5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. Teesdale Smith’s Contract ; Fatal Trolley Accident -supply ofspleepers.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether a certain decision was due to the fact that the Assistant Minister of Homo Affairs had decided to cancel the agreement to give Mr. Teesdale Smith a further contract from the 122-mile peg to the 129-mile peg, and the reply was, “ The Minister made no such agreement with Mr. Teesdale Smith.” I now ask if it is not a fact that the Minister put the rubber stamp to an agreement promising Mr. Teesdale Smith a further contract if the first contract was satisfactorily carried out?
– I cannot answer the question of the honorable senator, but I can say that the Minister made no second contract with Mr. Teesdale Smith.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs been drawn to this passage in the agreement -
That in the event of the work to be carried out, performed and completed bythe contractor under this agreement being carried out, performed and completed by the contractor to the satisfaction of the said Engineer-in-Chief, the parties hereto will enter into an agreement similar to this agreement in respect of that section of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway line as lies between a distance of one hundred and twenty-two (122) miles from Port Augusta aforesaid: to one hundred and twenty-nine (129) miles from Port Augusta.
– What is that extract taken from?
– From the agreement entered into between Mr. Kelly and Mr. Teesdale Smith.
– Is it signed?
– I shallcall attention to Mr. Kelly’s statement if the Minister of Defence will give me time. Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs been called to that passage in the agreement, and also to the statement made by Mr. Kelly, in which, evidently writing a letter to the Crown Solicitor, he said -
Captain Saunders, Supervising Engineer, Port Augusta, saw me this afternoon with reference to Mr. Teesdale Smith’s contract. He had seen the recommendation of the EngineerinChief with regard thereto, dated the 5th February, 1914, before he saw me in company with the Engineer-in- Chief and Mr. Teesdale Smith. He took the recommendation as applying to the section from 92 to 106 miles. He remembers that the recommendation in question was handed to the Minister shortly after he and the others arrived, and that after reading it the Minister asked the Engineer-in-Chief whether he had satisfied himself as to the rates asked for being if anything slightly less than the rates paid by the Government of South Australia to Mr. Teesdale Smith for similar work, and that on receipt of the Engineer- inChief’s assurance of this fact, I stamped my approval on the papers. “Will the Minister inquire whether that paragraph was in the papers so stamped by Mr. Kelly?
– I have no further knowledge than that which I have alreadygiven to the honorable senator, but I will inquire into the matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs been called to the following telegram in the Melbourne Herald of 25th May-
Adelaide, Monday. - News has reached Port Augusta of the tragic deaths of J. Findley and M.Killeen, employed by a contractor for the erection of telegraph lines in connexion with the trans-Australian railway. They set out on a railway trolley to their work, and nothing more was heard of them until their remains were found yesterday on the track with pieces of the tricycle. Apparently an engine had run them down on Saturday evening.
If so, will the Minister inform the Senate whether these men were in the employ of the Commonwealth Government, and met their death during the execution of their duty, and whether the provisions of the’ Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act apply?
– I have not seen the paragraph in question, and know nothing of the incident of which the honorable senator has just informed the Senate, hut I shall have an inquiry made, and advise the honorable senator as to the result.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home. Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the difficulties and misunderstandings attendant upon the securing of Western Australian sleepers forthe transcontinental railway line, will the Government take steps to obtain the sleepers required from Tasmania?
– The matter is at present under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
-I am laying on the table of the Senate a paper giving the information the honorable senator desires.
– Has the Minister of Defence any information about the question of oil-fields, and if there are any papers on the subject available, will he make them available to honorable senators ?
– There are reports from Mr. Griffin and Mr. Lock, and these will be placed on the table of the Library for the information of honorable senators. Dr. Wade, a geological surveyor, has also furnished some reports, which will be similarly made available. The final report from that gentleman is not yet to hand, but as soon as the Department is in possession of it, it will be placed on -the table of the Library.
– Will the laying of these reports on the table of the Library prevent honorable senators from getting a printed copy of the same?
– It will. .
– If the reports are laid pn the table of the Senate, in all probability the Printing Committee may recommend the printing and circulation of them.
– The Department would lose control of the papers then.
– When papers are laid on the table of the Library, it is dose for the purpose of the Department keeping control of them, instead of them becoming the property of the Senate. Will the Minister take the necessary measures to have copies of these reports circulated amongst honorable senators?
Senate MILLEN. - The fact that the Department has intimated its willingness to make the reports available shows at once that the very last thought in its mind is to withhold them. The papers will be placed on the table of the Library, because it is thought that when honorable senators have seen them there may “be found nothing which would justify the Senate in making them a parliamentary paper.
– If a copy of the papers is laid on the table of the Senate, . it will become the property of the Senate, and we can have it printed.
– I was going to suggest that the papers might be placed on the table of the Library as proposed, and if it is thought that they are of sufficient importance to be made a parliamentary paper, I shall have great plea? sure in presenting a copy to the Senate.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
SenatorREADY. - Has the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council been called to a paragraph headed “Fares and Freights, Inter-State Coastal Eates Increased from Monday,” which appeared in to-day’s Argus, and which reads as follows: -
Sydney, Wednesday. - The Inter-State steamship companies have decided to increase passenger fares and cargo freights in the InterState trade. Although no official statement has been made, it was learned to-day that the office of at least one well-known Inter-State company had received definite information that a 10 per cent. increase in passenger rates will come into operation after Monday next, 1st June.
Will the Government, as recommended by Mr. W. J. Mcwilliams, M.H.R., in another place, during the session of 1912, institute a general prosecution against the Steam-ship Combine for its depredations on the pockets of the Australian people?
– If the honorable senator has information as to the existence of a Shipping Combine, he should place it before the legal authorities, and allow them to ascertain whether it is correct or not.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether, in accordance with the terms of the agreement entered into between the Department and the shipping companies for the transport of mails to and from Tasmania, the proposed increase of freights has been submitted to the PostmasterGeneral, and has received his approval ?
– 1 ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question, as I have no information to hand.
– It cannot apply to that mail service.
– Was any provision made in that contract to safeguard tho citizens of Australia against any increase in freights and fares, seeing that the Government gave the steam-ship companies a substantial increase in the subsidv?
– I am not able to answer the question, but if the honorable senator will give notice I shall obtain the information he desires.
– You ought to know, surely ?
– If we ought to know, why was the question put?
– The agreement has been circulated.
– I ask the Minister of Defence the following questions: -
– I am in a position to inform the honorable senator that such an appointment has been made, but I am not in a position to answer as to the de tails. If he will give notice, I shall be able to answer his questions.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received any information from his officers bearing on the question I asked yesterday as to the holding of an illegal examination of cadets at the Sydney Grammar School for the position of noncommissioned officer ?
– Having only re turned from Sydney yesterday, I was not aware that the honorable senator had received an official communication giving him some information in advance of that which I possessed.
– I want to know more.
– The communica tion, as the honorable senator knows, indicated that the examination which had been held was an irregular one. I have called for a strict inquiry and an explanation as to how such an examination could possibly have been held. As soon as I receive the result of the inquiry 1 will make it available to the honorable senator.
– I asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs the other day a question in reference to the Government steamer Stuart, and the answer was that she was not suitable for lighthouse or survey work. I desire to know if the answer was based on a departmental report, and, if so, can the report be made available?
– I am not in a position to say on what information the Department acted in arriving at that conclusion, but I shall endeavour to ascertain from the Minister.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank :Report by Governor of Bank to Treasurer of the Commonwealth re Savings Bank Department.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway -
Contracts for supply of sleepers, quality of timber, price, &c.
Number of. sleepers required, ordered, and delivered.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired under, at -
Belmore, New. South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Bondi Beach, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Brighton, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Erskineville, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Pialligo, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Northern Territory. - Crown Lands Ordinance 1912-
Licensing of persons to graze stock on Crown lands or on reserved or dedicated Lands. - Amendment of Regulation No. 8.
Surrender of Leases. - Regulation No. 22.
Conditions under leases. - Amendment of Regulation No. 16.
Regulation for charge for preparation of leases.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910, Marine Board and Navigation Act 1881 (South Australia), and South Australian Railway Commissioners Act. - Jetty Regulations.
Return to Order of the Senate of 7th May, 1914-
Plant acquired by Commonwealth while day labour principle in force, &c.
– Has the Minister of Defence any objection to moving that the paper from the Governor of tha Commonwealth Bank be printed? It is a very important document, and I think that we. should have a copy of it in print.
– I have no personal objection, but I do suggest for the con sideration of honorable senators whether there might not be a danger in too freely taking the work out of the hands of the Printing Committee.
– I submit that this is an urgent matter, as we are going to deal with banking legislation immediately, judging by what has been done in another place. If this paper bears on such legislation, I think it should be printed; but I would prefer the Minister to move in the matter.
SenatorRAE. - Referring to replies given to previous questions I put concerning; the Lithgow Small Arms Factory and the cost of the residences of the manager and others, I should like to know from the Minister of Defence whether the cost stated included everything in connexion with such residences, such as the roadways to them, gardens, lawns, and so on.
– I am sure that the honorable senator will recognise that it is absolutely impossible for me to have that detailed information with me. With a great deal of regret I therefore must ask him to give notice of this question.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Government take immediate steps to either -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the answer given to Senator Keating ‘s question, I ask the Minister whether the Government have yet considered the modified offer of the owners of the wireless station at King Island, and whether they are prepared to purchase the station at the reduced figure quoted?
– I have supplied the only information I have on the question submitted by Senator Keating. If Senator Long will give notice of his question, I can obtain further information.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, I ask whether the Government are of opinion that a station at King Island could be of no advantage to shipping; and if they are not of that opinion, why King Island has been differentiated from such places as Townsville and the other places enumerated in the list the honorable senator has supplied ?
– The honorable senator will see that I could not answer that question without notice.
– The question is contained in the question I have asked upon notice.
– I have given the honorable senator all the information I have on the subject.
– I wish to ask a question with regard to the procedure adopted in arranging the order of business on the business-paper. I notice that the Insurance Bill appears on the paper before the Bills proposing alterations of the Constitution, which were given notice of some time before notice was given of the Insurance Bill.
– The reason is that the Insurance Bill was made an order of the day for this particular day, whereas the other Bills referred to have been postponed from day to day without being definitely made an order of the day for a particular day.
Debate resumed from 27th May (vide page 1478), on motion by Senator Oakes, as amended -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and our thanks for the Speech which Your Excellency’s predecessor (Lord Denman) was pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator Rae had moved -
That the following words be added : - “ 2. Your Advisers deserve special condemnation for their gross favoritism and betrayal of the public interest in letting a costly contract forrailway construction without providing the safeguard of public competition. “3. Furthermore, your Advisers’ constant efforts to coerce the Senate (which being elected on the widest possible basis is the constitutional guardian of the people’s liberties) into abject submission to their will is an attempt to subvert the Constitution and thereby imperil the harmony existing between the various States of the Commonwealth, and is deserving of the severest censure.”
– It is some time since the Senate was addressed by an honorable senator from this side, but, owing to the paucity of our numbers, and the fact that we are three short on the Government side, we may be excused for not having sooner addressed ourselves to the motion. Before proceeding with what I wish to say upon the motion, I should like to thank you, Mr. President, -on behalf of the Government, for so kindly sending a letter of condolence to Senator Barker in connexion with his recent bereavement. I have myself experienced a similar bereavement, and am therefore in a position to keenly sympathize with the honorable senator. I think it is very pathetic to men like the honorable senator and myself, who started very humbly in life, with the advantage of some one to help us to bear the heat and burden of the day, to rear our children, aud to assist us through all our needs, that our helper should be taken away when life had become brighter, and there seemed to be a happy future before us. I desire to express the condolences of the Government to Senator Barker, and to again thank you, sir, for your kind action. The speeches which have been delivered on this motion have been very uniform in character. We have not had very much to encourage us, as the speeches have simply been fault finding from beginning to end. The Government and their supporters represent a small minority in the Senate, and, on this account, have been made the subject of pity and derision. We do not seek the pity of honorable senators opposite, and we do not trouble about their derision. To listen to some of the things which have been said, one would think that we have no right to be on this side of the Chamber, that we are usurpers and interlopers; but, as a matter of fact, we are here by the will of the people. Senator Pearce, a little time ago, submitted some figures to the Chamber, and admitted that a majority of Liberal votes are represented in the Senate, though there is a considerable majority of Labour senators in this Chamber. . The honorable senator contended, however, that the party on his side have a majority in the country, because members of that party represent a majority of the votes polled for the House of Representatives. At the last general elections there were 1,900,369 votes polled for the House of Representatives. Of that number, 936,950 were Liberal votes, and 956,546 Labour votes, while there were 6,873 Independent votes. In the first figures there are not included the votes for the late Sir William Lyne and for Miss Goldstein. It is well known that very many Liberal votes we’re recorded for Sir William Lyne which would not in any case have gone to a Labour candidate. There is little doubt that the bulk of Miss Goldstein’s votes were Labour votes; but there were still a sprinkling of Liberals amongst those who voted for her. I calculate that of the Independent votes recorded there would be 5,796 Liberal votes and 1,077 Labour votes. This would mean that for the
House of Representatives 942,746 Liberal votes were recorded and 957,623 Labour votes, a difference of 14,877 votes in favour of the Labour party. The circumstances of elections for this House and the House of Representatives vary considerably, and, after all, it is the voting for the Senate that is the true criterion of the way in which parties stand in the country. There is no doubt that there was some extraordinary voting for Senate candidates at the last elections, and when this is taken into account, with the great disparity between the numbers returned for either party, it is clear that there is something very defective, in an electoral system which permits of such results. For the Senate there were no uncontested seats, and the Liberal votes recorded numbered 2,840,420; Labour votes, 2,802,529; a difference of 37,891. We have to add to the Liberal votes 25,528 recorded for Mr. Renwick, 18,556 recorded for Sir Josiah Symon, and 4,615 recorded for Mr. Cameron. This will make the Liberal figures 2,889,119. We can add to the Labour votes those recorded for the Socialist or Independent candidates of New South Wales - Moroney, Batho, and Ostler - numbering 60,549. That would make the total votes recorded for Labour 2,863,078, a minority in the Senate voting of 26,041. So that we are here by a majority of the Liberal voters of Australia. There is no doubt that the voting was extraordinary. In Victoria, for instance, I think there was a difference of only some 7,000 votes between the first and the fifth on the poll. I was myself not far behind the leading candidate’s votes. Though the strength of the parties was so nearly equal in the country, there is a very great difference in the numbers by which we are respectively represented in the Senate. That leads me to say that the present representation of parties in the Senate is not at all a true reflection of public opinion, and, in the circumstances, it is not unreasonable to ask that the Senate should be sent back to the country to obtain from the electors some more definite result. We have had a large number of speeches which, as I have said, were not calculated to allay political feeling, but rather to stir it up. There has been a good deal of vituperation, misrepresentation and abuse of the Government by honorable senators opposite, with the exception only of Senator
Pearce, who made a courteous speech, of which we could not complain, and Senator O’Loghlin, who was more than courteous, who debated the motion in a gentlemanly manner, for which I thank him. Let me say that the bitter speeches that have been made, so far from doing the speakers or the party they represent any good, must have a tendency to defeat the ends for which they were delivered. I do not think the most pronounced partisan outside will believe that Ministers are such a foolish, useless, degraded band of men as we have been depicted to be in this Chamber. We have been told by the Leader of the Opposition that we are prepared to eat dirt in order to retain office. It looks to me as if honorable senators opposite are quite willing to throw mud in order to secure office. We have been charged with grovelling to the State Premiers, and of course on the principle of “like leader like men,” the rank and file have followed in the same strain. I hope to show that this criticism is unmerited, that we are prepared to submit ourselves again to the people, and to abide by their verdict. Not only have political charges been made against us, but personal charges of dishonour, of untruthfulness, and of want of patriotism have been made against me. The Leader of the Opposition in another place recently travelled through this continent, and repeated the statements which had been made against me here, though
Jio did not repeat them correctly. Other members of this Parliament have gone through the country, and have practically made the same charges. It is not pleasant for me to deal with matters personal to myself, but seeing that these accusations have been spread broadcast throughout Australia, it is incumbent upon me to do so, and to set things in their proper light. Over and over again, both in this chamber and outside of it, I have been charged with having made certain statements at Fitzroy.” In some cases those statements have been quoted correctly, but in others they have not. I propose to read the statements so that no doubt may exist as to what I really did say. I said at Fitzroy that -
There never was, in the history of Australian elections, such a campaign as the last. There had been more names on the rolls than there were persons entitled to vote - he had these figures from Mr. Knibbs - 60,000 more in New South Wales, 60,000 in Victoria, 30,000 in
Queensland, 17,000 in South Australia, 11,000 in Western Australia, and 7,000 in Tasmania. How was that ? The worst of it was that a lot of people voted twice. They had even resurrected the dead to vote. The Ministry was trying to get to the bottom of it, but it was found (hat while the parties which passed the Electoral Act and were responsible for the conduct of the elections had left as many doors open as possible for wrong-doing, they had practically shut every door* which would enable the mischief to be traced to its source.
That is the statement which I made at Fitzroy, and I stand by every word of it to-day.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has already withdrawn a portion of it.
– I repeat that statement to-day. In the first place Isaid that there had been an inflation of the rolls. The accuracy of my statement was denied. But I have here a return to the order of Senator McGregor which shows that on the 31st May last there were 184,216 more names upon the roll than were eligible to be there. That is a very great disparity, but when we consider that there were tens of thousands of names not on the rolls at all - names which ought to have been there - the disparity becomes very much greater. My statement, therefore, is absolutely borne out by the official figures which have been laid before this Chamber. I said, also, that a lot of people’ had voted twice. Inquiry has been made into this allegation, and it has been ascertained that there were quite a number of duplications of votes - cases of electors whose names were marked on the lists of certified voters as having voted more than once as ordinary voters and absent voters. The total of these is 5,760. We have been assured that a lot of these duplications were the result of mistakes. Some of them may have been. But there cannot have been a very large number which can honestly be attributed to wrong marking. These duplications, we are told, do not represent much in a large country like Australia, which possesses so many polling places. But when we recollect that thefate of the last election turned upon 330 votes in the Hume electorate it will be seen that the figures I have given are of immense importance. I would further point out that information has been obtained by the Electoral Commission - especially in Queensland - which amply confirms the accuracy of my statements. An employé of the Electoral Department in that State, when giving evidence upon oath, said -
He had found that the Queensland rolls contained many thousands more names than did the index. They were purging the index and rolls, and had discovered that there were 30,000 names on the rolls which should not have been there. In the case of 6,000 or 8,000 the names appeared on two, three, four, and even five different rolls. He found the rolls for Maranoa, Wide Bay, Herbert, Capricornia, and Brisbane very bad; but, as a matter of fact, all the rolls were bad.
That is the evidence of Mr. Dent, an employé of the Electoral office in Brisbane. Later on he was asked -
Did you find the names of many dead people ?
To which he replied -
Yes, about 2,000.
He was then asked -
Did you investigate whether the votes had been cast in the names of these dead people?
His answerwas -
No, that is not in my jurisdiction.
His examination was thus continued -
Did you find many spinsters who had married appearing on the roll both as a spinster and a married woman?- Yes.
Witness continued -
The last new print of rolls was in December. The roll put out in December contained 1,000 less names than the roll used on election day. The purging of the rolls had practically only gone on since the beginning of this year. He saw hundreds of claims that were signed by the witness and not the claimant. There were 211 persons to his knowledge who claimed to be on the roll whose names were not there, though they had received cards acknowledging their claims. In his investigations he had found illegal practices, such as one person applying for enrolment under two different names. He had also found that some persons had applied for enrolment, giving a place of residence, and, on inquiry, it was found that they did not live at those places at all. He had only known of two prosecutions in Queensland, one for obtaining enrolment under the age of twenty-one years and the other for signing the whole of the applications of a family for enrolment. He had directed the attention of the electoral officer to the irregularities he had discovered. There were 1,200 names on the Mackay subdivision roll that should not be there. If the card system were kept up to date there would be no duplication. The District Returning Officer at Oxley was responsible for allowing the names of dead people to remain on the roll. Witness told Mr. Allars, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, and he said that there was no time to take the names off, and the roll went to the printers. Since the 1912 printed roll was issued witness had taken off 5,000 names that had no right to be there. He did not believe that there was an organized attempt at double voting at the last election. Tally slips were not allowed to be sent from the polling booth to the committee rooms.
