5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator CLEMONS laid upon the table the following paper : -
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 191 1 - Statement showing dealings and transactions during year ended 30th June, 1913-
Supply of Sleepers
– On Wednesday last I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs the following questions: -
What number of railway sleepers are now available at Port Augusta for the transAustralian railway?
The Vice-President of the Executive Council replied in these terms - 1 and 2. It is not considered advisable to givethe information at the present stage, as certain negotiations for the supply of sleepers are in progress.
Can the Minister tell me why that constitutes a reason for declining to give the information asked for?
– That was the information supplied to me from the Department. I am not in a position now to add to it. I shall make inquiries if the honorablesenator desires.
– Will you make inquiries and let me know later in the day?
– I shall endeavour to do so.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 12th December, vide page 4229) :
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Continuance of laws).
– I should like to get a promise from the Minister that the practice which is followed in regard to other Territories will be followed in this case, and that is, that all the Ordinances will be circulated amongst honorable senators.
– I do not hesitate to give Senator Pearce the promise he desires. I shall endeavour to carry it out, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. I shall draw special attention, if he likes, to the circulation of these Ordinances.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The Executive Council of Norfolk Island, as existing at the commencement of this Act, shall continue in existence, but may be altered or abolished by Ordinance made in pursuance of this Act.
.- I desire to get a little information regarding the constitution of the Executive Council of Norfolk Island, as I am interested in the coustitution of the Executive Council of Papua. I must confess that at present I am quite ignorant of the method by which the former is appointed.
– Five of the Executive Councillors are nominated, and two are elected.
– It will be a pity, I think, if we do not insert in this Bill a clause empowering the inhabitants of the island to appoint by ballotthe members of the Executive Council.
– I am going to move an amendment to that effect.
– I am pleased to bear of the honorable senator’s intention, because in this small island there should not be the slightest difficulty in arranging for the inhabitants to express their opinion as to the gentlemen who are best fitted to represent them in the Executive Council. If the amendment is designed to do away with the nominee system, and to substitute the elective system, I shall be very pleased to support it.
.- I move-
That all the words after the word “ Island “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words, “ shall consist of seven members to be elected by the adult population of the island.”
The number of members of the present Executive Council is, I believe, seven, five of whom were nominated by the Governor of New South Wales. They will now be nominated, of course, by the GovernorGeneral. One of them is the president. Four members are nominated, as I have said, while two. are elected by certain people on the island. If Norfolk Island is to come under the rule of Australia, we ought to apply the same principle to the election of what is practically its Parliament as we have in force here. . We believe in government by the people of Australia, and we ought to be willing to extend the principle to any Territory of Australia. I do not think that any governing body can act in the interests of the community over which it rules if it is largely nominee, and perhaps animated by ideas that are wholly in opposition to the interests of the great masses of the people.
– “ The great mass of the people “ seems a curious phrase in connexion with the people of Norfolk Island.
– There is a population of about 985 ; but however small the number, the principle is the same. The reasons for applying it in the case of a small isolated population like that of Norfolk Island are greater than in the case of a big community. These people are self-centred. They have ideas and habits of their own that are practically peculiar to themselves, and they would resent to a very great extent any attempt to impose upon them practically foreign laws and customs. I hold, therefore; that the Government of that little community,, so far as local matters are concerned, ought to be entirely in the hands of the people, and I trust that my amendment will be carried.
– I would point out to Senator Stewart that under this clause it is provided that the Executive Council of the island shall continue in existence, ‘ ‘ but may be altered or abolished by Ordinance made in pursuance of this Act. It is the intention of the Government to bring in these. Ordinances as soon as we can secure the passing of this Bill for taking over the island, and settling the condition of unrest which is certainly very unpleasant to the few peoplenow living there. Whatever the merits of Senator Stewart’s case may be -and I am not going to enter into them at present - I wish to submit tohim that they ought to be put before the Senate when we are dealing with the Ordinances. This is a purely provisional clause to provide for taking over the island, and it clearly indicates that it is not necessary, in the opinion of the Government, to continue the government of the island under the circumstances now existing there. I, therefore, urge Senator Stewart to allow this matter to stand over until we are dealing with the Ordinances. As to Senator Blakey’s request for information, I may say that the island is at present under the control of the Governor of New South Wales. An Order in Council made in New South Wales in 1897 provided for the appointment of a Chief Magistrate, and went on to declare that -
Island shall, during the absence of the Governor, be vested in the Chief Magistrate, appointed by the Governor from time to time, who shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor, and shall reside on the island. . . ,
Norfolk Island at present is practically being administered by the Governor of New South Wales. His local representative is the Chief Magistrate, whose appointment it has always been within , the pleasure of the Governor of New South Wales to revoke or extend.
-Has theGovernor of New South Wales absolute power ?
– We may say, practically, that the Governor of New South Wales has been governing Norfolk Island, and he. specially desires that theFederal Parliament shall relieve him of that responsibility. This is rather in the nature of an enabling Bill.
– Is there no one associated with the Chief Magistrate?
– Yes; there is an Executive Council consisting of a president and six other members. Two of the six must be of the age of thirty years or upwards, and they are elected by the elders - it sounds as’ if we were dealing with a Kirk - who- are persons of the age of twenty-five years and upwards. The presid*ent and the other four members are nominated by the Government. That is the present constitution. There is a Council of seven, of whom the president and four members are nominated by the Governor of New South Wales.
– They say that. ‘ ‘ we are seven.”
– No doubt if we on this side could be as successful as the Norfolk Island. Council, we should have no reason: to complain of the great mass of honorable senators in front of us. That is the answer to Senator Blakey.. The powers of the Executive Council of Norfolk Island relate to the control of public roads, the management of public reserves, and to such other public works as the Governor may direct it to look after. In these circumstances, I appeal to Senator Stewart to allow the Bill to pass in its present form. I have already given Senator Pearce an assurance that not only will I see that these Ordinances are laid’ on the table of the Senae, but I will undertake to direct special attention to them. I trust that the amendment will be withdrawn.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [11.21]. - The Honorary Minister has dubbed the Bill which is now before us- an enabling Bill, and I think that the principle of adult suffrage might very well be incorporated in it. We have had sufficient, experience of the working of that principle to know that no danger is to be apprehended from it, and it is inconceivable that we shall ever desire to go back upon it. Society is satisfied with it, and I am quite sure that when other nations recognise how well it has worked in Australia, they will adopt it. I quite agree that considerable difficulty may be encountered in putting the principle into operation in cases where these is a small white population and a large coloured one. For this reason, I do not think it would be wise to give effect to the principle in Papua. But the same difficulty does not exist in Norfolk Island, and the fact that the white population there is a small one, is no argument: against its adoption. To my mind, the only way in which the jealousies that so frequently arise in small communities can be prevented is by the adoption of adult suffrage. I quite agree with the Honorary Minister that, later on, we may have an opportunity of dealing with the matter, but why should we not insert the provision here ?
– If we do that the entire Bill will have to re-cast.
– It is too vital a principle to leave to an Ordinance.
– That is my feeling in the matter. This is an enabling Bill, which is really in the nature of. a Constitution.
– It is a Bill to provide for the acceptance of Norfolk Island, and for the government thereof.
– It would be putting the cart before the horse ifwe were to take over the island, and laydown a Constitution for. it later on. The usual practice in regard to a measure of this kind is to agree upon broad principles. I hope that the Government) will see their way to accept the amendment.
.- There are two things involved in this, discussion, the first being the advocacy of a principle, and the second whether this is a proper time to place that principle upon the statute-book. The primary object of this Bill is to bring Norfolk Island under Commonwealth control. Senator de Largie has urged; that we should not deal with the matter in a piecemeal fashion, but lay down the foundation of the future Government of that island. I would remind him that only a few years ago he and his friends occupied a similar position in regard to the Northern
Territory. They brought forward a Bill for the surrender and acceptance of that Territory, which has a largerwhite population than has Norfolk Island. But they did not propose to confer any governmental rights upon the people there. They said, in effect, “ This Bill is one for the transfer by South Australia, and the acceptance by the Commonwealth, of the Northern Territory.”
– There was no Executive Council there.
– The people had no instrument through which they could express their views in any way, whereas, in Norfolk Island, there is already in existence a body through which the settlers can make themselves heard.
– There is a distinct people in Norfolk Island.
– And in the Northern Territory the people are like ourselves, and there is a much larger number of them than in Norfolk Island.
– They are a very shifting population in the Northern Territory.
– They are part of ourselves, and when we took over the Territory it was not deemed right to make any provision in the Bill by which they should share in the work of government. The late Government, who brought in the Northern Territory measure, introduced provision for Ordinances, just as is proposed in the present Bill. I have a great regard, as I suppose all people have today, for the right of a community to govern themselves, but in the case of the Northern Territory, Parliament was asked to sanction the transfer, leaving the future political destinies of that part of Australia for future consideration. So in this Bill we ask Parliament to say whether the island shall remain under existing conditions under the control of the Governor of New South Wales, or shall come under Commonwealth control under existing conditions, leaving the future government for future consideration. The party opposite were quite content to take over the Northern Territory, which has a much larger white population than Norfolk Island, without saying anything as to the share the people might have in its future government, and so I think they could safely sanction this Bill, which does not impose any disability on the inhabitants of Norfolk Island, but will insure them that consideration which, as members of this Parliament, we can. promise them.
.- The Minister of Defence has drawn a comparison between this Bill and the measure which ratified the agreement to take over the Northern Territory. In my opinion, a very grave mistake was made in that no means were provided for the representation in this Parliament of the people who live in the Northern Territory.
– Further, at that time we took away from the Northern Territory the representation they had in the South Australian Parliament.
– Just so; and now they are without any representation in any Parliament in Australia.
– Senator de Largie. and Senator Stewart did not demur to that.
– I am not responsible for what those honorable senators did or did not demur to ; I am demurring to the apparent objection of the Government to make any provision in this Bill for the representation in Parliament of the Norfolk Island people by the people themselves. We who claim to believe in democratic representation would be failing in our duty did we not, if we can, embody our ideals in a Bill of this description, and give the Norfolk Islanders the right to elect their own representatives to their own Parliament. We might ask that Norfolk Island - and I dare say this may be done by Ordinance later on - shouldbe tacked on to some electorate, so that it can have representation in this Parliament. We know, however, how unsatisfactory Ordinances usually are. An Ordinance affecting Norfolk Island may be brought into operation early in the year, and, according to the provisions of the Bill, that Ordinance may not be seen by the members of the Legislature for six or seven months afterwards.
– I give my personal undertaking that there will be no Ordinance passed and put into operation without the approval of Parliament.
– An Ordinance might be brought into operation during recess.
– I give my undertaking that no Ordinance affecting the question raised by Senator Stewart will be passed during the recess.
– I do not, for one moment, doubt the word of the Honorary Minister, but, generally speaking, Ordinances are somewhat objectionable as applied to big questions of this kind. The very fact that an Ordinance is in operation gives some claim to those who issue it to ask for its continuance, and we have an opportunity now of providing in this Bill for the method whereby the Executive Council of Norfolk Island shall be elected. I trust that Senator Stewart will insist on his amendment, and that it will be carried.
– I understand that Senator Stewart proposes by his amendment to alter the constitution of the Executive Council ?
– I do not think ihat we can do that.
– Why ?
– Senator Stewart has no right to assume that, if the Commonwealth take over the island, there will be an Executive Council under Commonwealth jurisdiction and management. The term “Executive Council” means an Executive Council constituted and appointed by the Governor of New South Wales, and it seems to me that the amendment can only introduce confusion. Does Senator Stewart think that the Ministry are opposed to the principle of his suggestion ? He has no reason to assume that for one moment. -
– The Ministry can easily get over the difficulty if they are not opposed to it.
– The Opposition must take the responsibility for this amendment, because the Government cannot undertake it in this session of the Parliament. I have given, I think, every assurance that I ought to be asked ito give. No Ordinance dealing with the government of Norfolk Island will be passed or brought into operation while Parliament is in recess. The members of the Senate will have the fullest opportunity to decide on the method of government for the island, and, further,
I shall take special care to draw attention to the fact that it is a Norfolk Island Ordinance that is being laid on the table, and will personally invite honorable members to state their objections to it, if any.
– Can Parliament amend an Ordinance ?
– Certainly ; that is the whole point of submitting an Ordinance to Parliament. If the Ministry, in the early days of next’ session - as I suppose will probably be the case - lay on the table an Ordinance for the government of Norfolk Island, the Senate can alter it, irrespective of the other House.
– The Senate cannot alter Ordinances - it can accept or reject them.
– The Senate has the full power of any other legislative body.
– Either to accept or reject.
– Yes. Time is flying, and, in view of all the circumstances, and of the assurance I have given, I think honorable senators might allow the clause to pass. The Governor of New South Wales, and also the people of the island, particularly desire that this Bill shall pass; and I do not think that we ought to enact Ordinances in advance. The Ministry are not prepared either to “propose or to accept this amendment straight away. This Bill does not contain Ordinances, but merely the power to make them; it is a Bill to acquire the Territory, and the Ordinances are a matter for the future. .
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I voted against the omission of the words which Senator Stewart desired to have struck out of this clause because I am in favour of this island being taken over by the Commonwealth. I realize that the Commonwealth would be better able to deal with a Territory outside the Continent of Australia than would any of. the separate States. At the same time, I think there should be some provision in this Bill compelling the Government within a certain time to give the election of the Executive Council of the island to the adult population. We might provide that, from the date of the taking over of the island the Executive Council should consist of a certain number of members elected by the adult suffrage. At the present time inPapua the members of the Executive Council are appointed by the Administrator from representatives of what he considers the various interests in the Territory; but there is a big agitation going on to secure for the white people of the Territory the right to elect a certain number of the members of the Executive Council.
– That agitation has been going on for. years, but no Government has sofar taken the matter up.
– That is so, and that is why I think there should, be a provision in this Bill compelling the Government of the Commonwealth to alter the system of government in Norfolk Island within a. certain time. If we pass the measure without some instruction to that effect, I do not think we can expect that any Government will take the mattes up.
– Does that mean that a Labour Government would not do so without compulsion, and that, therefore, the honorable senator thinks the present Government would not do so ?
– I do not think that any Government would do it. Governments are. not disposed to take such action unless under pressure by a big agitation and to avoid trouble.
– I gave an, undertaking before the last division was taken that the present. Government would submit an Ordinance dealing with this and other matters next session.
– They might do so, and the Senate would have the right to reject any Ordinance submitted, but I think it is better to have the matter dealt with in the Bill. I think Senator Stewart would be well advised if he proposed the insertion of the words to the effect that within twelve or eighteen months after the taking over of the island the Executive Council should consist of a certain number of members to be elected by the votes of the adult population of the island, instead oft the words he has proposed.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted -put. The Committee divided..
Majority …. … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 7, 8 and 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
The Governor-General, or any person, authorized by. him, may., in accordance with law, make grants or other dispositions of Crown lands in Norfolk Island.
.- Of the 8,528 acres on Norfolk Island, 5,400 acres have been alienated under freehold, and’ of this area the Anglican Melanesian Mission hold 1,100 acres, or nearly one-eighth of the total area of the island. If one body held an eighth of the total area of the State of Victoria, the disproportion would be so evident that there would be strong feeling againstit. Upon Norfolk Island thepopulation is about one person to every eight acres, or about seventy to eighty to the square mile; and as. the population of. Victoria is only thirteen to the square mile, it will be seen that Norfolk Island is much more densely populated than Australia.. On this account, the danger of monopoly is all the greater. There are still 3,100 acres to be dealt with, and oft this area reserves cover 967 acres - I have not beenable to discover from the debates what these reserves are - 850 acres havebeen leased, andthe unused landcomprises 1,311 acres, of which 80 per cent. is said to be ofgoodquality.
– I should say a considerable portionof the land yet to be dealt with consists of those twomountain peaks, which, from the pictures, seem to be inaccessible.
– We have a monopoly inthe island already, with one institution holding an eighth of the total area, andit is quite within the bounds of possibilitythat some other institution may come along and mop up the 967 acres of the reserves, and the 1,311 acres of unused land, leaving the people in exactly the same position asthe unfortunate inhabitants in Ireland and part of Scotland have been in ‘for several hundred years. It is extremely desirable that we should prevent that from happening at Norfolk Island.
SenatorMillen. - From whom didthe honorable senator get the statementthat 80 per cent. of the unalienated land is good ?
– It appeared in Hansard, and was made, I think, by the Minister of External Affairs.
– The information supplied is that that 80 per cent. is hilly and heavily timbered, which would indicate that for purposes of occupation it is inferiorland.
– Land may be hilly and yet of fairly good quality.
– Hasthe honorable senator seen the photographsof these hills?They are like church spires.
SenatorClemons. - The honorable senator has misunderstoodthestatement about the land. The factthat it has not been selected proves that it isnot good land. Had it beengood, it would have been taken up long ago.
– In any case to prevent what I have spoken of, I move -
Thatthe words “ grants or other “ ‘be left out.
I propose alsoto add to the clause the words -
Provided always that no Crown land in Norfolk Island shall be sold or disposed of for any estate in freehold except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.
– TheGovernment cannot accept the amendment. If I thought that anyargumentwould be of use in influencing the Committee, I should do my best to supply it, but under the circumstances I ‘think that it ‘would be a waste of time to make a long speech. We do not say that we shall not under any circumstances grant leases ofthis land, or that we shall dispose of it in freehold. As ‘practical men we provide that the Governor-General may make grants or other dispositions of the land, which leaves itopenforit to be disposed of in freehold or bylease. Inasmuch as the Bill deals onlywith a small number of persons living on a small island, Ithink it is straining a principle too much for practical men to insist on its recognition in a measure of so little importance, which in no way attacks it.
.The principle is the same, whether the measure to which it is applied be small or large, and whether those whom its application will affectbe fewor many.
– The Government have not said that they will not grant leases.
– If it were intended to grant leases,there would beno objection to the recognition of the principle of leasing, and if the measure is not important,I cannot understand why the amendment should be seriously objected to. Ifnogreatissue is involved, why dropthe Bill because ofthe insertion of the amendment?
SenatorClemons. - I did not say that we should drop the Bill. It originated in another place, and we cannot drop it.
Question - That the words proposedto beleft out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority.. . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Stewart) agreed to -
That the following paragraph be added : - “ Provided always that no Crown lands in Norfolk Island shall be sold or disposed of for any estate in freehold except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 15 agreed to.
The manufacture, or, except in accordance with the provisions of the laws at present in force in Norfolk Island, the sale or supply of alcoholic liquor is prohibited.
– I should like to know exactly the conditions under which alcohol, if it is supplied at all, is supplied to the inhabitants of Norfolk Island. I should be satisfied if the Minister would give me a short outline of the laws which are referred to in this clause.
– In my second-reading speech I gave the information desired by the honorable senator, but I am quite willing to repeat it.
– I beg pardon ; I did not hear it.
– The laws in force are set out in the following regulations, which were issued in 1904: -
– Thank you.
– Can the Minister state the quantities that are used on the island, and how they are distributed?
– I thought that I had armed myself will all the information likely to be demanded of me, but I find that I am not able to state the total consumption of alcoholic liquor. I have particulars of imports and exports, andi that, I suppose, is probably where this information will be found. I have not: got the figures separated.For 1912 the total value of the imports was - from New SouthWales £8,296, andfrom New Zealand £910. Last year the island imported seven times the value of what it exported, and there must be a large quantity of imports other than alcoholic liquor.
– Such as clothing.
– The island imports practically everything it uses, and the total value of the imports for 1912 was £8,000 odd.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I wish to say that, although this is at measure to which I, in common with every other representative of Tasmania, may attach considerable importance, it is my desire, and I hope to be able tocarry out that desire, to refrain entirely from striking either a personal or a party note. I do not wish to touch in any way whatever either of those considerations, and I hope that the procedure that. I have thought fit deliberately to impose upon myself will commend itself to others. In view of the fact that we have in this Chamber a good many new senators to whom this subject will come without that previous knowledge that many of us, who have been in this Parliament from its inception, have to-day, may I be permitted to make a few observations which will clear up the position to them. In the first place, this; Bill does not in any way contemplateconditions as they now exist. It isnot intended to have the slightest reference to the fact that, under the present scheme of distribution of Commonwealth revenue among the States, Tasmania derives its proportion, as do the other members of the union, upon a per capita basis. Tasmania has no quarrel whatever with that scheme as a principle, nor has she any quarrel with regard to the amount that she receives under it. The question of whether the distribution might be higher or lower is another matter, and 1 am now looking at the question from a purely Federal point of view. Tasmania recognises that, inasmuch as she now receives just as much per head of her population as does any other State, she secures all to which she is entitled in comparison with the remaining States of the Commonwealth. The reason for this Bill goes back to a totally different state of affairs - a state of things which was created by two provisions in the Constitution itself. One of these was known as the Braddon section, and the other as the bookkeeping provision. I have no desire to weary the Senate with a description of those provisions, which have been debated here an ally times during the last ten years. But I think I shall sum them up accurately when I say that the effect of the Braddon section was to allocate the total amount of Federal revenue that should be distributed among the States, whilst the bookkeeping provisions decided how and under what conditions that total revenue was to be distributed. The Braddon section was to remain in operation for ten years, and the bookkeeping section for five years, but both the provisions attached that they should remain in force “ until the Parliament otherwise provides.” It happened that the bookkeeping provision, which was to remain in force for five years and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provided, did not terminate at the end of the fixed period. Parliament did not otherwise order in regard to it, and it was that bookkeeping provision which gave rise, in my opinion, to any and every legitimate demand or request that was made by Tasmania for special consideration at the hands of the Federal Parliament. Whilst it did not allocate the total amount of the revenue that the Commonwealth was to distribute amongst the -States, it did determine under what conditions the distribution should be made, and it was out of those conditions wholly and solely that any injustice, if I may use that word for want of a better one, was imposed upon Tasmania. The bookkeeping provisions said, in effect, to every State in the Commonwealth, 1 ‘ There is so much Federal revenue to be distributed among you, and you are going to get it under the following conditions : If, as a matter of fact, the people of any State consume a large quantity of goods imported from beyond the Commonwealth, and the value of which represents a large amount, that State will financially benefit; but if, on the other hand, any State consumes a large quantity of goods manufactured or produced anywhere within the Commonwealth, then to that extent that State will suffer financially in the distribution of these Federal moneys.” When we entered Federation, Tasmania was in no sense, nor is it now, a manufacturing State, and it imported from the mainland and elsewhere a very large proportion of the goods that its people consumed. With the inception of Federation, which meant, amongst other things, free trade between the States, Tasmania continued the practice that had obtained for many years before - the practice of importing from the mainland a very large proportion of the goods that her people wanted, and it was under that set of conditions that a very serious inroad was made upon her revenue. Just to the extent that she continued the practice of importing goods from other parts of the Commonwealth, so she lost a very large amount of the revenue she had been deriving, prior to Federation, from Customs duties. If I might do so without any desire to stir up fiscal feeling, I would say that, though she continued to import from the mainland after Federation, her people did not obtain their goods cheaper than they did prior to Federation. The effect of the Tariff was to enable manufacturers in Australia to secure a higher price for their goods than they would have been able to secure had lower duties been imposed. The result was that when, after Federation, Tasmania continued to import goods from Australia, she did so without conferring any benefit upon her people. To such an extent was her revenue adversely affected that in respect of one item alone Federation meant an immediate loss to her of at least £200,000 a year.
SenatorStewart. - Was that item sugar?
