. During the past five weeks Ministers have been travelling through the country, making all sorts of statements, which have been ably backed up by the press in every instance. Since we last met, the Prime Minister stated on one occasion that, so far as any legislative work is concerned, the Government are powerless. But lie also added that they would make up for that deficiency in the administration of their respective Departments, where, as Ministers, they would be untrammelled. I venture to say that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have carried out their intention. A little while ago the Minister of Defence visited Ballarat, where he made a certain statement with his tongue in his cheek. He said that, in view of the fact that a no-confidence motion was impending, he could not discuss controversial politics; but in the same breath - and I wish he were present in his place in this chamber - he reflected somewhat on the composition of the Senate by describing it as undemocratic. The honorable senator has been a member of this Chamber since 1901. At that time there was not a preponderance of Labour members in the Senate. For several years after there was not a preponderance of Labour members here.
– Not until 1910.
– The year 1910 was the first in which there was a preponderance of Labour senators in this Chamber. Is it not passing strange that until now we have not heard from the Minister of Defence, or the Honorary Minister, that this Senate is an undemocratic assembly?
– The Tory brain moves slowly. It has only just discovered the fact.
– It is only since the people returned a majority of Labour members to this Chamber that we have been told that it is an undemocratic assembly.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - A majority of Labour members returned by a minority of the people.
– That statement is not correct, and Senator Gould ought to know it.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - If the honorable senator will calculate the votes recorded at the last election, he will find that it is correct.
– Even admitting, for the sake of argument, that it is correct, what was the position in 1901, in 1903, and in 1906 ? Did not a similar position obtain then with a majority of anti-Labour senators, and was the Senate then described as an undemocratic assembly? I would ask Senator Gould, notwithstanding the legal acumen and political experience of which he is possessed, to refresh his memory on the subject. I desire now to refer to one or two administrative acts of the present Government. I had occasion, a few weeks ago, to interview the Minister of Defence in regard to the cessation of work at the Naval Base at Cockburn Sound, Fremantle, as the result of a telegram which I had received from the present representative for that constituency, Mr. Burchell. The Minister met me very courteously, and informed me that, on account of the uncertainty which obtained regarding the exact locality of the base, it had been determined that all the land work then in progress should be finished, but that no further land work would be undertaken until the present survey had been completed. I accepted his statement, and despatched a telegram to that effect to Mr. Burchell, which telegram, the Minister will doubtless recollect, I read to him. I was assured that the surveyors would be retained until the present survey had been completed, and that work would then be continued in accordance with the plans of that survey. I am very much surprised to find that since then surveyors, as well as other workmen, have been dismissed. In the statement which the Minister made to me in his office in all good faith, I was led to believe that all the surveyors engaged on the present survey would be retained, and that when they had completed that survey to the satisfaction of the Government, other work would be proceeded with. In these circumstances, I am indeed surprised to learn that two surveyors were dismissed last week. I am informed that there are others to follow. I hope that the Minister in his reply, upon the first reading of this Bill, will say whether or not my information is correct. A remarkable feature about this matter is that at the last general elections in Western Australia we were met on almost every platform by statements of the present Treasurer, the ex-representative of Fremantle, Mr. Hedges, and the honorable member for Perth, Mr. Fowler, to the effect that work at the Naval Base was not being pushed on with fast enough; that the Labour Ministry were dilly-dallying with matters there; that they were not carrying out the recommendations of Admiral Henderson ; and that they were making a ‘ ‘ holy mess “ of the eutire position. The Ministry were attacked - the ex-Minister of Defence was attacked - by them, and only a few days after the present Government had been installed in office, Mr. Fowler found it convenient to declare, in a statement which he made to the press, that he would see that the work at the Naval Base w.as now pushed on with more rapidly. How has it been pushed on with more rapidly? By the dismissal of eighty-five men during the period that the present Government have been in office. There is another matter to which I desire to call the attention of the Senate. The present Minister of Defence has his Naval Board - his experts. All previous Ministers of Defence have had theirs, and it is somewhat remarkable that the present Minister should be setting up a different condition of things altogether from that which was recommended by Admiral Henderson. Either his action is a veiled attack on the desire of Australia to establish an Australian Navy-
– Say that again, with all the contempt which the honorable senator expressed on the floor of this Senate for an Australian Navy.
– I must ask for a retraction of that statement. I have never uttered a single syllable in contempt of an Australian Navy.
– I was not referring to Senator Bakhap. I understood it was Senator Gould who made the interjection.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I did not make any interjection, and the honorable senator is absolutely in error in supposing that I am other than a firm believer in the creation of an Australian Navy.
– If I have said anything to offend the susceptibilities of either Senator Bakhap or Senator Gould I withdraw it. But I have heard Senator Gould in this chamber oppose the establishment of an Australian Navy.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator is in error in making that statement.
– I still adhere to it. I will accept the honorable senator’s explanation, but I would ask him to read up Hansard, and he will there discover his mistake. There is this other phase of the question. The Minister the other day said that it was the desire of the Government to obtain scientific opinion as to whether or not Cockburn Sound was a suitable place for a Naval Base. Since Admiral Henderson was here the Commonwealth Government have been advised by several scientific men. The action of the Government in practically stopping all work at the Naval Base is either an insult to Admiral Henderson or to the experts who have been advising the Department during the past few years. I venture to say that the Government ought to have considered very carefully indeed whether they should persist in the policy laid down in connexion with the Naval Base at Cockburn Sound. Some time last year a number of men engaged at the work there, having some idea that there was to be continuity of employment, removed their homes from distant parts of the State in order to live adjacent to the works. These men now find themselves out of employment, and will again have to remove their homes. The whole business is uncertain. I can see no solid reason for changing the pro cedure and policy adopted by the predecessors of the present Government. Again, in connexion with the transAustralian railway, we were faced with a statement from our opponents, during the last election, that we were not pushing on with the work with sufficient rapidity. Since the advent of the new Ministry I find that a number of men have been dismissed from the Kalgoorlie end of the railway, including the engineer, Mr. Chinn. It is a remarkable thing that during the elections we found our opponents saying everything they possibly could to destroy our chance of success in connexion with the administration of that line. They even went so far as to say that some machinery which had been purchased for use at both ends was obsolete. But since the advent of Mr. Kelly to the Home Affairs Department as Assistant Minister, we learn that the machinery which his colleague, Sir John Forrest, condemned on the platform has been found to be absolutely perfect. Take the steam shovel at the Port Augusta end of the line. It was condemned as a useless instrument, and it was said that the money expended upon it had been wasted. Such a mistake, it was said, could only have been made by a Labour Ministry.
– How many months was the steam shovel lying idle ?
– Even admitting that it was lying idle for a time, that does not detract from its value. It is now found to be a perfect piece of machinery. I hold in my hand a statement made by Mr. Kelly, which practically justifies everything done by the Ministry that was recently displaced. In fact, his statement practically amounts to an apology for the charges made against the Labour Government.
– He must have been talking in his sleep.
– He was talking to the press, and it is from the press that I am going to quote Mr. Kelly’s statement in connexion with the alleged slowness of the work on the railway.
– The honorable senator said just now that Mr. Kelly justified everything that the previous Government had done.
– I said nothing of the sort. I said that the particular shovel which Sir John Forrest and others condemned Mr. Kelly had found to be a perfect piece of mechanism.
– He said that the Labour Government had been keeping it as a curiosity, whilst he proposed to use it.
– He said nothing of the sort.
– Fancy Kelly using a shovel !
– Speaking to the Argus, Mr. Kelly said -
With reference to comments which have been passed on the rate of progress of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, it may be pointed out that Mr. Deane was appointed engineer-in-chief for the construction of the Une on December1, 1912, when, of course, a staff had to be organized. In Mr. Deane’s report (as consulting engineer) of September 20,1911, presented to Parliament at the time of the passing of the Bill to authorize the construction of the line, it was recommended that the proper way to proceed was to spend the first year collecting plant and materials, and, at the same time, doing what work was necessary in the way of formation of depôts at each end of the route. After the first 12 months had elapsed, and plant and material had been collected, would be the time to push forward with the real work of construction. Owing to the press of work in railway construction throughout Australia, it was found impracticable to buy suitable rolling stock, new or even second-hand, and, consequently, a staff of draughtsmen had to be established to work out designs of the requisite rolling stock, and early in1912 steps were taken to this end. A suitable senior draughtsman, recommended by the late chief mechanical engineer of the Victorian Railways, was selected, but he subsequently withdrew, because, under the provisions of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act, there could be no certainty of continuous, not to say permanent, employment. The position was then advertised, and eventually, on May 6, 1912, an appointment was made.
Here is the point to which I wish to direct special attention -
It mav be said, therefore, that the preliminary period of 12 months mentioned in Mr. Deane’s above-mentioned report should start from the latter date.
It is a fact that the late Government was condemned, from every platform in Western Australia from which our opponents addressed the electors’, for the manne? in which the railway had been proceeded with, whilst here we have an Assistant Minister, Mr. Kelly, coming forward with practically an apology for our policy having been condemned.
– If everything happened all right, the honorable senator is quite satisfied, is he not?
– Yes ; but would Mr. Kelly make the same statement during an election fight in New South Wales as he made to the Argus newspaper after the elections ?
– Does the honorable senator think that he went about New South Wales praising the Labour party? I do not think he would do so, for a moment.
– The present Government, which professes to be a Government of reform in the respective Departments, has certainly advanced considerably. I notice that one of the first acts of Mr. Kelly was to abolish the thin red line - that line drawn in red ink upon a book which an officer in a Department had to sign, showing the time when he came to his office in the morning. It has been bruited abroad that the thin red line has been abolished.
– And this from the “man-on-the-job “ party!
– A public officer can come to his office at any time he likes, but the man on the job has to be on duty when the whistle blows, or he will lose his employment. I notice, also, that the Postmaster-General has evicted the kangaroo from the Australian stamp. That is a great reform, surely ! Now, I wish to say a word or two about the high cost of living. During the past few weeks we have read in the press reports of the speeches of honorable members in another branch of the Legislature, in which they have laid the blame for the high cost of living at the door of the Labour party. The Labour party are to blame for everything. This was a big issue at the elections. No one knows better than honorable senators opposite, however, that the Labour party had nothing at all to do with the increased cost of living. They know perfectly well that it was the Labour party which asked for certain powers to be intrusted to this Parliament, in order that we might deal with combinations and monopolies, that are certainly responsible, in a great degree, for the increased cost of living. Honorable senators opposite opposed that policy, and the people of Australia, in their judgment, rejected our proposals for the time being. But since the advent of this Ministry to power we find the cost of living still increasing.
– “The evil that men do lives after them.”
– Many of the evil things which the Minister of Defence is doing will, I am afraid, live long after he is dead; though I hope, long as I should like to see him live as a man, that it will not be long before he is dead as a Minister. Let me read an extract, not from a Labour newspaper, but from the Argus of the 5th July, 1913. It is headed, “Inter-State freights; increase of 15 per cent.”
Merchants and manufacturers are complaining of a further increase in Inter-State freights by the steam-ship companies. In the past the practice has been to make small advances of 5 per cent, or less, but this latest jump is one of 15 per cent., making a total of 20 per cent, in the last six months. Business men regard the increase with alarm, and state that it will seriously affect the Inter-State trade. Even if it does not lead to the curtailment of imports and exports, it will necessitate higher prices being charged for goods, with a corresponding upward tendency in the cost of living. The present rates compare with those previously charged as follows : - -
The shipping companies state that the advance has been made necessary because many vessels are running practically empty owing to the outbreak of small-pox. The advanced rates apply, not to cargo shipped on vessels trading to the infected city, but to goods consigned to any port in Australia, from Geraldton to Cairns. Commenting on the new freights yesterday, a Melbourne merchant said : - “ This will mean a large addition to our expenditure, but what are we to do? The companies have the monopoly of the Inter-State trade, and appear to have an understanding ‘ regarding freights and fares which does away with competition. Therefore we are wholly in their hands. We recognise that during the last few years they have been compelled to pay large increases in wages to their crews, but an increase of 5 per cent, was made to cover that. However, as they have seen fit to charge an additional 20 per cent, for the carriage of goods, we must pay it, and pass the increase on to the public.’*
– Will not the completion of the “desert” - I beg pardon - trans-Australian railway affect these fares later on 1
– What I say is that this newspaper, that opposed the referendum proposals, recognises the fact that there is a Shipping Combine in our midst, which, by a stroke of the pen, is able to considerably increase the cost of living. Here we have a Melbourne merchant who refers to an increase in fares and freights of 15 per cent., and says, “What can we do? There is an understanding between the companies which have a monopoly of the Inter-State trade. We must pay it.” If he stopped there it would not be so bad, but he adds, “ and pass it on to the public.” The present Commonwealth Government recognise that there is such a combine in existence, and, although they opposed Bills covering proposed amendments of the Constitution and the referendum proposals consequent upon the passing of those Bills, which would have enabled this Parliament to deal effectively with such combines, they still lay the blame at the door of the Labour party for the increased cost of living. I wish now to refer to a question raised by Senator Findley in connexion with alleged double voting at the recent elections. The honorable senator, when speaking a few moments ago, had not at hand a report furnished by the Department, which effectively refutes statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council when speaking a few weeks ago in Melbourne.
– And which the honorable senator reiterated’ at the last sitting of the Senate.
– I have here a return of the elections and referenda on the 31st May, 1913, covering a schedule showing the results of an official inquiry under the regulations, giving the number of electors marked as voting more than once. I find that particulars are given for all the divisions of the State of Victoria, from Balaclava lo Yarra. The highest figures of alleged irregular voting are 173 for Ballarat, out of the total of 33,818 votes recorded, and the lowest thirty, at Indi, out of a poll of 29,088. I have not reckoned up the total for the whole State, but it cannot amount to more than 600 apparent irregularities. This is the State in which, according to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, there was organized corruption. The report I have here is submitted by officers appointed by the honorable senator himself, as a member of the present Government, and I was going to say that they absolutely make him swallow the lie he uttered.
– Order !
– I said that I was about to say it - I did not say it. In Western Australia statements of a similar nature were made by the colleague of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, Sir John Forrest, and also by the present Chairman of Committees in the House of Representatives, Mr. Fowler. Mr. Fowler made the statement that in a certain street in South Fremantle, where 312 votes were recorded, each elector enrolled had voted twice.
– Who said that?
– I find I made a mistake in attributing that statement to Mr. Fowler. It was Mr. Hedges who made the statement; but Mr. Fowler acquiesced in it, if he did not utter it. Here, again, we have the return from the Electoral Department, giving particulars for the five divisions of Dampier, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Perth, and Swan. I find that in Dampier, with a poll of 24,643, there were fifty-eight apparent irregularities; in Fremantle, out of a poll of 20,628, 156 apparent irregularities; Kalgoorlie, with a poll of 22,085, 134 apparent irregularities; Perth, with a poll of 28,963, 116 apparent irregularities; and Swan, with a poll of 27,830, eightysix apparent irregularities. These figures give a total of 132,149 votes polled at the last election in Western Australia, and show that 556 votes were cast apparently in an irregular way for the whole State.
– Is the number of irregularities at previous elections included in the return ?
– No, it deals only with the last election.
– Was there ever such an inquiry made before?
– If there were no such inquiries made before, I say to men like the Vice-President of the Executive Council that if they are men they should withdraw the statements they made in this chamber or from public platforms. I cannot help referring to a certain document which was tabled recently by the Government, purporting to be a statement of what they intend to do. During the election campaign the Prime Minister had two planks on his platform. The first was to put Fisher out and the second was to put Cook in. The honorable gentleman has now discovered a third plank, and that is to keep Cook in.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - He is not peculiar in that, is he?
– If that plank were naked and alone it would be peculiar and unique, but honorable senators opposite may be able to cover its nakedness by finding something to buttress it. I notice that it is proposed by the Government to abolish preference to unionists, but Mr. Cook lost no opportunity after the assembling of Parliament to proclaim at everv social he attended and every complimentary banquet given to some victor on his side - his majority is one, and the honorable gentleman makes every man on his side his majority - that the policy of ithe present Government is liberty, equality, and freedom.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Hear, hear!
– Let us see how Mr. Cook proposes to put the gospel of liberty, equality, and freedom into practice.
– He cannot put much equality into practice in the Senate, can he ?
– No; but there are three senators sitting at the Ministers’ table in this chamber who form part and parcel of the Cook Ministry, and are pledged to carry out the proposals contained in the document to which I have referred, one of which is the abolition of preference to unionists. It is remarkable that whilst the Government say they are going to abolish preference to unionists they are aiding and abetting a party that gives preference to non-unionists. I refer to the Employérs Federation of Australia. We know that it is to the Employers Federation and the combines that Ministers owe their position on the Treasury bench.
– Order ! The honorable senator must know that the document containing the Government policy has been ordered by the Senate to be taken into consideration in connexion with the Address-in-Reply. Under the Standing Orders only a passing reference can be made to that document on the motion now before the Senate.
– I intend only to make a passing reference to it. The Government propose to abolish preference to unionists, but there is a body known as the Independent Workers Union in existence in Australia, the secretary of which is Packer. They say that they are against preference to unionists, and they have established labour bureaus throughout the Commonwealth, aided and abetted through their federation by the employers of the Commonwealth. I have read a circular issued under the authority and seal of the Employers Federation, in which it is stated that the Independent Workers Union, through its secretary or secretaries, will procure employment for men or women, but before they start work they must pay an entrance fee to that organization, and pledge themselves to pay 6d. per week, otherwise employment will not be found for them. Is that not preference to non-unionists ? I think it is. When the Government talk of freedom and equality, let me say that whilst the miner, bricklayer, mason, and other artisans in the Commonwealth may approach the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Government say to the farm labourer, “ You are not to have an opportunity to obtain justice.” The farm labourer may starve, or eke out a miserable subsistence on an alleged wage: but if he says, “With my fellows I will combine; we will form ourselves into an organization, seek registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and approach the Court,” the Government say, “No, you must not do it,” If this is the attitude which the Government propose to adopt, it amounts to a contention that the farm labourer is made of some different kind of flesh and blood from the artisan. If the Government propose to adopt such a system I venture to say that when they submit themselves to the will of the people they will find it necessary to change thenopinions in this respect. This is the kind of liberty, equalty, and freedom that Senators Clemons, McColl, and Millen, as Ministers of the Crown, are preaching to-day. In proposing the abolition of preference to unionists, Ministers are up against something very much bigger than they anticipate. The desire of those belonging to the industrial world of Australia today, of allpolitical views, is to settle industrial troubles, not by the cruel weapon of the strike, but by the more pacific method of arbitration. If the Government persist in what they have set out to do, they will invite the workers of Australia to discard the weapon of conciliation and arbitration, and resort again to the weapon of the strike.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It has not been abandoned yet.
