5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act 1902-1011 - Annual Return of Temporary Employes for the Financial Year 1912-13.
– I wish to know if the Government intend to lay upon the table the notification they have had regarding the King’s assent to the Navigation Bill?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– I have given notice.
– I am asking the honorable senator to give notice of it in a proper way.
– I desire, sir, to move a motion.
– The honorable senator can only move a motion without notice by leave of the Senate.
– I ask leave, sir?
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator de Largie have leave to move a motion without notice?
– Should we not know the terms of the motion, sir?
– I think that Senator de Largie ought to communicate the nature of the motion to the Senate.
– I thought that Senator Millen knew the nature of the motion; as a matter of fact, I consulted him about it.
– I did not know that that was the one. I thought that you were going to proceed in a different way:
– It is the same one. For the benefit of others, it will be as well for me, perhaps, to read the motion. It reads as follows: -
That for the purposes of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the case of Mr. Henry Chinn, Standing Order No. 303 be suspended to permit of the publication by the press of the evidence taken before the Committee before such evidence is reported to the Senate.
– I beg to move the motion which I have just read.
– Is not this a very unusual proceeding?
– Of course it is.
– There can be no debate, as the motion has been accepted as formal, by leave.
– I understand, sir, that the motion is moved by leave.
– But not as formal.
– If the motion is to be regarded as not formal, then it cannot be moved at this stage. I will put the question. Is the motion formal or not formal ?
Several Honorable Senators. - Formal!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-Order! Senator Needham. - Do away with the Government altogether.
– Order ! I remind honorable senators that they are expected to keep silence while the President is on bis feet.
Electoral Rolls : Alleged Irregularities
– I have to announce that I have received from Senator Pearce a notice that he intends to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, viz. : - “ The statements of the Minister of Defence charging the ex-Minister of Home Affairs with having ordered the filling in of 80,000 dummy electoral claim cards by electoral officers in the State of New South Wales.” I want to point out to Senator Pearce that, under the Standing Orders, that motion cannot be moved at the present stage, because, as has been pointed out during recent sittings, under standing order 14 -
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech has been adopted.
And, further, in standing order 408, it is provided that -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
. -In view of the importance of the matter I propose to ventilate, I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the adjournment of the Senate being moved to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, and would also preclude reference to the speech of the Minister for Defence (Senator Millen) on the Supply Bill (No. 2) now before the Senate.
– I want to direct public attention to the most extraordinary tactics of my honorable friends opposite in suspending the Standing Orders without any reasonable justification. The debate in which I made these statements is not yet closed, therefore, what my honorable friends are really asked to do is to suspend the Standing Orders in order that Senator Pearce may make two speeches in one debate. There is the sole effect of theproceeding.
– You can also speak again.
– Exactly. I want to emphasize the fact that the opportunity of rebutting my statements is still current, because the debate is not yet closed. In order that one member of the Opposition may be entitled to make a second contribution to the debate, it is now proposed to suspend the Standing Orders.
– You can speak on the motion for the adjournment.
– If the honorable senator means that the members of the Opposition can allspeak twice, I agree with him ; but I want the public to know the attitude which the Opposition are taking up here to-day. They practically say, as was interjected just now, that we might as well tear up the Standing Orders and have done with them, because the opportunity of dealing with the matter on which Senator Pearce desires to speak again is open to every honorable senator who has not spoken on the Supply Bill. It will be just as logical if any other statement is made which is impugned for an honorable senator to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable further debate to take place.
– The statements were too serious to allow them to stand over.
– It is competent for honorable senators to deal with them during the debate which has not yet been concluded. I again direct attention to the fact that in order to enable one member of the Opposition to make a second contribution to the same debate, it is now thought desirable by honorable senators opposite that we should tear up our Standing Orders.
– The statements made by the Minister of Defence on the subject of electoral irregularities, dealt with in the previous speech by Senator Pearce, are of such a serious character that Senator Pearce would be guilty of a gross neglect of duty if he permitted such statements to have five minutes more start than he could help. No standing order has ever been framed which should not be set aside for the purpose of exposing such gross misrepresentations.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.11].- If honorable senators desire to incur the contumely and contempt of the people of this country, they are adopting a line of action which will rapidly bring that about. Although honorable senators opposite have an overwhelming majority, they owe it to themselves and to the country to respect the Standing Orders of the Senate and the orderly conduct of debate. We have twenty-nine senators on one side in this chamber, and only seven on the other side. What chance have the seven to secure the suspension of the Standing Orders, if at any time they desire to break through the rules, practice, and procedure of Parliament, as they are known throughout the British Dominions. The power given to suspend the Standing Orders is to enable the Senate to deal immediately with special and urgent cases where justice could not be secured by a too rigid adherence to the Standing Orders. It was never imagined that the power would be utilized for such a purpose as this. We know that honorable senators opposite are determined that no business shall be done here if they can prevent it.
– No ; but that business shall be done in a proper way.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - If that be Senator Findley’s desire, he will vote against this motion. Do honorable senators think that it is desirable that Senator Pearce should have the opportunity to give a second address upon a subject on which he spoke at considerable length yesterday, and that Senator Millen should also hive an opportunity to make a second address on the same subject? Senator Pearce may desire to speak again on the same subject, but that is no reason why the rules of Parliament should be set aside. An honorable senator, having spoken in a debate, very frequently desires to be able to speak again in order to supply some omission, or rectify some statement.
– Why does the honorable senator wish to shelter himself under a . diabolical slander ?
– Order !
– I know of no diabolical slander uttered in this House.
– Yes, by Senator Millen, yesterday afternoon.
– And I will repeat it again.
– Order ! Senator Long must know that the statement he has just made is entirely contrary to the Standing Orders, and I ask him to with draw it. I also ask Senator Millen to withdraw his statement that he will repeat “ a diabolical slander.”
– In conformity with your request, sir, I withdraw the statement, notwithstanding Senator Millen’s admission that it was true.
– I made no such admission, and I ask that that statement be withdrawn before we go any further.
– I withdraw it.
– I willingly withdraw any words which you, sir, regard as objectionable.
– We have already on two or three occasions since this Parliament met suspended our Standing Orders. We have not yet concluded our debate on the Address-in-Reply, and honorable senators will have an opportunity in the course of that debate to make known their views on public matters.
– We want to nail your lies to the mast.
– Seeing that the Standing Orders are to be strictly interpreted, I invite you, sir, to call upon Senator Needham to withdraw his statement that he wished to nail Senator Gould’s lies to the mast.
– I made .no such statement, and therefore cannot withdraw it.
– I ask that Senator Needham be requested to withdraw the statement he did make. The’ exact words he used were, “We want to nail your lies to the mast. “ Whether the honorable senator in using the word “ your,” intended to refer to Senator Millen or Senator Gould, I do not know, but I ask that the words objected to be withdrawn.
– I did not hear the words used, because I was otherwise engaged, but if Senator Needham did make use of the words attributed to him he should withdraw then.
– In response to the request of Senator Clemons, who has correctly repeated the words I used, and in obedience to your ruling, I withdraw the words.
– I have said that the Standing Orders have already been suspended on several occasions this session.
– And no one is a penny the worse.
– Perhaps no one will be a penny the worse or the better for all the words of wisdom uttered in this chain ber for the next two or three years. We have passed Standing Orders to provide for the orderly conduct of debate, and I again remind honorable senators opposite that in the debate on the Address-in-Reply every honorable senator will, have the fullest opportunity to make known his views on matters of public interest. It is still open to Senator Pearce to speak in that debate, and to place before the country all the facts which he thinks the people should know. He says now, practically, that he wants to make a second speech on the same subject, in contravention of the Standing Orders he assisted in passing, and because he knows that he has a number of friends behind him who, when they see fit, are prepared to let the Standing Orders go to Jericho for all they care. Honorable senators opposite should bear in mind that these sort of chickens frequently come home to roost. I recognise that my honorable .friends possess a majority in this Chamber, and that it is in their power to convert our proceedings into the greatest farce that can be imagined in connexion with - I will not say a deliberative assembly, because with me it is rapidly becoming a question of doubt as to whether this Senate is a deliberative body. They will vote to break any Standing Orders if it suits their purpose to do so.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Gould in order in saying that we are prepared to break any Standing Orders ? Is not this proposal to suspend certain Standing Orders moved1 by virtue of another Standing Order?
– Senator Rae is quite correct in saying that the proposal - now engaging attention has been submitted by virtue of another Standing Order. But I did not understand Senator Gould to say that members of the Opposition were prepared to break our Standing Orders. I followed his remarks very closely, but I cannot say that he was out of order.
– I am very sorry that honorable senators should be so thin-skinned over this matter.
– The exhibition of “thin-skin” is coming from the honorable senator.
– I merely desire to call attention to a gross infringement of every established rule that ought to be recognised in connexion with constitutional government. If we do not respect our own Standing Orders we shall cover ourselves with contempt. I say that those Orders should be suspended only in cases of grave emergency, and when no other opportunity is presented of dealing with the matter which requires to be ventilated. If our Standing Orders are suspended on the present occasion, Senator Pearce will make a speech, and the Minister of Defence will reply to him. A little later Senator Pearce will discover that the Minister of Defence has said something which he thinks ought not te have been said, and he will then desire another suspension of our Standing Orders. Thus we shall never reach finality.
– But we shall get at the truth.
– If any matters of fact have been misrepresented so far as papers or documents are concerned, it is open to any honorable senator to move for the production of those papers or documents, so that the Senate may inform itself of the real merits of the dispute. I do not know whether the Government would object to the production of those papers. I hope they would not. I imagine that in connexion with a great question like that of defence the papers or documents would be produced. ‘ No honorable senator underestimates the importance of defence matters. I have no desire to unduly debate this question. I protest against the gross misuse of powers which is being attempted by honorable senators opposite - powers which were given to us for an entirely different purpose. At the same time, I recognise that all the protests in the world would be of no avail here. I recognise that my protest will be like a voice crying in the wilderness. No attention will be paid to it. There is, however, a greater tribunal by which my honorable friends will be judged, and before which they will have to justify their action.
– I cannot see the necessity for all this display of heat. Standing order 63 reads -
A motion, without notice, that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency, can only be made after petitions have been presented.
– Three or four matters of urgency in two days.
– Even Senator Bakhap cannot imagine a time arriving in this Senate when any standing order will be suspended if there are not a majority of honorable senators in favour of the adoption of that course. Surely if the majority are to rule it must be left to that majority to determine whether any particular matter brought forward is of sufficient urgency to justify the suspension of our Standing Orders.
– The honorable senator has not quoted the standing order with which we are dealing. We are dealing with Standing Order 443.
– The Honorary Minister is merely splitting straws. He knows perfectly well that the motion proposed by Senator Pearce is necessarily precedent to the motion which that honorable senator will submit later, and upon which the matter of urgency will be debated.
– Unless our Standing Orders are suspended, this motion cannot be moved, and Senator Pearce’s motion is to suspend the Standing Orders without notice.
– Senator Clemons knows that our Standing Orders may be suspended at any time that a majority of honorable senators think their suspension is warranted. When the debate upon the Supply Bill was adjourned last evening we were discussing a measure which could not have been discussed if the Standing Orders had not been suspended. Why? The Government believed that that Bill was of sufficient importance to warrant the suspension of those Standing Orders.
– That debate has not yet closed, so that there is ample opportunity for honorable senators to discuss the matter which Senator Pearce wishes to debate.
– The Minister of Defence knows that honorable senators who have already contributed to that discussion upon the motion for the first reading of the Supply Bill will be debarred from speaking again. He knows perfectly that if the majority of the Senate had been on Senator Gould’s side, and if they had thought that a matter of sufficient public urgency had arisen, that majority would have regarded it as only right, in the interests of themselves and the country, to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the matter to be dealt with. As to what the country will think of this action, we need not take Senator Gould’s remarks very seriously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I now desire to move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until io a.m. to-morrow.
Five honorable senators having risen m their places,
– The justification for taking this course is twofold. First, there is the extreme importance of the allegation made by Senator Millen yesterday, and, secondly, there is the fact that I myself have been deputed, as representing the party charged with the offences alleged, to make inquiries into this matter. I have accordingly paid a visit to the Department of Home Affairs, and am in a position to state the result of the investigation. The following is a statement of the allegations to which I intend to refer: -
I found that there had been introduced into the New South Wales rolls no less than 80,000 names by the use of dummy cards.
asked, “ Who did that?” and Senator Millen replied, “ It was done with the authority of the Government.”
– Hear, hear!
- Senator Millen went on -
The electoral officers 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 which had never been signed.
– By the electors.
– Senator de Largie then asked what was proposed to be done with the officers who did that. Senator Millen replied that they “had acted under the instructions of the late Government.”
– Hear, hear!
- Senator Millen went on to say that where the officials found the- name of some person on the old roll, and could not find that that person had signed a card, “ they obligingly dropped a card into the index, and signed it for him.” He went on -
I said that that system was broken by Ministerial authority, and 80,000 names were improperly inserted in the rolls for one State alone. 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. . . . 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.
– Hear, heart
– The statement of Senator Millen, therefore, was that 80,000 names were introduced by dummy cards; that those cards were signed, not by the electors, but by the electoral officers; and that that was done by the instructions of the Minister.
-Quote the exact words.
– I am quoting the exact words - That that was done “ by Ministerial authority.”
– That is it; under Ministerial authority.
– And, moreover, that those names were wrongfully so inserted. That, I think, is a fair summary.
– That is so.
– Not only wrongfully, but fraudulently, inserted.
– Fraudulently, if you like the term better.
– I have to say that to-day, in company with the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. O’Malley, I waited upon the Acting Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Kelly, who was good enough to summon Mr. Oldham, the Chief Electoral Officer, and to ask him for a statement upon this question. Mr. Oldham’s statement is this - That action was taken under section 32 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-11, which reads as follows : -
New rolls for any polling places, subdivisions, divisions, or States, shall be prepared whenever directed by proclamation, and in the manner specified in the proclamation or prescribed by the regulations.
That is the law under which rolls are compiled. I have before me the Commonwealth Gazette for 1911, on page 1711 of which a proclamation for the State of New South Wales is printed. It is dated Saturday, 29th July, No. 58. The proclamation is for the issue of those new foils as authorized by the section of the Act which I have quoted. I am going to read the material part of it.
– Clause 5.
– I shall quote clauses 1 and 5. They are as follow: -
That new rolls for the State of New SouthWales, and for all divisions and subdivisionsin that State, shall forthwith be prepared by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for that State, in accordance with this Proclamation.
If the Commonwealth Electoral Officer is satisfied that any person is entitled to be enrolled on any new roll as an elector, he may (notwithstanding that no claim for enrolment has been received from such person) cause his name to be placed on the new roll for the subdivision in which such person lives. But this provision shall not relieve any person from his. duty to fill in, sign, and send in a claim for enrolment.
That proclamation, as I have said, was duly issued. The police were conducting a canvass in New South Wales, in order to prepare the new rolls, and in the course of that canvass, they came across 80,000 cases in which there was undoubted proof that persons to that number were entitled to be on the roll, but were, for various reasons, unable to sign their claims.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that the police made the statement that they had proof that the 80,000 were entitled to be on the roll?
– They stated that these persons were entitled to be on the roll, but, for various reasons, the forms could not be signed.
– Does the honorablesenator give that as proof?
– I am making this statement in my own way, and the honorable senator can discuss it afterwards if he pleases. The greater number of those 80,000 persons were on the old roll.
– The greater number.
– The police made a note of each of those cases. They sent in their report. The causes of inability to sign were varied. There was, for instance, such a case as that of a person being so sick that he could not sign; or a person being temporarily in another State; or a person being temporarily on his way to another country. For these and various other reasons 80,000 persons: were entitled to be on the roll, but werenot in a position at the time of the canvass to sign their claims. Upon that. under the powers conferred upon the electoral officers by this proclamation-
– Signed by whom?
– It was signed by the Minister, Mr. O’Malley, but it was drawn up by Mr. Garran and the Crown Law officers, in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer, and on his advice. The proclamation was - I have it on the authority of the officers of the Home Affairs Department - issued after consultation with, and on the advice of, the Crown Law officers of the Commonwealth. On that authority, and on those reports, the names in claim forms were typewritten, and not signed, as the Minister said yesterday. The claim forms were not signed by anybody, but the names of the persons were typed in, in order that their whereabouts should be inquired into, and they should be given an opportunity to send forward a signed claim form.
– And they were put on the rolls meanwhile.
– They were put on the rolls, as. they were entitled to be, under section 5 of the proclamation. What has happened since proves that, so far from there being fraud in this matter, the action taken by the Electoral Department resulted in these persons being given the opportunity of being placed on the rolls which otherwise they would not have had, because, whilst there were 80,000 of these persons for whom claim forms were put into the card index, the Department sent to- those persons claim, forms for them to sign. I am in the position of being able to say - and Senator Millen will obtain the information if he inquires at the Electoral Department - that 99J per cent, of the 80,000 persons before the last election had filled in claim forms and signed them, and that signed forms were in the office of the Home Affairs Department. Yet we had the Minister of Defence coming here and saying that these 80,000 persons were wrongfully on the roll-
– Hear, hear! I repeat it now.
– We had, moreover, his reflection upon the Government and their authority, acting as they did under the law and with the advice of the Crown Law officers, that it was an attempt to do something wrong, apparently, for political purposes.
– Hear, hear!
– Whereas the very fact that these claim forms have since been received proves that in practically the whole of the 80,000 cases the persons existed, and the facts as disclosed by the police canvass are shown to be true. In the face of such facts, are we not justified, in view of the nature of the charge hurled, not only at the late Government, but hurled, I venture to say, at the officers of the Electoral Department, in rejecting the statement of Senator Millen ? If we have electoral officers who are prepared, even under Ministerial direction, to do such a thing as the honorable senator tried to make out they had done, then the sooner those officers are retired and a new set of officers take their place, the better it will be. I think that any one who heard or read the remarks of Senator Millen could come to no other conclusion than that these names had been put on the rolls by no other than fraudulent methods without the authority of the Electoral Act or the regulations, and that the Minister had directed the electoral officers to do this wrongful thing in order to gain some political advantage. The facts as disclosed in the Home Affairs Department, and which cannot be controverted, prove that every step was taken with the advice of the Crown Law officers, that the Minister was never aware of the dummy cards being put in the card index, and that, on the contrary, it was done by his officers, as it would be done by them if a new roll had to be compiled tomorrow, no matter what Government was in power. It was done absolutely without the knowledge of the Minister, and there was no need for him to have knowledge of it, because it was perfectly within the law, and the officers were acting on the advice given to them by the Crown Law officers.
– Did the Minister sign the proclamation without knowing what was in it?