Mr. Archdale Parkhill, in giving evidence before the same Commission, said -
He could not describe the state of the rolls as other than shocking. They contained the names of people who had been dead for five years, and of people who had left the division from one month to two years, and there were many duplications. The only way to cleanse the rolls was to have a fresh collection. If this were not done, at the next election there would be chaos. With regard to the names of dead people at Narrandera, a woman died twenty-one months ago, and the Federal Electoral Registrar attended her funeral, yet her name was still on the roll.
I might quote further evidence of this kind - evidence given before the Electoral Commission. Similar testimony was also tendered at Goulburn by Mr. Fred Warren. Then we have official Information from South Australia that -
There were 234 persons reported to the electoral authorities for infringements of the Electoral Act.
Some prosecutions were instituted, and those prosecutions, I may mention, had nothing whatever to do with the Minister. They were instituted and carried out entirely by the Electoral Officers. As a result, several persons were fined large sums for breaches of the Electoral Act. We have been told, in connexion with the Ballarat election, that a detective officer had made full inquiry into the conduct of that election, and that his investigations led him to conclude that no fault could be found with it. I wish to say that he did not make an inquiry of that character at all. He was sent to Ballarat to ascertain whether thirty-five persons whose names appeared on the roll actually existed. He learned that they did. Subsequently, when he was before the Electoral Commission, he was asked whether his inquiries had gone further, and he replied that they had not. I have here a list of eighteen names which were on two rolls in the Ballarat division. In other divisions the same names appear-
– Are they similar names?
– They have been given to me as the names of the same persons. Of course, I do not say that these persons voted twice. I merely say that their names appeared on two rolls, which theyought not to have done, if the :rolls had been properly cleansed. When :a strict inquiry was subsequently made into the conduct of the election at Ballarat by the defeated candidate, it was found that there had been 230 cases of duplication there. Out of this number 115 were duplicate votes, which had been polled at Ballarat. Had there been a sufficient number to cover the minority in which the defeated candidate found himself, he could have gone to the Court of Disputed Returns, and probably have -succeeded in upsetting the election. There was not a sufficient number, however, and, consequently, he had to abide by the result. The number of absent votes polled at the last election - 198,373 in all - was extraordinary. At Perth there were no fewer than 6,568 such votes recorded. Now, Perth is not a large place, and it does seem extraordinary that such a number of absent votes should have been polled there. All these figures go. to show that my statements, at Fitzroy were not highly coloured in any way, but are absolutely borne out by facts. Since then I have been supplied with the names of four or five persons who are dead, but who were personated at the last election. The initials of one of them is F. P., of Kyneton, the number on the roll of another one a,t Ballarat East is 4877, that of a third at Ballarat West is 3470, another at Lal Lal 570, and that of another at Mount Pleasant is 267.
– The honorable senator said that “we” resurrected them.
– I did not. I said ““they” resurrected them. As a matter of fact, the remark was made in a jocular manner, and if such a mountain had not been made of it by honorable senators opposite, I would have passed it by without further notice. I did not say who resurrected them. As regards the doors being thrown open for wrong-doing, I say that the system of absent voting made it possible to personate absent persons. As a result of the absent vote, the polling places throughout Australia were congested, so that the electors in other portions of the polling booths did not get the attention which they required. A person travelling through the States could, if he chose to commit- a breach of the law, enroll in each State, and cast a vote for each State, without any possibility of being found out. There might be ian Intra-State check, because in Victoria, for instance, we have the card, index, with the names of all who are on the roll in this State; but to secure an Inter-State check - that is, the checking of names across the borders - is almost impossible. Every one must remember the outcry that was raised at the time. The press rang with it for two or three weeks; it was difficult to prove that these things had happened, but enough has been discovered to show that abuses did exist. When we remember that the official return gave 73.66 per cent, of the electors enrolled voting, even if we take off the rolls the 184,000 names in excess, we must see that there must have been of actual voters an even larger percentage than 73.66 per cent. It will be remembered that a circular was sent out stating that under no consideration were station managers, owners, or overseers to be employed in any way in regard to an election. That was not a right thing to do, and was an insult to a most respectable class. We hope to bring about an improvement in electoral matters. I have been placed in charge of electoral affairs, and in carrying out the duties of my office I shall not seek to obtain any party advantage whatever. I simply seek to see that every one who should be on the roll is_on it, and that every one who should not be on it is off it. Seventy Divisional Returning Officers have been appointed, who will also take up the duties of registrars. I do not know one of these men, even by sight, either in Victoria or in any other State, and I have not interfered in their appointment, which has been made, by the Public Service Commissioner. Another charge that has been made against me is that I referred to the Commonwealth Bank in a way that I had no right to do. I have yet to learn that a Minister of the Crown cannot refer to and criticise the bank. It is a fair subject for criticism; it is the people’s bank, and the people have to be behind it. If mistakes are made, or if shortages occur, the people have to find them. What stands behind the bank is the taxing power of the Government and the land of the country, and I am perfectly justified in referring to it so long as I say what is true about it. The Leader of the Opposition took me severely to task about referring to this question at all. He said that I had made statements which were not correct in saying there was a debit of over £56,000. I think the words I used were “over £50,000.” At any rate, that is the information I had at the time. The honorable member said that the day before I spoke a balance-sheet had been sent to the Treasury, showing that a small profit had been made. These things do not go round to Ministers, as those who have been Ministers know very well. They may lie ali the Treasury for months, and other members of the Government would know nothing about them unless a special copy was sent to them. The information that was public at the time showed that the statement I made was correct. Mr. Fisher, at the Melbourne Town Hall, said the Ministry were biting and snarling and jeering at the bank. That is not the case. They are not carrying on against the bank in that fashion. At the same time, they have a right to make remarks about it. The attitude of Liberals towards the bank, from first to last, has been that .they desired to see it on a sound basis, to see a truly national bank, doing all Government business, but not interfering very much with the other banks. It was not started, however, with a desire to have a truly national bank. It was started in an endeavour to destroy the other banks, in which the savings of the people were - in which the money that was to keep widows and orphans had probably been invested. A manifesto, published in 1910 by the Labour party, containing the portraits of the three Senate candidates, included the following striking passage, showing the real intention behind the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank: -
Banking is one of the frauds by which Capitalism bleeds the people. There are twenty-one privately-owned banks in the Commonwealth, which virtually control the industry and commerce of Australia, and make £1,500,000 a year profit out of their operations. The Labour proposal is not to nationalize the existing banks, but to establish a Commonwealth Bank, with unlimited powers, which will have a branch in every considerable centre in Australia, and will enter into competition with the company-owned banks. The proposed bank would be one of the strongest in the world, and would, of course, manage the Public Debt of the Commonwealth. The gradual extinction, without compensation, of the present banks would follow as a matter of course.
Does any honorable senator think that that is a consummation to be desired 1 Will any honorable senator opposite repeat that in public, and say that it is a desirable thing ? As a matter of fact, it has not occurred, the tendency of the bank being to strengthen the private banks.
The latest return shows that the loss on the operations of the bank to 31st December last was £45,098. We were told on many platforms that it made a profit of about £1,500 last year, but those who made that statement did not say that the old loss remained, minus that amount. When Mr. Fisher spoke at Bendigo, people in the audience assured me that they went away with the impression that the bank had overtaken its debit, and was £1,500 in credit. That was the impression created at every meeting, whereas, as a matter of fact, the bank had only reduced its debit of £45,000 odd by that £1,500. When I made my statement about the loss made by the bank, the latest published balancesheet that I had seen showed that there was a loss of £45,000 or £46,000, and between £6,000 and £7,000 owing to the Post Office, making a total debit of between £53,000 and £54,000. That is not the full total either, because we find that the establishment of the bank caused a loss to the Commonwealth of money which was being paid by the States for the use of the Post Office Savings Banks to the extent of £34,137 a year. Previous to the establishment of the bank the money paid by the Commonwealth for exchange on cheques was ‘a comparatively small amount, but on the Estimates this year a sum of £8,000 is put down to cover exchange on cheques. On inquiry, I learned that previously some exchange was payable, but that considerably over half that amount would be required to pay exchange which would not have had to be paid but for the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank.
– Is it paid to the Commonwealth Bank ?
– I do not think the Commonwealth gets it. The Commonwealth has to pay it, because other banks which did not charge exchange before now do so. There was also a loss of £85,000 to the States by the establishment of the note issue and the consequent abolition of the note tax. While we all wish the bank well - and I believe the Government, in placing the proposal it has before the Premiers’ Conference, is going on sound lines and seeking to make the bank fulfil the functions that it ought to fulfil as a. truly national bank - there is no need for us to mix the Savings Bank business up with ordinary business. It is too much to put the control of six and a half millions of money into the hands of one man without any committee or board to counsel or guide him. The country is responsible, and there ought to be some board of advice, council or committee, associated with the governor in the management of the bank. We were promised that the bank was going to make money cheap and plentiful; but since the note issue was sent out, money has hardened, not entirely, but partly, for that reason. It is harder to-day than it was before the bank started. I do not blame the governor for doing a safe business. He is there to do it, and he should run no risks. He is making a small profit, and I hope he will still further overtake the first loss; but if the proposals made to the State Premiers are carried out, the bank will be in a still stronger position; it will secure the confidence of the public, stand behind the other banks in times of stress and strain, and make the financial position of Australia very much better than it is to-day. We are scoffed at to-day because the States would not hand over to the Commonwealth Savings Bank the money now in the State Savings Banks. If the money in the State Savings Banks had not been well used, there might be some reason for making a change; but in all the States it has been put under the management of splendid business men, and been excellently used to aid in developing the country. There was no reason whatever to start, a Commonwealth Savings Bank, and still less reason to take the money out of the State Savings Banks, and hand it over to an institution under one man, whose management the States knew nothing whatever about, with all the uncertainty that must follow from that state of affairs. It was under good investment in the hands of capable men, and they were wise to keep it there. Mr. Fisher, at Ringwood, made certain other remarks. He said no man or woman should be without a chance of earning a living. He must surely be a humorist, and must have forgotten how many people he and his party are throwing out of a living now because they will not work with them. He ought to remember a few of these things. He referred also to the fact that children were in tears because they could not get the necessary school, books, and said we ought to find meals for school children.
He did not reckon that free education, kindergarten, and universities would cost, on the lines he suggested, some £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 a year. He did not tell the people that. It is a slander and slur on our educational system to say that our people cannot find the small amount necessary for school books, and that children require to be fed at the expense of the State. There may be a few children who are needy, but we could not make a distinction between them and the others. If we did, we should be accused of pauperizing them. It is not right that our people should be branded by the leader of one of the great political parties in this country as being too poor to provide food or books for their children. The honorable member’s concern for the producer was very great. He was going to provide nationalized ships to take their produce to England, but, at that very time, their produce was being held up at railway stations, and was called “ black,” and they could not get a return of money to pay their way. But not a word was said by the honorable member to bring about a better condition of things in that regard. Another subject on which I have been challenged is the maternity bonus. I said at the time, and I repeat it to-day, that the bringing in of that measure was a political trick. It certainly had a humanitarian colour, but I believe that one of the main reasons for its introduction, was an endeavour to influence voters at the ensuing election. Mr. Fisher says he does not desire to reflect on those who disapprove of it. Why, then, does he do so? He condemned the clergy for denouncing it; yet the leaders of every church without exception denounced, not the help to the women, but the manner in which that help was given. Our friends are very fond of this vicarious philanthropy, scattering about money that they have not to find themselves ; but if it is to be done, it ought to be done in a proper way. We did not condemn the helping of women, but we condemned the manner in which that help was given. We condemned the disregard of experience, the unwillingness to co-operate with the States, and the contempt that was practically shown to those who had given years of service in an endeavour to assist those whom the bonus was intended to benefit. The scheme wascrude, costly, and unscientific. No doubt it has done some good, but was not there a better way in which much less money could have done very much more good than that scheme did ? It did not bring about the results anticipated; it did not even return the party to power, tempting as the bait seemed to be to put before the people. A still more important phase of the question is this: We were told - I think Mr. Fisher himself said it at Ringwood - that the bonus was going to save infantile life. Has there been a decrease iii the mortality of infants since it came into operation? It came into force in October, 1912. It is costing at present £650,000 a year. At 3^ per cent, that would equal a capital of £18,000,000. Senator Stewart last night taunted us with grudging the poor woman a “fiver.” We do not grudge her a “ fiver “ or a “ tenner,” or whatever amount is required, but we want to see the money spent in a right and proper way. It was said that the bonus would save infant life, but since then the death rate of infants has increased. Dr. J. W. Barrett lately published a pamphlet headed Necessity for the Practical Application, of Available Knowledge,” and the first illustration was with regard to babies. He showed the great mortality there was in the first year of life, and that the cause of that mortality was ignorance, inexperience, and careless-: ness. He stated that in Victoria and New South Wales the mortality of infanis in twelve months was about 9,000. No one is shocked at it, yet he says that there is an enormous loss of infant life. In 1901 the mortality of infants in the Commonwealth was 103.61 per 1,000. In 1911 it was 68.4.9 per 1,000; while in 1913 - that was a considerable time after the Maternity Allowance Act had come into operation - it had increased to 72.21 per 1,000. Has the bonus saved infant life? Is it doing the duty which was expected of it; and if it is not, is it not time to reconsider the whole question, and make the system more practicable and humane in its operation than it is? The Fisher Government were not without an example at that time. Had they not been so keen to get political kudos, they might have looked not very far afield and found a very much better system. In New Zealand the mortality rate within the last few years has been brought down from 70 or 80 to 51 per 1,000. In the Australian capitals to-day it is from 72 to 81 per 1,000. In New Zealand it. runs from 35 to 60.. -In Dunedin, from 1904 to 1912,. the infant mortality was brought down, from 93 to 38 per 1,000, the world’s record. How is that marvellous result, achieved? It is not effected by climate^ because New Zealand is in practically thesame latitude aa is the Commonwealth from Sydney down to Hobart. The reason for the decrease in the birth-rate was that, a Midwife’s Act was brought in, and a maternity home established, Where themother receives advice and subsequentcare. Education is given; practical knowledge as to the care and bringing up of: children is imparted. In 1907, Dr.. Trouby King commenced a society called the Health of Women and Children. Society. The object was the care of infant life before and after birth. Thesociety taught practical eugenics. Lord Plunkett, Governor of New Zealand, with his lady, made a touching appeal to thepeople, and the consequence was that they responded. Nurses were taken in. hand and trained in the best methods of the nursing, feeding, and care of children. The society provided for all classesfree of charge, high and low ; no matter who required their services they went tothem. The society has been maintained by subscriptions outside, and Government aid. The Government gives 24s. for every 20s. subscribed, and thesubsidy it pays amounts to £2 per birth. The nurses are carried free on the railways, and the Government subsidy amounts, on the whole, to £2’perbirth. In Australia, in 1911 the birthrate was 122.193 per 1,000; in 1913 it. was 135.714. The deaths in 1913 numbered 9,800; while in 1911 the number was 8,369. In 1913 the death-rate was- 72.21 per 1,000; and in 1911, 68.49, showing an increase of- 3.72 in 1913. If we had taken a system such as that, and reduced our death-rate of infants in twelve months 50 per 1,000, we could, have saved during last year 3,150 babies.. If we had perfected the system still more,, and brought it down to the Dunedin rate,: we would save, at the present birth-rate, 4,670 infants who are now sacrificed. While the present system goes on, the infants will continue to be sacrificed.. These results show that the maternity bonus, intended to do good, is not doing; the good which it ought to do, and that’ the system requires to-be reconsidered, and” something better brought into operation-
What would it mean to Australia to save the lives which are now going down into the grave? Certainly a large increase of population. There would be an additional advantage. We would popularize childbearing, which is now denied by many persons who ought to be doing their duty, because the risk of losing a child would be so much less than it is. Our birth-rate has been falling off since 1890. If the birth rate of that year had. been kept up last year, we should have had 157,072 births instead of 122,193. . This subject presents a goal’ for statesmen to aim at - a goal for the highest endeavour of all public men. It is not a party question, but one which should be taken into serious consideration. We on this side are asked, “ If you do not like the bonus, why do you not abolish it?” We are taunted on every platform with this cry, “ Why do you not abolish the bonus?” We admit it does some good. We cannot abolish this thing; it would be cruelty to abolish it right away; but I submit that the matter ought to be reconsidered, that the cost might be very much less, and the benefits obtained very much greater. Until we get a better way, we will keep the system as it is; but we will get that better way sooner or later, and bring the people to realize that, it is ihe better way, and to act with us. I do believe that the authors of the baby bonus will yet be ashamed of it, not for having brought it in, but for the manner in which it was brought in, and the little good that it has done. We are told, too, that we have no right to co-operate with the States. We are blamed for going into council with them. Why did we federate ? Was not the object to work in with the States for the mutual good of Australia - to work in our sphere and to let the States work in their sphere, to rely on mutual help and co-operation for the good of all the people? Yet we are told that we should not go near the States. When the Premiers’ Conference was held at Hobart, Mr. Fisher went over there in a lordly, patronizing way, and would scarcely say anything to the Premiers. The conferences were all failures until the last one, and now. we have a. system of cordial co-operation. I believe that the best results^ will spring from these conferences. We are charged’ with an attempt to destroy the States by reason of the measures which are to be brought in. There is so stronger Federalist than. I am. I ab solutely believe in the equal representation of the States in the Senate, and would fight to the death against any attempt to change that system. It is said in one case that we are endeavouring to destroy the States, and in the other case that the States are dominating us. Which statement is correct? The most glaring attempt to destroy the States was made by the referenda to the people on two occasions. Had those proposed alterations of the Constitution been carried, they would have absolutely led to “Unification, to the destruction of the States. The party which Senator McGregor leads have been against Federation from the first. In season and out ‘ of season they have tried to cripple it. As regards the referenda, the trade and commerce proposal would have destroyed the States’ control over internal trade. The railway proposal would have robbed the States of their control of the railways. The States would have had nothing to do but to find the cost of working and to, pay the interest on the enormous sum which the lines have cost, £250,000,000 or £260,000,000, leaving the actual working control of the lines to the Commonwealth. The fourth proposal would have deprived the States of their control of the corporations ; the fifth ‘proposal would have empowered the Commonwealth to control any business which the Parliament might choose to call a monopoly; while the sixth proposal would have given the consideration of all labour matters to the Federal authorities. The party who submitted these referenda and are bringing them forward again, have charged us with destroying State rights when they must know in their hearts that, if ‘their proposals were carried at a referendum, it would only be a very short time before the States went out of existence, and we became a unified Australia, or the State Parliaments very little better than glorified municipal councils. I feel sure that every one who wishes Australia well ought to be glad to see the spirit displayed at the Premiers’ Conference. Fifty-four subjects were discussed, there, and of this number twelve were of the very first importance. In three cases, we are duplicating expense. We are making the people pay a lot of money, the expenditure of which could be avoided. As regards the question of electoral reform, why should, we have two sets of officers, and two sets, orolls, when we have the. same people on practically the same franchise? Again, there is the question of land valuation. Dealing with the same land, and the same people on the land, we have two sets of officers taking separate valuations at a double cost. In the case of the Savings Banks, we have two sets of banks taking care of the money for the same people. We are duplicating that cost. Why can we not agree to work in harmony, and unify these particular questions. Then, too, there is the question of the transferred properties. Is it not time that this question was settled ? It has been hanging in the balance ever since Federation. Immigration is another important question. It is in a most unsatisfactory position. I do not say that the States’ systems are perfect, because I think that they are very far from perfect; but there ought to be no question about the Commonwealth and the States combining to bring about a better method. Again, there is the question of a uniform railway, gauge. Was not that a fair matter on which to consult the States? We can do nothing without their consent. They own the railways, and are responsible for the money. The complicated position which this question of a uniform gauge occupies to-day has largely arisen from a particular gauge being rushed on the country by the late Labour Government. Instead of having due inquiry made to determine the best gauge, our predecessors rushed one gauge upon us, I suppose for party purposes, and refused to listen to the suggestion that further inquiry should be made. We cannot bring in a uniform gauge without the consent of the States. Some of the States will not move in this direction until they have an inquiry made as to which is the best gauge. True, it is, that inquiries have been made. Certain conferences have been held by commissioners and by engineers, perhaps, who never were on an engine. I would sooner take the opinion of a man who had driven on the New South Wales, Victorian, and Queensland lines than the opinion of any of these commissioners. The class of men I refer to know which is the best gauge. They know which is the safest gauge, and which will carry the most traffic. It is not a question of opinion ; it is a question of scientific inquiry, and no solution of this problem can be come to unless the States agree to it. The question of the best gauge is still unsettled. The rail- way leagues in other parts of the world claim that a wider gauge is necessary.. I know that, when he was travelling a> year or two ago, the Premier of Victoria consulted the leading authorities in Canada and England, and they said, “ If we had to start railway construction again, it would probably not be a 5-ft. 3-ih. gauge which we would adopt, but a 6-ft. gauge. Another question of great importance to our producers is the bulk handling of wheat. The Commonwealth will have to co-operate with the States, because we have control of the export trade. Was not that a fair subject for discussion at the Premier’s Conference? Then there is the question of the transfer of the State debts. A transfer has been ordered by the people, but nothing has yet been done to bring about a settlement. To frame a uniform company law we need State cooperation and reconcilement. There is one other question, probably, which in importance to the future of Australia, transcends all others, and that is the question of the Murray River. This, I hold, is the greatest asset of Australia. The question of the use of these waters has been discussed for the last twenty-five years, but we were no nearer a solution than we were at the beginning until the present Government took the matter in hand. It is more a question for the States than for the Commonwealth to deal with. When they settle the details, we can ask this Parliament to give that assistance which, we think, ought to be given. I have been somewhat surprised at representatives from South Australia carping amd cavilling at the Government for bringing this question forward and saying that we have no policy. Our policy is to help. Our policy was put in a concrete form by the offer of £1,000,000, if the States came to an agreement, towards the cost of the locking of the river. Senator O’Loghlin was the only representative of South Australia who gave the Government credit for the very valuable action they had taken in regard to this matter. Let us understand what this question really means to Australia. It is desirable not that the few to whom I am speaking here, but the people of Australia should realize its importance. For the purpose of irrigation, there is no finer water-way in the world than is the Murray River. It is 1,500 miles from the mouth to Albury. Its poten- tialities are enormous. Its wealthproducing capacity is almost beyond calculation. Its waters could provide sustenance and homes for millions. In 1903 there was a petition from the Riverina and northern Victoria, asking that the question should be considered. In 1904 I brought the matter before the House of Representatives, and urged that joint action should be taken. The need of the north is water, and we have to build this nation up on land, water, and people. We have recklessly parted with our lands, we are not getting the people we require, and we allow water to flow in sinful waste to the sea. What might be done with this water. ‘A cubic foot of water per second, continually flowing, will irrigate 54 acres. At Albury, the highest flow of the Murray River is 264,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum, the lowest 91,000,000,000, and the mean flow 144,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum. The highest flow would be sufficient to cover 4,600,000 acres 12 inches deep, and the lowest flow sufficient to cover 1,516,000 acres 12 inches deep. At Morgan the volume of the stream is immensely increased ; the highest flow there is 971,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum, the lowest 318,000,000,000 cubic feet, and the mean flow 455,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum. The highest flow at this point would cover 16,000,000 acres 12 inches deep, and the lowest 5,300,000 acres 12 inches deep on a basis of 60,000 cubic feet to the acre. A depth of 12 inches represents 45,000 cubic feet, leaving 15,000 cubic feet for waste. As to the value of the water, Mr. Wilcox has estimated that 1,000,000,000 cubic feet of water is worth £30,000 in Egypt. In Italy, a cubic foot per second is valued at from £500 to £1,600; in France, at from £500 to £2,500; and in America, from £800 to £8,000, according to the locality and the purpose to be served. The people of other countries are making full use of this great gift of Providence, while we are neglecting it year after year. What does the settlement of this great question mean? It means, first of all,, the permanency of present settlement, and then an increase of population on the soundest and best lines that will not compete in any way with city workers. It means an enormous increase of work for workers, and work like this does not end with the doing of it, because when it is done it means multiplied work for the future, and it means an enormous increase of production, and cheaper and good food for the people. The Australian Natives Association in Victoria have given a great deal of attention to this subject, and I trust they will continue their exertions until the question has been satisfactorily settled. The apportionment of the water is a matter which must be settled by the States interested. We cannot interfere with that. If there is to be an agreement arrived at, there must be give and take and a harmonious spirit displayed between the representatives of the States. I have not gone into the details of the subject, as I have not had time to do so. The present Government have brought the States together in connexion with this matter, and for the first time have had an agreement signed, and a prospect of having it carried into operation. I think that they are entitled to some credit for that. I wish now to touch upon another question which is assuming very large dimensions in the public mind at the present time. It is the question of the American Beef Trust. It was brought before the Premiers’ Conference, and the representatives of each State agreed to prosecute inquiries and secure all the information possible on the question. The Commonwealth Government took action at once to carry out their part of the contract, and have appointed Mr. Justice Street to make an investigation. The cry of the trusts is one of the things which the Labour party practically exist upon. They told us that we were flooded with trusts and combines in Australia. Yet, while they were in office, though they knew that there were some twenty-six so-called trusts and combines which had been referred to Mr., now Mr. Justice, Powers, who was then Crown Solicitor of the Commonwealth, he reported that there was not one of them doing anything whatever in contravention of the law. Some action was taken in respect of two of these so-called trusts. ‘ Action was taken, first of all, by the Liberal party to inquire into the working of the Coal Vend, but the inquiry came to nothing. Then there was some action taken to deal with the Sugar Combine, and the Sugar Commission, which, like Balaam, was sent out to curse, came back to bless, and reported dead against the nationalization of the industry. . The Commission reported that the system adopted by the Sugar
Combine was perfect, and was being worked at so low a rate that, the Commonwealth Government could not hope to carry on the industry on the same lines, and, if they took it over, would make sugar dearer instead of cheaper to the consumer. We are told that the Beef Trust is here, and is dangerous. How did it come here? Who were in power when it came here ? It came here when the last Government was in power, in 1912. Mr. Tudor knew that it was here, and Mr. Hughes knew it also. The representatives of the trust came to Mr. Tudor to secure his approval to put up premises which I am told are to cost about £750,000. He said, “ Put them up; go on.”