– There have been more strikes since the present Government took office than during my previous period of the same length.
– There have been many more; but there has been less talk about them in the public press than there was about strikes which took place when the Labour Government were in power. I venture to say that if the press gave the same publicity to industrial troubles which have arisen since the advent of the present Government to power, it would be found that, in proportion to the time, there have been many more than occurred while the Labour Government were in office. Making a further passing reference to the precious document to which I have already referred, I find that the Government propose to amend the Maternity Allowance Act.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in referring in detail to that matter.
– I understood that I might make a passing reference to the document referred to.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator is doing more than that.
– I should like to know how many Presidents we have in the Senate. Senator Gould is an exPresident. I say that the Government propose to amend the Maternity Allowance Act by refusing the allowance to some mothers of children born in Australia. Setting aside the document to which I have referred, that I may be quite within the bounds of order, let me say that Mr. Gregory, the member for Dampier, when asked a few weeks ago whether he was in favour of an amendment of the Act, said “ yes.” When he was asked in what direction he would amend the Act, he said he would not be in favour of paying the allowance to the rich mother as well as to the poor mother, and he would seek to amend the Act in that direction. Further, the Prime Minister - and other members of the Ministry - and Mr. Gregory have said that they object to the poor being taxed to give something to the rich. I am surprised at this sudden solicitude for the poor. I have never heard either of these honorable gentlemen express any anxiety about the poor of Australia being taxed to give retiringpensions to Judges or highly-paid public servants. Still, they object to the poor being taxed in the direction of a maternity allowance. I suppose that the argument which can be adduced for paying pensions to Judges and highly-paid public officers is that they have rendered good services to the State. I admit that probably they have done so; and I, for one, agree that when they retire from their high positions they should get some recognition. But if that is the only reason actuating them in connexion with the maternity allowance, I ask the Ministry : Who renders the greater service to the State - a woman who presents another citizen in the person of a child, or a Judge or highly-paid officer? Naturally,, the mother renders the greater service; and that being so, there should be no distinction drawn. I know that most of the mothers of Australia have availed themselves of the provisions of the Maternity Allowance Act; but I venture to add that, had there been the slightest taint of charity about the Act, many mothers would not have availed themselves of its provisions. They have availed themselves of the maternity allowance because they knew that it was not a charity but a right to which every mother in Australia was entitled. If the Government attempt, as I believe they will attempt, to amend the Act in the direction they have intimated, it will receive strenuous opposition from me. I desire to refer to one or two other matters. The question of immigration, I understand, is engaging the attention of the Ministry, and it is proposed to confer with the State Premiers with the view to make some satisfactory arrangements here and in London. The question of immigration, I venture to submit, is a very important one to Australia; but the present system is not giving satisfactory results. Here we find six States competing in London for immigrants, and practically one decrying the other. Again, we find that the immigration agents of one State are being paid so much for every immigrant whom they can induce to come to our shores.
– Fit or unfit.
– Yes. Honorable senators will admit, I think, that that state of affairs is not satisfactory to Australia. It is absolutely essential that this vast continent should be populated, and we must seek assistance in that direction from overseas; but I desire to see only the best of our oversea friends brought to our shores. I do not desire to see six States competing with each other in London, nor do I wish to see a price placed on the head of any man or woman. If it is necessary that there should be immigration officers, let them be paid a proper salary; and whether they get one or a hundred people to come to our shores, let that proper salary be paid. I will make a suggestion to the Ministry for what it is worth. I think that, after considering the matter very carefully, the question of immigration should no longer be allowed to remain a State matter. I consider it the duty of the Commonwealth Government to take full charge as regards the selection of immigrants and the disposition of them when they arrive here.
– But you are proposing to interfere with State rights now.
– I believe that there are State Premiers who are quite willing to yield a portion of their political rights. But, leaving that issue on one side, the question of immigration is, I think, big and important enough for the Government to take up independently of the States, and they ought to pay the cost of bringing out immigrants. I want to see a judicious scheme of immigration started, so that we may get the best of the Old Country’s population to come and assist us in developing our resources. I desire to see unanimity of thought as regards the States and the Commonwealth, and the best way to secure that result, I think, will be for the Commonwealth to take full charge of the whole of the proceedings. We are asked to vote money in connexion with the Quarantine Department. In regard to the small-pox scare in Sydney, we need something more than vaccination. Victoria, so far, has escaped, for there has been no local case. The rush for vaccination here a few weeks ago was owing to a passenger by the Karoola having escaped detection by the quarantine authorities. While this State has been immune, so far, from any local case, I wonder how long it will remain immune under present quarantine conditions. A person from the proclaimed area in Sydney cannot cross the Victorian border unless he produces a successful certificate of vaccination. I am not a lover or an advocate of vaccination. I am an antivac.cinationist, but I will not obtrude my opinion just now. I only want to point out that vaccination without fumigation is absolutely useless. The authorities compel a man or a woman from Sydney to produce at the border a certificate of successful vaccination, and when that demand is complied with, passengers can go on their way rejoicing, but carrying perhaps myriads of microbes in their handbags, or on their clothing, and letting them loose in this State, or other- parts of the Commonwealth. Any one who considers this question seriously will recognise at once that vaccination alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of small-pox. The baggage of travellers ought to be fumigated. I hope that some of the matters that I have referred to - in particular the naval base, transcontinental railway, and immigration - are of sufficient importance in. the eyes of Senator Clemons for him to state tlie opinion of the Ministry as regards the suggestions I have offered.
– A Supply Bill gives us an opportunity to deal with acts of administration by the Government. We shall have another opportunity of dealing with questions of policy raised in the statement tabled by the Minister of Defence. But there are certain matters of administration which I think should be raised here, especially as it now devolves on members of Parliament to take that course. At one time, the press acted as a kind of watch-dog, but now that they have obtained a Ministry of their own colour, they, of course, refuse to let- the public know of any matters which are likely to be to the detriment of the Government. The first question of administration I intend to raise is the appointment of Mr. Swinburne to the Inter-State Commission. I have no fault to find with the appointment, itself, but I want to test the appointment by the standard laid down by the Minister of Defence in the last Parliament, and see how it will stand the test. Let us see how, in the session of 1912, he tested some appointments made by the Fisher Government. Dealing with the appointment of a journalist to assist the High Commissioner, he said -
The Government intended, I believe at the request of the High Commissioner, to send Home a journalist to assist him in dealing with communications to the press and answering letters and- comments detrimental to Australian interests. The Government, first of all, offered the position to a gentleman who, I believe, was employed on the Sydney Worker. One might have passed that if the matter rested there. The gentleman to whom the position was first offered declined it, and the Government then offered it to a gentleman employed on a newspaper published in the Labour interest in Adelaide.
Then he went on to say -
I come to the next appointment, and a more important one still.
– You miss the deduction that I drew from that.
– I am not going to quote the whole of the honorable senator’s speech, but only those portions which relate to the appointments. I am not dealing with his inference -
I come to the next appointment - a more important one still. I refer to the appointment of Mr. Campbell to the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the resources of the various parts of the Empire with a view to promoting trade relations between them.
Having described the Commission, he asked -
Who was appointed? A gentleman named Campbell, a defeated Labour candidate at the last South Australian elections.
Continuing, he said -
I come now to the appointment offered to Mr. Nielsen. Here we have a whole series of events which can be described only by the one word “ sinister.” Mr. Nielsen was a member of the State Labour party of New South Wales, and held office as Minister of Lands in the State Labour Government.
Further on; he said -
In the newspapers recently we have seen an intimation as to further contemplated appointments by the Federal Government. The first of these is the appointment of Mr. Ryland, a defeated Labour candidate for the representation of Gympie at the recent Queensland election, to the position of Lands Director in the Northern Territory - the position which Mr. Nielsen declined to accept.
He proceeded -
Then we have the appointment of Dr. Jensen to an important position in the Northern Territory. I desire to ask whether this gentleman, who is going to the Northern Territory as a soil expert, or something of the sort, is identical with a gentleman of the same name who is a member of the executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales ? That is a question which the Minister can- answer.
What is the gist of all that criticism ? Is it not that in the eyes of the Minister of Defence it is a disqualification that the person appointed to any important position should be in any way identified with the party which happens to be in power? Apply that test to the appointment of Mr. Swinburne. Here we have a highly respected gentleman against whose appointment to the Inter-State Commission I have not a word to say. But if we apply to Mr. Swinburne the test which has been laid down by the Minister of Defence, what do we find? He is a gentleman who took the stump on behalf of the Liberals during the 1911 Referenda campaign. He was an active participant, not only in State, but in Federal, politics, so much so that, when a breach was created recently in the Liberal party in the Victorian Parliament, he was called in to heal it. In other words, he is a politician of the most extreme type.
According to the standard which has been set up by the Minister of Defence, that sort of thing ought to be a disqualification. According to his dictum, in the first important appointment which the Government have made, effect has been given to the doctrine of spoils to the victors.
– Has not Mr. Swinburne great and proved commercial qualifications apart from his political associations If
– Certainly. So had these other gentlemen to whose appointments the Minister of Defence objected. But the Minister had in his mind the important disqualification that they were party politicians, or were associated with party organizations. There is another question of administration to .which I desire to refer. I do think that when Ministers, or members of Parliament, have statements to make in a party fight, they should make them on their own authority, and not endeavour to drag in public officials to act as their mouthpieces. Now, in the statement of policy which has been put before us, we find the following -
The existing electoral law has nol been found to work satisfactorily. The rolls have been unduly inflated, so much so that the Commonwealth Statistician has reported that on 31st Mav last the number of persons on the electoral rolls was largely in excess of the whole number of persons eligible for enrolment in the Commonwealth.
I venture to say that the impression thus created on the public mind is that the Commonwealth Statistician has made that comment upon the rolls which were used at the last general election as compared with the statistical returns of his Department. If that be so, surely the Government would be the first to place his report upon the table of Parliament. Yet it has been asked for in both Houses, and has been refused. But honorable senators have a right to approach the Government Departments with a request that they shall be supplied with statistics. I have asked for statistics bearing on this subject, and what is the reply which I have received ? I have been given statistics, with the accompanying statement: “ This is a rough estimate of the adult population, and can only be regarded as approximate.” Why did not the Government in this paragraph of their manifesto which has gone forth to the world as an authoritative statement, backed up by the Commonwealth Statistician, say that it was only “ a rough estimate of the adult population of the Commonwealth?” I wish now to say a few words on the subject of electoral administration. Ministers have repeatedly endeavoured to make political capital out of the results of the last election. The present Treasurer rushed into print, and declared that in Western Australia those results had disclosed a disgraceful condition of affairs. The supporters of the Liberal party made the same statement through Che medium of Mr. Hedges and Mr. Fowler. But since the inquiry into alleged electoral irregularities, they have been compelled to eat their words. Some of them have had the grace to do so, although they have done it very ungracefully. In the Perth Sunday Times! of 3rd August, I find the following :’ -
Sir John Forrest said the only explanation he could give of the allegations not being borne out was that Mr. Hedges’ scrutineers must have been careless.
But, having said that, he endeavoured to cover it up by affirming -
It was a matter for great satisfaction that double voting, so far as the scrutiny had gone, did not appear to be so rampant as had been alleged, but the investigation had not yet gone very far, and the question of impersonation which was said to be prevalent in connexion with the absent voting system had not yet been touched.
That was just as inaccurate as” was his former statement. Not only did the investigation deal directly with the personal votes, but it also dealt with the scrutiny of absent votes. When Senator Needham said that the figures revealed by this electoral inquiry failed to bear out the statements of the Vice-President of the Executive Council in this chamber, he was asked whether he could disprove Che statistics quoted by that honorable senator. He might very easily have retorted that the officers of the Department of Home Affairs have already practically disproved them.
– Disproved what ?
– The allegation that there were 5,000 cases of double voting.
– Does the honorable senator say that the officials have disproved that?
– Yes. As the result of the inquiry which has been held, they have disproved it, as I shall show before I have concluded my remarks. I have here a memorandum by the Chief
Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth, which reads -
Tn response to the inquiry of the Hon. the Attorney-General as to whether the number of apparent cases of duplication of voting at the recent elections is in excess of the number of errors which officers might make in marking the certified lists of voters owing to misunderstanding or lack of care, I desire to state that it is somewhat difficult to give a definite reply.
While the average number of apparent duplications is less than three per 1,000 voters, it will be noticed that in one division (Ballarat) the number reaches 175 in a poll of 32,818, and that in another division (Macquarie) the number falls to n in a poll of 23,323.
A review of the Ballarat lists discloses that many names which have been marked twice are followed on the rolls by identical or similar names which have not been marked. There is reasonable ground in cases of this kind for assuming that there have been errors in marking.
In divisions in which the elections were keenly contested and the polling was exceptionally heavy, it might be expected that more names would be inadvertently marked in error than in the other divisions, but much would, of course, depend upon the care with which individual officers performed their duties.
While a margin of between two and three errors per 1,000 voters would not appear to be excessive, having regard to the number of similar names appearing on the rolls, it could not of course be assumed that, where the average is either above or below, fraud either has or has not entered into the elections.
In some divisions the whole of the apparent duplications could probably be cleared up without disclosing any fraud. In other cases a prolonged investigation, involving the tracing of the movements on polling-day of the persons concerned, would be necessary before an official pronouncement could be made.
I have obtained from the Electoral Office and from the Census Office the actual number of names on the rolls in the one case, and a rough and approximate estimate of the number of adults who were entitled to be enrolled for the last election in the other. I find that in New South Wales the number of electors on the certified lists at 31st May last was 1,036,187, whereas the adult population was 970,000, an excess of 66,187, or 6$ per cent. In Victoria, the number of electors on the certified lists was 830,391, whereas the population was set down at 768,000, an excess of 62,391, or 1 per cent. In Queensland, the number of electors on the certified lists was 363,082, and the population was returned at 332,000, an excess of 31,082, or 8f per cent. In South Australia, the electors on the certified lists numbered 244,026, and the population was set down at 236,000, an excess of 8,026, or just under 4.14 per cent. In Western Australia, the number of electors on the certified lists was 179,784, and the population was set down at 169,000, an excess of 10,784, or 6 per cent. In Tasmania, the number of electors on the certified lists comprised 106,746, and the population was returned at 101,000, an excess of 5,746, or 5 per cent. It will thus be seen that the electors on the certified lists at 31st May of the present year totalled 2,760,216, whereas the population was set down at 2,576,000, an excess of 184,286, or 6 and two-thirds per cent. It must be remembered in that connexion that we have the most complete system of enrolment to be found in any portion of the British Empire.
– Does the honorable senator think that that system would be more searching than would the census which was recently taken ?
– I will tell the honorable senator if he will only wait. Our electoral system imposes on every person qualified to vote the obligation of getting his or her name upon the roll. Electors may become enrolled right up to the time of the issue of the writs. Up to that period they are able to get their names either on the main roll or on the supplemental roll. Now, we have in Australia one of the most migratory populations to be found in any part of the British Empire. If honorable senators will think for a moment of the migration which takes place between the eastern States and Western Australia they will recognise that each week there are one big mail steamer, one large Inter-State coastal steamer, and generally a couple of smaller vessels, engaged in carrying passengers to Western Australia. The mail steamer will probably take 200 passengers there, the InterState vessels will convey some 600 or 700 more, and the mixed cargo steamers an additional 200 or 300. These vessels are generally full, and when we remember that all this migration takes place in regard to one State only we shall get some idea of the extent of the migration to various parts of Australia upon any one day in the year. Then we have to take into account the migration between the electoral divisions within a State
– Does the honorable senator say that the migration statistics are very imperfectly kept)
– All these persons may get their names on the main roll. They may, before election day is in prospect, remove to another division. Those who have had anything to do with encouraging people to enroll themselves know that they are far more prone to make out a new declaration than they are to sign a transfer form. When they make a new declaration, what happens? If there be time the card which they fill in will find its way to the central office, the comparison will be made, and the name of the elector will be erased from the roll on which it formerly appeared. But in the great rush consequent upon an election - especially within a week or two of the issue of the writs - it follows that in every State, and increasing in proportion to population, there are a large number of persona whose names, by reason of their migration in the way I have indicated, will appear more than once on the electoral rolls. But not on the same roll. They wculd be on one roll in one division and on another roll in another division.
– The honorable senator has clearly indicated that the door is open for irregularities.
– I am indicating nothing of the kind. I am indicating that under our electoral system there will always be a number of persons who will be on more than one roll. They will be persons of the migratory class.
– Because they are anxious that when they shift their residences they shall not lose their votes.
– That is so. Their names will appear on more than one roll, not from any desire to defraud the electoral system, or to use their vote wrongfully, or to secure an opportunity for votes to be wrongfully used, but simply from a desire to be on the roll in the district to which they have removed.
– That is well known to every old politician.
– Of course it is. A comparison of State rolls will disclose that the greater the facilities for getting on to the roll and for securing transfers the more duplications there will be in comparison with population. It is because we have a liberal franchise in the Commonwealth and a liberal electoral Act - which rives facilities for persons to get on the rolls - that these duplications occur.