– As regards the details by which the officers were going to comply with the proclamation, of course, the Minister did not know them. That is the way by which these 80,000 names were retained on the roll, and I have shown that they had a perfect right to be on the roll. I do not intend to labour this point; but I do say that when a Minister of the Crown, with all the prestige which attaches to the position, with the knowledge of the public that he has access, not only to public documents, but also to legal advice, stands up in his place here and says that 80,000 electors in one State were improperly put on the roll by Ministerial authority, he makes a statement which he ought to be ashamed to make. If he made the statement inadvertently and carelessly, he ought to withdraw it at the earliest possible moment.
– I made the statement deliberately, and I propose to repeat it in a few minutes.
– If the honorable senator repeats the statement, he will repeat something which he must now know to be untrue. I advise him not to. allow his temper to outrun his judgment in this matter. He has a reputation to maintain, and a future to look forward to. I do say that in this instance he has either made a mistake or has unwittingly been led, for the purpose of making political capital, into making statements which are not correct. The facts show that the Minister, in issuing the proclamation, and acting under the advice of the Crown Law officers, was acting under the authority of the Electoral Act, and using the powers conferred upon him. The facts show, too, that the officers, in carrying out section 5 of the proclamation, acted within the proclamation, and complied with the law as regards getting the signatures of those whose signatures were not obtained in the first place. They are today, and have been for some time, proceeding to take the course laid down by the law by striking off the roll the names of the remaining J per cent, who have not complied with the requirements by sending in the requisite form. In view of the Minister’s alarming statement yesterday, it is well that the country should know that the statement is inaccurate, that 99$ per cent, of these 80,000 persons complied fully with the law, and that before any of them voted at the last election there was in the Electoral Office in New South Wales - as there was in the Electoral Office of any State where they were affected - signed claim forms in order to show that they were entitled to vote. I do not think that any further’ remark is necessary; but I would suggest to Senator Millen that, in view of the information which is available in his colleague’s office, he should’ withdraw the statements he made yesterday, and apologize to the exMinister of Home Affairs for the imputa tion he has made upon his political honour.
.- I desire neither to modify nor to withdraw anything I said. Of course, I quite recognise the position here, and I stand addressing a jury with their minds already made up, disinclined, it would seem from the interjections, even to allow me an opportunity to make a statement.
Several Honorable Senators. - No.
– I want to take very strong exception to the courseadopted by Senator Pearce of trying, by the terms of his motion, to convey the impression that I said something which will not be found in the proof of my speech. He cannot plead any ignorance in this matter. He was furnished with a proof of my remarks, and therefore, if I can establish from what I did say, as I think I can, that his motion is an unfair one to me, I shall establish at least one portion of the case I propose to make. In the latter part of his motion he describes my statements of yesterday as - charging the ex-Minister of Home Affairs with having ordered the filling in of 80,000 dummy electoral claim cards by electoral officers in the State of New South Wales.
Nobody with a fair and open mind who reads the motion, or hears it read, cancome to any other conclusion than that I had said that Mr. O’Malley had given instructions that 80,000 dummy cards should be used, and 80,000 names placed on the roll which had no right to be placed there. There is not a single word in the speech I made, and a copy of which Senator Pearce has in front of him, that is capable of that interpretation.
– Did you not say in one place that it was done with the authority of the late Government, and in another place that it was done under the instruction of the late Government 1
– I repeat that. When I say that a thing was done under the authority of the late Government, the honorable senator is not entitled to say that I charged the ex-Minister of Home Affairs with . ordering the filling in of 80,000 names. This is not merely typical. I will show that the instruction was there. This motion is so worded as to make it appear that Mr. O’Malley wrote a definite instruction to officers in New South Wales to put 80,000 dummy cards in.
– Oh, no.
– My statement is that the action taken then was taken under the authority of the Government - I have used the words in my speech - in several cases, and in others under the specific authority of the Minister.
S3nator Pearce. - In one sentence you said, “ Under the instruction.”
– The instructions given by the Minister are set out in the proclamation. I want to see what ‘ they are. Here is the charge I sought to make yesterday, and wish to repeat now. From the time the Electoral Bill was introduced, Senator Pearce stood here as the champion of the card system, and led Parliament to believe that, under that system, new cards were being prepared. No one was ever given the slightest hint in public right up to the last moment that it was intended to depart from that system. As a matter of fact, every one in Australia had a right to believe that the card system was in operation. I want to show how recently it was that, even in this Chamber, when the matter was under discussion, Senator Pearce spoke in the belief that the card system was in operation, whereas it was not, because he has already shown me that there was a proclamation which authorized a departure from it. In October last, we had a debate here in which I brought up the question of inflated rolls, and Senator Pearce spoke on that occasion. As my time is short, I do not propose to read his speech, but the honorable senator will correct me if I am wrong when I say that the whole of his speech, buttressed by a memorandum from the Chief Electoral Officer, was to the effect that with the card system inflation of the rolls was practically impossible. That speech was made in October last year, that is, some months after the issue of the proclamation on 29th July, 1911, to which he has referred. Senator Pearce said that the names were typed on the cards, or filled in by the electoral officers on reports from the police, who were certain that the people were in the place, but could not get them to sign the cards. I do not believe that statement, whoever made it. In the small subdivision of Boggabri, ninety-eight names were furnished to me of persons who were either dead or had left the district for over a year. I refused to believe that the police in that case gave a certificate that they believed that the owners of the names were away from the district. An honorable’ senator interjects; and in answer to him, I may saw that registration is a matter I want to look into, but, so far, I have had no opportunity to do so. I am told that I ought to have looked into that matter before to find how many of them got on, but it was impossible for me to do it. I am dealing with statements made here. Senator Pearce has stated that, as regards the people who could not be found, or who, for some reason or other, could not sign claim forms, the police very kindly looked after their interests, and sent down their names, ‘with the statement that the people were there, but could not be got to sign the forms. I want to know, if that is the case, why should the late Government have given such an exhibition of favoritism ? Why was it that they put certain names on the roll of people who had not conformed to the principle of compulsory enrolment, probably at the time they were launching a prosecution against a bid-ridden woman in Queensland, because she had not enrolled herself.
– That case requires investigation’, too.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Senator Pearce has admitted that, under the authority of his colleague, the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, the late Government were departing from the compulsory enrolment system, involving a penalty of £2 upon any qualified person who failed to send in a signed application card for enrolment, and that, with respect to the 80,000 in New South Wales, the officials were so careful and tender of their interests that they relieved them of their obligation under the law. It is admitted by Senator Pearce that 80,000 names were inserted on the New South Wales rolls in contravention of the card system, which he represented to the Senate as the system on which the late Government intended to compile the rolls. The honorable senator has reminded me that it is provided that the rolls shall be prepared “ in the manner prescribed.” I do not know whether he derives very much comfort from that, but I will ask him whether he can deny that, in introducing the Electoral Bill, and during the subsequent discussion in the Senate, to which I have referred, he did not lead honorable senators to believe that the new rolls would be prepared in accordance with the card system, and that the compulsory provisions of the law would be applied. That being so, I say that I am justified in every word I said. Parliament was told that the rolls would be prepared in a certain way, and some time later, not in July, when we were passing from one system to the other, but in March of the present year, the proclamation referred to was repeated authorizing electoral officers to insert in the rolls the names of persons who had never sent in cards. I do not propose to find any excuse for that violation of the card system, because, if the late Government intended to go back upon it, they should have made their intention known. They met Parliament subsequently, and the proclamation was issued months before the debate on the alleged inflation of the rolls to which I have referred. In that debate, Senator Pearce did not tell the Senate that the card system was not being observed, and I believe that was because he did not know it, and his electoral officers had not informed him of it. The fact that Mr. O’Malley’s name appears at the bottom of the proclamation shows that he knew and consented to what was being done. If that be so, I am justified in saying that everything that followed from the proclamation was authorized by the ex-Minister of Home Affairs.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that the electoral officers had thousands of cards in their possession that were not posted up?
– My statement is clear, and it has been admitted by Senator Pearce. I say that 80,000 names were put on the New South Wales rolls in violation of the card system, as explained by Senator Pearce, and approved by the Senate.
– According to the electoral law.
– Yes j “in the manner prescribed.” But I ask why, during the debate which took place in October, 1912, Senator Pearce was not informed . by the electoral officials that the card system, as he had explained it, was being departed from ? Why was the honorable senator informed that the rolls were free from inflation ? That they were inflated at the time is proved by the fact that from that time onwards the officials have been removing names from the rolls which have no business to be there.
– Only j per cent.
– The estimate of i per - cent, may, or may not, be correct, but I still ask why any one was permitted to break the law, and why the provision for compulsory enrolment was not carried out in regard to 80,000 persons in New South Wales?
– There was no breach of the law.
– Then why did the Government prosecute a bed-ridden woman in Queensland who could not get about to enroll herself? Honorable senators opposite do not want to hear the reference to that case. Senator Pearce has admitted that, under Ministerial authority, and in violation of the card system, as explained to this Parliament, the names of 80,000 persons were inserted in the New South Wales roll. Senator Pearce seems to take some exception to my statement that these names were wrongfully inserted in the roll; but I repeat that they were. We were asked to support an Electoral Bill to provide for keeping the rolls pure by the simple procedure of insisting that, before any name went on a roll, an application card should be received, signed by the person claiming to be enrolled; and I say that if any names were placed on the rolls in violation of that principle they were wrongly there.
– The honorable senator said just now that they were fraudulently there.
– I do not know whether I used the word “ fraudulently “ or not; but as we were led to believe that there was a certain system in operation throughout Australia, it was by a fraudulent violation of that system that, by favoritism, a certain number of persons was enrolled without complying with the requirements of the law. I refer now to clause 5 of the proclamation -
If the Commonwealth Electoral Officer is satisfied that any person is entitled to be enrolled on any new roll as an elector he may, notwithstanding that no claim for enrolment be received from such person, cause ais name to be placed on the new roll.
I say that that was a violation of the system which was explained and defended by Senator Pearce.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that he impugns the law officers of the Crown ?
– What law officers ?
– Those who drafted the proclamation.
– I am absolutely ashamed to see a member of this Chamber take up such an attitude. The honorable senator knows perfectly well that the law officers merely carry out instructions, and they drafted this proclamation to give effect to the Ministerial policy.
– In conformity with the law.
– We know the business of the Crown law officers. When any Department wishes anything done involving a legal question, those gentlemen are called in to draft a proclamation ; but it is monstrous to say that they are to be held responsible for the policy represented by the proclamations they draft.
– The policy is the Act.
– The Act says that the rolls are to be prepared “ in the manner prescribed.”
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear Senator Guthrie cheer that statement, because he was present in the Senate when we passed the Electoral Bill, and he cannot deny that Senator Pearce represented to the Senate, and to the country, that the system on which the rolls would be prepared was the card system. It was represented that, under that system, no man or woman would be enrolled for whom a signed application card was not first sent in.
– That is begging the whole question.
– If it was the intention of the late Government to depart from that system, they had ample opportunity to inform Parliament. Why did they keep their intention quiet t
– It was published in the Commonwealth Gazette.
– The honorable senator knew nothing about it himself, and has said so.
– What nonsense !
– I ask the honorable senator to look through the speech he made on the occasion to which I have referred, and at the memorandum placed in his hands by the electoral officer, and then ask himself whether any person reading his speech could come to the conclusion that the card system as he had explained it was not in operation then.
– But it did not matter what I said. I did not interpret the law. The Crown Law Officers interpret the law which Parliament makes.
– It is not a matter of the interpretation of the law, and it is a scandalous thing to drag in the draftsmen, who merely select the form of words necessary to give expression to the policy decided upon by Ministers.
– Within the law.
– Exactly. Then, according to the honorable senator, the electoral law gives Ministers authority to prepare the rolls in any way they please.
– The converse of that is that the Minister can violate the law in order to conform with his policy.
– I confess that I Am unable to follow the honorable senator’s interjection.
– I do not blame the honorable senator.
– I say that in this particular case we had a right to believe, from the assurances of Ministers and the law itself, that there was in existence a system known as the card system, .because certain people who did not conform to that system were proceeded against in the law courts. If that be so, why was different treatment meted out to these 80,000 persons in New South Wales ? Was there no reason for it? I venture to say that after what has taken place here no Government will attempt such a thing in the future from this time on. We were told with regard to the 80,000 persons that the officials were not able to secure their signatures for a multiplicity of reasons, and still put their names on the rolls. Had an election taken place immediately those persons would have been entitled to vote, and it would have been a fraud on the country to permit any one to vote irregularly in that way. What was done was done by Ministerial sanction and under a proclamation signed by a Minister.
– The election did noi take place immediately. Why does noi the honorable senator deal with his state ment?
– What statement does Senator Findley wish me to dea with?
– The statement tha 80,000 names were improperly inserted ii the rolls, and were put there for a se purpose.
– I have shown tha they were on the rolls wrongfully. I the late Government had been prepared tn see that there was no interference wit! our electoral system-
– The honorable senator has charged them with putting 80,000 names on the rolls with the object of carrying New South Wales.
– I was dealing with statements made by Senator McColl, and I said that we were justified in believing that the late Government were not animated by a desire for a clean roll and a clean election. I went on to say that they had departed deliberately from their own system to the extent of putting 80,000 names on the rolls of New South Wales that had no business to be there. The statement which has been made by Senator Pearce to-day is an admission that, had the card system been observed, those 80,000 names would never have appeared on the New South Wales roll.
– The late Government only suspended the Standing Orders under the Electoral Act.
– No doubt the time is coming when my honorable friends opposite will try to suspend, not merely the Standing Orders, but an Act of Parliament, if they find its provisions in their way. It has been said that the favoured 80,000 persons had their names placed on the roll because the police gave an assurance that they knew those people were residents in the different divisions, but could not for some reason or another sign the application cards. In reply, I have only to say that I furnished the electoral officers of New South Wales with names of persons appearing on the rolls who had been dead for two years. I am satisfied that the police could not have given any such assurances in cases of that kind. I supplied a long list of names, and I do not remember all the cases, but I remember that one was the case of a man who had been twelve months out of the subdivision for which he was enrolled, and at the time of his enrolment was holding a licence which required his residence on premises 200 miles from the district.
– Is the honorable senator sure that that person did reside 200 miles from the district. He may have been evading another Act.
– The proof is that when I went down to the Electoral Office shortly afterwards, I found that the officials had removed the name of that person from the roll.
– The honorable senator knows that licences requiring residence are not always complied with.
– I am satisfied that Senator Russell would not accept the slightest wager, no matter what odds I offered him, that the person to whom I refer was not residing at the place at which he was compelled to reside under the licence issued to him. I modify nothing, and withdraw nothing. I say that the card system which the late Government led the country to believe they were adopting for the compilation of the rolls was a system which, if carried out, would at least have assured that no one could get upon a roll who was not entitled to be there. I admitted that at the time we were passing the law, though I recognised the difficulty of carrying it out. The moment the Government departed from that system, what was bound to happen did happen, and by a gross act of favoritism 80,000 persons in New South Wales, who did not comply with the conditions of the card system, which Senator Pearce described in this chamber, were allowed to have their names placed on the rolls. That being so, why was not the late Government prepared to do the same for the whole of the electorates of the Commonwealth ?
– It was not in defiance of the law, because there was not time to enable the persons referred to to comply with the law.
– Within what time does the honorable senator think the electoral officials should have been required to obtain the signatures of the persons whose names appeared on the cards.
– A reasonable time had to be given to the people to return the cards.
– The honorable senator talks about a reasonable time, and I remind him that the first proclamation was dated 29th July, 1911; one is dated 27th March, 1913, and they are still going on under that proclamation.
– That does not apply to these 80,000 names.
– I do not know whether it does or not.
– Ask the Chief Electoral Officer. ‘
– At any time that I ask officials for information in the future, I will get it from them in black and white.
– Then the Minister of Defence can be sure of it.
– I saw this memorandum to Senator Pearce, and I say that, intentionally or unintentionally, it was a misleading document. It must have been known in the Department that these rolls were inflated by the adoption of this dummy-card system.
– Inflated by the inclusion of names which ought to have been there.
– The accusation was that they were mere dummies.
– So long as the dummy card was in the index, nobody could prove whether they were dummies or not. I say that if we are going to allow the officers of the Department to favour certain citizens, we ought to give every citizen in the country the opportunity of having his enrolment done for him. I am very pleased that this further debate has taken place. I object very strongly to the course which has been adopted of cutting in two the debate upon the Supply Bill by suspending certain of our Standing Orders, but it has provided me with another opportunity of directing public attention to this matter-
– It has given the Minister another opportunity to smother up.
– I have not smothered up. I repeat every word of what I said yesterday.
– The Minister has said that the late Minister of Home Affairs instructed the officers to do what they did.
– When the late Minister of Home Affairs signed a document that his officers were to do a certain thing, that was a Ministerial instruction.
– The Minister of Defence should withdraw what he said yesterday.
– I am repeating it, not withdrawing it. I will read what I said yesterday, and incorporate it as part of my speech on this occasion. I say again and again that the electoral officials could not have put a single one of these dummy cards into use without Ministerial sanction. If that be so, surely 1 am right in saying that these dummy cards were brought into use with Ministerial sanction, and because of it.
– Does the Minister say that wrong names were put on the rolls ?
– They were wrong names, because the persons to whom they belonged did not comply with the requirements of the system which we had adopted. Even if some’ of these individuals were entitled to get their names on the rolls, that was not sufficient. There was a proper way for them to become enrolled, and they were not entitled to enrolment until they had conformed with the requirements of the card system.
– Were new names put on the rolls, or were they transferred from the old rolls?
– My impression is that the names covered bothclasses of cases.
– Was there any power to strike them off?
– Yes, because new rolls were in course of preparation.
– These names were transferred from the old rolls.
– No. Senator Russell, when he signed his card, did not ask for a transfer. All that he did was to apply to be enrolled.
– He got the form of application with his census papers. But what could a man who was at sea do ?
– My honorable friend is so often there that he can answer that question better than I can.
– A man who was at sea did not get his census papers.
– I know that every citizen in Australia has an opportunity of getting his name upon the rolls. Acting under the instructions of the late Government, 80,000 names were put upon the New South Wales rolls - names which, if the card system had been carried out, would not, and never could, have appeared
.- While the Minister of Defence was speaking yesterday, he made certain statements which he says he has repeated this afternoon. I venture to say that there was not an honorable senator present in this Chamber yesterday, and there was not a man in the strangers’ gallery, who did not regard the statements which he then made in the most serious manner.
– I meant them to be serious.