– Did he have power to refuse to the representatives of the trust the right to put up the buildings?
– He had power to make conditions, and if he had not the necessary power the Labour party had at the time a majority in both Houses of this Parliament, and might havetaken whatever power was necessaryto confine the operations of these people to fair and legitimate business.
– The honorable senator knows that any legislation they might pass without constitutional alteration would be useless.
– There was no need for any constitutional alteration to have dealt with this phase of the question.
– Then what is the Government of which the honorable senator is a member doing to deal with it ?
– Let the honorable senator wait for a moment, and he will see. The Labour Government might have done as they pleased in the matter. They could have warned the people of what might be in front of them, and they could have made inquiries to discover whether the operations of the trust would be prejudicial to the producers and consumers of this country or not. They did nothing, and Mr. Tudor said, “Go on; put up your buildings and go ahead.” That was twelve months before the general election. The late Government knew all these things, and yet did nothing, though no amendment of the Constitution was needed to enable them to do something. They knew that the trust represented American money, and that American operations were engaged in the business, but they calmly gave their approval to the erection of the buildings, and did nothingelse. They did not even ask what these people proposed to do, and how they proposed to carry on their business. The. Labour Minister gave the trust permission in the following terms to go on with the erection of their building: -
The company has already been informed that the plans of the premises submitted fulfil the. conditions of the Commerce Act, and that on completion of the buildings the question of appointment under Commerce Regulations will receive consideration.
In view of the facts pointed out by Mr. Kerr in his minute of 22nd instant, it is probable that the relative location of buildings is the best of which the site permits.
The company might be informed in accordance with Mr. Kerr’s suggestion as to wool and skin house and Dr. N orris’ minute, and that, as previously advised, the question of final approval (of the works) as an appointed place under the Commerce Regulations will be dealt with on completion of the premises. (Sgd.) S. Mills,
Acting Comptroller-General. 29th January, 1913
Approved. (Sgd.) P. G. T
The Collector of Customs,. Queensland
To note reply sent. (Sgd.) S. Mills, per W. P.
– It was an authority to these people to go on with works to cost £750,000 without any inquiry as to how the business was to be conducted, or how the operations of the trust were going to affect the people of Australia. It is a good thing that no Liberal Government did this.
– The honorable senator would not have the Government! try to stop them by interfering with them?
– I would have had the Government inquire as to how the trust intended to carry on its operations.
– They were not frightened of a Labour Government when they started during their term of office.
– Why should they be frightened of a Labour Government?
– Some members of the Labour party in another place say that the Beef Trust will be the finest thing for the country, whilst others say that it is going to. be. a. menace. Which statement is correct ? The trust is receiving a lot of attention at present, and may lead to trouble. How far it is responsible for the high cost of meat remains to be seen. One very striking phase of the question demanding the serious attention of the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States is that, while the number of our people is increasing, our stock are not increasing in proportion, and the export of our stock and meat is very largely increasing. We reached the highest number of sheep in this country in 1890, when we had 97,881,221, and the highest number of cattle in 1895, when we had 11,767,488. The figures for succeeding years are most interesting. In 1897 we had 10,832,457 head of cattle, or 22.99 per head of our population, which was then 3,617,783. In 1902, the drought year, the number of cattle in the country went down to 7,062,742, or 1.82 per head of the population. In 1907 the number had risen again to 10,128,486, or 2.43 per head of the population. In 1912 the number was 11,577,259, or 2.44 per head of our population. The figures are relatively much the same for sheep. In 1897 we had 82,643,578 sheep; in 1902, 53,668,347; in 1907, 87,650,263; and in 1912, 83,263,686. Of pigs, the number has remained about the same between the years 1897 and 1912, although the population increased from 3,617,783 in 1897 to 4,733,359 in 1912. Our stock did not increase in the same ratio to supply food for the increase of population. Another important question to be considered is the increase in the volume of our exports of stock and meat. In 1902 we exported cattle to the number of 4,489; in 1912, 16,083. Of sheep, we exported in 1902, 24,296; and in 1912, 34,113. The figures of our export trade in meat are still more striking. In 1902 our export of beef reached 72,453,248 lbs. ; in 1907 it was 52,050,592 lbs. ; in 1912, 142,210,076 lbs. ; and in 1913, 218,918,606 lbs. Of mutton we exported in 1902, 44,105,600 lbs.; in 1907, 109,227,757 lbs.; in 1912, 115,371,981 lbs.; in 1913, 204,931,783 lbs. We exported in tinned meats in 1902 to the extent of 21,989,644 lbs.; in 1907, 8,220,972 lbs. ; in 1912, 34,187,389 lbs. ; and in 1913, 52,150,183 lbs. Of other meats our exports were in 1907, 414,090 lbs. ; in 1912, 3,250,753 lbs. ; and in 1913, 3,071,748 lbs. In view of these figures, the question is of the greatest importance, and requires careful attention if we are not to be brought face to face with very serious problems indeed. It is our duty to find out the cause of the trouble and the remedy for it. This is a question in which we are all interested, and it should not be viewed as a party question. The present Government have acted promptly, and have appointed Mr. Justice Street to conduct an inquiry, primarily into the operations of the Beef Trust, and subsequently in other ways, and to report as soon as possible. I may be told that to meet the difficulty we could put an export tax on meat, but I am dead against that. I do not believe in coming between the producer and his market. Some members of the Labour arty have nibbled at this proposal, but ave been afraid to bite. They have talked of it for some time, and it has recently been openly advocated in another place. But if we attempt to tax the farmers’ exports, we may look out for trouble.
– What is the meaning of Mr. Groom’s statement at Geelong about an export duty on sheep skins ?
– I do not know anything about it.
– Then the honorable senator should be careful in making charges against the Labour party.
– If we settle the Murray waters question, and make proper use of the waters of that river, there will be no shortage of food for the people in this country. We are only cultivating a portion of our wheat area. In Australia we have 310,000,000 acres with a 10-inch rainfall during the growing season - a rainfall sufficient, with cultivation, to mature a crop. Out of that area we are cultivating only 9,000,000 acres, and the farmers to-day are abandoning the growing of wheat in favour of grazing.
– Does the honorable senator think that the rural workers are getting too high wages?
– I ask that this matter should not be treated as a party one. I am merely stating facts for the consideration of the Senate and of the people of this country.
– What is the reason that the farmers cannot get land?
– I am not responsible for that.
– It is because we are offering land at less than its market value, and the successful applicants can therefore make good profits by selling.
– The farmers today can get 15s. each for four months’ lambs, and before long I believe they will get 20s. When they resort to grazing they have an easier life and less worry than they experience when they are growing wheat. I believe that cheap meat and the cheap loaf in this country have gone for a considerable time. I wish now to deal with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. It has been stated in this Chamber that the Government are wrecking that enterprise. But is it so? The late Government controlled this work for 284 days, and the present Ministry have controlled it for 331 days. During the 284 days that the Fisher Government were in office they laid down 18 miles 63 chains of line, whereas the present Government during their 331 days of office have laid 153 miles 7 chains. The present Government have employed twice the number of men, and have done eight times the amount of work. Under the Fisher Government, plate-laying proceeded at the rate of 15.11 days per mile, the surveying at 3.302 days per mile, the clearing at 5.79 days per mile, and the oarthworks at 7.704 days per mile. Under the Cook Ministry plate-laying is proceeding at the rate of 2.16 days per mile; the surveying at 1.18 miles per day; the clearing at 2.32 days per mile, and the earthworks at 2.24 days per mile. In view of these figures, how can it be said, that we are not expediting the construction of the line, or that we are wasting the money of the public? We have been fissured that private contractors are paying higher rates to their employes than are the Government. Very hard things were said of the Ministry last night in this connexion by Senator de Largie. But we must recollect that if we increase the rate of wages in one part of the country we shall have to increase it in another part. Wc must also remember that work under private contractors is task work. The Prime Minister has made a fair offer to the men, viz., to allow this unfortunate dispute to be settled by arbitration. A good deal has been said about the relative merits of the contract and day-labour systems. The Government have been strongly criticised because on shows, within some cases estimates and in contract to the day-labour system. My own opinion is that we might well paraphrase a couplet by Pope, and say -
For forms of labour let fools contest,
What’er is best administered is best.
I have been told by inspectors that they can get better work done with day labour now than they could when the previous Government were in office. When I inquired the reason for this they replied, “ Because we can now pick our men, whereas previously we could not. We then had to take any man who was sent to us.”
– Sent by whom?
– Probably by the honorable senator.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council must know that that is not true. I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator has no right to make a statement of that kind. I never sent any man to the Fisher Government to get work. Is the Minister in order in saying what he did ?
– I withdraw the statement. I come now to the Queensland proposition. I say that unless we know the actual conditions which obtain in different places, the statements which have been made here by way of comparing the day-labour and contract systems have no relevance whatever. Moreover, what is termed day labour in Queensland is really a mixture of the day-labour and contract systems - as has been explained by the Engineer-in-Chief of the Commonwealth, who has just come from that State.
– There is no contract let there for the construction of any line.
– But there are small contracts.
– They are not contracts at all.
– There is something of that kind; otherwise, Mr. Bell is not telling the truth . Now , I have h ad sent to me a statement from New South Wales, and I am told that all the figures in it are official. It is a list of some twentyone or twenty-two different works, comprising the erection of car-sheds, bridges, post-offices, court-houses, residences, public schools, lockup-keepers’ quarters, and railways, together with the construction of water supply works, and cottages. It shows, with in some cases estimates and in other instances actual tenders, a total amount of £351,297. These works were carried out by day labour at a cost of £484,518 - a difference in favour of the contract system of £133,221. Then I might point to the Orbost line, the construction of which has been dragging on for three or four years. Had that undertaking been built by contract it would have been completed long ago. The farmers have been waiting for it for two years beyond the period when it should have been constructed. I say that it is difficult to lay down an absolute rule in respect of the day-labour and contract systems. But do my honorable friends opposite always practise what they preach ? If they require a job to be done, do they always get it done by day labour? I think if they had a work which was going to cost them a thousand pounds or two, they would want to get a price for it. I have been told that, not long ago, a Labour member in another State was going to build a rather nice house. A friend of his inquired of him, “ I suppose you are going to build it with day labour?” His reply was, “No. I am not such a fool; I am going to get it built by contract.”
– Is this the case of a man who told another man’ something while the Vice-President of the Executive Council was standing by?
– No. I repeat that it is impossible to lay down an absolute rule as to which system is preferable. In some cases, day labour is best, and in other instances the contract system is to be preferred. I wish now to refer to another matter of which we have heard a good deal in this chamber, namely, the sleeper contract. It was initiated in an atmosphere of mysterious secrecy. No information could be obtained about it. To all inquiries we got the answer, “You will know all about it after the contract has been signed.” The contract was bungled, both in the drafting of it, and also in its execution. The Western Australian Government sent in a tender on the 23rd April, 1912. The Fisher Ministry took five months to consider it. They accepted it on the 6th August of the same year. The first delivery of sleepers should have taken place in June, 1913, but the date was extended to November of the same year. The present Govern ment then called attention to the urgency which existed for the supply of the sleepers. A little later they stated that a further extension of time could not be granted, and a cancellation, of the contract would follow failure to supply. No sleepers were supplied, and the contract was cancelled. The statement was made a night or two ago in this chamber that not a sleeper had been purchased by the Government since the cancellation of the contract.
– What were the penalties provided for in that contract?
– There were penalties provided, but no deposits were paid. Hence, when the contract failed, there was nothing to draw upon. We were informed the other evening that not a single sleeper had been purchased by the Government since the cancellation of the contract, and that, as a matter of fact, there were sufficient sleepers at both ends of the transcontinental line to permit of construction proceeding for months. It was further stated that the contract was cancelled because a Labour Government were in power in Western Australia. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But the needs of the line must be supplied. When it was seen that the contract would fall through, steps were taken to enter into another ‘contract for the supply of 300,000 sleepers. It seems as if my honorable friends opposite desire to make this railway a sort of field in which experiments can be tried at the expense of the Commonwealth. At the present time there is a Commission investigating the process of powellising, which was to be applied to the sleepers under the contract with the Western Australian Government, and in a short time I hope we shall have its report before us. I may mention that there are some interesting figures in connexion with the contract and day-labour systems contained in a report which I have received from the Northern Territory. There are two items in it which can be compared. One relates to the employment of the forest devil and the other to hand-grubbing. Clearing with a forest devil under contract cost £5 15s. per acre, whereas with a forest devil by day labour it cost £11 10s. 6d. per acre. Fencing of exactly the same character was also carried out by day labour and contract. Under day labour it cost from £57 to £42 per mile, whereas under contract it cost from £29 to. £25. These figures cannot be ignored; they are official, and can be vouched for.
– The contract fencer often does the work much more cheaply by sawing off the. bottom of the post.
– That can only happen if there is no proper inspection, and, I am sure, there is not much of it. It is not worth while doing it. It is as much trouble to saw the end of a post off in that sort of country as it is to sink a hole to a proper depth, most of the sinking now being done with augers. A charge has been made that the Government are out to destroy old-age pensions.
– Hear, hear !
– The charge is now repeated by the honorable senator. It was the Liberals who introduced old-age pensions in the Commonwealth and in every State in which they were in force. The measure was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Mr. Deakin on June 2, 1908.
– Under compulsion.
– There was no compulsion whatever. That is the way the Labour party try to take the credit away from others. They claim everything for themselves, and when they are given the actual facts they say, “ Oh, it was done under compulsion ! “ The measure was passed by the Senate on June 4, 1908, and assented to on June 10 of the same year. At that time it was well known that, owing to the operation of the Braddon section, the Commonwealth was straitened for money. While the Act was assented to on the date mentioned, payments did not commence until 1st July, 1909. Invalid pensions were prevented from being paid owing to financial stringency, and their proclamation was delayed. The first payment took place during the term of office of the Fisher Government, who had ample money available, owing to the operation of the Braddon section coming to an end. The £450,000 deficit, which has been thrown in the teeth of Liberals all over the country as being a deficit left by the Liberal Government, was caused mainly through putting money aside to provide for the payment of old-age pensions. One would think that old-age pensions were never paid until they were paid in the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, they were paid in three States for some years before.. The first Government in Australia to laybefore the people proposals for paying old-age pensions was the McLean Government in Victoria, the Attorney-General of which was Mr. Irvine, who is now said to be out to destroy old-age pensions. To. say that the Liberals are going to destroy their own handiwork is to make a. base and slanderous insinuation. It is a. contemptible thing to play on the fears of these old people, for a party advantage,, by telling them that their bread and butter “will be taken away from them if a certain party come into power. Very unjust attacks are being made on the Government, both inside and outside Parliament, on the question of the revision, of the Tariff. There was a general consensus of opinion after the last revision of the Tariff took place that never again would we have such an unseemly scramble for duties. Duties were put on in an absolutely unscientific fashion, without information, and without regard towhether they were required or not. Parties all round expressed the opinion that, before any further revision of the Tariff took place, there should be an inquiry by a non-political, disinterested board.