– The existence of a liberal franchise is not a justification for the inflation of the rolls.
– Under the card system you cannot do away with that inflation without doing one of two things. Either you have to close the roll at a sufficient time before the issue of the writ in order that all the cards may be brought into the central office, checked, and duplications removed, whereby you disfranchise thousands of electors throughout the Commonwealth who have removed their residences, or you have to keep them on the rolls, and at the same time keep a vigilant eye that they are not allowed to vote in more than one division. That check is maintained by the absent voting provision of the electoral Act, because every person who votes by means of an absent vote must sign his name, and his signature can be checked by comparison with the card on which he has originally made his claim to vote. What was the object of honorable senators opposite and their party outside in attempting as they did to discredit the late Government by imputing all this dishonesty and corruption to a political party which has done more than any other party to drive out political corruption from the Parliaments of Australia ? Simply to obtain, as they thought, a little political advantage by so doing. Now they are very anxious that the whole thing shall be forgotten. But we do not intend that it shall be, I think that a party that would stoop to that kind of conduct should not be permitted to let the charges which it has so recklessly made be hurriedly forgotten. The people should be reminded that the present Government, before any inquiry whatever was made - simply on the strength of allegations in newspapers - not only rushed in to attack their opponents, but made absolute charges of political dishonesty against them. Now they have had an official inquiry they find that the charges are entirely disproved, and some of them have had the honesty to admit that they were misled. Others, however, have refused to do so. Let us make an analysis of these apparent duplications, numbering 5,760 - that is to say, 3,146 ordinary votes and 2,614 absent votes. Fortunately we are able to let a little bit of light into this matter. I shall take this opportunity to repeat the challenge thrown down by Senator Needham, and will give proof that the duplications were not cases of intentional double voting, but, in many cases, were simply blunders made by officials. I have before me the report of one of the scrutineers present at the Fremantle election, representing Mr. Burchell. The return of the Electoral Department shows that in the Fremantle division there were 107 ordinary votes, and forty-nine absent votes, as to which there were apparent duplications. This is a very interesting case, or I should not venture to weary the Senate by quoting from this document, which is written by Mr. Bolton, M.L.A., who acted as Mr.’ Burchell’s representative at the scrutiny. He describes, first of all, the system adopted by the electoral officers in conducting the scrutiny. He says -
The scrutiny of the rolls just completed reveals the apparent anomaly that certain electors are ticked as having voted more than once under the absent voting regulations. The explanation of this appears to be in the system of checking the absent votes. The scrutiny of the actual declarations ought to prove that no elector received more than one ballot-paper for the House of Representatives’ election. There are_ 27 of these cases which the suggested scrutiny of declarations should disprove. The official rolls also disclose that a number (51) of electors apparently voted under absent voting regulations, and also recorded a personal vote at the polling booth. Of this number 23 are doubtful, and appear to be mistakes of the poll clerks, leaving 28 to be accounted for or inquired into further bv the Electoral Department. In connexion with what are known as personal votes the clerical errors are more pronounced under the heading of “ Electors who are ticked off as having apparently voted more than once at the same booth.” These cases account for a great proportion of the whole queries in personal voting, and number 53. Most of the cases are obvious errors, as a reference to the names above or below those so double ticked will show, and are further accounted for by the presence of two poll clerks to one presiding officer in at least one polling booth. Of the above number, 15 are accounted for by the first reference and 17 b” the latter, i.e.. two poll clerks, leaving 21 to be accounted for or inquired into by the Electoral Department. To show how absurd the contention would be that electors voted twice in one and the same booth, I would mention that the official rolls disclose that two poll clerks, both employed in the same booth, apparently each voted twice in the booth where they were engaged.
That is a very remarkable state of affairs, is it not?
This clearly proves to my mind that my contention of carelessness or the ease with which clerical errors can be perpetrated is thoroughly justified. A number of electors are ticked off as apparently having voted at two different polling booths. These number 53, and aTe mostly accounted for by a reference to the name above or below the elector so double ticked. These account for 36 of the above number, leaving 17 not accounted for. The Electoral Department should be able to easily trace these 17 electors, when it will most probably be found that there have been few, if any, irregularities. I desire to quote one instance. The presiding officer at a polling booth is ticked ofl as having voted at the polling booth at which he presided and also at the polling booth in the district in which he resides, some miles distant. To sum up the position, I find that there were few (perhaps not a dozen) really apparently suspicious cases.
– That case may be accounted for by two persons voting in one name.
– That is so; but the honorable senator must remember that the presiding officers are, in nearly all cases, postal officials, who are well known to each other. A person in the Fremantle electorate desiring to vote in the name of one of the presiding officers at a polling booth at which that presiding officer was not present, would have to give the name in which he wished to vote to a postal official to whom the real owner of the name was perfectly well known. Moreover, the practice that is followed is this : Before the election the presiding officers meet together and discuss their plans; so that, as a matter of fact, the presiding officers all know each other. This document goes on -
At the same time let me say there are explanations that should be obtained by the Electoral Department from 66 electors.
The significance of this particular scrutiny is that this is the very electorate as to which it was trumpeted throughout the Commonwealth that the Liberal party had absolute proof that there were no fewer than 2,000 duplications. They said they had absolute proof - that their scrutineers had been through the rolls, and had checked them, and could show that there had been wrong-doing. The Liberal press took up that statement. Sir John Forrest trumpeted it throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Fremantle was held up as the awful example in electoral matters. Here is the explanation ; and we learn, on authority, that there were not more than a dozen cases of duplication in a constituency where the polling ran up to 12,000.
– And all that the Treasurer now says is, “ Well, I am surprised !”
– Exactly. Now I come to a matter which will be of more particular interest to the Minister of Defence. I allude to the attempt to drag in the question o’f defence as a party issue and to make political capital out of it - especially with respect to Cockatoo Island Dock. I am not going to read the lengthy statements made by the Minister, or the others made by me in reply to him, except to say this - that I think that any unprejudiced person, reading his statements, can come to no other conclusion than that he tried to induce the public to believe two things. The first was that the Commonwealth, in taking over that dockyard, had made an eminently bad bargain; that we had gone into it with our eyes shut ; that we did not know what the condition of the dockyard machinery was; that we did not know the possibilities of the yard ; and that we purchased it without any knowledge or any expert guidance.
– The honorable senator does not profess to be quoting what I said?
– That is the clear inference.
– That is the Pearce inference.
– The second thing was, that having taken over this “ eminently bad bargain “ - the honorable senator used those very words - there had been a period of mismanagement and ineptitude on the part of the responsible Minister, and that it was only in consequence of the Herculean efforts of my honorable friend that the whole business was saved from disaster, and the lives of thousands of employes from the dockyard rescued from destruction. But what do all these charges boil down to after investigation? They boil down to this: That the late Government knew the condition of the plant which they were taking over, that in the valuation upon which the dock was taken over every allowance was made for the value of machinery which was old and obsolete, and that, so far from being a bad bargain, the purchase was a very good one for the Commonwealth, and that we could get more than the value of our money tomorrow if we wished to dispose of the dock. We could get more than the £850,000 which we paid for it, and, in fact, the State would take it back from us for the price which we paid.
– Has the honorable senator any authority for that statement ?
– Yes, and I will read it.
– With cash behind the offer ?
– We did not pay cash for the dockyard. It would only be a bookkeeping entry as far. as that part of the transaction is concerned. First of all, as to my statement that the Minister of Defence has endeavoured to make the question of defence one of party conflict - I have before me a copy of the Australian Engineer. This journal, if it has any party politics at all, is opposed to the party of which I am a member, because in this very copy I find articles condemning the State Government of New South Wales for their financial policy; and also the system of day labour as carried on by the late Federal Government and the present State Government of New South Wales. I find this article in the issue of Tuesday, 5th August -
Something of a mild sensation has been caused by the ultimatum of the Minister for Defence, ordering the closing down of the power plant at Cockatoo Island.
Only a few months ago the works were taken over from the N.S.W. State Government for purposes of warship construction. Now the new Minister for Defence pointedly infers, if not directly asserts, their inefficiency, declaring that a bad bargain has been made.
After investigation we feel inclined to associate political motives with the Ministerial statement, though not debating the necessity of a thorough inspection of the boilers.
Engineer G. A. Julius would appear to have made some serious allegations in his special report on the power plant, and while his judgment must be accorded every respect, it must be also borne in mind that the present decision has been arrived at as a result of a conference of the Minister and the Naval Board.
Engineer-Superintendent Cutler pointed out in a daily press interview that the boilers had been inspected at Christmas. There may be some serious necessity for an immediate re-inspection as recommended by Mr. Julius, but we cannot conceive the necessity of the Minister for Defence exhibiting the spirit of political partisanship as he has done, and condemning the efficiency of the whole institution.
It has been perfectly well understood all along that a new power plant was to be installed, and that the present boilers were being used at a safe low pressure in the interim.
Superintendent-Engineer Cutler summarized the position well in the following statement : -
The works were being closed temporarily to enable the boilers to be tested. This was being done to see which boilers would have to be renewed when the new power plant was installed.
The new power plant was on the way, and had been arranged long ago.
– Where is it?
– This is not my statement.
– A statement made by Mr. Cutler is repeated here on the authority of the journal referred to, and I ask the honorable senator where that new plant is ?
– I am not making the statement, and., so far as I know, the statement is not correct. The article continues- -
The boilers had ali been tested and found satisfactory at Christmas last.
He further stated that, though work on the cruiser Brisbane and two destroyers must necessarily be stopped while the works were closed down, as soon as the tests had been made the work of construction would be resumed just as heretofore.
That seems to bc the true position, and it would have come better from the Minister if stated dispassionately. But the opportunity for decrying the “ other fellow “ was there, and the lure seems even to have been too irresistible for a usually fair-minded statesman.
Now, what are the facts in regard to the plant? First of all, it was no revelation by the present Minister of Defence that the majority of the power-plant was old and obsolete. That was known, and taken into consideration in valuing the plant when it was taken over. I say that it was known, because, as a matter of fact, two of the boilers were taken out of the Protector and the Countess of Hopetoun, two vessels that had been sent to the dock-yard to be repaired by order of the Naval Board. It therefore was known to the Naval Board that these boilers were in use at the Cockatoo Island dockyard. They knew also, and the Minister of Defence knows it now, if he has read his papers, that one of the boilers which have been condemned, that taken from the Protector, was, prior to its transfer to the dockyard, working by permission of the Naval Board under a pressure of 90 lbs., and that after it was repaired, cleaned, and strengthened, it was at the time of the Minister’s scare statement working at a pressure of only 60 lbs.
– One-third of the pressure had been taken off.
– Yes. The gentlemen who, I assume, advised the Minister to take this scare action had allowed that boiler to be used at a pressure of 90 lbs. in a ship under their control, and later, after it had been strengthened and repaired, it was working at the time of the scare under a pressure of 60 lbs. only. This is one of the boilers which are specially referred to in the statement made by the Minister.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that that boiler should have been continued in work without examination ?
– Nothing of the kind. What I say is that the honorable senator, in his desire to make some political capital out of the matter, magnified it to such an extent that the bulk of the public were led to believe that the whole plant was obsolete and inefficient, and the boilers so dangerous that the work of the dockyard had to be stopped and hundreds of men thrown out of work. As a matter of fact, the honorable senator has now in his possession papers which prove that there was no necessity for any stoppage of the work at all, since the boilers which required to be replaced might have been replaced one by one if that had been thought necessary, aud there was at no time any position of actual danger existing. As a matter of fact, boilers of similar type to the worst of the boilers referred to in the Minister’s statement have been working in the Eveleigh workshops under a greater pressure than that under which the worst boiler referred to by the Minister was being worked in the dockyard.
– -Mr. Kelly has said that there was only a sixteenth of an inch between the men and eternity.
– We do not accept Mr. Kelly as an authority on boilers. Any one reading Senator Millen’s statement must come to the conclusion that as the honorable senator said, a long and serious delay must occur as the result of the closing down of the works.
– No, I did not say as the result of the closing down.
– I shall quote again for the honorable senator - “ Apart from the question of cost,” said Senator Millen in conclusion, “ this will involve very serious delay in the time for the completion of vessels now under construction.”
– That was to put the plant in order.
– What was the honorable senator’s statement only a fortnight later, when he discovered that the political bomb which he had manufactured was tending to destroy himself rather than his opponents? The honorable senator boasted in Sydney only a fortnight later that there were thirty-four more men on them than there were before the works closed down.
– I was giving a simple answer to a simple question.
– The answer was so simple that it destroyed the honorable senator’s previous statement entirely. He had said that there was going to be a serious delay, and a fortnight later boasted that more men were then at work than before the dock was closed down.
– The honorable senator forgets that the number of men at work there ought to be twice what it is to-day.
– Returning to the question whether we made a bad bargain or not, I wish to say that I have received from Mr. Griffith, Minister of Works in the New South Wales Government, a report of the late Dockyard Committee, which I propose to read. The report was transmitted with the following covering letter, dated 15th of this month -
I enclose copy of a statement by members of the Dock Committee, and would call your attention to the high status of the gentlemen forming that organization.
The president, Mr. Keele, is, as you know, one of the leading engineers in the employment of the State, and a man whose opinion goes in professional circles.
Mr. Kidd is a leading consulting engineer in this State in all matters connected with boilers. He was for many years the chief consulting engineer for the Colonial Sugar Company.
Mr. de Burgh, chief engineer for water supply and sewerage of this Department, is an officer of the very highest professional standing and capabilities.
Mr. Houghton is the leading consulting civil engineer in this State, and is president of the New South Wales Committee of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Of Mr. Cutler’s long experience and valuable service the public is fully aware.
The report is dated 12th August, and is as follows: -
Minute to the Director-General of Public Works.
In compliance with the request of the Honorable the Minister for Public Works, that the members of the late Committee of Management of the Government Dockyards should repoTt on certain statements which have appeared in the public press in connexion with the establishment at Cockatoo, and the construction of warships there, the Prime Minister is reported to have made the following statement : - “ We find that it is impossible to build the Cruiser Brisbane, now in course of construction there, without installing a lot of new machinery. That ought to have been ascertained before the work on it was begun. As it is, the building of that cruiser will be delayed three years, besides which we are faced with an additional expenditure of£350,000. There are also three destroyers to be constructed there. Possiblv the works will be able to go on with them, but one cannot help thinking it would have been better to have had these ships built at Home, and to have set about installing the necessary plant for ship construction here, so that by the time those ships had been delivered we would have been in a position to build the rest of our own warships. The Commonwealth was charged . £870.000 for Cockatoo Dock, and finds after the purchase that it has to instal a lot of new machinery. It was bad business.”
The Committee presume that the£350,000 referred to is set down as the additional cost pf building the three destroyersand the cruiser in Sydney, as compared with the cost of the construction of similar vessels in England, but are at a loss to understand how that sum has been arrived at. From the inception of the proposal to construct our war vessels in Australia it has been recognised that the cost of so doing would be much greater than if the construction were carried out in established yards in Great Britain, in view of the fact that a higher rate of wages is paid in Australia, and also in view of the necessity for obtaining from Europe much of the material to be used in the construction. That this additional expense would be greater in the case of the first vessels constructed in Australia on account of similar work not having been previously undertaken is also self-evident. The whole of the facts bearing on this question were available to the expert advisers of the Commonwealth Government at the time of the contracts for the assembling of the Warrego, and the construction of three torpedo destroyers and the cruiser Brisbane were placed with the State Government of New South Wales. The advisableness of incurring this additional expenditure as an initial step towards enabling the Commonwealth to construct its own war vessels is a matter of policy intimately connected with the general question of Imperial defence, and the Committee do not consider it within their province to question the wisdom of the decision arrived at by the naval advisers of the Commonwealth Government, who had the advantage of the advice of His Majesty’s Admiralty.
Let me say that every one of these points was considered by the late Government. We, of course, knew that it would cost more to build ships here, and that new machinery would have to be added to the dockyard plant; but, notwithstanding that, we believed that the balance of advantage would be secured by commencing at the earliest possible date the construction of warships in the Commonwealth.
– The houorable senator says that he knew that additional machinery would need to be installed ?
– Did the honorable senator take steps to get that machinery?
– Certain proposals were placed before the Naval Board, but up to the time I left office I had no word from the Board on the subject of those proposals.
– But for five months after the dockyard was transferred to the Commonwealth the Minister took no steps to obtain the additional machinery necessary.
– That statement is not accurate. If the honorable senator will place the whole of the papers on the table - and he will not do so while the censure motion is under discussion - I shall be prepared to challenge him on that point.
– That is not a fair statement for the honorable senator, to make, in view of the fact that he made one application to me for a report and it was granted.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to place the papers to which I have just referred on the table immediately ?
– Then I shall be very pleased to discuss the question with the honorable senator.
– I do not think that the honorable senator should insinuate that I would not grant his request for these papers, seeing that I have already granted a similar request.
– The report of the late Dockyard Committee continues -
With regard to the suitability of Cockatoo Island as a naval dockyard for the construction of the war vessels referred to above, it might appear from the statements attributed to the Prime Minister by the press that at the time the Commonwealth Government entrusted the dockyard with the construction of the war vessels referred to above, and later, when they purchased the establishment for £870,000, the Commonwealth authorities were under the impression that they were entrusting the work to and subsequently purchasing a fully equipped modern warship building establishment, and that payment was arranged for upon that assumption. This is not the case. Admiral Henderson, who reported to the Commonwealth Government upon the establishment of the Australian Navy, personally inspected the dockyard before any warship construction was undertaken there, and the Commonwealth authorities had his report to guide them. Subsequently, during the construction of the Warrego, the Commonwealth Naval authorities had officers stationed upon the island, and it was visited from time to time by their senior naval advisers. It was well known to the Commonwealth authorities that the dockyards were equipped for the docking of vessels, as well as the construction of dredge plant, and that modern machinery was required before the construction of warships could be undertaken ; in fact, so recent are some of the improvements iu machinery used in such work that it would have been impossible to obtain it in years gone by, even had it been required for the purposes for which the dockyards were used in the past.