– Senator Stewart comesfrom the same State as you do sir, and I am only too glad that he has mentioned sugar., because if Tasmania has shown her loyalty to the rest of Australia in any particular respect, it has been in respect of sugar. She has- continued to bear quite a large share of the burden
Which has; been imposed upon all the States on account of the sugar industry of Queensland. Yet she has borne her share of . that burden without complaint, and. I am not going to say anything that is calculated to create a want of harmony between the States. The effect of the bookkeeping provisions in Tasmania was to cut down revenue she had previously received by at least £200,000 a year. In addition to the direct loss consequent upon these provisions it was urged with a certain, but to my mind only a very small, amount of truth, that Tasmania suffereda further loss from Customs’ leakages. The Royal Commission which inquired into this question found- that the total amount of leakage which could be attributed to the earlier management of our Customs affairs represented about £7,000 annually. I remember hearing the exPrime Minister discussi this- point, and I may say that. I was entirely, in agreement with him. On that occasion, lie stated that, looking- at the matter fairly, he could not recognise the claim of Tasmania to any assistance worthy of the name if that claim were based upon Customs leakages.I say that any loss in that direction was quite a minor item. Moreover, Tasmania had no particular claim on- accountof Customs leakage, seeing Chat Queensland also- suffered to some extent from the same cause. To sum up, I say that Tasmania was penaized because she was loyal to the Commonwealth. Upon other occasions; it has been pointed out that if we wish to give practical recognition to the established policy of this country in regard to fiscal matters, there is one sound way of doing it, namely, by purchasing goods made in Australia.
– Does the Honorary Minister think that Tasmania, when purchasing goods, inquired whether they were imported or whether they were made in Australia?
– It would be quite improper for me to attempt to answer any such question. But I am on thoroughly safe ground when I remind? the honorable senator that, in proportions to her purchasing power, Tasmania bought more goodsmanufactured in Australia than did any other State.
– I do not think that we have any proof of that. It is a rather sweeping statement to make.
– I can assure the honorable senator that it is a fact.
– Where is the proof ?
– It can be found in statistics.
– I do not know where any such proof can be found.
– Then we must agree to differ on that point. I say that, the punishment visited on Tasmania financially was due to her loyaltyto the principle of protection, because we cannot be more loyal to that principle than by exhibiting our readiness to purchase the good’s- which are manufactured in our own country. I have dealt with these matters by way of general statements, but lest I should be accused- of having; avoided any reference to it, I wish to say that the action taken by the late Government was the outcome of a Commissions which was appointed by the other House. During the last Parliament the late Government agreed- to grant Tasmania £500,000 under section 96 of the Constitution. It was arranged that the- payments should be made on a sliding and descending scale extending over a periods of ten years. The first payment was to be £95,000 the next £85,000, and the annual grant was to decrease yearly- by £10,000 until, in 1921-22, it would have diminished to £5,000. I repeat that the total amount to be appropriated for this purpose was £500,000. It was recommended that the. sum of £900,000 shouldbe paid to Tasmania, and the late Government allocated £500,000. The present Government found’£400,000 left; and it is thought desirable - and I think it is eminently desirable - that this money should be paid to Tasmania over a period of ten years in sums as nearly as possible equal each year.
– The Royal Commission did not recommend that.
– I do notthink that intersection, has any bearing on the question; I am speaking of what the late
Government did, and what the present Government propose to do. The Royal Commission recommended £900,00.0.
– Ona sliding scale.
– The report of a Royal Commission hinds nobody, and the late Government were not bound by the recommendation referred to. I refuse to be drawn into any party discussion on this question.
– I am sorry to hear the Honorary Minister say that the report of a Royal Commission is binding on no one.
– Senator O’Keefe must not endeavour to make me appear to reflect on the Royal Commission. No Government is necessarily hound by the recommendations of a Royal Commission. The late Government had the report of the Royal Commission before them, and no doubt were influenced by it, but to what extent I shall not discuss. The late Government decided to pay Tasmania £500,000 by instalments, and the present Government have decided to pay the remaining £400,000 by yearly instalments of practically the same amount extending over ten years. The instalments recommended by the present Government are on an ascending scale, whereas the instalments suggested by the late Government were on a descending scale. The present proposal is to pay the sum of £85,000 after this year for the next ten years. I hope it willnot be said that the present Government, so far as they themselvesare concerned, are dealing with the payment of only £5,000.
– It would not he nice, would it ?
– That is the sort of interjection I hear when I deal with the subject.
– The Government have brought the interjection on them- selves by the Bill.
– The answer is simple. The late Government has disappeared, and the present Government have to find the £85,000 a year rendered necessary by the action of their predecessors. This is oneof the things that the present Government had left to it to finance.
– The Government are taking good care not to finance their own grant !
-Who knows what Government will be in power in the future?Governmentschange, and a commitment of this sort may affect either side. Owing to an enactment of the late Government, thisGovernment and the present Treasurer have to find £85,000 this year, and if they remain in officethey will have to find £75,0.00 : next year,, £65,000 the next, and so on. That is a commitment which the present Government did not bring on themselves. I venture to saythat the present Government would not think of evading the financial responsibility that that arrangement involves. Under the descending scale Tasmania, in 1921, will be receiving £5,000 only, while this year, under this Bill, she will get £95,000. The presentGovernment, in effect, say to Tasmania, “We will give you ten years within which you, as a State, may safely and clearly make all your financial arrangements, because you will have a fixed sum of £85,000 a year ; you will not have to prepare for a tapering and falling-off in the amount of revenue received from the Commonwealth.” Whether the Committee dispute my word or not, I give the assurance that, when the Government made that arrangement, it had nothing in view outside the provision to equalize the payments to Tasmania, so that for the next ten years she will get precisely the same sum of money each year, every penny of which, in my opinion, is honestly and fairly due. Looking at Tasmania’s position in the Federation solely from a financial point of view, and ignoring the consideration of all those other benefits that accrue to all the States from being federated, I do not hesitate to express the opinion that, while the bookkeeping provisions were in force, it would have handsomely paid that State to offer the Commonwealth £100,000 a year for ten years to be allowed to go out of the Union. I am perfectly certain that that could be established, and a great deal more so far as concerns the direct loss to Tasmania in the early days. I know that there are many honorable senators, who do not come from Tasmania, but who have at different times recognised ‘the absolute justice of the claim of that State because of the bookkeeping provisions!; and I feel sure that Ishall find.a majority in the Senateto adopt the proposals in this Bill, which I hope will pass quickly and without any alteration.
– I have no intention to oppose the Bill. I have no quarrel with the Government for not doing exactly as I, a representative of Tasmania, would like, in proposing to make the payments begin in a small way, with only £5,000 this year, and to increase the amount as years go on. Under the measure of last year it was proposed to pay Tasmania £500,000 over a period of nine years, beginning with £95,000 and ending with £5,000. If this Bill is carried it will mean that Tasmania, for the next eight years, will get £90,000 a year, with £85,000 in the last year. “ On the Bill which was before the Senate last year I moved an amendment to secure for Tasmania the full amount of £900,000 recommended by the Royal Commission, and it was my intention, as I stated then, that there should be a sum of £100,000 paid to Tasmania each year for nine years. If I had carried my amendment, which, by the way, was defeated by only one vote, I admit that the position would have been practically the same as it will be should the Bill now before the Senate be carried. The Royal Commission recommended that the payment of £900,000 should be spread oyer a term of .years in annually decreasing amounts. The present Government propose that the payment of £400,000 should be made by the payment of £5,000 this year with an annually increasing amount during the next eight years, and if it were their desire to carry out fully the recommendation of the Royal Commission they would have proposed a different allocation of the payments. The Government were told in another place, as no doubt they will be told here, that the arrangement they propose would leave their successors the obligation of finding the greater part of the £400,000.
– The last Government did exactly the same.
– The honorable senator will admit that the two cases are not on all fours.
– My statement is are not on all-fours.
– It is perfectly true that commitments entered into by the last Government have to be met by the present Government, but in the same way the Fisher Government were obliged? to honour the commitments of their predecessors. I blame the Government of which I was a supporter for the course they adopted in connexion with the Tasmania grant, but there is no escaping thefact that it will be the successors of thepresent Government who will be obliged to shoulder the larger financial obligations under the Bill now submitted. I wish to be quite fair to the present Government, and I admit that they have gone a step in advance of the Fisher Government in proposing to do what I believe to be justice to Tasmania. Assuming that they remain in office for the next three years they will be called upon under this Bill to find £5,000 in the first year, £15,000 in the second year, and £25,000 in the third year, or £45,000 lathe three years, in addition to meeting the commitments of the Fisher Government. My objection to the method now proposed, and I admit that it would haveheld good against the amendment I proposed in the Bill of last year - is that it will, at the close of the nine years’ period,, reduce the total revenue of Tasmania by about 10 per cent, at one jump. It must, be admitted that a State whose revenueremains practically the same for many years will be placed in a serious position! if in a particular year it suffers a loss of 10 per cent, of that revenue. If this Bill ispassed, Tasmania will receive in payment of the grant £90,000 for the first eight years and £85,000 in the ninth year. The general revenue of the State from all sources has been, for some years .past, roughly about £1,000,000 a year. Assuming that during the next eight or nine years it remains about the same as it has been during the past eight or nine years, at the close of the ninth year it will be reduced by 10 per cent, under the Government proposal.
– The honorable senator overlooks the important fact that Tasmania receives a per capita contribution from the Commonwealth in common with the other States, and one may fairly estimate that ten years hence that contribution will be very much larger than it is now.
– I do not think that that can be fairly estimated in view of the past history of Tasmania. I should like to be able to believe that ten years hence the per capita contribution of 25s. towards the revenue of Tasmania will be very much larger than it is to-day, but 1 am afraid that it will not, because the increase in the population of the State is not likely to be great. If the increase in the population is only at the same ratio as it has been during the last twenty years, the addition to the revenue due to the per capita contribution from the Commonwealth will, I am afraid, be very small. I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, but reserve to myself the right next session, no matter what Government may bc in power, to move an amendment upon the schedule. I recognise that there is no chance of having such an amendment carried this session, and I wish very much to have the principle of the Bill affirmed.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I have already stated that I intend to support the second reading of this Bill. I venture to express the hope that no alteration will be made in the schedule. While I quite agree, for reasons which I have stated, that the proposed allocation of money, commencing with £5,000 in the first year and increasing in amount until it reaches £80,000 in the final year,- does not entirely meet the case, I am afraid that if the schedule were altered there would be no possibility of the Bill passing this session. If that occurred, we should lose the affirmation of a principle. I wish to see the principle affirmed during the present session, reserving to myself the right to take steps immediately Parliament re-assembles, no matter what Government may be in power, to bring the provision made for Tasmania into accordance with the schedule of the Act passed by the last Parliament.
– The honorable senator cannot do that without a GovernorGeneral’s message.
– I have said that I reserve to myself the right “ to take steps.” That is a pretty wide phrase. I hope that steps will be taken in another place during next session by the Tasmanian members, who will, of course, try to secure sufficient support to induce the Government to alter the schedule.
– Is that a further threat of blackmailing?
– I am sure that the honorable senator does not mean the word “blackmailing” in its usual sense. It was stated in the House of Represen tatives the other day, when an attempt was made to amend the schedule to this measure, that it was impossible for that to be done under the Standing Orders, inasmuch as a message from the GovernorGeneral would be required to be brought down appropriating an additional amount of revenue. Consequently, if the £5,000 proposed to. be granted in the first year were to be increased, another message from the Governor-General would be required. It is well understood by those who are specially interested in the question, that at this late hour in the session the Government would not - indeed I doubt whether they could - obtain another message to increase the amount to be paid during the current financial year.
– The Government could get the message in a quarter of an hour if they wished to do so.
– At this late hour of the session it is hardly likely that the Government would wish to do so. It may be that the Government would not be altogether displeased if the Bill were relegated to next session.
– I can assure the honorable senator that that is not so. The Government do not wish to shelve the Bill.
– I do not pay much attention to rumours which some of us may have heard outside Parliament. By this Bill the Government propose to grant an extra £400,000 to Tasmania for a further term of years. At the end of nine years, when the paymentsterminate, the general revenue of Tasmania will be decreased by about 10 percent. That will place the State Government in a rather difficult position, considering that the total revenue of Tasmania has been only about £1,000,000 for a number of years. I hope that next session the schedule will be altered. But I want to see the Bill pass now and the principle affirmed. I am afraid that if an amendment were carried at this stage it would mean the dropping of the measure. I shall therefore vote for it.
.- I wish first to congratulate Senator Clemons on having at last become an active adherent to the claims of Tasmania. Since I have been a member of this Parliament’, I have never noticed any burning activity on his part to do anything for the State he represents in reference to the granting of financial assistance. During the past three years it has been especially noticeable that Senator Clemons has not at any time disturbed himself on behalf of Tasmania. I am delighted, therefore, to congratulate him on his conversion to the principle that our State needs assistance. I am only sorry that his change of attitude did not occur earlier.
When one studies the circumstances that led up to the making of this grant, one cannot help being struck by Senator Clemons’ conversion. For instance, I have a recollection of what occurred in 1909, when the Financial Agreement was before Parliament. Senator Keating, as a Tasmanian representative, desired to extend assistance to our State. We then found that there were members of Parliament, amongst whom were Senator Clemons, who, at the crack of the party whip, showed that they thought that the immediate aims of the Fusion party were of more importance than the interests of the State they represented. On that occasion five of the senators who represented Tasmania, including Senator Clemons, voted against Senator Keating’s proposal to secure a special grant to Tasmania. I do not desire that ‘that fact shall pass .without notice when I am congratulating the Government on the remarkable conversion which has led them to propose this grant to Tasmania. I also have a vivid recollection of an occasion when we sat up till ‘8 o’clock in the morning in the Senate debating the requirements and wishes of Tasmania. Senator Clemons was missing. He and Senator Cameron went home to bed. I remember the feelings of disappointment ‘which we ; had on finding that our full voting strength was depleted to that extent.
In consequence of the report of the Royal Commission which sat to inquire into the Tasmanian Customs leakages, Government after Government of the Federation was approached, and asked to take our financial position into -consideration. The report of the Commission showed that in the year 1903 the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Propsting, interviewed the AttorneyGeneral, Sir George” Turner, on the question of Tasmania not being credited with the full amount of Customs revenue on goods imported by Tasmania from the other States.; and he directed attention to the unsatisfactory bookkeeping system in respect to Inter-State certificates. t The Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin,’ on his return from England, in 1907, and Sir John Forrest, held, according to Captain Evans -
That any Customs leakage loss was not a Commonwealth financial responsibility, but one which ought to be accepted by the two States which were chiefly gaining by the Tasmanian trade, viz., New South Wales and Victoria.
That is the view which prevailed until the Fisher Government came into office. The claims of Tasmania were then taken into favorable consideration. No other Government would take any notice of our grievances. It was only when Mr. Jensen was elected to the House of Representatives, and there was an increased Labour delegation from our State, that an inquiry was made into our special needs. As a result of the efforts of Mr. Jensen and other Labour members, a Commission sat, took evidence, and recom- mended a vote of £900,000 to Tasmania. I wish to draw attention to the allocation of the grant recommended by the Commission, because it has some bearing upon the present position. The Commission recommended that in 1911-12 the grant should be £120,000; in 1912-13, £115,000; in 1913-14, £110,000; in 1914-16, £105,000; in 1915-16, £100,000; in 1916-17, £90,000; in 1917-18, £80,000.; in 1918-19., £70,0.00; in 1919t2Q, £60,000.: in 1920-21, £50,000.
As a result of the report -of ‘the Commission, the Fisher Government promptly ‘took mp the case, and -gave Tasmania a grant of £500 ,’000. The representatives of Tasmania endeavoured to secure a larger grant, but without success. Then, by a narrow majority, the present Government came into office. What action did this Government take when the question was brought before them ? I wish to stress this point, because there is an unwritten history of the grant - :an underground matter, which has not been brought into the light of day. I want to relate the circumstances in justice to the people of the State that I represent. Early this session, notice was given of a motion by one of the Tasmanian members of this Parliament. And that member, Mr. Jensen, who ‘has always been particularly alert in looking after the interests of Tasmania, and to whom, primarily, most of the credit can be given for the fact that it is receiving financial assistance, acquired precedence over Mr.. Atkinson for his motion that an extra £400,000 should” be granted to the State. The Government became cognisant of the fact that there were enough members in the other House, particularly Labour members, to carry the motion if it came to a. division, and so they became alarmed. They did not intend to grant this additional amount to Tasmania, I feel convinced. But if the Senate should want any more convincing on that point, I will refer them to what happened here early in the session. On the 13th August, Senator Bakhap asked whether the Government intended to reopen the question of the financial position of Tasmania, and give effect to the financial recommendations of. Mr. Jensen’s Royal Commission. What reply did. he get ? I will quote Senator Millen’s own words -
The Government is not prepared to. review this arrangement, which has still eight years to run.
There was a clear reply that the Government were not prepared to review the arrangement made by the Fisher Government. They gave Senator Bakhap a direct negative, and then suddenly a strange cry arose and they came down mysteriously and decided to give Tasmania the extra £400,000.
– It is mostly a promise.
– The Government came down with a legislative proposal, and, as my colleague reminds me, it is mostly a promise, because there is a good deal to come in the future, when another Government takes possession of the Treasury bench. But why this sudden conversion ? I propose to en.deavour to supply an answer to- the question. The reason was that the Government were cognisant of the fact that in another branch of the Legislature Mr. Jensen’s motion would probably have been carried over their heads, and if- it had been carried they would have been placed’ in the position of having been forced to give the grant, or flout the wish of the majority of it’s members. They saw that Mr. Jensen’s case had the support of the majority in the other House, and having regard to the awful cloud which has been hanging over this Parliament, they may have been looking out towards a double dissolution, in the Hope that they might be able to go to the people of Tasmania, and say, “ We gave you the extra £400,000, therefore return to the Senate six Liberals for Tasmania.” That may have been one of their reasons, bub I believe that the main reason was because Mr. Jensen had the numbers behind him, and the Government saw that the House of Representatives wasin favour of his motion.
I, as a representative of Tasmania, give no particular credit to a Government who will perform a somersault, and without giving any reason for their change of opinion suddenly decide to help Tasmania and ask future Governments to pay the money. There must be some sinister reason behind their course of action. In this Parliament the Tasmanians have not very much to thank the present Government for. In fact,. I cannot see my way clear to thank them for anything, knowing that they have been practically dragooned into their present position, and believing that they have been actuated by the hope of getting additional support from Tasmania in this Chamber in the event of an appeal to the people
– Do you think that they will want to appeal now?
– Probably that burning desire has evaporated. I hope that the recommendation of. the Royal Commission, as clearly expressed by the other House, will be given effect to. Although, like Senator O’Keefe’, I should have preferred to see the. amount allocated in & different manner, still’, judging by the reception which this proposal has always received here, I ask. honorable senators on. my side to continue their generous support of the needs of Tasmania. Senator Clemons was asked by Senator de Largie why Tasmania should get the proposed assistance, and what reasons he could advance in favour of the grant The primary reason; is, I think, very ably set forth in paragraph 12 of the Commission’s report, and I am sorry that Senator demons’ did not quote- the paragraph as a reply to the honorable senator: It reads as follows: -
Tasmania’s- purchases from the other States during the bookkeeping period were comparatively heavy, the Customs, revenue thereby suffering. Whereas all other States, from 1900. to 1908 increased their purchases from the Commonweath’ from the1 value of£27,424,000 to £38,444,000, or 43 per cent., Tasmanian purchases increased from £1,060,000 to £2,534,000, or 139 per cent. Whilst this increase of £1,474,000 took place, the other States increased their purchases from Tasmania by £677,000. If the difference be credited to Tasmania on a 20 per cent. basis for Customs purposes, the State’s revenue would be increased by £159,400 per annum. Tasmania’s total imports in 1900 were £9 14s. 6d. per head. In 1908, they were £18 115. per head, an increase of £8 16s. 6d. Of that sum, £7 10s.10d.per capita represents the increase in Inter-State imports.
That is the position, ably summed up. While I, like Senator O’Keefe, feel disappointed that the Government have very carefully fixed the schedule so that they will have to pay only £45,000 if they stay in power for the next few years, still, at this juncture, I hope that even with that blight on it, the Senate will pass the Bill, because I feel sure that before very long there will be in power in Tasmania a Labour Government, who will allocate the money to very good advantage in developing the State.
I believe that the good case which has been put up by Labour representatives in this Parliament from time to time has not been addressed to deaf ears. I understand that honorable senators on this side are generally sympathetic. I have nothing to complain of in the past, and I do not anticipate that I will have any cause to complain in the future. I am sorry that Senator Bakhap is not present, as I wished to say something concerning him. As he is unfortunately absent to-day, I shall refrain from making the references I intended to make. I hope that the Bill will be passed through all its stages at this sitting.
– It is rather singular that when, on the 13th August, Senator Bakhap asked the intention of the Government in this matter he was definitely told that -
The Government is not prepared to review this arrangement, which still has eight years to run.
I take it that before the Government gave that answer they went into the circumstances of Tasmania, and looked at this question from every stand -point. It was their duty to do so. They are open to the charge either that they returned that answer without giving any consideration to the circumstances of Tasmania, or that they looked into its circumstances and considered that that was a justifiable course of action to take. Subsequently, nothing having happened to Tasmania - there having been no failure of the harvest or unfortunate financial crisis - the Government suddenly changed their tune and came forward with a very big proposal. In providing for a grant of £500,000 to Tasmania the Fisher Government acted under section 96 of the Constitution, which reads -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
It was not because we were convinced that Tasmania had a right to a grant to make up any leakage of Customs revenue, because the evidence atthe inquiry failed entirely to prove that the State is entitled to even the existing grant on the basis of a leakage of Customs revenue.
– Nobody claims that in Tasmania.
– That was put forward very frequently as a reason why the grant should be given.
– It was never a sound reason.
– But when it was analyzed it was abandoned. The Fisher Government made it clear that their Bill to grant £500,000 was brought forward owing to the financial position of Tasmania, and not owing to any leakage of Customs revenue. What additional information are the present Government in possession of ? When the Fisher Government looked into this question in the light of section 96 of the Constitution, they had before them the fact that Tasmania had a deficit in its finances in the previous year, and that there was no apparent indication that it would be in a better position in the present financial year. What position did the present Government find? They found that as a result of the grant Tasmania had a surplus of over £20,000 this year, and was in a position to and did remit taxation. I am glad that honorable senators admit that that is the only ground on which the State has any right to claim assistance. How can that claim be put forward when it has a surplus in its revenue?
– How much?
– Over £20,000.
– What do you expect?
– It is not a matter of whether the surplus is £20,000 or £50,000 or £500,000. No State can tome and say that it is in a necessitous position when it has a surplus. There are States with a deficit. One State has a deficit of over £500,000, but it has not asked for assistance. Where did the Government get the fresh inspiration ? It was certainly not from the financial position of Tasmania, which is in a better condition this year than it was last year when the grant was made.
– The grant helped to wake it, you know.
– I am forced to the conclusion that the honorable senator has come to, and that is, that we must look for the reason for bringing in the Bill to some cause other than a financial one. I am very sorry to have to think that the reason is a political one. This is an attempt to use the financial power of the Commonwealth to gain political support for the present occupants of the Treasury bench. It has been urged that this Bill will be of assistance to Tasmania. I do not doubt that it will be of assistance to her politicians. - We have merely to look at that State to learn that it is one of the richest States of the Commonwealth. It is rich in minerals, in agriculture, and in pastoral lands. It possesses less waste land than does any State of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator ought to learn more about it before making such statements.
– Because of its compactness, it should be easier to develop than is any other State, especially as it does not suffer from the droughts which are occasionally experienced on the mainland. Yet, what do we find ? We find that its population is not only stagnant, but that its departures so far exceed its arrivals that, but for the birth rate, there would actually be a decrease in it.
– The same thing may be said of every other State.
– No. Apart from the birth rate, there is actually a decrease of population in Tasmania.