– The average man undoubtedly understood that what the Minister of Defence desired the people of Australia to believe was that the late
Administration had been guilty of corruption, that they had been parties to the manipulation of the electoral rolls on which the recent elections were conducted, and that in New South Wales no less than 80,000 names had been put upon those rolls in order to help the Labour party.
– A guilty conscience is pricking the honorable senator.
– Not at all. The Minister of Defence knows, if he would admit it or speak the truth-
– Order !
– The Minister of Defence knows that what was in his mind at the time he made the statement was the belief, which was also in the mind of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that the Labour party had inflated the roll’s with dummies for no other purpose than to win the recent election. What did he say? He said -
Will it be believed that on the eve of a gene-
Tal election I found that there had been introduced into the New South Wales rolls ho less than 80,000 names’ by the use of dummy cards. “ On the eve of a general election.” That -statement is absolutely incorrect.
– It was a month before.
– That statement was; made in this Chamber deliberately with a view to inducing people to believe that; 80,000 names were put on the New South Wales rolls: under Ministerial authority within a day or two of the elections, so that the Labour party might have 80,000 additional . voters on- its’ side. That is the impression which the Minister of Defence endeavoured to convey. But he has made a very poor reply to the attack which has been made upon him by Senator Pearce. He says, “ I repeat that the names were improperly on the roll’s under the card system.”’ That is not’ what he said yesterday. Senator Pearce has. shown that almost the whole of these 80,000 names were properly on the rolls in accordance with the provisions of our Electoral Act. I want to ask the Minister of Defence, and those honorable senators who represent New South Wales, what would have happened if the late Government had decided to rigidly enforce the card system, and thus disfranchise 80,000 voters there? What a hue and cry would have been raised. The desire of the late Government was to give every adult citizen an opportunity to vote. Because of that desire we never had - as I said two or three days ago - a fuller, better, or purer roll than we had at the last general election. In confirmation of my statement, I would point to the fact that in Victoria a bigger poll was never recorded, and, in comparison with past elections, never were there fewer irregularities. It is up to the Minister of Defence to withdraw the statement which he made yesterday - that 80,000 names had been deliberately put on the New South Wales rolls on the eve of a general election by means of dummy cards. That was an incorrect statement, because no dummy cards were introduced.
– Yes, there were.
– The Minister’s statement was that 80,000 names were deliberately put on the New South Wales rolls on the eve of a general election by means’ of dummy cards, which were signed by electoral officers under the instruction of the late Minister of Home Affairs. As a matter of fact, there were no dummy cards. There, were typewritten memos., and they were not signed by the electoral officers.
– Did these names get upon the rolls?
– The names were kept as a record by the departmental officers, in order that the latter might ascertain whether these persons did really exist, and in order that they might thus confirm the statements- which had been made by the police.
– The officials themselves call the document which was used a “ dummy card,” and I used the term in that sense.
– The Minister of Defence has made so many statements that he is getting himself tangled up. Whenever an attempt is made to tie him down definitely to a statement, he says, “ It is what I believed.”
– I said nothing of the kind’.
– If the honorable gentleman had desired to understand this matter as a responsible Minister ought to have understood it, he would not have accepted the word of a subordinate in Sydney as an official statement, and would not have come here and amplified it by declaring that the statement had been confirmed by Mr. Oldham. I have been told that Mr. Oldham does- not confirm any such statement.
– He does.
- Senator Pearce, after having a consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer in the presence of the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, informs me that Mr. Oldham does not confirm the statement. It is up to the Minister to say that he was in the wrong in speaking as he did yesterday, and to admit that the suspicion which he- had in his mind that the late Government had been parties to organized corruption was without justification. When he made that statement yesterday, it was taken up seriously by the press, and sensational subheadings appeared over the reports of our parliamentary proceedings. Probably in the New South Wales newspapers to-day very great prominence will be given to the Minister’s statements. I say that there is not a tittle of evidence to support it. The officers whom he declared would confirm what he said have stated exactly the opposite.
– They have done nothing of the kind. They admit that the 80,000 names were put upon the rolls.
– That is not the point. It is not a question of whether the card system was violated or not, but of whether the Minister of .Defence can substantiate his statement that on the eve of a general election the late Government, for party purposes, placed 80,000 names on the New South Wales rolls by hook or by crook.
– I never made that statement!
– That was the meaning of the Minister’s statement. He made it appear that he was suspicious.
– I am suspicious of the honorable senator.
– Suspicion of what? Put two and two together, and the honorable senator’s statement clearly implied that 80,000 names were put on the rolls for the purpose of affecting the coming election. It has been stated, not only by Senator Millen, but by Senator McColl, that thousands of names were put on the rolls for party purposes. But when we subject these statements to the test of proof, those who made them try to cover up their tracks and shift their ground. Time after time this afternoon Senator Millen has tried to shift his ground.
Senator - Long. - And he shelters himself behind officials, who are under the authority of Ministers.
– No matter how honorable senators opposite shift their ground, they cannot get away from statements they have made, which have been proved to be absolutely incorrect, and if there is any manliness in the Minister of Defence he will lose no time in withdrawing them and apologizing.
– There was some method in Senator Gould’s madness when he rose to object to the Standing Orders being suspended. There was a great deal in his little move which did not appear at the moment. The exposure which has been made by Senator Pearce of the statements which we heard last night, reveal the secret of Senator Gould’s desire to cloak the matter and prevent a further statement being made with regard to it. We are getting somewhat accustomed to the sneer that is so frequently cast across the chamber about our big majority. I can assure honorable senators opposite that that big majority is going to be used on more than one occasion to prevent downright misrepresentation from remaining unchecked.
– The honorable senator does not expect Ministerialists to cheer when their ship is on the rocks, surely?
– Their ship will certainly be on the rocks before we have done with them. They will find that honorable senators on this side of the chamber know their business, and will do their utmost to frustrate such tactics as were resorted to last night. I think that every one who listened to Senator Millen could come to no other conclusion than that something had been done prior to the last election which was both illegal and corrupt; that the rolls were stuffed by the insertion of dummy names; and that impersonation - because that word was used by Senator Millen - was resorted to.
– Can the honorable senator find the word “ impersonation “ in my speech?
– Certainly I can. It is stated here plainly enough -
We were assured, on the authority of the late Government, that under the card system there would be no personation.
What is the insinuation there? .Apparently Senator Millen has forgotten what he said last night. He was in a towering passion. His own Department was getting a thorough keel-hauling, and to get away from that he made a series of random remarks about another Department whose affairs he did not understand.
– A red herring.
– It is a red herring that stinks very badly. Apparently Senator Millen was trying to outdo Senator McColl in the statements that he made about the conduct of the election, that wholesale corruption had been practised by the Labour party. That was the impression that he tried to convey last night. We must admit that he went to great pains to make it appear that the officials in New South Wales had revealed certain facts to him. He made it appear that the whole process of wrong-doing had been revealed. But, unfortunately for himself, he did not take very much care to verify his facts. Otherwise he would have known that these statements, as Senator Pearce has shown this afternoon, were wholly misunderstood. Had he known that, he would have been prevented from making such rash assertions as he has been guilty of. What has become of those 80,000 voters? I am reminded of the story with which we are all familiar, of the boy and the thousand cats. The cats in the story dwindled to “ our cat and another.” Senator Millen’s 80,000 votes have dwindled down to i per cent., or only 400 for the whole State of New South Wales.
– At what time did they dwindle down?
– The charges that we heard last night, apparently after investigation by the Minister, have been so utterly disproved, that I venture to say that honorable senators will in future be very careful before they will accept any statement made by the honorable senator.
– As a representative of New South Wales, I must say that I am heartily ashamed of my colleagues on the other side, who have attempted to circulate aspersions affecting not only the good name and fame of the party to which I belong, and the late Minister of Home Affairs, but also of 80,000 electors, many of whom I dare say were deluded enough to vote for the Ministerial party.
– He also reflected on the officials of the Department.
– I include them as well. There is no getting away from this position. Senator Millen may try as much as he likes to smother up what he said yesterday by picking out here and there points in the speech referred to by Senator Pearce. It is useless for him to say, “I say the same again.” Saying the same again does not make his statements one whit truer than they were when he uttered them yesterday. He may do his utmost to smother up his meaning, but he will not succeed. He has alluded to a misunderstanding of some speech made by Senator Pearce in introducing the amending Electoral Bill. I certainly do not remember the whole of that speech. There would be no time for anything else if we all remembered each other’s speeches. But I do remember this - that whatever Senator Pearce’s impression may have been as to what effect the card system would have, he expressed, the opinion that until that system was in active operation no one could possibly tell how it would work out in practice. As far as that is concerned, Senator Millen has to-day declared, “ What I said I say again.” Said what? That 80,000 names were placed on the rolls wrongfully.
– He is a little bit shy of the word “ fraudulently “ now. He has had to admit that the proclamation was a perfectly legal document, issued within the four corners of the Electoral Act, which provides that the rolls be compiled in a prescribed manner. The prescribed manner necessarily means prescribed in accordance with the terms of the Act. Clearly, therefore, that refers to the card system; and there is a direct obligation to manage it within the four corners of the Act. The course taken in the Senate to-day has been amply justified by the speeches that have been made. We have had an opportunity of dealing with the whole subject as one, and to concentrate all our attention upon it. If the debate had taken place upon the measure which we were discussing last night, other speeches would have been interposed. The only credit which Senator Millen can possibly get out of the whole affair lies in his gallant effort to smother up the innuendoes and insinuations which he cast last night, not merely on our party, and the ex-Minister, but on the officials.
– I made none against officials. They carried out instructions.
– The Minister cannot deny the fact that he said that, in future, he would require a statement from the officials, because what they told him did not correspond with what Senator Pearce said. If that was not a reflection on the officials, it certainly was going perilously near to one.
– I believe what the officials told me.
– Why, then, did the honorable senator say that, in future, he would require any statement which they made to be put in writing?
– Because of the memorandum which Senator Pearce read in the Senate last year.
– I should like to call particular attention to one passage in the report of Senator Millen’s speech last night. I presume that the proof report is admitted to be correct. He told us that when he took on the role of a Sherlock Holmes, and acted as a private detective for the purpose of finding out who ought, and who ought not, to be on the rolls, he made inquiries from the electoral officers, who made an explanation to the following effect in regard to four names : - “ We could only find a card for one, and the others are dummy cards.” Senator Millen asked, “ What do you mean by dummy cards?” He was told, according to his statement -
Where the officials found the name of some person on the old roll and could not find the person to sign a card, they obligingly dropped a card into the index and signed it for them. 1 found that no less than 80,000 names were inserted in the New South Wales rolls under that system.
That means that the officials had signed 80,000 cards for that number of electors. In my opinion, if Senator Millen ‘had the slightest shred of political decency, he would admit that he was absolutely incorrect in that statement. He was either misinformed or misunderstood his information.
– Well, they typed the names, if you prefer that word.
– The whole intention of the honorable senator was to convey to the minds of probably millions of readers throughout the Commonwealth that cor rupt practices had been sanctioned and introduced by the late Ministry on the eve of a general election.
– The information was given to me on the eve of an election.
– If the honorable senator is going to side-step in this way, he will have his whole speech explained away. He is explaining it away instead of justifying it. This alleged attempt on his part to prove his libel on the people of New South Wales-
– It was not the people at all. They were not responsible for having their names put there.
– I consider that they were, because the whole imputation of the honorable senator was -that 80,000 of his fellow countrymen were willing to lend themselves to the manipulation of the Labour party, in order to fraudulently help them to victory. If that was not his point, his statement had no point whatever, and certainly no one can accuse him of talking aimlessly. He generally has some object in view when he talks, and there would have been no object except to impute that, under the sanction and the direction of the Labour party and their Ministers, this attempt was made, and succeeded to the extent of 80,000, to place names on the roll wrongfully. Admittedly there were very many changes in the electoral system by the introduction of claim cards. It is known that a very large proportion of the electors of every State are somewhat careless in carrying out the provisions of the law, either as to enrolling or as to seeing that their names are retained. Consequently, we could not expect any system, however perfect in theory it might be, to work well at its inception. There were numerous misunderstandings; there were tens of thousands of persons who did not even know the penalties to which they were liable. It is ridiculous to say that the police, in collecting the rolls, should not exercise a little discretion when they find that one or more members of a family are absent, though their names were already on the roll, and had been, perhaps, for the last twenty years, and should not have power to say, “ We will hold our judgment in suspense until these people have had a further opportunity.” As we know, they have a legal right to send in the claims, which they are supposed to do. But Senator Millen makes out that that was showing favoritism. If it had been a case of eight or eighty persons, or any small number, we could understand that a charge of favoritism might lie, but when it is a case of 80,000 persons, probably 10 per cent, of the whole of the electors of the State - at any rate, a considerable percentage - no room for a charge of favoritism is possible. I suppose that a proportionate number were similarly enrolled in other States. The application of the argument to New South Wales is only because the direct reference of Senator Millen was to that State; but he meant to imply, I believe, that the same thing occurred in other States. Therefore, the number of those concerned must have amounted to an enormous percentage of the whole of the electors of the Commonwealth. If in the transition stage from the old system to the new one, there was a danger that, perhaps,” some hundreds of thousands of electors would be disfranchised through not understanding the new law, it was most meritorious conduct on the part of all concerned to extend the utmost possible facilities to individuals to get their names on the roll. If it were not for this blind partisan spirit, which is becoming so rampant on the part of the disgruntled minority opposite, they would not have dreamed of making such charges. In fact, a charge would have fairly lain against the Labour party if it had attempted to carry out one particular part of the Act in such a rigid manner as to make it impossible for these persons to be enrolled. All this talk about inflation has, to my mind, fallen very wide of the mark. It only shows that in our opponents there is deeply rooted the old traditional Tory spirit of liking to keep .the rolls in as attenuated a form as possible. They would rather that ninety-nine electors were omitted who should be there than that one elector should be placed there without justification.
– Nonsense ! There are plenty on our side who advocate compulsory voting.
– That may be so; but it is just as relevant as other interjections. I am not discussing the question of compulsory voting, but pointing out that the general desire on the part of honorable senators opposite and their ‘party is to try to strike every possible name off the roll and to oppose any attempt to get the fullest possible roll. I, for one, would rather see the rolls inflated than have the thousands of names struck off that were habitually struck off under the rule of our political enemies. When they were in charge every effort was made to strike off all the names they possibly could, knowing that, with a small roll, probably the old capitalists, the old prosperous people, who are always in one place, would be there and vote with them while the workers - the more nomadic class - would be missing.
– Your argument defeats itself. You say that there was a bigger roll than ever there had been before, and that the Liberal party got possession of the Treasury bench.
– If I am subjected tothese interjections, sir, I shall have to ask for an extension of my time. It was the absolutely corrupt electoral methods that were to some extent followed by our opponents at the last election that put our honorable friends opposite on the Treasury bench. Only for the most direct violations of the law by very many of their principal supporters, a number of Liberals would not have been returned to the Senate or the other House.
– Is that pertinent to the question before the Senate?
– It is true, anyhow.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am glad that I said that at the finish.
– An ample opportunity, no doubt, will be afforded to honorable senators during the session to discuss many electoral matters, and I would not have risen now but for certain remarks by the Minister of Defence with regard to an incident which is reported to have taken place in Queensland. He said, if I understood him correctly, that a bed-ridden woman in a hospital at Toowoomba, in Queensland, wasprosecuted by order of the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, or his officers in Melbourne. Is that correct?
– I said that a prosecution was instituted. I did not say it was done by the Minister, or anything about it. I cannot say which officer is responsible.
– The inference which I took from the honorable senator’s, remark was that the ex-Minister of Home
Affairs and his officers instituted proceedings against this poor unfortunate woman.
– Was she proceeded against ?
– Not by the instruction of the late Minister of Home Affairs, but by the instruction of the Divisional Returning Officer at Toowoomba, which is a very different thing. Immediately the honorable senator made his statement this afternoon, I rang up the Chief Electoral Officer, who point blank told me that so far as he and his office were concerned he issued no instruction for a prosecution.
– Did a prosecution take place?
– I understand that a prosecution did take place, not by the direction of Mr. O’Malley or Mr. Oldham, but at the instance of Mr. Stiller, Divisional Returning Officer at Toowoomba. I can assure the Senate that- the case was- exaggerated in a most extravagant fashion throughout Queensland, but all the extravagant remarks made in that connexion, as in a good many others’, had not the desired effect. Some years ago, long before I ever thought of becoming a member of the Senate, I used to closely follow the speeches of not only Senator Millen, but other senators. One of the first utterances he made here is reported in Hansard for 21st May, 1901, vol. 1, page 63-
I trust the Government will at an early date provide an electoral law, the essential principle of which will be a common-sense method of working - a law under which electors shall have as little inconvenience as possible, and which will secure the largest percentage of votes at the ballot-box.
That is all that the Labour party are seeking.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.48]. - I think that the tone of this debate more than abundantly shows that everything which has been said could have been equally well said on the first reading of the Supply Bill later. The only difficulty in the matter is that Senator Pearce would not have had the opportunity of leading this attack of Ministerial baiting, but surely there are honorable senators on the other side who would have had the opportunity of speaking about this matter.
– But he could not quote the speech.
– Although Senator Pearce might not have the right to quote from the speech of Senator Millen, honorable senators on the other side would have exactly the same power as they exercised this afternoon to suspend the Standing Orders, which prevent an allusion to that speech. Honorable senators have been practically beating the air all the afternoon except for the amusement that they have had in baiting a Minister. That I know is a favourite amusement in Parliament. Senator Pearce has made certain statements ; Senator Millen has practically reiterated the statements which he made yesterday, and which were taken exception to, but is the Senate or the country one whit the better for this debate?
– Of course it is.
– To-morrow the eloquence of honorable senators opposite will be published, and the reply of the Minister of Defence will also be published, but honorable senators will find themselves no better off than they were previously. When the Electoral Bill was originally under consideration, the introduction’ of the card system was made a very strong point. It was said that with such a system there would be no chance of persons getting on the roll whose names ought not to be there, because every person would have to sign his own card before his name could be placed on the roll.
– Who are the people who should not be on the roll ?
– I have heard the speeches delivered on each side; I have made no further inquiry, but I remember that there are honorable senators on the other side who advocated the principle of compulsory enrolment, and who were the very first to break through a system which they assured us was going to be rigidly adhered to.’
– A means to an end.