Being fully seized of these facts, and having had experience of the work done by the Yard in the construction of the Warrego, the Commonwealth placed orders for three destroyer* and the cruiser Brisbane with the State Government ; and, at a later date, took over the establishment on a valuation made by outside experts.
May I say here that these experts were obtained after Captain Clarkson made the report which Senator Millen quoted, and in which he said that the dockyard had not a staff for the work. The honorable senator did not tell the public that. After Captain Clarkson wrote that statement, these experts were obtained by the State Government.
– I do not quite follow the honorable senator.
– I say that after Captain Clarkson made this report the State Government obtained the experts ho whom he refers therein.
– Do you say that a record of that is on the file in the Navy Office?
– All I can say is that it is not on the file I perused.
– I say that the Navy Office is aware, by a communication from the State Government, that experts had been obtained, and obtained after Captain Clarkson had made this report, thereby nullifying that portion of it.
– What do you mean - workmen ?
– No, naval experts who were obtained from one of the leading firms of warship builders in England, and who are in the dockyard to-day.
With regard to the action of the late Committee of Management when the construction of the vessels referred to above at the Dockyards was proposed, the Committee felt bound to express to the Government their opinion as to the suitability of the establishment for the construction of warships. The Committee do not consider it necessary to refer to their report on the subject, which was of a confidential nature, beyond stating that whatever information they had at that time was equally available to the Commonwealth authorities, whose expert advisers arc presumably equally competent with themselves to form an opinion.
On receiving orders to proceed with the construction nf the warships, ‘he Committee took the necessary steps to remodel the establishment for its new purpose, and obtained from one of the leading firms contracting for war vessels with the Admiralty, and with the advice and assistance of the Admiralty, experts to take charge of the various Departments under the SuperintendentEngineer.
At the time when the Committee were relieved of the control of the establishment on its transfer to the Commonwealth Government, the Yard was being rapidly brought to a state of efficiency for dealing with the carrying out of the contract entrusted by the Commonwealth, and, having due regard to the delays incidental to obtaining the material and machinery required, matters were in satisfactory train for the completion of the work, and arrangements were complete for providing all the requisite modern machinery. For some time prior to the Committee being relieved of the management of the Dockyards in January last, their operations were hampered by considerations arising out of the then impending transfer, since which date the Committee have had no personal connexion with, or knowledge of, the progress of operations at the Yard; but the Committee confidently assert that at the time the negotiations for transfer commenced, they had taken every action necessary to bring the establishment and staff into a state of efficiency to deal with the work, and that they were fully competent to deal with all such matters as the renewal and repair of plant, boilers, &c., required for the execution of the work as and when occasion arose.
Adverting to the criticism which has been levelled at the power plant, the Managing Committee soon after their creation recognised that this plant was not such as they considered suitable, and steps were taken by them to temporarily improve matters, pending the installation of a new plant on a more suitable site. As it would, however, answer the purpose for some little time, the money and energy at the Committee’s disposal were devoted to the completion and equipment of the work-shops, and it was only at the end of last year that they felt it necessary to have the scheme thoroughly worked out, when plans were prepared and specifications drawn up for an up-to-date power plant. During the Committee’s term of office, they, through their responsible officers, made due provision, by inspection and careful repair where necessary, for the protection and safety of their employés.
Since the Committee were relieved of the management in January last, they understand the Commonwealth authorities have had under consideration the appointment of a new manager at the Dockyards, and, further, that many matters have remained in abeyance pending such appointment. That such a change was contemplated, and yet not made, may have militated against the successful working of the establishment.
With regard to the price to be paid by the Commonwealth Government for the Dockyards, this was, as already stated, determined by mutual agreement. The Committee would point out that the establishment has a high commercial value, not only on account of its situation, but also in view of the fact that it contains the finest dock in Australia, apart from its value as a Naval construction yard ; and, so far from considering the price to be paid excessive, the Committee consider that this State made a sacrifice, in the interests of the Commonwealth, in agreeing to the transfer under the terms arranged.
To sum up the situation in the briefest possible terms : The Committee say that the conversion of these Dockyards into a Naval construction establishment, and the immediate initiation of warship building there - instead of waiting for the construction of new yards at another site - was undertaken by the Commonwealth authorities (presumably in consultation with the Admiralty) for the well-considered purpose of making a small beginning in the training of our men at such work at the only place in Australia where such an immediate beginning was possible; and this step, as well as the purchase of the Dockyards by the Commonwealth, was entered into with a full knowledge of the cost to the Commonwealth of taking such a step, and with a full reliance on the benefits thereby to be obtained.
In conclusion, the Committee desire to state that, subject to a due allowance being made in time for the hiatus which has occurred during the negotiations for the transferof the Dockyards to the Commonwealth, as well as for the time which has elapsed since the removal from the Committee’s control in last January (from which date no responsibility for delay is taken) the Committee are willing to resume control at the establishment, and to deliver the warships ordered.
Hector Kidd, M. Inst. C.E., Vice-Chairman.
Members of the late Committee of Management.
Secretary to the Committee.
The late Government called for applications throughout the world for a general manager. They did not fix a salary, but asked the applicants to fix their own salary, the determination being to get the best man available, and to pay him well. The applications were gone through by a committee appointed in England, and consisting of Admiral Henderson, Captain Haworth Booth, and either the High Commissioner or Captain Collins. A recommendation of a person was made by the committee, and had not the Government been practically under sentence of death, that appointment would have been made. The present Government have been in office for nearly two months. They know that there can be no satisfactory carrying on of work until the question of Cockatoo Island Dock is settled by the appointment of a general manager - by haying somebody in authority to refer to. The honorable senator who sprang this scare upon the public has had for two months the opportunity of making an appointment. He has had the names before him; he has had the authority of the Government, with a majority behind it, of making an appoint- ment, but he has not done so. The responsibility for any delay which has arisen from the non-appointment of a general manager he must accept himself. I invite him to say why he has not appointed that gentleman, because I know that it was most unsatisfactory to have to carry on with an acting manager. I intend no reflection upon the gentleman who was the servant of New South Wales. He had no permanent appointment with the Commonwealth, and, therefore, he could not be expected to take upon himself the responsibility, nor would the Naval Board like to remodel the dockyard, or make any drastic alterations there until a general manager was appointed. Senator Millen knows, if he has read the papers, that many things which the Naval Board had advised had to be deferred until a general manager was appointed. If he hadwished to expedite that work, one of the methods by which he could have done so was to come to a decision to appoint one of the applicants as a general manager, or to say to the acting manager,” We have decided not to appoint any of these applicants. We will give you authority to act.”
– You know that you could not put the acting manager back permanently.
– One tiling or other could have been done. If the Minister thought that the acting manager was capable, he could have put him there.
– Do you think him capable ?
– I am not going to say whether we thought him capable or not. The position we took up was to get the most capable man we could. We told the acting manager that he was free to apply, and that we would deal with the application on its merits, but we intended to invite applications throughout the world for the management of the dockyard. That was the position when I went out of office two months ago, but Senator Millen has not solved that problem yet, and, of course, as Senator Guthrie says, he has found time to make other appointments. I indorse very largely what this Committee of Management has said. If Senator Millen will lay the papers on the table, honorable senators will find that every recommendation from the Naval Board for the purchase of machinery was approved by me.
I challenge Senator Millen to cite one proposal or recommendation by the Naval Board to provide further machinery for the dockyard which was not approved of by me.
– That is to say, you carried out the Board’s recommendation ?
– Yes. If the Minister can produce any evidence to the contrary, I shall be obliged if he will bring it forward. Seeing that he has quoted one member of the Naval Board in that connexion, I would like him to say whether the Naval Board have told him that they were in any way hampered by me, as Minister, in obtaining anything they required for the dockyard. I come to another sensation of the honorable senator, and that is his action in practically closing down the works at the Henderson Naval Base, in Cockburn Sound. In order to get at the genesis of this thing, let us see what Admiral Henderson says in his report of 1911. On page 12 he says -
We have to remember that he recommended two fleet primary bases for Australia, namely, at Sydney and Fremantle . On page 55 he sets out what are the general requirements of a fleet primary base -
Then, dealing with the question of requirements, on page 56, he says -
I understand that plans and estimates have been framed for carrying out of a great part of this dredging, and I am sure that it will prove of the greatest Benefit not only to the Navy but also to merchant shipping and commercial interests, as it would greatly relieve the pressure on Fremantle Harbor for shipping accommodation which the future must inevitably bring.
In the interim, the needs of the fleet will be met by - 1st. The completion of the dock now building at Fremantle and of the repair and refitting shops proposed to be attached thereto at as early a date as possible. 2nd. The temporary provision of a base for six destroyers and three submarines in the Swan River. 3rd. The dredging of the channel, so that large vessels can find a safe anchorage in Cockburn Sound. 4th. The provision of adequate reserves of coal and oil fuel, &c.
When Admiral Henderson made this report, he had with him an exceedingly competent staff. He had also all the data relating to the various soundings which had been taken over a period of years, all the information which had been gained about the harbor and its approaches, and about these banks. He had the Admiralty charts of over fifty years ago ; he was able to compare the existing depth of water with that shown on those charts, and with the more modern soundings taken during recent years in the course of the exploratory surveys for the main harbor at Fremantle, which was eventually located in the Swan River, but which it was at one time proposed to establish at Owen’s Anchorage, Woodman’s Point, the spot where Sir John Coode recommended that it should be established. In connexion with that inquiry, the then enginer-in-chief, Mr. O’Connor, had occasion not merely to refer to the depths shown on the Admiralty charts, but to check them with the depths which now obtained, and which had been brought about by the scouring action of the tides. Admiral Henderson had all that information placed in his hands by the West Australian Government at the request of the Commonwealth Government. I invite attention to the fact that that officer recommended both an interim programme and an ultimate programme. His ultimate programme was a fleet base, which should be the centre of the fleet when created. His interim programme was a base for the vessels which are to comprise the fleet unit. In recommending that interim programme, as he does in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, and 4. of his report, he took into consideration the fact that there was then being built in Fremantle a dockyard which, at the request of the Federal Government, had been made large enough to accommodate the flagship Australia. Senator Millen, or his advisers, must have lost sight of the fact that that dockyard is a thing of the past.
– I have not lost sight of its history.
– The construction of that dockyard in the river has been proved to be impracticable, and the State Government have had to abandon all idea of it.
– Why? Because they started operations before they had finished their exploration.
– The Minister of Defence is not going to make any political capital out of that. Recognising the fate which overtook that dock, the late Government determined that they would not have a graving dock there. It was their intention to build a floating dock, and in that case it would not matter what the bottom was like.
– Then why were bores put down ?
– To determine whether there was a sufficiently strong foundation to carry the heavy machinery, such as shear legs, which would have to be installed in the workshops, and not for the purposes of a dock at all. It was never the intention of the late Government to put a graving dock at Fremantle. In view of the fate that had overtaken the dock at Fremantle, it was their intention to install a floating dock. When Admiral Henderson made his report he had no knowledge that the graving dock would not have been completed this year.
– But he was dealing only with his interim programme. He recommended that the site selected should include space for a graving dock.
– He contemplated that this year we should have a graving dock at Fremantle. Would he not have submitted a very different report if he had known that we would not have such a dock ? Is it not likely that he would have recommended the construction of a floating dock for Cockburn Sound in order that we might push on with necessary works there? It was because of the failure of the dock at Fremantle that the plans in regard to Cockburn Sound were put ahead of what Admiral Henderson proposed. If the graving dock had been constructed, all that would have been necessary in the interim programme would have been to proceed with the works that ore set out in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Admiral Henderson’s report. But we had to recognise that we were bringing to Australia a battle cruiser which could be accommodated only in one dock in the Commonwealth, so that if she chanced to become crippled in the Indian Ocean she would have been obliged to go all the way round to Sydney to effect repairs. That consideration entirely altered the order in which certain works at Cockburn Sound required to be carried out, and indicated that, in addition to the undertakings recommended by Admiral Henderson in his interim programme, a floating dock would have to be provided. I have looked up what I said regarding these works when speaking upon the Budget in this Chamber last year. I find, from Hansard of 26th September, 1912, pages 3483 and 3484, that I stated -
Under the Naval Departments the works include the Flinders Naval Base, £400,000; Cockburn Sound, £45,000; Port Stephens, £15,000; dredges and plant, £100,000 ; or a total of £560,000, of which amount £200,000 is provided for on the present Estimates, leaving a balance of £360,000 to be subsequently provided for. As regards the Cockburn and Port Stephens Naval bases, no estimate can be given as to the final expenditure upon them, for the reason that the work now being carried out is merely survey work on which to establish data to enable us to frame our estimates of cost. Therefore these figures do not include any money for Cockburn Sound and Port Stephens Naval bases, except to enable us to provide preliminary data, or for Sydney, for which no final scheme has yet been proposed. It is further estimated that the expenditure indicated by these figures will be spread over four years.
As I have already said, we are unable at present to give any estimate for the Naval bases at Cockburn Sound and Port Stephens until surveys have been made to secure the necessary data.
In looking over my private papers, I find that at the time the Estimates were under consideration, I was supplied with tuc details as to the works on which the expenditure of £45,000 at Cockburn Sound was to be incurred. Fortunately for me, in view of the Minister’s attempt to make political capital out of this matter, I have those details before me. The money was to be expended as follows: - Survey and data work, instruments, plant and stores, camp, launches, boats, rafts, £9,000 ; railway extension, that is the extension of the railway from Fremantle, a distance of 6 miles-
– Was a railway necessary for survey work?
– Yes. Wherever the dockyard may be placed a railway will pay tor itself. It is necessary for the undertakings which will follow the survey work. Railway extension, preliminary works and plant, I find, were to cost £12,000. This expenditure included a house for the naval engineer, a house for the general foreman, offices for the staff, sheds, workshops, eze. Upon the removal of the powder magazines, new jetties and new railway sidings, £20,000 was to be expended. The diversion of the roadway was to cost £3,000, and wages for the staff £1,000, making a total of £45,000. In the £100,000 which appeared in the Estimates for 1912-13, provision was made for the purchase of a dredger for Cockburn Sound. The work which has been carried out with the aid of that expenditure has been exactly the work set out in the details which 1 have given. But as that work proceeded, and as the requisite data was acquired, we were able to decide upon the other works which could be undertaken only after the completion of the survey. The Minister of Defence has sufficient information in the Navy Office to-day to authorize the Government in submitting a proposition on the next Estimates in favour of starting those works. The reason why I sanctioned the railway proposal was that it was demonstrated to me by the members of the Naval Board that that railway was necessary, not merely to provide access for the men who would be employed on the works, but also to convey the necessary material for the works, which they urged should be proceeded with at once. Now, as to the site for the dockyard. Cockburn Sound is a huge harbor, somewhere about 12 miles from north to south. In that large sheet of water there are three possible sites for a dockyard. One is at Rockingham Bay, on the extreme southerly side of the Sound and the farthest from the main entrance and Fremantle, another is at Case Point, half-way between Rockingham Bay and the northern portion of the Sound, and the third is at Jervoise Bay, Woodman’s Point, which was the site recom mended by Admiral Henderson. When Admiral Henderson recommended that site, he had before him information from the Western Australian Government as to the depth of water it contained, and the Minister of Defence must know that there is from 40 to 46 feet available in close proximity to Jervoise Bay.
– The honorable senator cannot find more than 36 feet anywhere there.
– That information is different from the information which was supplied to me. I come now to the question of how Jervoise Bay came to be finally selected. The Navy Office is a thing of comparatively recent growth. Three years ago there were only one man and a boy employed there. But after the adoption by the late Government of Admiral Henderson’s scheme, steps were taken to constitute .a Naval Board, and that Board was called upon by me, as Minister of Defence, to organize a staff for carrying out their work. As they brought to me their proposals in that connexion, applications were invited for the positions, and from those applications the Naval Board recommended the appointment of the experts who should have charge of the various departments. In every instance in which experts have been appointed they have been appointed on the recommendation of the Naval Board. One of those experts is the Director of Naval Works, whose duty it is, under the third member of the Board, to work out the plans for works when once the policy to be followed has been determined. That policy in the present instance was the establishment of a fleet base at Cockburn Sound. Surveyors were put to work there. They reported, as the result of boring in the sand, that a certain depth of water was available, and from time to time various recommendations were made by the Director of Naval Works to the third member of the Naval Board. Every step taken by the late Government was taken on the recommendation either of a member of the Naval Board or of that Board as a whole. Never at any time during my period of office as Minister of Defence did the Naval Board, either individually or collectively, express to me any want of confidence in the staff as a whole or any individual member of it. Never once did they tell me that they were not satisfied that the authority upon which they were acting was insufficient or inefficient. Therefore, as these gentlemen came forward with their recommendation, I contend that I was justified in assuming that they were satisfied that the experts under them who were supplying them with expert advice were skilled in their particular work.
– That is to say, the honorable senator shelters himself behind his experts.
– I am going to force the Minister into this position : that he ought, in justice to his officers, either to say that he has competent officers, or, in justice to the Senate, he ought to say that he has not competent officers. I say that in every step that I took I had the advice of my officers.
– And if I have taken every step on their advice, what then ?
– If the advice given by the same officers to two Ministers conflicts, the honorable senator should ask them why they give advice in one direction one day and in another direction later. When I left office there was not only no justification for stopping operations, but there was absolute justification for putting on some hundreds of men more. There was an absolute necessity for the work being proceeded with. The information in the Navy Office justified me in adopting the recommendation of the Naval Board. That information was not merely placed before me with a bare recommendation. In addition to that, on many occasions I sat as a member of the Naval Board, and had all the plans and reports before me, discussed them with the Board, and heard the discussions amongst the other members before making up my mind as to my adoption of their recommendation. The decision to choose Jervoise Bay as the site of the dockyard in Cockburn Sound was arrived at at a full meeting of the Naval Board, after consideration by them of the reports of the experts regarding the depth of water, the difficulties of the situation, and all the circumstances of the case.