– Because its socalled Liberal Governments will not throw open to the people the resources which Providence has placed at their dis posal. They will not submit progressive legislation. The result is that the young men of Tasmania are leaving it. The female population of that State is increasing faster than is the male because, as soon as lads attain the adult age, they leave it. Are we going to help a State like that by giving it a financial dole? Nothing of the kind. So long as a Conservative Government there can get the Commonwealth to square its finances, it will not have recourse to that invention which is fathered by necessity. It will not endeavour to retain its population by giving the people access to the latent wealth there. From Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac 1913 I find that, whereas in 1891 the females constituted 47.12 of the population, in 1901 they comprised 48 per cent., and, in 1911, 49.05 per cent. In 1911, Tasmania had 41,503 arrivals and 45,664 departures, an actual decrease of more than 4,000. Had it not been that the births numbered 5,537, there would have been an actual decrease in her population. Then, whereas in 1900 Tasmania possessed 4.61 per cent. of the total population of the Commonwealth, the estimate for 1913-14 is that she will possess only 4.10 per cent. of that population. I say that she does not keep her population simply because of the conservative nature of her Parliament. I am not sure - ifwe are to make this further grant to her - that we should not hedge it round with’ conditions.
– Was it because of Conservative Governments in Western Australia that we granted £2,225,000 to that State?
– When the period for the special Tariff in Western Australia runs out, there is no doubt that that State will have no need to come to the Commonwealth for special legislation, because under a progressive Government her population is increasing, not only actually, but relatively to that of the Commonwealth. A good deal has been made of the fact that Tasmania has a high rate of direct taxation. In this connexion I would point out that she is the only State which legalizes gambling, and which makes money out of it. She legalizes Tattersall’s lottery, and a considerable amount of her stamp duties and direct taxation are derived from that source. That is not a tax on Tasmanians at all, but a tax upon residents of the mainland.
– It isi quite voluntary, taxation.
– Except where persons have developed the habit of’ gambling pretty strong, and then it becomes compulsory. A man cannot invest in Tattersalls lottery unless he pays taxationto a Government which’ renders no service to him. Upon every 5s-. that he invests, he is required to pay a tax of 2d. But, not content with taxing the speculator, Tasmania also taxes the prizewinners. Yet we are told that we should have some sympathy for the Tasmanian because he pays a higher rate of taxation than does any other taxpayer in Australia. I say that the direct taxation of Tasmania is largely a direct taxation of the people of the other States. Not only is that so, but when Tasmania received a first instalment of the grant made to her by the last Parliament, her first act was- to reduce direct taxation.
-. - Is that all the honorable senator has to say about our taxation ?
– In view of the Minister’s expressed desire to close the session this week, I have no wish to traverse the whole field of taxation. Something has been said to the effect that the revenue of Tasmania is decreasing; but I find that, whereas in 1900 it amounted to £943,970, in 1911-12 it totalled £1’,084,6’63, an increase of £140,693.
– Quote the revenue for 1903, 1904, or 1905. Is the honorable, senator going to pick out those two years, and to deal’ with no others?’
– I could refer to other years-
– But the honorable senator does, not do it.
– I do not propose, to. ‘ ‘ stone-wall “ this Bill, even if* the. Minister invites me to- do so.
– Is the honorable senator quite.- ignorant of the fact that the year- 19.QQ was a phenomenal one. in every State?.
– It was the- last, year. in. which the States had complete control of their ow-n finances. That the increase in. the. revenue- of. Tasmania- is not. due- to- an increase, of population, is shown by the- fact that, whereas, in 1900,,- the- revenue per head amounted to£5t 5ss Idi, in 1911-12; it amounted to £5 12s. On the other hand, the taxa tion per head in 1901-2 was £2 15s. 10d., whereas, in 1911-12, it amounted to £1 15s. 2d., a decrease of £1 0s. 8d. Upon a population basis, that works out at £197,584. I. wish also to point out. that whereas, in 1.900, the expenditure per head. was. £4 17s.,. in 1911-12 it was £5 10s. Id., an increase of 13s. Id. The amount voted, by Parliament last year as a grant, to Tas- mania, namely, £95,000, represents- 9s. 6d. per head of the population ,. or only 3s. 7d. per head less than the increase of expenditure, and. Ils. 2d. per head less than the increase of taxation,. If honorable: senators will compare these figures with those for. the other. Statesthey will find that, viewed, from the- same stand-point, nearly every other State is in a worse position than is Tasmania. Whilst, it is true that the revenue of South: Australia has- increased, it is equally true that her expenditure has increased at a still- faster- rate: We- ought to know on what ground this: proposed, additional grant is: based. The Fisher. Government, had. some justification; ion submitting a, proposal to vote. £500,000 to Tasmania.,, because they, could show that that State could not: make revenue and expenditure meet. But; that cannot be shown to-day.., On the other hand, it cant be- demonstrated, that Tasmania has; reduced her taxation, and that she has a surplus- ofl more than £20,0.00. I shall not. vote, font the Bill, because I regard it as a piece of, political bribery^ and. noi Government, has. the right to use the. money of the. taxpayers of Australia, for that, purpose: Tie Government stated definitely that they had considered this, question,, and had declined to: review the. position- The Minister came here, to.day and told us that he did. not. want to. attach any party significance to, this Bill. I ha.v,e no wish to do, so, but I say, that the obligation is cast, upon him to, justify this grant to. Tasmania. Is it to, be. given, to? that State on the. ground, that she. is. in a necessitous position ? He cannot urge, that. Is it to. be given tor her because of Customs, leakag.es in. the past? The Honorary Minister has. abandoned that claim. It must, therefore,. be: given under that section of the Constitution which empowers us to make grants to« necessitous States. The Honorary Minister has. not shown that Tasmania is, i» a necessitous position, nor have the other representatives of that. State?
-i did not wish to take up time.
– They have failed to make out a case why Tasmania should receive this additional grant. The Bill shows hypocrisy upon its face. When the FisherGovernment proposed the original grant, theyrecognised that no State had a right to expectto become a permanent pensioner on the Commonwealth. They recognised that whilst a State might be in necessitous circumstances to-day, it would make provision to improve its circumstances as time went on. But what have the present Government done? They are practically proposing to make this a permanent grant. If they had the courage, they will adopt the course followed by the late Government, and make an annually decreasing grant, so that Tasmania might know that she could not expect this assistance to go on for ever. The effect of this Bill will be to make a payment to Tasmania of £90,000 a year for a period of nine years.
– Is that more permanent, as the honorable senator calls it, or less permanent, than the proposal of the late Government?
– It is making what was a grant to tide the State over a necessitous time, and gradually decreasing, as an indication that it would not continue for ever, a grant of an equal sum each year, which is a practical indication to the State that it will go on for ever. In the last year of the period under this Bill, Tasmania will receive £85,000 of the grant, but what is to happen in the next year ? Is she to ‘receive nothing in the next year? Will it not be said, when that year arrives, “ Last year, we paid Tasmania £85,000, and does not that constitute a claim for a continuance of the grant “ ? . I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and if it should get into Committee, and any amendment beproposed to providefor a gradually decreasing payment, terminating within a given numberof years, I shall vote for it, because Ithink that is a condition which should attach to all such grants. The best service we could do Tasmania would be to attach to this grant a condition that her Legislative Council should be abolished, or should be elected by adult suffragein order that a little breath of Democracy might be let into her Parliament,and she might have a Legislature responsive to the will of her people.
– What is the Legislative Council ofWestern Australia like?
– It is just as bad as that of Tasmania, and I should be only too glad if some outsideforce could take action to abolish it. If we are going to make this grant, let usdo so upon condition that the Tasmanian people will abolish their Conservative form of Government that locks up the land of the richest portion of Australia, and ‘makes it so non-progressive that it cannot retain its population. Let us impose such conditions as will render any such grant unnecessary in the future. By doing that, we shall be rendering a service to Tasmania, and that would be better than to hand over a certain amount of the moneys of the Commonwealth to a Conservative Government, which will leave the State of Tasmania in the same position ten years hence as she is in to-day.
– I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and decided to. do so as soon as the proposal it contains was announced by the Government. I believe this ispurely political philandering. It has been pointed out by Senators Ready and Pearce that, at the commencement of this session, the Government had no intention inthe world of reviewing the present position with regard to the grant to Tasmania.
-That is a wholly inaccurate statement.
– I am (justified in making it by the reply given by the Government toSenator Bakhap to the effect that there was no intention to review an arrangementthat had eight years to run. The reason given by the ‘Government for the introduction ofthis Bill is the loss suffered by Tasmania through Customs leakage.
-It is not based on the loss in Customs leakage at -all.
SenatorTURLEY . - Then the reason is that, underthebookkeeping system, the people of Tasmania showedtheir loyalty to the Protectionist policy of the Commonwealthby purchasing relatively more goods frommainland manufacturers than did the other States. That argument can be applied equally to every other State in the Union, and can be applied toQueensland with greater forcethan to Tasmania. Queensland is purchasing more and more of the produce and manufactures of other
States every year. Before Federation, Tasmania purchased largely from mainland manufacturers and producers, but she then collected revenue on imports from the mainland in the same way as she collected revenue on imports from England, America, and other places abroad. The population of Tasmania is not greater than that of many towns on the mainland, and it would be just as reasonable to make a similar claim on behalf of those towns because of the goods they purchased from other places. I do not say that Tasmania is not as loyal to the Commonwealth as is any other State in the Union, but I do say that she is not more loyal than any other State. She has made purchases from mainland manufacturers and producers only because of the peculiar condition attaching to her trade and commerce. We are often told that Federation seriously affected Tasmania, but it affected all the other States in just the same way. I do not think that it affected any State to a greater extent than it affected Queensland. We had industries established in Queensland, because, with the exception of Victoria, we had a higher protective Tariff prior to Federation than was in force in any of. the other States. After Federation, factories established by Sydney and Melbourne firms in Queensland were closed, and the requirements of the State supplied from the larger factories established in the other States. There are in Queensland to-day some fairly large buildings erected for factories some years before Federation which were empty within a few years after Federation, and the factory employes were scattered. Many of them drifted to Melbourne and Sydney. In spite of all this, I say that every State has “benefited by Federation. The Royal Commission reported that the Tasmanian revenue suffered because an enormous quantity of goods were brought into Tasmania by persons returning from holidays in Victoria and New South Wales, who f ailed to acquaint the Customs authorities with the fact that they were bringing those purchases back with them. I do not know of any State of which the same could not be said. People on holidays everywhere spend more money than they do at home.
– The honorable senator knows that this is all dropped.
– It is all dropped now that there has been a grant. It was dropped by the previous Government, but it is mentioned in the report of the Royal Commission. There is no State which could be said to have suffered more from such a cause than Queensland, because the number of people continually travelling from Queensland to the neighbouring State of New South Wales is greater than the number travelling between the other States. People in the north of Queensland save up for twelve months to go to Sydney for their holidays, and they take back with them as much as they can afford to buy. But in Queensland we make no complaint on that score, since we knew that under Federation there would be Inter-State Free Trade, and that it would ultimately be better for all the States in the Union. Senator Pearce made a statement-
– The honorable senator made a series of absolute misstatements. He scarcely made one statement of fact.
– The honorable senator stated that the Government of which he was a member found very little in the report of the Royal Commission to warrant a grant to Tasmania on account of the Customs leakage. Even the members of the Commission put the loss suffered by Tasmania on that account at only £70,000. But the Fisher Government said that if the Premier of the State chose to apply for a grant under section 96 of the Constitution, his application would receive consideration. He did so, with the result that the late Government submitted to Parliament a proposal to grant Tasmania, as a necessitous State, a sum of £500,000 from the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth, to be spread over a period of ten years. I do not think that any one objected to that, because the Premier of Tasmania had put the case clearly before the representatives of the Commonwealth. That legislation went through almost without a demur, although representatives from Tasmania believed that the State should have received more, and I think that there was an amendment moved upon the Bill in another place to add to the £500,000 the £70,000 assumed to have been lost through Customs leakage.
– Does the honorable senator happen to recollect whether there was any amendment moved in the Senate ?
– I do not remember.
– How convenient memory is, and f orgetf ulness, too!
– I remember that there was an amendment moved in another place.
– I moved in the Senate to increase the grant from £500,000, to £900,000, and the amendment was lost only because Senator Guthrie forgot the side upon which ha was voting.
– That was most inconvenient for Tasmania.
– He went across after the tellers had been appointed .
– The Fisher Government received a request from the Premier of Tasmania, and, while they said they were not able to make a grant of £900,000, they agreed to grant £500,000. Has there been any fresh application for an additional grant from the Premierof Tasmania? If so, I have not heard of it. It is not usual to make grants of money without an application. I think if any were astounded it was the representatives of the other States when the statement was made that the Premier of Tasmania asserted, when the grant was decided upon, that he would be able to remit taxation. Naturally he was; and if he gets this money he will be able to remit more taxation.
– Does the honorable senator know how much he and previous Premiers were compelled to put on?
– I know that Tasmanian Governments were compelled to put on extra taxation. But there was no other reason for that than the one stated by Senator Pearce, that there was an anti-Labour Government in power, and there had been anti-Labour parties in power from the commencement.
– Tasmania was compelled to double her direct taxation.
– Tasmania had to do the same as other States were compelled to do. New South Wales has been losing revenue, and has been increasing taxation for five or six years.
– Was any other State compelled to double the direct taxation ?
– One Government in Tasmania was compelled to put on taxation, which was remitted by another anti-Labour Government. But every State in the Union has had to increase taxation. Are the representa tives of Tasmania prepared to say that the land of that State is not as good as it is in any other part of the Union?
– Not nearly in proportion to the size of the country; nothing approaching as good as the land of Victoria.
– I have sat in this Senate for years and heard the representatives of Tasmania talk about the glorious land from which they came. They said it would grow anything. They spoke of its enormous resources in minerals and timber. Senator Ready to-day told us that it was a sort of Garden of Eden. He declared that it was the nearest approach to Heaven that Senator McDougall could ever hope to see. Now, however, we are told that it is a very poor little country.
– It is time it became a suburb of Melbourne.
– It might be just as well to hitch on Tasmania toVictoria, or some other State. If it is true that the lands of Tasmania are not as good as those of the lands of other States-
– Who said that?
– The honorable senator said so.
– I did not, and the honorable senator ought to know that I did not.
– The honorable senator said that it had a smaller area of good land than Victoria.
– In proportion to its size.
– Tasmania has a climate which the other States would be glad to have. In the north of Victoria we have magnificent land, but we can do practically nothing with a large portion of it, because there is no rainfall. Tasmania has a fairly good area of good land, and a rainfall which enables her people to get the best out of it.
– Try a garden hose on a rock, and see what you can grow.
– I did not know that cultivating in Tasmania was like turning a garden hose on a rock. If that be so, what is the use of making this grant at all? Apparently it is to be perpetual. It is all very well to have a poor relation calling on one now and again and staying a week or so, but I doubt whether there are many people who would want a poor relationto come and stay always. That, however, is the position with Tasmania at present. Furthermore, we have not been officially asked for consideration for Tasmania. The Premier ofthe State has not told us that he wants more money fromus. That is whySenator Pearceand Senator Ready said that this Bill is simply a political move, with the idea of winning favour in the event of an appeal ‘being made to the electors soon.
– That does not affect the justice of the claim.
– Justice ?
– This is the first time I ever heard a thing of this kind called justice. Was it a matter of justice when the £500,000 was granted? The Prime Minister of Australia of that time did not talk about justice. He said that he was prepared to accede to the request of the Premier of ‘Tasmania, who asked that she should be treated as a necessitous State. It was a matter of charity, What is the use of mincing words? If any one came to Senator Ready and said, “ I am hard up; please give me enough for a breakfast and a bed,” the honorable senator would not relieve the necessities of the applicant as a matter of justice.
SenatorReady. - If the person said that I was, to a certain extent, responsible,I might.
– The honorable senator would not recognise his responsibility in this connexion. He would say that the responsibility rested on the whole of the people of Australia, and that hisshare was so much.
– That is the Royal Commission’s recommendation.
SenatorTURLEY. - Never mind about the Royal Commissions I have had sufficient political experience to know that very fewRoyal Commissions have any influence upon political decisions.
SenatorPearce. - The Tasmanians have abandoned the Royal Commission, anyhow.
– The grant was not made on the recommendation of the Royal Commission. I heard Senator Bakhap say one day, when he was speaking on Senator Ready’s motion in connexion with the steam-ship service, “ Give us the money, and we shall be able to runour steam-ship service ourselves.” Certainly they could. So could any other individual. It is wonderful what a number of people there are who, given the money, would be able to do all sorts of things. Personally, I am of opinion that Tasmania has received more than justice at the hands of the Commonwealth. It is not fair to make a State practically dependent upon the rest of Australia for all time. It is not our business to bolster up a particular State. It is altogether demoralizing to the Parliament and’ the people of Australia to keep voting sums of money, which may lead them to believe that theycan exist on the good graces of the Commonwealth Parliament for all time.
– Did the honorable senator support the proposal of the late Government?
SenatorTURLEY. - For the simple reason that the Premier of Tasmania asked that his State should be treated -as anecessitous State under section 97 of the Constitution. That was why the £500,000 was granted.
– Is that what the Premier of Tasmania asked for?
– He asked for £900,000, but the Fisher Government thought that was too much.
– The honorable senator knows that he asked for . £900,000 ?
– Certainly ; it is in the report.
– Does the honorable senator wanthim togo onasking week after week ?
– Ifthe Premier of Tasmania wants more money, it is afair thing to expect himto come to this Par- liament again and appeal for further assistance.
-He asked for £900,000.
– How can it be said that there is a necessity for this money when the TasmanianGovernment was able to remit taxation?
– Whattaxation have they remitted?
– I do not rememberthe amount, butI remember a statement madeby the Premier of Tasmania.
– What statement.?
– The statement that the Government would be able to remit taxation.
– Will the honorable senator tell me what taxation the Tasmanian Government remitted ?
– I do not remember the amount. I have not looked the matter up since.
– Do not make a statement until you can say what taxation was remitted.
– I distinctly remember that the Premier of. Tasmania said that the Government would be able to remit taxation.
– I do not think he ever said that it had been remitted.
– I will look up the matter, if none of my colleagues is able to. tell the honorable senator what taxation has been remitted. I think it would be absolutely unfair to the other States of the Commonwealth to carry this Bill, even through its second reading. I regard it as nothing more nor less than a political move by the present Government, with the idea that some benefit will accrue to them from passing it.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senator McCOLL (Victoria- Vice-
President- of the Executive Council) [3.52]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second’ time.
This is a Bill to amend section 97 of the Post and Telegraph Act, in order to give further privileges to the public in the way of facilities of communication, and also to utilize to a fuller extent the officers and the equipment of telegraph offices. It provides for the receipt of telegrams in offices which are kept open at night between 7 o’clock and midnight. There is a great deal of waste time,as offices have to be kept open, and the generality of messages are press messages, which do not fully occupy the staff. Under this small measure, it is intended to allow various offices which keep open until midnight to take messages up to forty words, and to transmit those messages for a fee of1s., when they will be delivered as letters to the persons to whom they are addressed by the first post on the following morning.” Any words over and above the forty words it is proposed to send at a charge of½d. per word. The proposal will not be of very much use about cities or districts near to. these offices, but in places which, are a considerable distance away it will obviate a great loss of time in sending messages. It. is, of course, an experiment, and it is believed that it will be. a success. The system has been in use in Canada and the. United States of America, where, I understand, it has been very successful, and has proved a great convenience, and also a good source of. revenue. It is thought it will be just as good in this country, where the distances are so great. There is not much explanation required,, I think, as the Bill is very simple indeed.
– - If, like the Minister, we- were to view this as a simple measure, and, therefore, not entitled to very much consideration-,, we would allow its second reading togo. on the voices; but to me it is a very important measure, and I think that the Minister might have taken a little more pains to more fully state what the real objects of the proposal are, and who are to be convenienced. It is perfectly true that some people in some parts of Australia will, if the Bill is carried, receive advantages which the. major portion of the people in the major portion of Australia would not enjoy. Besides, we ought to consider this proposal not altogether from a business point of view. We ought to look into a branch of the service which to-day is a losing one. On page 11 of the third annual report of the Department - that is, the report for 1912-13 - it is stated that there is a loss of £168,108 8s. on the telegraph branch.
It is now proposed to give facilities to some people in the different cities to forward messages between 7 p.m. and midnight at the rate of forty words for1s., and, according to the Minister, the messages will be delivered by the first post on the following morning. Will he give a guarantee that, no matter how many lettergrams are forwarded between those hours, they will be delivered by the first post on the following morning? I feel sure that he will not give such a guarantee, because, in reply to a question in another place, the Postmaster-General said that, if it were possible, the messages would be delivered by the first post on the morning after their receipt, but, if there was a congestion of the lettergrams, they would be delivered “ as soon as possible,” which might mean the next day, or the day after, or a week after. I want the Senate to look at this proposal in the way I am doing. I believe that, in Victoria, about five offices are open between 7 p.m. and midnight, and these are mainly kept open for the receipt of press messages. I refer to the offices at Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool, and, I think, Castle- maine. People living in those cities and towns will, if this Bill is carried, have advantages which people in other parts of Victoria will not enjoy. I want to put the matter from a business standpoint. Would a business man in this city pay1s. atfive minutes to 6 o’clock for the transmission of sixteen words when, by waiting till 7 o’clock, he could send a message of forty words for1s. to any one of the places I have named, and it would be delivered by the first post next morning?
– You can see them doing it!
– One would have to stretch his imagination a great deal to suppose that a business man would be so unbusiness-like as to do that. There is a very important point on which, if the Department has given any information, the Minister has not communicated it to the Senate. Even on telegrams Intra state and telegrams Inter-State differential charges are imposed. Telegrams Intra- State are despatched at the rate of 6d. and 9d. for sixteen words, whilst telegrams InterState are charged1s. for sixteen words. It will thus be seen that we differentiate, not only between telegrams sent from one State to another, but between telegrams which are forwarded within a State. Is it now proposed that there shall be no differential charges in connexion with lettergrams, and that it shall be possible for a man, after 7 o’clock in the evening, to send a message of forty words, a distance of 4,000 miles - with a guarantee that that message will be delivered the first thing on the following morning - for1s. ? If that be the proposal, it will rightly be followed by a demand that there shall be a uniform charge levied upon all telegrams whether Intra-State or Inter-State. If we are going to grant concessions to the people, they should be general in their application. But under this Bill a few persons in favoured localities which possess daily newspapers will be granted a concession, whilst residents in the more remote portions of the Commonwealth will be denied it. I do not know that there has been any agitation for this innovation. The fact that the system has been tried in America, and that it is operating in Canada is no reason why it should be introduced in Australia. But if it is to be introduced, it certainly should not have merely a partial application. Can the Honorary Minister tell us how many post-offices there are in Western Australia which are open between 7 o’clock in the evening and midnight 1
– What office is that?
– The Perth Postoffice.
– In Victoria there are five or six such offices. I do not know the number in New South Wales or Queensland. Probably the total for the Commonwealth will not exceed fifty.
– There are between 80 and 100.
– The statement has been made that, because the telegraph operators are engaged in receiving press messages at night, they have idle time on their hands, and that the Department is anxious that they should be fully employed. This is the first time I have heard that the telegraphists are not fully employed, irrespective of whether they are on duty during the day or during the night. I am surprised to learn that the Department is seriously considering a proposal whereby messages can be received without overworking its employes or causing conges-‘ tion in telegraphic business. Because tha proposed concession will apply only to a very limited section of the people, becau’se it will constitute an innovation which, in my judgment, .will not produce much additional revenue, because that revenue will not compensate for the expenditure incurred in connexion with the service, because the Postal Department is not a paying proposition, and because the telegraphic branch is losing money, I think that the Bill may well be rejected on the motion for its second reading. The proposal is, in my opinion> merely a move to advantage business people in different centres. We all know that most large firms to-day employ a number of travellers, some of whom travel between the States for the purpose of pushing business. It would be a simple matter for such firms to save considerable sums of money by a measure of this kind. Whilst I am at all times anxious to extend facilities to the community in respect of services over which we exercise control, I am not impressed with this Bill. Having hurriedly looked at the discussion which took place upon it in the other branch of the Legislature, I do not think that anybody is very enthusiastic about it. I am satisfied that the Postmaster-General himself was not seriously concerned as to whether it was carried or not. In this Chamber, the Minister in charge of it may be more anxious, but “if Senator McColl were not a member of the Cabinet he would, no doubt, have a good deal to say in opposition .to it. If we can do anything in the direction of extending concessions to the citizens of Australia, those who are entitled to the most favorable consideration at our hands are the persons who are removed from the big centres of population.