– The means was to mislead honorable senators in order that they should adopt a scheme which the Labour party were reserving to themselves the right to set aside at any moment. It has been stated, not only in regard to New South Wales, but in regard to all the States, that the electoral law helped to very great abuses. I know that I have no right to debate the whole of this question, but I think that if one did make a statement he would have an opportunity of showing it was a system by means of which opportunities were given which did not previously exist to manipulate the rolls corruptly. It was a system by means of which corruption might be practised - I do not say by Ministers, but by individuals who were prepared to take advantage of it. We have had proof that all that has been said on this motion might have been said just as well on the Supply Bill, and I express the hope that honorable senators will not consider it necessary to beat the drum again when we take up the Supply Bill, or the Address-in-Reply. We have had sufficient of this matter to-day, and, personally, I am in no better position to form an opinion on the subject than I was before this debate commenced. Senator de Largie appeared to credit me with a certain amount of prescience when I objected to the suspension of the Standing Orders; but let me assure the honorable senator that I desired only that we should adopt an orderly system of procedure in this chamber.
– That matter is not now under discussion.
– I accept your ruling. I think that the public after this debate will be left in very much the same position as they were in before it took place, and that it has been proved that there was no real occasion for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– As a new member I might be allowed to say a word or two upon the important question occupying the attention of the Senate this afternoon. Before the recent elections, and for some time after they took place, we were accustomed to hear tales of roll-stuffing, and many complaints about the conduct of elections. I was very much astonished yesterday afternoon to hear the statement made by the Minister of Defence. The honorable senator told us to-day that he was pleading to a jury whose minds were made up. So far as I am concerned, I give that statement an absolute denial. I was very much impressed with the honorable senator’s statements yesterday, and if he had made out as good a case this afternoon as he appeared to me to make yesterday, I might now hold a very different opinionon this subject. Had the late Minister of Home Affairs given instructions in the way described by the Minister of Defence yesterday afternoon, his action would, in my opinion, have been, not merely a grave offence, but a crime. To-day, the honorable senator has been met with a complete refutation of his statement, and a full explanation of the whole of the circumstances. He has made a very bad attempt to side-track the whole question,, and has not had the manliness to withdraw and apologize for the impression he intended by his remarks of yesterday to convey to the Senate and to the public outside. This is a matter of the greatest consequence, because, I have no doubt that in the daily press published in every capital in Australia, as well as in the daily newspapers published in Melbourne, there have been scare headings making the charge against the Labour party that, for political purposes, 80.000 dummy names were inserted in the rolls.
– In one State.
– Exactly ; and the inference was that the same thing occurred in all the States.
– I do not think that Senator Millen said that.
– The honorable senator intended to convey the impression that possibly the same thing occurred in every State of the Commonwealth. I have myself no doubt whatever that what was done in New South Wales was done in every other State. The statement of the Minister of Defence has gone out to the public to the detriment of the Labour party. To-day, we have taken the first opportunity, notwithstanding the protests from the other side, who desire that a handful of honorable senators shall control the Senate, to thoroughly explain the matter in order that at the earliest possible opportunity the truth might be stated, in the hope that it might catch up with the statement made here yesterday by the Minister of Defence. Honorable senators opposite desire that the minority, and not the majority, shall rule in the Senate.
– They were afraid that the truth might get out.
– Yes, they had a suspicion that honorable senators on this side are not quite so foolish as not to take the first opportunity to set this matter right.
– The speeches made to-day could have been delivered on the Supply Bill.
– I thank the honorable senator for the information he has given me ; but I remind him that they could not have been made as effectively on the first reading of the Supply Bill. Had the majority been on the other side instead of on this side very little consideration would have been given to the request for the suspension of the Standing Orders in order that we might have an opportunity to answer the statements made yesterday.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument, as the matter to which he now refers is not under discussion.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. The Minister of Defence has come down from 80,000 dummy electors to one bed-ridden old woman, against whom action is supposed to have been taken in Queensland. In this case the inference to be drawn from the honorable senator’s remarks was that the action had been taken by the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, but an honorable senator representing Queensland has informed us that not only was the ex-Minister of Home Affairs unaware of the prosecution referred to, but even the Chief Electoral Officer of the State did not know that such action had been taken. The action was taken by the local Returning Officer.
– Was the fine remitted ?
– I know nothing whatever about it; but I am satisfied that if a fine was imposed there was a sufficient number of Labour men in the district prepared to see that a bed-ridden woman was not required to suffer by the infliction of a fine. It is a sorry spectacle to find a Minister of the Crown on one afternoon making charges against the whole of the people of Australia and accusing the late Government of placing 80,000 people on the rolls on the eve of an election for improper purposes, and coming down next day to justify his charge by a reference to the alleged punishment of one bedridden old woman. I have entered this Chamber with a fairly open mind. I am prepared, at any rate, to give due consideration to any measure brought for ward to benefit Australia, no matter from what side of the chamber it may emanate; but I do say that the exhibition by the Minister of Defence yesterday and to-day has made a marked impression upon my mind with respect to the credence I can give to his statements.
– I do not propose to take up any time in replying to the Minister of Defence. His statement was of such a lame character that it does not need a reply. I therefore ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to offences against the Commonwealth.
Motion (by Senator McGeegor) agreed to -
That the report of the Commonwealth Statistician with respect to inflation of electoral rolls, as mentioned in the Government’s statement of policy, be laid on the table of the Senate.
Tasmanian Mail Service: Contract with Steam-ship Companies - Pairs - Cockatoo Island and Fitzroy Dock: Stoppage of Wobk: Condition of Plant - Grant to Tasmania - Public Works : Refusal of Information - Defence Administration : Senator Clemons and Compulsory Training. Debate resumed from 27th August) (vide page 542), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– I rise mainly for the purpose of asking the HonoraryMinister if he can inform us whether arrangements have been made between the Commonwealth and any of the shipping companies in regard to the establishment of an improved mail service to Tasmania. In the State which I represent many rumours are afloat to the effect that the Government propose to enter into another contract for a period of seven years with one or other of the two companies which now hold the contract for the carriage of mails there. If that be so, I think the people of Tasmania should be informed of it, in order that they may have an opportunity of voicing their views to the Government. In spite of repeated protests, we have, year after year, the spectacle of a very inefficient mail service during the winter months between the mainland and Tasmania. For some years we have had only one good vessel on the line - I refer to the Loongana. She has now been laid up for the annual overhaul, which, I understand, is likely to occupy longer than usual, and her place has been taken by the Westralia - a very slow vessel. Then we have the Rotomahana, which, winter after winter, has proved to be absolutely unfit for the service. Tasmanians would like to know as early as possible whether the Government intend to enter into a fresh contract with the Huddart, Parker Company, or with the Union Steam-ship Company, or with both, for a term of years. I recollect that the Honorary Minister and myself were members of a deputation which waited on the late Government, some time ago, in respect to this very question. On that occasion the Honorary Minister was opposed to any contract being entered into for a lengthy period. In view of the rumour that the Government intend to enter into another such contract, 1 would like an assurance from him on that point. I do not propose to refer to any matters in connexion with this Supply Bill which can better be dealt with upon the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. But I do feel bound to ask one question, which I put to the Minister of Defence yesterday. A statement has gone forth to Australia, through the columns of the Argus, that is absolutely unjust to every member of the Labour party in this Parliament. I asked the Minister of Defence if he would give me a refutation of that statement. He declined to do so, and sheltered himself behind the plea that it was not proposed to answer questions until the motion of censure in another place had been disposed of. He must have known that the Prime Minister himself gave an answer to a similar question on the previous day.
– What was the question?
– In a leading article in the Argus of Tuesday last, the following statement appears: -
It is to be deplored that mean devices are being resorted to, such as the announcement Chat “ pairs “ are to be refused in all circumstances by the Opposition. The fate of the Commonwealth cannot be affected in the slightest degTee by the fact that through illness or accident one or two members may be unable to be present at an important division.
I asked the Minister of Defence yesterday if he was aware of any occasion upon which a member of his party had been refused a pair in case of illness, but he declined to answer. I believe that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Honorary Minister will admit that the statement made by the A.rgus is an absolute untruth. If any such occasion has arisen, I invite the Minister of Defence to name it. I have been a member of this Chamber for ten years out of tha thirteen years which have elapsed since the consummation of Federation, and I say that it has always been the custom to grant pairs in the case of illness or accident. But because the Labour party have refused to grant pairs to the other side in cases other than illness or accident, this statement has been published. It was an unmanly statement for any journalist to make, because it casts an undeserved reflection upon the members of the Labour party. I submit that the Leader of the Government in this Chamber ought to have observed the unwritten code under which one political party has always been ready to shield its opponents from imputations of unfairness. I do not intend to say any more at this juncture, but I hope that in Committee the Honorary Minister will give me the information which I seek in connexion with the establishment of an improved mail service to Tasmania.
– I do not propose to delay the passing of this Bill, but I would like to reply to some statements which were made by the Minister of Defence yesterday regarding the stoppage of work at the Fitzroy Dock, Sydney. I believe that the action of tbe Government was another political move which has utterly failed to achieve its purpose, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that the Minister of Defence and the Naval Board, by closing down the works at Cockatoo Island, have made themselves the laughing stock of all who know anything about the business. If the. boilers in use there had been so defective as to be positively dangerous, is it not reasonable to assume that the boilermakers who repaired them, as well as the engineers and the firemen, would know something of it, and would know if their lives were in danger? In another place we were assured that there was only a steel plate one sixteenth of an inch in thickness between these men and an explosion. Such a statement was perfectly ridiculous. If there were only one-sixteenth of an inch of steel in a boiler there wouldbe no fear of an explosion, because that weak spot would give way, the water would flow out, and the attendant would thus know that there was something wrong. But so long as one can keep water in a boiler, there is no danger of an explosion. The statement reminds me of that credited to a railway authority who said that no locomotives were to go out of the workshops because of the danger of a collision on the line. The Minister of Defence desired to make political capital out of his action at the expense of Senator Pearce. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 1st August of the present year he is reported to have said -
It must be obvious, however, that with every human expedition the delay in the completion of the boats referred to cannot be avoided, and is, as stated, serious. Judging from such a view of this transaction as I have so far been able to take, I can only conclude that the Commonwealth has been committed to an extremely bad bargain.
I believe that the Minister, in reply to Senator Pearce yesterday, was a little inaccurate. Senator Pearce asked him whether he had a report from the acting manager, and he said that he had not. I honestly believe that he had; and if we had that report before us, together with the report of Mr. Julius, we could see clearly why these works were closed down. I feel perfectly sure that any private firm would be only too glad to take over the dock and the machinery at the price which the Commonwealth Government paid for them. We are told that the machinery is obsolete. I wish to say distinctly that there is not an obsolete machine at Cockatoo Island Dock. Some of it is old, but, as a matter of fact, the shipbuilding machinery there is more uptodate than is the machinery at many good ship-building yards in England and Germany. We have had men working there who worked in the yards in England and on the Continent of Europe, and they say that the facilities for ship-building at Cockatoo Island Dock are superior to those with which they were familiar abroad. Moreover, this machinery has been manufactured at Cockatoo Island
Dock under the guidance of an experienced young Australian, who served his time in this country, and went to England to acquire further experience. He came back here, and the reforms which he effected turned the island into an up-to-date dock-yard. But he got little credit for what he did. I say that much of what has occurred is due to paltry spite against this man. He can do nothing that is right in the eyes of some people. When he built a pair of engines for the Small Arms Factory, at Lithgow, some persons in authority were going to put them on the scrap heap, but they have been proved to be amongst the best running engines in Australia, and were the first engines of that class to be built in Australasia. There was a report some time ago that it would not be possible to build ships at Cockatoo Island Dock, because the weight of a cruiser would cause the island to sink into the water, though it is formed of solid rock! Some one is trying to belittle the place as a dock for building vessels. When the Government took over the island, they were told by the manager that the boiler power was old. He desired them to allow him to purchase a boiler, so that he could put it in position, and then test the existing boilers one at a time without causing any cessation of work. There was absolutely no necessity for closing down the works: One boiler at a time could have been closed down until the whole of them were tested. We are told that the management had been careless, and that the boilers must have been in a bad condition for some time. As a matter of fact, however, better care has been taken of these boilers than of any boilers that I know of. They have been subjected to a periodical overhaul. There is a ten days cessation of work at Christmas time, when boilermakers are employed cleaning and repairing them. On every holiday, men are engaged to look after them. An order is given that they are to be blown down and washed once a fortnight. Boilers that are looked after like that are certainly in a good condition. ‘I say unreservedly that these boilers are in a better condition than are some of those which are running on our railways to-day - infinitely better. They have been looked after better, and have had more care devoted to them. The action which the Minister should have taken was to call for a report by a Navigation Board Surveyor. These men are every day of their lives engaged in surveying boilers. They could have furnished a report without stopping the work for a moment. But instead of that, we get a prejudiced report from a man who does not want to see shipbuilding going on there. He does not want to see Australian ship-building at all. He wants to see our ships imported.
– Who is that?
– We have men on the Naval Board who are quarrelling at all times with everything done at that place. Before interfering with these boilers the Minister should have inquired into the condition of the rotten old tubs of vessels which are used to carry the men from Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island. I do not say that the boilers on those vessels are not in a good condition. I do not know. They certainly have been in use for a long time. If there is any danger at all to the lives of the men, it is when they are being carried to and from their work, and not when they are engaged upon it.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– I suggest that the Minister should have these boats surveyed.
– Put them out of commission ?
– If they are not fit.
– The honorable senator objects to the boilers being put out of commission.
– Because that throws men out of work.
– It would throw men out of work if the boats were put out of commission.
– Not at all, because the Government could quite easily get other boats to take their place for a few weeks. Are the Government going to pay the men for the time lost in consequence of this political dodge?
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to say that.
– What else was it? Fancy a Minister telegraphing, at half -past 3 in the afternoon, “ Close the boilers down; stop the works! “ I believe that everything was stopped from the very moment of the receipt of the telegram. A blower was stopped in the moulders’ shop, and hundreds of pounds’ worth of work spoilt. A lift was stopped half way up the bank, and the men on it had to descend on ladders. I never heard of such a mad thing in my life.
– These things were of less importance than the lives of the men !
– The lives of the men were not in danger.
– The Minister thought they were, and so do I.
– The Minister cannot have thought so. Some of these men worked with thousands of tons of solid rock between themselves and the boilers. The whole of the guns in the British Navy could not blow away that rock. I say that the report relied upon by the Minister can be proved a lie. Something has been said about the thinness of the boiler plates. Any one who knows anything about a boiler, or who has had anything to do with such things, knows full well that a boiler has to be stayed; and no matter if a plate is only onesixteenth of an inch thick, if the stays are correct and perfect no harm can come to it.
– The stay is the safety of the boiler.
– Of course it is.. When you test a boiler it is tested at cold-water pressure to double the pressure ordinarily required under steam, to see if any defect discloses itself in the inside of the boiler. Although the plates themselves may be as thin as has been represented in this case - and, as a matter of fact, there was not a plate in one of the boilers under five-sixteenths of an inch - nevertheless, as long as the stays are perfect, the boiler is absolutely safe. Do not honorable senators think that the men who work at these boilers know when they are safe ?
– I believe that very often they do not.
– They certainly ought to know, and if they do not I should like to know who does. We are told about the scale found inside the boilers. The man who made that report and commented upon the scale did not know what he was talking about. To survey and inspect boilers of this kind, the tubes have to be drawn. When the tubes come through the front they scrape the scale off, and that scale falls to the bottom. That is the scale that was found in the boilers in this instance, and it was for that reasons that they were said to be dangerous.
– Had these experts no qualification for the task at all?
– No ; I deliberately say so.
– The workmen have superior qualifications ?
– In such a case, yes. Senator Millen made the statement that some of us are desirous of having complete inspection of land boilers. So we are; but these boilers at Cockatoo Island Dock are, as a matter of fact, thoroughly inspected and examined every twelve months. When the Navigation Bill was before us, I tried to secure an examination of marine boilers every six months, but the proposal was knocked out, on the ground that the period was too frequent.
– It was not knocked out by our side, because we had no power to do so.
– I have myself been and had a look at these boilers at Cockatoo Island Dock. I propose to tell the Senate what I know about them. No. 1 boiler was re-examined and re-tubed in January, 1910. It was thoroughly repaired at that time. We are told that these boilers have been inefficient for years. Does any one mean to say that a boiler that was thoroughly repaired in December, 1910, has been unsafe for years? Any one who knows anything will say that that cannot be so. When I see reports by men who make statements of this kind, I am led to believe that they are without practical experience. Unpractical men, when they go to inspect a boiler, have to drill a hole through it to find the thickness of a plate. A practical man does not. He knows the thickness of a plate from the tap of a hammer. I say again that the Minister ought to have called on a surveyor of the Marine Department of New South Wales to report. I should be prepared to stand by such a report. No. 2 boiler was re-tubed, thoroughly repaired, and placed in position in 1905. It was formerly a locomotive boiler. It was overhauled during the ten days’ vacation at Christmas time.
– Last Christmas?
– Yes. No. 3 boiler was installed in 1909. Since it was condemned it has stood a pressure of 333 lbs. to the square inch. It is not required to carry a pressure of much more than 100.
– What pressure is that boiler ordinarily worked up to?
– Up to 110 lbs., I think. When you test a boiler under cold pressure, you put on double the pressure that you have when it is under steam. That makes it absolutely doubly safe. If I were testing a boiler for myself I would not think of doing that, because I know that it is an undue strain. But that is the safety rule of Lloyd’s and others.
– That test is applied in the case of newly-constructed boilers.