– And a lengthy inquiry, too.
– Any inquiry .must, to a certain extent, be lengthy, because an enormous number of interests have to be dealt with, and a great number of people must be given a hearing. No pro-; per recommendation can be made simply on what is said in one State, and as there were as many applications from New South Wales as from Victoria, it would not have been right to make a recommendation after hearing only Victorian witnesses. I am not going to say anything about the Labour Government not carrying out Tariff revision. We have had quite enough of that sort of talk; let us make the best of things as they are. They know they got into office through promising to revise the Tariff, and they know that they did not do it. At the last election, a sort of death-bed repentance took place, and they promised to inquire into the question of Tariff revision if they .did not carry the referendum. Their plea was, “ We want the new Protection, protecting manufacturer, worker, and consumer.” It was extraordinarily interesting to see how the question of new Protection was taken up by Free Traders everywhere. They welcomed it, “because they saw in it something that would shelve true Protection for a long time. Sir George Reid, and a number of others, were, consequently, strongly in favour of it. It certainly answered the purposes of the Labour party admirably. It gave them three years of office with nothing done, although they had ample time, opportunities, and a majority to do it. It is generally understood that the matter was the subject of a very serious discussion in the Labour Caucus. It is said outside that “ no Tariff revision “ was only carried there by one vote. One or two members, such as Senator Russell, Senator Givens, and Senator Stewart, battled manfully; but the Caucus decided against them, and they had to follow. The Cook Government have been perfectly honest and straightforward right through with regard to this question. In their manifesto they stated -
Party to have common ground on the Tariff; conceding that the people have declared for Protection as the national policy. Taking the question out of the arena of party conflict by means of inquiry by a board, non-political, noninterested, with full powers of inquiry, which shall report to Parliament preliminary to any general revision of the Tariff. In the meantime, such anomalies as have not been rectified, to be adjusted, and an increase of duties given to those industries that can show their suffering from over importation of the products they manufacture, causing unemployment of the workers in such industry. Revenue duties that do not assist production, but increase the cost of living, to be reduced. Any revision of duties to give preference to the Empire over, foreign countries.
That is the pledge on which the Government were elected. That is the view of the people who supported them and placed them in power ; and for them to go back upon it would be to betray their promise.
– You are not carrying it out.
– We are. Immediately we took office, there was a delay of scarcely a week before inquiries were made to get suitable Commissioners. This was not easy. Many men who would have been eminently desirable could not be obtained; but no one here will say that the Government made anything like a party choice, or an unwise ‘choice. Not a single word of criticism’ has been uttered against the three men who compose the
Inter-State- Commission. They were sworn in on the 11th August, 1913. A great deal of preliminary work had to be done in securing offices, organizing the office, drawing up regulations, getting officers, and preparing schedules. The public had to be advised as to procedure. Temporary offices had to be used, and the permanent offices were entered on the 11th December, 1913. Meanwhile, the Commissioners inspected factories and manufacturing processes in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia. The public sittings began on 12th January, 1914. The Commissioners sat on each working day, except Saturdays, from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., taking evidence almost continuously. When not taking evidence, they were collating and collaborating the evidence and exhibits. I do not- think any body of men could have done the work more- conscientiously or expeditiously than the present Commissioners . have done.
– Of what value will the evidence be, seeing that no record has been kept of it?
– The Commission have some record, but have not seen fit to have the minutes of evidence taken in full. I am not prepared to pass an opinion on that matter. It might have been wiser to take the evidence fully. At the same time, they have their notes, and for whatever recommendations they make, they will have to advance reasons which will appeal to Parliament as sound. I do not know that many people read these reports when they are printed. As a matter of fact, in past Tariff revisions, very little notice has been taken of reports. . No fewer than 469 subjects have been sent in for consideration from different States, and the witnesses examined number 340. Tasmania was visited; and on 11th May, sittings began in Sydney, as the Commissioners did not think it right to bring in recommendations without affording persons in New South Wales a chance to give evidence. The Government have not been lax or remiss on this question. They have pressed the Commission to try to give them a list of anomalies that require to be rectified, and of cases where suffering has been caused through the want of increased duties.
– Will the Government strike off duties if the Commission recommend that to be done?
– No, this Parliament only can do that. The Government cannot place a Tariff Bill before Parliament until the Commission has presented a report.
– Will the Government accept the Commission’s report a ad place it before Parliament, and give effect to it?
– That remains to be seen when the report is received.
– When will we have a report ?
– The honorable senator had better ask his friend, Mr. Piddington. Of course I can understand that to an Opposition who are desirous of blocking the business of the country and talking ad libitum, the Tariff would be a splendid subject to get before them. It would play into their hands well, but that is not the reason why the Tariff is kept back. We are simply waiting upon the Commission who are working with all due diligence; we hope that they will be able to report at an early date. Senator Stewart asked last night “ Why do not the Government bring in a Tariff”? It is not a very easy matter to frame a Tariff, as we have to study all parties who are interested. It is a matter requiring time and care in order to deal justly with all interests. We hope that when a Tariff is submitted it will be one which will last and will be of very great benefit. In his speech Senator Ready, who, I am sorry to see, is not in the chamber, made certain charges against the Government. He denominated a certain paper as a “ pimp.” I am not concerned with the language he used; that is a matter for himself - .1 matter of taste.
– Brother Cook called money “ spondulix.”
– Senator Ready alleged that a political advantage had been given to a certain newspaper because it was a Liberal one and supported the Government. The offence of this newspaper, as far as he was concerned, was that it did not support him. Had it done so, of course it would have done everything which was good. His charge was that the Government had taken 5,000 copies of the newspaper and had given a penny more per copy than the published price. It was a special issue which was brought out. Perhaps I had better read the explanation which I have received from the Secretary to the Department, and which will place the Senate in possession of the facts. The explanation reads -
In compliance with the request contained in your letter of even date, the facts in regard to the purchase of copies of the Fruit World by this Department are furnished herein.
The Department has, each year, for three or four years past, purchased copies of a special issue of this paper. The late Mr. Batchelor gave the first order, in 1910. It has been found, to be a useful and effective publication, and the bulk of the copies purchased by us have been posted direct to the homes of farmers either in Great Britain or America.
This year we purchased 5,000 copies at £30’ per 1,000, or a little over 7d. per copy. Of this number 3,000 copies were posted direct to farmers in America, as special efforts are being made to attract suitable settlers for the: irrigation areas in New South Wales and Victoria. The balance - 2,000 copies - were distributed in equal numbers by the Government agents of New South Wales and Victoria in San Francisco.
Senator Beady, I believe, desires to know why the Government paid 7d. per copy for a. publication sold for 6d. per copy in Australia,, especially as the matter is almost the same in the “ordinary” and “Commonwealth” issues, and the Government is so largs a purchaser.
Hitherto we have paid £25 for 1,000, or 6d.. per copy. This year £5 per thousand more was paid, as we were furnished with a signed statement by the printers that their factory costs had increased by 30 per cent.
– That is not correct.
– The honorable senator was not in the chamber when I mentioned that this is the official statement.
– It is like the statement which was put on the cover of the book - absolutely untrue.
The reason why 7d. per copy is paid when the ordinary issue is sold for 6d. is this : Although the matter in the ordinary issue is used for the Commonwealth issue, the matter for that particular issue is, to a large extent, specially prepared, and it is profusely illustrated. It is the Commonwealth order that makes this possible.
– Will the Minister say how many copies the Labour Government got in three years?
– They did not pay 9d. per copy.
– No, they paid a little over 7d. The official explanation continues -
We are given a good issue for circulation abroad - an issue which costs more than the ordinary one in normal circumstances would cost - but it is, of course,, quite true that the publishers use that specially prepared and well illustrated matter fbr their ordinary issue. If the publishers did not do this they could not afford to sell us copies at anything like 7d. per copy. It is also quite certain that the Department could not compile and issue a publication of the same size and style for so low a figure as £30 per thousand for 5,000 copies.
So it is thought that we obtained a useful advertising publication at a reasonable price. The publishers also place at the Department’s disposal their list of American farmers’ names and addresses, which they have collected at their own expense. We, as has been said, had 3,000 copies posted direct to farmers, and there is no doubt that there is no better method of reaching the class we are looking for.
I might add that the matter was fully discussed with thu publishers of the Fruit World at the time, and no better terms could be arranged.
I have not had the benefit of reading Senator Ready’s remarks, but will do so as soon aa Hansard is available.
I believe that it is possible to issue a special number of a periodical or journal for profit up to a certain point, but the money to produce the profit has to come from advertisements and subscriptions. If the proprietors go beyond that point and issue a larger number it is done at a loss. That is the statement made in regard to the cost of this publication. I have gone through a copy, and I must say that it is a very fine publication. The illustrations are splendid. I think that there could be no better advertising medium or nothing more attractive to catch the attention of growers and orchardists in other countries. The amount paid for the copies is paltry ; it is scarcely worth while to squabble about a few pounds.
– It was well worth squabbling about when a few advertisements were given to a Labour newspaper.
– Did the honorable senator raise a protest when £60 was given to the Labour Gall for one advertisement, and a thousand ‘ copies of a “ rag “ such as that? There was no protest raised then by the honorable senator, because the newspaper happened to support him.
– Did the honorable senator take that tale round the country ?
– No, I am not like the honorable senator who carries tales round the country.
– Thank you.
– I tell the truth when I go out.
– What sort of tale? Be a man for once, and give us one instance of anything that I took round the country which was not true.
– Any number of them.
– That statement is absolutely untrue. It is quite characteristic of the honorable senator. Give me one fact.
– There was another matter brought up by Senator Ready. .
– One more exhibition of the manhood of Senator McColl.
– Talk about something you understand.
– It fits the honorable senator, too. Why has he not manliness enough to say what is wrong in any statement of mine ?
– The honorable senator may get it before he is done.
– Let us have it now.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I ask Senator McColl to proceed with his speech.
– Senator Ready was very disappointed at the Government not having proposed the establishment of a steam -ship service to Tasmania. He said that higher freights are paid to Tasmania than to other parts of the Commonwealth. Now freights everywhere depend upon the volume of traffic. If the traffic is low and the passengers are few, then, of course, the freights increase. The more back cargo there is, the lower are the charges. Senator Guthrie contradicted Senator Ready when he made a remark. He said that the freights here are the lowest in the world.
– No; he referred to the freights from Hobart to Sydney only.
– I have had an opportunity of going through the freights. I think that they are reasonable. In some cases they are on a par with, and in other cases lower than, the freights to other States. The honorable senator was very sore because this Government did not start a nationalized line of steamers. I think that after the experience of Western Australia this Government would have deserved to be run out had they done such a foolish” thing. The Government in Western Australia made an experiment, but what was the result? Great things were expected from the establishment of State steam-ships there, and it was thought by the Premier that the venture would result in magnificent gain to the State. It was said there that -
A few big owners used to control the cattle trade and had squeezed the smaller men out of shipping space and market. In short, there was a beef ring which operated to the detriment of the producer at the’ one end and the consumer at the other end. The Government decided that the only way to compete successfully against the ring was to step in with State-owned steamers to carry the stock from the pastoral areas in the north-west down to the metropolis.
The Premier of Western Australia said -
Our object is to relieve the smaller grower from the grip of these few firms, and while giving him a fair deal, at the same time enable him to put his produce on the market at a fair price to the consumer.
What has been the result of this venture ? Has it been an encouragement to start a nationalized line of steamers? The State Government bought three steamers, at a total cost of £67,000. The result of the first year’s operations, ending 30th June, 1913, was a loss of £26,000; the revenue being £60,000, and the expenditure £86,000. To this amount must be added depreciation on the vessels and interest on capital expended, and it has been estimated by competent men that it would not be excessive to put the amount at from 10 to 15 per cent. per annum, as the vessels were old, totalling £14,000. It will be seen that the working of this venture for one year has cost the people of the State £40,000.
– That is absolutely incorrect, according to the Premier’s last figures.
– The Premier of Western Australia is not very keen about going into any more speculation just now. Not only has the venture failed in that way, but it has not cheapened the cost of meat at all.
-Absolutely incorrect again.
– It has cheapenedthe price by 2d. or 3d. a pound.
– The price of meat is higher in Western Australia than it is in other parts of Australia.
– No; it is higher in Sydney.
– A Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the working of the vessels, which was dropped when half-way through, and the Government, in despair, has now handed over the control of the vessels to the Harbor Trust. The whole enterprise has been costly and useless. On the one hand, the small farmers and the growers of cattle have not benefited in. the slightest degree, and, on the other, the consumer has not obtained meat at any cheaper rate than before. The vessels have been a failure in the two objects for which the service was inaugurated. It only shows that prices are regulated by laws of supply and demand, and cannot be adjusted by any system of nationalization or Government control. With regard to the Teesdale Smith contract, of which we have heard a great deal, I do not propose to speak at any length. I imagine that the contract will be inquired into by the Royal Commission that is to be appointed, and that it will get at the truth, which is what we want to elicit. Exaggerated statements have been made, and unworthy charges have been levelled against the Government. It has been said to us, “What did Teesdale Smith give you?” “ How much did the Government get out of the contract?” What about side-door influence and back-door influence?” All sorts of infamous charges have been made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place and honorable members generally.
– And when they were pulled up, they said they had no imputation of dishonour to make.
– Yes. I believe that the transaction was an honest one on the part of both Mr. Deane and Mr. Kelly. Very soon we shall get the truth about the matter. I cannot refrain from commenting upon the very questionable taste of Senator de Largie last night in raking up a number of letters from Mr. Teesdale Smith to Mr. Chinn, and reading them, in order to try to damage the Government, which had nothing to do with the thing at all. After he read Mr. Teesdale Smith’s letters- to Mr. Chinn, why did he not read the latter’s replies, so that we could have had both sides of the matter?
– If I was Chinn, I would say, “ Save me from de Largie!”
– It seems to me that if it were not for the Teesdale Smith contract, the Beef Trust, and electoral matters, our honorable friends opposite would be absolutely “gravelled” to find anything to talk about. The crowning iniquity of the Government, apparently, is that they did not call for tenders for the contract let to Mr. Teesdale Smith. It did not matter what they paid for the job if they called for tenders. If they had done that, nothing would have been said about the matter. Did the last Go vernment always call for tenders? It is fitting that accusers should come into Court with clean hands. Let us see what the last Government did. There is a certain company here known as the Victorian Powellising Company, of which Mr. Gorton is the manager, or, at all events, he was the man with whom the late Government did business. The company was asked to tender for a lot of mountain ash and messmate sleepers. On 26th November, 1912, they were asked to submit a tender. They were again asked to tender in January of the following year. On the 7th January they offered to supply the sleepers at 7s. lid., but agreed to accept 7s. 6d. On the 26th March they were advised that their tender was accepted for 100,000 sleepers at £37,500. The agreement was settled on the 9th April, 1913. No tenders were called for this contract; no deposit was paid, and no penalties were provided for in the agreement. Mr. Gorton asked for no deposit to be demanded, or, at most, for £200, but no deposit was made. When our honorable friends say that tenders should have been called for the contract let to Mr. Teesdale Smith, I ask why the Labour Government did not call for tenders for this sleeper contract. It was found later that the sleepers Were not satisfactory, and in October, 1913, six months after the contract was let, it was annulled. I am sorry that Senator Ready is not present. He has recently been making a great deal of fuss about calling for tenders for the supply of Tasmanian sleepers. Let me inform him that at the time when this agreement was fixed up with the Victorian Powellising Company for the supply of sleepers of -mountain ash. and messmate, which are about the worst timbers that could be used for sleepers, the Huon Company of Tasmania tendered for a quantity of Tasmanian .sleepers, and deposited £500. with their tender. Later on the same company tendered for 300,000 Tasmanian sleepers, and deposited another £500. Neither of their tenders was accepted, and it was six months and twelve months later before the deposits were returned. Where was Senator Ready at that time? Why was the honorable senator not fighting for his State when this sort of thing was going on under the Government he was supporting? There was another contract entered into with the Western
Australian Government for 1,400,000 powellised sleepers, for which no tenders were called.
– That is not true. Tenders were called for that contract.
– Competitive tenders?
– Yes. Tenders were advertised for throughout Australia.
– I withdraw that statement if I have been wrongly informed. There was a penalty provided for in that case, but as there was no deposit there was nothing upon which the Government might enforce the penalty.
– Senator Pearce need not be excited, as there were many matters connected with my own Department for which tenders were not invited.
– Let the honorable senator mention them.
– Then there was a contract let to the Maritime Wireless Company for £24,348. There was no competition for that.
– Where could the honorable senator get competition in Australia?
– No deposit and no penalties were provided for in that case.
– Where would you get competition for powellising?
– Yes. There was only one powellising company and only one wireless company in Australia.
– What is the use of saying that there was no competition with the wireless company, when they bought half the stuff they used.
– There was no other company in Australia making the material they supplied.
– They were not making the material. They were importing it.
– They imported it, filed the names of the makers off, and put their own name “on.
– That is not so.
– The great fault of this Government has been, apparently, that they did not call for tenders, and I mention these cases in which tenders were not called for by the late Government. I have said that accusers should come into> Court with clean hands. There was a survey contract in the Northern Territory given to Lawrence and Chalmers, and no tenders were called for that.
– Were tenders called for when the late Government bought privately property in Perth for £170,000?
– It is wrong of Senator McColl to say that the Wireless Company filed the names of the makers off the material they imported.
– It is absolutely true. The Post and Telegraph Department had a sworn declaration to that effect, or I should not have mentioned it. The statement has been repeatedly made that since the present Government came into office they have done nothing whatever. I propose to mention a few things that they have done. No Ministers could have been more unremitting in their attention to the work of their Departments than have been members of the present Government. They have worked early and late, and have given honest administration.
– That is a good testimonial to yourselves. The honorable senator should have asked Senator Oakes to say that.
– I have not the control of a Department myself, and I speak not for myself, but for other members of the Ministry.
– What about the Electoral Department?
– It is only a branch of a Department, and let me say that no exception has been taken to anything I have done there, even by those who would be very glad to take exception if they could do so. There is the Defence Department. What have the Government done in connexion with that Department? They have tried to repair the bungle at Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia.
– Repair the “bungle ?”
– Yes; things were found to be so very unsatisfactory over there that the Government had to get an expert out to report on the matter, and have so succeeded in saving a great deal of money.
– I am glad the honorable senator agrees with me that it is a bungle.
– I need not say much about the Defence Department, as Senator Millen can speak as to his own work, and is well able to put his own case.
– Give the honorable senator a pat on the back as well as the other Ministers. Why except Senator Millen?
– “ Good wine needs no bush,” and every one here is well aware of Senator Millen’s merits without my saying anything about them.
-The honorable senator has said that the members of the Government have been working hard, but he will say nothing about Senator Millen. What is the inference?
– I will not say anything further about Senator Millen, except that he has been, as every one knows, unremitting in his attention to the duties of his office. I take the Post and Telegraph Department, and I ask whether any one who has filled the position has done better work or more work than has been done’ by the present PostmasterGeneral. He has brought about many reforms in the staff and for the benefit of the public.
– The honorable senator should not forget the new stamp.
– I can give honorable senators the following statement of what has been done in the Post and Telegraph Department: -
Staff changes. Postmasters alteration in cleaning allowances. Inspectors to confer. Money order hours - country and suburban altered from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. Telegraphists - new schedule of hours introduced, Sydney, to obviate broken time and roster duty as far as practicable. Approval payment overtime - night staff on race-course duty in Melbourne. Letter carriers - earlier clearance pillar-boxes, Sydney, Saturdays, making second round earlier, giving Saturday half-holiday. Dining and retiring rooms - provision in new building, Sydney and Melbourne, for comfortable luncheon and retiring rooms. Increase of classification of post offices in charge of postal assistants. Payment in lieu of furlough to officers who voluntarily retire.Amendment Public Service Act - crediting officers from State service with time there where continuous with Commonwealth service; adult officers, General, Clerical, and Professional Divisions, advance by annual increments from £126 to £156 per annum without having to mark time, as previously, at adult minimum wage of £126 per annum; foremen carpenters, previous salary £168 minimum, £198 maximum, advanced from £198 to £210 maximum; carpenters previously £162 minimum, £168 maximum. advanced to £168 minimum and £186 maximum. Concessions to public by Postmaster-General - Introduction lettergram system ; transmission agricultural produce parcel post; alteration design Commonwealth postal stamp.
That is a matter in which Senator Findley has been very much interested..