– This Bill will help them.
– It will not. If they could be convenienced by a measure such as this, I would offer no objection to it. In Victoria there will be only four or five towns which will be advantaged by it. Will Senator McColl tell us how many post-offices in Queens land “remain open between the hours of 7 o’clock in the evening and midnight?
– Under this Bill the residents of these towns will enjoy facilities which are not enjoyed by settlers in other parts of Queensland. That is not a proper distinction to make. As soon as the Government begin to differentiate in that way, they will find themselves in very deep water indeed. Let me repeat that it is manifestly unfair to have a uniform charge fort these lettergrams. It is clearly not right that there should be a sliding scale of charges for telegrams, press messages, and telephone calls, and at the same time one charge only for lettergrams. If the Government do not provide for different charges for lettergrams, they will start a movement for a uniform charge for telegrams.
– What variation in the cost of telegrams does the honorable senator refer to?
– Intra-State telegrams are sent at the rate of sixteen words for 9d. ; Inter-State telegrams are charged ls. for sixteen words, and again, within a State a telegram may be sent within a certain distance at a rate of sixteen words for 6d. But under this Bill, whether the distance over which the message is transmitted be 50 miles, 100 miles, or 4,000 miles, the Government seriously propose that a lettergram received between 7 p.m. and midnight shall be delivered at the rate of ls. for forty words. I say that that is altogether wrong. The big business people of Australia should not be enabled, ob they would be under this Bill, to go to a telegraph office after 7 o’clock in the evening and send a message of forty words for ls. when, if they went to the office a few minutes before 6 o’clock they would have to pay 3s. for the same message. The Post and Telegraph Department is not a paying Department, and there is, in the circumstances, no warrant for such a concession as is here proposed, especially in view of the fact that it will advantage only a small section of the people who can well afford, and should be . called upon, to pay the fees which will have to be paid by ordinary citizens for their messages.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [4.17]. - It would be only : in grave circumstances that I would think of opposing any proposal offering increased facilities to the public by any Department of the Public Service. It is still more repugnant for me to take up a hostile attitude to anything passed in another place; but I believe that many of the objections urged to this proposal by SenatorFindley have a great deal of force. I believe in public facilities working both ways. There are only a few places in any of the States in which the telegraph offices are open after 6 o’clock. This Bill will suit business people, whomay be able to send out lengthy telegrams to country centres at a cheap rate, but the people of thecountry centres will not be given the same advantage.
– Is it not desirable to centralize business?
– I do not think so. There are natural tendencies at work to bring about the centralization ofbusiness.
– Doesthe honorable senatornot think that the country producer should get the advantage of cheaprates?
– I am just about to say what I think, ifthehonorable senator will allow me. Whilst agreeing that there are tendencies : at work to produce centralization,I do not think it is the duty of ; any government tosubsidize those tendencies or to make them more operative than they are at present. I live in a place which is only 30 males from Sydney. Yet, if any one is sick there, or there should be asudden accident, no matter how dangerous theemergency, it is impossible to get atelephone message through after 6 o’clock onordinary week days, or after 1 o’clock onSaturday. In a score of little centres within a few miles of where I live, in the county ofCumberland, the local offices are closed at6 o’clock on week days and rat 1 o’clock on Saturdays. From 1 o’clock on Saturday until 9 a.m. on Monday thereis no possibility of communication even inthe mosturgent circumstances. It is a scandal and disgrace to any Administration that that should be so. The onlyargument used to support it is that the persons looking after those little local offices require a half-holiday every week. I am not against any one having leisure time, but itmight be possible to overcome the difficulty by paying those in charge of allowance post-offices better than they arenow paid, so that at least one member of the family could be in charge of the office to meet urgent cases. On the contrary, all kinds of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities are thrust upon tie dwellers in the big cities. I have no wish to raise the cry of city against country, but I consider it most reprehensible on the part ofany Government to pander to city interests, whilst they ; systematically ignore country interests. The places I have referred to arealmost in sight of the lights of Sydney, and yet they are subject to the disabilities I have mentioned. But -I : ask honorable senators to consider the position of people living in townships in the remoter districts of the Commonwealth of what advantage will it be to a business man in a country town to have the legal right to send a lettergram after 7 o’clock of forty words for1s., when the local post-office is closed at 6 o’clock?
– I understand that a message cannot be sent to an office that is,not open between the hours mentioned in the Bill.
– That is so, but press messages to country newspapers will be delivered. I am emphasizing the fact that in any case the proposed concession will be of. no use to people living in small towns in remote districts where the local post-offices are closed at 6 p.m. There is much point in the statement that business men in the large centres will be likely to take advantage of this Bill to delaythe sending of their ordinary telegrams until after7 p.m., so that they may be able to get them through at one-third of the price which ordinary citizens will have topay. It may be argued that any thing that tends to cheapen business will -cheapen goods; but that is rather a far-fetched argument.
– It is a true one.
– It does not pan out in that way in practice. It would be found impossible to take off ‘the prices to customers the fractions of a1d. which would be represented by the saving in the cost of running a ‘business by making ‘use of this concession. In ‘the State inwhich I live, some three or four years ago the annual taxation was reduced by some hundreds of thousands of pounds. The- exemption under the income tax was raised to £1,000; and the tax on stamps and. receipts was abolished . But in spite of reduced taxation, amounting to- some £500,000 a year, the coat of living went up by leaps and bounds.
– Does the honorable senator think that that was caused by the reduction of taxation?
– I do not say that it was, but Senator Stewart is contending that to reduce taxation is to reduce the cost of living, and I have shown that, though there was a. reduction of taxation in. New South Wales, the; cost of living went up.
– There are other factors to be considered.
– I do not deny that. I say that the few shillings or pounds which a merchant may save under this Bill, in the cost of running his business, will go into his pocket, and not into the pockets of his customers, whilst the measure will; work a grave injusticeto the vast majority of the residents of country centres throughout the Commonwealth by still further increasing the advantages and profits of business people in the big: cities. Iff the Government desire to spend any of their spare time and’ energy- in; improving postal and telegraphic facilities, they might raise the salaries of some of those who are in charge’ of. allowance postoffices in country districts.
– They cannot afford to do that.
– No, but they can afford by a measure of this kind to put a few thousands of pounds into the pockets of the mercantile classes in the chief centres of population, whilst the average citizens will be unable to avail themselves of. the privilege. In the district in which I live, the persons in charge of the allowance office receive 13s. 6d. a week, and they have to deliver telegrams,’ and, find the building in which to carry on the work of the office. It has been impossible to secure from the authorities of. the Post and. Telegraph Department a decent allowance for the people charged with the working of country offices.
– But for the Labour Government, they would not have had the 25 per cent. increase that was given them.
– That is so, but. even at the present time the payment they receive is not anything like what it should be. In the circumstances,. I am opposed to a venture of this kind, which will materially reduce the revenue from: telegrams sent within the ordinary hours in order to give facilities which can only be availed of by. people in a very few centres in each State., and those people the least deserving of consideration.
– I recognise in this Bill an attempt by the Government to introduce a necessary reform. I intend to support the measure, because I believe that it proposes a. time-saving and labour-saving innovation. When we consider the great convenience which the people enjoy from the use of the telephone, especially in country districts, we have reason to approve of this innovation, which is but an extension of that principle. No one can deny the advantage which the telephone is to people- in. country districts. It saves the people a very great deal of trouble and expense, and is an important means to cheapen production. Time and treasure are saved by people being brought into closer touch with each other, and’ this proposal as an ex-tension of that principle is, in. my opinion, a step in the right direction. I believe in bringing the people of this country together by the extension of facilities for frequent communication. I direct Senator Findley’s attention to- the way in which our railway services are managed. The post-office is a huge concern, brought into existence to provide facilities of communication between the people. But at present that huge machine is practically brought to a standstill at 6 o’clock in the evening. We do not adopt the same policy with our railways. It would be considered absurd if all railway travelling stopped at 6 o’clock.
– This Bill would not keep post-offices open after 6 o’clock.
– The proposal is that the machinery of the Postmaster-General’s Department shall be used to a greater extent to bring people into touch with each other. Why should we refuse such a. boon as that?
– Only a few centres will benefit.
– I know that the facilities cannot be extended to every tinpot post-office throughout the Commonwealth. Only a few offices are open for all-night services. But, as far as the post-office can be used to provide increased facilities for communication, that ought to be done. To do so will be to save labour, time, and expense. We might as well go back to the age of the stage-coaches, when communication was slow and dependent upon the will of Providence in the matter of interruption by floods, as refuse to grant these extra facilities.
– The first effect of carrying this measure would be to cause, a great falling off in the revenue of the Post and Telegraph Department from telegrams. Business people would make a point of refraining from sending telegrams to their travellers and clients until after 6 o’clock. Wires would be held back until the cheaper rates could be obtained. Certainly in the large offices such as Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, the telegraph operators would have no cause to complain that they had not enough to do between 6 o’clock and 12 0 COCK if this Bill came into operation. The trouble would be that they would have to crowd two or three days’ work into one evening. If the proposal were that if every postoffice in the Commonwealth should be open from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock for the receipt of messages, I might agree to it.
– That would be pretty costly.
– The cost would be absolutely prohibitive. But I object to giving any one section of the community an advantage over any other section. We are anxious that the post-office shall pay its way. Senator Findley has told us that there was a considerable loss on last year’s operations. By this Bill we shall increase the loss. The Government propose to borrow £425,000 for post-office purposes. The expenditure is growing, and we ought not to take any steps to decrease the revenue. I do not know how many offices there are in South Australia that would be affected by this scheme. There cannot be very many; perhaps not more than twenty.
– Three would be open every night in the week, and twenty-two on certain nights.
– The position is even worse than I thought, so that the benefit to the people of South Australia generally would be very small. I should not be doing my duty to the taxpayers if I supported a Bill which will confer such small benefits upon the public as a whole. During the last few years great conces sions have been made through the postoffice to the commercial community. We have reduced postage rates, reduced the cost of telegrams, and increased postal facilities. No one would object to extend facilities further if the whole community were benefited.
– How much would it cost to staff the offices throughout the Commonwealth to carry out the honorable senator’s idea?
– It would mean an enormous expenditure, and the extra business done at the small offices would not be sufficient to pay the extra wages. The idea is altogether unworkable, and I did not put it forward as a practical proposition. The excuse has been made that the award of the Arbitration Court cannot be given effect to in the Post and Telegraph Department, on the score that the cost would be more than the particular branch affected was earning. The Public Service Commisioner has reported to that effect. Why should we extend facilities in this direction for the benefit of one class when we cannot even afford to obey an award of the Arbitration Court? There is no analogy between the post-office and the railway service. Every section in the community may use the railway facilities. When cheap fares are given, they are open to all. So that there is no class distinction. Whilst we are anxious, I am sure, to extend every possible facility to the people in order to bring more profit to them in their businesses, and to increase the conveniences of the community, we are not anxious, and I hope that the Senate will not agree, to extend great privileges to a section at the cost of the rest of the community. That is my point.
.- The Post and Telegraph Department is one of our most useful institutions. It can render very great service to the community. For instance, perhaps there is no public utility that is better fitted ‘ to assist in opening up the country. Out-back districts are often at a disadvantage, and facilities are sought for them from the Post and Telegraph Department. The objection is frequently urged that the extensions would not be a financial success, or that the loss on the service would be too great. That, I am sure, is an experience that every honorable senator has had at some time or another. It is our duty to extend to out-back districts, as far as we can, the services of this Department. The service which is contemplated by this Bill will be a concession to the big places more than to the small ones.
– It will help them, too, as I will explain.
– I do not think that it will help them to any appreciable extent. My experience is that, as regards postal or public utilities, the big centres have already received too many concessions. We have not spent as much money on out-back places as we should have done, and it is the latter that we should help in every possible way. Speaking generally, it is the people in the big centres who get the best of the public expenditure, for there we find all the great social or educational institutions. In whatever way money can be spent, it is spent in the big centres, and the result has been a drip from the country into those centres all the while. The time has come, I think, when we should restrict that movement as far as lies in our power, and this is one of the ways in which it can be done. As a member of the Postal Commission, I was called upon to hear a great deal of evidence, and these evils were brought under my notice in a very emphatic way indeed. We were told of cases where the big cities could get advantages for a very small expenditure, apparently, but it was pointed but that, whenever expenditure was suggested oil behalf of inland or far-off places, it was urged that the amount involved was so considerable that it was impossible to sanction it. The telegraph branch is well known to be one of the branches which have not paid for a very long time. At the beginning of Federation Mie telegraph rates were reduced in a most wholesale manner.” if the pro-Federal rates are contrasted with the rates which were fixed by the first Parliament, it will be seen that one of the greatest reductions, perhaps, which has ever been made in the country was then made. At all events, it was the greatest reduction, in telegraph rates that I have known to take place in Australia . Before that time, the minimum rate for a telegram to places outside Western Australia was 2s., and then it could only be sent to South Australia ; to Victoria, the rate was 2s. 6d. ; and to Queensland, 3s. Imagine the dif ference between the Federal rate of ls. and the State rate of 3s. !
– And the reduced rate applied to Tasmania, and included the cable rates.
– The cable rates in New Zealand complicated the matter still further, because, if I remember aright, the cable was in the hands of a company, which insisted upon certain charges being made, and the result was that a very great loss was immediately undertaken by the Department when it was transferred to the Commonwealth. In the minds of most postal officials, these concessions are quite justifiable. At that time, too, newspaper proprietors got very substantial concessions in the matter of the press messages. The Postal Commission had no end of evidence that the press rates did not meet the expenses of that service. Why should the average citizen in the community be taxed in order to make newspapers better paying concerns than they are at present? Newspapers are commercial propositions; many of them are the best paying speculations in the country. In my opinion, we have already given them too great advantages, but to increase those advantages, as this Bill would undoubtedly do, would be to throw away public money.
– It does not affect them at all.
– I think it would affect newspaper proprietors just as well as any other section of the community.
– They get cheaper rates now.
– If we want to put the finances of this Department on a healthy basis, there ought to be a levelling up rather than a levelling down. It is a fair proposition, I think, that the various branches should, as far as it is possible, be made to pay. The only one of the three branches that has paid anything for a considerable time is the mail branch. We have been losing on the telephone branch, as well as on the telegraph branch. To impose a greater, burden on the telegraph branch would, in my opinion, put the finances of the Department in a worse position than they are in at present. Senator McColl must ‘recognise, I feel sure, that we have ahead of us a very serious problem as regards Federal finance. We must recognise that we shall in the future experience very great difficulty in making ends meet. Why should we continue reduced rates when we know that, later, that will be one of the matters with which we shall have to deal ? I would advise the Government to be very careful indeed in regard to the finances of the Post and Telegraph Department. To cause a further loss on the telegraph branch, which I believe would be. the result of the passing of this Bill, wouldbe a foolish policy. I urge the Minister to withdraw the proposal at the present time. I can assure him that I am not opposing the measure for any party reason. When I was on the other side, I opposed the Labour Government when they proposed introducing: penny postage, because I felt that the Department was not in a position to bear such a sweeping loss in the revenue as it would involve. It is no party stand I take when I urge the Government to go slow. We cannot afford to put this proposal in operation. I would like to see every public utility made as cheap as possible. But where a useful service is being rendered by the Government to a section of the community, that section should be asked, as far as possible, to give an equivalent in pounds, shillings, and pence. I hold that a loss is likely to be sustained from the adoption of this proposal, and that is the only reason why I am against it at present.
– Two general propositions have been advanced in all the speeches except that of Senator Lynch-. One proposition is that Parliament should not do anything to reduce the revenue of an already unprofitable Department. The second proposition is that the Bill will only give a benefit to a certain section, and not to the whole community. The latter proposition may. be correct. But I want to be more sure than I am from anything I have heard yet that the first proposition, is correct. No person, I take it, incurs the additional expense of sending a wire where a letter would suffice, unless his business is fairly urgent. I assume that, if the Bill is passed, no person will send a lettergram where a letter will suffice. I am as much entitled to assume that this measure, if passed, will bring increased business, and, consequently, increased revenue, as other honorable senators have to assume the opposite. I have not heard any statements which have convinced me that this will be a revenue-losing proposal. In that case, surely there cannot be any objection to giving an increased facility; though it is only to a certain section, and not to the whole people. I have no objection to give increased facilities to any of the electors, even though those facilities cannot embrace the whole of the electors, so long as they will not involve a loss. It might be just as easy to argue that this measure will bring additional revenue. I had not an opportunity to hear the whole of the Minister’s statement, as urgent business called me out of the Chamber. I do not know whether he brought forward any figures’ to show that the Government anticipate a decrease or an increase of revenue. I do not know whether the Department is in possession of any information showing that this innovation is likely to add to the revenue.
– The result of the proposition is entirely- problematical.
– It is an experiment.
– Yes, and from a revenue point of view its result is problematical.
– In Canada and the United States of America it has been highly successful, and the rate charged there is much lower than that which we propose to charge.
– I am walling to give the experiment a trial. We are justified in doing that, I think, if it be only for a year. If it be found that the loss is greater than the Department can bear-
– We can never take away a concession.
– If this be merely a concession to a very small section of the population, we shall be quite justified in taking it away. But nothing has been adduced to prove that it will involve the Department in a loss. As a matter of fact, it might just as logically be argued that it will result in a profit. I shall vote for the second reading of the- Bill.
– I wish to ask the Honorary Minister if the proposed concession will apply to Tasmania ?
– Certainly. In Tasmania there are five post-offices open after 7 o’clock every night of the week, and nine other offices which, are open after that hour on certain nights.
– That is satisfactory.
– Thefive post-offices to which the Honorary Minister has referred embrace the whole of the surrounding country.
– At every election, Ministers travel from one end of the Commonwealth to the other assuring the people with the utmost earnestness that they desire to see the residents of the back-blocks obtain a square deal. Yet they appear to lay themselves out to cater for that section of the community which as already well served in the matter of means of communication. Ihave always opposed any reduction in ourpostal, ‘telephonic, ortelegraphic rates onthe ground that better facilities should firstbe given to the inhabitants of the country districts throughout Australia .
– This will help in that direction.
– I disagree with the Vice-.’President of the Executive Council entirely. Itwillbenefit only the mercantile sections in the different States.
– Far morethan that.
– Letus hope that it will. My opposition to the Bill is not new. I adopted a similar attitude towards the measure which wassubmitted by the Fisher Government in favour of penny postage. I voted against it.
– Purely the honorable senator hasregretted his action?
– I have not. History has Shown that I wasperfectly justified in voting as I did then. I said that the people of Australiawere notpaying too much for the services which they were receiving. At ‘the present time, we are faced with an annual lossof £407,000 on our postal and telephonic services. Yet we are asked to embark upon an experimentwhich may considerably increase that loss. ‘On every occasion thatan effort is madetosecure even a bi-weekly mail servicefor some isolated part of Tasmania I am metwith the cry that the revenue fromthe service would not justify it.
– That is our every-day experience.
– I feel that I am not justified in voting for this Bill until an attempt hasbeen made to do justice ‘to those who for years have been clamouring for improved postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities in isolated districts. I cannot vote for anexperiment of this kind until the inhabitants of King Island, who for years have been petitioning for means of communication with the mainland, have had their request granted. The inhabitants of Flinders Island have repeatedly asked for telephonic communication all over thatisland. In reply we have been told that a decreasing revenue will not justify the Government in accepting financial responsibility for. the undertaking.
SenatorStewart.- We can get mote revenue.
– Of course we can. If I. were assured that the Government had in view the increase of our telephonic ratesto an extent that would make the service pay, I would not hesitate to sanction the experiment which is outlinedin this Bill. But until we have better communication in the back-blocks ofthe different “States, and until ‘the persons who are in charge of post-offices there are in receipt of something like a decent wage, I am not justified in votingfor themeasure. It would be interesting to honorable senators to have a return placed beforethem showing the number of postal officials who are in receipt of less than £10 per annum. It may surprise some -honorable senators to learn thatthere are postal officials in the Commonwealth who are getting less than £2 a year. The fact that such a condition obtains ought to make us hesitate to vote for an experiment of this kind, which may involve the Commonwealth in a loss of £100,000 a year. I cannot support the Bill while we are paying postal officials in Tasmania such paltry sums as £2, £3, £4, £5., and £6 per annum. I cannot allow the Bill to pass without protesting against the possible sacrifice of ‘further revenue. ‘If any experiment is worth a trial, Iwould urge uponthe attention ofthe Government that of bringing upthe remuneration of the lower-paid postal officials in our country districts to a decent level.
– I intend tosupport the proposal of the Government. Itseems to me that at least onegood thing may comeoutof Nazareth. I am sorrythat I cannot agree with a good deal ofwhat Ihave heard thisafternoon. Some honorable senatorsare prone to look atthings in a very short-sighted way, which, if persisted in, will very materially retardthe development of the Commonwealth. They think that this Bill will benefit only those persons who live in our cities. My idea in supporting it is that it will be of material benefit to those who reside in the bush. Only a very small number of post-offices in each State will be open after 7 o’clock at night. But those offices will be in the centres of business in each State. From the farthest confines of Victoria people will do business with Melbourne. Thus a farmer living in the wilds of Gippsland, whose letter would occupy a couple of days in reaching the city, will be brought within one day of the firm with which he wishes to do business.
– No. The post-office in his town will be closed in the evening.
– I am thinking particularly of Queensland, because I know most about it. Brisbane,’ Maryborough, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns are the principal centres of business along the coastline of that State. Probably most of the post-offices in those centres will be open from 7 o’clock in the evening till midnight. Suppose that I wish to send an urgent message from one of those centres to some person living at Longreach, 400 miles west of Rockhampton. If I were to send it by post in the ordinary way, nearly a week would elapse before it reached its destination. If a lettergram from Melbourne is handed in at the post-office at 7 o’clock to-night, even though the Longreach office may not be open at night, it will reach Rockhampton in the morning, and be sent on to Longreach next day, instead of taking a week to go through. It will be possible in this way for a person in Melbourne to communicate with another in Longreach within twenty-four hours.
– A saving of five days.
– No, it will not save five days.
– The message can be sent, under this system, at the latest within thirty or thirty-six hours. Longreach is 400 miles west of Rockhampton, and the train journey between the two places takes about twenty-five hours.
– How many trains a week ?
– There is a train between Rockhampton and Longreach every day, though there is not a daily express train.
– There might be a saving of three days.
– Well, that is worth considering.
– The honorable senator is giving away too much.
– I think I am, but . I am prepared to do so if that will satisfy Senator Turley. In the same way a business man in Brisbane may be able to quote prices to a person living within 50 or 100 miles from Rockhampton. The message would reach Rockhampton by wire, and would be sent on by the mail next day, whereas by the ordinary means of communication by post it would take two or three days. If this proposal is put to its proper use, it should result in a marked convenience to people living in the bush. I am not one of those who are particularly anxious that the Post and Telegraph Department should show a credit balance every year. It would be an excellent thing, of course, if it did ; but money spent in increasing facilities of communication is well invested, and we cannot go too far in that direction. Some honorable senators seem to be “flabbergasted “ at the continual mounting up of expense. But I should like to point out to honorable senators, and especially to Senator Rae, whose opinions on certain questions are well known, that wherever you establish a post-office, erect a telegraph line, or establish a telephone system, land values are appreciated. I need not dwell any further on that aspect of the question; honorable senators know exactly what I mean. If there is a falling off in the revenue from these services, there is an excellent means of getting money to carry them on. That means should be adopted instead of limiting them or starving them. Rather than refuse some people advantages which other people cannot, in the nature of things, enjoy, we should do what we can to increase these facilities, and obtain the money for the purpose from the proper source. I intend to vote for the Bill. I am not very sure that it will result in a loss of revenue. The information we have on the subject is that, whilst we have men on duty in many offices from 7 p.m. until midnight, they are just hanging on, and very little business is done. Why should their services not be utilized ? I think we should do what we can, when they are paid, to keep them working. This Bill is a departure in the right direction, and I intend to vote for it.