– As the honorable senator has said that there is 40 feet of water, may I invite him to look at the Admiralty chart, which shows that there is no more than 30 feet of wafer?
– The Admiralty chart is, I think, 50 or 60 years old.
– The honorable senator should not repeat that sentence, because it is not quite accurate.
– In many cases it will be found that there has been a deepening of the water as a result of scourings. Admiralty charts are not always to be relied upon implicitly. For instance, the Admiralty chart for the coast around Port Phillip heads at one time showed that Half Moon Bay, near the Crows Nest, was impossible for ships to enter, and yet one day we found that a Japanese training ship did come in to the very water where the Admiralty chart showed it was impossible for ships to float. I repeat that the reports brought before the Naval Board showed a depth of water of from 46 to 60 feet.
– Reports to the Naval Board ?
– Yes; reports received from the survey officers.
– Does the honorable senator say that there have been recent soundings ?
– Yes; I say that the soundings have been going on for over a year.
– Soundings or borings ?
– Soundings and borings. They have been going on for over a year. A large amount of the £40,000 voted by Parliament has been spent on soundings in J Jervoise Bay. When the Naval Board met, they had this information before them, and were ready to come to a decision upon it. With that data the Naval Board recommended that Jervoise Bay should be selected for the site of the dock. If Senator Millen has not seen that recommendation, I should like him to look at it, and to know that his statement that we acted without full knowledge was absolutely incorrect.
– I say that the honorable senator went on without complete knowledge.
– I reply that every step I took was buttressed by knowledge as the result of the survey and the work done. The honorable senator has either been misled by misrepresentations of some of his naval advisers, or he has been guilty of misrepresentation himself ; and I should like him, in justice to himself, as well as to myself, to clear this matter up, and to tell us which is the case. I assure him, and I assure the Senate, that what I have said to-day is the absolute truth.
– Why should I take the honorable senator’s word when, apparently, he is not prepared to take mine ?
– I say that every statement which I have made here to-day is a fact, and that every step that was taken while I was in office was justified by the reports put before me and the Naval Board. Every step taken was taken on the recommendation of the Board and the individual members of it. Because Senator Millen must know - I am sure that he does - that the different members of the Naval Board are responsible for the different sections of the naval work, and that a single member of the Board can come and make a recommendation on a particular part of the work of which he is in direct control. On a matter which concerns them all, the Board makes recommendations as a whole.
– Was this one of the matters which concerned the Board as n whole ?
– The choosing of a particular site in the Bay would be a matter which concerned the Board as a whole.
– And the carrying out of the works there ?
– The planning of the works would be under the authority of the third naval member of the Board, who is responsible for that section. He has naval works under his control. But in dealing with the dockyard there are more considerations to bear in mind than the works. There is the question of strategy; for instance, as to whether a particular place is the best location for gun fire. Therefore, you have to have the diversified opinions of the whole Board on an issue of that kind.
– Therefore, these things would not have been done unless a particular naval member sanctioned them.
– Certainly. When the Government had decided that a fleet should be based there, and when the Minister, on the advice of the Board, had decided what part of the harbor should be chosen, it would be the duty of a particular naval member to make a recommendation.
– And he would know what was going on ?
– I presume that he would. As far as I know, he never complained to me that he was kept in the dark; and if he has complained to the Minister that he has been kept in the dark, I should be glad to hear his statement. At any rate, I wish to make it perfectly clear that, up to the time the late Fisher Government left office, there was not a shadow of justification for the discharge of a single man from the Cockburn Sound works. There was absolutely no justification for any delay in carrying out the work. Everything was being carried out in such a way that the work would be continuous. Moreover, nothing was being done there that was superfluous. Everything would fit in with what was being carried out elsewhere. By the time that the works were carried out, we estimated that we should have the floating dock there. The dredging done was done so that ships could come in. Prior to that time the works would be completed, so as to make the place appropriate for a torpedo and submarine depot, for which no dredging at all was required. We must remember that this base was intended, not only for battleships, but also for torpedo boats, submarines, and destroyers. As far as the Minister’s policy goes, there is not a single place on the western coast to be prepared for their reception.
-1 have made no statement that no place “would be prepared for them.
– The honorable senator has discharged the eighty men. What were they doing? They were engaged in preparing that place. He has made the statement that he is not going to carry out these works, because they would not be required ; that the works would be there before the channels would be dredged. But I point out that the place could be used as a submarine base without a single foot of dredging.
– I know that the honorable senator was not going to put a part of his establishment at one point and the other somewhere else.
– Then the honorable senator knows something that is not correct. His naval advisers can tell him, as they told me, that this was their proposal - that they would give the destroyers and submarines at Cockburn Sound all the accommodation that they required, and that they would put the Australia and the cruisers inside Fremantle harbor. The railway which Senator Millen was twitting me about just now was to run up from Cockburn Sound to the harbor. That was one of the reasons why the railway was to be built. The honorable senator has evidently not had the whole of the details from his naval advisers as I had.
– I think I have.
– That is what they proposed. They proposed that, while the dredging was being carried on, we should use Fremantle harbor for the Australia and the cruisers.
– That has nothing to do with the permanent design, which does not contemplate divorcing the fleet in that way.
– The permanent design contemplates the whole base being at Cockburn Sound. The whole design contemplated a western fleet. But we have not a complete eastern fleet yet. The whole design will not be completed for twenty-two years ahead. The present work was for a base for the present fleet only, and that is what the honorable senator has lost sight of. I charge the Minister that, in making these attacks on the recent Administration, he has been animated by a desire to make party capital out of defence matters. He has been deliberately trying to drag defence into the” party arena. His attacks have failed, because they were empty of justification. In the case of Cockatoo Island Dock, his statements have been shown to be inaccurate and misleading. His statements in regard to Cockburn Sound are, to my knowledge - unless the information put before me was wrong and misleading, which I refuse to believe - without a shadow of justification. The honorable senator has shown a deliberate desire to make political party capital out of these defence matters, hoping, no doubt, that I had forgotten the circumstances. Whilst he had the files of papers before him, and I had to depend on my memory, he thought that he would be able to score a political advantage over me. This is the first time in the history of Australia when any political party has endeavoured to make political capital out of the defence question.
– The honorable senator did nothing else during all his public life.
– I say that the present Minister of Defence, by endeavouring to make political capital out of the question of defence, has initiated a pernicious principle, which I venture to predict ‘the party opposite, if they continue it, will have bitter cause to repent.
.- There is not time in the few minutes left before the dinner adjournment to deal with the more serious portions of Senator Pearce’s address. I may occupy the time left, however, with some matters of less importance. The honorable senator made some reference to the action taken by the Government in connexion with the electoral rolls. I make the statement, without any qualification whatever, that from the inauguration of the boasted card system, for which the late Government were responsible, the rolls became more inflated than they were at any time prior to the operation of that system.
– The honorable senator indorsed the system.
– No, I did not. I fought it on the floor of this chamber, as any one who has a shred of memory must recollect. I came down to the Senate, and moved the adjournment to bring forward figures to show that the rolls were inflated. I did so, not once, but on two occasions, and Senator Pearce came here with a written memorandum from the electoral officers declaring that the rolls were never so clean as they were at that time. Will it be believed that only a little later, on the eve of the general election, I found that there had been introduced into the New South rolls no less than 80,000 names, by the use of dummy cards.
– Who did that?
– It was done with the authority of the Government. The electoral officials in Sydney admitted to me that they had inserted 80,000 names in the New South Wales rolls, and that they had been put there by means of dummy cards, that is to say, cards which had never been signed by the electors whose names they bore.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will make his statement more clear ?
– Surely it is clear enough ? I say that the electoral officials put into their card indexes, and inserted upon the rolls, the names of 80,000 people who never signed their names to the application cards.
– Do the Government propose to keep the officials in the Service, who deliberately did a wrong thing like that?
– Of course, efforts have been made to strike out the names which have been inserted in this way on the rolls.
– What I asked was: Do the Government intend to continue the employment of the officials responsible for this?
– They acted under the instructions of the last Government.
– Will the honorable senator give us an opportunity to see those instructions?
– All I can say is that honorable senators opposite are at liberty to write to the Electoral Office, and ask whether or not the statement I make is correct. I can tell honorable senators how I became acquainted with the fact. I know of no reason why there should be any secrecy about it. It has been admitted by the electoral officers themselves. I found, as every other person must have done who went about with his eyes open, that there were names on the rolls which ought hot to be there. I remembered that I was contradicted in the Senate when I said that the rolls were inflated, because it was claimed that that could not occur under the card system, since before the name of any person was placed on the roll, he or she would have to sign a card which would be proof of the existence of the individual claiming to vote. I took the trouble to go round to the Electoral Office in Sydney with a list of some names which I knew ought not to be on the roll. I presented the list, and said, “ Will you please find for me the application cards for these names?” The officer addressed said “ Certainly.” When he returned he said, “ We have taken the first four.” I said, “ With what result?” The reply was, ** We could only find a card for one, but the others are dummy cards.” I said, “ What do you mean by dummy cards?” and I discovered that where the officials found the name of some person on an old roll, and could not find the person himself to sign a card, they obligingly dropped a card into the index, and signed it for him. No less than 80,000 names were inserted in the New South Wales rolls on that system.
– Is that an official statement ?
– It is an official statement. I obtained the information from officials. We were assured, on the authority of the last Government, that under the card system there could be no personation, but I found that the system introduced by the Government had been broken on the authority of the Government who introduced it, and when I learned that 80,000 names had been inserted in the New South Wales rolls by means of dummy cards, I felt I was justified in believing, and in expressing the belief, that the electoral system cif the Commonwealth had been tampered with.
– Does the honorable senator say that the late Government authorized that?
– I say that the officials told me that they did what I have described under instructions.
– Then there ought to be some record of those instructions.
– Undoubtedly, and no doubt there is. I repeat that having found out that this had been done by Federal electoral officers in New South Wales, I asked Mr. Oldham, of the central office here in Melbourne, and he confirmed what I have told honorable senators as to the system that had been introduced.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 o’clock.
– Before dinner I made a statement which I take leave to emphasize by repeating it now. I said that information was given to me by the New South Wales Federal electoral office to the effect that dummy cards were used for the purpose of enrolling electors who had never signed application cards; that these cards were put into the box under a system which was established by the late Government as a guarantee of a pure electoral roll. I said that that system was broken by Ministerial authority, and 80,000 names were improperly in serted in the rolls for one State alone. When a system is brought in for the avowed purpose of securing a clean roll, and is afterwards, by direct Ministerial authority, broken to permit of the improper insertion of names upon the rolls, one is justified in assuming that it was introduced of set purpose, and with the object of resorting to irregularities.
– The honorable senator is very suspicious.
– I am entitled to be suspicious when I see 80,000 names which ought not to be on the rolls placed there by Ministerial authority, and when I find that followed up by a notice sent out by the Minister in charge of the Department warning the officials that if any person presented himself at a polling booth and claimed to vote in a particular name, he was to be permitted to vote in that name, even though a vote had already been recorded in that name. In the circumstances, putting two and two together, one could only arrive at the conclusion that to secure a clean election was not the highest ambition of the late Government. Senator Findley apparently objects to such a statement, but I wonder what sort of language he would himself have used if the Government on this side were guilty of such a breach of faith with Parliament as is represented by the violation of the card system which I have described. I pass from that to the remarks made by Senator Pearce with respect to Mr. Knibbs’ statistics. The honorable senator sought to discount them by referring to them as rough estimates or rough statistics. Is the honorable senator not aware that they are the statistics which determine the representation from the different States in the House of Representatives, and that the same figures are resorted to to determine how many separate sums of 25s. shall be paid to the State Governments ?
– No, they are not. The payments to the States are payments per head of the population, and the figures referred to deal only with adult groups.
– I find it difficult to believe that Senator Pearce does not see at once the error he commits in making that statement. The population of the country can only be definitely determined at the time of the taking of a census. During the period intervening between one census and another the population is determined by an assessment, and
I repeat that the figures referred to are used to determine the amounts to he paid to the different State Governments, and also to determine the number of representatives who shall be returned from each State to the House ofRepresentatives. The only difference is that for one purpose an estimate is made of the whole population, and for the other an estimate is made of a portion of it. The same method and procedure are adopted in both cases.
– In checking InterState migration, is an account kept of adult groups, or are not all entered as “ persons “ ?
– Even if what the honorable senator suggests were the course adopted, it would still be possible to arrive at an idea as to whether the rolls were inflated or not. As people left one State they would be included in another, but they would not pass out of Australia when they merely passed the boundaries between the States. We have no right, therefore, to discount the figures referred to. No one contends that they are absolutely accurate, but they are the official figures adopted for the purposes I have mentioned, and they may be taken as a guide to determine whether the rolls contain an undue percentage of the people. No one who has anything to do with the Electoral Office will venture to deny that these figures may be so used, and that they show that the rolls were inflated, although Senator Pearce, in the last Parliament, made the denial on more than one occasion. It is clear that prior to the elections the rolls were grossly inflated, and they still are in that condition. There is one other matter connected with this question to which I may refer. I have been rather amused by the spurious indignation assumed by honorable senators opposite when referring to comments I have made on this subject. If they have forgotten I certainly have not that only a little time ago they were never tired, in this Chamber and outside of it, of denouncing the people who they said had made an irregular use of the postal vote. They said repeatedly that the sick, the aged and infirm, and women detained in their homes had been guilty of corrupt practices under the postal voting system.
– We did not make the charge against those who were sick.
– Will the honorable senator say that the charge was not made that the postal vote was a means of corruption ?
– So it was.
– Then, in the same way, I was justified in making an accusation against the irregular use of the abvoting system.
– The honorable senator knows very well that our charge was made, not against the voters, but against those who manipulated them.
– The same answer will apply in this case. I had the right to turn round and apply the same logic to the present position. No one knows better than does Senator Findley that the postal vote was abolished not because honorable senators opposite could prove a single case of abuse of the system. Our friends opposite talked about it every day, but though challenges were thrown out to them night after night to prove the abuse of which they complained, they never brought forward a single case.
– What about the justice of the peace in Victoria who was fined ?
– The challenge was offered to Ministers, who had all the electoral machinery at their disposal, and never once did they bring forward a single case in proof of the abuse of the postalvoting system.
– Queensland Ministers admitted corruption under the system.
– There was in office a Labour Ministry and a Labour AttorneyGeneral. Mr. Hughes was in a position to use all the electoral machinery at his disposal, and if cases of corruption were known, why did not Senator Maughan, who knew so much about it, as an honest citizen, place particulars of cases before the proper authorities for purposes of prosecution ? The honorable senator did not require to appeal to a Liberal Attorney-General. He had an Attorney-General representing his own party to appeal to. Why did not the late Attorney-General put the law in motion against these wrong-doers? Nothing of the kind was done, and our friends opposite abolished the postal vote, not because they could prove corruption under it, since they did not prove it, but because they found that it was an instrument which enabled more votes to be cast against them than for them.
– It was proved in Queensland.
– My friends did not prove it when the opportunity was theirs to do so. If Senator Maughan says that it was proved in Queensland, I would like to see the records of the Court.
– The records are in the Queensland Hansard.
– My honorable friend will pardon me if I am not prepared to accept statements appearing in
Hansard as legal proof.
– Is it not sufficient proof when a man is fined for doing it?
– For doing what?
– For abusing the postal vote. A justice of the peace was fined in Victoria for it.
– There may have been a solitary case; but my honorable friends need not bother about that, when we can show primâ facie cases of the abuse of which we complain to the number of 5,000 or 6,000.
– Does the honorable senator say that there are that many cases of dishonest voting?
– Why do not the Government prosecute?
– Senator Findley need not be in such a hurry. The matter has not been finally dealt with yet. I want to pass from that to the second matter touched upon by Senator Pearce. He dealt with some criticisms I addressed in this chamber to appointments by the Government of which he was a member, and tried to draw a parallel between those appointments and the appointment of Mr. Swinburne to the Inter-State Commission. By his admission that he takes no exception to the appointment of Mr. Swinburne, the honorable senator established the difference between the two cases. What he said was that against the appointment of Mr. Swinburne he had not one word to utter. That is an admission that Mr. Swinburne is entirely qualified for the appointment.
– That Senator Pearce knew nothing to the contrary.
– It was more than that, because I take it that Senator Pearce would not have made such a statement if he did not clearly recognise that Mr. Swinburne possesses qualifications which entirely fit him for the appointment he has received. I draw the attention of the Senate to this fact. In the appointments to which I referred, there was some clear reason for saying that the gentlemen were not appointed because of their qualifications, but for quite other reasons.
– Only in your suspicious mind.
– Is it ? I am going to quote ex-Ministers themselves. Out of their own mouths I propose to advance evidence in support of the contention I then made. But first of all, I feel that I may direct the attention of Senator Pearce to his very scrupulous and careful omission of a sentence from my speech - a speech from which he quoted very freely - which I think would have shown exactly the attitude which I took up then, and am prepared to take up now. The sentence he did not quote reads -
I readily admit that the mere fact that a man has been a defeated Labour or any other candidate should not act as a bar to his applying for any public position that may be vacant.
– You said that, and then you went on to object to it.
– I will show the honorable senator why.
But on the other hand, the mere fact that he was a defeated Labour candidate should not, and could not, constitute his sole qualification for that position.
I am going to take one or two of these positions again, and see whether the gentlemen whose names have been given were appointed because of their peculiar qualifications, or simply because of their associations with the party then in power. Let me take the first appointment - that of Mr. Campbell. I want to take the attention of the Senate back to the Imperial Conference of 1911, when the question of creating the Dominions Commission was under review. Mr. Fisher was the gentleman at the Conference who insisted that the men to be appointed should be Ministers or men of Ministerial rank. It was not a suggestion, it was a demand. He said that in order to insure that the Commission would be received with respect, and that its report would carry weight, it should be composed of men of that standard. Does any one venture to say that Mr. Campbell fills the bill ?
