5th Parliament · 1st Session
The PResident took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In the absence of the Minister of Defence. I wish to ask the Honorary Minister whether the Government are prepared at this stage to make a statement as to the reasons leading to the suspension of the Second Member of the Naval Board, and also what subsequent action they propose to take in respect to that officer? I very much regret that the Minister of Defence is not here.
– The question involves the serious consideration of a matter of policy, and before this sitting is concluded an opportunity will be availed of by the Minister of Defence to give a reply to Senator Pearce.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the Senate whether the contract for the Tasmanian mail service has yet been signed by the Government and the shipping companies, and also when it is anticipated that the new boat ordered by those companies will be put into the running and the service improved ?
– With regard to the first part of the inquiry, I ask Senator Ready to give notice of a question, if he wishes to get any information beyond that which I gave to the Senate yesterday. In regard to the second part of the inquiry, if I failed to give information to the Senate yesterday, I am only too glad to give it now. The date for putting the new boat in the trade is fixed at not later than the 1st September, 1915. It is the desire and the intention of the parties concerned to put the boat on earlier, if possible, but they are not bound to do so before the 1st September, 1915.
– Will the contract commence then?
– The contract, as I stated yesterday, will commence on the day on which the new boat takes up the running.
– Were any applications invited by the Government for the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland ; and, if not, why was not that course taken ?
– No tenders were called for, because it was absolutely imposible to expect that any tenders would be sent in.
– How do you know that?
– Is it provided in the agreement that the PostmasterGeneral shall have absolute power to prevent theUnion Steam-ship Company from increasing the freights and fares?
– I tried yesterday to make perfectly clear the position in regard to this point. The existing rates and freights cannot be increased during the currency of the agreement without the previous consent of the PostmasterGeneral having been obtained.
– The Honorary Minister has stated that no tenders were called for the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland, because the Government recognised that it would be of no use to take that course. Am I to understand from that statement that the Government recognise that there is a shipping combine in existence; that there is no competition, and that calling for tenders would be futile?
– The Government, probably equally well with the honorable senator, know and recognise what the position is in regard to the shipping round the Australian coast.
– It is a pity that they did not recognise it before the referenda vote.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the contract for the Tasmanian mail service will shortly be renewed for a term of years, will the Minister consider the advisability of securing the following provisions in the new contract : -
– The answers are : -
– In view of the fact that the constitution of the Senate is based upon the preservation of State interests, on behalf of New South Wales I wish to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to continue the policy of their predecessors in competing with the States for the Savings Bank business, more especially in view of the fact that the States are managing that business successfully?
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to argue the point, but only to make a statement of alleged facts.
– I shall leave the matter at that,sir.
– My answer to the question is that the policy of the present Government is opposed to the duplication of the State Savings Banks.
– Is it the intention of the Government this session to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act to that effect?
– In the circumstances I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– With reference to the competition between the Commonwealth and the States for Savings Bank business, is it in the power of the Government to alter the existing arrangement without introducing fresh legislation?
– I am sorry that I cannot answer the question off-hand. If the honorable senator wants an answer, T ask him to repeat the question, and I will see that he gets one.
– I should like the Honorary Minister to inform the Senate who is the Whip of the large party sitting opposite?
– -They are all crackers. I do not know who is Whip.
– It has always been the case when the Budget-papers have been tabled in another place for some action to be taken in the Senate, and I should like to know whether the Honorary Minister proposes to do so on this occasion ?
– I am glad that Senator Pearce has mentioned this matter. I was waiting for an opportunity to present the papers, but, of course, I cannot answer questions and lay papers on the table at the same time. I beg now to lay on the table the follo wing papers : -
– Do you not intend to give notice of a motion that the papers be printed?
– I intended to do that later. I have no objection to move now that the papers be printed.
– Give notice of a motion.
– I intended to take that course at a later stage, but I beg now to give notice of a motion for the next sitting day.
MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 244, 245, 246, 248, 249. Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired under, at -
Cunderdin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Mullally, New South. Wales - For Postal purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
South Brisbane, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Public Service Act 1 902-191 1. - Regulation. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 256.
Appointments of A. C. Brown, N. L. Shiels, and D. J. Wilkie as Assistant Examiners, Class F, Professional Division, Patents and Trade Marks Branch, Attorney-General’s Department.
“Director of Lands.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Within whose direct and ultimate disciplinary jurisdiction is the officer filling the position of Director of Works in the Northern Territory - that of the Minister, the Public Service Commissioner, or the Administrator of the Northern Territory?
– The answers are : -
As a consequence of his action in this matter the Director of Lands -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is the value of imported slate used by the Commonwealth Government each year, and is it likely that there will be much of it required in future?
– The answer is -
The value varies, but in any year it amounts to a relatively small sum, because, except in a few cases, it is the practice to use material other than slates for roofing buildings. It is unlikely that imported slate will be used to any appreciable extent in Commonwealth buildings in the future.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This question requires a little more attention than do ordinary questions to which Ministers are asked to reply. I therefore ask Senator Rae to allow sufficient time to elapse in order that the formality I have alluded to may be fully complied with, and to repeat his question on another day.
– Will this day week do?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the Senate copies of correspondence with respect to the engagement of Sir Maurice Fitzmauriceto report on Naval Bases?
– The Minister of Defence will reply to this question during the course of the sitting.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it not a fact that borings had been put downto a depth of 40 feet on both the Par melia and Success Banks at Cockburn Sound, West Australia, under the direction of the late Government, and were not the reports of such borings in the possession of the Naval Board before February, 1913?
– The answer is -
Borings to a depth of 45 feet below low water were completed on the Parmelia and Success Banks in November, 1912. A reference to these four borings was made in a report by the Director of Naval Works to the Naval Board dated 22nd February,1912, as follows : - “Dredging Parmelia and Success Banks. “Borings Nos.1, 2,3, and 4 show fine sand to 45 feet below low water. If this is so, it will therefore mean a larger cut and channel to be made through the banks, and to take a Sat form in section, and a greater quantity to be moved. The borings, however, are doubtful and must be checked.”
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer is-
The Third Naval Member reports that, in his opinion, money has been injudiciously expended upon detailed surveys, trial pits, and borings before the requirements of this base have been approved or formulated.
– The honorable senator has not replied to the second section of the question, asto whether the report will be laid on the table of the Senate.
– I am. sorry I overlooked that. I ask Senator Pearce to allow the matter to stand over’ until the Minister of Defence is present. I promise that he will receive an answer during the course of the sitting.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If he has yet got any information regarding the alteration of conditions of men working at Garden Island, Sydney?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The pay of engineering apprentices has been raised to the standard provided by the Industrial Board’s awards. The pay of labourers has been raised to the minimum rate of 9s. a day.
Other questions as to payment of “ dirt “ money, “ height “ money, &c, are under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
“THE BALLARAT CONTEST.
It is stated from Ballarat that Detective Burvett, of Melbourne, and other police officers have just concluded inquiries regarding the alleged wilful breaches of the electoral laws during the recent Federal campaign in Ballarat, and that no evidence whatever was obtained to justify the complaints, respecting corruption, duplicate voting, and impersonation”?
– The answers are - 1 and 2. No. Mr. Burvett made inquiries on behalf of the Chief Electoral Officer in regard to certain enrolments concerning which there was some doubt owing to the persons enrolled not living at the addresses given in the roll. It is not desirable in the public interest to table the report, which merely discloses that, with one exception, the persons named therein were found to be living within the Division, though at the time of the inquiry they were not resident at the addresses given.
– Arising out of the answers given by the Honorary Minister, am I to understand that the statement which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph was not correct?
– The answer to questions 1 and 2 is “ No.”
– According to the second answer, the statement is correct.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That the report of the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on1st October, 1913, be adopted.
– I desire, by leave of the Senate, to move a motion with regard to the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, which met with a fate of which I need not remind honorable senators.
– Owing to the invitation of an honorable senator ‘on the Government side.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Clemons have leave to move a motion with reference to the Address-in-Reply ?
– I object.
– May I be permitted, though somewhat irregularly, to make an appeal to Senator Rae to withdraw his objection ? If I have not his concurrence in submitting the motion I desire to move, it is now too late for me to give notice of it at this sitting, and the result must be to postpone the matter still further. I desire to inform the honorable senator that, unless I obtain leave to submit the motion now, no other business can be transacted under our’ Standing Orders - not even private members’ business. I urge the honorable senator, in the circumstances, to withdraw his objection.
– Very well, I withdraw my objection.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to -
That the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Opening Speech, which was interrupted by the count out of the Senate on Wednesday, 1st October, be resumed forthwith at the point where it was interrupted.
Debate resumed from 1st October (vide page 1668), on motion by Senator Bakhap -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To JJ is Excellency the Governor-General. Mai it Please Your Excellency-
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I accept the practical apology of honorable senators opposite, and will take it into consideration on a date which I shall fix.
– The honorable senator should not start that again.
– Does the honorable senator want another count out?
– The honorable senator desires to be made a martyr. He should not be so silly.
– I am not going to take up any apologetic attitude in regard to this matter. You, sir, are the judge as to. whether I behaved in an unparliamentary manner or used language which an honorable senator should not use.
– The honorable senator was most offensive to every one.
– Was I as offensive as the honorable senator, who has made such a fuss over this business, when lie accused the Prime Minister of being a liar, a renegade, and a traitor t Was I offensive in that sense or in a parliamentary sense? Did our worthy President call upon me to withdraw any statement of mine ? I abate not one syllable of what I said. I maintain that I was within my privileges as a senator in alluding to a statement which placed the party to which I have the honour to belong in a derogatory position.
– The honorable senator could not put the party in a worse position than it deserves to occupy.
– I have yet to learn that the terms “ liar “ and “ renegade “ are used in this chamber only in a Pickwickian sense. I may be a bit of a boor and barbarian, because I do not understand these fine-drawn distinctions. When a nian calls me a liar he has to expect the ready blow to follow.
– Who called the honorable senator a liar ?
– No one called public attention to the honorable senator’s infirmity.
– I direct attention to the fact that the thin-skinned honorable senator opposite, who resented a harmless and perfectly parliamentary allusion to a statement made, by one of the big guns of his party, had only a few days previously, in this chamber, called the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth a liar and a renegade. I was proceeding to deal with certain statements that had been made in connexion with the desire of the present Administration to bring about a certain measure of electoral reform, as indicated in the memorandum which has been circulated amongst honorable senators. Honorable senators opposite take up the position that because, with the largest poll on record, on the 31st May last the Liberal party was returned with a majority, and secured the reins of power, it should, therefore, be perfectly satisfied with the Electoral Act. These honorable senators believe altogether in the maxim, “ Nothing succeeds like success.” Notwithstanding the fact that they met with political defeat, it would not seem decorous on their part to say anything of their own legislative bantling. The Commonwealth Electoral Act, as amended by them, is absolute perfection in their eyes. They think that, because the Liberal party achieved a victory at the elections carried out under that Act, it should, be perfectly satisfied, with it. The very fact that the Liberal Administration, although it secured a victory under the Act, desire that it should be amended with the object of securing purer elections, is proof that there is nothing sinister in its intention to amend it. Honorable senators opposite have said a good deal about statements bruited abroad by Liberals in connexion with the conduct of the recent elections, and the probabilities of duplicate voting having transpired at those elections. I am not prone as an individual to believe greatly in corruption at elections. Personally, I know of only one instance in which duplicate voting has been acknowledged. Shortly after the election I met a voter in Murray-street, Hobart, who told me that he had voted in two different electorates. I do not know the man’s name, and have not seen him since, but he told me that he voted in two adjoining electorates because his name happened to be on the rolls for both those electorates. He considered that the fact that his name was duplicated on the two rolls gave him a perfect right to vote twice at the election. That is a concrete instance that the inflation of the rolls by the duplication of the names of electors affords opportunities for irregularity. I told him that he had been guilty of an improper act, and urged him not to commit the offence again. I am satisfied that he acted as he did quite innocently. Honorable members know that, at one time, the idea existed that an elector was entitled to vote in every division for which he was enrolled.