– I recognise that in discussing a measure of this kind there is room for the expression of differences of opinion. The Bill is a mere skeleton, and requires to be clothed by regulation to be brought into proper operation. The objections raised against it are threefold. First of all, it is said that it will result in a loss of revenue; next, that it will benefit only large centres and business people; and further, that it will be of no benefit to country people. I am not prepared to say that we shall make very much money by the operation of this Bill. But there cannot be very much loss from its operation, because we shall not be putting on extra hands. The offices are open between 7 p.m. and midnight, and the lettergrams may be sent during those hours by men at present employed.
– Is there any reason from the inquiries made by the Department to anticipate any loss ?
– No; the inquiries made show that a good profit is made inCanada, and in the United States of America, by the adoption of this system . I do not anticipate that there will beany loss here, because, as I have said, the adoption of the system will not involve additional expense. The loss to be anticipated on the ground that people will delay sending messages which they would otherwise send before 6p.m. is not likely to be great, because business people want their messages sent quickly, and answered quickly. They will not, for the sake of saving a few pence, delay the sending of their messages until after dark, when they could not look for an answer right away. There are altogether eighty-four offices through which this system may be operated. There are eleven in New South Wales open every night; in Victoria five open every night and fifteen on certain nights; in Queensland eleven open every night; in South Australia three open every night and twenty-two on certain nights; in Western Australia one every night and two oncertain nights, and in Tasmania five every night and nine every other night. It may be assumed that the number of offices open at night in Western Australia will be gradually increased as population extends, and press messages become more common. I quite recognise that the opposition to the measure is not directed in any party spirit. With regard to the objection that the measure will be of advantage only to city people, I may say that it is proposed that, under the regulations to be formed, facilities will be given to country people such as Senator Stewart has referred to. They will be able to deliver messages at country post-offices, which will then be forwarded by mail to the nearest centre where there is a telegraph office open at night. They will be sent on from that office as early as possible, and will be delivered at the place of receipt by the first post next day. We have to deal in Australia with enormous distances and a widely-scattered population. Families settled in various parts of Australia have friends and . relatives all over the Commonwealth, and they will no doubt take advantage of this system to send urgent family messages and messages of good will. People living in Western Australia who may be eight or ten days distant by post from people living in the eastern States will, under this system, be able to send a message to the nearest centre having a telegraph office open at night, and will be able to save the difference in time in sending a message from Perth to. Melbourne in the ordinary way, and sending it by telegram.
-Does the honorable senator think that can be done with the present staff?
– Yes; we do not anticipate that there will be any need to increase the present staff. If an increase in the staff is shown to be necessary, that will prove that the system is a paying proposition. I think I have shown that the system will be found to be of advantage to country, as well as to city, people. I ask honorable senators to pass the Bill, and let us try this experiment. It is said that the Department is conducted at a loss, but if we do not try new methods we may expect the loss to continue. We cannot make up the loss by increasing charges; that is not usually considered a good business proposition. By giving greater facilities, and so increasing business, we may expect to overcome the loss. The experience of other countries has shown that the lettergram system has paid, and we believe it will pay in Australia..
Question- That the Bill be now read a second time-put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 97 of the Post and Telegraph Act 190.1-1912).
– This clause proposes to insert in section 97 of the principal Act the words “prescribing the conditions of recent transmission and delivery of lettertelegrams.” The Minister informed us that when the regulations were drawn up it would be possible for a number of people who apparently would not be advantaged by this Bill to be placed in the same position as those who are living in places where the post-offices are open between 7 and 12 in the evening. He observed that if a lettergram was handed in at the Melbourne office between 7 and 12, and was received atWarrnambool before midnight, it would be delivered with the next morning’s letters. But there is no guarantee of that.
– The same guarantee that there is that the letters will be delivered.
– Where there is a congestion in telegraphic work, are we to understand that the men are to be kept after ordinary hours in order that these lettergrams may be despatched so that they may be delivered by the first post next morning. Suppose that a l ettergram is handed in at Melbourne, and is received at Warrnambool before midnight. Do I understand that people living at a distance from Warrnambool will be able to enjoy the same facilities! Suppose that a message is received at Warrnambool to be sent on to Koroit, where the post-office is not open between 7 p.m. and midnight. Koroit is about 10 miles from Warrnambool. How will the people there get the benefit of this concession ? Do the Government propose to make differential charges in respect’ to. lettergrams? Is there, for instance, to be one charge for sending a lettergram from Melbourne to Warrnambool, 167 miles, and a different charge for sending a lettergram from Melbourne to Thargomindah, in Queensland, or to Thursday Island?
-There is no differential charge in regard to letters now.
– But here letters are to be forwarded by telegram.
– I understand that the honorable senator is now advocating the penalizing of the man who is far out.
– The honorable senator understands quite a number of things since Saturday night. Something happened in New South Wales then which must have caused him to think very hard. He will have to be careful not to break his “thinker.” If he did that it would be a misfortune for himself and the Government. This amendment of the law will penalize the man who is far out. It is simply a concession to business firms. Those who will be most advantaged by it are large firms, who will be able to send messages at a lower cost than is at present possible. I still await an explanation from the Minister as to how what is proposed will benefit those persons who live in towns where the post-offices are not open between 7 p.m. and midnight. I venture to say that even if this measure does bring additional revenue to the Department it will necessitate a much greater quantity of work being performed by the operators. The bulk of the business will be done, not in small offices, but in the big centres. I venture to say that in the capital cities the operators are already fully employed during the. hours when they are at work in the evening. Indeed, while the late Administration was in office, it was complained that a number of operators were very much overworked. I am not in a position to say whether there was any justification for that statement. But if the operators are kept sufficiently employed to-day, and if, as we are told, this Bill will produce an increase in the volume of telegraphic business, it must necessitate the employment of additional operators, which will involve additional expense. As the telegraph branch of the service is a non-paying branch to-day, the least we could expect from the Minister was information that there is either to be a uniform charge in respect to lettergrams or a differential rate. I cannot reconcile myself to the two propositions the Government are making - a differential rate in regard to telegrams and a uniform charge of Is. for forty words for lettergrams to any part of Australia. If it is right to have a differential charge in regard to telegrams, it cannot be wrong to have a differential charge in respect to lettergrams.
– Make the telegram rate uniform and get more revenue.
– I am pointing out that the telegraph service to-day is a non-payable proposition. And if you are going to reduce the charges for telegrams in the direction which the honorable senator suggests-
– I suggested nothing of the kind. I suggested increasing the rates in Victoria. We federated to get uniform rates.
– Victoria gets no advantages from the telegraph service that are not enjoyed by any other State. If I want to wire to New South Wales I can send a message at the rate of sixteen words for1s. While I am in New South Wales I can send a similar message to Victoria at the same rate, so that this State is in the same position as every other State. But we have a branch in the Post and Telegraph Department that is losing money every year, and when a serious proposition is put forward by the Minister that this proposal will be an advantage to the bulk of the citizens, I say that his statement is not borne out by the speech he delivered, and by the information given by the Postmaster-General in another place. It is a concession that will mean very much to big business men in different parts of Australia who employ a considerable number of Inter-State travellers. Some firms employ quite an army of them. They will be able to do their business by means of lettergrams at a saving of probably many hundreds of pounds year in and year out. I still hold the opinion that it is a manifestly unfair concession to a limited section. If we are prepared to give facilities to the people in regard to the telegraph, telephone, or ordinary mail services, they should have a general application.
– I have again to say that this is not a concession to a limited section or the community, that is to business people. I will take Senator Findley’s own illustration. Warrnambool is a postal centre for a number of places. Lettergrams that are posted in Melbourne, or any other place, where the office is open, will reach Warrnambool in time for the first post that goes from the receiving office. If lettergrams leave Melbourne at night they will be delivered with ordinary letters in the morning. The fear of any congestion delaying delivery is one which I think we need not consider. Warrnambool is the centre of a number of small offices, with mails radiating from Warrnambool. We shall not be able to send the lettergrams out by letter delivery, but we can send them out by the first mail that goes.’ The same thing will apply all over Australia.
– The letters from the Warrnambool office are distributed after the mails are received by train.
– That is a mere matter of detail; I am speaking of the general principle, but those who cannot get lettergrams delivered by the lettercarrier will have them sent out by the first mail to the post-office where they get their ordinary letters. They will, therefore, save an enormous amount of time - the whole of the time occupied in travelling, say, from Melbourne to Warrnambool, or to Broome, or other place in Western Australia. Conversely, if the people in country offices desire to take advantage of the system they can post their letters at a country office. They will go by the first mail to the central receiving office, and will be forwarded to their destination. It isnot proposed to differentiate, as the rate is laid down in the Bill. With regard to the work-, the Bill was drafted in the central office.-. The work which the operators are doing is known. The officials in the central office say that there is ample time in most of the offices for these messages to be sent between press messages. I am not Postmaster-General, but that is the information which comes from the central office, and that is my authority for making the statement.
– Regarding the benefits of this system as between country and town the benefits must be mutual, because if it benefits a man in the town to send a lettergram, some man in the country will receive it, and he will be equally benefited.
– He would if he could send one, but he cannot get an opportunity to send one.
– He can send in the same way as he receives.
– He will get it by mail.
– Will he not receive the lettergram by mail? He can send a lettergram in the same way. Suppose that I want to send a lettergram to Townsville at night. The message will be delivered there after 9 o’clock in the morning. But a lettergram for Charters Towers will have to be posted from Townsville, because lately the Charters Towers office has not been open at night. The lettergram will have to be posted by the first train from Townsville to Charters Towers, and the man there will receive it per medium of telegram and letter. He will be able to send his reply to me in the same way by lettergram again.
– How can he do it?
– The man at Charters Towers can post a lettergram to Townsville just as he receives one, and from that point it will go on to Melbourne.
– I do not think that you can.
– I believe that in this matter reciprocity of treatment will be arranged for. Queensland is ari immense State. It is not linked up like Victoria by railways with almost every important centre. We are developing Queensland from five distinct points, and it is divided into three areas, any one of which would “lose” two or three Victorias. It is of immense advantage to us that we should have rapid communication. This proposal will certainly tend to increase our facilities. If the system does not pay we shall have to resort to means to make it pay.
– Every urgent letter can be sent out.
– What I am concerned about is the granting of all the facilities we can to . the people whether they are situated in the town or in the country, and if the system is found not to pay, that will be a matter for adjustment later. It is quite clear to me, however, that the system will be of some benefit. There is a point which I wish to make equally clear, and one about which there has been some misunderstanding. The PostmasterGeneral imagines that he is going to run the system without increasing his staffs.
I do not think that he is going to do anything of the kind. If the system is to be a commercial success, it will mean a great amount of additional work, and to pile that additional work on the already, in very many cases, overworked men, would not be possible without increasing the staff.
– The Department will not do that.
– That is exactly what I say. My main object in rising was to dissipate the wrong impression that in most of the offices between 7 and
II at night the officers have noi anything to do. Let any one go into one of the principal offices, and he will see that the whole of the hands are fully employed. In two or three small country town? men may have to wait to receive a few telegrams for the press, but in most of the big central offices, where the bulk of this work will be done, the men are now fully employed, and in order to carry out the system successfully the staffs there will have to be increased. So long as the staffs are increased, - and the men are not overworked, and are properly paid for their .work, I have no objection to the system; but if it were to mean increasing the work of already overworked men, or depriving them of proper remuneration for the work - and the remuneration will be in excess of ordinary rates - then I should have to object to the system. I hope that some provision will be made by which an ordinary telegram sent before 6 o’clock in the evening will take precedence of a lettergram.
– It is just as well to have it made clear that a telegram lodged before 6 o’clock by an ordinary citizen will not be delayed by lettergrams.
– That should go the same night.
– Ordinary work certainly should take precedence of this new work. I believe that the system will increase the facilities to people, and whether it will cause a loss or otherwise at this juncture, it is largely an experiment. Senator Findley has referred to the question of differential rates. I am inclined to the opinion that there should be no differentiation at present, and that just as I am able to send a letter for1d. to Brisbane or to a suburb of Melbourne, so I ought to be able to send a telegram, whether it is addressed to, say, Brisbane, or Geelong, at the one price. I think it would make for the completion of Federation to have a uniform rate..
– If I wish to take advantage of the concession made in this Bill, I can go down to the central office here at any time between 7 and 12 o’clock at night, and lodge a message, and it will be forwarded during those hours. I ask the Minister whether these lettergrams can be lodged at any telegraph office at any hour of the day? If they cannot, the people in the chief centres will enjoy a decided advantage over residents of the country, where the post-offices close at 6 o’clock. Some of them re-open at 11 p.m. for the receipt of press messages, but no man is likely to remain out of bed until 11 p.m. in order that he may be able to send a lettergram at the rates specified in this Bill.
– So far as I understand the position, it is not proposed to allow lettergrams to be lodged during the day. But the whole question is a matter for regulations, which will be laid before the Senate. Those regulations can then be canvassed, and any objections urged to them can be met. Every effort will be made to meet the convenience of the public, and, at the same time, to make the proposition a payable one.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to!
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 11th December, vide page 4152) :
Clause 3 -
Where any matter is inquired into by, or referred by the House of Representatives to, the Committee of Public Accounts, and the Committee has lapsed or ceased to have legal existence before reporting on the matter, the evidence taken before the Committee may be considered by any subsequent Committee of Public Accounts to which the same matter is referred, or by which, without further reference, the matter is inquired into, as if the evidence had been given before the subsequent Committee.
– I move -
That the words “ or referred by the House of Representatives to “ be left out.
The amendment is a consequential one.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added : - 5. The Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act prescribing all matters which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act, and in particular for prescribing the powers and functions of the Committee of Public Accounts.”
This is the typical standard clause which is used in connexion with regulations, and it is necessary, because in the Bill as it stood originally the right to determine both the powers and functions of the Committee would have remained with the House of Representatives. As we have decided that this Committee shall represent both Houses of the Parliament, the insertion of this clause is necessary.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed-
That the Bill be reported with amendments.
Amendment (by Senator Clemons) agreed to -
That clause 2 be reconsidered.
Clause 2 (as amended) -
Every Committee of Public Accounts shall consist of seven members, two to be appointed by the Senate and five by the House of Representatives, and may exercise all the powers conferred upon it by this Act and the regulations made thereunder, for the term of theParliament during which it is appointed.
If any member of such Committee should for any cause cease to be a member of the Committee the House of Representatives may appoint another member in his place.
– I wish to refer to the question of the number of members of the Senate who should sit on this Committee. The other day, when we were considering the question, my idea was that the Committee should consist of seven members, three of whom should be representative of this Chamber, and four of whom should be selected by another place. The Honorary Minister considered that that proportion was scarcely in keeping with our numbers. He agreed that the correct proportion would be two members from this Chamber and five from another place. I think that a more equitable proposal would be to increase the number of the Committee to nine, and provide for the representation of the Senate by three members, with six to represent another place. My original proposal favoured the Senate, but a representation of three on a Committee of nine would come very much nearer to a fair proposition for a Chamber constituted of thirty-six members in a Parliament of 111 members. My reason for bringing the suggestion forward now is that we came to our conclusion somewhat hastily when the matter was previously discussed. I believe that five members for the House of Representatives as against two for the Senate would give an undue preponderance of power to another place. My present proposal would secure a fairer representation of the two Houses, and I ask the Honorary Minister to give it consideration.
– Personally, I have no serious objection to offer to Senator Lynch’s suggestion. The Bill, as originally before us, made provision for the appointment of a Public Accounts Committee by the House of Representatives alone.
– Of how. many members ?
– No numberwas mentioned, because the proposal was that the appointment of the Committee should be left to the House of Representatives at the beginning of every session, just as ordinary sessional Committees are appointed. I agree with Senator Lynch that the Senateshould be given representation upon this Committee. I am as anxious as is the. honorable senator to secure that representation, but I remind him that we are more likely to get what we want if we do not ask for too much.
– My experience is that we are more likely to get what we want if we do ask for too much.
– I understand that the Bill has no party significance, and if there is any conflict at all in connexion with it, it is between the Senate and another place. Parties are very evenly divided in another place, and the Senate may not get its way if we ask for too much. We may get a representation; of two out of seven, whilst a representation of three out of nine may be refused.
– That would be a fairer proportion.
– That, after all, is only a little matter. I do not say that we would not be given a representation of three out of nine, because I have no definite information on the subject, and the matter is not in the hands of the Government, but in the hands of the House of Representatives as a whole. I think that in all the circumstances it would be better to adhere to the proposal for a representation of two out of seven.
– I do not propose to raise any party question in connexion with this Bill, but I think that Senator Clemons will be well advised to accept Senator Lynch’s suggestion. As to our asking the House of Representatives for representation on this Committee, may I suggest in all friendliness that we are not asking for any charity.
– This Bill originated in the other place.
– I do not attach much importance tothat. A measure must start somewhere. If it is a good thing to have a Committee of Public Accounts, and it takes two Houses of Parliament to secure the appointment of such aCommittee, the House of Representatives is, in this matter, as much at our mercy as we are at theirs, and they are not. in a position to refusereasonablesuggestion; from the Senate .
SenatorClemons. - They can appoint a Committee of their own if they like.
– If that be so, we could fix up one for the Senate, and refuse to deal with any financial matterwhich had not first been submitted to our Committee- ofPublic Accounts. If there is to be a Committee ofthis kind, andit is to be a. joint Committee, the representation of one House should bear a fair proportion to the representation of the other. I see no force in the argument that we may get nothing by asking for too much. My experience is that we often lose in this world through not asking enough.
– The invariable practice followed in the appointment of Committees representing both House’s is to give the Senate half the representation on such Committees, but I think that a representation of three on a Committee of nine would be a fair proportion.
– I am not opposing the suggestion if Senator Lynch cares to press it.
– In view of the justice of the claim, I do not see how another place could be so unreasonable as to refuse to agree to it.
– I do not wish to go against the wish of honorable senators; Let us try it.
– That is not a very convincing way in which to conduct the business. The honorable senator has told me, almost in so many words, “ It does not matter a continental. Sit down. -Shut up; and let the business go on.” We are entitled to the representation suggested by Senator Lynch, and it is not a matter of concession from another place. I hope the honorable senator will press his amendment.
– I thought it was only fair to propose that there should be a Committee of nine, and that the Senate should have a representation of three members on the Committee. As the Honorary Minister is favorably disposed towards the suggestion, I will submit my amendment.
Amendments (by Senator Lynch) agreed to -
That the word “ seven “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “nine.” That the word “two” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ three.”
That the word “ five “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ six.”
Clause also consequentially amended and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; and Bill passed through its remainingstages.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message resumed from 12th December, vide page 4236) :
Item. 2 - For the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory, from Pine Creek to the Katherine River and southward - £400,000.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out item 2. House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the amendment be not insisted on.
– I should like to know whether the Government propose to change the policy which I understand has previously been in operation of building railways by day labour.
– I have already made a statement on the question of day labour, but I do not object to making another. Senator Mullan does not require me to repeat the assurance that the policy of this Government differs from that of my honorable friends opposite in regard to the construction of this line. Generally speaking, we are in favour of doing the work by contract. But we do not say that, unless we can do it by contract, we will not do it at all. We have to be practical men. That is our policy, and by it we stand. But our adherence to the contract system must always have regard to practicability.
– I fully expected that answer from the Minister, and I think it furnishes a strong ground for taking exception to the item which the Senate omitted from the schedule. In my opinion the day labour system has proved a better and more economical one than the contract system. I have figures showing conclusively that a Government actuated by the highest motives, namely, the welfare of the public, would not presume to build a railway by contract in this country. Take the experience of New South Wales. It cost that State £1,666,704, or an average of £4,189 per mile, to build 404¾ miles of railway by contract. But under the daylabour system, New South Wales built 665 miles at a cost of £2,482,582, or £3,222 per mile. There was a very substantial saving per mile in the building of railways by day labour. The Queensland figures are even more interesting, because there railways were built over country similar in character to that in the Northern Territory. These figures prove even more conclusively the desirableness of resorting, wherever practicable, to the day-labour system. In Queensland in 1891-3 there were built by contract 1,144 miles of railway at a cost of £4,796 per mile. Between 1900 and 1911 Queensland built a similar mileage by day labour at a cost of £2,982 per mile, representing a saving per mile, building by day labour, of £1,894, or an aggregate saving on 1,144 miles-bf £2,078,471. In face of those figures, I cannot understand how a Government can commit themselves to a policy of contract construction. I do not say that, under certain circumstances, a Government might not be compelled to do certain work of an exceptional character by contract. But under normal conditions I cannot understand how any Government can prefer the contract system. Of course, I can understand the position of the present Government. They are naturally the friends of the big employers of labour. They want to placate their friends. If they give them contracts for building thousands of miles of railway, they may expect subsidies to the Liberal funds that will make up for it all. I do not say that Ministers personally gain, but their party gains. I am satisfied that it does not make for the welfare of the country to build railways by contract. I shall therefore oppose the motion of the Minister, unless I have an assurance that the principle of day labour will be followed as far as practicable.
.- I should like to put on record my reasons for opposing the item under discussion. I am an enthusiast for the development of the Northern Territory, but it appears to me that, up to the present, there has been a want of definite policy, and an utter misconception as to the responsibilities we have undertaken. The development, so far, has consisted of a little scratching round about Darwin. Now we are to have a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine, for the purpose of dragging a little more trade to Darwin. It seems to me that, if the Northern Territory is to be developed, Darwin will not be its main . port. I wish to see a big -policy undertaken at the earliest opportunity. Nothing, short of a big policy will develop the Territory. This.- railway will run through the worst portion of it.
– The Katherine River country is not the worst portion. .
– Reports which I have been able to read convince me that Darwin is not the natural port, and will have to be cut out if we are to make a success of the Territory. I hope to see an investigation made to show what ought to be the principal port. Personally, I think that either Wyndham or the head of the McArthur River would be found to be the natural outlet. I protest against spending all this money on a railway which will run practically nowhere. The work is little better than a hocussing of those who believe in the development of the Territory, and will bring no good results. I trust that, as early as possible, a reasonably comprehensive policy will be brought down for the development of the Territory, and not merely for continuing the game of bluff.
Senator McDougall (New South Wales) [8.14]. - I support the item of £400,000 for the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine. When the Bill for taking over the Territory was before Parliament, I listened to the arguments on both sides. One set of senators said that the country was excellent, and another set said that it was a rocky, sandy .waste. For my own information I took the opportunity of seeing the country. I went over the route of the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine, and also went across from Pine Creek to the Daly. Whilst the country which the railway will traverse is not the best country in the Northern Territory, there are many miles of it which is good grazing land, and some of it is very good farming land. It is not exactly the building of the railway through this part of the Territory that is important, but it is remedying of the mistake which was made by the South Australian Government when they carried the line inland from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, and left it there to become a burden upon them. If they had borrowed more money and continued the line to Katherine River, it would have been a payable proposition long ago. On the other side of. that river is beautiful grazing land. I saw mobs of cattle- in splendid condition being driven to that point. But in driving them acrossto the Pine Creek railway they become poor, because the country is not good . If the railway is extended to Katherine River, and freezing works are built at Darwin, 10,000 head of cattle will be brought yearly along the line and frozen at Darwin. I have been very much interested in the Northern Territory. I have lectured on the Territory throughout the Commonwealth, especially in New South Wales. I have shown lanternslide views of the Territory, and also moving pictures in relation to the trip. I did all I possibly could to see the Territory. On the last part of the trip, that is, from Brock’s Creek to Daly River, I passed though the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Only two of us took the journey - Mr. Ozanne and myself.