SenatorRae. - There are Ministers not far away who are not of much calibre.
– My honorable friends on the other side cannot play fast and loose in that way. Mr. Fisher having laid down a standard for the per.sonnel of the Commission, I am entitled to ask why the Labour Government broke away from the standard, seeing that Mr. Campbell did not fill the bill. I am entitled, too, to see what qualifications he did possess.
– Did not the Imperial authorities lay down other qualifications t
– They at any rate acted in the spirit of the standard set up by Mr. Fisher.
– There were certain other qualifications.
– They appointed men whose names were known throughout the world.
– Was there not a language qualification, which Ministers could not have passed ?
– There was uo language qualification.
– I believe there was.
– Nor could there have been one. Mr. Fisher, I repeat, laid it down that, in order that the Commission should carry weight in various portions of the Empire, it was desirable to appoint to it only men who were not merely in the front rank, but recognised as being there. When he came back, did he act in accordance with that declaration? No. He conferred the appointment on a gentleman who, however estimable he may be, however qualified he may be in other respects, did not come up to the standard which he himself had laid down, but was the defeated Labour candidate on behalf of the party who made the appointment.
– He came up to the standard, but did not happen to be a Minister.
– That was the test which Mr. Fisher applied. I am not going to hammer the point.
– It is a very poor point.
– There it is. When Mr. Fisher made that declaration, and urged it strongly at the Conference, I am entitled to see why he himself broke away. The only thing I can discover is that he found it extremely convenient to use public patronage, which he ought to have exercised for the public good, on behalf of a political comrade.
– Why do not the Government turn him out?
– This Government stands for the very reverse of a policy which would mean turning out public officials on the advent of a new Government.
– Although you think that they were not the fittest men.
- Mr. Campbell has been for two years engaged in the inquiry, and I think it would be extremely foolish to withdraw the commission if it were possible, and certainly I have no desire to do so. I am showing that I was justified in saying then, as I do to-day, that Mr. Fisher having himself laid down the code by which he ought to have been guided, departed from that code on the principle of conferring some of the advantages of office upon one of his defeated comrades. I pass on to another appointment - that of Mr. Ryland. The first thing to which I might take exception is that his application was not received until it was out of order. The position was advertised, and a day was fixed for the receipt of the applications. The application of Mr. Ryland did not arrive to time; it turned up a few days afterwards, and he got the appointment. What were his qualifications for the position? First of all, I say that there was a gross irregularity, a gross unfairness to any one who might have been deprived of an opportunity to apply.
– Have you only learnt that recently?
– That is all.
– Is it not a fact that all the applications were received, and that Mr. Nielsen was offered the position and declined it?
– Mr. Nielsen accepted the position, and afterwards resigned it. It was then that the appointment of Mr. Ryland was made. I think I am speaking correctly when I say that the appointment of Mr. Nielsen was not advertised, and that it was only after he had resigned the position that it was decided to invite applications. Now what were Mr. Ryland’s qualifications for the important position of Director of Lands in the Northern Territory, where he would be required to design and carry out a land policy?
– And well able he was to do it too.
– The honorable senator says so; but what were Mr. Ryland’s qualifications? What was there to show that he knew anything about the work? He was, if I am correctly informed, originally a miner. He gained his knowledge in that capacity. He then became a house and land agent in a Queensland town ; but can it be said that that gentleman, whatever his natural ability may be, could be in any way regarded as an expert in the matter of land, and land settlement ?
– He had made a special study of the subject.
– Was not your Prime Minister a miner ? It is not a disgrace to be a miner, surely?
– Who said it was a disgrace ?
– You think it is a reflection.
– Nobody but an extremely prejudiced or narrow-minded individual would say so. I mentioned that Mr. Ryland was a miner to show that he had not been trained in connexion with land matters. Had he been an applicant for a position in connexion with mines, I should still say that he had spent many years as a miner, and regard that as a qualification.
– Was he not a land agent also ? You had a fair training at that game.
– And it is because I had that I know exactly what is wanted. Mr. Ryland had no possible claim to be considered qualified for the position. The first point is that his application arrived late. That, of itself, should have barred him, or fresh applications should have been invited. The next point is that he cannot in any sense be put forward as a gentleman who was qualified t’o deal with the big land problem confronting the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory.
– He had made a study of the land question for years.
– No sane person would have regarded a statement that he had made a study of the land question as being of any value. His career does not suggest that he has either a practical or theoretical knowledge of the subject with which he is called upon to deal.
– You are making a very unfair attack on a public officer.
– It is of no use to attempt to make out that these were the best possible appointments, because, un fortunately for my honorable friend, the then Minister of External Affairs practically made an admission that two of the appointments were not the best that could have been made, and he went on to say - I shall give the quotation - that these gentlemen, though not the best men, were appointed after he had questioned them as to their political faith.
– Is Mr. Ryland doing the work expected of him?
– The last I heard of Mr. Ryland was that he was walking up and down in front of Government House as a picket.
– That is not a reply to my question.
– I wish it to be understood that I have no quarrel with Mr. Ryland. What I am saying is that the Labour Government, in making the appointment, were only moved, as they were in the other case, not by a regard for the special fitness of the man for a position, but merely by the fact that he was a member of their party and a defeated candidate; and I believe I am correct in saying that Mr. Fisher owed very much to him in his electorate.
– That is very unfair.
– It is a marvel that you have not sacked him.
– If the present Government were inclined to do that sort of thing, there is an ample justification in a speech I am about to read, because the position was taken up by the last Government that they were entitled to have in office there men who shared their political opinions. If that is so, that would be a justification for the present Government saying, “ As you do not share our opinions we also are entitled to have men who do, and, therefore, we are entitled to throw you out and appoint other men.”
– Do you take up such a high standard of political virtue that if other thiugs were equal you would not appoint one of your own supporters?
– No; but I set up the standard that when you are going to make an appointment to the Public Service, merit and merit alone ought to be the determining factor.
– I am glad to hear that.
– Let us see what Mr. Thomas had to say when the appointment of Mr. Ryland was under discussion in the other House -
We may have appointed men, some of whom are not as competent as they might be for the duties they will be called upon to perform, but I believe they are honest men.
– That is a fair statement, anyhow.
– Of course it is from my honorable friend’s point of view, and I take it that it is a fair statement of the attitude and the policy of the late Government - that they were not going necessarily to look for the best men, but, as I will show from another extract, to look for men who shared their political opinions. Mr. Thomas went on to say, referring to one of the gentlemen -
I frankly admit that I then put to him two questions - the other was whether he favoured the leasehold as against the freehold principle in land settlement. … I thought in fairness to my colleagues in the Cabinet I should be quite sure before I suggested to them the name of a gentleman to act as Administrator, that concerning those two questions of policy he was absolutely in sympathy with the Government.
I ask honorable senators to put these two things together - the admission that the men appointed were not as competent as they might have been, and the statement that they were questioned as to their political faith.
– What two questions of policy does he say?
– I do not think they are given, but I can guess what they were, as the honorable senator can. I have not the slightest doubt that one of them was as to the leasehold principle.
– They were two necessary questions under the test Act.
– If these men had not answered the questions in the way which my honorable friends wanted, they would not have had the appointments.
– That is going too far.
– That is exactly what is stated here. Mr. Thomas said that he would not have recommended the names unless he was sure, as the result of his catechizing the men, that they were absolutely in sympathy with the Government.
– No, in sympathy with the administration of the Northern Territory.
– It says here “ absolutely in sympathy with the Government.”
– With their policy - leasehold.
– Well, I will take that if you like. If our predecessors were entitled to put into office to carry out their policy men who believed in that policy, we are now entitled to turn round and ask the officers to resign on the ground that they must be antagonistic to our policy.
– Are you going to abolish the leasehold system in the Northern Territory?
– As soon as I can.
– That will be a long while.
– At any rate, we will make an effort. Dealing specifically with Mr. Ryland, Mr. Thomas went on to say -
In my opinion, a person appointed to be Director of Lands in the Northern Territory must have certain qualifications. He should be in accord with the leasehold principle.
– Is not that in the Act?
– No. It is not in the Act that a man only shall be appointed there because he believes in certain principles of tenure.
It is only right, fair, and proper to myself and to the Government that we should have some officers there who are in accord with our general policy, so that we may have confidence in what is being done.
– “ Some officers.”
– I am dealing with the officers whose appointments were under review. I repeat that that was a policy, disguise it as you will, of saying that the only men who could look for appointments in the Public Service were those who shared the political opinions of the Government of the day, and, as in the two cases I referred to, had the additional advantage of being defeated Labour candidates.
– How can you justify that remark by two appointments only? Were there not many appointments to which it would not apply?
– Senator Pearce gave the lot; I do not propose to repeat what he said.
– Was Mr. Francis in sympathy with the last Government ?
– I do not happen to know anything about Mr. Francis. I do happen to know that if honorable senators will take the trouble to read the Hansard report of the speech delivered by me, which waa quoted by Senator Pearce, they will find that I gave rather a formidable list of appointments, which come in the same category.
– Does the Minister of Defence say that Dr. Jensen’s was not a good appointment ?
– I say that there was already in the Public Service of the Commonwealth a gentleman who possessed qualifications quite as good as those possessed by Dr. Jensen, and who should have been given the appointment. As a matter of fact, under the Public Service Act, priority has to be given to those who are already in the Service. I admit that the Northern Territory is not governed by that Act, but the same principle should have operated. However, no other man in Australia would suit the late Government but a gentleman who was a member of the Political Labour League in Sydney, and who was attacking their brethren-in-arms, the New South Wales Labour Government.
– Can the Minister of Defence name one Labour man who has been appointed to a responsible position by a Liberal Government ?
– Yes, Mr. Langwill, a member of the Western Land Board of New South Wales.
– I hope that the Minister will not strain his mind to cite more instances.
– I propose now to quote the utterances of Senator Pearce, with a view to showing that he recognised the logic of the position which he was taking up. He said -
If the Government have any sense at all they will secure the appointment of officials who believe in the policy they are called upon to perform.
I interjected quite naturally, and in spite of our Standing Orders -
That is an argument for turning him (Mr. Ryland) out of the position on the advent of another Government with a different policy.
Senator Pearce replied ;
That is a question for the new Government with a different policy to decide.
It is fortunate for the Public Service of Australia that the present Government are not disposed to give effect to the logic of my interjection. As a matter of fact, the New South Wales Labour Government did make a start in that direction, and it was only an outburst of public opinion which prevented them from going further.
– Deal only with Federal politics.
– That does not cut any ice here.
– Nothing will cut any ice with Senator de Largie. He is much too hidebound for that.
– When did the New South Wales Labour Government make a start in the direction that the Minister has suggested ?
– They started by throwing out Mr. Garrard, of the Water and Sewerage Board.
– They did nothing of the sort.
– Although it was the practice to re-appoint the members of that Board, and although Mr. Garrard was qualified for re-appointment, they threw him out, and put in his place a personal friend of Mr. McGowen.
– Mr. Garrard is a trustee of the Trades Hall, too.
– If that be so, it supplies another instance of the appointment of a Labour sympathizer by a Liberal Government. But Senator McDougall knows that he is not frank when he makes that statement.. Although Mr. Garrard, years ago, bore the heat and burden of the day in fighting the cause of my honorable friends, they remorselessly threw him out-
– Was that in the days when the Minister of Defence himself was with us?
– I am with my honorable friends now. It is one of the regrets of my life that, being with them, it is my painful duty sometimes to chastise them.
– We shall have to put the honorable gentleman through a fresh examination if he wishes to rejoin us.
– I sometimes pray for him.
– Senator Rae never gets into a praying mood until he finds himself in a hole. I wish now to deal with a much more serious subject - the subject of defence. In doing so, I want to take very strong exception to the statements made by Senator Pearce, who expressed a desire that the matter of defence should be kept out of the region of party politics, but who, nevertheless, tinged the whole of his address with a political and personal attack upon myself. He finished by making the most definite pronouncement to the effect that I had been guilty of tarnishing the subject with the brush of party politics. The honorable senator nods his head. He has done nothing else but endeavour to make the question of defence a party question. He has always spoken of it in such a way as to differentiate his own party from their political opponents.
– We claim to be the national party.
– The honorable senator may claim what he likes. My statement stands incontrovertible. It is impossible to find one speech by a Labour candidate upon the subject of defence within a reasonable distance of the recent general elections, in which the claim was not made that our defence policy belonged to that party; that they were its champions, and that their opponents were seeking to undermine it. There has been no greater offender in this respect than Senator Pearce.
– I heard the Minister of Defence himself claim that it was his party which introduced our defence policy.
– All right. But Senator Pearce has striven to clothe himself with the cloak of superiority by lecturing us upon this question. One can find speech after speech delivered by him throughout this country in which he claims the whole credit for our defence system, and in which he seeks to convey the impression that his political opponents desire to undermine it.
– He set up a case this afternoon which calls for an answer from the Minister.
– And I am giving him that answer. It seems to me that my honorable friends claim a free hand in regard to matters of policy or administration, and imagine that they ought not to be criticised. If we venture to criticise them we are told that we are dragging the matter of defence into the mire of politics.
– They claim a monopoly in the matter of interjections, too.
– In regard to that matter, I am afraid that I must vote with my honorable friends opposite. Senator Pearce protested against making defence a party political question. But what did he do? He immediately commenced to appeal to passion and preju dice, and to the kindly sympathies of a large number of persons, by declaring that I had thrown hundreds of men out of work. Was that dene with the object of determining the merits of the dispute between us, or of creating a bad impression outside? I am dealing now with his hypocritical attitude. He stated today that I have done certain things in connexion with Cockatoo Island for the purpose of gaining a political advantage. It would be a fair retort if I said that the honorable senator put men on at Cockburn Sound, and rushed the work ahead on the eve of a general election, for purely political reasons. Such a statement would be absolutely on all-fours with the statement which he has made to-day.
– What about the statement of Mr. Hedges?
– If this matter is to be made the subject of party politics, Senator Pearce, by reason of the position which he holds in his own party, must accept the major portion of the responsibility. In the remarks which I make to-night, I desire to draw a big distinction between a policy and the method of giving effect to that policy. I have absolutely no word of quarrel with the defence scheme which is to be carried out. The only rivalry between Senator Pearce and myself will be in respect of who shall go ahead most rapidly. But where we part company is that I insist that every pound of public money spent upon defence shall be spent with the same economy as is observed in other branches of our Commonwealth Service. It is not in regard to the policy which we are pledged to carry out that we differ, but in the fact that I believe more businesslike methods require to be followed than I was able to trace in the Defence Department upon my accession to office. I believe that the greatest enemy to the defence system of Australia will be extravagance and folly. The people scarcely realize how much our defence scheme is going to cost them. When they do realize it, if they find that their money is being squandered, I venture to say there will be a reaction in the public mind which will inflict a more serious injury on our defence policy than could be inflicted by hundreds of condemnatory speeches from the public platform. It is because I believe that there has been an absence of close economical administration, and a disregard of the taxpayers’ interests that I am disposed to quarrel with Senator Pearce.
– This comes well from a member of a former Government which desired to start a defence scheme upon a borrowing policy.
– Whether the money is borrowed or raised by taxation, the obligation is upon us to see that in the Defence Department we get 20s. worth of value for every £1 we expend. All that I have done is to see that there shall be no waste of public money. To avoid waste it is necessary in all big undertakings to insure that they shall be carried out in a proper and methodical way. Senator Pearce laid great stress upon the fact that he acted upon the advice of the Naval Board. It cannot be a virtue for him to act on that advice and a wickedness for me to do the same thing.
– There must have been different advice tendered.
– It cannot be held that Senator Pearce did right in following certain advice and that I did wrong in adopting a similar course. Further, these advisers were not of my selection. If any one is to challenge their appointment it cannot be my honorable friends opposite, because they themselves are responsible for those appointments. Having had some opportunity of judging the capacity of these men, they appointed them, and they made appointments, I presume, which commanded respect. Therefore, in resting my case upon the advice of these gentlemen, I am not resting it upon that of officials whom I selected. If any question is to be raised regarding the capacity of these officers - and I sincerely hope it will not - it does not lie within the mouths of honorable senators opposite to find fault with them. They appointed them, and I cannot be held to have committed sin in deciding to accept the advice tendered by them, seeing that they were the guides, counsellors, and friends of my political opponents for three years. I want to emphasize one remark which Senator Pearce made. He said that Cockatoo Island was never in a position of danger. I want to know who says bo ? I ask Senator Pearce that question.
– In the first place, I never said there was no danger. I made no such statement.
– I took the statement down at the time - that there was never a position of danger.
– I expressed no opinion as to whether there was danger or not. I quoted that opinion as to one of the boilers.
– If the honorable senator says that I shall not press the point, especially as I have a good deal of other matter to deal with; but I understood him to affirm that there was not at that time any position of danger at Cockatoo Island.and that there was no necessity, therefore, to close the boilers down. Certainly, he condemned the closing down of the boilers.
– I condemned the closing down of the works.
– It was impossible to carry on the works without the boilers.
– The Minister need not have .closed them all down.
– Then my honorable friend would have examined thb boilers one at a time; and if one of them, that was not among the first to be examined, had burst, and had caused death, he would have been one of the first to say that a charge of manslaughter ought to be lodged against me.
– There was as much chance of the boilers bursting as the honorable senator doing so.
– Personally, I do not pretend to be able to say when a boiler is good, bad, or indifferent.
– I do know.
– Then my honorable friend is wasting time here when he ought to be engaged in a more useful occupation.
– I have done honest work in my time, anyway, and that is more than some can say.