– The honorable senator has the confidence of a funny class of people.
– I have the confidence of people who come to me for advice, which advice is given to them quite honestly.
– The confidence of men who vote twice.
– I told the man not to commit such an error again, and I do not think that he will. Whether he voted for the Liberal party or for the Labour party, I cannot say. About a week after the 31st May last, I cut out of a mainland newspaper an account of the way in which the recent elections were conducted in Western Australia. Several honorable senators representing that State have been very insistent that the allegations made by certain persons regarding irregularities committed on polling day should be made the subject of inquiry. I have never said that irregularities could be proved. I have merely stated that an inquiry should be instituted, and that if the allegations were substantiated, action should be taken. I further said that the advent of the Liberal party to the Treasury bench would insure a full, free, and impartial investigation. Such an investigation has been made, and has disclosed the fact that there were 5,000 or 6,000 apparent duplications in connexion with the recent elections. 1 will not say that in every instance such duplication is an evidence of duplicate voting. But 100 votes improperly cast may do more than decide the fate of a parliamentary candidate - it may determine an important question involving, perhaps, an alteration of the Constitution. I repeat that between 5,000 and 6,000 cases of apparent duplication have been disclosed in connexion with the recent elections. I suppose that the law of averages operates in this matter just as it operates in the matter of the number of suicides which occur yearly. Senator de Largie smiles, but undoubtedly there is a law of averages. The rate of suicides can be forecasted, by statisticians with almost unerring accuracy. In Tasmania, at the recent elections, there were, apparently, some hundreds of duplications - an average of fifty or sixty in each electorate. Had even those fifty or sixty votes been duplicated in each constituency, and duplicated corruptly, I maintain that that duplication may have had a most disastrous effect in determining the attitude of a State regarding an amendment of the Constitution.
– There is no proof of duplication.
– There is no proof of corrupt duplication.
– Does the honorable senator mean duplication of voting or merely duplication of names?
– The duplication of names on the rolls provides opportunity for the duplication of votes.
– But there is no proof of that.
– How does the honorable senator know that an inquiry will not result in proof?
– Why does the honorable senator presume that it will ?
– I say that duplication may have taken place quite innocently. But it is essential that duplicate names should be removed from the rolls.
– The honorable senator has not even proved duplication of names.
– What is the honorable senator thinking about? Has not an inquiry already disclosed that there were 5,000 cases of apparent duplication on the rolls ?
– No; merely errors in ticking off names.
– Inquiry has disclosed that 5,000 or 6,000 votes may have been cast in duplicate.
– Will the honorable senator support the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the matter ?
– The honorable senator’s curiosity is quite pardonable, but I do not intend to gratify it. This is what I discovered in a newspaper dealing with the conduct of the recent elections in Western Australia.
– Why does not the honorable senator select his own State as an example?
– Honorable senators hailing from Western Australia have been most insistent that members of the Liberal party have made statements throughout the Commonwealth regarding electoral irregularities which have not been borne out by inquiry. I intend to submit an account which I clipped from a mainland newspaper regarding the conduct of the elections in Western Australia. It reads -
Voting on Loose Sheets. Ballot-Wafers on Foot-path.
Fremantle, Saturday. “ The whole thing savored of a tinpot roads board election.” This was the severe indictment passed by a Labour delegate upon the recently conducted Federal elections at Perth. His remarks have been backed by most of the delegates of the Australian Labour Federation at its usual meeting.
In West Perth division there was a polling booth at Marquis-street. This booth was a small room at the back of a shop. The entrance was by the side of a lane through a yard, in which ducks and fowls were kicking about. The polling place was a little dark room about six feet by eight feet. People brought their ballotpapers from the booth to the Labour committeeroom opposite. There they marked the papers and took them into the booth again. The officer in charge did not have a full supplementary roll, and this hadto be lent to him by the Labour committee.
There were, according to statements of various delegates, scores who could not get into the booth, and had to go away without voting. At the Masonic Hall, Leederville, the ballot boxes were jammed full before 2 p.m., and not another paper could be got into them. At Mount Hawthorn, Leederville, they ran out of papers for the ballot shortly after midday, and ordinary letter pads had to be used.
At the North Perth Town Hall there was only one officer in charge. During ordinaryState elections there are at least three. That officer had no chance of coping with the work. One man had to wait two hours and five minutes before he could vote, and one lady had to wait for three hours. The man afterwards made a statement to the effect that there must have been fully 400 people who went away without voting.
At Brisbane-street, Perth, the polling booth consisted of a small shop about eight by ten feel. There was such a rush that the people were right across the road and the footpath after dark. People, as soon as they got their ballotpapers, went outside the shop and marked them on the wall of this shop or on the footpath, while others were striking matches in order to see their papers. Ballot-papers were actually kicking about on the footpath.
At the drill-hall, East Perth, it was frequently reported to the Labour committee during the day that women canvassers employed by the Liberal League were marking the ballotpapers for other voters. Senator Needham saw one markedpaper of a woman. He immediately challenged the vote. The returning officer declined to stop the vote. Senator Needham then went to the Trades Hall and rang up Mr. Cathie. The above statements were all made at the meeting of the Australian Labour Federation.
We have been repeatedly told that all the statements in regard to electoral irregularities have emanated from Liberals. Yet here is a statement cut from a newspaper in which the name of the Labour senator is mentioned. If allegations of this kind are not to be inquired into, in the name of goodness what should be inquired into; and should not our Electoral Act be amended by reasoning members of a reasoning Parliament?
– I have been telling honorable senators of allegations by Labour men in connexion with the improper conduct of the elections in Western Australia. A good deal has been said concerning the alleged antipathy of the Liberal party to the maternity bonus; but all these things are matters of finance. There is not an honorable senator who would not be glad to see every working man in the Commonwealth in receipt of £1 per day, or more, if the conditions of industry would permit of it. If the Treasury were full to overflowing, there is nobody who would not be willing to provide unfortunate women in their hour of trial, not merely with a £5 note, but with £10, £15, or £20. I arn a married man, with, a family, and I know that the coming into the world of my children has cost me a hat-full of money. But who is the woman’s natural protector at such a critical time? Why, even the most savage creature to be found in the woods of West Africa - the gorilla - will make a lair in which his mate can lie in her hour of trouble. Now, about 95 per cent, of the children born in the Commonwealth are born in wedlock. Is it seriously believed that 92 per cent, of the women who bear children in Australia are in need of a £5 note ? That is said to be the number who claimed the bonus.
– Would the honorable senator wait until it was proved that a woman was in need ?
– Most decidedly. The claimant for an old-age -pension has to prove that he is in need.
– He ought not to have to do so.
– I will admit the cogency of the interjection. But the oldage pension system is already costing millions, and if we are to give every one over sixty years of age a pension, irrespective of whether he or she is in need, what would it cost the Commonwealth?
– The Commonwealth can well afford it.
– We shall see presently. It is only fair and reasonable to compare the expense in connexion with the operation of the maternity bonus with the cost of old-age and invalid pensions. I find that there are in the Commonwealth, according to the .1911 census, 234,403 people who are, by virtue of age, eligible for old-age and invalid pensions. That is to say, there are 190,429 people of both sexes over sixtyfive years of age; and to that number must be added 43,970 women over sixty who are eligible. How many pensions were in operation on the 30th June, 1913 ? I find that the total amounted to 96,682. That number , of old persons! - women over sixty, and men over sixty-five- were sufficiently indigent to claim the pension. That is to say, less than 50 per cent, of those people who might, on account of age, be claimants, were deemed’ sufficiently indigent to receive pensions. The ex-Prime Minister, in his policy speech at Maryborough, claimed that the maternity bonus had justified itself because 92 per cent, of the mothers giving birth to children in the Commonwealth had claimed it. That was a most innocent statement. Make the amount of the bonus £50 or £100, and you will find that the percentage of claimants will increase. The percentage of ex-nuptial births varies from 5 to 6 per cent, in the Commonwealth. All the allegations about the maternity bonus being productive of immorality, I am quite willing to put aside. I am quite willing that those women who have not, unfortunately for themselves, secured husbands should be allowed to claim the bonus. In the majority of instances it may be required; though it does not follow that every woman who gives birth to an ex-nuptial child needs the bonus, because many are, on occasions of the kind, provided for by those responsible for their condition. But honorable senators who accuse the Liberal party of being opposed to the maternity bonus should consider the fact that of the women qf the Commonwealth who gave birth to children about 90 per cent, have husbands; and do they claim that 90 per cent, of the married women of this- country are in such a condition as to need a £5 note at the time of their natural trial ?
– They think they are entitled to it.
– They think they are entitled to it; but, as I have said before, if this Parliament made the amount of the bounty £100, a still larger number would claim it. The money would come iri handy for paying the husband’s income tax or for some other purpose. It would, no doubt, be very gratifying if we could make the bonus larger than it is. But the demands upon the Commonwealth of Australia in regard to national defence and other matters do not permit us to do anything of the kind. These are legislative luxuries. Many an honorable senator has a family of children to feed and clothe. Perhaps he would desire to build a better house for them to live in. But does he spend all his money upon a house, and limit the amount of his expenditure on food and clothing for his children ? Not he. He sees to it first of all, that essentials are provided, and then he is willing to lay out something on luxuries. It is essential to this Commonwealth that it should provide a satisfactory scheme of naval defence in particular, and that will require all the money that we can spare for decades to come. Because it must be recognised that we have a tremendous task confronting us. We are a few million people who are endeavouring to hold for ourselves and posterity, not a slice, but the whole of one of the earth’s continents. The position that I take up is this: A woman who has given birth to five or six children may need a pension far more than a young woman who has just given birth to a child and has a husband to provide for her. Will honorable senators dispute that proposition?
– The honorable senator is arguing against the bonus, though he professes to be in favour of it.
– I am in favour of paying the bonus to those who are in need of it, just as I am in favour of paying old-age pensions to those who need them. I submit that this is a logical situation to set up.
– The one matter is constant and the other is occasional.
– I will deal with that point later on. My honorable friend Senator O’Keefe is the projector of a scheme which will have my hearty support. I have always urged it upon the consideration of the Liberal party. I refer to his proposition to render some thing in the nature of financial assistance to widows and orphan children. We are spending over half-a-million of money annually in connexion with the maternity bonus. Even on the old-age pensions basis we need only pay about 30 per cent, of what we are paying. Seeing that we could save at once £300,000 in that direction, do not honorable senators think that it would be desirable to refuse that money to women whose husbands are able to provide for them, always have provided for them, and are willing to provide for them, and devote it to making proper provision for those widows and orphans who are the care of my honorable friend Senator O’Keefe ? We cannot, with the demands that are facing us in connexion with national defence, provide for widows and orphans, as well as for this expensive scheme of old-age pensions, and for the maternity bonus to the fullest extent. The latter is not needed at all by the great majority of the mothers of the Commonwealth. As I said just now, it is a legislative luxury, and is beyond the financial strength of this young nation. Therefore, I hurl back the allegation that is being continually thrown across the Chamber at Liberal senators, that they are in essence indisposed to do justice to the mothers, the widows, and the orphans of Australia. It is said that if the women who give birth to children were well off they would not take the bonus. The Labour newspaper in Hobart, the Daily Post, has devoted some attention to this maternity scheme, pointing out that it has had no effect in regard to increasing the birth rate of the nation. As this journal, in effect, says, you cannot occasion procreation by tariff. The fact that a considerable number of women claim the’ bonus is quite beside the point. If you increased the amount to £1.0, £20, or £50, a still larger number would come forward. Practically every one would claim it. That is human nature. An Oriental philosopher who has been celebrated for 2,000 years, and is probably immortal, approached a monarch, who said to him, “Venerable sage, I suppose you have come to increase the gains of my kingdom.” The philosopher answered, ‘ ‘ Why speak of gains? Benevolence and justice are all in all.” But the monarch said, “ My insignificance loves riches.” All men and women love money, and they love it all the more if they can get it easily. If they could get it by simply knocking at the Treasury door, make no mistake about it, they would knock and take all they could get, irrespective of whether or not they were in a condition necessitating the meeting of the demands which they made. We ought to pay more attention to the widows and orphans, who are more deserving of consideration than women whose husbands are well able to provide for them. If we do not, this financial burden will presently become too great to be borne. We have a vast extent of coast-line to defend. We claim to hold this country against all the great and active military and naval Powers of the world ; and, just as the first care of a sensible man, who has children to feed and clothe, is not to provide a costly house for them to live in, but to see to their necessities, so our first care must be to provide for an efficient scheme of national defence. I am, I suppose, looked upon with some amount of suspicion by honorable senators opposite. There are some, I believe, who conceive that I am an emissary of a foreign Power in the guise of an Australian legislator. I will be personal for a moment or two. Whatever honorable senators opposite may think about me, the Tasmanian people know a good deal about me. They know that I have a claim, by virtue of blood and lineal descent, to speak feelingly in regard to fighting for the defence of the liberties of Australia. A very close maternal relative of mine was the very first man to be killed at the fight at Eureka Stockade. My uncles have all fought, and some of them have died for the British Empire. I am pleased to say that I am old enough to have known one of them who fought in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.