– To any boiler that test is applied. This particular boiler was thoroughly repaired by the locomotive department of New South Wales before it was taken to Cockatoo Island in 1909. No. 4 boiler was taken out of the Countess of Hopetoun; it was thoroughly repaired and retubed in 1911, and tested to double the working pressure. It was working at 60 lbs. pressure, and 50 lbs. is enough to drive the machinery. If the men had been doubtful as to the boiler, all that they had to do was to reduce the pressure to 50 lbs., asis done by any surveyor or practical man, and the boiler would have worked all the machinery necessary. The authorities did not do that, but told the men to blow down the boiler and draw the furnaces. No. 9 boiler is the Protector’s old boiler. It was condemned, and was known as the steam-hammer boiler. Since it was condemned it has been tested to a cold-water pressure of 180 lbs. to the square inch. A boiler which will stand that pressure under cold water is absolutely safe at 60 lbs., and although there may be a spot that is weak, still the boiler is safe. As it is with a boot, so it is with a boiler. When a hole appears in a boot, the boot is repaired, and is just as good as ever it was. With a boiler you may find a place where there has been a flaw in the original material, or undue pressure has been brought to bear; but that does not make the boiler unsafe, so long as the stays are sound and in position. Some years before the boiler was taken out of the Countess of Hopetoun, it was bound with angle-iron stays round the furnaces to strengthen it. These stays are still on the boiler, and make it absolutely safe, even if the plate is only a quarter-of-an-inch thick. The repot t also states that the tubes of these boilers, which have been working for years, are condemned as unfit for further use. If these boilers are unfit for further use, and, when tested, carry a double working pressure under cold water, will any man who knows anything about the business say that they are unsafe? The other boilers on Cockatoo Island are almost new, and no exception is taken to them. The reason for closing down the whole of these boilers was a political one. The Minister of Defence wanted to have a stab at his predecessor, and suggest that he had done something wrong. He thought that his predecessor, to use his own words, had made ‘ ‘ a rotten bargain.” In my opinion, Senator Pearce made a good bargain. The policy of the Labour party has always been to assist the ship-building industry in Australia. Our policy is, according to Admiral Henderson, to build our own ships, and to have our own repairing depots. What would be our position with a war in . the China Seas, if some of our vessels were disabled, and we had no repairing depot ? When I was secretary of the Boilermakers’ Union, the Admiralty authorities knew of every man in Australia upon whom they could call in an emergency. We cannot have ship-building yards unless we have repairing yards. The policy of the present Government is, not to assist ship-building in Australia, but to get the work done elsewhere. Had not a Labour Ministry been in power at the time, our war-ships would have been built in England. This is a cowardly attack on a previous Minister, and one which should not have been made. It will be clearly proved to the country when the report goes forth that the stoppage of work at the Fitrzoy Dock was a movement for some other purpose than to insure the safety of the men. The men understood how to insure their own safety. Let me ask Senator Clemons if it is intended to recoup the men for the time they lost through this silly action ? Are sixty or seventy men to be allowed to lose money in that way when they were perfectly willing to work, and the life of no person was in danger? The report will clearly show that what I say is absolutely correct. In my opinion, it was a political attack aimed at the ex-Minister of Defence, and, like the charges made yesterday, it fell short of the mark.
.- I desire to refer to one or two matters which I consider of urgent importance. First, I want to supplement what Senator O’Keefe has said with reference to the proposal of the Government, as expressed in forecasts made in the press, to give a contract to the present steam-ship combine for seven years. That this is contemplated seems to be pretty clear. I want to ask Senator Clemons, as a representative of Tasmania, whether, in view of his past utterances here on the question of the steam-ship combine, and the unfortunate position which the State occupies in regard to not only the mail contract, but trading facilities, he is going to be a consenting party to an agreement which will tie Tasmania up to the combine for seven years? He knows that quite recently an intimation appeared in the press of Australia that the fares of the steam-ship companies throughout the Commonwealth, with the exception of Tasmania, were to be increased 15 per cent. The increase was to apply to every other route except the Tasmanian passenger trade. If we, by means of our mail contract, give the shipping companies the right for seven years to impose what, fares, freights, restrictions, and conditions on Tasmania they like, clearly we shall have the Tasmanian fares and freights increased at perhaps a greater ratio in the near future. It is clearly courting the inevitable if we give them a contract.
While we have the alternative - and one which will be debated here at some length - of running our own boats, and paying the interest with the present subsidy, it would be criminal on the part of the Government, without consulting the representatives of the people of Tasmania, to tie up the State for seven years to this unholy combine. I shall look for, and confidently expect to get, the support of every representative of Tasmania on the question of nationalizing the boats. But if the Government once tie up Tasmania by means of a mail contract, they know, as we know, that that question must be put aside as having been finally dealt with. During the last few weeks, prominent business men in Launceston, who are not supporters of the Labour party, have come to me in fear and trepidation, and asked me whatever I did to try to cooperate with those in power to prevent this combine getting a seven years’ con- tract. When I asked these gentlemen why they did not come out in the open and assist me by agitating in that direction - and I can give the names privately if necessary - they said that they dare not lead an agitation for the simple reason that if they did, by some strange means, they may be penalized by the shipping companies.
– By whom?
– By the Union Steamship Company and Huddart Parker and Company.
– I had dozens of them in front of me in connexion with this matter, and they gave their evidence in a free and fearless manner.
– I shall give, on a future occasion, some of the evidence which the honorable senator’s committee took, and which will substantiate my statement that there is discontent here. In Launceston, men have said to- me that if they were to agitate they would be marked, and, as it often happens that the boats leave on the same day on which they arrive, while the cargo of other men would be loaded by some mysterious means, their cargo might be left behind.
S’enator Clemons. - Will you give privately the names of men who are so afraid ?
– I will give the honorable senator privately the name of one man.
– I advise the honorable senator to be careful.
– Perhaps I ought to be careful as far as Senator Clemons is concerned. Out of eleven representatives in this Parliament, Tasmania has returned six Labour men,, and we have a right to be consulted by the Government before they enter into a. contract for seven years. If we are not consulted, I, for one, will seize every opportunity both here and outside to denounce the way in which we have been flouted.
– If we were to give Tasmania the £400,000, the people would very rapidly fix up the matter for themselves.
– My friend, the Tas.manian St. Ledger, with his frequent interjections
– Order ! The honorable senator must not ‘address Senator Bakhap in that way.
– Am I out of order, sir, in referring to the honorable senator as the Tasmanian St. Ledger ?:
– It is not a correct appellation to use.
– I withdraw the remark, sir. The honorable senator asked a question here with reference to the sum of £400,000 which he and his comrades made so much of at the last elections, like they did with this business to-day. They will employ anything to make political capital, and to keep away from the big issues which our party stands for. He asked whether the Government were prepared to reopen the question, and grant the extra £400,000 recommended by the Royal Commission, and the reply given to him was -
The. Government is not prepared to review this arrangement, which has still eight years to run.
What a slap in the face that is for the gentlemen who, with tears in their voices, were running round imploring the Tasmanian electors to send them to Parliament in order that they might secure the £400,000 which the Fisher Government had robbed them of.
– We shall see whether we shall get it or not. Let the honorable senator vote for the motion when it comes on.
– My vote can be depended upon. That honorable senators may know the kind of statements that were made, I may inform them that at Burnie, when the Premier of Tasmania was asked whether the Fisher Government had not granted Tasmania £500,000, he replied -
The Fisher Government has not given £500,000. The Fisher Government has robbed Tasmania of ^400,000.
– They should certainly have given Tasmania the other £400,000, considering the immense surpluses they had.
– Let the honorable senator ask the present Government to give the grant. He has had a reply already which is a distinct slap in the face for him.
– I wish the honorable senator would give us Supply in the meantime.
– I am .aware that this question is not palatable to the honorable senator.
– It is palatable to me, and I shall be very glad to answer the honorable senator, if he will let me.
– The action of the honorable senator in this matter will not bear close investigation. I may state the facts so far as he is concerned. When the matter was first brought before the Senate, as honorable senators are no doubt aware, Senator Clemons was found voting against the proposed grant for Tasmania.
– The honorable senator knows that that is hopelessly inaccurate. Why drag up ancient history?
– It is a plain fact, and cannot be denied. I can produce the division list to prove it. When the Financial Agreement was being considered in the Senate, Senator Keating moved for a special grant for Tasmania, and Senators Clemons, Macfarlane, Mulcahy, and Dobson voted against their own State on that occasion.
– They did nothing of the sort, and the honorable senator knows it. What stale stuff this is to bring up.
– They did, and I can produce the division list.
– What the honorable senator needs to produce is some capacity to understand it.
– When a motion intended to benefit his own State came before this Chamber, Senator Clemons was found voting against it, and he cannot deny it.
– I have denied it, I do deny it, and it is not a fact.
– When the matter came before the Senate on a subsequent occasion in 1910, I happened to be a member of the Senate. It was raised again in connexion with the Financial Agreement, and was debated until the small hours of the morning. When we came to divide on the motion Senator Clemons, who was paid to represent Tasmania, and Senator Cameron also, were both absent in that State. The division list will show that four representatives of Tasmania voted for the motion, and that the two honorable senators to whom I have referred, and who were paid to look after the interests of the State, were away looking after their own business.
– That is entirely inaccurate. I was in Melbourne at the time, but I was not in this Chamber at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I shall not be here at that time.
– If the honorable senator does not think enough of Tasmania to be in this Chamber when Tasmania requires his services, so much the worse for that State. We were beaten on that occasion by two votes, and Senators Clemons and Cameron were absent from the division.
Now, what occurred in 1911 ? Mr. Jensen, in the House of Representatives, asked for the appointment of a Commission to investigate the matter, and what did Senator Clemons do to assist Mr. Jensen? As a matter of fact, I do not believe that they are on speaking terms. At all events, Senator Clemons never went to Mr. Jensen to ask him if he could do anything to help him to secure a grant for Tasmania. He never lifted his little finger to help his own State.
I come now to the funny part of the matter. In 1912, when Mr. Fisher went to Tasmania, Senator Clemons, who in 1909 voted against the interests of the State, in 1910 was absent from the division because he wanted to go home to bed, and in 1911 did not lift a finger to assist Tasmania because he is not on speaking terms with Mr. Jensen, or for some other reason, was the gentleman who led a deputation to Mr. Fisher in Launceston, and asked him for the full £900,000 recommended by the Commission. Could political hypocrisy go further than that? I say that the thing is a disgrace.
– I do not think political hypocrisy could get past the honorable senator.
– Whether I am hypocritical or not, I shall not be found neglecting the interests of the people who sent me here. While I represent Tasmania I shall be found here when that State requires my services. I have stated the connexion of the honorable senator with the Tasmanian grant. I wish to refer honorable senators to an article which appeared in the Launceston Examiner, the great organ of the Fusionists in Tasmania. It appears in the issue of 17th May, just before the elections, and is headed, “ The Tasmanian Grant- The money we did not get.” We shall see whether the present Government is going to give it to us. It is said that all things come to those who wait.
– If the honorable senator waits long enough.
– We waited long enough before the Fisher Government came into power, and we got nothing. The article says -
A ‘great deal has been said about the £500,00 grant for Tasmania, but very little about the other ^400,000 that is still owing. The aim of the Labour candidate is to keep the eyes of the elector upon the money that has been voted. “ See what we have done for you “ they say. “ There never were such fine fellows as we are. Take a good look at us, and whatever you do don’t forget those five hundred thousand pounds.” But this is merely political tittilation It is meant to tickle the ears of the unthinking. The public’s memory is sometimes -short, and this sort of thing is merely an attempt to trade on their forgetfulness.
The practical question of the Tasmanian elector of to-day is not that of who brought the half million this way. It is that of who has the best chance of sending the other £400,000 along. We have been paid ns. in the £1. There is another 9s. to come, and if we go the right way about it we may get it.
A little further on the statement is made -
The practical question for the elector then is to take such steps as are likely to secure the balance of the justice to which a Royal Commission has unanimously declared that Tasmania is entitled. The Commonwealth owes the State of Tasmania the sum of .£400,000. The Labour party has declined to pay it over. The only real hope of ever getting it is to look to the Liberals. They tried to give us last session £70,000 of it, but failed. The caucus was too solid. The Liberals have some sympathy with Tasmania. The caucus has none. It has no time for us. No names are too hard, no epithet too opprobrious. Even the £500,000 was flung at us as a charity vote. We were scorned as a “ mendicant State.”
– Was that the Liberal or Labour caucus?
– The article refers to the Labour caucus, and continues -
Then what can they do? If they should be returned to Parliament in this particular matter? They will be helpless. The position is in a nutshell. If Labour is in power in the next Parliament we have no prospect whatever of obtaining the balance of the verdict that has been given in our favour. On the other hand, if the Liberals are successful there will certainly be more chance of our receiving something like the treatment the Commission found after most exhaustive inquiry to be our due.
– Bakhap and 20s. in the £1.
– We have Senator Bakhap, but I think we shall have to wait a long time for the 20s. in the £1. I intend to have the division-list, to which i have referred earlier, inserted in Hansard, and I find it set out in a special article contributed by Senator Long to the Tasmanian press. The division took place on 26th November, 1909, and this is the way that honorable senators present at the time voted -
Ayes 11. - Senators Croft, de Largie, Findley, Givens, Henderson, Lynch, Needham, Pearce, Russell, E. J., Russell, W., and Keating.
Noes 20. - Senators Best, Cameron, Chataway, Clemons, Dobson, Fraser, Gould, Macfarlane, McColl, Millen, Mulcahy, Neild, Pulsford, Sayers, Stewart, St. Ledger, Trenwith, Turley, Walker, and Vardon.
Those who voted “No” in that division voted against the insertion of a new clause in the Financial Agreement to give special consideration to the circumstances of Tasmania. I can assure honorable senators opposite who represent Tasmania that they will be asked to keep the election promises by which they secured their return.
– They will be asked to cash their blank cheques.
– Exactly j and if they do not do so, the people of Tasmania will demand restitution when the proper time comes.
– Which will not be long now.
– I am sorry that Senator Needham should mention such a thing at this juncture, because, so far as the Senate is concerned, honorable senators on this side have a right to retain their big majority and to do what the people of Australia sent them here to do.
I suppose it is of no use to ask for information from Ministers, who have adopted a very high-handed style. In this connexion I wish to place on record a little experience which, as one of the trustees of the Commonwealth, I had when I made a request for information. I do not refer to a question asked in the Senate, but to the fact that I wrote to the Director of Works, Colonel Owen, asking him for an outline or report of the present system of dealing with buildings carried out by the Public Works Branch of the Home Affairs Department. Here is the reply I got, not from Colonel Owen, but from the under-strapper, the gentleman’ who looms large on the horizon of the Home Affairs Department, and who, I believe, is known as the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs. He wrote-
With reference to your communication of even date addressed to Colonel Owen, and asking for an outline or report of the present system of dealing with buildings, &c, carried out by the Public Works Branch, I desire to inform you that, in view of the present political situation, it is not desirable to furnish information by letter which cannot be disclosed in answer toquestions in Parliament.
For Minister of Home Affairs.
So I am debarred from obtaining information upon a matter of simple organization and method in the Home Affairs Department becauseof something which has taken place in another branch of this Legislature.
-We should fire out the Government. We should get rid of themat once.
– It is inevitable that we shall dp that, but the question at present to be considered is whether we should sit down calmly and permit Ministers to flout us by refusing to supply information. I have yet to learn that the Director of Public Works is under any obligation to submit to the Minister a question put to himself before he can give a reply to it. Colonel Owen did me the courtesy of writing me confidentially, but I received a point-blank refusal from the Minister.
– It is not a pointblank refusal. It merely means delay.
– If I were asking for information that I could use politically, the position would be entirely different. I resent my application being treated in such a contemptuous manner.
I wish now to say a few words upon the question of defence. The Minister has twitted the late Government with having been extravagant. I noted particularly one remark which he made when he affirmed that the greatest enemy to effective defence is extravagance. I differ from him on that point.I believe that the greatest enemy to effective defence is unsympathetic administration such as we have now. To-day we have Ministers in office who are absolutely put of sympathy with our defence policy. While we have in power gentlemen like Senator Millen and Senator Clemons, we cannot expect much in thewayof sympathetic administration. Both of them have many times expressed their contempt for an Australianowned and an Australian-controlled Navy.
-That is not correct.
-It is well known that these gentlemen, at all stages in their political careers, have opposed the idea of an Australian-owned Navy. That statement does not require much substantiation.
– The Navy which is now being built is the result of the agreement which was put through by the Deakin-Cook Government.
– The idea of presenting a Dreadnought to Great Britain, in placeof establishing a Navy of our own, emanated from the so-called Liberal party in Federal politics. Both Senator Millen and Senator Clemons -
-The honorable senator may say anything he likes about me - he may accuse me of every sin under the sun - if he will only stop in five minutes.
– I cannot promise to. do that.
-Then the honorablesenator will get no reply.
– When we have gentlemen like Senator Millen, Senator Clem ons, and Senator McColl controlling the destiny of the Commonwealth, we can. look for nothing but cold -blooded, unsympathetic administration. Senator Clemons, I am sure, does not believe in the policy of a Citizen Defence Force. He has shown that in Tasmania. For some time past a report has been current in Launceston that he did all in his power to evade those sections in pur DefenceAct which rendered the military training of his boys compulsory. A Minister of the Crown should be the first to observe the law of the Commonwealth, and thus to set a good example to others.
– He is not prepared to defend his own country?
– He was not. He used every legitimate means to enable his boys to escape compulsory military training. Upon many occasions I, in common with others in Launceston, havereceived complaints from mothers whose boys were being trained because Senator Clemons’ sons were not being trained. It was urged against members of this Parliament that we werenot anxious for our own boys to be subjected to military training. When one inquired for a justification of”” that accusation, one was met with the reply that Senator demons’ boys were not being subjected to military training.
– Were they fined?
– No. The facts are that Senator Clemons’ residence faces upon two streets, namely Welman-street and High-street. When the lieutenant in charge of one area wrote to him, notifying him that his lads were eligible for military training, Senator Clemons replied that he did not reside in that area because his house fronted another street. It was a question of the honorable gentleman living in a house which faced both ways. I ask leave to resume my remarks at a later stage.
– Certainly not.
– Then I will continue my observations.
– If the honorable senator does, we shall not get Supply tomorrow.
– Then another Area Officer wrote to the honorable gentleman, whereupon Senator Clemons took his three boys to a doctor, from whom he obtained a certificate that they were physically unfit to be subjected to military training - that their health was not good enough. Thus for several months the matter dragged on unsettled. Finally, one Area Officer was plucky enough to do his duty. He served Senator Clemons with a notice that his boys must be trained. Subsequently a letter was received from Dr. Irvine to the effect that Senator demons’ boys were not up to the required physical standard - that their chest measurement was not good enough.
– Does the honorable senator dispute Dr. Irvine’s statement?
– Yes. That his statement was not true was. proved afterwards. When another officer approached Senator Clemons and insisted that his boys should be trained, that gentleman, in his high-handed manner, went down to the military office in Launceston, where he had a violent quarrel with the sergeant-major, who was merely performing his duty. Surely that is a magnificent example for a Minister in this Parliament to set. When the sergeantmajor told him that he was merely doing his duty, Senator Clemons said, “How dare you speak to me in such a fashion?” Evidently he is the great man, the mighty hero, the senator who represents Tasmania. Because a gentle man who was appointed to the Defence Forces dared to perform his duty, Senator Clemons abused him.When, owing to the persistence of this sergeant-major, the sons of Senator Clemons were examined by a duly qualified medical officer, they were all passed into the ranks, and they are being trained to-day. But how can we expect efficient administration from a gentleman who does not believe in the primary principles of our Defence Act? As one of the six senators who represent Tasmania, I feel sore that the report to which I have referred should have gone round Launceston, and that one of our number should have been charged with endeavouring to dodge his legal and moral obligations under that Act.