As soon as the present issue is out, which I hope will be very soon, honorable senators will be able to stamp their letters without being ashamed every time they do so, and fearing that they are making Australia a laughing stock, and ridiculous in the eyes of the world. The statement continues -
Week-end cables to and from United Kingdom, minimum 18s. to 15s., and messages transmitted telegraphically throughout. System extended South Africa, India, Ceylon, Canada. Reduction rates wireless telegrams10d. to 6d. per word. Trunk line charges over lines 25 miles long reduced between hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. Guaranteed telephone lines, surplus of one year allowed against deficiency of another year during guarantee period. Telephone lines, country districts, contribution to be refunded when shown after three years’ experience that line is paying. Late fees abolished on correspondence posted on trains at other than capital cities. Charges for re-directed telegrams reduced half original charge, with minimum of 6d. Telephone subscribers at exchanges where no night attendant allowed to remain connected all night if desired; originally this only applied to medical men. Lines for public telephones in country places : Department agrees arrange with local residents for erection of lines at Department’s expense where residents prepared to do work at the rate which will bring line within guarantee regulations or enable it to be erected without guarantee.
That will give people a chance to put up lines themselves, so that the work can be done more quickly and more cheaply than it could be by the departmental officers.
Subscribers allowed use trunk lines without deposit up to 10s. Code addressed published in Postal Guide for 2s.6d per annum. Visitors residing in premises where there is telephone allowed an entry in telephone directory for 5s. per quarter. Letter-boxes on electric trams in Melbourne. Delayed transmission of press messages precluding delivery in time for publication, messages cancelled, and fees waived. Approval transmission of weather messages by radiotelegram while vessels in port. Wireless messages accepted from ships in port until moored to wharf or pier. Reduced rate transmission special Christmas, New Year greetings by wireless. Adoption of scheme of inland wireless telegraph stations.
This shows the activities of the present Postmaster-General. The record does not exhaust the changes he has made, and, though many of them may appear to be small, they have been a great convenience to the people, and the record shows how active the Minister has been. Now with regard to the Northern Territory, the Government are endeavouring to encourage private enterprise there to establish freezing works. We do not care to nationalize that business, in view of the risks indicated by the failure of nationalization of certain businesses in
Western Australia. If private people can be got to do this work in the Northern Territory, and we believe they can, the country will get the benefit of it. In Western Australia a number of matters were nationalized, but so far as the returns go, every one seems to have landed the country in a heavy loss.
– That is not correct.
– I have the published statement here which shows that the Socialistic proposals have resulted, in 1911- 12, in a loss of £121,111; in 1912- 13, a loss of £190,404, and the loss on this year’s operations, 1913-14, is estimated at £135,206, or a total loss for three years of £446,721.
– But the honorable senator says that they all show a loss, and that is not correct.
– The figures indicate an aggregate loss in connexion with these proposals. There is one important thing which we have done in the Northern Territory. We have abandoned the Government laundry. We have retired some unnecessary officials who were being paid £2,600 per annum, and have distributed their duties amongst other officers. We have called for tenders for rails and sleepers for the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway, and expect that operations will be commenced on that line in a short time. Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, has been in Melbourne for some months in consultation with the Minister of External Affairs, and Mr. Glynn has prepared a scheme of works and settlement for the Northern Territory which he is awaiting an opportunity to place before Parliament. In Papua the External Affairs Department has obtained a report on wharf extension, which is now under consideration, and the railway line from Port Moresby to Astrolabe has now been surveyed. We were successful in getting Mr. Deakin to represent Australia at the Panama Exhibition. I am sure we are all glad that we have been able to secure the services of such an able and distinguished man. In the Department of Home Affairs a good deal of work has been done. To begin with, we have abolished preference to unionists in Government employment, and we are employing contract labour where it is more suitable than day labour. We have appointed Mr. Bell as Engineer-in-Chief of Commonwealth railways. We are rearranging our electoral system, and we have appointed permanent Divisional Returning Officers. This step was taken on my initiative, and I think all parties will be satisfied with it. The revision of the rolls is now proceeding in each State. At the Federal Capital the Government found a rather serious state of affairs when they came into office. They found that the design of the Capital had been varied considerably by the departmental officers. As a matter of fact, Ministers found that, from some aspects, very little of Mr. Griffin’s plan was left. This circumstance was brought under the notice of the late Government in a letter addressed to Mr. King O’Malley on the 30th November last year. That letter reads - 15 Collins-place,
Melbourne, 30th November, 1912.
In view of the press quotations to the effect that the “ amended “ Federal Capital plan, on view at the House, embodies tha salient merits of the three premiated designs, and that it is based principally upon the first design, I deem it my duty to yourself, and to those whose work it was my function to assist in judging, to submit the following facts : -
Examination of the “amended” plan, and a direct comparison with the photographs, &c., pf the premiated and other designs- with the details of which I am intimately acquainted- discloses -
I have the honor to be, &c., (Sgd.) Jas. Alex. Smith.
The Hon. King O’Malley,
Minister for Home Affairs,
That means that after we had paid Mr. Griffin £1,750 for his plan, that plan had been departed from to the extent that only about 20 per cent. of it was left. Other plans had been brought forward and included in the design. In order that the matter might be absolutely settled, the Government sent for the author of the premiated plan - for Mr. Griffin himself. He is now here under an arrangement which is very favorable to the Commonwealth. The writer of the letter which I have just read was one of the arbitrators in the matter of the designs for the Capital, who deemed it his duty to warn the Government of the way in which things were going. In the Department of Trade and Customs we have appointed the Inter-State Commission and staff. We have collected £150,000 by way of sugar bounty, which, owing to the remissness of our predecessors, was not collected by them, and which they have endeavoured to make it appeal we desired to present to our friends - an infamous suggestion.
– Nobody has said that.
– It has been said. Every penny of that money has been collected. We collected £150,000 which was outstanding owing to the ineffective legislation enacted at the instance of the Fisher Government. We had the smallpox epidemic to cope with immediately after coming into office, and I think that the Prime Minister deserves every credit for the firm stand he took on that occasion in quarantining his own city. We have appointed a Director of Lighthouses and part of his staff. We have taken over 118 existing lights; arranged for the erection of 74 new lights during the next six years, 13 of which are now under way.
– You have taken over lights, and the Act has not yet been proclaimed I
– In connexion with the Navigation Act regulations have been framed, and delegates appointed to attend the International Conference on safety at sea. Just a few words in regard to the two test Bills. I do not intend to say much about them, because I hope that one of them will be before us at an early date. But, in one breath, we have been told by my honorable friends opposite that the Government Preference Prohibition Bill is too paltry to consider, whilst iri the next we have been assured that it is important enough to block the whole business of the country. Which of these two statements is correct? What question was responsible for the turnover of thirteen seats at the last election?
– The honorable senator said that it was the Tariff.
– If any questions were responsible for the turnover of those thirteen seats, they were, preference to unionists in the Government service and the abolition of the postal vote. The public were shocked by the fact that public money should be spent in Government employment only to benefit a certain class. Nothing shocked the people more than that, and nothing contributed more to the loss of those thirteen seats by the Labour party than it did. There has been an attempt to make it appear that the Government are opposed to all combinations of workers. As a matter of fact, we are not. We recognise that there must be combinations. But those combinations should be on proper lines. The very fact that the Arbitration Court had granted preference to unionists only in one instance - n very exceptional one - ought to have been a warning to the late Government not to grant such a preference. The present Government are in favour of unions, but we are not in favour of the tyranny which would deprive men of work and women and children of their bread, because of their refusal to hold certain political views. The abolition of the postal vote was also a factor in the defeat of my honorable friends opposite at the last election. The 30,000 persons who were thus deprived of their birth-right were indignant about it. The talk of corruption and wrong-doing is absurd. Only one case has been cited in this connexion - a case in the western district of this State - and it has done duty so long that its influence has worn out. In conclusion, I wish to say that the record of the Government administratively cannot be seriously challenged. Its legislative record is not so good, but that is not the fault of Ministers. It is the fault of those who have attempted too successfully to block the business of the country. For fully three months after this Parliament met it was faced in another Chamber with the bitterest opposition. Not until patience had been exhausted on the day on which the funeral of an ex-member was to take place, when an attempt was made to take the business out of the hands of the Government, was a determination arrived at to apply the closure. At that time the people were beginning to inquire, “When is Mr. Cook going to take some action?” It is not the fault of the Go vernment that more legislation has not been enacted, but of those who have at: tempted to block the transaction of public business. What they accomplished last session they have endeavoured to accomplish this. The Government can go to the country with a clean record, and with the knowledge that they have done their best in administration and legislation.
– Whilst I have been a member of this Chamber I have had an opportunity of listening to many speeches, but no speech to which I have ever listened, covering, as it did, so many subjects and occupying so much time, has been less interesting to me than that of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. From Senator McColl, as a member of the Cabinet, I did expect something fresh - something that would give us a little light and leading as to what the Government intend to do. He began by attempting to justify the slander which he uttered in the Town Hall, Fitzroy, some months ago - a slander on the Australian citizens. At that famous gathering, fresh as he was from victory, he stated to his political friends that “they” - meaning his political opponents - had resurrected the dead at the election which had been decided* a short time previously. To-day he got up, after having apologized for that statement-
– I never apologized for it. I withdrew it, but I did not apologize.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council would not withdraw anything unless he was absolutely certain that he had made a mistake. When he withdrew his statement, therefore, he, in a measure, apologized for having -wrongly put the position, and for having slandered the citizens of Australia. After having withdrawn the statement, he has the cold-blooded audacity to get up in this chamber to-day and justify it. He says, in effect, ‘“After constituting myself a sort of Sherlock Holmes, after having ferreted and fossicked out every nook and corner of the Electoral Department, after having had a hundred and one opportunities of ascertaining whether I was correct or incorrect in ‘making that statement, I will now give members of the Senate the result of my efforts since I have been in charge of the Electoral Department.” He said, “ I have proved that the dead were resurrected.” “By’ whom?” Senator Pearce asked. The honorable senator said “ They “ had resurrected the dead. He ought to have the manliness to admit that by “ They “ he meant the Labour party. He says that one dead man was resurrected at Kyneton, another at Lal Lal, and another at Ballarat.- Australia is a big place, and if three dead men’s names were voted on, will the honorable senator tell the Senate that the Labour party or their supporters were responsible for the personation ? He should have the manliness and courage to give the House the names which he has in his possession in those three cases. There are quite a number of names on the different rolls of the Commonwealth exactly alike, both as to Christian and surnames, and with almost identical addresses, and one can quite believe that, throughout the whole of Australia, the names of three dead men were voted on. Will the honorable senator give me the names of the three cases he mentioned? If they did happen, do they constitute a greater irregularity in proportion than has happened at any previous election in the Commonwealth? I think the honorable senator, in endeavour.ing to cover up his tracks, has only got himself further into the mud. He will find it very difficult to extricate himself from the unfortunate position in which he placed himself at the famous meeting held at Fitzroy just after the last election. He also said that the Socialistic enterprises undertaken by different State Governments had proved financial losses. That is absolutely incorrect. There are many Socialistic enterprises run by Governments in different parts of Australia that are huge successes, both financially and in every other way. The honorable senator made a special reference to the steamship service established by the Scaddan Government, stating that it had resulted in a loss of £40,000.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is it not a fact?
– It is not. It is absolutely incorrect. Senator McColl is one of the most extraordinary men who ever occupied a position in public life in the Commonwealth. Either he makes statements that he knows to be incorrect, or he makes them in ignorance. If the former, he ought to be ashamed of himself, and, if the latter, he is to be pitied. The loss on the Western Australian steam -ship service to date is only £19,354 7s. lid. It must be remembered that it was established to open up and develop a certain portion of Western Aus tralia. It was an absolute necessity in the interests of that part of the country. Will the honorable senator say that no Government enterprise ought to be undertaken unless it is self-supporting ? If that is so, I can follow him. What, then, becomes of everything that the Commonwealth and the States have undertaken ? Would any State be developed as it is today if the Government in power at any particular time had laid down as its policy that no railway should be built unless it was self-supporting from the commencement? The honorable senator would be the last, man in Victoria to advocate such a policy. The Government of Western Australia not only did something that met with the approbation of all the supporters of the Scaddan Government, but it will be information to the honorable senator to know that Mr. J. J. Holmes, who was recently returned as a Liberal representative to the Western Australian Upper House, won his election mainly on his advocacy of the continuance of the State steam-ship service. He had no possible chance of winning the election as a Liberal unless he warmly advocated the continuance of the service established by the Scaddan Government. The honorable senator also said that the Western Australian Government had not reduced the price of meat. That is absolutely incorrect. I happened to be in Western Australia at the beginning of the year, and, although my visit was a short one, I made the closest and strictest inquiries with regard to the establishment of that service, and the effect it had had on the price of meat in the West. It is an indisputable fact that, immediately the service was established, or about to be established, and the Government were assured that they could get cattle from certain stations, the price of meat in Perth, and other parts of Western Australia, came down by id. per pound, when it was going up in the eastern States; and, immediately the Scaddan Government established retail butchers’ shops, following on the establishment of the steam-ship service, meat came down another Id. a pound, although it was still going up in the other States - making a difference of 2d. per pound on all meat purchased by every consumer in almost every part of the State.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT Gould. - What price did it go down to? Did it go below 8d. ?
– That does not affect the question. The fact remains that it went down 2d. a pound as the result of the establishment of those Government services, reaching absolutely the lowest price at which it had been retailed to the consumers of Western Australia almost ever since the State had had responsible government; but that is not all. The Government have reduced passenger fares by 25 per cent., and have provided a regular line of communication in the north-west trade. Every man of common sense in the State warmly supports the service, and I am satisfied that if a poll of the adult residents of Western Australia were taken, they would show a thumping majority for its continuance, because it has been a signal success, and has cheapened the price of meat so greatly.
When Parliament was called together last year, one of the lengthiest paragraphs in the Ministerial policy statement was paragraph 3. It was lengthy because important. The Government, being fresh from the electors, knew that the people were eager for a declaration from them as to their attitude in respect to the Tariff. Twelve months have passed since then. Parliament has been called together again, and we have before us another Ministerial statement; but the matter which received such prominence last year is to-day covered by the shortest and smallest paragraph. Also, instead of being paragraph No. 3, it is paragraph No. 13. Last year, it was referred to in these terms -
It is the intention - of the Government to maintain the accepted Protective policy.
The Inter-State Commission has already been appointed, and, in addition to fulfilling its constitutional duties, it will supervise and report to Parliament with respect to industrial production and commercial exchange. It will also inquire into the working of the Tariff and its operation and effect upon the investment of capital and the employment of labour in Australian industries. It will make recommendations from time to time for the adjustment and revision of the Tariff, due regard being had to the interests of all sections of the community. In the meantime, any anomalies discovered in the existing Tariff will be dealt with.
This session they say -
The Inter-State Commission is engaged considering the Tariff question.
Last session we were told that the Commission had been appointed. This session we are told that it is inquiring; but the next sentence in this famous announcement runs -
My Ministers look forward with great hope to the labours of the Commission in regard to this important and difficult matter.
– Is it not a fact - that they have thrown the Commission over since then ? According to to-day’s newspaper, Mr. Groom announced that he had put on a staff of clerks to look for anomalies.
– I do not know what Mr. Groom has done; but Australia has declared many times and oft in favour of a Protective policy. The Government dare not interfere with the present Tariff in a Free Trade direction. They tell the manufacturers of Australia that they look forward with great hope to the labours of the Commission. “ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and the manufacturers of Australia are sick and tired of the present Government and their promises of Tariff relief for struggling industries.
– You will hear more about that by-and- by-
– Personally, I have no faith in regard to any substantial measure of relief being given to the manufacturers of Australia from the hands of this Government. Why ? Let us examine the personnel of the Ministry. Mr. Joseph Cook, Prime Minister, a bigoted Free Trader; Senator Millen, the Leader of the Government in this Chamber, ditto, even more bigoted than the Prime Minister; Mr. Glynn, ditto ; Mr. Kelly, ditto ; Senator Clemons, ditto; Mr. Irvine, the AttorneyGeneral, a Revenue Tariffist; Mr. Wynne, Mr. Groom, and Sir John Forrest, moderate Protectionists, or “ shandygaffers.”
– They could not do less than you did in three years.
- Senator McColl, a city Protectionist, and a rural Free Trader. In the city he advocates Protection of the highest order for industries established within the metropolitan area, but when he talks to the farmers he wants them to get everything as cheaply as they possibly can, and indirectly advocates Free Trade. When Mr. Groom, Minister of Trade and Customs, was speaking recently to the women’s branch of an organization called the People’s Liberal Party - at South Yarra, I think - he said -
Their predecessors had talked for three years while in office about Protection, but had done nothing.
Does Senator McColl indorse that statement? The honorable senator said to-day that the late Fisher Government had ample opportunity and a substantial majority in each House to do something in respect of Protection if they had felt so disposed.
– So you could have done.
– We carried out to the letter the promises we made to the electors. To show what a double-voiced senator the Vice-President of the Executive Council is, let me read what he said here when he was sitting in Opposition and the Tariff of the Fisher Government found its way here. On 18th December, 1911, he said of the Fisher Government -
I do not think that the Government could have submitted a comprehensive measure of Tariff reform this session. Their hands have been so full of important measures which they have placed in the forefront of their programme and to which they were pledged to give effect that it was absolutely impossible for them to bring forward a comprehensive measure of Tariff reform.
That is what the honorable senator said in December, 1911. But to-day. he unsaid what he said then.
– Remember that you had 1912 and half of 1913.
– We were just as busy then with important measures.
– It is perfectly true, as Senator McColl said, that we had a comprehensive policy - a policy which before the elections were decided in 1910 we had pledged ourselves to carry into effect, provided that the party came back with a majority in each House. We introduced measures into both Chambers on the lines of our policy, and passed them. We put up a record which, in my opinion, both for quantity and quality is unparalleled in the history of this Parliament, and unparalleled, too, in the history of any other Parliament in the world. Many statements have been made that we did not carry out the promises we gave in respect to Protection. It has been stated by the Leader of the Senate and by Senator McColl that the Labour party did nothing in respect to Protection during the time they were in office. The Fisher Government did all that they promised to do. In 1910 Mr. Fisher made a speech in Melbourne, and he also delivered speeches in the other State capitals. What did he say to the people on behalf of the Labour party?
We were never in doubt about this - that where we could incorporate the principle of protecting the workers as well as employers, we were ready, and are ready, to give them, not only reasonable protection, but the Australian market.
In furtherance of that policy the Labour party submitted to the people a referendum in 1911, when the electors were told what our policy was and what we desired by the submission of the referendum. We wanted the people to say “ yes “ to our proposals, and we gave them an assurance that if they did say “ yes “ we would introduce Protection of the most comprehensive kind.
– Yet they turned you down.
– I cannot help that.
– It shows what confidence they had ‘-a you.
– We assured the electors that if they said “ yes “ to our proposals we would give the Australian manufacturers the Australian market, and also extend to Australian workmen and workwomen the best possible industrial conditions. We gave them this further assurance, that we would prevent a continuance of the exploitation of the consumers then going on. As Senator Gould has interjected, notwithstanding these assurances on the part of +he Fisher Government, the majority of the citizens of Australia turned down our propositions. While we were in office we were not idle. I ask any fair-minded man sitting on the other side to say whether it would have been possible for us to have the Tariff ripped up, lock, stock, and barrel, and passed to the satisfaction of the Australian community, iri addition to the work we had performed, and in the face of the referenda?
– There was only one session after the referenda.
– Yes. Another election came along; the Fisher Government made an appeal to the electors, and Mr. Fisher, as Prime Minister, made this definite pronouncement in his policy speech delivered in Maryborough in March, 1913-
The Tariff as originally imposed in 1901 and since amended, though working fairly well on the whole, seems to call for readjustment to more effectually encourage Australian industries.
The policy of the Labour party has been and is along the lines of the New Protection.
Legislation instigated by the Labour party and passed by the Parliament in 1906 has been in the Excise (Agricultural Machinery) Act declared by the High Court invalid. Until ‘the
Constitution is amended nothing can be done to give effect to that policy.
Protection of the workers in protected industries cannot be assured while protection of the consumer, i.e., of the community generally, is quite impossible. We therefore most strongly urge tbat the amendments of the Constitution now before you should be approved, in which case we shall take immediate steps to put the policy of New Protection into force and give such protection to the community and the workers as may be necessary.
Should the people, however, decide not to take to themselves, through their Federal Parliament, these powers, the Government pledges itself to take an early opportunity to amend the Tariff to give effective protection to Australian industries.