– I do not claim to know whether a boiler is a sound one or not. Even if I had known that these boilers were considered unsafe I should not have left my office stool to go over to Sydney to inspect them for myself. All that a man can do in the position that I occupy - all that any honorable senator would have done in the circumstances - was to take the reports which came to hand. Let us see what the reports were in this case. Here, again, I emphasize the fact that I made no appointments. In the first place, before I went to the Department, the late Government - con- scious, as Senator Pearce has admitted, that the plant was defective - had appointed an expert to examine it. Before I give the result of his examination may I say this: Senator Pearce has told us that the late Government were aware that the plant at Cockatoo Island was not up to date, that things were not quite as they ought to be, and that knowing so much, they took over the dock as a defective concern. Will Senator Pearce deny that the recommendation upon which the late Government acted when they decided to take over Cockatoo Island was a recommendation in which these terms were used? I am speaking from memory, but I am correct as to the essence of the statement - that because things at Cockatoo Island were so hopelessly unsatisfactory the only possible remedy was for the Commonwealth Government to take it over if they wanted their ships to be built. That was the recommendation made to the late Government - not that they should take over Cockatoo Island as a going concern, but that they should take it over because things were absolutely breaking down, and there was no possibility of getting their work done unless they did take it over.
– Was the breakdown caused by a conflict between the State and the Federal authorities?
– There does not appear to have been any such conflict. But the work was not going on to the satisfaction of the Naval Board. Things were in a perfectly hopeless condition. There were reports, which Senator Pearce has read, which indicated in one place that good material was being spoilt. It was because things had drifted into that condition - a hopeless enough condition, surely - that the recommendation was made that the Federal Government should take over the dock. To-day we have had a letter read here from the gentlemen who were managing the dock, and whose management was so severely condemned when it was taken over; and these gentlemen who have been found guilty now come forward and testify that things were all right. Senator Pearce has told us more than once that he acted on the recommendation of the Naval Board - a Board which is charged with weighty and serious responsibilities. I do not propose to analyze the particular share of responsibility which attaches to the Minister and the Board. All that I say is that, as far as I have been able to search the papers, the recommendation of the Naval Board was that things at Cockatoo Island were in such a hopeless condition that unless it was taken over the Government could not expect to get their boats built.
– And also because Admiral Henderson recommended that the dock should be taken over.
– There is no statement in the papers about taking over the dock because of Admiral Henderson’s recommendation. The ground of the recommendation is that things were in such a hopeless state. Yet the gentlemen who were responsible for that condition of affairs are now put in the box, and we are asked to accept their evidence as guaranteeing that everything was all right. When I went to the Department I found that there was in course of progress an inspection of the power plant at the Fitzroy Dock. When the report was presented I found in it a clear indication that the power plant was entirely defective. I very much doubt whether Senator Pearce knew that the plant was so defective as it was shown to be. I am not saying that as indicating any. want of supervision on his part. It would be foolish to suppose that a Minister can keep his eyes on everything. I am inclined to think that the late Government would not have been inclined to take over the dock on such terms if they had known that the condition of the plant was as serious as it was shown to be. At all events, they would have taken some steps before they continued to work the power plant. In due course the gentleman appointed by Senator Pearce to make recommendations furnished his report. The whole matter at issue depends on the question whether it was a reasonable and proper thing to do to stop the works until an examination was made of the boilers, or whether the plant should have been continued until they were examined one by one.
– There was no complaint from the men working at the boilers.
– I have known men to work side by side with death for a long while, and then an accident to happen. In this particular case I have already admitted that I am not like Senator McDougall, and cannot speak from expert knowledge. But will Senator McDougall venture to say that any one of these boilers which was condemned should have been put to work again?
– Yes, they were quite capable.
– Well, I would not take that responsibility. I am not going to take the responsibility of putting them to work again. I recollect, when I was a member of the Parliament of New South Wales, that over and over again I heard honorable members belonging to the party of my opponents getting up and clamouring for boiler inspection. I recollect the terms in which they referred to employers who worked boilers in a dangerous condition. Remembering that, I must say that I am surprised that exception should be taken by honorable senators opposite to the action that I have taken in this matter. The worst that can be said is that I was unduly cautious.
– A boiler that cannot stand a pressure of 90 lbs. may reasonably stand 60 lbs.
– I quite understand that; but I shall read portions of this expert’s report, and shall ask honorable senators to put themselves in my position. I want those who know nothing about boilers to imagine themselves charged with my responsibilities. At all events, we all know what a boiler can do when it bursts. Seeing the danger that can arise, I ask whether any honorable senator would not have done as I did in saying that we did not feel justified inrunning any risk. Here is the report upon which I acted - a report which, as I have said, was furnished by an expert appointed by Senator Pearce -
The whole of the boilers, of which there are six, are practically worn out.
That is the first statement. If I were asked to take over a plant which was worked by worn-out boilers the first thing I should do would be to have them examined.
– A worn-out boiler is not dangerous.
– My honorable friend may hold that opinion.
– You have to cut down the pressure, that is all.
– If a private employer were running machinery, and he obtained a report from his engineer telling him that his boiler plant was worn out, and if, in spite of that, he continued working it, and an accident happened as a result of which men were killed, a coroner’s jury would bring in a verdict of manslaughter against him, and rightly so. The report goes on -
Considerable repairs have to be effected every week-end to keep them running for another week. The pressure at which they are working, viz.,100 lbs. per square inch, is altogether too low for economic operation, and the maximum quantity of steam available from the whole of the boilers, pressed to their utmost, is quite insufficient to run the engine plant at its full output; and, in fact, at the present time it is difficult to reach 65 per cent. of this figure. The plant as a whole is in such a condition as may lead to a complete breakdown at any time, and this condition in the past has frequently caused serious interruptions in the dockyard work.
I quote this passage as showing the condition of the plant -
The power plant is almost wholly composed of obsolete and worked out units, and practically none of it is worth a moment’s consideration in determining a suitable plant for the future operation of the dockyard. For the above reasons, therefore, I have put the whole of this plant entirely to one side in considering the question of a proper power supply for the island.
There is a good deal more in this report dealing with other portions of the machinery. Although Mr. Julius wa3 only asked to report on the power plant, he explains that it was necessary for him to deal not only with the power driving the machinery, but also with the machinery itself to make his report complete; and what he says about it shows that it is a monstrous misuse of terms to speak of the plant as being in any way efficient. Here is a statement dealing with the cables which transmit the electrical power -
The cables also transmitting power from the power station to various parts of the island are in a bad condition, being run without system, and in many cases in such a way as to break every regulation for the safe running of electric cables.
I shall not weary honorable senators with further quotations. There is a good deal in the report, but as soon as the censure motion is disposed of in another place, I shall lay the document on the table of the Senate. When that report was received, the Naval Board naturally and properly took it into consideration. The first thing that I knew of it was when it came before me with a minute attached to it, written by Captain Clarkson, the member of the Naval Board, whose profession particularly gives him control of the machinery. He said -
I am of opinion that the Board, having received this report, can pursue no other course than to immediately order the fires in these boilers to be drawn and the boilers put out of use until a survey can be made by a Board of engineer officers. This will entail the suspension of a number of men for at least a week in the case of a favorable report being received. On the other hand, if the boilers are condemned as unsafe, as the result of this survey, the work of construction must be stopped until other plant can he provided, or other arrangements made.
That recommendation was assented to by the two other members of the Board, who were then available, the fourth member being at the time indisposed. Now, I want to ask Senator Pearce what he would have done when a minute of that kind was put before him ?
– He would have communicated with the manager of the dock.
– I shall deal with the manager of the dock directly. That is a fair question to ask of those who take objection to what I did. Seeing that the worst that could happen would be a few days’ delay, I ask honorable senators what they would have done in the circumstances ? First of all, there was the report by Mr. Julius, and then the Naval Board makes this strong recommendation that the only thing to do was to draw the fires from those boilers, and I ask any honorable senator in this chamber whether in the face of that recommendation, and in view of the circumstances I have described, he would have taken the responsibility of turning down the recommendation of the Naval Board?
– They were only pulling the honorable senator’s leg.
– I am entitled to ask the question I have put to honorable senators opposite. I make the appeal to honorable senators who, though political opponents, are not, I am sure, wanting in common fairness. I ask them to say whether, in the face of that minute by the professional member of the Naval Board, indorsed by two other members of the Board, and apart from the fact that I approved of the course suggested myself, there was anything else for me to do but follow the recommendation made to me.
– Was the honorable senator recommended to withdraw the fires at half-past 3 o’clock?
– The recommendation was that they should be withdrawn at once, as soon as a wire could be got to the dockyard. I put my question again to honorable senators, because it is one to which I am entitled to have a reply from every fair-minded member of the Senate.
– In “the honorable senator’s place I should have gone over and had a look at the dockyard myself.
– Though in the meantime one of the boilers might have exploded ? I am aware that Senator Rae is prepared to take risks, but I remind him that I would not know a good boiler from a bad boiler, and I had before me a report that men were working alongside boilers which professional men informed me were unsafe. I say that the only thing left me to do was, despite the inconvenience which might be caused, to immediately follow the advice of the Naval Board, and I did so.
– Are the men working there now?
– Yes, they are; but the condemned boilers have been, thrown out. Five or six of the boilers found to be defective have been discarded.
– I think it was a very proper precaution to take.
– I am very glad to hear my honorable friend say so. I thought there would be some one on the other side fair enough to admit that in the circumstances there was nothing else that I could do. It certainly appeared to me that I should fail in the discharge of my duty, not as -a Minister, but as a man, if I permitted the condemned boilers to continue in work for five minutes longer than was absolutely necessary. When instructions were given to stop work I was not indifferent to the welfare of the men. The instructions ordering the fires to be withdrawn were sent over at midday on Thursday, and the manager was instructed at the same time to pay the men up to the end of the week. He was told further to find employment for as many of the men as he could in other directions wherever possible. I mention this because the one thing that did trouble me was the possibility of some of the men being idle. I am pleased to think that no great harm could have resulted, because they were paid up to the end of the week. The surveyors who examined the boilers worked on the Sunday ; the following Monday was a public holiday, and the manager then commenced to take the men back to work, and it was only a matter of a few days when, by working double shifts, he was able to put on more men than were employed when I sent the order to withdraw the fires from the boilers.
– The boilers were shifted during the week.
– That is so.
– Some were not shifted at all, and one of them has since been worked at a pressure of 300 lbs.
– If Senator Pearce means to say that the men who examined the boilers were not qualified I shall not argue with him.
– I mean to make the statement I have made.
– I do not know what test the honorable senator’s friends in the dockyard may have made, but I say that, no matter what happened before or afterwards, having that minute before me with the recommendation of three of the four members of the Naval Board, the fourth being unavailable because of indisposition, the only thing for me to do was to order the fires to be drawn from those boilers at once. That having been done, immediate steps were taken to constitute a board to examine the boilers. The board appointed consisted of two Engineer Commanders of the Navy, and a third official, who was a ship’s architect or constructor. These gentlemen were immediately despatched to carry out the duty for which they were appointed. If they condemned boilers which ought not to have been condemned, and, according to Senator Pearce’s statement they have done so, I cannot determine the matter. I am not a judge, nor am I responsible. I was prepared to accept their report. They were appointed by Senator Pearce; I found them there; they were given this duty to discharge, and submitted their report. They absolutely condemned five of the boilers, and a little light may be thrown upon the matter by their report as to the condition into which these boilers were allowed to get.
– Were these boilers never, subjected to periodical examination?
– When I read from the report the condition in which the boilers were found, perhaps the honorable senator ‘ will find an answer to this question. I cannot help thinking that a careful manager, adopting ordinary precautions, would not allow his machinery to become dirty. Five of the boilers were condemned absolutely, others were permitted to be worked at a reduced pressure, and in the case of others permission was given to work them for a limited time. The Survey Committee made certain statements in their report which were subsequently embodied in a letter sent by the Naval Board to the acting manager of the dockyard. Here are the statements to which I refer, and to which the acting manager was invited to supply an answer.
The Naval Board, having received the report of the Board of Survey on the boilers under your charge at Cockatoo Island, is of opinion that obvious and necessary precautions which common experience has shown to be absolutely necessary to the safe working of steam boilers, would appear to have been neglected.
The Board of Survey found thick deposits of slime on the tubes, stays, and plates, and in the case of the locomotive type boilers Nos. t to 4 the lower tubes were buried in sludge.
I do not propose to quote further. Two of the gentlemen forming the Committee are engineers. I do not pretend to know whether they were competent or not, but I do know that they are qualified engineers.
– Has the honorable senator received a reply to that letter from the acting manager.
– Not yet. The point I make is not that these statements were sent to the acting manager, but that they were contained in a report from the Survey Committee who condemned a certain number of the boilers.
– From the way the honorable senator referred to the matter, it appeared that the statements were addressed to the acting manager.
– No. I say that certain statements appearing in the report of the Survey Committee were embodied in a letter sent to the acting manager in order that he might be afforded an opportunity to make any observations he pleased upon them.
– And the honorable senator has received no reply from him.
– No reply has so far been received, though the letter was sent some little time ago. 1 have not the date of it here, but I have no doubt that a reply will be received in due course. I mention the matter because the statements made have been so serious that I thought it well to anticipate some of the objections which might be raised. I might have been told that the acting manager of the dockyard should have an opportunity to reply to those statements, and I mention the fact that they have been sent on to him for that purpose. I come now to another matter, and I am very sorry, indeed, to have to refer to any individual in dealing with this question. It seems to be absolutely impossible to pass away from the matter without making some reference to the gentleman who is now acting manager to the dockyard. I do so for the reason that Senator Pearce sought to establish some ground of complaint against me, because nothing has been done either to appoint Mr. Cutler permanently to the position of manager of the dockyard or some one else to take his place. It has been suggested that delay has occurred because neither of these courses was adopted. When Senator Pearce asks me why I did not appoint Mr. Cutler permanently to the position of manager of the dockyard, let me ask him why he practically dismissed that gentleman ?
– I did not.
– The honorable senator did not dismiss him actually, because Mr. Cutler was, and is still, in the employment of the Commonwealth. When Senator Pearce says that he did not dismiss him, I arn forced to put my question in another way : Why did not the honorable senator take over Mr. Cutler, and make him permanent manager of the dockyard ?
– I told him that we proposed to call applications generally for the position, and intimated to him that he might be regarded as an applicant if he so wished.
– And the honorable senator added that his application would be treated on its merits if he applied.
– That brings me to this position : The honorable senator has said that I should have appointed MrCutler as permanent manager, or should have found some one to take his place. It ought to be admitted that if I can show that, in the opinion of my predecessor, Mr. Cutler was unfitted for the position, and can say, as I do, that no applicant who has yet come forward is, in my judgment, entirely fitted for the position, I have answered the charge about delay. The charge has, in view of all the circumstances, been most unfairly urged. In order to show the view which Mr. Cutler held as to the reason why Senator Pearce did not appoint him permanently to the position as manager of the dockyard, I quote from a letter addressed by him on the 29lh January to the honorable senator as Minister of Defence. He writes -
In further reference to the interview which you and your Board were kind enough to grant to’ me yesterday, having had time to more fully consider the substance of your proposals, I thought it would be more satisfactory to yourself and your Board if I placed before you in writing my decisions concerning same.
Your first proposition, concisely stated, I think, amounts to this - that you propose calling applications for the position of general manager to Cockatoo Dock, and you ask me if I wish to be considered an applicant. As verbally stated by me, having made up your mind to such action, which amounts to practically showing a want of confidence in myself, it is, under those circumstances, useless for me to further move in the direction of retaining the management of the dock.
I say that there had been an interview between Senator Pearce and Mr. Cutler.
– And ‘ the Naval Board.
– Yes, that is so. I was not present, but Mr. Cutler was, and he evidently considered himself justified in recognising the action of the Board in deciding to call for applications as showing a lack of confidence in him, and in assuming that his application would not be successful. I think he shows that he regarded the action of the Board as an intimation that they were not disposed to leave in his hands that very expensive public property.
– In other words, the honorable senator thinks they shunted him.
– Yes, he was shunted, and I admit that the Government tried to shunt him in a very kindly way. There was a practical intimation of the opinion of Mr. Cutler held by Senator Pearce and the Naval Board, and they knew more about him than I did. I never met the gentleman until a week or two ago, and then conversed with him for only half-an-hour. Mr. Cutler indicates in his communication the conclusion at which he had arrived regarding the opinion as to his qualifications which had been formed by Senator Pearce.
– - In that matter, did not the late Government follow the usual procedure, with regard to important appointments, of calling for applications for them?
– But this man was there.
– He was in the employ of the State Government.
– He was told, as his letter indicates, that he might be regarded as an applicant, and would be treated on his merits.
– And the honorable senator practically told him that his application would not succeed.
– I never told him anything of the kind.
– The man took that as an intimation that the Naval Board were not satisfied with his services. If they had been, all that they required to do was to ask the State Government to transfer him to the Commonwealth. It was intended that officers employed at the dock should be transferred, as a number of them actually were, and as a number arebeing transferred at the present time. Mr: Cutler could have been transferred in the same way. If Senator Pearce had wished to appoint Mr. Cutler permanently to the position, he had only to make a formal application to the State Government for the transfer of his services. In the circumstances, I should have taken very great risk indeed if I had permanently appointed to the position a man who in the opinion of those who had considerable experience of him was not qualified for it. In answer to the question why I have not found some one to succeed him, I say that I prefer to wait a few weeks longer, in the hope that we may get a man specially qualified for the position.
– Does the honorable senator say that none of the other applicants are suitable ?
– None of them appears to me to possess all the qualifications which I think are needed for so important a position. I may be making an error of judgment. I know that many of them are excellent men, but I have thought it better to take a few weeks more and endeavour to find in some man a combination of the qualifications which I think are needed.
– Is that opinion shared by the Naval Board?
– It is.
– Is it not a fact that the London Committee made a recommendation ?
– They did, but I am not aware that a Committee sitting in London knows exactly what is wanted here. I do not mind explaining the difficulty which is in my mind. The applicant recommended by the London Committee is an engineer employed in the Royal Navy at £600 per year. It appears to me that an officer who can command no higher salary is, perhaps, not possessed of the wide experience which I think we need for this important position. An error made in this appointment, which would have to be continued for some years, might have disastrous consequences later on. It has seemed to me that an officer holding so comparatively unimportant a position at Home cannot possess the wide experience which I think is the essential qualification for a manager of the dockyard.