– I wish to inform the Senate that since the accession of the Government to office I have been personally requested by the Ministry, and especially by the Postmaster-General, to go carefully into the question of the Tasmanian mail contract. I have been carrying on negotiations in reference to that matter for some time. Those negotiations have now practically been completed, and but for the censure motion in another place I would have been glad to give honorable senators - and especially Senator O’Keefe - all the information at my command in regard to them. However, for the present I can only assure my honorable friends that there is no one more desirous than I am of establishing a satisfactory mail service with Tasmania. I am endeavouring to do that. When the negotiations with that end in view have been completed, I. shall be prepared to justify them in every respect, both from the stand-point of postal facilities and of general communication with the mainland.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to -
That so much of the sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of the Bill being continued without interruption after 8 p.m. this day.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
The Senate and the Ministry - Land Tax Valuation, Tasmania: Remission of Pines - Maternity Allowance - Sir Samuel Griffith - Importation of Artisans - Literary Fund - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway - Director of Lands, Northern Territory - Advertising - Manufacture of Clothing - Day Labour and Contract System - Naval Bases: Cockburn Sound: TAMAR River - Senator Clemons and Compulsory Training - Defaulting Cadets, Queensland - Sugar Industry - Small-pox - Navigation Act - Electoral Officers: Conduct of Election - Perth Post Office - Post and Telegraph Facilities, Tasmania - Wages of Line Repairers. Schedule.
Divisions 1 to 10 (The Parliament), £2,307.
– I desire, in discussing the vote for the Parliament, to draw attention to a speech delivered to-day by the Prime Minister, and which is reported in this evening’s Herald. It reflects in a most outrageous manner, in my opinion, on the work of this Chamber, referring in the most scurrilous way to our action yesterday in appointing a Select Committee to inquire into the Chinn case. The Prime Minister designates the action we took as the work of partisans. In order that honorable senators may have the matter brought directly under their notice, I will read the Herald report. It is headed, “ Speech by Mr. Cook. Early dissolution likely.” It is not likely, as far as Mr. Cook is concerned- He is not likely to go to the country unless he is driven; and this is the sort of speech which will drive the Opposition to force him. The report goes on to say -
The Prime Minister, at the outset, pointed out the necessity, in view of the position of the Liberal party in the House, of continued organization. He urged them to be as prepared as they were at the last election to render the fine services which had resulted in the Liberal victory. The Government was in office, but not in power. That was the position.
– I rise to order. I submit that what Senator de Largie is reading is wholly irrelevant to the subject before the Committee.
– As the portion of the schedule at present before us relates to the salaries of officials of Parliament, I must rule that Senator de Largie’s re marks on the speech of the Prime Minister are irrelevant. The subject would have been relevant on the motion for the second reading. There are, however, other items in the schedule to which the remarks might be relevant.
– Surely it is within the power of a senator when the vote for Parliament is under consideration, to bring forward a matter that reflects on one of the Houses of Parliament. If that cannot be done, we are parting with our privileges as members of Parliament, and I refuse to submit to that ruling.
– I must rule that, as the question immediately before the Chair concerns the salaries of officials of Parliament, the remarks of Senator de Largie were not strictly relevant. If the honorable senator wishes to object to my ruling, he must take the proper course.
– This is a matter in which Parliament is directly interested. If I cannot discuss it now, I do not see how I can discuss it upon any other item in the schedule. I do not wish to object unnecessarily to a ruling of the Chairman, but, at the same time, I do not desire that honorable senators shall be deprived of their privileges-
– May I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to give us a little guidance. The matter which Senator de Largie was bringing before the Senate is certainly worthy of consideration. As you have ruled that it cannot be discussed upon the part of the schedule relating to Parliament, may I inquire whether the honorable senator would be in order in bringing the matter up in relation to the Department of the Prime Minister?
– I am asked for a ruling on a situation that has not arisen yet; but I may say that, in my opinion, it would be more in order to discuss the statement made by the Prime Minister when we are dealing with the Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 11 to 14 (Prime Minister’s Department), £4,206.
– I now desire to refer to the speech made by the Prime Minister to-day. I am not taking up this matter in a spirit of pique, but simply because I feel that we have a duty to perform. When reflections are made upon the Senate by a gentleman in a responsible position, especially by one occupying the highest position within the disposal of this Parliament, I think that we should be lacking in our duty if attention were not called to it. As the language used by the Prime Minister was most unfair to the Senate, I certainly cannot allow the matter to pass. I will now proceed to read the speech of the Prime Minister in order that honorable senators may be made acquainted with the facts.
The Prime Minister, at the outset, pointed out the necessity in view of the position of the Liberal party in the House, of continued organization. He urged them to be as prepared as they were at the last election to render the fine services which had resulted in the Liberal victory. The Government was in office but not in power. That was the position. All that was left for them to do was to look to their administrative duties, in the meantime, while they got ready to make their appeal to the country for a further accretion of political power. He wanted them to understand, and events daily were confirming it, that this Parliament could not be of long duration. They were feeling every day how precarious it was to have to depend upon a gentleman in the chair who, however true his Liberal instincts might be, was still supposed to be in an impartial position and was therefore not available on the floor of the House like an ordinary member.
Here is the portion which I consider a very serious reflection upon the work of the Senate - “ You have only to look at the position in the Senate,” continued Mr. Cook. “ I was there last night, and we had a spectacle which, I hope, will not be repeated for the sake of the credit of the Commonwealth. I saw a Labour member take control of the Senate absolutely, and our responsible Ministers sitting by, helpless as babes, having their own Supply Bill taken out of their hands and deliberately set aside while this Labour member instituted a partisan committee to inquire into a departmental act in regard to Mr. H. Chinn. When we see gentlemen in the Senate prepared to flout the decision of the country a. very serious position arises with regard to responsible Government.”
What is the decision of the country so far as the Chinn case is concerned ? I can promise the Prime Minister and his sup-, porters that the country will know a great deal about the Chinn case before it is finished with. No more scandalous piece of persecution has ever taken place.
– Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in prejudging a matter which is practically sub judice at his own instance?
– Senator de Largie is discussing a statement made by the Prime Minister on something which occurred in the Senate, and, as the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department is under consideration, I do not think that, so far, he has been out of order.
– It is most indecent for Mm to refer to a case which is sub judice.
– Order !
– Before very long the country will know a great deal more about the Chinn case than it knows now. We will see how far the gentleman who was most directly responsible for the action taken was justified in going outside and reflecting on the Senate for ordering an inquiry. He dubbed the Committee appointed yesterday “ a partisan committee,” although it contains one member of the Government party, and two other members of that party were afforded an opportunity to be included. If it is a partisan committee, who made it so? It was certainly not this side of the Senate, as we were prepared to nominate three supporters of the Government to sit on it. In face of these facts, I cannot see why even Senator Bakhap should take the matter in the way which apparently he does.
– Your mind is already made up.
– Will the honorable senator admit that he is a partisan in the matter?
– Well, the honorable senator is a member of the Select Committee.
– I am responsible for my own acts.
– That is how the honorable senator is designated by the Prime Minister.
– I will make you responsible for your statements.
– Order ! Interjections are disorderly.
– I feel that I am simply doing my duty in bringing this matter before the Senate at the first possible opportunity. In this Chamber, the Prime Minister, who holds office by virtue of a casting vote, has not any claim to be considered a Prime Minister. Still, he goes outside and pretends to be indignant at the Government not being allowed to go on with its business at its own sweet will.
X hope that at least one honorable senator on the other side will get up and repudiate the statement of the Prime Minister that it is “a partisan committee.” As I have already said, if it is a partisan committee, it was not the fault of this side, because we could not get more than one senator on the other side to sit on it. If honorable senators opposite prefer to look on their public duties in such a light that they will not act on a committee of this kind when an opportunity is offered, they have no right to go outside and declare the work of the Senate to be the work of a partisan Chamber.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 15 to 22 (The Treasury), £18,865.
.- I wish to point out as briefly as possible the grave discrepancies existing in Tasmania between the Federal land tax valuations and the State unimproved land valuations. The discrepancies are so very glaring as to warrant, I think, an inquiry on the part of the Federal Government and this Parliament. Some time ago, Mr. Norman Cameron, then independent member for Wilmot, rose in the Tasmanian Assembly and pointed out that, whilst his State assessment for three properties was £33,334, his own valuation, which was accepted in the first year of the Federal land tax, was £17,260, being a difference of about £16,000. In other words, the Federal valuation was just about half of the State valuation. The definition of unimproved value in the State Act is practically the same as the definition of unimproved value in the Commonwealth Act, so that there should not be any grave difference between Federal and State valuations. Yet we find that in the case of nearly every big estate in Tasmania the Federal valuation is from 25 to 50 per cent, lower than the State valuation.
– Are not the valuations of all owners subject to reassessment by the Commissioner of Taxation?
– The valuations have been revised, and I have here an interesting set of figures showing the results of the revision. Take, for instance, the property which Mr. Norman Cameron brought before the notice of the Tasmanian Assembly. His assessment for Federal purposes was £17,260; the amended assessment by the Federal valuator was £19,445, being a slight increase; while the original assessment by the State valuator was £33,334, which has since been reduced by a State Court of Appeal to £25,246, being a difference of about £6,000. Clearly either the State valuation is too high or the Federal valuation is too low. In Tasmania, we have a Government who disapprove of the principle of unimproved land value taxation. An honorable senator asks me why they do not repeal the tax. The answer is because the people have forced them to put the tax on the statute-book against their will.
– Your statement is absolutely incorrect.
– I claim that my statement is absolutely correct, and that these figures bear it out. In my opinion, in Tasmania, the unimproved values have been fixed too high, and I believe that the object is to discredit the principle of unimproved land value taxation, and, as Senator Long interjects, to get at the smaller properties. I think that an inquiry should be instituted. I approached the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner, whom I found very courteous and willing to assist, unlike the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, who refused to give some information to me two or three days ago. I found both those officers anxious to facilitate an inquiry. At my request, they had valuations made of four estates which I named, to see if the Federal valuations were not too low or too high. The estate of Meadowbanks was checked by an officer of the Commissioner. The departmental valuation was £5,652, while an independent valuation was £6,021. Quorn Hall, another estate which I know fairly well, was valued at £18,392, while the check valuation by an independent valuator was £18,412. Ellenthorp was assessed departmentally at £12,960, while an independent valuation made it £13,700. Chiswick, another estate of 10,000 acres, was assessed departmentally at £19,420, while an independent valuation was £20,238, being a slight increase. On the increases that were given, the Commissioner did not consider that any interference with the present valuations was necessary. To show honorable senators that there is no exaggeration about my statements, I will refer to the case of Newnham, an estate owned by Mr. W. C. Grubb, just outside Launceston. The case was reported in the Launceston Examiner of 19th August. Mr. W. C. Grubb appealed against the State valuation of £11,660, and the Federal valuator went into the witness box at the State Appeal Court, and said that the Federal unimproved valuation was £5,830. Here is another enormous discrepancy.
The representatives of Tasmania should not be content to have these discrepancies pass unchallenged. The complaint is freely made - whether it is correct or not I am not in a position to say - that in Tasmania the Federal valuations are .very low, and the consequence is that the Federal land tax is not as effective, or bringing in as much revenue, as it otherwise would do. I think that the Government might well have an independent valuation made by a mainland officer. Let them send a capable judge to investigate the matter thoroughly, and if it is found that the Federal valuations are correct, it will be clearly established that the State valuations are wrong, and that the members of the State Legislature will have to do their part in getting those valuations substantially reduced.
– I wish to refer to a matter connected with the maternity allowance. I asked a question on the subject yesterday of the Minister representing the Treasurer. I did not ask the honorable senator to do anything, but he refused to answer, in accordance with the stupid practice which is observed, because of the vote of censure pending in another place, which we are not supposed to know anything about. I understand that registrars under the Maternity Allowance Act were requested to furnish returns, I supposed, as to the number of applications in the different States. I believe that they are entitled to fees, and I asked the representative of the Treasurer in the Senate whether he would ascertain if the fees had ever been paid. To my surprise lie asked that notice should be given of the question, and intimated that he was not prepared to answer it until something occurred in another place. If a number of people are suffering injustice, we have reason to complain when a responsible Minister refuses to take any notice of the fact because of the ridiculous practice to which I have referred. I again ask the Honorary Minister if he will look into the matter. I do not care whether he replies to my question or not; but I think he should ascertain whether fees which should have been paid long ago are still owing, and, if so, the reason for the delay in paying them.
– I can promise Senator Story two things. First, that he will get an answer to his question; and, second, that an inquiry will be made. I should like to remind him that the practice to which he objects may possibly be quite as objectionable to honorable senators on this side; but when we are following a practice adopted by our predecessors, we do not expect to be quarrelled with on that account by honorable senators opposite.
– Can the Minister not give an answer to the question now that we are on Supply?
– I cannot.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer to give the Committee some information regarding the item ‘ ‘ Remission of fines, land tax assessment, £2,150.” It appears to be an item requiring explanation, and I should be glad to hear the Minister’s explanation of it.
– Though I am not prepared to answer the honorable senator’s question in full, 1 may inform him that several cases have come under my notice where the Land Tax Commissioner has seen lit to remit fines, because the delay in payment of the tax has been accounted for by the unavoidable absence of the taxpayer, or the neglect of some person trusted by him to make the payment. In every case of the kind that has come under my notice, it has seemed to me fair and reasonable for the Commissioner of Taxes to remit the fines. I shall undertake to make inquiries, and give the reasons for the remission of the fines.
.- I should like to know if I am to get a reply to the question I asked with respect to land tax valuations.
– I heard the honorable senator make a statement, but I did not hear him follow it up with a question.
– I shall follow it up with a question now. I ask whether, in view of the facts which I have stated, Ministers will institute an inquiry by the Land Tax Department into the wide discrepancies that exist between the Federal and State valuations in Tasmania ?
– I am not prepared, nor is any member of the present Ministry prepared, so far to criticise the action of the Federal Land Tax Commissioner. We have no reason to suspect him of under-valuing land any more than the late Government had to do so. If there should be any reason to do so - and we do not anticipate that there will be - I have no doubt that the Government will look into the matter.
.- I want to say that I made no imputation against the Federal Land Tax Commissioner, and did not reflect upon his action in any way. I simply asked whether, in view of the discrepancies between Federal and State valuations in Tasmania, we should not have it clearly established who is right and who is wrong. I want the Federal position to be unassailable. I believe that the valuations of the Federal Land Tax Commissioner are more nearly accurate than are the State valuations. But I wish to have that absolutely proved, and that can only be done by investigating and checking the valuations. I again ask the Honorary Minister whether, in view of the definite instances I have cited, he will have an inquiry made? I wish to know beyond all doubt whether the Federal Land Tax Commissioner is satisfied that these valuations are correct.
– I see no reason why the Federal Land Tax Commissioner should be urged to do any work in order to correct possible mistakes of State valuators. These valuations must be always approximate, and the honorable senator is of opinion that those made by the Federal officials are approximately correct. He apparently believes that the valuations by State officials in Tasmania are not correct; but I do not conceive it to be the duty of the Federal Treasurer, or of any of his officers, to investigate the accuracy of valuations made by State authorites.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 27 to 32 (Attorney-General’s Department), £6,438.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General if the Government have any information regarding statements appearing in the English newspapers, and also in the Australian press, on the subject of the probable appointment of the present Chief Justice of the High Court to the position of a Law Lord on the British Bench? It is just as well that this Parliament and the people of Australia should know exactly what the position is in regard to the appointment referred to.
– The Ministry have no information on the subject.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 33 to 39 (External Affairs Department), £36,228.
– Some few days ago I wrote to the Minister of External Affairs asking whether it is a fact that quite recently two boilermakers and a coppersmith had been introduced from the Old Country with the sanction of the Federal Government. I understand that these men are now working in Western Australia. Though sufficient time has elapsed for an answer to my communication, I have not so far had even the common courtesy of an acknowledgment df its receipt. Perhaps this is because the Minister of External Affairs is also following the ridiculous practice of refusing to answer questions whilst the vote of censure is hanging over the heads of Ministers. I ask the Honorary Minister now whether he .can inform me if the Federal authorities gave their Sanction to the introduction of these men, and if the unions concerned were asked whether such men were required in the Commonwealth. If the unions concerned were not consulted I would ask the Honorary Minister to say whether in future, when it is deemed advisable1 to bring artisans to Australia, the Federal Government will consult the unions concerned ?
.- Senator Needham is aware that I could not have seen the letter which he addressed to the Minister of External Affairs. He will agree with me that unless something extraordinary happens the Minister will extend to him the courtesy which might rightly be expected from him, and will reply to his communication at the earliest possible moment.
– Ten days have elapsed since I wrote. . .
– As the matter has been brought under my notice, I undertake to ask the Minister of External Affairs about it.
.- I should like to be informed as to the amount standing to the credit of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, and the number of persons in each State who receive contributions from the fund.
– I am sorry that I am unable to supply the information asked for. The matter is properly the subject of a question upon notice, and if such question is put I have no doubt it will be answered.
– I thought the honorable ‘ senator might have the items of the vote before him.
– I have not the items before me. The Bill is based on the Estimates of last year, and does not diverge from them in any particular.
– I see an item for “ extraordinary maintenance,” Port Augusta railway, and I should like to know what is meant by “ extraordinary maintenance “ ?
– Something out of the ordinary.
– I can only tell Senator Rae that the item means what it says, and refers to some maintenance in connexion with the railway which is not ordinary maintenance.
– I wanted to know the facts.
– I am sorry I am not in a position to give the facts.
– No doubt, during the session, we shall have several opportunities of referring to items connected with the important Department of External Affairs. I rose especially with the object of referring to certain misstatements by the Minister of Defence with regard to an officer whose salary is provided for in the vote for the External Affairs Department. I wish to refer to what I describe as the uncalled-for remarks made by Senator Millen concerning the qualifications possessed by Mr. George Ryland, Director of Lands in the Northern Territory. It was not the first occasion on which references have been made to the qualifications of that gentleman for the position he holds. As a matter of fact, throughout Queensland and New South Wales - I cannot speak definitely for Victoria and the other States - a good deal of political capital was made during the recent election campaign out of that gentleman’s appointment by the late Government.
– The honorable senator surely does not think that they missed Victoria with that sort of stuff?
– I cannot believe that they did, but I shall leave it to my honorable friend to deal with that. I wish to say, as one who had the pleasure and honour of being associated with Mr. Ryland in the Queensland Parliament for many years, that his knowledge of land questions is very extensive. That Mr. Ryland ‘s knowledge of the land question is very extensive no man knows better than does the late Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher. Some honorable senators may be equally familiar with his qualifications for the position to which he has been appointed. I do not say that he is the only man in Australia who can fill that office. My only object in rising is to defend a public officer, who has been unjustly treated, from the unpardonable slanders which have been hurled at him by the Minister of Defence. One of the stock-in-trade arguments advanced at the last election was that Mr. Ryland was a Labour man. That was his only disqualification ! How dare he be a Labour man, and how dare he be a strong supporter of the Labour party ?