– How far did you go?
– We rode 260 miles, and I was well repaid-. I took the trouble to go and see the country for myself. I am perfectly satisfied that the proposed extension of the railway is an absolute necessity if we are to develop the country. I disagree with the view that Darwin will not be the chief port for the Territory. I believe that nothing will ever stop it from being that. I intend to support the item, because if we are not going to develop the Territory, and carry the railway farther inland, we should not have taken the country over. The Commonwealth took a burden from South Australia, and, in my opinion, ought to extend the railway from the point where it was left by the State Government. It matters not to me whether the work is to be done by day labour so long as it is done. I believe that the best way in which the work can be done is by day labour. Still I am not going to let that consideration stand in the way of the development of this great country. It must be developed and made acceptable. ‘ Undoubtedly it is a country for white people. A short time ago, I heard a lecture by Professor Spencer at the Sydney University, where he amplified every statement I ever made. His opinion is that the Northern Territory is a country for white men. He was there for over twelve months, and traversed the country from end to end. I advise any one who does not know anything about the Territory to see the views which he showed and hear his opinion of the Territory, and then I am sure that be will alter his views. Surely a man who has travelled through the country for over a year must know something about the matter. A man may read about the place for a year, but, in my opinion, a week’s experience of the country is far better than all one’s reading. Generally one reads the opinion of -prejudiced persons one way or the other, but from a man like Professor Spencer one gets a straight-out, honest opinion. - So far as I have seen the Northern Territory, it is, as he says, a country fit for white men. I have seen there some of the finest specimens of white men. I have seen fine men and women who. were born and reared there, and as regards the natives of the country, I never saw a better class of native than I saw on the Daly River. I believe that the Commonwealth is under an obligation to build railways and make this country accessible to white people. That is the only way in which that can be done. Of course, some persons say that this line should go by this route or by that route.Iam not interested in that aspect of the matter. I believe, however, that we should go direct north and south, but that will not stand in the way of my voting for this item. I fully recognise that we should build railways, if possible, out of the general revenue, but if we cannot do that we will have to build them with loan money. I have said on many occasions that eventually the Commonwealth will have to borrow for carrying out reproductive work, and, given an assurance that the money will be borrowed from the Commonwealth itself, it makes no matter to me. I am going to vote for the item, which I hope will be agreed to.
– I indorse all the reasons put forward by my colleague who has just resumed his seat. While I have not had, unfortunately, the opportunity of inspecting the Territory, Iam quite prepared to accept his word and that of others who have lived there for years, and have spoken as to the good qualities of the country. I also am most anxious to see the agreement made with South Australia carried out in its integrity, because I consider that the honour of this Parliament is involved in carrying out the agreement to the letter and in the spirit in which it was made. But all the reasons which my colleague has given in favour of developing this country - the qualities of the black, its suitability for whites, and the advisability of opening it up with railways- combine to lead me to vote against this proposal. Putting on one side my general objection to borrowing money, I consider that, looked at as a borrowing proposition, this is a bad one. as it is submitted. . Senator McDougall says he does not care which way the railway goes, and it does not matter much to him whether a railway is constructed by day labour or by contract, so long as we get the railway.. I do not profess to be indulging in such fine and large: views of the matter . The success of any project depends very largely on the details. No matter how far we may agree on general principles, it is the details of the work that really make or break it. It appears to me that every argument that is used as to why this country should be defended, and why it is necessary to have a Defence Force, is an argument against building railways commencing from the north and going south. If there is any ground whatever for the huge expenditure ‘ we are incurring year by year for defence purposes, it is that we believe this country is likely to be menaced at any time from the north. Consequently, it is a suicidal policy to start building railways for our potential enemies.
– Why not build them right down to the Barklay Tablelands?
– My idea is that we should start at the southern end, not merely from the pointof view of safety, but from that of economy in construction, because it stands to reason that if we commence to work from the south and gradually work our way north, we shall be able to obtain, in a much more economical manner, both material and an adequate supply of labour. Whereas, if we start to build from the northern end, where it will be a long journey to get ; to the start of operations, we shall increase the cost, the difficulties of maintaining a supply of labour, and also the difficulties of taking the necessary rolling-stock, plant, and material there.
– We shall have to build a good many more miles of railway to reach the fringe of the cattle country by starting to build from the south.
– I do not say that that is not so, but I do not think that it weighs so much in the consideration of this proposal as to make my argument unworthy of notice. The great desideratum for the people who are inhabiting and will inhabit the Territory is to get communication with the south as rapidly as possible, and by the time we had got as far. as the Macdonnell Ranges, if the majority of the reports are true, we should have got into country which to some extent would pay us for opening it up. It is quite certain that as we proceeded we could take the rolling-stock with us, and get a supply of labour. But the more remote and isolated the place of operations is from civilization, the more difficult it will be to get men there, and keep them there, and the more difficult it will be to replace those who leave or who for any cause throw up the work. Consequently on grounds of safety, economy, and common sense, and to connect most speedily the parts already settled with the parts to be settled, the work should be constructed from the south, and not. from the north. Some persons say, “ Let us construct the line from both ends,” but that issue is not before us. The proposal is to add a small length to the existing; non-payable railway.
– The extension will make it payable.
– So my honorable friend says. But there, again, . we have the opinion of the late Government in conjunction with their proposal to construct a similar line, that freezing works: should be established at or near Darwin, so that the stock conveyed by railway could be handled and made marketable. Many of the reasons which actuated the late Government in making their proposal are absent from the present proposal, because there is no intention to construct those freezing works; and, even if that was intended, all the arguments I have brought forward as. to the advisability of commencing the linefrom the south, and pushing forward a. connexion with the existing railway systems of the southern and eastern States, outweigh any possible advantage that can: come from constructing a small section: of line in the extreme north. Further more, I contend that as we have a reactionary and Conservative Government in power - a Government who are blind to all the lessons of experience, and who are determined to have works done by’ contract - we have a right to make a stand against a deliberate squandering of public money in this profligate’ and extravagant manner, which is condemned by all the experience we have on record throughout the States. For one instance they can bring forward where, owing to shirking or inefficient supervision, day-labour works have cost more than a reasonable amount, we can bring forward hundreds of instances where illegitimate profits have been made by contractors out of work, and huge expensive law suits have resulted from disputes arising between Governments and contractors.
– And any necessary alterations have had to be paid for through the nose.
– Just so. In addition to that, we find that whilst the contract system is supposed to get the best results on the plea that the contractor’s object is to see that he gets a fair return for the labour employed, yet in order to secure honest workmanship and materials of the qualities supposed to be put into the work, the Government have to provide expensive supervision to look after the contractor. The supervision that can look after the contractor and keep him on the straight path is quite efficient enough to look after the men and see that they give a fair return for their pay. All this talk about the difference “between the two systems is only a question of supervision. The only way that the contractor gets anything like a fair deal from those he employs is by having men to see that the work is properly and efficiently carried out. It is just as easy for the Government toengage competent supervisors in connexion with any of these undertakings as it is for a contractor. I therefore contend that we ought not to considerthe interests of this or that locality, but the big principles which lie behind them. Seeing that the Government intend to start the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek railway from the wrong end, and thus to make the work as expensive as possible, andseeing that they propose to carry out the major portion of it upon contract, there is ample reason why this Committee should reject any proposition emanating from them which involves the expenditure of public money, apart from what may be necessary to carry on the public services of the Commonwealth. For that reason, if for no other, I am prepared to vote against any of their financial proposals. They are now seeking to establish a precedent from which it will be difficult to escape. They propose to commence this railway from the northern end; they ask Parliament to vote a certain sum of money for the purpose, arid we have no assurance that, next session, we shall not be called upon to provide another couple of hundred thousand pounds to finish it. I say that we are being asked to take a leap in the dark. We have no guarantee that next year We shall not be asked to vote another £150,000 to complete the work, on the ground that the estimate has been exceeded.
– Having begun it, we shall have to finish it.
– Exactly; the plea will be unanswerable. Coming, as it does, from a Government which claimed that it was going to restore responsible government and honest finance, the proposal is an unheard-of one. We should be worms, and quite unworthy of the confidence of the people, if we allowed a work of this kind to pass in the absence of the most complete information. The Ministry, after having plumed themselves on their possession of business talent, have put before us a proposal which would disgrace a schoolboy. We have no estimate as to what the work will cost.
– If the honorable senator really wants that information, I can give it to him.
– I have only heard that the survey is unfinished.
– It is finished now.
– We have not had an official report laid before us.
– There is not a final official report. There has not been time for it to reach us. Some of the information has been sent by telegraph, owing to the distance of the Northern Territory from the seat of Government.
– If the work is so urgent, it is a remarkable fact that, after months have elapsed, we have not the official report of the survey before us. It is a most unbusiness-like proceeding from beginning to end: If there are sound reasons why the work should be proceeded with, we ought to be in possession of them. I - enter my protest against this haphazard method of dealing with an important question, and of squandering the’ public funds. One of the chief evils of the borrowing system is that there is always a disposition to squander the funds thus obtained. An attempt is often made to minimize the evil of that system by saying that, as posterity will enjoy the benefits arising from any particular work, posterity ought to pay for it. But the fallacy of that argument is to be found in the fact that we have to start paying interest from the moment that the money is borrowed. We have been told that the funds for this work are to be economically expended. But are they to be economically raised? Honorable senators opposite will tell us that the money is to. be taken from the reserve of the Australian Notes Fund. It is a pretty spectacle to see this Government taking money from that fund, the establishment of which they so vigorously denounced. But I would point out that the Australian Notes Fund is not inexhaustible, and that we ought to charge ourselves interest upon the money which we take from it at the market rate. It is obvious that if we were not using, that money we could loan it to the States at that rate. Consequently we ought to charge ourselves with the market rate of interest for. it.
– It was hot proposed by the late Government that the Australian Notes Fund should control the price of money. The honorable senator’s party did not propose to interfere with the market rate of interest? Why, when the Commonwealth established a note issue of its own, that was one of its chief claims. Senator RAE. - We proposed to establish a gold reserve against the issue of paper money.
– Was not the issue undertaken with a view to making money cheaper? Yet the honorable senator now says, “Lend it at the market rate.”
– I say that we must fairly charge ourselves with the market rate of interest on the money which we borrow from the Australian Notes Fund, seeing that it would earn that. But, even if we got the money for nothing, I would point out that the Notes Fund is not inexhaustible, and the works to which we are now committed will more than swallow it up. When once we commence the construction of these works, we can- not abandon them. That is a reason why we should be exceedingly careful about entering into “wild-cat” proposals of this kind. ‘ I characterize it as such because we have no proper estimate of its cost before us.
– The late Government supplied the honorable senator with an estimate.
– The late Government authorized the survey.
– And the estimated cost was given by them.
– They could not possibly know the cost of the undertaking until the survey had been completed. A Government of archangels could not know that.
– But the late Government had an estimate; we have an estimate.
– They are “wild-cat” affairs if they are not based on facts.
– I am telling the honorable senator of two estimates - that is all.
– I protest against the expenditure of money when we do not know the specifications upon which we are to work.
– I can give the honorable senator all those specifications when the Bill for the construction Of the line is before us.
– The Bill has been formally introduced into this Chamber, and we should have the estimate upon which it is based. I say that we are not honouring the agreement which we entered into with South Australia by starting operations from the northern end of the Oodnadatta to Fine Creek line. I am opposed to the proposal, and I hope that it will be rejected.
– Senator Rae has referred to the agreement into which the Commonwealth entered with South Australia. The fact that such a compact was entered into for the construction of a line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek ought not to be forgotten. I should like to ask the opponents of this proposal when they intend to carry out that compact. It is idle to say that we can honour it in the dim and distant future. Even if the country which it will traverse be worse than Sahara, we are bound to make that link of railway, otherwise we ought not to have taken over the Northern Territory. This is the wrong time to show a want of faith in the resources and possibilities of the Northern Territory. The time for that was when we were considering the Bill to provide for taking over the Territory.
– We did so, but we were talking to deaf ears.
– We took over the Territory for substantial reasons, and, amongst others, for the reason that South Australia, not having the same financial backing as the Commonwealth, it was our duty to take up the work of the development of the Territory in a vigorous way. We have before us now the first step proposed to make the Territory a more inviting place than it has been in the past. We cannot hope to get people to go there unless we can give them a means of getting the produce they raise to market, and some hope that they will be able to make a fortune there more easily than in any other part of Australia. It has to be admitted that much of the Northern Territory lies within low parallels of latitude, but I have lived in corresponding latitudes in North Queensland, and found the climate as healthy as in any other part of Australia. The fact remains that the Northern Territory is not as inviting a place for settlement as we should like it to be, and we must, therefore, provide some compensating advantages which it does not at present possess. We must, first of all, provide reasonable railway facilities. This is the first step towards fulfilling the. letter of the bargain which we made with South Australia; and even Senator Bae will agree that there is no earthly use in the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory if existing conditions are to be. allowed, to continue as he proposes.
– I do not propose anything of the kind; I propose that we should start railway extension from the south.
– Is the honorable senator going to vote for this item ?
– No ; I want the railway extension to start from the south.
– There is no difference between starting from the south and starting from the north.
– There. is all the difference in the world.
– The honorable senator reminds me of the man who had a short blanket, and cut a piece off the top, which he sewed on to the bottom to make it longer. The honorable senator proposes to add a length to the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, but I remind ‘ him that Oodnadatta is 700 miles from the sea-board, whereas this proposal would enable us to tap good country within 200 miles from the seaboard. I leave it to honorable senators to say which is the more sensible proposal. I do not intend to debate the matter at length, but I say that if we are going to stand by our guns and keep faith with South Australia, we must make the Northern Territory a place which white men and women can live in with some hope of making better progress than they can make in other parts of Australia. In the higher latitudes settlement has sometimes preceded, and sometimes succeeded, railway construction, but in the Northern” Territory we must construct railways ahead of settlement if we are ever to have the Territory settled. I support the proposal with all .my heart.
– I hope that the item will not be rejected for the reasons given by some honorable senators who are opposing it. I wish to say, first of all, that this railway is not proposed in order to placate South Australia. The Federal Government made a certain agreement with that State, arid when the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth South Australia’s connexion with it became the same as that of any other State. Therefore, all suggestions of placating South Australia in this matter are out of place. We are dealing with Federal Territory, and we should deal with it in a Federal spirit. I hope, in the next place, that the item will not be rejected upon any question as to the hours of labour which men will be asked to work in the construction of the line. The next item on the business-paper is a Bill for the construction of this railway, and it will be quite competent for honorable senators to embody the eight hours principle in that Bill. We can, in dealing with that measure, make such provision as to hours and conditions of labour in connexion with the construction of the line as we think proper. I remind some of my friends “that there was no stipulation as to an eight hours day made in connexion with the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. They are asking that the present Government should do something in connexion with the proposed railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River which they did not ask the Fisher Government to do when dealing with the Bill to authorize the construction of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. I am not finding fault with the eight hours .principle. I have always supported it, and I shall be prepared to support a provision to give it effect when we are dealing with the Bill for the construction of this line.
– I think there should be a six hours day established in the Northern Territory.
– I am quite prepared to support even that proposal, because I think we might very well restrict the number of hours which men should be called upon to work per day in that country. Another reason given for opposing the item is that the present Government have not made provision for the erection of freezing works at Port Darwin. I anticipate that the present Government will not be in power for many years. I predict that not a very great deal will have been done towards the construction of this line before the term of office of the present Government will have expired. The Government we have in our minds will then be in possession of the Treasury bench, and in a position to satisfy our demands as to the hours and conditions of labour in the Northern Territory, and the establishment of freezing works. I wish to say a word or two on the reports presented during the present session by officers appointed to various positions in the Northern Territory by the Fisher Administration. I want to remind opponents of the item that the Fisher Government, of whom they approved, appointed men to inquire into the requirements of the Territory and report upon the conditions existing there. A most important question to take into consideration in connexion with the Northern Territory is whether it is a country in which Europeans can live and work; where a white man can take a wife with the expectation of raising a family, and where children can live and thrive. I purpose referring to a few details in the report furnished, first of all, by. Professor Gilruth, Administrator of the Territory, and, in the second place, by Dr. Holmes, Medical Officer of the Territory. In the fourth paragraph of his report Professor Gilruth refers to the health conditions of the Territory in these terms -
As to the healthiness of the climate and general good health of the people, Dr. Holmes’ report bears testimony. That there are difficulties to be overcome and drawbacks to be encountered goes without saying, and that they are unusual is also correct. But that these are insurmountable,, as has so often been stated, is a contention entirely unwarranted by the facts. ‘
That is the opinion of Professor Gilruth as to the healthiness of the climate of the Territory. On page 2 of his report, he says -
That the heat is oppressive during certain hours of the day, for man and beast, is undoubted. So far as observation goes this is felt alike by both white and coloured human beings, and by both introduced and indigenous animals. The aborigines take a long siesta in the middle of the day, the wallaby seeks the shade, and the birds cease their twittering.
So that it would appear that aboriginal natives and indigenous animals feel the heat as much as white men and animals that have been introduced from other parts. Referring to the different climatic conditions in different parts of the Territory, Professor Gilruth complains of the impossibility, under existing conditions, of the residents of Port Darwin, where the country is not much above the level of the .sea, getting away to the hills to recuperate during the few very hot months of the year. On this subject he says -
At present such a change is only possible to those who can afford the enormous expense of a journey to the southern cities or the high mountains of Java.
I direct the special attention of honorable senators to this part of the report -
With the extension of the railway to the Katherine, or, better still, to Matterinka or Bitter Springs and’ the head waters of the Roper, it will be possible to reach a district where the air, at least at night, is remarkably cool and bracing for several months of the year.
We are performing our duties here under reasonably comfortable conditions, and we should have some regard for the- men and women who must do the pioneering work of the Northern Territory, and live under such adverse ‘conditions as Professor Gilruth describes. At page 4 of his report, in referring to the public health, he says-
The health of the European population is distinctly good, and that of the children excellent.). In spite of a sharp epidemic of measles in a non-immune population, there were no deaths amongst children during 1912. Children even of the third generation are sturdy and healthy looking, and show none of the sickness one hears is so invariably associated with the tropics.
That is a further testimony to the suitability of the Territory as a place of residence for white people. The cool storage proposal of the Fisher Government would, in addition to offering great encouragement to people who went to the Territory to raise cattle and sheep, be a great factor in promoting the success of the railway. The time is not far distant when, after a double dissolution, the freezing works will be constructed by a Labour Government. Professor Gilruth says-
The establishment of cool storage available to the public has proved a great boon, and one that has been generally availed of. The Government plant has been the indirect means of reducing the price of fresh meat to the public, and by providing ice at a reasonable price, and storing meat, fruit, and especially fresh butler, it ministers to the comfort of the public in no small measure. The rates are extremely low, probably much lower than elsewhere in Australia.
If that be the result with a very small plant, we can judge what benefits will be likely to accrue to the people when there are freezing works at Darwin, such as were proposed by the Fisher Administration. I am not sure that we should not even now bring pressure to bear to induce the Government to do something in the direction of erecting freezing work’s in the near future. Dealing again with the question of public health, I wish to refer to the report of Dr. Holmes. Professor Gilruth, in his report, is probably following largely the advice received from the medical officer, who speaks with a great deal of authority. On page 57 of the report, Dr. Holmes says -
From the point of view of the question of the suitability of the Territory for the upbringing of white children, a routine medical inspection of the schools would furnish important data Appearances indicate no deterioration whatever, mental or physical, in the rising generation, which appears” to enjoy, if anything,a greater freedom from ill-health than the children of the southern States. This, however, is a matter which will require careful observation before a positive statement can be made.
There are children who are being educated in the schools of Darwin in a tropical climate under very much worse conditions than many children are being educated in the southern States. Dr. Holmes says of the climate of the Northern Territory -
The coastal fringe has a tropical climate, modified by a prolonged dry season; but the greater part of the north of the Territory is strictly sub-tropical. The southern part “ temperate, the Macdonnell Ranges having, probably, as temperate a climate as can be found on the earth.
The ranges are reached from the southern end of the line. It is important that we have this tribute from Dr. Holmes, who I do not think would exaggerate in a report furnished to the Government. Further on, he says -
Whatever exceptions may be taken by some of the moister climatic conditions of the coast they cannot apply to the conditions of the inland uplands. Here the rainfall is less, the climatic conditions are drier and more bracing, and the open-air life produces a strong, vigorous constitution and a condition of perfect health which might be the envy of all. The second generation in the Territory does not show any sign of physical or mental deterioration. In many cases the children exhibit a somewhat pale skin, but are fully as well developed and equally as healthy and energetic as the children of temperate climates. Sickness is rare amongst them, rarer than amongst- the children of the southern States, and the infantile mortality is very low. During the year1912 there was not a single death amongst the children in Darwin.
Surely that is a remarkable tribute to the climate of the Northern Territory. We must remember that unhealthy conditions do prevail in a certain portion of Darwin, namely, the Chinese quarter, which is a breeding ground for diseases, and should, in the opinion of the Administrator, practically be burnt to the ground. In spite of the existence of that quarter, we find the medical officer declaring that for the year 1912 not a single death occurred amongst the children in Darwin. Dr. Holmes also says -
Serious outbreaks of disease rarely occur in the Territory, and such as do occur are very localized. Sweeping epidemics are, under the present conditions, impossible.
He refers to malaria, saying that there has been scarcely any in the Northern Territory. The spread of malaria, as he points out, is, to a large extent, governed by the density of the population. But, nevertheless, it. would be perfectly easy, even if the disease were prevalent, to eliminate malaria from the Territory.
– Is it not rather a question of the anopheles mosquito than of the population ?
– Dr. Holmes admits that the malaria-carrying mosquito is in the Territory, but he points out that there is little disease for the mosquito to carry around -
All evidence points to the conclusion that the Territory is not of itself a malarial country, but that the disease has been introduced at various times by miners and others from Papua, Western Australia, and Queensland, and has spread with the movements of the fever-infected individuals. Mosquitoes, capable of transmitting the disease, are undoubtedly present in many parts of the Territory, but infection must be introduced to them before they can become harmful.
All these facts go to show that the Territory is a country wherein white men and women can thrive. I wish now to deal briefly with the question of land settlement. It is useless to send people to the Territory, even if we have evidence that it is perfectly healthy, unless we can provide laud upon which they can settle. Dealing with the lands of the Territory, Professor Gilruth said, on page 7 of his report -
The centre of the country which the transcontinental railway will traverse before settlement can be induced must first be opened up by the railway. Then I anticipate great advance, for, unless appearances are deceitful, the Barklay tablelands, with water conservation and railway communication, will become devoted to sheep and wheat farming, both of which would be the subject of experiment prior to the railway’s advent, so that railways and settlement may go hand in hand - a combination which has proved so fruitful in every part of the newer world.
By eliminating this item from the schedule to the Bill, we should be making it impossible for Professor Gilruth ‘s ideas to be adopted. We must have money to construct a railway, and there must be a railway to induce population to settle in the Territory. As to the necessity for freezing works, Professor Gilruth says on page 8 of his report -
One is frequently asked : Where are the markets? Surely the markets of the world are as open to products of the Northern Territory, once they are produced, as to those of any other country. A Government may assist in opening up a market, in rendering facilities for transport, but the market finally depends upon the purchaser. True, at present we cannot market our fat cattle for want of a freezing works, and were a freezing works established it could secure but a very inadequate supply of fat stock until the railway is extended at least as far as the Katherine.
That is a strong argument in favour of the railway. .
– It is equally strong in favour of the refrigerating works.
– Yes. Professor Gilruth says that both are necessary.
– According to his report, the one without the other stands condemned.