– What did Mr. Hughes say when the question of Tariff reform cropped up ? Was there not a difference of opinion in your party?
– There is no difference of opinion amongst the members of our party in regard to that plank in our platform, namely, new Protection.
– I admit that.
– The majority of the electors, by a very small margin, placed their confidence in those who are mow sitting on the Ministerial benches. A remark made by Senator McColl this afternoon will live and keep. He said that if the Government had introduced Tariff reform during this or the last session of Parliament, it would have given the Labour members an opportunity of talking ad libitum, and would have blocked the business of the country. Therefore, according to the honorable senator, Tariff reform is not the business of the country. I think that the average intelligent citizen is more seriously concerned about the establishment of Australian industries and the giving of employment to Australians, than they are about that piece of piffle known as the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, a measure for which there is no warrant, because that which Ministers propose to do by law has already been done by an administrative Act. Senator McColl made the statement here to-day that it would have been blocking the business of the country if the Government had introduced a measure of Tariff reform.
– I said it would be at the present time.
– The honorable senator did not say anything about the present time. He said it would have been blocking the business of the country. Therefore, according to the honorable senator and his colleagues, it is more urgent to introduce a Bill which is not important, according to the Prime Minister himself, than it is to introduce a measure of Tariff reform which is of vital interest to every citizen.
– What I said was this-
– Never mind; I know what the honorable senator said. He need not try to “ crayfish “ out of what he did say. Suppose that this Free Trade Cabinet all at once became converts to Protection, and were successful in giving adequate Protection to Australian manufacturers in another place, and that their measure reached this Chamber. What sort of a reception will a Protectionist Tariff receive at the hands of the high priests of Free Trade on the bench opposite ? Senators Millen, Oakes, and Gould won their elections in New South Wales in May last mainly by reason of their violent opposition to a Protectionist Tariff.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator is mistaken.
– I am absolutely correct in that statement. I haveread much literature that was published in connexion with the elections that were decided in May of last year, and I know that the electors of New South Wales were implored to vote for Senators Millen, Oakes, and Gould, in order to reduce the high cost of living, which they were informed was due to Customs taxation.
-Colonel Sir. Albert Gould. - I think the honorable senator is romancing.
– I am not romancing at all. These are the gentlemen who are going to support a Protectionist Tariff when it reaches this Chamber. There are, in all, seven honorable senators on the other side, and I have named three who are out-and-out Free Traders, and make no bones about it.
– Hear, hear ! The best speech for Free Trade I ever listened to was delivered by Senator Pearce.
– The votes given by Senator Pearce on the Tariff speak for themselves, and show that he was a better Protectionist than many who proclaim themselves to be Protectionists. There are three honorable senators on the other side who are out-and-out Free Traders, and Senator Clemons makes the fourth out of the seven. Then we have Senator McColl, who is a half-and-half Protectionist. I do not know the fiscal faith of Senator Bakhap, but some one has said that the honorable senator is a fiscal atheist. There is, then, only Senator Keating to be accounted for, and I believe he could be relied upon to vote for Protectionist duties. Four of the seven have declared themselves violently hostile to a Protectionist Tariff. There is one doubtful Protectionist in the person of Senator McColl. I have no doubt that the honorable senator would support Protectionist duties for metropolitan industries, but the rural inhabitants looking to him for Protection would find him a Free Trader. There are, then, only two or three honorable senators opposite upon whom the Government would have to depend for the passage of a Protectionist Tariff through this Chamber. In the circumstances, how, in the name of all that is good, the people of Australia could have been so blind as they showed themselves to be at the last elections passes my comprehension.
– The clearness of their vision will be seen later on.
– If the Government introduce a Tariff Bill, it will be later on. This is the linger-on and lateron Government. Senator McColl said, “ We have a great policy,” and a man up at Echuca asked him, “ Where is it?” The honorable senator replied, “ We shall give it to you later on.” Supposing that later on the Government do introduce a Tariff Bill proposing the imposition of higher duties, who will carry it in this Chamber? It must be carried by honorable senators on this side who are genuine Protectionists.
– What are they now?
– They always have been genuine Protectionists, so far as new Protection is concerned. The majority of the members of the. Labour party are Protectionists. No member of the party would have the slightest chance of winning a seat in Victoria - Federal, State, or municipal - if he was not prepared to support the Protectionist policy of the State.
-The honorable senator knows that the Labour party left the fiscal question an open question.
– I know that the present Government would not be. in power to-day if it were not for the allegations made against some gentlemen who were members of the Senate and of another place that they were false to their promises in the matter of Protection. I venture to say that we lost Corio, Indi, and, probably, Corangamite because of the vitriolic attacks made by the Age on the members of our party who previously represented those constituencies, on the ground that they had gone back on their Protectionist principles. They had done nothing of the kind. The present Government are in power mainly as a result of the efforts of the newspapers supporting them. The official organ of Liberalism in this State, the Argus, is a Free Trade newspaper, whilst the Age professes to be a Protectionist newspaper.
– It is not their official organ.
– It is not. Although the Age professes to be a Protectionist newspaper, it “belted” our party hip and thigh, and gave support to wishy-washy Protectionists. What did the gentleman who now represents that constituency say? He said that the woollen mills, the rope works, the engineering works, the salt works, and the timber mills were all struggling because they were insufficiently protected, and there were hundreds of men out of work. He gave this pledge to the electors of Corio, and, without a shadow of a doubt, it won him the seat -
I pledge myself to support during the first session of the Parliament a revision of the Tariff, to adjust the many anomalies which now exist, and also to put thousands of men now unemployed into profitable employment in manufacturing Australia’s raw material into the finished article.
The honorable gentleman went further, and said -
If the Government will not introduce a Tariff Bill I shall raise the question in the House myself.
He will raise the question! Why, the honorable gentleman is not allowed to whisper. When he was before the electors of Corio he violently thundered, and the echoes of his voice could be heard over Corio Bay. He was an out-and-out Protectionist, and when he was told that Mr. Cook was a Free Trader, and was asked what he would do if the Cook party were returned to power, and did not introduce a Tariff Bill, he said, “ I shall raise the question myself.” The honorable gentleman dare not whisper the word “Protection” in another place.
– Being the Government’s majority of one, he could have forced the question on them.
– Of course he could. The present is a very peculiar Government. They have a majority of only one in another place, and, whereas it is usual for Governments to have a majority behind them, the present Government have their majority in front of them.
– In the Chair.
– I do not know where he is at times, but he is mostly in front of them. The Age told the electors of Indi that if Mr. Ahern were elected, and Mr. Parker Moloney rejected, the result would be that industries would spring up on the KingRiver and the Ovens River like mushrooms, during a night. If honorable senators go through the Indi electorate to-day they will find hundreds of electors who were deluded by the promises which were made to them and the assurances which the socalled Protectionist newspaper, the Age, gave them, that if they voted for Mr. Ahern Protection would be all right. The Age finds out to-day that Protection is not all right, and that they should never have deserted the party that has always been faithful to the Protectionist policy of this country. When it is said that the Labour Government did nothing during the time they were in office, the statement is incorrect, because we did much. I propose to read a statement of what we did, in order that the people of Australia may know the facts. It may be somewhat tedious for honorable senators to listen to it, but I intend to read the statement all the same, that Imay get it into Hansard. I ask honorable senators to do me the special favour not to interject while I am reading it, in order that it may appear in tabulated form, so that the readers of Hansard may be able to see at a glance what we did during our term of office for the industries of Australia, in addition to the record we put up in connexion with national undertakings.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was remarking that I desired to place on record inHansard the substantial good which the Fisher Government accomplished from a Protectionist view-point whilst they were in office. I propose to read a list of the items which are dealt with in the Customs Tariff Acts of 1910 and 1911. They are as follow: -
That long list is, I think, an answer to honorable senators opposite, who have declared many times that the Fisher Government did nothing in the interests of the manufacturers of Australia, and that by no action taken by them was the Protectionist policy of the country advanced. I say that we did much to further the Protectionist interest in Australia. The present Government, in their Ministerial statement of policy last year, committed themselves to a declaration that - i
In the meantime, any anomalies discovered in the existing Tariff will be dealt with.
The people of Australia naturally believed that they would act up to that promise. They have now been in office for twelve months, and will any man say that our present Tariff is so perfect - if it is, it is a great compliment to the Fisher Ad- ministration - that it contains no anomalies? On the other hand, if anomalies do exist in it, why have not the Government introduced a Tariff Anomalies Bill? They would find no stronger supporters of any proposal for the rectification of such anomalies than honorable senators upon this side of the chamber. They say that they have’ referred the matter to the Inter-State Commission. That is a wonderful institution. I noticed the other day that the Premiers had a conference and decided to refer the break of gauge question to the Inter-State Commission. It has been at work for nearly twelve months, and up to the present we have had no public communication from it. The Prime Minister says we must not hurry it or interfere with it. Is it above Parliament and above the people?
I understood that the people were” supreme, and that Parliament was above any institution it created. The Commission is not likely, unless asked to get a move on, to present any report for a considerable time, and the people are expected to remain silent while this inactivity continues. Who are its members? I am not going to find fault with them as citizens, but I have my doubts about the personnel of the Commission from a Protectionist point of view. The chairman is Mr. Piddington, and I have heard it said that he is a single taxer. He has a perfect right to his .fiscal opinions, but, if that is so, he cannot honestly have very much sympathy with the Protectionist policy of Australia. I believe Mr. Lockyer to be a sound Protectionist, but I have very grave doubts about Mr. Swinburne being a Protectionist. I believe .him to be a Revenue Tariffist. It is a very funny thing that, at the time of the appointment of Mr. Swinburne, there was trouble up at the State House. The socalled Liberal party were in the danger zone; Mr. Swinburne was the man of the hour, and Senator McColl made tracks from the Commonwealth buildings to the State Parliament building to interview him at this crisis. It has been said that the so-called Liberal party of Victoria wanted to get rid of Mr. Swinburne because he was dangerous to them, and there was every reason to believe that at that particular time, if the Watt Government had been up-ended, Mr. Swinburne would have been the man to take up the reins. The Inter-State Commission is now travelling from one end of Australia to the other, no doubt doing its work well as a Commission; but are the manufacturers and the industries of Australia going to suffer by excessive importations while it drags along at a snail’s pace? If it was asked by the Government to get a move on, and present a progress report, I warrant that it would soon forward a progress report, particularly with respect to the anomalies in the existing Tariff; but the Government are indisposed to do anything of the kind.
– 1 The Government have given it the wink to go slow.
– They have not given it the tip to get a move on. The Government deserve the severest condemnation for not keeping their promises to the citizens with regard to the introduction of a Bill for the rectification of Tariff anomalies, and I am satisfied that the people have got their measure by this time. The people know by now that they can obtain no relief from them from a Protectionist point of view.
Senator McColl made a serious remark this afternoon regarding the erection of meat works at Brisbane by a company said to be identical with the American Meat Trust. He said he was very glad that a Liberal Government was not in power when the application for permission to erect these works was made. Does he mean that if a Liberal Government had been in office they would have refused the desired permission? That is a plain, straightforward question. The honorable senator remains silent because he has no answer to it. The Government know that they could not refuse such an application from a company so long as it complied with the State laws with regard to sanitation and building conditions generally. Mr. Tudor was at that time Minister of Trade and Customs. During his term of office he received many applications from different parts of Australia for the erection of cool-storage establishments. Probably one of the last to make application was this company. He could not refuse the application, and there is no power in the Constitution to enable this or any other Government to prevent even a branch of the Beef Trust starting in one State in Australia. Senator McColl knows this, or, if he does not, he ought to. He had no justification whatever for attempting to make the point that he tried to make this afternoon at the expense of the exMinister of Trade and Customs and at the expense of the Labour party
– And at the expense of truth.
– He ought to be careful in regard to statements that he makes from time to time that have not the semblance of truth about them. This tarradiddle about the Labour party granting permission to- the Beef Trust to establish itself in Australia has been trotted out in another place, but the AttorneyGeneral himself put the position very clearly in these words during the last week or two -
Let us look at the matter with eyes cleared of the film of prejudice. If we find a man spending £200,000 on the erection of a thoroughly up-to-date meat works, intending to buy up cattle for the purpose of exporting meat, can we say to him, “What you are doing is what we should thoroughly approve of and encourage in any one else. But as you are named ‘ Swift,’ and in combination with others have done certain very wrong things in America and the Argentine, we intend to stop your operations here “ ? The ex-Minister of Trade and Customs will agree with me that that is impossible.
No clearer statement could be made to show the impossibility of Mr. Tudor withholding his . permission when the application was made, even though he might have been of the opinion at the time that the company was a branch of the American Meat Trust. When the members of the Government try to make capital out of this incident, they are playing the game very low down indeed.
– If Mr. Tudor did wrong, why do they not put it right?
– Mr. Tudor did not do wrong. He did the only thing he could have done in the circumstances. He granted applications from time to time to different companies for the erection of up-to-date meat works for exportation purposes, ana this was one of the latest applications received during the Fisher Government’s term of office. If the company is doing harm and mischief to the people, it is the duty of the Government to institute a prosecution against it, instead of finding fault with the ex-Minister for granting an application which he could not refuse. The Government has appointed Mr. Justice Street as a Royal Commission tq inquire into the trusts, combines, and monopolies of Australia. No one knows better than they do that the labours of the Commission cannot result in any substantial good being done to the people, because the Commissioner will have no power to compel witnesses to divulge anything with respect to any business outside the Commonwealth, and so long as the company is established in one State only, the inquiry will be resultless
The Prime Minister has said that this is to be a short session. He says it is being held for the one purpose of bringing about a double dissolution. The Prime Minister has said to the friends and supporters of the Government - by these he probably means the trusts and combines and all the other monopolistic institutions in Australia - “Get ready; there will be an early appeal to the people, and we will take our own time.” I thought we were working under a written Constitution, and that the King’s representative had something to say as to whether there should or should not be a single or double dissolution. In attempting to influence and coerce the Governor-General into interpreting the Constitution in their way only, the Government are playing with fire. The Constitution is the result of serious and careful consideration on the part of the delegates to the Federal Convention, and there would have been no Federation if the smaller States had not been given a guarantee of protection by way of equal representation in the Senate. They would never have come into the Federation had it not been for that promise. But the present Government say in effect, “Although you are in the Federation, we will bring about a double dissolution on questions which are not important, because the Constitution provides for a double dissolution in the event of certain things happening, and, with a double dissolution, we are hopeful of altering the personnel of the Senate.” Does any honorable senator in his sane moments believe ‘that ‘the Government can increase its number in this Chamber from seven to nineteen ? Does the Government believe that it can wipe out, by a double dissolution, its minority of twentytwo here? If it does it is safe to say that in another place, where the Labour party is in a minority of one, it will be able to turn that minority into, at least, a majority of one. Holding that belief, and stretching one’s imagination to suppose, although the thing is unthinkable, that the Labour party. would find itself in a minority in this Chamber, there must, after the first’ appeal, be another double dissolution, because the Government would be in a minority here. According to the doctrine laid down by the present Government, every time a Ministry is in a minority here, there must of necessity be a double dissolution. If that is the correct reading of the Constitution, the smaller States were lured into the Federation under false pretences, because once that precedent is established the representation of the smaller States disappears for all time, the Federation becomes a farce, and the Senate Chamber may as well be forthwith shut up. Where, then, does the protection to the smaller States come in? It absolutely disappears for all time. In my judgment, the framers of the Constitution never had such an idea in their heads, or the people of Australia either, that because there should be a difference, not between Houses, but between parties, the party in power could send both Houses to the country. Why does the Government want a double dissolution? Does it want a double dissolution merely for the sake of wanting it, or does it want a double dissolution because it says that the Constitution lays it down that it can be had?
– They want it because they need a majority here.
– That confirms the statement I made just now that, because the Government is in a minority here, there must be an election, and the Senate must be destroyed. If that is the reading of the Constitution it might as well be torn up, the shutters put up in front of this building, and the States told that they were induced to come into the Federation under false pretences.
– If you do not let the Government have a double dissolution, you might as well shut up the other House.
– By a double dissolution you will not destroy the Senate, but the personnel.
– If the Senate is to be told every time that there is a difference between the parties, “Unless you do what the Government in another place desire, there must be a double dissolution,” the existence of the Senate is absolutely farcical. Senator Millen wants a double dissolution, because he says that the Senate is unworkable. Why is it unworkable? Is it unworkable because it has failed to pass the Tariff ? No. Senator McColl said to-day that if a Tariff had been introduced it would be blocking the business of the country, so that, according to the honorable senator, the people of the country are not concerned about the Tariff, but are concerned about a midget measure that the man in the street laughs at, the so-called abolition of preference to unionists. Mr. Irvine, the AttorneyGeneral, said -
There could be no more clean-cut line of demarcation between the two parties than the question of preference to unionists, and it was on that question that the Ministry was prepared to challenge their opponents before the whole of the people of Australia.
On this question Mr. Irvine said that the Government is prepared to challenge the people of Australia. Senator Millen, the Leader of the Government here, has said that it wants a general election because the Senate is unworkable. Let us see what the Prime Minister has said, for it is a three-voiced Cabinet. Speaking at a social to the State AttorneyGeneral on the 26th March, the Prime Minister said -
I am alluding particularly to a speech which I read this morning, in which I am being solemnly warned that when we go to the country we should not go on such questions as the postal vote and prohibition of preference to unionists. Who in the name of heaven ever suggested that we should go on that alone? The notion is preposterous, and how it should have got into the brains of people I cannot understand. I think it would be absolute folly for us to go to the country on such questions as these.
The Attorney-General has said that the abolition of preference to unionists is the question on which the Government desires to face the people, but the Prime Minister has said that it would be absolutely silly and foolish to go on these unimportant issues.
– On what else has the Government a right to go to the country?
– A great deal.
– This is a new doctrine. The country does not know the other reasons.
– Yes, it does.
– Can the Government, on measures which they say are unimportant, and on which, according to them, it would be silly to go to the country, get a double dissolution from the King’s representative, and then go to the country not on the matters which caused the trouble because it says that these are not important, but on something altogether foreign to the issues which created the so-called dead-lock ?
– And something that has not been before the other House.
– This attitude on the part of the Government is an extraordinary one. It has had ample opportunity to introduce legislation which would have been beneficial to Australia had it felt so disposed. It is perfectly true that the Government introduced a Bill in another place to amend the Electoral Act, but there was so much limelight shed on that iniquitous measure that the Government was shamed into withdrawing it because one of its provisions meant the abolition of the secrecy of the ballot for which men sacrificed their lives and their liberties in days gone by; a provision that every person’s ballot-paper had to be numbered, and every person who was possessed of a ballot-paper had to attach his signature. The Government know that there was no more chance of that Bill being carried than there is of any member of it flying into heaven. Consequently the Government withdrew the Bill, and introduced this midget measure known as the Government Preference Prohibition Bill. The time of this country has been wasted on something which, since the day the Government came into power, has not affected a man, woman, or child in the community.
– Are you aware that the Home Affairs Department now sends out to applicants for employment letters asking them if they are members of a union, and that if so they do not get a job?
– That is a very serious statement. It is the first I have heard of the matter, but I would not be surprised at anything being done by members of the Cabinet, because it is well known that they have no time for legitimate unionism. They are in office because of the financial and political support accorded to them from time to time by big employers who have financed their organization, who believe in freedom of contract, and have no time for legitimate unionism. The Government said it was going to amend the Arbitration Act, so as to prevent the rural workers from having access to the Federal Arbitration Court. Why should these men be treated differently from any other class of workers ? Why should we differentiate in our treatment of the worker between the town and the country ?
– Because if the rural worker gets high wages land values will go down.
– The rural worker, generally speaking, is the most poorly paid worker, and one of the hardest worked men in Australia. His hours are inordinately long, . and the conditions under which he lives are different altogether from those under which the city or town worker lives.
– And the Government is going to keep him in that deplorable position.
– The Government has no chance of doing that, because the rural workers are organizing, and seeing that the Government says it prefers to leave the fixing of their wages and industrial conditions to the State Parliaments. That is what Ministers say now, but was ever a voice raised by any honorable senator opposite in favour of organization amongst the rural workers until the Fisher Government made it possible for that class to have the same advantages in regard to arbitration as the city and town workers have ? There was never a whisper prior to that time that the rural workers ought to have these rights. Although the Government are trying to placate their friends in the country, the country people can see the writing on thewall. I take the following from the Argus of the 22nd May, which is headed “ The Farming Industry ‘ ‘ -
Your executive is watching with interest for any development of the scheme of Federal control of industrial matters. It is obvious that some such development is inevitable. . . . Seeing that arbitration is inevitable, your executive urges upon all delegates and all local district councils to prepare for an arbitration contest. Hitherto we have been able to take a stand on the assertion that no dispute existed as between us and our employes, but it would be suicidal tactics to presume that a dispute is impossible, or even unlikely. Our time would be far better spent in preparing to put the circumstances of the great industry we control adequately before any tribunal before which we may be called.