– Come over here.
– He used to get drunk twice a year - once on the anniversary of the battle of the Alma, and once on the anniversary of the battle of Inkerman.
– No, stay where you are.
– Those who returned me to this Parliament know that they have in me a man who believes in freedom - not in the narrow, sectional, conservative manner in which the profession is made by honorable senators opposite; but in freedom which can be enjoyed by all, and that can only be maintained by the truly national party in Australia - the party which called the Federal Constitution into being, by virtue of which we sit in this chamber.
– The honorable senator does not believe in the Constitution. It did not come near enough to Unification for him.
– The honorable senator has touched on a chord on which he played during his speech in this debate. As a matter of fact, like many other thinking men, I was not altogether satisfied with the Australian Constitution when it was first propounded for our acceptance. But, nevertheless, I believed that it would realize the consummation of a national desire, and I advocated the adoption of the Australian Constitution Bill at the first referendum. I also advocated it by speech on the second occasion. I have learned a good deal during the last fourteen or fifteen years. I have learnt, amongst other things, that the Constitution is a more satisfactory instrument than I had at first imagined it to be. Imperfect, in some respects, as I thought it was fifteen years ago, 1 nevertheless, saw, even then, that it had in it all the elements of an enduring Constitution, of a Constitution under which the Australian people could become a vigorous nation endowed with all the attributes of material and moral prosperity, and I voted for the Constitution Bill. In my humble capacity as a member of a Constitution Bill Committee, I did all I could in New South Wales, which was in a considerable degree hostile to the Bill, to get it adopted by its people. What do we find ? We find that all the leaders of honorable senators opposite, with few notable exceptions, opposed the establishment of Federation, opposed the adoption of the Constitution Bill, and yet that very instrument, so true were the national instincts of men like myself, has enabled them to raise themselves, legitimately I will admit, from the dust, so to speak, to be what they are to-day, or have been till quite recently, namely, the governors of the destinies of the Commonwealth. So short-sighted were those men, that they did not know that, under the instrument devised by the Liberal minds of Australia, they would secure the reins of power in the national Administration almost within the space of a decade. The same thing exists in connexion with the Tasmanian electoral system. Honorable senators opposite will recollect that, right throughout the length and breadth of that State, it was stated - and the assertion has been improperly repeated here - that the Liberal party introduced proportional representation in the hope of dishing the Labour party. Indeed, the Labour party has alleged, time and again, that the Hare system of proportional representation was introduced in Tasmania witli intentions inimical to itself.
– As was admitted by some persons.
– No. The honorable senator will remember that the Launceston Examiner indicated to Labour members that the operation of the Hare system of proportional representation would almost certainly increase their number from six to twelve; aud the first election under that system disclosed that the newspaper was absolutely correct in its forecast, because the number of Labour members returned to the House of Assembly was exactly twelve, as it predicted.
– It does not do away with the fact I referred to.
– Honorable Senators opposite are always making these allegations. They alleged that the wise men who devised the Constitution did not anticipate the advent to the Senate and another place of men like themselves. The truly Liberal minds of Australia that devised the Constitution anticipated the advent to each House of any man sufficiently able to command the suffrages of a majority of the people, and accordingly provided for that contingency. I am here to break a lance, even in defence of the poor maligned Legislative Councils of the States. Without their permission the Federal Constitution could not have come into being. For these Houses, which are alleged to be so undemocratic, passed the enabling Bill? which allowed the Federal movement to be consummated. Deny it who will, deny it who can !
– They have been mentally kicking themselves ever since. Senator BAKHAP. - The honorable senator will not get his living as a thought-reader. I think it will require somebody much more able than himself to read the mind of the Honorable George Collins, the mind of the Honorable W. B. Propsting, and the minds of many honorable gentlemen who will compare most favorably with himself in regard to mentality and legislative achievement. I may say that the honorable senator has the legislative impertinence to come here and assume that the members of the Chambers of Review of the several States are kicking themselves because of the consummation of nationality. On their behalf - they are not here to speak for themselves - I repudiate that statement, and say that these men relish the consummation of Australian nationality much more than do the Labour senators at present in this Chamber; for it is an open secret that the latter do not favour the Constitution as it exists. Fate is ironical enough to make them supporters of this Chamber at present; but,until quite recently, what were they! Were they advocates for the retention of the Senate as an integral unit of. the Commonwealth Parliament? Can they conscientiously say that their party, as a whole, is in favour of the retention of this National Chamber of Review?
– I was a member of the Federal League in Western Australia, and was selected by the Trades and Labour Council as their representative.
– I think the honorable senator, if he has done me the honour of listening to my remarks, will recollect that I said that, with a few exceptions, the important leaders of the Labour movement of to-day were against Federation, and against the Commonwealth Constitution, as promulgated in two successive Bills. Am I right or am I wrong?
– The Labour party, as a party, in Western Australia, supported the Constitution Bill, and took the stump in favour of it.
– Will the honorable senator deny that the Honorable Christian Watson was opposed to the Bill?
– I do not know. Senator BAKHAP. - I say that he was. Senator Pearce. - I am speaking for my State.
– Will the honorable senator deny that the Honorable W. M. Hughes was opposed to the Bill?
– You were helping them in Sydney.
– Yes; and my support of the Bill is an act of which I am veryproud.
– I was supporting the Bill, both in the newspaper I was editing and by speaking.
– Will honorable senators opposite vouchsafe me an answer to ray statement that the Labour party, perhaps not openly, but nevertheless very strongly, has declared itself from time to time against the retention of the Senate as a unit of the Commonwealth Parliament] A statement has been bruited abroad time after time - and it is quite an open secret - that a very large section of the Labour party is opposed, on the basis of the shallow, specious argument that it is undemocratic, to the retention of the Senate.
– Your party wants to wipe it out. I can prove that out of the mouths of its own leaders.
– I am going to deal with that statement presently. The honorable senator has a very poor conception of Liberalism if he does not understand it to be a school of political thought in which there is room for many shades of opinion. That is the very glory of Liberalism. In its fold, a man is free to speak his mind without censure or blame. When I compare that condition of things to something that I shall adduce presently, honorable senators opposite will have a faint glimmer of why tens of thousands of men like myself are Liberals. We are Liberals because we love freedom and liberty, and as Caesar of old said of the inhabitants of one of the Gallic States, we “hate servitude.”
– That is why you want to prevent the rural workers from going to the Arbitration Court. What do you call freedom in that respect?
– I shall tell the honorable senator what is not freedom by reading a passage from an article in the Hobart Daily Post of the 28th May. I want to be fair, though I do not make this newspaper absolutely responsible for what I am about to read. It gives over two columns to a gentleman who signs his name, and is a member of the Mine Employes Association. It prints the whole article with a fine conspicuous heading, and does not print one syllable of derogatory comment. Therefore, I say that it, as the organ of the Labour party, impliedly is responsible for this soul-destroying, liberty-corroding proposal that is advanced here on behalf, of a prominent member of a Labour or ganization. Senator Senior has charged the Liberal party with being inimical to liberty and freedom, because a few misguided, perhaps politically bigoted, men have taken individual action, and put the lex talionis into operation in their hatred of the principle of preference to unionists, which is being imposed upon the community by compulsion and the influence of the labour unions. Many of them in their actions may have resorted to a form of reprisal. This I will admit; but I challenge the honorable senator to produce any instance in Tasmania in which a Liberal organization has done anything destructive of the true expression of freedom of opinion and of true liberty of action. Can he produce an instance like that which transpired in Victoria the other day, or during the referenda campaign, and evidence of which was given in the press? Was there not a letter in the Argus in which a Labour industrial organization called a member to heel becausehe had the audacity to preside at a meeting at which a speaker talked in opposition to the referenda proposals?’ He was expelled from the organization because he exercised his liberty of action as a citizen. Do my honorable friends opposite understand now why we do not belong to the Labour party? Have they a faint glimmering of the position? The Hobart Daily Post of the 28th May printed this communication -
My plan is this : - The association throughout Tasmania; and, when possible, throughout Australia, shall make a rule - First, that it will henceforth be the duty of all union secretaries to see that all members are on the roll prior to elections; second, that a union official shall be stationed adjacent to every polling booth in mining centres, and every member shall be required to sign his name and receive instructions “ how to vote,” so that his vote for whoever cast,” shall be “effective.” And every member who fails to sign his name on the union officer’s book shall be required to furnish reasons for non-attendance, which, if not satisfactory, shall render him liable to a fine of not less than 5s. and 2s. 6d. for his wife, the fines to be paid into a fund held by the association, and failing payment by defaulters their names shall be forwarded to the general secretary, who would have all such names printed in a list, and supply a copy of such list to every branch in the State. When this rule is adopted throughout Australia every branch in the Commonwealth would hold, frame and hang in their office a tabulated list of the names of every political scab in the union ranks throughout Australia.
If the continuance of a Labour Government insured full wages, a fine house, a large sum of money, every material comfort to every unit in the population, a plan like this would fail; for if it included proposals purporting to do this, it would be dangerous to every institution the value of which is above material comfort. Liberty is something more than material comfort. These gentlemen have been singularly fortunate. In moving a vote of thanks to the Honorable Joseph Cook after he addressed a meeting at the Theatre Royal in Hobart, I predicted that he would soon be Prime Minister of the Commonwealth as the result of the general elections. I must own that I did that to inspire confidence in the forces which I had been appointed to, more or less successfully, lead.
– You were very much surprised.
– I knew that we were going to gain seats, but I did not anticipate that our victory would be so substantial, for we had many things to fight against.
– Where is your victory ?
– We are here, and I challenge the Labour party to displace us.
– With twenty-nine Labour men to seven Liberals, where is your victory?