– Not altogether. If the freezing works were established, it has. to be remembered that cattle and sheep take some time to grow. If the railway were constructed to-day, some time would elapse before the country could’ be stocked sufficiently to keep the freezing works going. That is the reason why the railway should be constructed be fore the . freezing works are built. With one more reference to that question I will proceed to deal with another phase. On page 10, Professor Gilruth refers to the breeding of horses. This is a matter to which the Minister of Defence might very well give his attention. The Commonwealth at present is rather hard pressed for horses. One of the most extraordinary spectacles a man can possibly see when our mounted troops go down the street is one man mounted on a draught horse and another man mounted on a little sheltie, which Senator Stewart will probably understand better than anybody else. In other words, one man is mounted on a 16-hands horse, and another on a horse of 8 or 9 hands. I cannot find any fault with the military for that fact, but I do think that a system should be introduced whereby our mounted troops could be better mounted. Regarding this matter, Professor Gilruth says -
So far as the breeding of horses for military requirements is concerned, there is no doubt that the Territory contains some of the most admirable country in all Australia for this purpose. I refer to the Macdonnell Ranges in the south, where, it is a matter of common knowledge, some of the finest horses in the country have come from.
For a considerable time there was a large station between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges, which comprised nearly all that country. Some of the best horses that ever came to South Australia were from that station, but through drought, the want of railway facilities, and the want of water, too, the country was largely abandoned, so far as horseraising was concerned. Hereis an opportunity for the Minister of Defenceto secure as many thousands of miles of cheap land as he wants for the purpose of raising remounts for the Army, and an opportunity, too, that will reduce the cost of the military system to the people to a very great extent. I ask honorable senators to listen to an extract from the report of Mr. G. F. Hill, the etymologist -
During theyear there has been no opportunity to undertake inspection of country with a view to inauguration of experimental work in the southern section of the Territory. All reports on the country in the vicinity of the Macdonnell Ranges, and several other portions of the southern section, agree as to the suitability of considerable areas in that region for the growth of wheat and other cereals, and for wool pro- duction.
I havesimply quoted that passage to bear outthe statements made by Professor Gilruth.
– He has been in the Territory for no less than eighteen consecutive months, so that he knows what he is talking about.
– There is no question that all the officers know what they are writing about. I was very pleased to hear Senator McDougall give his experience of the country, and express his views as to its future. It is a pleasure to hear a good report from a man who has been through the Territory, and. made a study of it, because most of those who have condemned the Territory have never seen it. Its possibilities are absolutely unlimited. In this report we have evidence that rice, sugar, maize, and cocoanut can be grown profitably. There is no fear that agriculture will”: not be a success, because every part of the country has some features different from the other parts, and if it is properly administered, and encouragement is given to the people who want to grow certain products in a certain part, I have no doubt that splendid results will accrue, and that the Commonwealth will benefit very much indeed.
– You should not forget that, owing to the climate, the cost of labour will be considerably higher than in the south.
– Yes, I am coming to that point. The reports on mining are, perhaps, not as complete as we should like them to be. In the report of the Warden, we do not find quite the details of everything that we would like to get. But the mining reports, as far as they go, are very favorable. The Warden gives the reasons why the mining industry is in such a low state. On page 89 he says, amongst other reasons, the bad roads, the high cost of living, and the consequent high cost of labour, have practically closed down the mines, except the very rich ones. He also mentions the scarcity of skilled miners. We are not likely to get skilled miners to go there for the wage that a prospecting company could possibly pay. A great proportion of the mining has been done by prospectors who are working on their own, and not by men who are working on day labour. Besides the scarcity of practical miners, . the Warden mentions that the state of the present alluvial fields is largely due to the Way they have been burrowed by Chinamen. The Chinaman is absolutely the worst miner on earth. He does more damage on a mining field than anybody could possibly imagine. Chinamen have been over all the alluvial fields in the Territory, andhave ruined them from a mining point of view, so that white men cannot possibly work on them. Other reasons which the Warden gives are bad management and want of water. Honorable senators will recognise, I am sure, that the want of water is an absolute bar to anything in the way of mining development. With a railway, the mines in the northernend of the Territory, as well as in the Macdonnell Ranges, the Arltunga fields, and the fields near South Australia-
– I think that the Garden of Eden must have been there.
– I amnot drawing a fancy picture, but simply quoting the opinions of men who are paid to report to the Government. If my honorable friend doubts their reports, he is welcome to do so. I am quoting them for what they are worth. I know that this parliamentary paper is not seen by the community at large. It is read only by very few persons outside of the Federal Parliament, and possibly not by all its members. My object is to put a few items into Hansard so that those who are interested in this great problem may have an opportunity of seeing the nature of the reports from the responsible officers of the Government. One of the most important items in connexion with the development of the Territory will be artesian boring. There is no part of Australia where artesian water is found over a greater area than it is in the Territory. There is a line of bores from Hergott Springs right through Oodnadatta along the railway. Then from Oodnadatta right out to the Queensland border there is another line of bores.
– That is many hundreds of miles from the proposed railway.
– No, it is on the route of the railway.
– On the route of the proposed line to Katherine River?
– Yes. I would point out to my honorable friend that the route of the present railway does not require very much in thatdirection.
– It has nothing to do with that question, I mean.
– I am talking of the development of the whole Territory, and pointing out that- the artesian basin is more in, the southern end than in the northern end. I know of no boring having; been done in the country between. Pine Creek and Katherine River.
– Are there any good bores between Hergott and Oodnadatta?
– What is the flow ?
– The bores have a tremendous flow. At Hergott Springs there is a bore, but unfortunately the casing has been interfered with, and the flow has been interrupted. At Coward Springs there is a bore where the water, rises, I suppose, 8 or 10 feet over the top of the pipe.
-Yes, butwhat is the flow of the bore ?
– I cannot tell my honorable friend,, but the flow is many thousands of gallons.
– If it was a good bore, the water would not rise 7 feet or 8 feet above the casing, but about 40 feet.
– It is not a bad bore in which, after twenty years, the water rises 7 or 8 feet above the casing. At Oodnadatta there is a bore which has been running for that period. I do not know how much water it would give, because an elbow was put on the pipe and a bath erected, and it is now largely used as a health resort by Australians who are suffering from rheumatism. It has been running ever since the railway was constructed, Right through the Territory many of the squatters and large land-holders have been sinking bores on their runs, and are getting good water. In every instance the water does not rise over the top of the bore, but it is within easy pumping distance, and the water supply in the Territory is abundant. I wish to say a few words about the existing railway. From the report of Mr. H. B. Francis, Superintendent and Resident Engineer, I shall quote a short extract to show that the line from Darwin to Pine Creek is not the white elephant that honorable senators would have us believe -
The revenue from all sources for 1912 totals £15,933 9s. 6d., and the expenditure, as per Darwin appropriation ledger, shows£16,66514s., or a loss on working of £732 4s. 6d. -
– What about the interest?
– I do not object to taking the interest into account, but at present I am dealing merely with the earnings of the railway. I am endeavouring, to show that it is not improbable that this line, if extended into more productive districts, would convert that lossinto a profit. Mr. Francis continues - to which has to be added some portion of the sum of£219 18s.1d. to the period up to 31st December, 1912. Expenditure has increased from£13,841 3s 3d. in 191 1 to. £16,66514s.1912 -
– The loss upon that. line last year was £47,000.
– Then what is the value of the report furnished by Mr. Francis? That report deals with the cost of working the line for the year 1912, and with the earnings for that year. He continues - owing to a more varied seriesof services being undertaken by the Department, whilst revenue has increased from £1 1,805 4s.1d. to £15,933 9s. 6d.
So that, whilst the expenditure has grown, the earnings have also increased front £11,000 odd to £15,000 odd, a gain of something like £4,000 during 1912. I point to this fact as evidence that the traffic upon the line is increasing, and that its proposed extension to the Katherine River will probably resultin, a still further increase of revenue.
– It will need to.
– I do not suppose that the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek has ever paid from the day it was constructed.
– How long has it been down - twenty years?
– Much longer. It requires to be extended, so that its. earnings may be increased, and so that the dry-rot which has set in may be checked. I hold in my hand an article, written quite recently by Dr. Chewing, who has crossed the Territory more frequently, perhaps, than any other man in Australia. I may tell honorable senators that he has very large pastoral interests in the Territory. He has spent a good many years there, and has written to the Adelaide press commending the railway policy which has been outlined by the Minister of External Affairs.
– Perhaps he desires the line to go near his selection.
– I believe that he has so much country in the Territory that it would be a difficult matter to run a line through there without touching some of it.
– What makes him an interested witness?
– We are all interested in this railway.
– But I mean personally interested.
– Every man, woman, and child in the Northern Territory is personally interested in it. Dr. Chewing, in speaking of the policy outlined by the Minister, said -
It is broad and comprehensive. Not only must South Australia feel satisfied, but Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria will all be well served. Western Australia also comes in for a good share of the benefits. It will aid further development, prove good areas, and facilitate closer settlement within those areas.
He then goes on to refer to the number of cattle and horses which have been raised in the Territory, and in many ways substantiates the reports of the various Government officers whom I have quoted this evening. I do not desire to weary honorable senators.
– Go on.
– I think that the honorable senator has done very well to listen to me as patiently as he has done. I do ask the Committee not to turn down this item because of something which they fancy is going to happen. I am very much disappointed that the Government have not commenced operations on the transcontinental line from the southern end. But I am not going to vote against this proposal merely because they have not done what I wanted them to do.. I intend to give them my vote, and when the Bill authorizing the construction of the proposed line is before us we can put into it just the clauses which are necessary to meet our views. I ask honorable senators to agree to the item, because without it we shall have no Bill, no railway, and no development of the Territory, in addition to which we shall have committed a grave breach of the undertaking entered into by a previous Government with South Australia.
– We have all listened with great interest to the able speech which has just been delivered by Senator Newland in defence of this proposal. However, I suppose that there is room for an honest difference of opinion upon it. In the first place I wish to say that a good deal of time and trouble would have been saved if the Government, at the outset, had given us something to go upon in connexion with the measure. One of the items on the business-paper to-day is a Bill to authorize the construction of a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. ‘ Had that measure been brought forward in its proper order we should have been saved a lot of trouble. The Government would naturally have fortified their demand for it by presenting us with a report from their surveyors. We should have had an estimate of the cost of the line as well as all other information essential to enabling us to give a matured judgment upon such an important question. However, they have seen fit to deal with the matter in a topsy-turvy fashion, and as a result we are constrained to deal with it in a similar fashion. Senator Newland has referred to the loss which was sustained last year on the working of the Northern Territory railway, of which the proposed line would be an extension. The report which he quoted put the position accurately when it stated that the working expenses last year exceeded the revenue by £732 4s. 6d. But, unfortunately, the compiler of those figures did not take in one very important factor, namely, the original cost of construction, which represents £1,180,263. Allowing 4 per cent. interest upon that amount, it will be seen that the sum of £47,210 requires to be added to the loss quoted by Senator Newland upon this stretch of 145 miles of railway.
– What about a sinking fund?
– The loss upon the undertaking since it was opened amounts to more than £1,000,000. If each year we threw the loss sustained on the original expenditure - which is what a business man would do - it would represent an amount that would be positively startling. In the face of this, we ought to proceed very cautiously. The Honorary Minister has told us that on the inadequate information with which he has been supplied the proposed line will cost £400,000.
– That amount will not complete the line.
– I can assure the Honorary Minister, on the most reliable information, that it will not. As a matter of fact, that amount does not represent more than two-thirds of the money that will be required.
– The estimated cost of the whole line, apart from the bridge over the Katherine, is £480,000.
– I believe that the estimate which I am about to present is just as reliable as is that supplied by the Minister. The building of the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek - a distance of 145 miles - cost £8,116 per mile. It is reasonable to suppose that the minimum cost per mile of the proposed line will be equal to that. As a matter of fact, it will be considerably more. But I am content to say that the construction of the proposed line will cost the same amount per mile. That represents a sum of £438,264, which, with the cost of the bridge over the Katherine, which is estimated at £170,000, will make the total cost of this little undertaking £608,260. That shows how careful we ought to be, and how absolutely necessary it is that we should have some definite information upon which to proceed before we embark upon a scheme like this. My estimate is based upon the cost of constructing a railway built in the cheapest possible fashion. We all know that the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway was opened in 1899, and was built cheaply by Chinese labour.
– That did not make it very much cheaper.
– It certainly did not make it much cheaper to South Australia, but it made it much cheaper to the contractors.
– They cannot get Chinese labour now.
– Fortunately, they cannot get “ Chows,” but I have no doubt they will ransack the Commonwealth for the cheapest labour they can get. The last contractors built 145 miles of the railway with all the Coolies, Chinese, Cingalese, and black, brown, and brindled people they could scour from all parts of Australasia. It is reasonable to suppose that they managed to build that line at a slightly cheaper rate than we can hope to build the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, in view of the increased cost of material and the higher wages which must be paid to white labourers working under decent, conditions.
– When talking of cheapness we must consider the nature of the country that has to be traversed.
– I agree with Senator Long, and I say also that what may be cheap may be nasty, and very dear in the end. I agree with the major portion of the remarks in which Senator Newland successfully conveyed to the Committee the idea that the Northern Territory is suitable for the development of a virile white race. The only point of difference between the honorable senator and myself is that, perhaps, he desires a rather premature development. There are any amount of places in the north-west of New South Wales, and in the western portion of Queensland, quite as adapted to the settlement and development of a virile white race, but it is not proposed to develop those parts of Australia before we have developed the eastern and more accessible portions. In the same way here, it is not proposed to develop the Northern Territory from the south, where the settlement might be connected with the settlement in South Australia, and where the work of development might be carried on more economically and more successfully. I am very much opposed to the construction of this line at the present time> because I have no faith in the men who are charged with the development of the Northern Territory. If a Labour Government were in power, I frankly admit that I would be prepared to try the experiment. I know that they . would endeavour to make the line pay. Senator Newland has quoted an extract from the report of Administrator Gilruth, in which that gentleman makes the statement that cold-storage works at Darwin are inseparably connected with the building of this line if it is to be a commercial success. The present Government! have turned down the refrigerating works at Darwin, which are essential to making the line a paying proposition, and I feel, in consequence, justified in turning down the . line. Again, the present Government have flouted the established daylabour policy of the Labour party, and are going back to the old system of contracting, by which some of their friends will get the spoils. A’ more substantial reason for my opposition to the line is that I know the policy of the Government in dealing with the lands of the Northern Territory to be diametrically opposed to mine. The moment they get this £400,000 passed - and they will not have it passed if I can help it - and get authorization for the construction of the railway, they will probably proceed to sell up all the lands of this country to their friends. Having sold the lands to their friends, they will build the line through those lands, as has been done in other parts of the Commonwealth, with the result that the lands will be largely enhanced in value, and it will be like making a present of £500,000 to the friends of the Government. . This is no new policy. It has been the policy of Liberal Governments in all of the States. That is the way in which they have been able to exploit the legitimate workers and help their friends. I venture to assert that, taking the general policy of railway construction throughout the Commonwealth, if Governments in the past had proceeded upon proper lines, the whole expense of railway construction could have been derived from the enhanced value of the land through which the various lines have been constructed. I am satisfied that I have one sure supporter in the Senate for that contention.
– The honorable senator is jumping Senator Stewart’s claim.
– I am not going to delay the passage of the Bill.
– They all say that.
– I shall not delay its passage if a majority of honorable senators desire to pass it; but I certainly think this railway should not be proceeded with this session. The Government will, in due course, bring in a Bill to authorize the construction of the railway, and I should like to know their object in delaying its authorization. As soon as this item in the Loan Bill is passed, they will bring in the Bill to authorize the construction of the railway, and their chief argument will be, “ We have got the money now, and we might as well spend it.” That will be a very poor argument, but I expect it to be submitted as the chief argument in support of the Railway Bill. At this juncture I shall not say anything further on the proposal.
– Senator Mullah has said that he does not want to delay the passing of this item. I heard a remark to the effect that we all say that. But, unlike Senator Mullan, I frankly confess that
I do wish to delay it. If an evil is to be done, the longer it is put off the better. Senator Newland has said that those who oppose the borrowing of money for the construction of this line are sanctioning a breach of the agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia when the Territory was taken over. I contend that opposition to this particular item is not fairlyopen to that charge at all. I was one of those who, when many honorable senators from other States opposed it, strongly supported the carrying out of the agreement in the letter and in the spirit. I contended that, although no time was fixed, we were in honour bound to give effect to the terms of that agreement, just as we were in honour . bound to build the Federal Capital in New South Wales. But my argument is that this is not the right way in which to carry out the agreement. I may have an honest difference of opinion on that point with Senator Newland without being open to the charge of violating the agreement with South Australia.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– It is a matter of fact that I do not wish to violate the agreement. It is a matter of opinion as to whether the Government are proposing the best way in which to carry it out. No man should be charged with motives which he distinctly repudiates. I believe that the only way in which we can carry out the agreement in its true spirit is to start railway construction from the south. If we start at the other end, it will be many years before we can get into communication with South Australia, and we shall be making more remote the time for the fullest fulfilment of the agreement.
– Why not go right through with it?
– I should be prepared to do that, but it seems to me like putting the cart before the horse to start at the northern end.
– There is nothing in the agreement to say from which end the line should be started.
– I am aware of that. I perused the agreement as carefully as did the honorable senator, though he comes from a State that is supposed to be directly interested. I take an Australian interest in the matter. One point that has not been adequately dealt with is’ the question of the expense involved in the construction of this line. In spite of all the opinions expressed by the officials in the Territory, and by Senator McDougall and others, who made more or less picnic tours through it, it must be admitted that, although white men can live and flourish in the Northern Territory, it is not as suitable for white men as are the more temperate parts of Australia, because otherwise they would have gone to the Northern Territory voluntarily. The fact that we must incur special expenditure to make it attractive to white settlers is a proof that it is not naturally so. It is not so for many reasons, amongst others that there is a liability to malaria. There is a very humid heat to be contended against in some parts near the coast, and there is the prevalence of the mosquito, which recent scientific discoveries have shown to be a carrier of malaria. All these things go to show that the rough and ready way which may be suitable for the construction of railways in more temperate climates will not be found suitable for the economic construction of railways in the coastal belt of the Northern Territory. In connexion with the construction of the Panama Canal, we know that the old French engineering project was largely unsuccessful owing to the impossibility of keeping up an adequate supply of labour. Those fever-stricken, mosquito haunted districts were fatal to the health of the people taken there to carry out that work. The death-rate amongst the blacks and coloured races of all kinds imported into that country for the work was something frightful. The mortality amongst them was so great that it was found practically impossible to keep up the supply of labour. Whilst the Northern Territory is not anything like as unhealthy as that of Panama, it is still a fact that the most up-to-date sanitary arrangements for the housing of the people engaged in the construction of railways there will be found to be most economical. If the purpose be to continue the line from the north to the south, it is all the more important that the utmost attention shall be paid to the health of those engaged in the work. There must be hundreds of men engaged in it; they must be properly organized ; the commissariat department must be well looked after, and the most scientific and hygienic arrangements made, if the work is to be carried out in a way which will not only safeguard the lives and health of those employed upon it, but also the finances of the Commonwealth that must bear the cost of the work. ‘ I say, therefore, that this is not the little twopenny-ha’penny project that might be supposed, and we must not think that because it is claimed that it means the development of the Northern Territory all is well, and everything in the garden is lovely. It may mean disaster; the squandering of twice the amount of money the line is estimated to cost, and the loss of life, unless proper care and attention is given to the organization of the work. It is not so much a matter of engineering as organization, and of having up-to-date scientific men in charge of the work of organization.
– Contractors would not do it ; they would let the men die like rotten sheep.
– Contractorscertainly would not do it, and the present Government have shown no indication of being able to appreciate the importance of the work they will be responsible for if this project be agreed to. The fact that we are being asked to authorize the borrowing of the’ money in this haphazard way, before we have been furnished with reliable estimates of the probable cost, gives us ample warrant for turning down the project. It shows that the Government has not the capacity to understand the problem, that its collective brains are insufficient, or ‘that it is not properly seized of the importance of the work. The Government has thrown this proposal before us in a haphazard fashion.
– We are now dealing with the authorization of the loan.
– But we have a right to criticise the expenditure before we’ vote the loan.
– All the particulars required will be supplied on the Railway Bill.
– If the Government have put the cart before the horse, let them postpone the Loan Bill until we get the Railway Bill. I am not responsible if they have tied the horse by the tail to the back of the cart. I should like him to be properly yoked up before we vote this money. Until we know what is to be done with the money, it is childish to ask us to share the responsibility for such an idiotic proposal as to plank down £400,000 for a work of which we know nothing in detail. I am surprised that honorable senators belonging to my party, some of them from South Australia, because they have an agreement in their mental visions, should adopt such a view in regard to this proposal.
– That is unfair. I can view the matter from an Australian stand-point.
– It seems to me that the feeling regarding this railway is largely tinged by geographical considerations.. The development of the Northern Territory is, just as dear to me as to any member of the Senate. I can realize that this enormous Territory will be a danger to us if it is not developed. That is why I do not want to see money squandered. Squandered money can never be replaced.
– How can we de velop the Territory without a railway ?
– We cannot, but I do not want the money to be squandered on wrong railways when the same sum could be spent on the right railway at the right time. This proposal seems to me to be wrong for several reasons. In the first place, we are commencing at the wrong end. Another objection is that, although fourteen months have elapsed since the survey . was authorized,. no proper estimates have been placed beforeus to show in detail how the money is to be spent. We have had no report from the surveyors. Furthermore, the money proposed will admittedly not be sufficient to construct the line. It is estimated’ that a considerably larger sum than £400,000 will be required to take the railway to the river. Then there will be £170,000 for building a bridge over the Katherine. Probably £600,000 or more will be spent on about 50’ miles of railway, the strongest advocates of which do not say that it will even then be remunerative. They only argue that it will diminish the loss which is now incurred on the line from Darwin to Pine Creek. The actual loss will, in the aggregate, probably be larger, though the proportionate loss may be less. If we want to disgust the people of Australia with the Northen Territory, and to prevent its development, the way to do that is to bring disaster upon our attempts in the early stages by undertaking wrong things in the wrong time and in, the wrong way. There is no way in which people who do not feel the same personal interest in the Northern Territory as members of parliament do, can be so readily induced to rise in protest against spending more money there, than by the spending of large sums in the wrong way and in wrong places. All the evidence goes to show that the primal necessity is to link up the Territory with the southern States in such a manner that people who go there for business or industrial undertakings will be able to return easily to the State from which they have been drawn. In connexion with any work that is undertaken in the Northern Territory there will be sickness ; people will be invalided; hundreds will retire during the progress of the work. These people will want to come back to their homes in the southern States. But before they can do so they will have to circumnavigate the continent. The men who go to work there will have to be drawn from the southern States. They will have to be attracted by high wages. How are they going to be maintained without regular means of supply? Others will have to be sent to take the places of those who are invalided or become tired of the work, and return to the States from which they were originally drawn. The chief argument for commencing from the south, getting into the pastoral areas, and carrying the work through to the north, was that people who were attracted there would be able to easily return to their homes in the south, instead of having to go half way round the continent. Unless the most ample State Socialistic methods are adopted in the Northern Territory, such as were adopted by the United States in the construction of the Panama. Canal, we shall make a terrible botch of the whole thing, and shall find that £500,000 has been simply thrown away, and that many valuable lives have been sacrificed, while the people of Australia will be absolutely disgusted. The consequence will be that no more money will be spent there by future Governments. The Government have not shown that they have risen to the occasion or have taken steps to acquaint themselves with their responsibilities. I. am afraid that we shall find, when it is too late, that £500,000 has been fritteredaway to no purpose. It surprises me thatmen belonging to my own. party are prepared to tolerate this crying scandal, and to allow a fleeting and fictitious majority in the other House to commit this Parliament to the expenditure of an enormous sum of money. It seems to me that this Senate, which is the Democratic Legislative House of Australia, should act as the watchdog of the people’s interests, and prevent loan money being spent in this scandalous fashion.