That is the decision of the executive of the New South Wales Farmers and Settlers Association. A few months previously the members of that association were strongly opposed to the rural workers having an opportunity to appear before any Court. They felt that they should be in a position to do as they pleased, to work their men as long as they liked, and practically to enjoy, to the full, freedom of contract. But the farmers of New South Wales, in common with every sensible and clear-sighted person, see now that organization amongst all sections of the workers is inevitable. The rural workers are organized to-day. They are part and parcel of the Australian Workers Union. It would be in the best interests of the farmers of Australia to encourage the growth of these organizations that they might come under the Federal
Conciliation and Arbitration Act. What protection can be offered to the farmers of Australia while the rural workers are working under a Wages Board determination] No penalties are provided for a breach of a Wages Board determination. The rural workers, if working under a Wages Board determination of which they did not approve, might, if they felt strong enough, seize the psychological moment to strike, and a strike at such a time might mean the ruin of the farmer, and might be the means of putting him off his land. But if the rural workers and their employes are registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, -and an award is made by the Court, it will be binding upon the rural workers and on their employers, the producers, and in the event of such an award being broken those responsible for breaking it may be penalized.
– Why are not the present Government penalized for breaking an award ?
– What award?
– The award in the linemen’s case. The Government are paying the wages fixed by the award to blacklegs.
– I do not intend to occupy any more of the time of the Senate on this motion. I feel that the present Government have been in possession of the Treasury bench far too long. Taking the membership of the two Houses together, the Government are in a big minority. The people of Australia expressed themselves through the ballot-box as in favour of the Labour party. By a strange paradox, although the Labour party have a majority of votes and a majority of members in this Parliament, they find themselves in Opposition, and the party that obtained a minority of votes, and has a minority of representation in this Parliament, occupies the Treasury bench. During the time the Government have been in office they have not made one legitimate effort to carry any measure of legislation that would be helpful to Australia. The two trumpery Bills they have introduced for the set purpose will, I feel sure, return upon them like a boomerang, because the people are sick and tired of their shadow sparring and sham fighting. If they had introduced something of a substantial character, of which the Labour party might be able to approve, or even something to which we might take strong ex ception, there might be some justification for their continued existence. But the fact that they have been in office for twelve months without doing anything to advance the interests of the people of Australia affords indisputable proof that they really ought to throw up the sponge. They have done nothing, and they ian do nothing. They talk about a double dissolution, but they have not a thousand to one chance of getting a double dissolution. The people are sick and tired of them, and the sooner the inevitable takes place - and that is, an early appeal to the electors by the members of another place - the better it will be for Australia. I am satisfied that an appeal to the electors will result in the return of a substantial majority of Labour members to another place, and with the majority which the Labour party have in the Senate, Australia will be safe in their hands, and progress will be possible.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.54]. - As one might have expected, Senator Findley indulged in a tirade against the Commonwealth Government as constituted to-day. The honorable senator has contended that the party to which ‘he belongs have the confidence of the people, and the Government party have not their confidence. The only reply that need be given to that contention is a statement of the fact that the Liberal Government are in power to-day, and have been in power for the last twelve months. They were returned to power because Mr. Fisher, the Leader of the last Government, stated that he found that he was in a minority, and unable to carry on the business of the country. Senator Findley has said that a majority of the electors recorded their votes for representatives of the Labour party. That may be so in regard to the House of Representatives, but it is not so in respect cf the Senate. The anomaly in this Chamber is that, while only seven out of eighteen seats contested at the last elections were won by Government supporters, they represent a considerable majority of the electors of the country. It is well that honorable senators who talk a good deal about one vote one value, should bear in mind that the majority of the voters of Australia are behind the present Government. Senator Findley has said that he believes it would be a good thing to send the members of another place to the country, because he considers that the Labour party would come back with a majority; but he very prudently adds, “ We do not wish to see the Senate, where Labour is so strongly entrenched as it is to-day, sent to the country.” The Labour party have in this Chamber a majority of four to one. Honorable senators must realize that, under’ our Constitution, the other Chamber is regarded as the people’s House ; and but for that it would not be possible for the present Government to continue in office for a day. They are in an insecure position by reason of their lack of power in the Senate; and if it can be shown that government is impossible under existing circumstances, it is a fair thing, if the Constitution can be utilized for the purpose, to utilize it in such a way as to bring the position of affairs prominently before the GovernorGeneral, with whatever advice the Cabinet may see fit to tender him, and then let him form his own conclusions as to the action he should take. Senator Pearce, in dealing with this matter, spoke very strongly of the powers which might be exercised by the Governor-General. I am not going to dispute the powers possessed by the Governor-General in deciding to grant or withhold a dissolution of Parliament in any circumstances at the request of any Government. Senator Pearce, in referring to the intention of the members of the Federal Convention in framing section 57 of the Constitution, providing for a double dissolution in certain cases, interpreted the section in a very restrictive way, and I entirely dissent from his conclusions. It is a wellknown rule in the interpretation of Statutes that an Act must be read as a whole, and an endeavour made to harmonize differences appearing in the various sections. It is laid down clearly in the text-books that where there is any doubt or difficulty in the interpretation of the Statutes the most liberal construction is to be adopted. The weakness of the speech made by Senator Pearce lies in the fact that the honorable senator attempted to impose restrictions upon the Constitution which are not manifest, and which, I contend, cannot fairly be read into it. He took up the position that the section dealing with a double dissolution is applicable to financial provisions, and those alone. He argues that only upon financial matters the other Chamber is the superior authority. Honorable senators are aware that there is a manifest endeavour in the Constitution to give the two Houses of the Federal Parliament coequal powers in most matters. The members of the Federal Convention, while desiring to maintain the dominance of the House of Representatives in financial matters, were very careful to build up a strong Senate for the representation of the States in this Parliament. How has that been done? First of all, certain Bills must be introduced in another place after a message.
– Surely the honorable senator does not contend that the socalled test Bills are financial Bills?
.- No; I shall refer to them directly. In section 53 of the Constitution it is provided that -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or money, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate; but a proposed law shall not be taken to appropriate revenue or moneys, or to impose taxation, by reason only of its containing provisions for the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment or appropriation of fees for licences, or fees for services under the proposed law.
It is further provided that -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Later in the same section it is provided that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
No doubt it was desired that the Senate should possess the fullest powers to consider these matters. Though the Senate may not amend these Bills, it may suggest amendments which the other House will take into consideration and accept, modify or reject. The Senate was not placed in a helpless position, because it may decline to pass a Bill unless amendments it has suggested are accepted or modified in a form which the members of the Senate consider reasonable. That shows how desirous members of the Convention were that both Houses should be placed in a strong position. Other provisions were inserted in the Constitution prohibiting tacking in the case of financial measures, and vesting the Governor-General with certain powers. Then followed section 57, which reads -
If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House or Representatives will not agree, and if, after an interval of three months, the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which hove b«en made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve “the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. But such dissolution shall not take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives by effluxion of time.
I defy any honorable senator -to show me a more suitable place in the Constitution at which to insert a provision in regard to a double dissolution.
– It is very singular that it immediately follows the provisions which relate to financial matters.
– Where else could it have been put? Having dealt with the general powers of Parliament, the framers -of our Constitution had to specify the way in which a certain limited number of matters should be dealt with. By all the rules of construction in regard to Statutes, it is perfectly clear that section 57 must be held to be applicable to all matters coming before Parliament for consideration. It has been urged that finance is at the root of responsible government. I admit that it is. But will honorable senators tell me that, in respect of any great matter of vital principle which was rejected by the Senate after having been approved by the other branch of the Legislature, it would be impossible to secure a double dissolution? Take, for example, the question of whether preference should be granted to unionists. Let us assume that the Liberal party in another place passed a measure declaring that no such preference should be granted under any conceivable circumstances.
– From a hypothetical case the honorable senator cannot draw certain conclusions.
– Or let us assume that the House of Representatives was very strongly in favour of a scheme to promote immigration - a scheme which the Senate considered would be detrimental to the best interests of this country. Would not the difference between the two Houses be on a vital matter of principle, and do honorable senators opposite contend that it would be impossible to bring about a double dissolution in that event? The other branch of the Legislature might very well say that a certain system of immigration was a proper one to adopt, and this Chamber might not agree with it. For example, it would be possible for, say, the White Australia policy to be at stake.
– The honorable senator’s party would wipe out that policy if they thought they could get the necessary measure through Parliament.
– In the case which I have cited, the two Houses would be opposed to each other on a matter of vital principle.
– Whilst the honorable senator is arguing from a hypothetical stand-point, he has not given a single reason why section 57 must be held to be applicable to all matters coming before Parliament.
– I cannot do that at once. At present I am endeavouring to show that the view expressed by Senator Pearce the other day is a too restricted one.
– The honorable senator is arguing on a hypothesis, not on a reality.
– It is a reality in regard to one particular measure. My contention is that if a double dissolution can be secured on a measure of most important public policy, Senator Pearce’s argument, that section 57 applies only to financial measures, is entirely destroyed.
– The logical conclusion, then, is that, a double dissolution can be secured in connexion with every little Bill.
– Honorable senators may say that, but that is not my contention. Somebody else has to be consulted in regard to the granting of a double dissolution.
– The Government ought to realize that, too.
– And honorable senators opposite ought to recognise it. In an ordinary case of the defeat of a Government, the Governor-General has to exercise his own discretion as to whether their request for a single dissolution shall be granted. I am willing to concede that in the case of a request for a double dissolution, the position of the Governor-General would be just as strong. But he has to be guided by the circumstances surrounding each case, and one of his peculiar functions is to afford Parliament every opportunity of performing the work which it was elected to perform.
– And to see that the States have fair protection. This is an underhand way of taking that protection from them.
– If that be so, we must recollect that the provision was inserted by the Federal Convention, and was accepted by Tasmania after it had been placed in the Constitution.
– Was the Convention providing for a set of conditions artificially created, or for a genuine difference of opinion between the two Houses?
– I say that when certain things happen, it becomes necessary for the GovernorGeneral to exercise his own judgment. In my opinion, it was intended that his judgment should be exercised in cases in which some great principle was at stake.
– It would not then be an artificially-created crisis.
– When the Constitution was framed it was intended that the other House should be the dominant branch of the Legislature. When the Government in that Chamber send Bills to the Senate, if those Bills are of any importance, they have a perfect right to endeavour to work the Constitution in such a way as to bring about a double dissolution. What is the position to-day? In the other House the Government have a majority of one.
– In the chair.
– I do not care where it is. The honorable senator’s own party could have had the chair if they had liked. They preferred to put their own man out of that position, in order that they might have another vote on the floor of the House. Last night Senator Stewart stated that the policies of the two rival parties in this Parliament were like fire and water, and that under no circumstances could they combine. That being so, what measure could the present Government hope to pass through this Parliament ?
– Why not introduce the Tariff. The honorable senator would then see what the Labour party would do.
.- I will talk about the Tariff directly. If Parliament is to remain in its present condition, and the Government are to possess a majority of only one, they know that none of their legislation dealing with matters of Liberal policy will have a chance of passing through this Chamber. But my honorable friends opposite say, “ Why not let members of the House of Representatives alone go to the country?” If that were done, and the Cook Government succeeded in securing a majority elsewhere, is it not clear that Labour would still occupy an entrenched position in this Chamber? In such circumstances, Ministers would be just as powerless as they are to-day. We are told that the Labour party is willing to help the Government if the latter will introduce non-party measures. That is to say, Ministers are invited to transform Parliament into a debating Chamber, and to sav to their opponents, “ We want to pass suchandsuch a measure; will you permit us to do so?” I admit that the Government of the day could bring forward matters of that kind, but the great party which stands behind the Government in the country would turn round on them, and say, “ You had not the courage of your convictions. You remained in power for three years for the sake of the emoluments of office, and had not the courage to test your position before the people.” If a dissolution of the other Chamber were secured, and the Labour party won, well and good. They would have their working majority in both Houses; but if the Government succeeded, they would have a working majority in the other place and be in a minority here, so that the very position that we are in to-day would recur.
– They are not supposed to have a majority here; this is a States House.
.- The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. The Opposition in another place moved a motion of censure on the Government the other day, and it failed. After a general election, in respect of the Lower House, the Government would be in exactly the same position as they are in to-day, and it would then be necessary either to have a mark-time period, during which none but administrative business would be done, or noncontentious or unimportant measures passed, until a general election took place–
– I should like to hear the honorable senator arguing the case for the Senate, if his party was in a majority here.
– It is quite sufficient for me to take the view I am taking at the present moment. It might so happen, having regard to the present constitution of the Senate, that there would not be a sufficient change to give the Liberal party a majority here, because of the equality of representation of the States in this House.
– Do you object to that?
– I am not objecting to it. Pour years ago Labour swept the Senate polls, and also won twelve months ago so far as this Chamber was concerned. It is quite possible that a similar state of affairs might occur again, even after a double dissolution, but then we should have the assurance that every possible means had been taken to bring both Chambers into a working condition.
– If no change took place there would then have to be a joint sitting to consider what was to be done with the very measures with which we had already dealt.
.- In that event, if the other House passed the same Bills, and this House rejected them again, there would have to be a joint sitting of both Houses, in which the majority would have to prevail. If, then, the decision of this House was affirmed, I do not know what would happen.
– The honorable senator recognises, then, that the double dissolution would not cure the position in regard to any other measure that might come forward. The only measures that would be settled would be the two so- f called test measures.
– I am well aware of that. That is one of the misfortunes of the whole position, but the probability is that there would be a change in the personnel of the Senate. If the Labour party is going to win all along the line next time, by all means let them; but if they are so firmly entrenched in the people’s confidence, why are they not prepared to risk a double dissolution?
– We are looking for it.
– Like the man who is looking for work and praying that he will not find it. They have the idea that even if the Government recommend a double dissolution it may not be granted.
– In the representation of Victoria and New South Wales alone in this Chamber there is a majority of two to one against the Liberal party.
.- Not at all. New South Wales woke up at the last election, and returned three Liberal senators. I admit that previously our people were a little careless and supine, and that, consequently, three Labour members were returned.
– How many Senate seats did the honorable member’s party gain in New South Wales at the last election?
– We retained our three seats, and there was a difference of between 40,000 and 50,000 votes between our lowest candidate and the Labour party’s highest. In the case of the House of Representatives we wrested five seats from the Labour party, and the Fisher Government, which had previously had a majority of ten or eleven, came back in a minority of one. A great deal has been said about the duties of the GovernorGeneral if a double dissolution is asked for. If it is asked for he will be called upon to consider, not merely the bare question of the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, but the power of Parliament, as at present constituted, to work.
– Where do you find that?
– It is common sense. I dare say honorable senators opposite will laugh to acorn the idea of bringing common sense to bear on this question, but the Governor-General’s duty is to see as far as he can that Parliament is a workable body, and that the people have a chance of making it so. As it stands to-day, it is absolutely unworkable, unless it is going to descend to the position of an ordinary debating society and discuss matters about which there is no party complexion whatever. We want to show that we have the people behind us, and are armed with a determination to pass into law the planks of our policy if we can only get their help. We are accused of doing nothing with regard to the Tariff. During the last election campaign I told the people that we had fought against a Protective Tariff in this Chamber, but recognised that we had been beaten two or three times, and that the people themselves had spoken in favour of a Protective policy. The question of Free Trade was not a burning question at the last election. We were prepared to leave things as they were.
SenatorO’Keefe. - The Liberal party said they would rectify anomalies as soon as possible.
– I believe we also said we were quite prepared to rectify anomalies.
– And they have refused to do that.
– We have not refused. What did the late Government do to rectify anomalies and give us a Protective Tariff? Senator Findley read out a long list of changes effected in the Tariff by the late Government. In introducing the Customs Tariff Bill - the Bill upon which Senator Findley is priding himself so much - in 1910 Mr. Tudor said in Committee of Ways and Means -
Thers were many deputations with the object of rectifying various anomalies which have arisen under the Tariff. I have prepared a schedule of these anomalies ; and, after submitting it to the Committee, will, before I sit down, move that it take the place, so far as it goes, of the Tariff which has been in operation until to-day. Many honorable members, I have no doubt, will be disappointed because particular items in which they are, perhaps, interested, are not included. I may say at the outset, however, that this rectification of anomalies is not regarded by the Cabinet as Tariff revision.
I believe the bulk of the people of Australia are Protectionists, because they believe that the conditions existing in Australia are superior to those existing in the countries which compete with us by sending their goods here. That is why this Parliament has placed ad valorem, or fixed duties, upon a number of articles; and it is to insure the workers their share of that increased Protection that the Cabinet have arrived at the decision that there shall not be any Tariff revision before the referenda, although the anomalies in existence shall be, as far as possible, rectified.
That shows clearly that the Government knew they were not doing anything in the interests of Protection by introducing that measure. In putting it before the Senate, Senator Findley said -
In the Governor-General’s Speech at the commencement of the present session, a promise was made that a Bill for the rectification of Tariff anomalies would be introduced during the session. In fulfilment of that promise, I have much pleasure in moving the second reading of this Bill. Honorable senators are fully aware that there is a considerable difference between Tariff anomalies and Tariff revision. The questions are separate and distinct.
– Do any of these amendments propose increases or decreases in the duties?
– I shall get that information for honorable senators, but they are proposed for departmental convenience, and for the convenience, I understand also, of importers; if they involve any alteration of duty, it is so small as to be unworthy of serious consideration.
In face of that speech the honorable senator actually tells us to-night that the Government to which he belonged did much with regard to the Tariff. His own speeches show how little they did. The Government themselves said that they were not going to deal with the Tariff until the referendum had been taken. It was only as a drowning man would clutch at a straw that Mr. Fisher made the statement repudiated by many of his own supporters that if the referendum was not carried, the Government would bring in a Bill to increase duties.
– The honorable senator quoted my remarks on the amending Bill of 1910; but there was another amending Bill in 1911, which made a substantial increase in the direction of Protection.
– The honorable senator has placed himself on the horns of a dilemma. He first told the country that the Fisher Government wanted the referendum passed before they dealt with the Tariff except to rectify anomalies. He now says that they were false totheir promise in that regard, and did bring in a Bill to increase duties. I have not had an opportunity of looking up the debate of 1911. When Mr. Fisher made the statement I have quoted regarding the introduction of increased duties in the event of the loss of the Referendum Bill, he thought it would help the Victorian Protectionists among his party; but some of them said that his pronouncement was not in accord with the policy as laid down by the Caucus, which seems to be allpowerful in these matters. Therefore, there is very little to be considered in that regard. Exception has also been taken to the Government calling upon the Inter-State Commission to deal with Tariff matters. Why was a Bill introduced to appoint that Commission, and why were powers given to the Commissioners if it was not intended that they should be used?
– There is any amount of work for the Commission to do, without revising the Tariff.
– The powers, of the Inter-State Commission are set forth in very wide terms in section 16 of the Act. It is empowered to investigate, amongst other things -
A number of other powers is given by this section, with which I do not propose to trouble honorable senators just now. I want them to realize that the section authorizes the Commission to make the fullest possible inquiry in regard to Tariff matters, whether the rectification of anomalies or the increasing or the decreasing of the protective duties.
– The Government only wanted to get in out of the wet.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to make that remark; but let me quote what was said by Mr. Hughes, who introduced the Inter-State Commission Bill. After he had spoken about the Bill which was introduced by the Deakin Government in 1909, he was asked to state in what respect his own measure differed from it, and, after explaining the difference, he said -
The scope of the Commission has been widened, in order that it may exercise, amongst other functions, those of a standard Commission of Inquiry. That, in itself, is a function becoming more and more necessary every day. . . The Commission may, for instance, investigate matters affecting the productionof and trade in commodities, the encouragement, improvement, and extension of Australian industries and manufactures, bounties paid by foreign countries to encourage foreign shipping, or the export trade, and the effect and operation of any Tariff Act or other legislation cf the Commonwealth in regard to revenue, Australian manufactures, and industry and trade generally. It may also inquire into matters affecting prices of commodities, profits of trade and manufacture, wages, and social and industrial conditions, and any other matter that may be referred to it by either House of the Parliament for investigation. Not only are its powers of investigation, as set forth in the Bill, very wide, but there is no limitation to the subjects that may be referred to it by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
Unquestionably, after the determination of the country with regard to the Tariff, it was desirable to end the interminable debates, misrepresentations, and misunderstandings that occurred under the old system, and to end the eternal lobbying of members by interested persons. It was, therefore, a wise and statesmanlike act to appoint a non-political body to investigate Tariff matters, not with the intention of strangling this Parliament, but with the intention of placing before it authoritatively reasons why certain changes should be made, whether by the increasing or the reducing of duties, the freeing of articles from duty, or the putting of duties on articles previously free.