– Our victory lies in the fact that we have hold of the reins of the National Administration ; and although it is not very substantial, though ably reflected, in the Chamber, a hold we have. Honorable senators will understand that I have a fairly keen conception of the position, and am not going to be apologetic, because they have to be here, and they must assist us in the transaction of public business at the risk, if they do not, of being ultimately dealt with by the electors. I can therefore defy their petty schemes to decry the value of my utterances. Three important factors which were never precisely set before the electors were solely accountable for the prosperous condition of Australia, credit for which was taken during the last political campaign, throughout the Commonwealth, by the Labour party. Honorable senators are aware that it is most important that we should have good harvests. It is important for every country in the world, but in. Australia we have to derive a great deal of the cir culating medium, or of the goods which correspond with it, from the 50 per cent, of our wheat harvest which must be sold oversea in the markets of the world. We had two record wheat harvests, one exceeding by 50 per cent, the previous best harvest known in. the history of Australia. The fact that we had two wheat harvests 50 per cent, better than our previous best was factor number one. Factor number two was that, instead of the States receiving over 15s. in the £1 of the moneys derived from Customs, as they had been doing during the Liberal regime, contemporaneously with the advent of the Fisher Government to power, they received considerably less than one-half. So that the Labour Administration had from £.14,000,000 to £15,000,000 more at their disposal during their three years of office than any previous Liberal Administration had during a similar period. Another factor for which the poor discredited States have not been given much credit is that during the Federal period the States had in connexion with their policies of internal development borrowed no less a sum than between £60,000,000 and £80,000,000. That money did not come to Australia in the form of gold. It came here in the shape of commodities, many of which were high-priced and highly dutiable. As a result of the distribution of that loan money throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth to give effect to the policy of internal development of the States, the Customs revenue of the Commonwealth expanded, and money was poured into the National Treasury. These three factors were responsible for the prosperity which Australia enjoyed contemporaneously with the Labour regime. I am waiting to hear a logical refutation of that assertion. Our friends of the Labour party were very fortunate, but as confessed, out of the mouths of members of the party, the people of Australia arose in their might like the waters of the moon-stirred Atlantic, and because the party stood for principles inimical to freedom and liberty, decided to hurl its Administration from power, notwithstanding the fact that during its period of office Australia enjoyed three years of unexampled prosperity. There are many matters dealt with in the Ministerial statement with which I shall not weary honorable senators. They will come up for consideration later in the form of Bills, which I suppose will not very speedily reach this Chamber. I recognise that the slender nature of the Government majority in another place is not favorable to the rapid progress of legislation. We must deal with things as they are. The situation has been caused by the electors of Australia, and they must put up with it. Finally, I am going to direct attention to another matter in regard to which I shall be at variance with several champions of Liberal principles who loom very much larger in the popular eye than I do.
– Impossible !
– I am not one of those who subscribe to the assertions made by some Liberals - that this Chamber has up to the present blocked legislation. I should be unworthy of my position as a senator if I did so. I believe that a tug-of-war will ultimately come, but until it does come, it is undesirable to say that this Chamber is disposed to check legislation.
– That is what the Prime Minister said, and to which we took exception.
– The Prime Minister is responsible for his own utterances. I am not a bond slave. It is not absolutely incumbent upon me to subscribe to such a statement. But honorable senators opposite are not of my kidney. They flared up because I attempted to comment in a perfectly parliamentary way on a statement which came from the lips of the Honorable William Hughes, a statement made in such an insolent, arrogant, and insulting fashion that it demanded instant attack when the opportunity arose.
– The Prime Minister’s statement demanded the ‘ attack from this side.
– The situation is that the original contract between the parties known as the States of Australia, which were at the time Sovereign Colonies under the British Crown, provided for equal representation in this Chamber of the States as States. No mere juggling with figures can get away from the fact that had the compact not been drawn up with that provision in it, many of the States would not have subscribed to it. I am quite safe in saying that, although the people of Tasmania were disposed to fly from the ills they saw rather than chance the loss which might confront them if they remained out of the Federation, they would have remained out if they had not been given representation in the Senate equal to that given to the larger States. That being so, we have to remember that we legislate under a written Constitution which gives this Chamber, in most important respects, there is one exception, powers co-ordinate with those of another place. I am speaking from a nonparty stand-point, and I say that it was intended by the framers of the Constitution that this Chamber should not at once be responsive to every expression of popular opinion exhibited by the representation in another place. It was their original intention to make the Senate a Chamber of Review, having the opportunity to think twice as to what the representatives of the people in the other branch of the Legislature should be advised to do. That being so, the principle of continuity was established, and the Senate does not go as a body to the electors, except in extreme instances, and in consequence of exceptional circumstances. There is embodied in the Constitution a ‘compromise between those who wished to make the Senate a more effective Chamber of Review than it is, and those who desired to make it immediately responsive to any expression of popular opinion at the hustings. Consequently only half the members of the Senate go to the country simultaneously with the triennial elections for the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, because of the introduction of the device for a double dissolution, this Chamber is - and I tell the Liberals of Australia this after due consideration - a constitutionally’ weak body. It is in a weak position. It cannot, except by utilizing devices known to legislators of experience, protract the passage of legislation without penalizing itself. When the time comes that this branch of the Legislature takes upon itself the responsibility of failing to pass legislation which has received the indorsement of honorable members in another, place, and after the lapse of three months, which may be regarded as a probationary period in which honorable senators are given time to reconsider their attitude, decides to again reject such legislation, the people have the opportunity to approve of what honorable senators have done or call them to book for their action.
– Does the honorable senator mean automatically ? Is there not a “ may “ in the Constitution ?
– I think that Senator Pearce will have come to the conclusion arrived at by most constitutionalists, that in the majority of instances in regard to such’ a debatable matter as he has raised the Representative of His Majesty would be largely guided by his Ministerial advisers.
– Not on that point.
– I will admit that the matter is debatable, but I think the honorable senator will concede that there is something in my statement that this Chamber is constitutionally a much weaker body than is any of the Chambers of Review of the respective States, or even the House of Lords as it exists at present after the passage of the Asquith Parliament Act.
– That is why I think the Prime Minister was impertinent in saying that the Governor-General could exercise no prerogative in such a matter.
– I am not going to say anything about the Royal prerogative reposed in the Governor-General. That is a matter for constitutional lawyers, and I do not pretend to be one. I am giving rough-and-ready expression to the opinions of one who has taken a humble, but honest, part in the consummation of Australian nationality. I am giving my interpretation of the Constitution. I emphasize the fact that, in my opinion, the Senate is constitutionally a very weak body. I do not, of course, refer to its personnel, because, as regards the Ministerial side, it is in that respect at present exceedingly strong.
– The honorable senator means, because it is democratic.
- Senator O’Keefe has given utterance to a very remarkable statement. It is not weak because it is democratic. The honorable senator will discover when he gets older that it does not of necessity follow that because popular opinion is not immediately reflected by a Chamber that Chamber is necessarily undemocratic. I can foresee the time, and it is not far distant, when, if we continue the existing system of representation, we shall have just as large a representation of Liberalism in this Chamber as we now have of Labour. That is why, after careful consideration of the whole matter, I recommend the adoption of the proportional system of representation in the election of members of this Chamber. I hope it will be adopted at an early date, for if we had had proportional representation in 1910, twelve Labour senators would have been returned to this Chamber, and six Liberals instead of none at all. Thus the result consequent upon the changes effected at the last election would have been that the Senate to-day would have been composed of twenty-two Labour representatives, and fourteen Liberal senators. I hope that honorable senators do not imagine that the little incident of yesterday rankles in my mind. I do not entertain any feelings of resentment. I say that we ought to have a system which will insure at least the representation in this Chamber of all parties of importance. We should not then have the spectacle of a Ministerial party which is unable to provide a quorum, and which thus subjects itself - I say this without heat - to the gross indignity of being counted out. I do not regard that incident as an indignity to me personally, although it may have been intended as such; but it was an indignity to the whole Chamber. Finally, as a Liberal, I desire to say that I do not subscribe to the principles which were enunciated by the Attorney-General at a meeting held at Kyneton a week or two ago, when he spoke of the unsatisfactory nature of the representation in this Chamber. If the Senate takes upon itself the task of checking legislation approved by another place, the proper remedy is the adoption of a system of proportional representation. If the Senate checks legislation passed by the other branch of the Parliament, it must pay the penalty by facing the electors.
– Both Chambers must be dissolved.
– If we exercise our functions as a Chamber of Review to any great extent, we cannot protract the passage of legislation desired by representatives of another place longer than the constitutional period provided as a period of probation, and if we decide to stand to our guns in the rejection of any measure, we must be prepared to face the people. So long as we recognise that we cannot block legislation for any long time, I am satisfied. As a Liberal I say that I in no way subscribe to the principle propounded by the Attorney-General that the small States have undue representation in the Senate. It is well for the people of Victoria to take into consideration the fact that the principle of equal representation in the Senate is a most precious one. Victoria is territorially the second smallest State of the Commonwealth. But it is the second most important State from the stand-point of population. I am a native of Victoria, and I have naturally a love for the land in which I was born. I can recollect the time when Victoria was the first State in Australia from the stand-point of population, notwithstanding that, with the exception of Tasmania, it is the smallest State from the stand-point of the territory which it embraces. Only the other day in the redistribution of electoral boundaries, Queensland gained an additional representative, and Victoria lost a representative. Before two decades have passed, the people of Victoria, one of whose chief representatives is inimical to the principle of equal representation in the Senate, may be very glad that that principle has been retained in our Constitution. In my remarks to-day I have attempted, to the best of my ability, to discharge my duty, and I believe that when the Address-in-Reply is out of the way we shall settle down to the transaction of such business as may be sent to us from the other Chamber, and I am sure th at we shall give it that careful consideration which its importance merits.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by SenatorMILLEN) agreed to -
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I am glad to be able to say, in regard to the first Government measure, apart from Supply Bills, introduced into this chamber, that, in my opinion, it is entirely non-controversial in character.
– Very nearly, if not quite.
– I hope that the expression of my views will remove even the slight difficulties which are already present in the mind of Senator O’Keefe. The Bill has two objects, each of which is provided for in one clause. Clause 2 sets out that it is desirable in the future to authorize payments that are required for the ordinary expenditure during July without waiting, as we always have to wait at the beginning of a session, for the passing of a Supply Bill. When a new Parliament is called together, it is practically impossible for us to meet before at least the end of June, and usually we meet at the beginning of July. The object of this Bill is to obviate a difficulty which will always arise in these circumstances. Clause 2 embodies the suggestions which have been made to meet that difficulty. It authorizes the expenditure of an amount which is based upon the average expenditure for the twelve previous months. It states -
If before the close of any financial year no Supply has been granted or appropriation made to meet the current expenditure of the Commonwealth for the whole or part of the next financial year, the Treasurer may issue from the Commonwealth Public Account such sums as are necessary to meet such expenditure, subject to the following conditions : -
The authority of the Treasurer under this section shall only be exercised during and in respect of the month of July, and the expenditure shall be in accordance with the Appropriation Act for the previous year, and the aggregate amount of expenditure shall not exceed one-twelfth of the total amount of such appropriation for the whole of the previous year; [b) The authority of the Treasurer under this section shall cease in respect of any financial year if a Supply or Appropriation Act for any part of that year has been passed.
I need not enlarge upon that. This is merely a measure to meet the convenience of both Houses of Parliament upon their re-assembling. The other object of the Bill is to give statutory sanction to a certain part of the Auditor-General’s work. It provides practically that that officer shall not pass accounts in respect of stores unless, first of all, the sanction has been obtained of a Supply and Tender Board, for the creation of which the Bill provides.
– By means of regulations.
– By means of regulations which have statutory force. I am sure that Senator Pearce will agree with me that it would be practically impossible, by direct statutory enactment, to anticipate all that it may be desirable to do by way of regulation. I think I can convince him that this is eminently a matter which should be left to regulation. I cannot conceive of any Bill in which’ it is more appropriate that a provision for the creation of a Supply and Tender Board should be incorporated than an Audit Bill. This measure will give to the Auditor-General the power to pass certain accounts when he finds that the conditions framed by regulation to govern the operation of a Supply and Tender Board have been complied with. Senator Pearce knows that at present the AuditorGeneral has to consider the passing of these accounts in the light of an actual vote for each Department.
– And the acceptance of a tender by the Minister.
– Even the acceptance of a tender by a Minister is of no use without a vote of Parliament. It is proposed, not necessarily to create a Supply and Tender Board, but to regulate the manner in which the AuditorGeneral shall pass these accounts. I would remind Senator Pearce that it is the duty of that officer not merely to pass accounts relating to money, bub also to have regard to stock into which money has been converted. The Government have no immediate intention of appointing any special Supply and Tender Board. At present a good deal of this work is done in the various States by State Supply and Tender Boards, whose services are utilized by the Commonwealth Government. It may be desirable that the Commonwealth should appoint its own Supply and Tender Boards in the various States.
– Is it intended that all supplies of stores, &c, must be accepted by a Supply and Tender Board?
– Not necessarily.
– Will the Minister still be able to call for tenders, and to accept them ?