– He is not cultured, you know.
– He cannot say “ heehaw.”
– I do know that he was one of the most intellectual men we had in our Queensland Labour party, and, indeed, in our State Parliament. When I tell honorable senators that for many years he occupied a position on the Lands Committee of our party, and that he was charged with the responsibility of preparing amendments to all Land Bills coming before that Parliament, they will recognise that I am justified in saying that he is well qualified for the office which he now fills. It was hinted yesterday that his chief disqualification was that he was a supporter of the Labour party, and also that he occupied an important position in the Public Service of the Commonwealth as the result of the late Government having given effect to the doctrine of “ spoils to the victors.” I believe that the late Government appointed Professor Gilruth Administrator of the Northern Territory. Did they do so on account of his professed Labour principles? I believe that they appointed Mr. Justice Bevan to his position in the Territory. Is he a Labour man? I do not think that any of us know what are his political convictions. Then I understand that the late Attorney-General recommended the appointment of Judge Murray to Papua, and so satisfied was the present High Commissioner with his selection that when he came into office he confirmed that appointment. During the course of the debate yesterday Dr. Jensen’s name was mentioned. Nobody who knows that gentleman, or who is acquainted with his work, will question his fitness for the position which he occupies. He is one of the big authorities on geology in Australia, a fact that has been recognised by no less a man than Professor David.
– But he was a member of the Labour League.
– If that is to be considered a disqualification, things have reached a pretty pass.
– Did Mr. Ryland draw his salary during the time that he was on strike?
– I am not seized of that information. I have no doubt that if the honorable senator makes an inquiry at the Department of External Affairs it will be supplied to him. I have no wish to unduly labour this question. [ hold strongly that only efficiency and ability should guide Ministers in their choice of men to fill important public positions. I should like to ask whether the Honorary Minister can tell us .why, under the heading “ Northern Territory,” no money has been allocated to item No. 5, which relates to immigration?
– I do not think it is very often that a Minister is asked why a blank appears in a Supply Bill.
– I thought that the Government were in favour of immigration? Has there been a change of policy ?
– No. But it is not necessary to set apart any sum for the purposes of immigration in this Supply Bill.
– I wish to direct attention to the item “ Advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, £1,000.” I would point out that as the result of alluring advertisements, inserted, I presume, by direction of the High Commissioner, no doubt with a very laudable object, a large number of persons, who expect to get cheap and good land here, but who are unable to do so under existing conditions, are being attracted to Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 40 to 80 (Defence Department), £200,090.
– I am informed that the Government have decided that the postal, uniforms which the Commonwealth Clothing Factory has been engaged in. making, apart from the uniforms for the. Naval and Military Forces, are to be manufactured by contract, and that, consequently, fifty employes have been discharged. I wish to ask the Honorary Minister if this step is the result of the decision indicated in the policy statement to substitute the contract system for that of day labour, and whether naval and military uniforms will also be manufactured under contract? I may say that it wasthe intention of the late Government toconsiderably extend the functions of the Clothing Factory, and with that end in view they had increased the machinery installed there, and also the size of thefactory itself. Does the manufacture of postal uniforms under the contract system represent the beginning of a policy to practically close down the factory? I know* that the Government claim to be an anti-Socialistic Government, and as thisfactory is an instalment of Socialism, they will be quite consistent in closingit down, and getting all these uniformsmade under contract. There is just oneother matter that I desire to mention. During the debate in this chamber lastevening, the Minister of Defence, whenasked what expert advice the Government intended to get outside of Australia, in regard to the location of the naval’ dockyard at Cockburn Sound, replied that what was being done was the result of a minute, which he read, by the first naval member of the Board. That minute; indicated that the first naval member of the Board was not satisfied that sufficient expert advice was available in the Department. I asked him what was the date of that minute, and he replied 12th August. 1 would remind honorable senators that the House of Representatives reassembled on that very day, and when it met in the afternoon, the policy statement was already in print, and had been circulated amongst honorable members. That policy statement contained a paragraph to the effect that the Government had decided to obtain expert advice outside of the Commonwealth regarding the location of the dockyard site.
– I think that the honorable senator is in error.
– No, I am not. I wish to know whether that advice was received and considered by the Cabinet only that very day. If the document was penned on 12th August, unless the first naval member of the Board was at the Cabinet meeting, it is hard to believe that that minute was considered, a decision upon it arrived at, and a printed reference made to it in the policy statement, all in the brief space of one morning.
– Unwittingly, Senator Pearce has fallen “into error. When I was sitting on the Treasury bench yesterday, alongside Senator Millen, I happened to see the very memorandum to which the honorable senator has referred. The Minister of Defence quoted, not only that memorandum, but also something which confirmed it. I can assure Senator Pearce that he is in error-
– Oh, no; I have seen the Hansard proof of the debate.
– The honorable senator is in error in assuming that the date of that particular recommendation was 12th August.
– I am not. I am absolutely certain about it.
– I have not the papers here, but I will give an undertaking to supply the honorable senator with the date of the minute to which he has referred. In regard to his reference to the Cabinet meeting, I can assure him that he is in error. As to the question of the manufacture of uniforms, he knows perfectly well that the explanation of what has been done is not that which he suggests. As a matter of fact, very con siderable difficulty is experienced in getting the clothing factory to supply sufficient uniforms for military requirements at the present time.
– Then why put off fifty hands?
– The honorable senator did not say that we put off fifty hands who were engaged in making military uniforms.
– The Government have discharged fifty hands who were employed in making postal and military uniforms.
– I would like the Honorary Minister to inform the Committee what are the intentions of the Government in regard to securing further expert advice as to the exact location of the Naval Base at Cockburn Sound ? The Minister of Defence stated yesterday that, whilst the present Director of Naval Works - Mr. Fanstone - is a conscientious officer, he has not the requisite skill or experience to properly advise the Government as to the exact location of a site. That is recorded in the Minister’s speech; and I want to know whether it is the intention of the Government to supplant Mr. Fanstone or to supersede him.
– It will be remembered that Senator Millen referred to the subject mentioned by Senator Needham last night. He dwelt on the point, and assured the Senate that he was doing his utmost to obtain that further investigation which he considered necessary. He said, moreover, that at present he had not decided what was to be done.
– May I suggest to Senator Needham that he can very soon find out the name of the “expert” who has decided that Jervoise Bay is not the best site for a naval base. If my honorable friend will refer to pages 355 and 414 of Hansard of the present session, he will discover that no less an important naval engineer than Sir John Forrest has declared that Mangles Bay, Rockingham, is a far better site than Jervoise Bay, which was recommended by Admiral Henderson.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [8.58]. - Seeing that the Minister in charge cannot give the explanation for which I asked, I wish to thank the exMinister of Defence for referring mo to Sir John Forrest, as the present Commonwealth naval engineer.
– That appointment has not yet been confirmed !
.- rAs Mr. Fanstone seems to have “ filled the bill “ very efficiently, and to be a capable man, all I can say is that if he meets with the fate that other capable men have encountered from this Government he will be getting what we might reasonably expect. Apparently victimization is part and parcel of the policy of the Ministry. As for the Cockburn Sound Naval Base, if it is removed from the site recommended by Admiral Henderson, I suggest that we shall have to institute another investigation into the reasons for the change of policy. It will be necessary for us to probe the matter, in order to see who are the owners of the foreshore at Mangles Bay.
.- During my remarks before the dinner adjournment, I made some reference to a matter affecting Senator Clemons. It has been a matter of public talk in Launceston, where I reside, and is, I consider, a reflection on every Tasmanian representative in this Legislature. I myself, on several occasions, have heard the mothers of children taking exception to the compulsory provisions of our Defence Act, which renders it obligatory upon them to send their children for military training, and objecting to this duty being fulfilled by them, whilst at the same time, an attempt has been made by Senator Clemons, an Honorary Minister in this Government, to evade the obligations as far as his own children are concerned.
I take it that we, as members of this Parliament, are called upon to set an example in reference to the proper observance of our laws. If we ourselves show a desire to break any provision of any Act of this Parliament, we are setting the worst sort of example to those who send us here, and to the people of Australia generally. I shall refer to actual facts. Senator Clemons, as may be known to some honorable senators, occupies a very convenient corner house in Launceston. Some months ago the lieutenant commanding area 92b wrote to him, assuming that he lived in Welmanstreet, Launceston, pointing out that he was not observing the compulsory provi sions of the Defence Act in relation to his children. Senator Clemons replied to the effect that he did not live in the area in question. The corner block on which his house is situated has one front to High-street, and therefore he claimed that he was not living in the area of which Welman-street is a part. That was surely a flimsy excuse, and a bad example to set in relation to evading the responsibilities of military training.
– Does he admit that he lives in Tasmania?
– I think he admits that. In fact, he claims to represent, or misrepresent, the State at the present time. The .officer for the area in which High-street is situated thereupon wrote to him, but Senator Clemons continued to put up a fight against his boys being trained. Whether he objected to them . mixing with the common herd or not, I do not know. Whether he thought that it was infra dig. for his sons to be trained alongside the sons of common people, I do not know. But, for some reason, he did not wish to have them trained, and he secured a certificate from Dr. Irvine, of Launceston, to the effect that they were not fit for training - that they were not up to the standard required. I have yet to learn that there is any standard set.
– Oh yes, there is.
– Not as far as height and weight are concerned.
– Oh yes, there is.
– There may be. Anyhow, when that certificate from Dr. Irvine was sent in, the military authorities refused to accept it, and again demanded that Senator Clemons’ boys should be trained. As I stated previously, Senator Clemons then proceeded to the office and added a new star- to his laurels by roundly abusing the officer who had had the temerity to suggest that he, Senator Clemons, should send his boys to be trained.
– I expect that that officer will share the fate of Mr. Chinn.
– He may get his walking ticket. Fortunately for the officer, it was not from him that I obtained my information. I got it from some one else, who was just as reliable.
– That will not save him. He will have to go.
– Amongst other things, Senator Clemons asked how
Sergeant-major Johnston, who had insisted that the lads should be trained, dared to speak to him “ like this.” When a responsible man tries in this way to evade his legal responsibilities, it is a bad thing for the State which he represents. I give credit to the military authorities of the State for permitting no exception in this case. They insisted that the boys should be examined by the responsible medical Area Officer, and he at once determined that they were fit for training. Accordingly, the boys were put into the ranks, and they are undergoing training at the present time.
I give the military authorities full credit for what they did in this case. But I do say that we, as representatives of Tasmania, have no right to subject officers to insult for insisting that we shall fulfil our responsibilities as far as our children are concerned. We on this side are quite willing to have our boys trained. I think it is about due to the Senate that some explanation should be made as to the action of the honorable senator in reference to this matter, and as to whether he considers there is any reason why an exception should be made in his own case ? Because he is a senator of Australia, I do not think that he has any right to browbeat officers in order to escape, as far as his own children are concerned, the responsibilities that attach to the children of other citizens of this country.
.- Yesterday we had a battle royal between the Minister of Defence and the exMinister in regard to the suitability or otherwise of a certain selected site of a Naval Base in Western Australia. I dc not think that there is any disposition, or any need, to discuss matters of defence in a heated or partisan spirit. I trust that it will be found, after inquiry, that the harbor at Cockburn Sound picked out by Admiral Henderson is suitable for a Naval Base. There has been considerable discussion in regard to the matter, which evidently is still at issue. One of the points relate to the existence or nonexistence of a sufficient depth’ of water at certain entrances to the Sound on the shores of which, the naval base is proposed to be established.
– The honorable senator is getting into deep water.
– I know a little about the matter, though I do not pro fess to be an expert. It must be remembered that there have been considerable differences of opinion in regard to harbor works in various parts of Australia, and that since Admiral Henderson’s visit changes of- some importance have taken place in some localities. Whilst the general principles laid down in the Admiral’s report may be adhered to, it is quite conceivable that alterations in detail may be permissible. The Marine Board of Launceston some time ago brought out from the United Kingdom an eminent engineer, who has made a careful examination of the upper and lower reaches of the River Tamar. I understand that Admiral Henderson advised the construction of a naval sub-base at Beauty Point, in the lower waters of the Tamar, and on the improvement of the harbor. It was largely in consequence of his report that the Marine Board of Launceston determined to spend £400,000 on the removal of obstructions in the Tamar. I do not think that Admiral Henderson had any knowledge that a work of that kind was in contemplation. But the fact that Mr Hunter was brought out at the expense of the Marine Board, and has made a careful report upon the suitability of the Tamar for harbor works to accommodate ocean-going ships, makes all the difference in the situation. I venture to suggest to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence that the contemplated site of a naval sub-base in the Tamar may be advanced in consideration in view of the fact that it is now- shown to be capable of being constituted an impregnable fortress as strong as Port Arthur. Before Australia can be regarded as properly defended she will have to have several Port Arthurs around her shores. I remind honorable senators, that the Tamar disembogues into Bass Strait, which may be regarded as the commercial High-street or the marine Bourke-street of Australia. It is absolutely essential that there should be a strong fortification in the vicinity df that Strait.
– I should imagine from the turbulent nature of the waters of Bass Strait that it is the Little Bourkestreet of Australia !
– The honorable senator evidently possesses a considerable knowledge of Little Bourke-street, or he would not have instituted such a comparison. I suggest to the Minister of
Defence that he should take into serious consideration the fact that the projected harbor works in the Tamar will provide a depth of no less than 60 feet right up to the site of the suggested sub-base; and that the Tamar disembogues at right angles into one of the great marine highways of Australia, providing a safe harbor for vessels at a distance of only about 200 miles from this important city in which the Legislature of the Commonwealth is sitting.
– I desire to refer to certain action which was taken in July last by the military authorities in Toowoomba in respect of defaulting cadets. Fifteen lads were charged in the Summons Division of the Police Court, before Mr. Harris, P.M., at the instance of Adjutant Hutchin, Lieutenant Penrose, and Captain Barlow, with not having put in the required number of drills in accordance with the Defence Act. I admit, of course, that a boy should be made to put in the necessary drills. These boys were found guilty, and, instead of being called upon to serve their detention in Toowoomba, they were taken down to Lytton Fortress, at the mouth of the Brisbane River, and kept there. That is, I think, introducing an element of militarism into the defence system which was never contemplated. I have no desire to belabour this matter, but I strongly protest against the action of the military authorities, as the boys might easily have served their detention in Toowoomba district, and without any difficulty, so far as the Defence Force was concerned. I trust that the Minister will be good enough to bring the matter under the notice of the Inspector-General, and ascertain whether it was really necessary to take the boys about 120 miles to the mouth of the Brisbane River, and make them serve from fifteen to twenty days in a fortress.
– Do you say that the boys were taken over 100 miles from their homes?
– Yes. This extract was not taken from a Labour newspaper, but from the Darling Downs Gazette, one of the strongest Tory papers in Queensland.
– I shall have an inquiry made into this matter. I have noted the date and the places, and if the honorable senator has any further information to give I shall be very glad to get it.
– I shall be very pleased to hand the extract to the Minister.
– I desire to know if the Minister of Defence intends to carry out the minute of his predecessor that no solicitors were to be employed in the prosecution of cadets. I see by the Sydney newspapers that the present Government have resorted to the employment of solicitors for that purpose.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 81 to 92(Trade and Customs). £32,007,
– I desire to make a few remarks about the sugar industry in Queensland, in which we are all interested. It will be remembered that during the last campaign it was heralded all over Australia that as the result of Labour legislation during the last three years the sugar industry had been severely crippled. For weeks prior to election day the leading Conservative journal in Queensland, the Courier, had a. standing heading indicating some of the things which the Fisher Government had accomplished, and amongst other things was a “ Crippled Sugar Industry.” For the information of honorable senators I wish to read a few lines from the Budget speech delivered by the Treasurer of Queensland on the night before last, and reported in the Melbourne newspapers of yesterday -
The sugar season promised splendid returns, and, coupled with recent legislation, should go far to place the industry on a firm footing.
I have here various extracts from leading newspapers circulating in the sugar districts, stating that this year’s crop will be a record.
– Under the head of” Quarantine,” I wish to ask the Minister what further steps, if any, the Ministry intend to take in regard to the small-pox epidemic which broke out in Sydney some time ago. It appears to me that they are either doing too much or too little. I have no personal complaint to make, as I was one of those who were vaccinated at a very early stage. The position is a serious one. It is having an important effect upon the trade and commerce of not only Sydney, but places trading with Sydney. I think that more energetic steps might be taken to stamp out the plague than are being taken. To think that there is any virtue in declaring a certain area within a radius of 15 miles of the Sydney General Post Office a quarantine area is to run away with a fallacy, because, in a sense, that area is npt really quarantined. A person living in, or occupying temporarily, a building in the area, or going through the area, if he wishes to go to an adjacent State, is prevented from crossing the border unless he complies with certain conditions. At the same time, people from other parts pf New South Wale? move freely into the quarantine area, and from that area into other parts pf the State. Unless a personal watch is kept over every individual leaving Sydney, there is no doubt that, after a short residence in some other part of New South Wales, there might be no great difficulty in getting across the border north, south, pr west. Again, in very many cases, the vaccination has failed to take, owing, presumably, to some fault in the lymph. The trade and commerce of the city, in fact, of the whole State, is being seriously interfered with without the proclamation having the desired effect of retaining the epidemic within the con.fines pf Sydney, where it originated More effective steps, I think, should be taken. I have no doubt that the officials are doing the best within their know.ledge; but that some other steps should be taken appear to me to’ be necessary. If a person were found to be suffering from the disease, and the premises in which he .was found were isolated, and the patient and the contacts were taken to the quarantine station, that might effect just as good results as the present method of instituting a quarantine area, and then allowing the inhabitants to roam freely in and out of the area. This disease has been prevalent in Sydney for many weeks, and there does not seem, by present indications, to Be any reasonable chance of it being stamped out for a considerable time. If the Ministry are so fond of recognising the rights and the susceptibilities of the States, let them take more vigorous action in conjunction with the State Government if they will. We know that political exigencies or some other reasons have prevented the State Government from making up their mind as to what legislation should be brought forward, and, if brought forward, no one knows what its fate will be. We must realize that, quite apart from the interests of New South Wales, the danger menacing other States is a continuous one, and that the trade and commerce between New South Wales and other States is being seriously impeded. The Government should not rest content merely with the action which has been taken. While they may have done all they could at the outset, they are not following up that action with the energy or the consistency necessary to meet an epidemic of a serious character, as this one has proved itself to be. I trust that the Government will indicate in what way they intend to use their powers and their influence to stamp out the plague. In these Estimates I see an item of £250 for salaries in New South Wales, and £350 for contingencies. Of course, this money is only required for the current month; but, as similar amounts are expended in Victoria, I take it that no special effort is being made by the Federal authorities to stamp out the disease. If the State authorites are not doing enough, it is *’ up to “ the Federal authorities, who have ample power, to protect the health of the community in any part of Australia and to take more energetic action than is indicated by theses Estimates.