– Some time ago a Survey Commissionwas appointed to go into this question of the development of the Northern Territory. The Commission has been at work for a considerable time. No doubt its members were paid for their labours. What has it done ? Has it submitted a report? Does it recommend the construction of the railway from north to south, or from south to north ? I should like to know what the position is in regard to the Commission. Have they made any recommendation on the railway, and, if so, what is it?
– The honorable senator knows the fate of the Commission. It has been abandoned.
– Has it submitted any report?
– It has submitted no complete report.
Question - That the amendment be not insisted on - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion agreed to.
Item 5. - For the purchase of land for defence purposes, £300,000.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out item.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendmend disagreed to.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed - :
That the amendment be not insisted on.
.- I am emboldened, as the result of the recent division, to believe that the Committee are not unsusceptible to a business argument when it is submitted. I can quite understand the attitude taken up by my honorable friends opposite in adhering to the principle to which they have attached themselves in decreeing that defence expenditure shall not be chargeable to loan account. But I do ask them whether in this matter they are not unfairly pushing that principle, when they seek to bar meeting the expenses of such items as are proposed here from loan account ? I submit that there is a very great difference between the expenditure for such ephemeral objects as shot and shell and for the payment of current expenses and the purchase of a tangible asset such as land. The whole of the items covered by this £300,000 are various parcels of land, which will be as good assets tomorrow as they are to-day, and in all probability very much better assets ten years hence. If these assets were at all ephemeral, then, knowing the feelings of honorable senators opposite, I would not venture to address the Committee again. But I do ask them to note the very marked difference between the purposes for which this authority is sought and that form of expenditure which is usually referred to as defence expenditure. The objection to meet defence expenditure out of loan account is, I take it, that the proceeds of that expenditure might, and in all probability would, disappear, if not immediately, certainly within a short space of time. But no one who has any faith in Australia can for a moment doubt that the land which it is proposed to purchase with this money will represent not merely the amount it is proposed to pay, but a value very largely in excess.
SenatorRussell. - Do you think that you will ever realize on that land?
– Will my honorable friends ever realize on the railway they have just passed?
SenatorRussell. - I did not help to pass it.
– The vote which my honorable friends have just passed, I do not hesitate to say, means undoubtedly an annual obligation for many years.This particular expenditure, however, is not going to cost the Commonwealth anything as years go by, but it will save something, because, as honorable senators know, the biggest proportion of the amount is required to pay for the Liverpool Manoeuvre Area. If the Government abstain from proceeding with this venture it will be open to them every year under the power vested in them by the Defence Act to proclaim the area over which the troops can be manoeuvred, the owners submitting their bill for compensation at the endof each period. Further than that, itwill be competent for the Government to rent the areas held privately, and the only amount chargeable each year will be rent in one case, and compensation in the other. It is submitted as a good proposition, that instead of doing that we should pay interest on the amount required to purchase the land. I am utterly unable to understand why honorable senators, viewing it as a business proposition, can think that they have disposed of the matter by saying that as the expenditure is for defence, therefore we are not justified in borrowing for that purpose. Take the case of drill halls. It is quite competent for the Government to turn round and rent halls, and to pay every year a certain amount of rent. But instead of doing that it is proposed to purchase land and to erect halls, in which case we shall pay a much smaller amount in interest. If the land was going to evaporate into thin air, I could understand all the objections which have been raised about expenditure from loan account for defence. But any man who has the slightest faith in Australia must recognise that we are engaging in a thoroughly sound and good business proposition in purchasing this land as we propose to do, and paying each year a smaller amount by way of interest than we would pay as rent or compensation, and have all the while in hand an asset which must grow as Australia grows, and time goes on. In these circumstances I hope that honorable senators will see that they can sanction this proposal without in any way departing from that general principle to which they, as a party, have attached themselves, and that is, that ordinary defence expenditure should not be met out of loan account. All that I ask them to do is to recognise the difference- and I think they will admit that there is a difference - between the purchase “of land in the way proposed, and that ordinary expenditure for defence purposes to which it is possible very great exception could be taken.
.- I do not intend at this late hour to make any remarks on this item, which, I think, has been well debated. Senator Milieu altogether fails to realize the position which the Labour party take up on this principle. It. is not a question of whether this land is a good asset or a bad asset, but a question of whether the present generation should bear the expense of their own defence. The purchase of land is only one amongst many items of capital expenditure which, looked at from a purely business point of view, one might be able to justify, apart from its object as being a worthy subject for loan expenditure. But it is an object that we must never lose sight of, and that is the defence of Australia in the present generation. We say that, in order to keep a check on defence expenditure, the people of the present generation should pay for their defence out of the annual revenue. It is on that principle, and on none of the principles put forward by Senator Millen, that we on this side oppose this item. We would oppose it just as strongly whether the proposal was to buy land, build guns, or to erect forts, because the object of the expenditure is defence.
– Or Cockatoo Island?
-Or Cockatoo Island. The expenditure is purely for defence purposes. Therefore we should not differentiate in the way the honorable senator seems to think we should. For these reasons we are compelled to vote against the item.
– Before deciding how I intend to vote; I wish the Minister to say whether the money is to be borrowed from Trust Funds or in the open market?
-It is to be borrowed from the Trust Funds, at 3½ per cent.
– That being so, and as I am going to vote, perhaps, against a large section of my own party, I wish to give my reasons. This Liverpool Manoeuvre Area is within 21 miles, of Sydney, and when the new railway from Bankstown to Liverpool is constructed, it will be within 15 or 16 miles from that city. Any man who has watched the growth of Sydney during recent times must, if he is not absolutely blind and unable to calculate, realize that this will be in a few years an invaluable asset, not giving only interest and sinking fund, but doubling itself in value. It is proposed to borrow the money to buy the land from our own Trust Funds, that is, to do as our Government’ did. It is proposed to borrow the money from the funds which we have accumulated, whether they are the accumulations of the bank note, issue or other funds. It is altogether a different proposition from that of borrowing money for purchasing vessels which will become obsolete in a few years. If Sydney, New South Wales, and Australia generally progress as they have done during the last ten years, each year that passes by will not only givea large increment to the value of this land, but the amount of interest will more than equal the amount of rent that we would otherwise have to pay for the use of the land. I do not intend to go wild and blind on one principle and lose sight of another principle, and that is the nationalization of land. Here is an opportunity to bring the lands of private owners under the control of the Commonwealth .
– But we want to do it out of revenue.
– The position we are up against is that we can, here and now, by passing this item, secure to the Commonwealth this land, which is an excellent asset. What great principle is at stake? It is proposed to borrow from one pocket and invest it in land.
– No, it is not.
– I have just had a statement from the Honorary Minister, and I am prepared to take his word. We know that it is not proposed to go into the outside money market.
– The money belongs to the bank.
– The money belongs to the people of the Commonwealth, and is intrusted to the Government. It can be better used by purchasing a valu able property and nationalizing it than by renting the land year in and year out. The’ Committee should not lose sight of the fact that, with the compulsory training system., the land will not be used only for a little while during the year, because there will be a continuous camp going on at this place. It has been selected as a suitableplace for that purpose. As one set of trainees finish their’ continuous training, another set will come in to take up the tents and positions which have been vacated. Just as it is necessary to have a drill hall and dockyards, so it is necessary, if we intend to continue the military system on sound and sensible lines, to have our training and drilling grounds.
– To defeat this item doesnot mean that we must not buy the land. We can buy it out of revenue.
– If I had a choice between the two methods, I would prefer to buy the land out of general revenue; but here is an opportunity to buy the land, and I want to see it bought now. I do not care whether it is bought out of general revenue or with borrowed money., I am certainly opposed, on principle, to going to the foreign money lender, but when it is a case of borrowing the money from the Commonwealth, and of paying the interest to. the Commonwealth, I submit that it is a profitable investment all round. Let us consider the two alternatives. Are we going to continue to rent this land and pay private landlords, or buy the land and pay the interest to the Commonwealth Treasury, because that is where it will eventually find its way? We know that, with this extravagant Government in office, there is never going to be any more spare revenue. Only to-day they gave away £400,000 to Tasmania, and what hope is there of them ever having any revenue to buy anything ? The only hope we have is in the money in the Trust Funds. I know that, in about three or six months, when the double dissolution comes off, we shall have a change of Government; but that may be too late, perhaps, to buy this land, because the commitments of this extravagant party will be so great that there will be no possible opportunity to secure even the few hundred thousand pounds required to buy this area.
– They do not care what you say about them, so long as you vote for them.
– I am so accustomed to saying nice things that I cannot
– We will regard the vote as being right.
– Seeing that the Government propose topurchasethis land out of the trust moneys of the Commonwealth, and that the interest which will be paid upon those moneys will benefit the Commonwealth, I intend to vote for the item. Upon the authority of the Prime Minister it has been stated that a big curtailment in our expenditure is necessary, and yet, only to-day, the Government voted £400,000 as a gift to a State which is rich in soil, climate, and mineral resources - which is rich indeed in everything except the statesmanship to develop it. Why, then, should we endeavour to prevent the Government from purchasing a piece of. land which, from the moment that it is purchased, will be reproductive ?
– How will it be reproductive ?
– Because we are paying rent for it at present. If at the end of each year we are richer asthe result of purchasing this land, I say that the transaction will be a reproductive one in every sense of the word. Not only that, but it possesses all the advantages which will accrue to it from the fact that it is within an area, the value of which must soon be increased tenfold.
– Thenwhy not borrow all the money that is required for defence purposes?
– If we borrow to build a battleship that vessel will be obsolete in ten years. If we borrow for the purchase of small arms they will be worn out in a few years. But when we borrow to purchase a piece of land we shall have that land for all time. Further, if we borrow from our own Trust Funds the whole of the interest paid upon the purchase money will go to the Commonwealth. In this transaction there is all profit to be shown and no loss.
– Is thehonorable senator’s party supporting him?
SenatorGARDINER. - That is for each honorable senator to determine. Here is a training ground which has been selected by the military authorities as the most suitable one, which possesses all the advantages of a close water supply, and of close communication for the supply of troops whose strength will be increasing year after year. The land has been selected because of its peculiar fitness for the purposes for which it is required. In these circumstances why should we hesitate to indorse the proposal of the Government? Here is an opportunity to make a profitable investment. Little as I have praised the Ministry I intend to support them on this occasion, because I recognise that, immediately this purchase is made, we shall have an asset, the value of which will increase year by year, in addition to which the interest upon the purchase money will be paid to the Commonwealth instead of finding its way into the pockets of’ the private money lender.
– The Honorary Minister appeared to draw very little distinction between the vote for £400,000 towards the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, and the proposed appropriation of £300,000 for the purchase of land for defence purposes. There is, however, a very wide difference between the two proposals. In the first place, one is intended to encourage the arts of peace, whilst the other is intended to encourage the abhorrent arts of war. Senator Gardiner rested his case mainly on the contention that the purchase of this land will prove a good investment for the Commonwealth. But if the Commonwealth is in need of good investments, there are plenty of avenues open to it which will return a higher rate of interest than this proposition can be expected to do. The honorable senator also claimed that this money will not constitute a loan in the ordinary sense of the term. But, inasmuch as it will prevent the Government from having recourse to the money market, I hold that it is a loan in the fullest sense of the term. I think it will be generally admitted that, compared with Old World countries, we are a rich country. Yet, with one or two exceptions, those Old World countries are manfully facing their defence burdens. In a young country like Australia, however, it is proposed to borrow money to meet expenditure which those countries are meeting out of revenue. Let me show what has been done in Great Britain on the naval side of her defence. I find that for the year 1913- 14 the estimated naval expenditure totals £46,711,000, and, scattered throughout it, I notice items”for the purchase of sites.” ‘ Yet the Commonwealth Government, which is supposed to be of the same cast of politics as is the Imperial
Government, intends to borrow money to purchase sites. The information which I have given will be found on page 461 of the Naval Annual by Viscount- .
Turning to a parliamentary paper which was tabled in the House of Commons, I gather that since the year 1908-9 no money has been borrowed for the purpose of maintaining the naval branch of the defence of the British Empire. In that year the sum of £948,000 was borrowed. Since then, however, the British Government have met the bill from year to year without borrowing.
– And with an increasing expenditure.
– For the year 1912- 13 the total expenditure for naval defence in the Old Country was £43,000,000. I do not ask that this should be accepted as conclusive, but it will be admitted that, man for man, the Old Country is poorer than is Australia. We are richer, both individually and collectively, and it reflects the utmost discredit upon us that, at this stage, we should resort to borrowing for defence purposes. In France, the amount voted for naval construction last year was £18,000,000, but not a word was said in reference to loan moneys. In Russia, the vote for naval defence last year was £17,000,000. It is true that Germany has borrowed for the purpose of keeping pace with the mad rush of armaments. That country has borrowed’ largely for the purpose of perfecting its naval defence. The amount of its Joans last year totalled £4,000,000. But Italy, Japan, Austria-Hungary, and the United States haveall refused to borrow for the purpose of keeping their navies up to date. Before concluding, I wish to read an extract from a speech on Defence by Mr. Gladstone, in the House of Commons. He said -
The expenses of a war are the moral check which it has pleased the Almighty to impose upon the ambition and lust of conquest that are inherent in so many nations. There is pomp and circumstance, there is glory and excitement about war, which, notwithstanding the misery it entails, invests it with charms in the eyes of the community and tends to blind men to those evils to a fearful and dangerous degree. The necessity of meeting from year to year the expenditure which it entails is a salutary and wholesome check, making them feel what, they are about, and making them measure the cost of the benefit on which they may calculate.
There is no essential difference between purchasing this land and paying out of loan money the charges levelled upon it.
Wecan draw no hard and fast line between the land we buy for our troops to exercise upon and the rifles which we use to shoot at the targets there.
– The rifles will wear out, but the land will not.
– What about the targets ?
– They will wear out, too.
– It will take a lot of shooting to wear them out. Before now we have borrowed money even for the purchase of ammunition, and it has been blown away in smoke. I hope that honorable senators will be satisfied with the soundness of the position they have taken up, and will again negative this item.
– I was one of those who criticised the , Government for calling the Senate together at 11 o’clock this morning, but I am rather thankful now that they did so, because it gives us the opportunity to consider these interesting subjects at our leisure. I frankly admit that there is a difference between spending money upon what may be blown away in powder and shot, or upon vessels, and upon the purchase of land. Apart from the fact that I am opposed to borrowing anyhow, and for whatever purpose, I am opposed to the idea which Senator Gardiner put forward. If this land is to grow in valueto the extent he anticipates, it is altogether too highly priced to be used for military manoeuvres, and we should go further out and secure land which is less likely to grow in value.
– To the Northern Territory ?
– Not to any fabulously remote district, but sufficiently remote to enable us to secure the land at something like prairie value. If this land becomes so very valuable, it will be by the increase of population around it, which will make it rather unsuitable for the purpose to which it is to be applied.My main contention is that the land should be bought for cash, and not with borrowed money. We have been given information as to whatis done in the Old Country, but the fact of the matter is that every party here is frightened to tax the wealthy, and make them “ ante up “ the means that care necessary to provide for their own defence and safety. We are told that we shall save the country a certain amount by paying interest rather than rent. But though there may be a difference in favour of paying interest, for all I know to the contrary, we should, I think, pay neither. We ought to buy this land for cash. Who will benefit most by the military and naval systems we are adopting ? Clearly those who have most property. Although all citizens are equally interested in preserving the purity of the race, our freedom, and our civil and political institutions, the wealthy have all those interests plus their interests in their property. I say, therefore, that we should levy upon them substantial taxation to meet the cost of drill sheds, land for military manoeuvres, and all such matters. It is the working classes, the masses of the people, who never have much more than a bare livelihood, who will be asked to risk life and limb in the defence of the country, and consequently the wealthy classes should be compelled by taxation to find the cost. Until we have a Government patriotic and sensible enough to adopt the course I suggest, I shall always oppose every item of expenditure of this character. The drawing of fine lines of distinction between land acquired for men to drill upon and land acquired to build’ a small arms factory on will only lead us into a chaotic condition, because upon one pretext or another it will be claimed that this, or that, is a good investment. We should have a Government with sufficient honesty and straightforwardness to find the revenue to pay for all these necessary tilings. To talk about juggling with the Notes Fund, as Senator Gardiner did, only means that if we take this money from the Notes Fund there will only be so much left in the fund for other purposes, and we shall have to go to the outside market to raise the wind for those purposes. I am emphatically opposed to borrowing, and if I had been present when the Bill was first under consideration in the Senate, I should have opposed the item of £175,000 for the Cockatoo Dock on the same grounds. I presume that a good dealof the £175,000 is to be expended in connexion with military work.
-The whole of it. The £175,000 is necessary for defence purposes.
– The dock may be used for other purposes.
– The whole of the amount is necessary for the war vessels, and the war vessels alone.
– It is going to provide work for men, anyway.
– I am sorry that I was not here when the item wasunder consideration, but I was helping to win the great Labour victory which we had in New South Wales the other day. I should have strenuously objected to every item in this Loan Bill, but as this is the only one before us, it is the only one with which I can deal. I should like to know how much of this money is to be expended in the purchase of land, and how much on the erection of drill-halls.
– The whole of it is required for land.
– How much per acre will it amount to?
– I could not give the honorable senator the average price. The land to be purchased varies in price.
– It is not in one area?
– No; there are many different areas, some of which may be had at a small price per acre, and some at a higher price.
– If we knew the total area we could discover the average price.
– The total area is about 30,000 acres.
– That would mean an average price of £10 per acre.
– The £300,000 is not required solely for the purchase of the Liverpool area. Thirty thousand pounds will be required for a rifle range, and other amounts for various sites for drillhalls.
– How can any one say that sites for drill-halls in different parts of the country will be reproductive? If we had any real patriots here, a lot of the squatters and big land monopolists who are robbing the country would make us a present of sites for drill-halls.
– They would shed the last drop of their blood.
– No; like Mark Twain, they would shed the last drop of their mother-in-law’s relative’s blood.’ There are ample arguments which might be used against the position taken up by Senator Millen on this item, and I hope that the Committee will knock it out.
– I must ask the Committee to pardon me if I delay them a moment longer, as the matter is of very great importance to the Department with the control of which I am specially concerned. I reminded honorable senators of what they have already done with regard to the £175,000 for the Cockatoo Island Dock. I repeat now what I said, by way of interjection, that every single pound of that amount is required for appliances and machinery that are absolutely necessary in connexion with the Fleet. Not a single pound of it would have been necessary for any commercial purpose to which the Cockatoo Island yard might be devoted. Fifty thousand pounds of the amount will be required for a wharf, and why ? To enable the Australia to go alongside. The sheer legs that will be capable of lifting 100 tons is being provided for no commercial purpose.
– They will be handy when we get our own commercial fleet.’
– In the same way, we may say that the Liverpool manoeuvre area will be handy in saving the sum we are now paying for grazing horses that we turn out. Honorable senators may discard any fears or apprehensions they may have with respect to this item. It is a very much more defensible proposition than the item £175,000 for machinery which must wear out, wharfs which must become rotten, and what may be termed evaporating purposes.
– One wrong does not justify another.
– I am not speaking to Senator Rae, who, I understand, opposes borrowing of any kind, as he seems to oppose nearly everything else. I am appealing to those who are objecting to this item on the ground that it is for expenditure on defence. I have shown that they have approved of borrowing for defence expenditure to the extent of £175,000, and an expenditure which, from the moment that it is incurred, commences to evaporate. In this case the expenditure will not evaporate, but the purpose to which it is applied will become more and more valuable as time goes on. Senator Pearce has said that the position taken up by the party opposite is that they believe that each year should bear its own cost in the matter of defence. It is probably right to say that we will not hand down to posterity the duty of paying for that which we utilize ourselves. But I turn that argument round, and I ask why the people in 1914 should pay the whole cost of the Liverpool manoeuvre area, which will be valuable to the people of 1924 and ever after?
– We may have given up warfare then.
– Even my honorable friend, Senator Rae, may -have become a peaceable citizen by that time. Honorable senators are making a fetish of a principle which is altogether inapplicable to the item before the Committee! I point out that, if we are going to insist on the purchase out of revenue of all land required for defence purposes, we shall seriously retard the development of the universal training system ‘ we have adopted.
– Can we not raise more revenue ?
– We can; but I ask the honorable senator to say whether he is prepared to raise in revenue all the money that will be required in the next few years for the. land we shall want!
– Senator Rae may be, but I remind honorable senators generally that we shall require other manoeuvre areas. I do’ not mind letting them into a Cabinet secret, and I say that if I had my way a much larger sum would have been asked for in this item in order that in the space of two years we might, have made provision for all the drill-halls we are likely to require, instead of taking a little this year, and a little next year, and so postponing the time when our boys will be properly housed in the drill-halls which should be provided for them. I should like honorable senators to agree to the Government proposal, but if they will not do so, I am prepared to make a suggestion. If they will not accept the Bill as it stands, honorable senators might agree to the item, with a proviso that the £300,000 should bo repaid in ten annual payments of £30,000 a year. That would bring it. down to quite a reasonable proposition. It could hardly be called a loan proposition if that condition were attached.” It would then be a ‘time-pay- ment proposition rather than a loan proposition. I make that suggestion, and if it be agreeable to any sectionof the Committee, I am willing to receive an amendment to that effect, or to submit such an amendment. But I ask the Committee not to so seriously disturb the defence proposals for thecurrent year as they will if they reject the item.
– The honorable senator’s proposal is that we should repay £30,000 a year for. ten years.
– Yes, that we should provide for the redemption of the amount by payments of £30,000 each year for ten years, instead of by the ordinary sinking fund. I ask the most f avorable consideration of the Committee for that suggestion, as, apart from the defence aspect of the matter, it cannot be -disputed that the acquisition of the land : is a reasonable proposition.
– The people of Australia turned down the time-payment Naval Bill.
– Any one can see that there is a difference between purchasing ships that may become obsolete, may be sunk, or may be blown’ out of the water, and purchasing land which is not likely to meet with any fate of the kind.
– It is only a difference in degree.
– I ask honorable senators, because of the difference between this and ordinary loan expenditure, to give my proposal favorable consideration. In order that the Committee may have an opportunity to give a decision upon the proposal, and rather than leave it until it is too late, I move to add to the motion before the Committee the words -
Provided the following words be added to clause 2 of the Bill : - and that an amount of stock equal to the amount which is issued and applied in respect of the item numbered5in the Schedule to this Act shall be redeemed by annual payments of not less than , £30,000 on the thirty-first day of December in the year One thousand nine hundred and fourteen, and each succeeding year, until the whole amount so issued and applied has been redeemed.”
– I suggest to the Minister that he should report progress at this stage. . The suggestion he has made is a new one, and he might well give us time to consider it.
Prosecution of a Cadet - GovernorGeneral’s Residence, Sydney.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Last week I made allusion to the prosecution of a cripple boy for not doing military service. I made inquiries at the end of last week, and found that a mistake had occurredon the part of the Area Officer. The boy whom it was intended to summon was not the cripple boy, but another of the same name. Unfortunately, the summonswas served on the wrong lad . I wish to make that explanation, as I brought the matter forward. I am satisfied that it was a simple mistake.
– In view of the happenings in New South Wales at the recent State elections, and the improbability of the present State Government, whose policy has been indorsed by the people, restoring Government House as a residence for the Governor- General in Sydney, will the Commonwealth Government take care that a satisfactory residence is acquired and maintained for His Excellency in that city?
.- The question raised by Senator Gardiner is one of considerable importance, ‘ and the Cabinet will have to be consulted before an answer can be given.
– Will the Minister give me an answer to-morrow?
– There will not be sufficient time for the Cabinet to be consulted between new and to-morrow.
– I thought that Ministers were such loyalists that they would be in a hurry about the matter.
– I am pleased to hear the statement made by Senator McDougall. I have not yet received an official report for which I called about the matter to which he referred, but I have had an intimation that the report is coming to hand, and that it confirms the statement which Senator McDougall has just made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131215_SENATE_5_72/>.