– It is not desirable that he should do so in all cases. I think it is eminently desirable that that possibility should be sooner or later removed. To my mind, it is very advisable that the Defence Department should have its own Supply and Tender Board, and it may be desirable that the Postal Department should have its own Supply and Tender Board. Further, it may be advisable that the Commonwealth should have its own Supply and Tender Board in more than one State, instead of utilizing the services of the Boards which are already in existence. I have no desire to conceal anything in regard to this Bill. I submit it with this brief explanation, because I believe that all explanations are better if they are brief.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That copies of originals of all papers, plans, charts, reports, or recommendations in connexion with Henderson Naval Base, Cockburn Sound, either by the Naval Board or their officials, be laid upon the table of the Library.
Motion (by Senator de Largie for Senator McDougall) proposed -
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the circumstances under which the Fitzroy Dock, Sydney, was recently partially closed down by the Defence Department.
That the Committee have leave to sit during any adjournment of the Senate, and have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
That the Committee have leave to take evidence in Sydney.
That the Committee consist of Senators Bakhap, Guthrie, Long, Maughan, Mullan, Rae, and the mover.
– This motion is one of the same character as others which the Government have felt called upon to oppose. I do not intend to delay the Senate by calling for a division, as it must be obvious that the result would be a foregone conclusion. I merely wish to place on record the fact that my refraining from calling for a division is not to be accepted as indicating approval. I should like to make that quite clear.
– Does that mean that the Government will not grant any funds for the Committee to go to Sydney?
– There is one thing which certainly cannot be charged against this Government, and that is inconsistency. The Government take the same stand in regard to the motion as they did in regard to one of an entirely similar character a few weeks ago.
– This motion involves an entirely different principle from another which is at present in the hands of a Select Committee of the Senate. That Committee is inquiring into certain allegations of injustice against an individual. I should always be very sorry to refrain from taking any course of action which might lead to giving an allegedly injured individual redress. But I venture to submit respectfully to honorable senators opposite that they are taking a somewhat injudicious course regarding the motion which has been proposed by Senator de Largie. We know that they have a giant’s strength, from a numerical point of view. But it is not always wise to use a giant’s strength tyrannically. This is a matter of ordinary Ministerial discretion, for which the Minister of Defence is responsible. He did something such as a Minister is called upon to do almost every day.
– I hope not.
– In this early period of the history of the present Administration, it is absolutely unwise to challenge an act of a Minister which cannot be construed as involving an injustice to an individual. I observe that I am proposed as a member of the Committee. I shall never deviate from the course which I have always taken of showing willingness to participate in Select Committee work. I maintained the same attitude during the four years when I was a member of the House of Assembly of Tasmania. But, at the same time, I must support the remarks of Senator Millen, believing that it is most injudicious for honorable senators opposite to exercise their numerical strength in this arbitrary manner by appointing a Committee to inquire into a Ministerial Act which involves no possibility of injustice to any individual. It was simply an act of Ministerial discretion. I know that my protest will be ineffectual; but, nevertheless, I enter it, in the belief that the majority are about to resort to an exercise of power from which they should refrain.
– I do not think that it shows hostility to the Government for the Senate to appoint a Committee to inquire into a matter which certainly is one of great public interest and ( most certainly requiring investigation. I certainly can be no party to such an attitude as Senator Bakhap adopts, because I believe that it is necessary that honorable senators should do their duty in regard to any matter as to which they think an inquiry is needed. It is a startling view to enunciate that this Government, because they are in office, should be free from criticism. As far as I am concerned, whenever the Senate decides that it is right and proper that an investigation should be made, I shall act on the principle that that fact, and that alone, should guide us as to what we should do. I shall not enter into the merits of the case, but I express the hope that whenever the Senate sees a necessity for making an inquiry, it will consider simply whether it is right and proper that the inquiry should be made rather than whether it is pleasing or otherwise to the Government of the day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
That the Committee report to the Senate on 30th October.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, it is desirable that the Government should, as early as possible, establish a fleet of Commonwealthowned overseas and Inter-State steamers, commencing with the linking up of Tasmania as an integral part of the Commonwealth with the mainland, by means of a line of steam-ships. 1 now bring this matter before the Senate for tho second time.
– What happened to it last session ?
– The motion was carried by a very large majority on the last day of the session. The only senators who voted against it were the representatives of the party opposite.
– The honorable senator left it until he gave his party an opportunity for doing nothing.
– The motion did not come to a vote until the session was about to end; but when a vote was taken, it was so decisively indicative of the opinion of the Senate, that, largely as the result of it, the late Government made it a part of their policy to link up the State which I have the honour to represent with the rest of the Commonwealth by means of a line of steamers. That was the result of the motion. We, as a party, have been accused of not doing anything during our three years of office to improve the steam-ship service to Tasmania. What are the facts ? Until October, 1912, the contract did not expire, andi therefore, in the previous Parliament the Government could not do anything prior to that date. For many months prior to the expiry of the contract, representatives on both sides of the Chamber urged the Government to take steps to improve the mail service; and, as the result of a full inquiry, a debate initiated by Senator Long, the debate on the motion moved by myself, and the continued representations of the Tasmanian Labour members, the Government decided that the commonsense solution of the problem was the provision of a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers, and not the placing of a fresh contract in the hands of the steam-ship monopoly. At the request of the Labour men representing Tasmania, only a two years’ contract was given to the steam-ship companies, in order that the Fisher Government might carry out a policy of its own when that term expired.
Owing to the shuffling of the political cards, our opponents are temporarily in power. They at once flouted the wish of the Senate, as clearly expressed in its vote. They at once flouted the wishes of a majority of the representatives of Tasmania. In the two branches of this Parliament, Tasmania has eleven representatives, and six of them belong to the Labour party. Senator Clemons has announced that, in defiance of the wish of the States House as expressed last session, and in defiance of the wishes of Tasmanian representatives, the Government has entered into a contract which will tie the Commonwealth up until 1920 in the hands of a pernicious combine. In two years’ time, he says, a new steamer of the Loongana type will be put in the running, and the contract will be of five years’ duration “from that date. Until 1920, therefore, the magnificent project of linking up Tasmania with the mainland by means of national boats will be relegated to the background. But we on this side, when the proper time arrives, will call these honorable gentlemen to book before their masters, the people of Tasmania, for their betrayal of the best interests of that little State.
So far as the time-table is concerned, the new contract is very little improvement on the present contract; while, so far as boats are concerned, if is undoubtedly an improvement. Let me point out at what a cost we have purchased that very slight improvement, and at what a disadvantage the whole of the people of Tasmania are to be placed for seven years by an unholy compact with private enterprise. We are to get another vessel of the Loongana type in two years; we are to get better boats. Probably, we shall have more speedy transit and more regular running, but we shall not get what the people of Tasmania have long asked for, and that is anything approaching a daily service. We are to have a three days’ service for ten months of the year, and a five days’ service for two months. Further, we are getting an unholy bargain which, with the exception of the two new boats, will enable the steam-ship companies to perpetuate their unfair treatment of Tasmanian shippers, because it will enable them to keep in service for seven years, the Paloona, thirteen years old, which is often- running from Sydney to Hobart; the Westralia, fifteen years old, which runs from Sydney to Hobart; the Oonah, which is twenty years old ; the Wainui, which is twenty-six years old; and that obsolete tub, the W a kal ipu, aged thirtysix years, running from Sydney to Launceston. It will enable the companies to dictate to the whole of the business people and the producers of Tasmania for seven years.
This is a subject which the present Government treat lightly, but they will go to the people of Tasmania presently, and take credit to themselves. They will say, “ We got you a better service with better boats.” Better boats, of course, they will be. But when it is realized that the mail service will cost the Commonwealth £15,000 a year, and that sum would pay the interest at 4 per cent, on the cost of two boats as good as the new boat we are to get of the Loongana type, worth £150,000; when ft is realized that the subsidy would not only pay the interest on two boats worth £300,000 in the aggregate, but leave £3,000 a year to provide for depreciation, honorable senators will appreciate, from a business point of view, what a magnificent opportunity to benefit Tasmania has been passed over.
Before I deal with the business aspect of my proposal, however, I wish to put in Hansard, for the benefit of the people of my State, the present position, briefly, backed up by sworn evidence, as to freights and fares, and the general conditions with which they are penalized by the shipping companies. A Select Committee which was appointed at the instance of Senator Bakhap, took a good deal of evidence in Tasmania. Let us see how ‘the companies to whom the Government have given a new lease of life have treated Tasmania hitherto. Regarding freights, Mr. E. T. Clemons, a commission agent, doing a large business in Devonport, gave the following evidence -
Do you consider them unreasonably high? - Yes ; compared with those on the mainland.
Will you institute any comparison? - To give you one clear instance, the freight from Devonport to Newcastle on chaff is 23s. 6d. a ton, and from Adelaide to Newcastle it is only £1. Tt is a four-days’ journey from Adelaide to Newcastle, steaming all the time, and yet the freight is less than from here, consequently our quotations have to be from 5s. to 7s. under the mainland price to get the business.
In that respect the freight rates charged are so high as to constitute a handicap? Undoutedly.
We see there how, in regard to chaff alone, in the north-west coast of Tasmania, men have to quote 5s. or 7s. under the mainland price to get the business, simply because of freight charges. Those conditions will be perpetuated by means of the new mail contract. On the subject of freights, evidence was given by Mr. G. Finlayson, who is connected with a large engineering firm in Devonport; -
Are they reasonable or excessive? - They are very excessive.
How do you arrive at a standard of comparison? - The charges from the Old Country to Melbourne, for instance, are sometimes less than from Melbourne to here on heavy lifts.
What would you call a heavy lift? - Anything over six tons. The present charge for a six-ton lift is £35 from Melbourne to Devonport.
What would the charge be from the Old Country ? - About 50s. to 60s. per ton ; it varies slightly.
And you find this a disadvantage in your trade ? - Undoubtedly.
According to that evidence, this gentleman, at Devonport, could get a 6-ton lift from the Old Country for £18 freight, but he had to pay £35 freight to get it from Melbourne to Devonport. If that is not daylight and legalized robbery, I want to know what is. I will quote another instance to show how all classes of the community are being penalized. I shall quote from the evidence of Mr. Unsworth, of the firm of Irvine and McEachran, one of the biggest wine and spirit merchants in Tasmania -
Freight on wines and spirits until about three years ago was the same as for goods - 10s. per ton. It was suddenly raised to 12s. 6d., and when I asked the freight manager of the company for an explanation he said it was to bring it into line with the other States. That was all the satisfaction I got. The rates were raised on ordinary goods some little time ago from ros. to us., wines and spirits were raised to 13s. 6d. ; but about three or four months ago, without notice of any kind in any shape or form, wines and spirits were raised to 15s. per ton, or 4s. more than for ordinary cargo. On bottled beer we only pay the same as for ordinary cargo. It is monstrous. For transhipments from England and Scotland, when the rate was 10s. per ton we used to be charged 7s. 6d., and it is now 14s. for wines and spirits.
Those figures are strictly for freights? - Yes.
In connexion with your transhipments from England and Scotland there has been an increase of almost 100 per cent. ? - Yes. They used to charge 7s. 6d., and now we pay 14s. and the charges.
Mr. Edwin Ingledew, a prominent merchant of Devonport, was examined by Mr. Whitsitt, a Liberal member -
It seems to me there is an unholy combine existing at the present time, or shall we call it an “ honorable understanding.” Do you consider the present charges are fair and reasonable? - I consider the rates of freight are too high. I will give you an instance. In regard to chaff, prior to the rate on potatoes being raised from 10s. to us., the rate on chaff was 15s. It was then put up to 16s., a is. increase to apply to chaff the same as to potatoes. There was some trouble at the Sydney wharves, and they raised it to 17s. per ton, maximum 25 bags to the ton. .Straw-chaff, though perhaps 27 or 28 bags to the ton, would be charged freight as 25. If weighing 20 bags to the ton, you would declare it on 20, so that they cut it both ways. The existing rate now to Sydney is 18s., as against 12s. 6d. from Adelaide to Sydney.