– I assure Senator Rae that the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Director of Quarantine,, fully realize the gravity of the present situation, and that their efforts are not being relaxed; in fact, have never been relaxed since the outbreak took, place. There is every reason, without being unduly optimistic, to hope that theoutbreak is drawing to an end. I almost fear to use such words here now, but I believe that there are indications, and the Minister is advised that there is every reason for hoping, that we are going toreach the end of this trouble. Senator Rae will also recognise that it is a difficult question to deal with. He seemed’ rather to criticise us for being lenient. 1 can assure him that the Ministry and theDepartment have suffered very severely from criticism in the opposite direction. Accusations of all sorts are being levelled at us daily.
– What I complained of was that more effective measures have not* been taken.
– It is quite obvious that the existence of the disease must seriously affect the trade and commerce of New South Wales, and, incidentally, of every other State. We have to consider that. If we were to enlarge the quarantine area, it would be a purely arbitrary enlargement.
– I do not suggest that.
– I gathered from the honorable senator that, in his opinion, the 15-miles area was not sufficient.
– What I suggested was that the 15-miles area is no good, and the Government would do just as much good if they isolated each case as it was discovered.
– I can assure the honorable senator that every effort will be made by enforcing vaccination, by isolation, and by taking all precautions with regard to contacts suggested by the best authorities to prevent the spread of small-pox. The gravity of the situation is recognised to-day quite as much as it was when the epidemic first broke out.
– I should like to have some information with respect to the item, “ No. 1 - Commerce Act expenses - £700.” This is a vote for expenditure in Queensland, and as we know nothing of it in that State, I should like to ascertain just what it means.
– It is a vote to provide for the salaries of meat export inspectors in Queensland.
– I am obliged for the information. I should like the Minister now to inform honorable senators when it is likely that the regulations for the administration of the Navigation Act will be prepared? This is a most important matter, and it is due to the country that some answer should be given to the question. The administration of the Act will affect thousands of people around our coast, and tremendous interests are involved. Many years of hard work in this, and in another Chamber, were found necessary to secure the passing of that legislative instrument.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) [9.27J. - I remind the honorable senator that information of the Royal assent to the measure referred to was received here by cable, and the Act must be proclaimed before there can be any regulations framed under it.
– Can the honorable senator give us any idea as to when it is likely to be proclaimed?
– The honorable senator will know that it is not likely that the Act will be proclaimed until the Royal assent to it has been confirmed.
– Perhaps the Minister will say what reason there iB for the proclamation of the Act before regulations under it can be framed. The Act has been assented to, and it appears to me that there is no reason why regulations should not now be framed for its practical operation.
– The honorable senator probably knows that regulations under an Act are not proceeded with until it is proclaimed.
– I refer to the work of framing regulations. I see no reason why that work should not be taken in hand at once, so that regulations for the practical working of the Act may be ready when it is proclaimed.
– Regulations are, as a rule, of gradual growth, and suggested by experience in the working of an Act.
– The regulations, if framed now, would, of course, be open to review.
– I suggest that we should not spend our time in making and unmaking regulations.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 93 to 101 (Some Affairs Department), £43,035.
– In connexion with .the transAustralian railway, a statement recently appeared in the Melbourne Herald to the effect that the question now being considered by the Government was whether it would be more economical and satisfactory to employ a private firm of surveyors to carry out the work of survey at so much per mile. The reference was to the permanent survey of the railway, and it was stated that the probable cost was over £60 per mile, or a total of between £60,000 and £70,000 for the whole route. I wish to know from the Honorary Minister if this statement may be regarded as a further proof of the intention of the present Government to have all this kind of- work done by contract, and, so far as they can, to abolish the day labour system for carrying out public works established by their predecessors?
– I should like to learn from the Minister in charge of the Bill the cost per mile, or in any other form, of so much of the re-survey of the transAustralian railway as has been carried out from the Kalgoorlie end of the line. I do not refer to the original survey of the line, which we know cost about £20,000. It would appear that that survey has been found of very little use, and that the new route has been followed.
– The chief engineer of this line is now in Melbourne, and is being consulted with regard to the surveys. I know that they are being pushed on with as fast as possible. In answer to Senator Needham’s question, I may say that I am assured that it is customary to have surveys carried out by contract, and in this case the policy of the Government on the method to be adopted in carrying out public works does not come into question.
. -Referring to the vote of £6,000 put down for “Defence” in connexion with works and buildings, I should like to say that there is to-day in course of erection at Geelong a Federal woollen mill. That work was decided upon by the late Administration, and the erection of the building was being proceeded with on the day labour system. On the advent of the present Government to power an announcement appeared in various newspapers of their intention to substitute the contract system for the day labour system in the carrying but of public works. I wish to know whether the Honorary Minister has ary information as to whether the day labour system has been abolished in connexion with the erection of the woollen mill at Geelong. If it has, I should like to know whether the Government intend to call for tenders for the completion of the work?
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania - Honorary Minister) [9.351. - I have no information with regard to the particular item referred to, but if tenders are called the fact will come within the honorable senator’s knowledge immediately. So far as I personally know, nothing has been decided, on the point raised, in connexion with the particular work to which the honorable senator has referred.
, - I wish to touch upon a phase of the perennially interesting electoral ques tion. We have heard a good deal to-day and . yesterday upon electoral matters, and I wish to make some inquiries, and possibly comments, in connexion with the votes for electoral officers. I wish specially to refer to persons temporarily employed at election time. We have had accusations and cross accusations about the way in which electors are enrolled and votes are used ; but I want to touch upon the method of appointment and control of temporary electoral officers. In the conduct of an election it frequently happens that one candidate has the means to employ scrutineers at every polling booth in an electorate, whilst a candidate opposing him may not be in a position to do so. Labour candidates, for instance, are generally dependent upon the good will of friends and enthusiasts in . their cause to help them in this way where they can, but in many outside places it is impossible to find persons who ‘ can devote the necessary time to the work of a scrutineer. It is a base fabrication, as every one knows, but we are often twitted with appointing friends to political offices; but I say that the number of temporary electoral officers who are open, undisguised supporters of our political opponents is a scandal throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. I make that statement without fear of refutation, however much it may be contradicted. But for the very large number of such persons holding subordinate positions at election time, 50 per cent, of the members representing the other side in this Parliament would not have succeeded in being elected. I believe that our elections have to a great extent been corrupt by reason of the fact that the persons having sole control of little country polling booths have been our political opponents.
– Seriously, the honorable senator surely does not desire that we should have secured fewer members than we did at the last election ?
– I am speaking of the whole Parliament, and not merely of this branch of it. I feel very sad that I should have only four honorable senators opposite to tackle. I can mention concrete instances in support of what I have said. I am morally certain that but for the action of those who had the counting of the votes two seats which were lost to the Labour party would now be in their possession. I refer to the districts of Riverina and Hume. I believe it was through the inability of the candidates of our party to find scrutineers to look after their interests at polling booths in the remote parts of those electorates that our opponents gained those seats. Had we the means of contesting the validity of these elections in the highest Courts of the land, I believe that my suspicions would be amply confirmed.
– I wonder what the honorable senator would say if we talked of fraud in that way.
– The honorable senator’s party has already done so. Its members have made the most wholesale charges. The Honorary Minister backed up the statement of his colleague - the Minister of Defence - that 80,000 names had been wrongly put on the New South Wales electoral rolls on the eve of a general election.
– I have not said anything about fraud.
– But the Honorary Minister did not contradict his colleague. I say there are ample indications to justify the belief that, at least, one of the referenda proposals submitted at the recent general election was carried if the votes were honestly counted. I refer to the proposal to amend the Constitution so as to enable the Commonwealth to legislate more effectively in regard to trusts. According to the published returns, that proposal was defeated by 7,000 or 8,000 votes. Nevertheless, I am firmly of opinion that if an honest scrutiny of the votes could be made, my statement would be found to be correct. I believe, further, that in New South Wales at least two seats, possibly more, would be found to have been won by the Labour party if the elections had been conducted in a straightforward manner. I refer to the electorates of Riverina and Hume.
– I thought that the Labour party had no candidate in one of those electorates
– I admit that the honorable senator has caught me verbally tripping. What I meant to convey was that two of the Liberal candidates would not have been returned to this Parliament. Mr. Chanter would have been elected for Riverina, and the late Sir William Lyne would have been triumphant for Hume. I say that the money of our opponents - I do not know where they got it, but I think I can guess pretty accurately - has been used in scores of illegitimate ways to further their interests. In this connexion I would like to relate a little incident which came within my own personal knowledge. Mr. Richard Parkhill, general secretary of the Liberal Association in New South Wales, wrote a letter to a newspaper there, which was being run in the Labour interests, but which happened to be called The Liberal. Thinking that it was being conducted in the Liberal interests, Mr. Parkhill forwarded a circular letter to it, in which he stated that he was pleased to know that a journal under the good old name of Liberal had been started, and in which he offered to supply it with leading articles, promising that any article so supplied would not be furnished to any other newspaper in the same town. He concluded by counselling the editor to “ Throw plenty of mud at the Labour party. Some of it is bound to stick.”
– Has the honorable senator seen that letter 1
– I know men of unimpeachable veracity who have seen it.
– Then I doubt their unimpeachable veracity.
– I do not. I know it.
– Look at what the honorable senator could do with such a letter if he could produce it.
– If I once got hold of it, I should very soon have it photographed.
– If the honorable senator cannot produce it, would it not be wise to refrain from mentioning it!
– I mention the incident merely to indicate the policy which was pursued by even the most honorable members of the party opposite - the policy of throwing plenty of mud at the Labour party in the hope that some of it will stick. That was their motto all round, and they acted up to it most diligently. Even the most pleasant men in private life circulated all sorts of distorted misrepresentations of the Labour policy and the Labour movement. But our opponents did not stop there. They attempted to squeeze into the position of presiding officers and poll clerks some of the most biassed men to be found in the Commonwealth. Within a few miles of where I live I know one member of a family, the whole of whom are active supporters of the Fusion party, who was secretary to a Liberal candidate while acting as presiding officer at a polling booth.
– Was that candidate returned ?
SenatorRAE. - Yes. It was in the Nepean electorate. In addition to being secretary to the Liberal candidate, this same individual squeezed one of his sons into the position of presiding officer at a smaller polling booth. Such practices were rampant all over the State which I represent. The blame which rests on our party is that when it was in office it did not go far enough towards clearing out all of these persons whose biassed, and in some cases corrupt, conduct is largely responsible for the existence in this Parliament of any remnant of the Liberal party. I trust that a change will be rapidly made, and that we shall not again be called upon to witness the spectacle of fathers, brothers, and sons being poked into the position of presiding officers and poll clerks whilst openly advocating the cause of particular candidates at a general election. One of the reasons why this sort of thing has not been more effectively dealt with is that the Electoral Department can deal only with charges which are actually proved against an officer. The Returning Officer in each electoral division appoints his subordinates, and unless a specific complaint is made and sheeted home in regard to any one of them the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth takes no action. The power has to filter through so many channels that the central authority practically exercises no effective control over these officials. If our friends opposite who’ so loudly profess to desire electoral purity desire to touch the spot which is sore, they will make a complete alteration in this system. If they wish to insure purity in our elections, that is where they can exercise their talents to greater advantage than they can in libelling the electors of this country.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.48].- The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has complained of mudslinging, but in a quiet way he has been slinging a great deal of mud in regard to the last election. In the first place, he made an attack on Mr. Parkhill, the secretary of the Liberal Association in New South Wales. He has quoted from his recollection of what somebody has told him regarding a letter which Mr. Parkhill is alleged to have written. I dare say that there was a letter addressed to newspapers in different portions of the country offering to supply them with leading articles if they so desired. But I do not believe that the instruction was given to sling mud at the Labour party. The man who would write that sort of thing would be a very great fool. If the letter in question existed, Senator Rae would have it in his possession. He would not be approached by a person who would tell him “ Such a letter is in existence, but I will not give it to you.”
– It has been given to some one else, who will make use of it.
– Until it is produced, I decline to believe that any such expression as Senator Rae has alleged is used in it.
– The same statement was made in South Australia.
– I do not know that any such letter was written in South Australia. The policy of the Liberal party in’ New South Wales was not a policy of misrepresenting the Labour party. It was a fair, honest, straightforward fight from beginning to end. I have no doubt that when we do manage to get to the people again, it will be found that the verdict recorded the other day will be repeated. The electorates to which Senator Rae has alluded were fought very hard, but the fight was straight. The men returned for those two constituencies would be incapable of lending themselves to anything that was unfair. We ask for proof when these charges are made. If honorable senators opposite will take the trouble to read the letters that were written by the late Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. King O’Malley, with reference to the appointment of presiding officers, they would conclude at once that these lambs - these sweet, innocent, white, pure lambs - who represent Labour, were not quite so unsophisticated as they make themselvesout to be.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 102 to 111 (PostmasterGeneral’s Department), £351,420.
– I should like to know what action is being taken in connexion with the erection of a new general post-office at Perth. Some time ago, an area was resumed in Wellington-street for the purpose of the building. I understand that plans are in course of preparation, and almost completed. Recently, the Chamber of Commerce, Perth, passed a resolution asking the Government not to erect the post-office in the centre of the resumed area in the new street proposed to be cut through from Wellington to Murray streets. The meeting desired that the post-office should be erected right on to Wellington- street, and an agitation to that end is still proceeding in Perth. The further suggestion has been made to the State architect of Western Australia that the Federal Government should abandon the site, and build the post-office on another one in James-street. As so much uncertainty surrounds the position, I should like the Minister to inform us where it is the intention of the Department to erect the building. I notice also that a bonus of £4 is to be paid to Mr. H. -Li. Hine, mechanical electrical engineer, Perth branch, in recognition of a suggestion made by him for an improved type of bicycle parcel carrier. Does the Minister consider that £4 is a sufficient reward to an officer of the Public Service who has suggested something which the Department considers to be good, and on which it has acted? I do not think thai so meagre a reward offers any encouragement to officers to make valuable suggestions for labour-saving appliances.
.- As to the site of the Perth post-office, I have made inquiries, and learn that negotiations are still proceeding, but nothing yet has been decided. The plans are not finished. I will give Senator Needham an undertaking to keep him posted with reference to the matter, and to let him know what stage the negotiations may reach in the near future. With regard to the other matter mentioned, Senator Needham will agree with me that I cannot be expected to say straight off whether £4 is a sufficient reward for the suggestion made by the officer in question. The amount of the reward must obviously depend on the value of the improvement effected. I may, however, say that I approve of the principle of rewarding officers for such useful services.
.- I venture to ask a question of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, and trust that he will so far unbend as to give me the information I desire. Lovett, in Tasmania, is a thriving township. Widespread and profound dissatisfaction has been expressed from time to time by its inhabitants on account of the present mail service. Representations have been made to the members of this Parliament and to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, but, so far, no improvement has been effected. The mail service, having regard to the size of the township, and the importance of the district, is absolutely the worst, not only in southern Tasmania, but in the whole island. It is altogether behind the requirements. The people are afforded only a single service - out in the morning and back at night. The revenue is within £150 per annum of that of Franklin, an adjoining town. But Franklin has an up-to-date double service by motor. Lovett, on the other hand, has an inadequate horse service of a particularly unsatisfactory character. I suggest that it should be given a motor service in accordance with the size and importance of the place. Will the Minister have inquiries made, and instruct his officers to see whether something can be done for this part of the State which he represents.
– What is the population?
– The population of the district must be between 2,000 and 3,000. Considering the general progressiveness of the place, the service is a disgrace to the Postal Department.
– A note has been made of the honorable senator’s observations, and I shall be glad to intimate to him the result of inquiries which will be conducted.
– I wish to draw attention to a matter which has engaged the attention of many people in Tasmania for a long time, and of successive Commonwealth Administrations, all of which have exhibited a curious paralysis, or rather, hesitancy, in regard to it. The south-west of Tasmania is one of the most inhospitable regions in the whole Commonwealth, and uninhabited by savage or civilized man. In recent years there have been several disastrous shipwrecks there. In one case> an unfortunate sailor was marooned on the south-west coast, just like Alexander Selkirk on his island, and it was several months before he was discovered. Negotiations were proceeding at one time between the Commonwealth Government and the Tasmanian Government in regard to affording telegraphic or telephonic communication with Port Davey, where the Tasmanian Government has established a depot containing food for prospective shipwrecked mariners. But the Commonwealth Government has hitherto failed to furnish a service such as is absolutely essential to the relief of unfortunate mariners who may be cast upon that grim and desolate shore. Throughout the period of the previous Government, the curious hesitancy to which I have referred was particularly exhibited. One or two Scandinavian vessels have been completely lost on this coast. It is known that the crews reached the mainland, but evidently in an effort to penetrate this inhospitable region the unfortunate sailors perished in circumstances which it needs no stretch of imagination to realize were the most pitiable that could be conceived.
– I thought that Tasmania was an isle of beauty.
Senator BAKHAP__ It is an isle of beauty. ‘Even the most inhospitable parts of Tasmania would compare favorably with some of the desert regions of the State which Senator McGregor has the honour to represent. The Tasmanian State Engineer, Mr. Hartwell Conder, who is operating in connexion with the Mines Department’s scheme of prospecting, has recently stated that if a little alacrity had been displayed by the Commonwealth Government they would have been enabled very easily to construct a telephone line simultaneously with the making of tracks that he was cutting for the State Government. This would have given that communication which is absolutely essential if relief is to be afforded in such cases as I have described.
– Does not the fault lie with the Tasmanian Government?
– I trust that the representatives of the Government will take particular note of the needs of Tasmania in this regard.
, - I know that all that Senator Bakhap has said is justified by the facts, and I can assure him that the Government will take notice of what, he has urged.
.- I should like to call attention to an item affecting the vote for the State of Queensland. I shall be pleased if the Honorary Minister will have immediate inquiries instituted in regard to the statement that quite a number of line repairers in Queensland have had their wages reduced from 9s. to 8s. 6d. per day in spite of the fact that the cost of living is gradually going up, and that rents are increasing every week.
– I shall be glad to make an inquiry into this matter, and inform the honorable senator of the reBult.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 25 (Refund of Revenue), £20,000, and division 26 (Advance to Treasurer), £250,000, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill ‘ reported without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, loth September.
Senate adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 August 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19130828_SENATE_5_70/>.