– That is not their only recommendation.
– That was their specific recommendation. Let me say that Senator Pearce need not have bothered to ask my permission to see the papers, as apparently he knows all about them.
– The papers now referred to were in the office before I left.
– I have told the Senate the reasons why I have abstained from making an appointment.
– Would not the Committee that made that recommendation be acquainted with the qualifications required?
– Yes, and every one knew what qualifications they had.
– It is a matter of opinion as to what qualifications are wanted in the manager of a place like a dockyard. I am trying to state the reasons which have animated me. It seemed to me that a gentleman who had held only that position at Home, although recommended by the Committee as possibly the best of the men applying, was still not quite the man we had the right to look for to take over the responsibility of the dockyard itself, seeing that the success he achieved in his management would have a very big and lasting influence on its ultimate operations. Therefore, I have taken a few weeks longer, in the hope of finding some one who will appeal to me as being more suitable for the position. That is the crime of which I am guilty.
– What salary are you prepared to give?
– In the advertisement no salary was stated. Each applicant was required to state the amount for which he was prepared to give his services. This gentleman had offered his services at £1,500 a year, though he is now obtaining £600 in England. I think that for a salary of £1,500 we might have looked for somebody with a little wider experience than he appears to possess.
– A really first class man ought to be worth £5,000 a year.
– I tell the Senate candidly that if the matter were left to me solely, I would sooner give £5,000 a year to get the best man, than pay £1,500 a year to a man about whom I had any doubt. If I have erred, well and good. I am telling the Senate the circumstances in which I have acted. I do not think, in spite of the recommendation of the Committee, that the men who have offered their services are quite good enough . for the work that Australia wants to be taken in hand.
– What is going to guide you in your ultimate selection of a man?
– I think that the honorable senator has had enough experience of the world to know those factors which would guide one. I have told the Senate why I have acted as I have done. I venture to think that honorable senators in their quieter moments will say that I have only taken a business precaution in preferring a little delay to making a mistake.
– You might inform us what steps you are taking.
– Seeing that the applicants were at Home,’ the only step which could be taken would be a short communication by cable with the High Commissioner. Passing from Cockatoo Island, I come to the question of Cockburn Sound. I want to start with a reference to Senator Pearce’s quotation from his own speech on the Estimates, where he said that the money was wanted> and that the intention was to spend it on survey work. He went on to say that they had been constructing a railway, and other works. I want to repeat most emphatically that there is not the slightest intention in my mind to deviate from the policy laid down by Admiral Henderson to create a base for the western fleet in Cockburn Sound. But I am going to insist here, as I will in every step that is taken by the Department, that before the people’s money is spent, ordinary business precautions shall be taken to see that it will be spent in a proper way. In this particular matter,’ my charge against Senator Pearce is that, in trying to push forward that work, he lost sight of those business considerations which should prevail with every man in his own affairs. In this particular case, Admiral Henderson’s advice is clear enough. He says -
The harbor of Cockburn Sound, including Owen’s Anchorage and Jervoise Bay, to be examined thoroughly as soon as possible by experts.
It cannot be contended that (he examination’ has been thorough and complete, seeing that it is still going on. If it was complete, as Senator Pearce would make us believe, if he had done all that appeared necessary to justify him in putting up permanent works, there was no need to carry the examination any further ; but when I went there, and now to-day, they are”’ still putting down bores to test the soil. Why are they probing into the bowels of the earth to find out what is underneath if they are satisfied that the time has arrived to spend money on permanent improvements? The fact is, as I will show from minutes of the Naval Board, a justification of my statement that before the necessary preliminary work has been completed an effort has been made to push on the other work, which, in my judgment, ought not to have been started until the exploration and the survey had been carried to such a point that we could say, without doubt, that we know the character of the ground on which we are to build. I have already referred to what Admiral Henderson said. It will be noticed that, in reference to the survey, he used the expression, “ It should be thoroughly surveyed.” He must have had a very good reason for putting in the word “ thoroughly.” He must have known of the financially tragic history of Bermuda ; but he did not know then, as we know now, what has happened at Fremantle. There, as the result of insufficient exploration, they proceeded to erect their works. What happened ?
– Against the advice of one of their eminent engineers, Mr. C. Y. O’Connor.
– The bottom feU out of it.
– They acted in accordance with the advice of some engineers, and it is quite evident now they did not carry out the borings extensively enough. After they had spent over £250,000, they suddenly found, because they were over a limestone cavern, water rushing up. It would be a disastrous thing to repeat at Jervois3 Day, which is also limestone country, the sad experience of the dock at Fremantle.
– Are you going to put down a graving dock at Jervoise Bay ?
– Admiral Henderson recommended the establishment of a graving clock there, and he is accepted by the honorable senator as a law-giver in this matter. It will introduce a curious state of affairs if, when it suits a Minister, he will depart from a report; and, if it suits him, also demand that no one else shall depart from it. Are we going to take this as an idly- written document, or as one in which every word as well as every recommendation was considered ? Admiral Henderson did not recommend a floating dock for the fleet, and lie had a reason for not doing so.
– Are you going to put a graving dock there?
– I am not certain, because I want to complete this exploration. If it is possible, as a result of the exploration, to put a graving dock there, then I say his report ought to stand until he, or some equal authority, tells us that a floating dock will do just as well.
– If there is a good foundation, you will not put a floating dock there?
– At the present moment, and of course always subject to any advice I may get, I say that the survey should be completed before we can know whether we can carry out his report.
– You are going to put a graving dock there if the foundation is sound ?
– Yes, until Admiral Henderson, or some other authority, comes and tells me that a floating dock will do just as well for the purpose he had in view.
– Will you explain why some of the surveyors have been dismissed recently, and probably more will be dismissed shortly?
– The honorable senator has asked me about a matter of which I have no knowledge.
– Surveyors have been dismissed since you came into power.
– I do not know what the honorable senator means by the term “ surveyors.”
– I mean the men conducting the exploratory work.
– I know that an instruction was given to Mr. Fanstone to carry on with all speed the work of exploration and survey. I am not concerned in what men he puts on or takes off. There is an instruction from the Naval Board to carry on the survey work as fast as he can, and the rest I leave to him. I come now to a statement by Senator Pearce that these banks which we all recognised have to be pierced - the Success and Parmelia banks - were pierced months ago. He was trying to rather startle me by giving me the information that months ago these banks had been probed, and that it was possible to determine what they were made of. Why, it is year3 since that was done. The honorable senator shakes his head, but I ask him to listen to an extract from a report by Sir John Coode in 1887 -
The borings through the Success and Parmelia banks have shown, as before stated, that they consisted almost entirely of sand. Any channel which might be formed through these shoals would inevitably necessitate frequent dredging for maintenance, and, as I pointed out in my report of 1877, such an approach would be impracticable and dangerous in a gale from the west, when the wind would be directly across the line of channel, and it would be impossible to_ confine vessels to the deep-water track. Notwithstanding the fine sheet of water which exists in Cockburn Sound, the difficulties attendant upon the formation and maintenance of suitable and safe approaches are so great, and would be accompanied with such a large expenditure, both in first cost and maintenance, and there will be no alternative but to consider the utilization of the shelter and deep water there as entirely unattainable.
Here, in 1887, we have Sir John Coode giving exactly the same report as Senator Pearce’s recent exploration has discovered.
– There is no harm in being doubly sure.
– At double the cost. Senator Pearce’s statement in the newspaper the other day was that the banks consisted of sand, gravel, and clay.
– There are papers in the Navy Office to show that.
– When the honorable senator seeks to startle me with the information that the borings were completed a few months ago, he will pardon rae for telling him that they were completed years ago.
– A bore has been put down since that survey was made.
– I think I am correct in saying that there are not in the Navy Office to-day the results of the early bores. They ought to be there, and I am getting them there in order that we can compare the earlier borings with the new ones. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that there is any knowledge of that earlier exploration work in the office. There is another matter on which Senator Pearce attempted to enlighten me. When he spoke of the Challenger Pass he said I had spoken of only one entrance, and he went on to describe the Pass -
With the removal of some soft rock obstructions, there is a deep water entrance available without touching the sandbanks referred to.
If the Challenger Pass,as he would make us believe, is such an excellent opening that it only requires a powerful Minister to brush a few rocks on one side, why did he contemplate spending thousands of pounds in cutting through two banks? The answer to his statement, with which he thought to impress somebody, is that the Challenger Pass is an entirely unsuitable entrance. Here, again, we have the advantage of the report of that very eminent engineer, Sir John Coode, who says -
This Pass could not, however, be improved at any reasonable expenditure so as to convert it into an approach to Cockburn Sound, which would be available in all weathers. Nor is it clear that if so formed - practicability of which there is reason to doubt, having regard to exposure and the presence of rock - that it could be maintained in its improved form.
This is the Pass to which Senator Pearce invited my attention. I knew all about it, but in view of that report, I preferred to eliminate it from the discussion until he himself introduced it. The honorable senator asked me if I was an engineer, and, if not, who was advising me in this matter. May I ask whether Senator Pearce is an engineer ?
– I am not.
– Well, Sir John Coode was an engineer. I admit that I have no engineering knowledge.
– The Minister of Defence is altogether too modest.
– Nobody is likely to accuse my honorable friend of being too modest.
– The Minister is not very complimentary to-night.
– My honorable friends are not acting in a way that is calculated to exact compliments. I come now to another matter. Senator Pearce, in a communication to the press the other day, said -
There is certainly expert advice in the Naval Department which has been availed of by me.
He also asked -
Who, then, has discovered that further expert advice is necessary?
That inquiry refers to the statement made by the Government that it is intended to seek the assistance of some eminent civil engineer. In inviting such an authority to come out here, there is not the slightest intention that he shall review Admiral Henderson’s work. All that he will be asked is to advise the Government as to the best method of carrying out the very extensive works which are in contemplation in connexion with our naval policy. Senator Pearce has inquired upon whose advice that action was taken. In order to show that, before I assumed control of the Naval Department, there was evidently a nebulous idea that things at Cockburn Sound were travelling a little too fast, or were getting a little out of hand, I may be permitted to quote the following memorandum, dated 21st May last, by the first naval member of the Board -
I am against a decision on either scheme put forward at the present time with our present knowledge.
There were two schemes then under consideration - one put forward by Mr. Panstone, and the other by Captain Clarkson. The first naval member of the Board proceeded -
Before it is safe to decide on the harbor scheme, the closest observation is necessary for the longest time at command. I understand that this is now proceeding, and all data carefully tabulated.
– To what has that reference ?
– There were two schemes submitted - one by Mr. Fanstone, upon which Captain Clarkson reported adversely, and upon which he then submitted an alternative scheme.
– Has that scheme any relation to the site?
– No. It had reference to the works.
– Was it the location of the site at Jervoise Bay that was in question ?
– - No; there was no disagreement about that. I wish to show that there was growing in the Naval Department, owing to the distance of Cockburn Sound from Melbourne, a feeling that there was not that close grip over things that there ought to be.
– Was not that only in relation to the disposition of the various buildings ?
– It embraced more than the disposition of the buildings. It included the whole scheme - such questions as where the dockyard, wharfs, &c, ought to be placed. According to the first naval member of the Board, it was desirable to complete these observations. I gathered that there was a feeling, which I shared, that it was necessary to push these surveys a little further before launching out into anything in the nature of permanent buildings. On the 3rd of May the first naval member of the Board wrote -
I suggest an early date for consideration and decision as to sequence of work at Henderson Base, and rate of progress.
It seems to me that that ought to have been determined before a start was made upon these works.
– What works?
– The sequence of works at Henderson’s Base and the rate of progress. I am speaking of the railway which the late Government put down.
– Does not the Minister know that a railway is necessary, no matter where the works may be placed ?
– I do not. It seems to me an entirely foolish thing to commence works of that kind sooner than we are obliged to. The sequence of work has an important bearing od the economy with which those works can be carried out.
– The Minister of Defence suggests that everything should be put off until everything has been done.
– The remark of the honorable senator is characterized by extreme flippancy. The correct thing to have done was to complete the exploration and survey work first. We should begin at the beginning, and make a good beginning. No time would be lost by so doing, because we should thus eliminate another disaster such as that which occurred in connexion with the Fremantle
Dock. Here is a memorandum from the third naval member of the Board -
I consider that a large sum of money has been injudiciously expended at this base, and that this expenditure is still proceeding. I very strongly recommend that it be curtailed, and that the Director of Naval Works be instructed in writing to cut down expenditure to the limits laid down in the recent Board meeting, and communicate it to him then verbally.
– What is the date of th.at ?
– It is dated the 18th July of the present year - after my honorable friend had left office.
– All the expenditure was in the branch of which Captain Clarkson was the head.
– But he contends that works are being carried out concerning which he has never been consulted.
– What works are they!
– I cannot tell my honorable friend on the spur of the moment. It was because of this that the memorandum which I have quoted was written. That minute was indorsed by all the other members of the Board. The second naval member said -
I concur most thoroughly with paragraph 4. This is urgent and essential.
Another member of the Board wrote -
I concur with paragraph 4, but Minister’s approval is required, as it will mean discharge of employes.
I was therefore confronted with this position - that there was a recommendation from the Board-
– Where is the recommendation that they needed further expert advice ?
– I will come to that presently. I am now dealing with my action in regard to the works in progress at Cockburn Sound. I did not have Cockburn Sound before me when these things came along. Then I naturally asked what was being done there, and, so far as I can understand the position, I came to the conclusion that for the economical carrying on of these works it was essential we should complete the survey before we proceeded with buildings and land works. Accordingly, instructions were given to finish the works upon which the men were then engaged, and afterwards to limit themselves entirely to the work of exploration.
– Why limit them to that?
– Because nobody but a fool would leave a house without a roof upon it. Senator Pearce is very anxious to know upon whose advice I acted when I urged the Government to seek further expert advice. In a communication to the press, he said that there waa expert advice in the Naval Department, and he asked -
Who, then, has discovered that further expert advice is necessary?
I may tell him that it was the first naval member of the Board. Here is what he wrote on the 12th August of the current year -
The time has, in my opinion, arrived for the appointment of a harbor and dock engineer of the highest qualifications to supervise the very important works includedin the Henderson scheme, and involving an outlay totalling some millions.
This requirement is in no way depreciatory of the ability of the officer at present directing the Naval Works, but the growth of the work from the stage of providing all data, the magnitude of the works in view, and the serious problems facing the Naval Board involved in the selection of sites, &c., make the appointment of this officer at an early date one of urgency.
– It seems as if all these Boards want to pass their responsibility on to somebody else.
– So far as I understand the position, there is no particular branch in the whole of the engineering world upon which more money can be wasted than upon naval works. The world is full of instances of that kind. It does seem to me that, so far, Australia has not had an opportunity of developing men of very wide experience in this branch of work. We are only following in the steps taken by individual States, which, when confronted with similar problems, have sought the aid of experienced men from the Old World. It is not suggested that the gentleman who is to come out here to advise us in this matter is to review the question of a site’. The memorandum which I have read merely says that in the carrying out of these works it is desirable to secure the services of a gentleman of wider experience than is possessed by any officer now available to the Commonwealth. That recommendation was one that appealed to me. I do not know anything upon which the Government might lose more money than upon these naval works.
– In common fairness to the officers who have been carrying out these works, the Minister ought to have some proof of their unfitness.
– I rather think that I ought to have some proof of their fitness.
– Have they not given that?
– Have they not carried out works at Westernport?
– All that I say on that matter is that it is too early to determine whether even the Westernport works are being carried out in the best possible way. I do not want honorable senators to think that I have any reason to believe that they are not being carried out properly and efficiently. But the proof of these matters is not to be determined at the time when you are carrying out the works, but afterwards. In my own State we have had deplorable instances of engineering mistakes in connexion with our rivers, and we have had to pay for them since.
– If the Minister is going to act on suspicion we can equally well be suspicious of any other engineers as of those already in charge.
– I may as well say distinctly that, in my opinion, the gentleman primarily responsible, Mr. Fanstone, cannot claim to be an expert in connexion with such big works.
– Another Chinn?
– Mr. Fanstone may be a perfectly good and conscientious officer, but the position is this: It is of no use trying to say that because a man may have been an expert draftsman for many years he can go and take charge of a work which, if properly executed, will excite the admiration and demand the study of the greatest engineers we can find. These are not easy works to carry out. They are not works which you can find many people competent to execute.
– We are always to go outside Australia for our men?
– It is not a matter of going outside Australia, but of getting the best man obtainable for important works.
– Is it not a fact that these English “ johnnies “ are always trying to find fresh jobs for their “cobbers” ?
– I am not arguing as to whether I am right or wrong in this particular matter ; but it seems to me that there is no man in the Department - certainly not Mr. Fanstone - who is entitled to be regarded as sufficiently experienced in carrying out works of this magnitude. Believing, therefore, that it was the ng ut thing to do, I had no hesitation in asking that a communication should be sent to the High Commissioner, asking him to take steps to obtain applications from engineers of experience. I have endeavoured to make a plain statement with regard to the matters that have been mentioned. I have inadvertently omitted to deal with my point. I shall be glad to have my attention directed to it, in order that I may repair the omission afterwards. I have endeavoured to approach the subjects with which I have dealt, not merely as one who thoroughly and sincerely believes in the defence policy, which we are pledged to carry out, but in the belief that that policy will lose in public estimation unless, in trying to give effect to it, we are careful of the interests of those who have to find the money. While I should be the last in the world to impair the efficiency of either the Naval or the Military Forces by any unnecessary scamping or economy, I still maintain that it is possible to carry out the defence scheme with the same careful regard for the taxpayers’ money as we show in regard to any other Department of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.45.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 August 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19130827_senate_5_70/>.