In other words, Tasmania is paying 50 per cent, more for the conveyance of produce from Devonport to Sydney than South Australia is paying for the conveyance of produce from Adelaide to Sydney. Yet the Government have entered into a contract which will perpetuate these hardships. On potatoes during a few years - one of the most staple products of Tasmania - the freight has jumped from 9s. to lis. a ton. On leather, an important product of Tasmania, there has been a 50 per cent, rise in the freight. The freights on wool, flour, and all other articles have correspondingly advanced. So far as fares are concerned, I need not repeat in full what I have already said in this Chamber. It is a fact that the return fare of £2 12s. 6d. between Melbourne and Launceston is day-light robbery. It represents one of the highest shipping fares charged in Australia, and is altogether out of proportion to the service performed by the company in carrying a passenger from
Melbourne to Launceston and back. If a passenger requires a deck cabin, he has to pay 10s. extra, making the return fare £3 2s. 6d. Senator Clemons prides himself upon the fact that there is a clause in the new contract which will prevent the shipping company from increasing the existing charges. I should think there would be.
– How generous!
– Yes; how noble of them, in view of the fact, which is supported by sworn evidence, that we have been, in Tasmania, penalized as much as 100 per cent., and certainly as much as 50 per cent., more than the freights for longer distances in other waters of the Commonwealth. The Government proposal to protect the people of Tasmania, so far as an increase of fares and freights is concerned, is practically worthless, because the company would exhibit even greater cheek than I credit them with if they had the temerity to raise the existing rates.
– They could raise them, and the Tasmanian people would be absolutely helpless.
– Although I do not think the company would have the temerity to increase their present extortionate fares and freights, I hope that, should they desire to do so, the clause of the contract which has been referred to will be found to be water-tight, and the company will be unable to evade their responsibilities under the contract.
– It could be done with the consent of the Government, and that could be very easily obtained.
– My honorable friend reminds mo that there would not be a great deal of difficulty in the company getting the consent of any Liberal Government to an increase of fares and freights.
– The only penalty the company would suffer if they raised the freights would be the loss of the mail contract.
– That is so, but I do not think they would like to lose the contract. It is too profitable, and the subsidy paid is too large to lose. I wish to put the business aspect of the matter again very briefly before the Senate. Evidence was taken by the Select Committee with respect to the profits of these companies. One well-informed gentle- man stated, in evidence, that a boat owned by this Combine plying between Hobart and Sydney earned £43,000 in one season. The expenses of the vessel were less than £20,000, so that there was a profit of £23,000 on the running of that one boat. Another gentleman estimated that their freights from southern Tasmania were worth £30,000 profit in a year.
I do not wonder at this, in view of the evidence elicited by the Fruit Commission. There is an arrangement between the various shipping companies trading in Australian waters with respect to these freights. I may inform honorable senators that the freight on Tasmanian fruit between Sydney and Brisbane is 17s. 6d. per ton; whilst the freight on fruit carried from Brisbane tq Sydney, the same distance, is 9s. 9d. per ton. In other words, the fruit-growers of Tasmania are called upon to pay nearly double the freight on their fruit which the people of Queensland are asked to pay on. similar produce carried south. Will honorable senators say that that is a desirable condition of .affairs? I find that on 23,737 cases of Tasmanian fruit sent, by one of the Australian United Steam Navigation steamers in a season, from Sydney to Brisbane, the freight was £1.760; whilst on 46,594 cases of fruit sent from Brisbane to Sydney, the freight charged was only £1,241. So that Tasmanian growers were called upon to pay £500 more in freight than was - charged to Queensland growers for the carriage of exactly double the quantity of fruit.
There can be no doubt that there is an arrangement between the different companies to fix fares and freights on the trading routes. At question 11,381 of the evidence taken by the Fruit Commission, Mr. W. McDonald, the general manager of the Australian Company, gave this evidence -
We have elicited in evidence that there is an arrangement between the various shipping companies relative to freight charges. Is that so? - Yes, we have an arrangement to run at fixed rates of freights and fares. That arrangement was arrived at after a very grave consultation in conference ; the rates were fixed at that conference.
That is the reason why Tasmanian growers have advocated for years a direct service from Hobart through to Brisbane.
– Are not the companies going to try a direct service ?
– There are rumours to that effect; but even if the direct service were established, 1 suppose the honorable senator, as a representative of Tasmania, would not be satisfied that Tasmanian growers should have to pay rates of freight twice as high as those charged to the fruit-growers in other States.
– I should like to see Tasmanian growers given cheaper rates; but I do not think the Government could do the business for them much cheaper.
– We shall see that presently. Mr. W. H. Luffy, a wellknown fruit importer of Queensland, gave this evidence to the Fruit Commission -
There was an arrangement between the companies not to trade direct? - That is right. To my mind it would be one of the best paying routes in Australia- a line of steamers direct from Hobart to Sydney, to touch at Newcastle and Brisbane. If the steamers were up to date they would take a lot of the intermediate trade and passengers between Sydney and Brisbane.
If we established two Commonwealth owned boats in the trade between Melbourne and Launceston, and one between Hobart and Sydney, and right up the Queensland coast, we should insert ithe thin end of the wedge to break up the present arrangement, which is so inimical to the producers of Tasmania.
– And to the whole Commonwealth.
– My honorable friend reminds me that the whole Commonwealth would be benefited.
What is the position of the companies which have now such a hold upon the people of Tasmania? The Union Steam-ship Company, which is only about forty years old, gave their shareholders, about two years ago, 200,000 shares, besides dividends. They are now reconstructing again, ‘ and their profits have been so great that they have had again to water their capital considerably. I think it was last year that Huddart Parker and Company asked for £250,000 for an issue of new shares, and about £2,500,000 were offered within a fortnight by investors anxious to secure shares in so profitable a company. I know a business man, who, on the second day after the issue of the shares was advertised, could not get a share, although he applied for 2,000. This shows the position of the companies that are extorting high freights and fares from the people of Tasmania.
Coming to the consideration of Commonwealth-owned steamers as a business proposition, which the present Government have turned down,. I remind the Senate that, according to the last year’s statistics which I could get- those for 1909 - the value of the trade between Tasmania and the mainland was at that time £5,391,636 per annum. The import trade was valued at £2,387,854, and the export trade at £3,003,782. Since then I believe that the trade has increased to considerably over £6,000,000.
Coming to the service which we have asked the Government to make a commencement with by establishing their own boats, I have already mentioned that the subsidy paid in connexion with the mail contract would pay the interest on the cost of the vessels. I want now to briefly deal with the profits these people are making out of the Melbourne-Launceston service. Any one who takes the slightest trouble to inquire into the matter will find that the Loongana has been a veritable gold mine to the company. They have, already paid for her, and a good deal, over, out of the profits they have made on her running. I am aware that there are some who will dispute that statement and say, probably for party purposes, that the boat has not been profitable to thecompany. I have here some figures which are absolutely accurate, and cannot be challenged. I have the passenger lists for the Loongana for twelve months. The lowest figures show a passenger list of 310 per week, and the highest for the Christmas week 1,900, for the three trips each way. In the case of the lowest list, the fares for the 310 passengers - 223 first and 87 second saloon - amounted to £725 ; the fares for the highest list amounted to £3,824. I have carefully worked out the average of the passenger lists for the whole year, and I find that it is 500 per week, 300 first saloon, and 200 second saloon. The average receipts then of the Loongana from passengers’ fares alone amount to £1,370 per week, or £5,480 per month. This is the magnificent proposition which the present Government have turned down.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that 300 first and 200 second saloon passengers represent the total number carried backwards and forwards in the week ?
– Yes, the total passengers carried per week.
– The honorable senator’s estimate must be under the actual figures.
– No. I have satisfied myself beyond all doubt that these are reliable figures, and that the Loongana earns £5,480 per month from passenger fares alone. Now, what are the expenses of the Loongana? I have here another reliable estimate dealing with that. I have one estimate fixing the expenses at £3,000 per month, but I think that that is somewhat under the mark. I have another estimate allowing £360 per week for coal, £150 food, £175 wages, £275 other expenses, and £125 interest, which should not be overlooked, giving a total of £1,085 per week, or £4,340 per month. That is almost an exaggerated estimate of the expenses. But on that exaggerated estimate, the passenger traffic alone returned a profit of no less than £1,140 per month. It will be seen, therefore, that the Loongana is a very handsome paying proposition.
– The service pays only about 8 per cent.
– The honorable senator knows that the service to Tasmania is one of the ‘most profitable that the Union Steam-ship Company possesses.
– The company’s representatives admitted that it was profitable, but they did not say that it was very profitable.
– Dees the honorable senator see any green in their eyes? The successful business man usually keeps his mouth shut.
– There is nothing to prevent other companies from competing against the Union Steam-ship Company.
– The honorable senator is child-like and bland, after the fashion of the wily Celestial. If there were any prospect of competition with the Union Company, the people pf Tasmania would not be agitating for the establishment of a Commonwealth mail service. But there has not been any competition for years, nor is there likely to be.
– That remark applies to the whole of the coastline of Australia.
– Exactly. The Union Steamship Company, in conjunction with Huddart Parker and Company, are now receiving from the Common- wealth a subsidy amounting to about £73 5s. per trip. They are making big profits every year. Yet in the face of this knowledge the Commonwealth turned down a business proposition that every honorable senator would jump at with both hands if he only had the means at his disposal. Every business person in Launceston recognises that. Only the other day, I had a conversation with a member of the Tasmanian Government, who recognises it. I had another conversation with a prominent Liberal, who told me that he had wired to the Commonwealth Government protesting against this contract being let, especially for a term of seven years. At the present time, Tasmania is spending about £500,000 on the River Tamar. We intend to make the front door of Tasmania a presentable one, and to enable ships trading to that State to proceed up. that river with safety and expedition. Why ? Mainly for the benefit of . this company, which is exploiting all the producers of Tasmania.
– And the consumers.
– Yes; because all freights and fares are calculated in the cost of articles, and the burden is passed on to the consumer. The people of Tasmania are being taxed to pay these charges and fares.
A proposition was offered to us by the people of Australia through the late Government, under which the six States could have entered into this most businesslike undertaking of establishing Commonwealthowned steam-ships to Tasmania. Tasmania would have had no responsibility in connexion with it, except her Federal responsibility. The whole of the big States would have helped the Cinderella of the Commonwealth in this enterprise. But because the proposal emanated from the Labour party it was turned down.
As a representative of Tasmania, I have done my duty here. We b.iva been refused information, and our protests have been unavailing. But I am glad to say that there is a growing feeling against the crime which has been perpetrated in allowing this company practically to dictate the conditions under which we shall conduct our business, and under which we shall travel to and from Tasmania till the year ‘ 1920. Those who are responsible for this crime will, I feel sure, soon be hurled from the positions which they now occupy.
The people will’ have an object-lesson in the perpetuation of this monopoly through the efforts of honorable senators opposite - an object lesson which will do more good to the Labour party than any other act which my honorable friends have committed.
I did hope on this proposal to receive the consideration and assistance that such a worthy project merits. I had hoped to secure the support of Senator Keating, who was a member of a Committee which brought down to the Senate a recommendation
– The honorable senator has put forward a bigger proposition.
– Not at all. If Senator Bakhap chooses to visit the Parliamentary Library, and read up the evidence which was taken by the Committee which recommended the establishment of a Commonwealth oversea steam-ship service, he will find that for the sum of £4,000,000 - surely not an impossible one for this great Commonwealth to find - we could secure a fleet of six wellequipped vessels, each of 12,000 tons, which would maintain a. fortnightly service with England, and which could carry our mails.
– We should build a couple more warships to defend the vessels which are already trading there.
– The Labour party realized their duty in the matter of establishing an Australian Navy. They have done their duty nobly, instead of encouraging a mere flag-flapping Dreadnought mania. I would recommend my honorable friend to go to the fruit-growers of Tasmania, and inquire whether a Commonwealth line of steamers, trading overseas, would be a good thing for Australia or not. Take the opinion of such authorities as Mr. George Graham.
– -Read his statements in to-day’s newspapers.
– Whatever his politics may be, Mr. Graham has always advocated the establishment of a national line of oversea steamers. Crusted Conservative though he may be, he has been statesman-like enough to look ahead, and to recognise that the only solution of our transport troubles to Great Britain lies in the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers. Let me quote another authority - Mr. Elwood Mead. That gentleman is recognised as an authority in his particular branch of agricultural science. He advocates the running of an Australian-owned line of steamers. So, too, does Mr. Preedy, of the Customs Department.
In many parts of the world, the question of sea transport is receiving more and more of governmental attention. Had the present Government not entered into a fresh contract, against the wishes of nine-tenths of the people of Australia and Tasmania, we could have had a couple of vessels with a speed of 25 knots running to Tasmania, and, indeed, Mr. O’Malley’s ideal of 30 miles an hour would not have been impossible of attainment. In this connexion, I would like to refer honorable senators to a recent number of the Shipbuilder. If they will refer to that publication, they will find that between Dieppe and Southampton the steamer Paris is running under contract at 24 knots per hour.
– How many knots has she to do altogether ?
– It is true that the voyage is a short one. She is built on similar lines to the Loongana, and is of light draft. Had the Government not entered into a fresh contract with the Union Company, the people of Tasmania might have had an improved Paris running between Melbourne and Launceston.
– We are going to give them the money with which to build a boat themselves, if they choose.
– The honorable senator’s much-beloved Legislative Council will never permit them to build ships. Men of such high intellectual calibre would never advocate governmental sea transport.’
– It is precisely what some of them do advocate.
– With all their ability, I say that many of these men have not the statesmanship of a bull-frog. We might as well expect the sea to run dry as anticipate that they will do what the honorable senator suggests.
Our opportunity was here. But for. a mere political accident - the majority of one - we Tasmanians should have sen our efforts attain fruition, and we should have been able to travel to our homes at the week end in our own steamers, and under our own blue Australian flag. Unfortunately, instead, we are compelled to place on record our hostility to the renewal of a contract which will, for a lengthy period, place Tasmania at the mercy of a few persons who have no sympathy with her aims, her trade, her aspirations, her ideals, and’ with the commercial men who are conducting her businesses. That has been done, and we cannot undo it; but sooner or later the day of reckoning will come, when their masters, the people of Tasmania, will have something to say to those who have so unfairly and so cruelly betrayed their State.
Judging by their intellectual standard, I feel sure that honorable senators on this side of the chamber, with their wide statesmanship, their wide outlook, and their depth of thought, will support my motion. Even though it will be too late, the passing of the motion will at least serve to show the very wide divergences of opinion and the very wide differences of principle between honorable senators on this side and those on the other side who are misrepresenting their own State.
– I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion presented by Senator Ready for the acceptance of the Senate. His speech contains facts that surely call for some answer from the Government before the serious step of placing Tasmania for a further five years in the clutch of the Shipping Combine is undertaken. I remind the Ministry, in which Tasmania has one representative, that this contract is an exceedingly serious matter for the people of Tasmania. Honorable senators know that the tourist traffic in the season is an item of considerable magnitude to that State, and anything that will interfere with or handicap the splendid numbers it has reached in the season will mean a great loss to Tasmania. The return fare between Melbourne and Launceston is as high as £3; and any one acquainted with the trip will admit that this is nothing short of extortion. I have no fault to find with the accommodation provided on the steamer Loongana - it is all that .can be desired - but my complaint is that the fare is so high as to prevent many people going across to Tasmania who would like to visit that State and benefit by a change of climate during the summer. I ‘say that 30s. would be ample for the return trip between Melbourne and Launceston, and should give the shipping company a fair return on the outlay.
– And it would attract” people to Tasmania by thousands.
– As 1 was about to add, a reduced fare such as that would’ mean that there would be double the number of people visiting Tasmania in the summer.
– Does the honorable senator remember when they took people’ across for 5s. ?
– What was the class of boats?
– The best of the day.
– That state of affairs was due to the cut-throat competition then going on!
– And it did not last very long.
– The cut-throat compeltition gave place to combination, and Tas-, mania has had to pay for . it ever since. But I am not arguing for such a ridiculous fare as 5s. What I ask is that the company should’ provide decent accommo’dation for a reasonable fare.
– I was merely draw? ing the attention of the’ honorable senator to the fact that, when the fare1 was 5s., it did not attract the people to Tasmania .. in thousands.
– My friend must know very well that that competition lasted for three or four weeks only, and that it was at a season when people were not likely to travel for health reasons. i commend this point to my friends Oppo site who, like myself, represent Tas* mania. Not only has Tasmania a decreasing revenue, but also a constantly falling population, and -any interference with the present financial position of the State is an unquestionably serious matter.So that all that can be done should be done to help Tasmania, which, because of its position, has been very seriously handicapped as a consequence of Federation. We seek to have double the number of visitors to Tasmania in the summer time - already arrangements are being made for their accommodation - but we are not likely to get the class’ of people we desire, because the prohibitive fare permits only the moneyed or’ wealthy people to travel across the Strait arid benefit by the change of climate.”’ The freights and fares are of grave concern ‘to the business community as well: ‘Quite recently this matter was taken up in the columns of the Tasmanian press, which’, though not at all favorable to the Labour party, can see in this contract for five years, into which the Government propose to enter with the Shipping Combine, something that will be detrimental to the interests of Tasmania.
– Hear, hear! They will be squealing by-and-by.
– Senator Ready has dealt very ably with the certain financial effect this contract will have on the producers of Tasmania. I wish to quote the Launceston Examiner of the 31st March of the present year, when the latest increase in freights was put on by the Shipping Combine operating between Victoria and Tasmania.
– You are referring to the 15 per cent, increase.
– The Launceston Examiner said -
Merchants and manufacturers are complaining of the further increase in Inter-State freights by the shipping companies. In the past the practice has been to make a small advance of 5 per cent, or less, but this latest jump is one of is per cent., making a total of 20 per cent, in the last six months. Business men regard the increase with alarm, and state that it will seriously affect the -Inter-State trade. Even if it does not lead to the curtailment of imports and exports it will necessitate higher prices being charged for goods with a corresponding upward tendency in the cost of living. My friends opposite claim that they have the only remedy for the increased cost of living. Yet their first act of any consequence is to enter into an agreement with the Shipping Combine, whose operations will have the direct result of increasing the cost of living to the people of Tasmania, who are notoriously the lowest paid in any part of the Commonwealth. The article continues -
The shipping companies said that the advance has been necessary because many vessels are tunning practically empty, owing to the outbreak of small-pox, but they do not say that these rates will be reduced when the conditions again become normal. It also seems peculiar that the advanced rates apply, not to cargo shipped on vessels trading to the infected city, but to goods consigned to any port in Australia from Geraldton to Cairns.
– They used the drivers’ strike in Adelaide in the same way.
– The article supports the contention of the Labour party that there is a Shipping Combine. Freights have been raised, not only between Tasmania and the mainland, but from one end of Australia to the other. I do not think that there is any difference of opinion among honorable members of either branch of the Legislature as to the existence of the Combine. Senator Clemons, in a very half-hearted way, admitted to-day that we knew as- well as he did his views concerning the shipping arrangements between Victoria and Tasmania. He has, on more than one occasion, made strong statements concerning the operations of that Shipping Combine but now, as a member of the Ministry, he is using his power to further tie up Tasmania to the Combine. The honorable member for Franklin, in season and out of season, has been an uncompromising opponent of the Combine. He has stated emphatically in the other House that a Shipping Combine exists and is operating detrimentally to the interests of Australia. It must be pleasing to him to know that the Government that has been kept in power by his vote is about to extend the contract with this Shipping Combine for a further period of five years, and is thus going to allow the people of Tasmania to be further exploited. It seems not altogether improper, in this connexion, to place on record his views regarding the Combine, and the manner in which it has treated the people of Tasmania. They will be found in the Hansard record for 3rd December, 1912, Vol. LXVIII., page 6259-60-
I have only to say that, although all the representatives of Tasmania, including members of the Labour and of the Liberal party, urged the Postmaster-General not to give a joint mail contract to the two shipping companies trading there, since by doing so he would only be assisting in building up a combine.
The honorable member is here criticising the action of the late Labour Government in extending the contract with the Shipping Combine for a period of two years, in regard to which they had no option -
He accepted a joint tender from the two companies, so that there is no chance of any competition in the shipping trade between here and Tasmania. If any action taken by the Government since the original contract was signed - a contract which I opposed - hai tended more than any other to strengthen a combine it is that of the Minister in giving the mail contract to joint tenderers for a further period of two years.
He must be happy to know that the Government which he is keeping in power by his vote is about to make a .contract, not for two, but for five years.
He has thus bolstered up and buttressed the combine and destroyed all possibility of competition. There are two shipping companies trading between Australia and Tasmania, and I do not hesitate to say that there is a combination between them. I do not state that (here is a written agreement, but I do say very distinctly that there is what is called an understanding between the two companies, and that there is practically no competition between them.
Mr. Laird Smith. ‘How could we prove the existence of a combine to the satisfaction of the Court where there was no written agreement?
Mr. MCWILLIAMS. Hosts of witnesses could be called to prove that there is such a similarity in the rates and conditions observed by the two companies as to suggest the existence of a combine. Evidence could be given as to the similarity of conditions that would be the strongest possible proof of the existence of a combine. I believe that there is no case in regard to which the Government could prove the existence of a combination so clearly as they could in connexion with the Shipping Combine, if they would institute a general prosecution instead of confining their attention to the combination in shipping in relation only to the Coal Vend. The action of the Government in extending the joint contract, to which I have referred, for two years, has made it utterly impossible for the people of Tasmania to bring competition into the field.
But the position of the people of Tasmania is being made still worse.
– And it will be worse again in 1920.
– To continue my quotation of the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin -
Yet honorable members opposite talk about their desire to fight these combinations. I ask - and it is a question which will be asked from every platform in Australia during the next six months - What have the Government done to fight these combinations and trusts, which they say, and which I say, are injurious to the people of Australia? Honorable members in this House, and most of those who know me outside, are aware how strongly I am opposed to the Shipping Combine.
The honorable member who denounced so strongly the action of the last Government in extending the contract . with the Shipping Combine for two years, will have ample material for attacking still more fiercely the action of the present Government in making a contract for a further term of five years under conditions which he has described as inimical to the best interest of Tasmania.
– He will not say a word.
– It will be interesting to note his attitude in the matter. I have some regard for the honorable member’s character, and I am confident that lie will not allow the contract to be entered into without strongly protesting against it. The question may well be asked, “ Why did the Shipping Combine increase freights by 15 per cent, so soon after the Liberal Government came into power?” Why was that increase in freights made by this company as soon as the Ministerial party were returned with such an overwhelming majority ?
– Probably in order to make up the money they contributed towards the party funds.
– I do not make an assertion of that kind, because I do not know whether the company made any direct financial contribution to the Liberal party’s fund. But I do know that the shipping companies and those interested in the shipping business lent their cordial assistance on election day to secure the return of the party opposite. We know that the Fusion party are not ungrateful, and that the interests of the Shipping Combine will be perfectly safe in their hands as long as they are prepared to undergo the humiliation to which they have been subjected during the last three months in trying to run the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– A quid pro quo.
– I do not know whether there was a quid pro quo, but I do know that people interested in shipping are aware that the Fusion party are not likely to take any action that is calculated to come into direct conflict with their interests. It is, of course, with that knowledge that they were able to make the demands upon the people that they have made during the past six months, and which, I assert, have received the indorsement of the Liberal party by their willingness to subsidize the company for the period named. I. do not wish to prolong the debate, because I feel that all that can be said from the commercial and financial point of view has been most effectively and clearly said by Senator Ready. But. even at the eleventh hour I wish to express the hope that some consideration will be given by the Government to the interests of the people of Tasmania before the contract is ultimately signed. I understand that it has not yet been confirmed. I trust, therefore, that action will be taken to amend the terms of the contract in the direction of compelling the company, which is to receive a subsidy from the Commonwealth, to charge reasonable freights on goods, and to establish a reasonable tariff, in order to attract to our shores visitors, who are, in the holiday season, a great source of revenue to
Tasmania. We shall be interested to hear a statement from the Government on this matter, if the seal of silence can be removed from their lips. I know that the motion will be carried, and that it will be indorsed by the people of Australia. It will have to be submitted to another place for concurrence. When that occurs, I am inclined to the belief that the gentleman whom I named a few moments ago, the honorable member for Franklin, will vote, in accordance with his pledge, for the introduction of. a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers. We must remember that east and west are being linked up by a railway, towards the cost of which Tasmania has* been called upon to pay her share. We are not asking too much, therefore, when we request the Government to complete that policy by linking Tasmania with the mainland by means of a well-equipped line of steamers, offering reasonable freights and fares to the people of Tasmania and to those on the mainland who wish to visit the island.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Case of Launceston Boy. Motion (by Senator Ready) agreed to-
That the correspondence between the Military Board and the Head-quarters of 6th Military District, Hobart, during August, with reference to a certain Launceston boy being compelled to parade .in the Citizen Forces, after having been exempt for two years from cadet training, be laid on the table of the Library.
Commonwealth Purchases. Motion (by Senator Long) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a return showing the quantity of hardwood,, blackwood, and celery top pine purchased by the Commonwealth Government from various, timber contractors in Tasmania during the years igio, ign, 1912, 1913.
Motion (by Senator Long) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a return’ giving in detail the contract prices submitted by the different tenderers for all contracts for the supply of sleepers to the Commonwealth Government, for use on the TransAustralian Railway, such, return to include alternate quotations for sleepers powellized and unpowellized.
Motion, by Senator PEARCE (for Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That a Select Committee be appointed, with, power to send for persons and papers, to makea searching inquiry into the allegations o’f roll stuffing and corrupt practices, prior to and. during the recent elections.
To investigate the manner in which .the vote was taken; to examine if necessary the ballot-papers; inquire into the expenses incurred by candidates and organizations,, and anything incidental to and bearing upon the general election of jx.913.
That the Committee have leave to .take evidence in any part of the Commonwealth, and that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Committee to :sit and take evidence during the sittings of the. Senate.
That the Committee consist of Senators
Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert Gould, Keating, Oakes, O’Loghlin, Needham, Russell, and the mover.
– I need detain the House for only a minute to say that this, like another motion passed this, afternoon, calling for the appointment of a Select Committee, is a proposition which the Government cannot be expected to co-operate with honorable senators opposite in passing.
– Why not?
– Had the honor* able senator been in his place this afternoon, he would have heard the reason.
– I am as regular i-n my attendance as is any honorable senator.
– Out of consideration, not for the honorable senator, who was absent on that occasion, but for those who were present, I shall not repeat the statement which I then made. This motion is of such a character that it would be quite unreasonable to expect the Government to support it in any way: With a view of saving time, I do not propose to call for a division; but it would be altogether wrong for me to allow the motion to pass without placing upon record the fact that this Government wishes, as in the case of. two previous motions to which I have alluded, to mark its dissent by means of -the statement I am now making.
– This motion should be unanimously agreed to; there is- no question of party about it.
– It is all party.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce), agreed to-
That the Committee report to the Senate on 30th October.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday, 15th October.
– I dissent from this motion, because I think it means an unnecessary waste of time on the part of the Government.
– I shall withdraw the motion if there is any objection from the Opposition.
– The motion may be withdrawn, so far as I am concerned. Legislation ought to be introduced in this chamber by the Government, who are ^responsible for its initiation; and there are several measures of a non-party character, such as a Bankruptcy Bill, that might well be considered. The- Government, however, are deliberately keeping those measures in another place, and putting them at the bottom of the noticepaper, while they and their supporters :go round the country declaring that they are unable to proceed with, the business because of obstruction in the Senate. In this the Government are hypocritical, because they know very well that the measures to which I have referred could be dealt with here.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [6.26].- If the Government have any business, I hope we shall re-assemble next week; .buib I protest against senators being brought from distant States to sit for two or three hours on one or two days-. We ought, if it be necessary, to adjourn for a week or two, especially if there is no more business than we have had during the last week.
.- I join in the protest that has been made against the proposed, adjournment, while the Senate might very well proceed with business in its legitimate sphere. Like Senator O’Loghlin, I object to being brought from another State merely to sitfor a day or two ; but if an adjournment be necessary, then we should make it. for two or three weeks, or even a month.
-. - What does the honorable senator suggest?
– At present I am not acting as adviser to the Government, whose duty it is to arrange the business.
– The honorable senator is offering advice.
– I am offering a suggestion, which I do not think is unreasonable.
– It is so reasonable that I wish the honorable senator to amplify it a little.
– I can understand that the Minister, in his present plight, is willing to take advice from anybody. I should like to see the Government ask for an adjournment, if an adjournment is necessary, that would enable honorable senators from distant States to. have two or three weeks to attend to their own business.
Sitting suspended from 6.83 to 8 p.m. Senator MILLEN (New South WalesMinister of Defence) [8.1]. - I ask the attention of honorable senators for a few minutes, because what I have to say is dictated by a desire to consult entirely their convenience. The position which confronts the Senate is as well known to honorable senators on the other side as it is to myself and other members of the Government. Whether the course taken by the Government is right or wrong, they admit that it would be inexpedient to bring into the Senate measures which, in their judgment, ought first to be submitted to the other branch of the’ Parliament. As- a result of that-r- a-‘ position which I have previously, disclosed to the Senate - it will necessarily follow, at any rate for a little time, that the businesspaper, so far as the Government are concerned, will be rather empty. In those circumstances, I recognise at once the very reasonable suggestion made by Senator CLoghlin in this matter. Whatever is the convenience of honorable senators, of which they themselves will be the fudges, the Government are only too willing to meet them. I have put forward the proposal that we should adjourn until the 15th instant, but if the general opinion is that it would meet the convenience of honorable senators better, or to a greater extent, I am quite willing to ask permission to alter the date to the 22nd instant.
– Will you give an understanding that Ministers will not then go, out, into tie country and say that the long adjournments of the Senate are due to the Opposition?
– I hardly think that my honorable friend expects an answer to that inquiry. I am stating a business proposition to my honorable friends on the other side, and whilst I am at all times quite willing to differ with them on matters of policy, I think it would be rather foolish for us to “ bite our noses off in order to spite our faces “ if, in a matter of this kind, we can meet the convenience, of each other. I put the position in that way, and if my honorable friends will give some intimation now that they would prefer the Senate to adjourn to the 22nd instant, I shall ask permission to amend my motion.
– If the members of the Government are prepared to take that responsibility, and meet the convenience of the majority of the Senate, I do not think any one is going to oppose the alteration.
– I intend to oppose it.
– Order ! I cannot allow a general discussion.
– I have no hesitancy in taking the responsibility, and with the permission of the Senate, I propose to alter the date to the 22nd instant, with, of course, a full recognition of the fact that if the Senate dissents from that it can by rejecting the motion either meet again next Wednesday, or give me the opportunity of reverting to my original proposition. I ask permission to substitute the 22nd for the 15th.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Millen have leave to amend his motion ?
– Let it go.
– No, I will not let it go.
– You can vote against it.
– I can object to it, too, if I like.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the Minister of Defence have leave to amend the motion ?
– I know that it is against the rules, sir, but I put it to Senator McDougall that, even if he dissents from the motion I am anxious to put, he will not be debarred from voting against it.
– I know that.
– All that I seek is permission to amend the motion as to the date, and it will then become a question against which he can vote if he wishes.
– I wish to know, sir, if my objection will stop the motion from being amended.
– Well, I object.
– Then my motion as it stands,, sir, is now in your hands.
– An amendment as to the date can be moved.
– I propose, though the course is unusual, to submit an amend!’ ment. I have heard honorable senators on the other side say that this was a matter in which they wanted the Leader of the Senate to express his sense et the responsibility which the Ministry are taking. I am prepared to emphasize the statement that my colleague did make, that the Government will take the responsibility of moving for this adjournment clearly and unmistakably. If that troubles: the Opposition, I move -
That the word “ 15th” be 1’e’ft out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ 22nd.”’
Amendment agreed to. Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Boeingb at Cockburn Sound: Report op Third Naval Officer.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn. Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) [8.8]. - At the beginning of the sitting I put to the Honorary Minister a question which I wish to repeat to the Minister of Defence now, and that is in regard to the suspension of the Second Member of the Naval Board. Is he yet in a position to make a statement to the Senate as to the reasons for that suspension, and what subsequent action he proposes to take in respect thereto % I do not intend to comment on the matter, aB that would be altogether out of place. In answering a question to-day, the Honorary Minister gave a quotation from a report by the Third Naval Member, bat in reply to an inquiry, “ Would the Minister lay the report on the table?” no reply was given. Has the Minister of Defence any objection to lay the report on the table, so as to make it available?
– I wish to draw attention to a report in the Herald of the proceedings in another place this morning, when the Prime Minister again repeated what I have on several occasions contradicted - at least twice on the floor of the Senate - and that is a remark in reference to the inquiry into the case of Mr. Chinn. It would seem that Mr. Cook, by continual reiteration of language which he must know is false, is determined, by hook or by crook, to get into the public mind the idea that I have taken up a certain- attitude with regard to an expression of opinion on that case. The latest comment by the Prime Minister of Australia appears in to-night’s Herald. Arising out of a question about the suspension of Captain Onslow, Mr. Frazer said, “ I think that it is shocking treatment of a naval officer,” and Mr. Cook’s rejoinder was, “You are as bad as do Largie - pre-judging a case.” Language of that kind is, in my opinion, more befitting a larrikin from Little Bourkestreet than the Prime Minister of Australia.
– Do you refer’ to the
Temark of Mr. Frazer or to that of Mr. Cook ?
– I am taking exception to’ Mr. Cook’s remark in reference to myself. Mr. Frazer is in another place, with Mr. Cook right opposite, and can speak for himself. It is a cowardly thing for Mr. Cook to go on repeating a statement which he must know is false. The statement is as false as an infernal lie could possibly be, still he keeps on repeating it. That is not only unfair to myself, but extremely unfair to the man whose case is being inquired into. Such statements show that the present Prime Minister of Australia has’ not the slightest sense of what is due to the responsibilities of his position or of fair play to others. I think that it is only right I should direct attention to this matter. Though what Mr. Cook says cannot injure me personally, his ‘statements may .do injury by inducing the public to” believe that the Chairman of the Select Committee dealing with Mr. China’s dis- - missal has adopted an attitude of “ prejudging the case.” That is extremely unfair, and I again enter my protest against Mr. Cook making statements of this kind.
– If ho other senator desires to say anything, I will take advantage of the opportunity afforded me by the Standing Orders in speaking in reply to answer the questions submitted by -Senator Pearce. I should like, first of all, to say, with regard to the .question raised as to the action taken in regard to Captain Onslow, that I distinctly appreciate the guarded tone in which Senator Pearce has expressed his desire for information. In view of that, I feel sure that the honorable senator will not misunderstand the request I now make to him not to ask me for a detailed statement at this juncture. I can assure him that a step of so serious a kind was not taken lightly, nor, in my judgment, without good cause. The honorable senator probably knows as well as I do, and better, perhaps, than does any other man in the Commonwealth, that the position of the Naval Board has not been entirely satisfactory for some time.
– Hear, hear I Senator MILLEN. - In these circumstances, . and seeing that finality has not yet been reached, I will leave it to the honorable senator to say whether there is any call for me to ‘say anything further on the subject at this juncture. With regard to the request (or tlie production of a’ report, the honorable senator seems to be under a misapprehension, because -the answer given to his question waa itself the whole report supplied by the Third Naval Member. I have the document here. It is not an extract from the report, but is the whole of the explanation, if it may be so called, that Captain Clark - «oh offered. This is the original ‘document, and Senator Pearce is at liberty to see it now, or I shall furnish him with a joapy of it. It is exactly the same as the answer to his question given to-day by Jny: colleague, Senatpr demons. I dp not think that any otter matters were touched upoji which I am required to answer. Question resolved in the -affirmative.
Senate adjourned at- p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131002_senate_5_71/>.