– Seeing that Parliament has finally to decide every Tariff proposal, cannot lobbying still go on?
– Lobbying cannot be carried on with the same effect as previously, because a non-political body will have investigated the working of the Tariff. If members in either Chamber were so recreant to the duties that they are called upon to perform as to reject the results of the fullest inquiry, they should not be in Parliament.
– Does that mean that we must carry out the recommendations of the Commission?
– No. Honorable senators, having the full facts placed before them by a Commission - which, I hope, they will recognise as impartial and honest - will have a very much better idea as to the desirability of any changes that may be suggested by the Government of the day.
– Are we bound to accept the recommendations of the Commission ?
– No, but honorable senators will be bound to give due weight and fair consideration to the recommendations of the Commission. A little time ago Senator Findley took some exception to the personnel of the Inter-State Commission, but I do not know that there is any reason for that. The chairman was selected by Senator Findley and his colleagues in the last Ministry as a suitable man for a position on the High Court Bench, not simply because of his knowledge of law, but because also of the confidence which the people generally have in his uprightness of character and independence of judgment.
– Can the honorable senator clear up the mystery as to why he did not go on to the High Court Bench ?
– 1 do not know why he did not. Personally, I felt that the Labour Government’s opinion of the high character of Mr. Piddington was well deserved. I have known the chairman of the InterState Commission for a great number of years, in political life and elsewhere, and it would be impossible for him to do other than give an honest and fair judgment with regard to any matters that might come before him.
– He is a single taxer.
– I do not care whether he is a single taxer, or a Protectionist, or a Free Trader. It is not desirable that on a motion of this kind we should discuss the qualifications of these gentlemen; but as they have been attacked I wish to point out that they are entitled to our confidence. Mr. Swinburne has been interested in political matters, but, Mr. Lockyer in his official position was sometimes under a Free Trader and sometimes under a Protectionist, his one object in life being to administer the law as he found it in an honest, conscientious, and proper spirit. We can place full confidence in the Commissioners, and it was a wise act to refer the Tariff to the Commission.
– When shall we get a report from them ?
.- I do not know. When the Labour party formed its coalition or combination, it carefully left the Tariff an open question, so that each individual member might exercise his own judgment. Even when it closed up its ranks and formed a Government which lasted three years, it said, “ New Protection is the thing which we are going to give, and we shall not propose a Protective Tariff until by referendum we have been given the necessary powers.” Can we be surprised at that? Exception has been taken to the constitution of the present Government, but I ask, was not Senator Pearce a Free Trader? Did he not in his early days in this Chamber make one of the strongest speeches in favour of Free Trade? Did he not point out how the workmen would suffer if high protective duties were imposed here? There was not a more prominent Free Trader in the Parliament of New South Wales in his day than Mr. Hughes, the AttorneyGeneral of the Fisher Government. When Sir George Reid was at the head of affairs in New South Wales he would never hear of any opposition being offered to Mr. Hughes, because of his strong Free Trade proclivities and opinions. So it was that Mr. Hughes worked on, and got elected to this Parliament. So well were he and his friends able to manage the party that they staved off the Tariff question by saying, “If we do anything at all we must give equal opportunities to the consumer, the manufacturer, and the worker.” Then take Mr. Thomas. He was another strong Free Trader in the New South Wales Parliament. In the Fisher Ministry there were, therefore, three strong Free Traders. When I look round the chamber now, I see other men who are still, I believe, Free Traders. Several members of the Labour party are strong Free Traders to-day.
– They fought side by side with Mr. Piddington when he beat Sir George Dibbs, who was then leading the Protectionist party in New South Wales.
– Exactly. Honorable senators cannot take exception to the present Government on the ground that some of its Ministers are Free Traders. When a matter of policy has been determined by the country, it is assumed that every Government will accept that determination; unless, of course, some great change comes about which proves that the decision of the country was wrong, and that the situation has altered.
– Why does not the present Government get a move on, and do something with the Tariff?
– The honorable senator harps on that; but, during three years of office, he did nothing to correct Tariff anomalies. The present Government have been in office for only twelve months. It has not had majorities to assist to pass legislation, yet the honorable senator asks why does it not introduce a Tariff? Why does it not do this, that, and the other? The first thing that the Government had to do was to see if it could clear the Augean stable of its predecessors. It found certain things requiring alteration, and honorable senators have tried to belittle measures which it has brought forward, the Postal Vote Restoration Bill, and the Government Preference Prohibition Bill. They say that these- measures are a mere nothing. One honorable senator said that the latter Bill is “ piffle.”
– So it is.
– What is the meaning of the fight in the other Chamber, week after week, if the Bill is “ piffle “ ? The Opposition has fought the Bill as hard as it could, in the belief that underlying it was the whole question of preference to unionists. The Bill deals with a state of affairs which I say is corrupt, politically, and which arose under the control of the preceding Government. That Govent,ment said, by Executive minute, that no man should have employment in the Commonwealth Service unless he was a unionist, and that, should it be necessary to reduce the number of hands, the nonunionists were to go first. It was time that action was taken to reverse that decision. No matter how strongly a unionist may be entitled to preference in ordinary circumstances, a Minister is called upon to act as a trustee for. not one section, but for every section of the community. All the people contribute to the revenue of the country. Al] are interested in its prosperity. There should be no ban or hindrance to prevent any man from getting Government employment on the ground that he is a unionist or a non-unionist. The Government is treating all men on a plane of equality in this regard. What was done under the Fisher Government was done by an Executive minute, but if the present Government went out of office tomorrow, and our friends opposite came into power, the latter would have the right, if they saw fit, to go back to what I regard as the very bad system of giving preference to unionists in Government employment.
– Could we not repeal the Act in the same way as we could revoke an Executive minute?
– You have to repeal the Act in the light of day. You do not proceed by an Executive minute made in a Minister’s room ; but the public have an opportunity to hear the reasons for going back to a system which I believe to be a vicious one, and capable of bringing about corruption and “ Tammany “ practices, which not one member of this Parliament desires to see brought into existence.
– Your Government did not give preference in the light of day.
– What have the Government done that was not done in the light of day?
– They gave preference to contractors, and that was not done in the light of day.
– What nonsense! The Teesdale Smith contract has been the great subject upon which an attempt has been made to rally the opponents of the Government. They have tried the Government on this question, and the Government have been victorious. My friends will say that it was a party vote. I recognise that, and that if the matter were dealt with in the Senate the verdict would be given in another way, and also by a party vote. The Government have placed their cards on the table in this matter, and have told the country exactly what took place. Why should we debate the subject of the Teesdale Smith contract at the’ present time when we have a motion on the business-paper to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the whole circumstances of the case. Honorable senators whom it is proposed to appoint to that Committee should wait until they see the witnesses and hear their evidence before they come to a conclusion on the subject one way or the other. When Senator O’Keefe talks about contracts being entered into privately, I remind him that there was a contract entered into for powellised sleepers that created a great scandal, and led to the appointment of a Royal Commission, from whom we may expect a report shortly.
– There is no parallel between a contract entered into with a Government and one entered into with a private individual.
– What about the contract for the supply of wireless apparatus? That was another case in which a contract was let without calling for tenders. I am not going to talk about the Teesdale Smith contract, but when honorable senators opposite attack the Government in connexion with it, I say that they are living in glass houses, and cannot afford to throw stones. They are dead politically, though I admit they might come to life again, and the people should know these things in order that they may be acquainted with the class of men who may ‘ be called upon to form a new Administration.
– We were never more politically alive than we are at the present time.
– We are all politically alive at present; whether we shall be politically dead later on is another matter. The Leader of the Opposition took grave exception to the present Government “ grovelling.” as he termed it, to the Premiers of the States.
– Hear, hear!
– An honorable senator cheers that expression. But I ask where was the grovelling ? We should remember that while certain duties have been intrusted to this Parliament, the State Parliament has important powers with which we have no right to interfere. Whilst doing what we can to promote the prosperity of the country, we should, as far as possible, induce Commonwealth and
State Parliaments to work in harmony. Each should respect the rights of the other, and, in taking advantage of our rights, we should interfere with those of the State Parliaments as little as possible. The matters dealt with at the Conference of Premiers of the States, which are referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech, are those dealing with the Murray waters question and the question of the conduct of Savings Bank business by the Commonwealth Bank and the State Savings Banks. These are matters of the greatest importance, and they cannot be dealt with solely by either the Federal or the State authorities. Our powers with regard to the control of waters are of a very limited character. We have power over navigation, but must not interfere with the right of the States for the conservation of waters for irrigation. The question of irrigation with the waters of the Murray is a matter of moment to the States immediately concerned, and to the Commonwealth. Attempts have been made on many previous occasions to have the matter settled, and we all realize that, in the interests of the country, it should be settled on fair and equitable grounds.
– Is it fair to ask Tasmania and Queensland to pay for its settlement ?
– The settlement of the question can only be brought about by an agreement as to the quantity of water available for each of the States specially concerned, and this can only be provided for by a system of weirs and locks on the river. It was quite up to the Government of the Commonwealth to say to the State Premiers, “ We recognise the need for having this matter settled, and are prepared to contribute a certain amount of the money derived from the people to bring about a settlement.” It is true that Queensland may not be affected, and that Tasmania and Western Australia are very little concerned in it, except in so far as it makes for the general prosperity of the Commonwealth. The need of bringing the matter to a conclusion is admitted, and, in the circumstances, it is, in my opinion, wise that we should deal with it in the manner proposed by the Government. Honorable senators .should remember that if the whole control of waters in the Commonwealth had been placed in the hands of this Parliament, and the
Government had come down with a proposal of the kind suggested for the settlement of the Murray waters question, it would have had to he decided here on its merits as it will he under existing circumstances. A proposal involving the expenditure of £1,000,000 must be admitted to be an important one. It properly finds a place in the Governor-General’s Speech, and should be discussed in this Parliament. On the question of the conduct of Savings Bank business, honorable senators will agree that a very large section of the community were opposed to the Commonwealth Bank opening a Savings Bank in opposition to the State institutions. We know that we could not shut up the State Savings Banks by legislation, and our opponents considered that the only way was for the Commonwealth Bank to enter into competition with them. Although the difficulty was pointed out, this Parliament gave the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank power to conduct Savings Bank business, and he has done so. He had the sympathy of the Labour Government in starting that branch of the business of the bank.
– Why not start it, when the Constitution gave us the power to do so ?
– The matter is one of grave public policy, and I admit that much is to be said on both sides. The Labour Government had not the power to close the State Savings Banks, but they have attempted to do so in an underhand manner. They attempted to close them by the competition of the Commonwealth Bank. Many persons consider that it is wrong that the Commonwealth Bank should continue its Savings Bank business, and the only way to settle the matter is to bring it before the people again and see whether they are now prepared to go back upon what they previously authorized this Parliament to do.
– Have another referendum ?
– I am trying to deal with the matter as fairly as possible. Is it not honest that the Prime Minister should say to Parliament, “ We agree with the desire expressed by the Premiers of the States that the Commonwealth Bank should not continue the Savings Bank business.” Personally, I think it was a mistake for the Commonwealth Bank to enter upon that branch of business, and I say now that the matter is one of suchgrave public importance that it is worthy of a place in the Governor-General’s Speech. The Government cannot be fairly accused of grovelling or kow-towing to the State Premiers when they recognise the importance of this question and express themselves as prepared to deal with it.
– The honorable senator said that we are closing the State Savings Banks in an underhand way.
– I did.
– How can the honorable senator say that when this Parliament openly passed the Commonwealth Bank Act?
– Let me be clear on the point. I say that this Parliament had the power to pass the Commonwealth Bank Act, but it did so in the face of strong opposition from certain quarters to the provisions permitting the Governor of the bank to conduct a Savings Bank business.
– Was that underhand?
– It was not. The underhand business arises in this way : There were Savings Banks established in the different States, and no complaints were made as to the way in which they were being conducted.
– There was any number of complaints, and great reforms have since been effected in those institutions.
– I can speak with personal knowledge of the Savings Bank in New South Wales, and I believe that no complaint was made of the management of the Savings Bank in Victoria. There may have been some complaint in Queensland about the State institution there.
– Is the honorable senator aware of the fact that scores of new banking premises have been opened in New South Wales at places where branches of the Savings Bank were refused before the Commonwealth Bank started the Savings Bank business?
– That may be so; because before the Commonwealth Bank started, the State Government had the right to carry on Savings Bank business in the different post-offices. When that right was denied them, it was only natural thatthey should seek other methods of carrying on the business they had acquired, and of acquiring more business. I am not cavilling at the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank commencing a Savings Bank business. He is given the power to do so, and he has done so. He considers it desirable to continue and extend that branch of the business of the Commonwealth Bank. If I occupied the position held by Mr. Denison Miller I should probably feel inclined to adopt the same course. This Parliament determined to put the Governor of the Commonwealth Benk in a very strong position, and decided that he should not be amenable to political influence in any way whatever. When a man is placed in a dominant position like that we expect him to use his best judgment in dealing with the matters referred to him, and that he will not be the blind tool of the Ministry of the day.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to give away Federal rights?
– I am not prepared to give away either Federal or State rights. I am prepared to recognise both. The Constitution, in dealing with the power of this Parliament to control banking business, especially exempts all State banking. It was recognised that we could not close the State Savings Banks directly by legislation, and our honorable friends adopted this plan of bringing a competing bank into operation.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the competition by the Commonwealth Bank resolves itself into paying½ per cent. less interest on deposits than is paid by the State Savings Banks ?
– I believe the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank was determined to establish a Savings Bank business in a sound way. He did not desire to take any course that could be regarded as risky or speculative. 1 do not object to what he has done, but it is a matter for us to consider how long the existing position should be continued. The Senate should exercise its special power to protect the rights of the States.
– Is it not a fact that there were two competing Savings Banks in New South Wales before the es tablishment of the Commonwealth Savings Bank?
– Yes, that is a fact, and both were called Government Savings Banks. At any rate, there were two banks there. Was that any reason why a third should be established ? The present Government have determined to amalgamate these institutions, and to have only one bank there.
– They only did that to compete with the Commonwealth Bank.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- That may be. Now, why was it considered so very desirable to open a Savings Bank branch of the Commonwealth Bank? The fact is that my honorable friends started a bank without a penny of capital, and the readiest way in which they could place that institution in a position to compete with other banks was to obtain the requisite capital from the people of this country. In that way they thought they would be able to support the Commonwealth Bank and prevent it from being a failure.
– And the State Governments would not give it any capital by conducting their business with it until it had raised capital for itself.
– At any rate, the people have to realize that the State. Governments have shown their lack of confidence in the Commonwealth Bank by declining to give that institution their accounts.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is right ?
– I offer no opinion. We have established a Commonwealth Bank, and it is very difficult to go back on an institution of that character.
– The honorable senator made an incorrect statement. He said that the States had not given the Commonwealth their business. Tasmania has done so.
– Of course, we recognise Tasmania as a State, but the honorable senator must realize that the tail cannot wag the dog.
– Would the honorable senator “ pool “ the savings of the people in the Commonwealth Territories?
– The States are not entrenched there. If Senator Rae asks me whether it would be wise for the Commonwealth Bank to establish branches in those Territories, my answer is” Yes.” Seeing that we have established the Commonwealth Bank, I desire it to prove a success. We have been told by the Governor of that institution that it is to be the bankers’ bank; so far, I do not see any sign of that. I do not think that the Commonwealth Bank will injure the private banks in the slightest degree.
– It will swallow up all the others in time.
– It will be a very long time.
– Five years hence the honorable senator’s party will be taking credit for the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank.
– I do not think that we can rival my honorable friends opposite in adopting an attitude of that kind. I have said nearly all that I wanted to say upon this question. My chief aim was to allude to the speech delivered the other day by Senator Pearce, and to the attempt which has been made to belittle the address delivered by the GovernorGeneral at the opening of this session. While the Vice-Regal utterance does not contain many promises, it contains sufficient to keep this Parliament busy if we only set to work in earnest. But with the position which exists to-day it is impossible for any serious business to be transacted. I have no doubt as to what would be the result of debate upon any measure which was intended to give effect to the agreement arrived at by the State Premiers in respect to the Commonwealth Bank. Indeed, I am very doubtful how far the proposal in respect of the utilization of the Murray waters would be acceptable to honorable senators opposite. Both in this Chamber and elsewhere we have recently heard a good deal about trusts and combines. We have been assured that there is some danger of a great trust securing a footing here. What have the Government done in respect of that matter? They have appointed a Royal Commission which will submit a report at an early date.
– Mr. Groom has it under observation.
– And we must not forget that Mr. Tudor gave it the first lift up. 1 congratulate the Government upon having secured the services of Mr. Justice Street as Commissioner. He is a man of ability and integrity, and one whom I am sure will exhaustively investigate the position within the terms of his Commission.
– The Privy Council decision in the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company will about nullify his labours.
– I do not intend to discuss the effect of that decision now. Should it be found that Mr. Justice Street has not sufficient power to satisfactorily conduct his investigations, it will be quite open to the Government to submit legislation to endow him with that power, and even, if necessary, to amend the Constitution. We ought to be able to make effective whatever powers have been vested in this Parliament by the Constitution. Where the Constitution is defective, I am prepared to see it amended; but I have failed to discover any necessity for its amendment in connexion with any of the referenda proposals.
– The honorable senator is advancing.
– Although we have had a very long debate on this question, I believe that its effect on our legislation will not be very great. We all know that these discussions on the Address-in-Reply are chiefly useful in that they afford honorable senators an excellent opportunity for expressing their opinions on all questions mentioned or not mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech.
– This debate has let some light into the dark places connected with the present Administration. The Teesdale Smith contract is one of them.
.- Why should the honorable senator continue to hammer away at that ? For the time being, it is dead. I understand that Mr. Teesdale Smith was a particular friend of Mr. Henry Chinn, whom Senator de Largie has been so anxious to place upon a pedestal. There is just one other matter to which I would like to refer, and that is the administration of the Defence Department during the past few months. When Senator Pearce, who was Senator Millen’s predecessor as the Ministerial head of the Department, spoke the other night, I was pleased to note that he took no exception to the action of the Minister of Defence in replying to the speech of Mr. Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Both sides of the Senate are pledged not to make the Defence question a party one; and I am sure Senator Pearce will acknowledge that I was always prepared to support him on matters of defence policy. I think that has been the attitude of the majority of honorable senators. A little time ago Senator Millen was called upon to comment on a speech delivered by Mr. Winston Churchill. I am very glad that he wrote the minute which he did regarding that matter - a minute in which he pointed out that the Commonwealth was proceeding upon a settled policy of naval defence, agreed to at a recent Imperial Conference, from which it was not going to be diverted by the utterance of Mr. Churchill. I am pleased that it has thus been brought home to the residents of the Old Country that we do not wish to be dependent upon a treaty with a naval Power whose people we do not welcome to the Commonwealth. It is about time that the Pacific was again policed by British war-ships, as it was in the days of old. I believe that that task can be effectively undertaken by our own Navy. There is no need for me to dilate upon the value of our Fleet as a naval training-ground for our own people. I admit that the report of General Ian Hamilton has given us grave reason for pause in respect of our military training scheme, seeing that he has affirmed that it will cost double the amount set down by Lord Kitchener. One cannot fail to realize that our monetary resources are limited ; but if we observe a wise economy and effect a change of policy in respect of our expenditure, I do not think that we need be apprehensive. There are many works connected with the defence of this country the value of which will be spread over a number of years, and the cost of which should be defrayed out of loan funds. For instance, there are parade grounds, rifle ranges, drillhalls and fortifications of a permanent character, and it is only fair that each year should bear its proportion of the expense incurred upon such works. If we wish to make our defence effective, we 6hall have to spend a great deal of money that we cannot reasonably be expected to raise each year. Let us assume, for example, that we wish to expend £400,000 or £500,000 upon these permanent works. It is a wise policy to realize that we cannot construct all works that are going to be of value for the next ten or twenty years out of our ordinary current revenue. The proper course is to borrow money to construct them, and charge each year with its fair proportion of their cost.
SenatorReady. - Your party wanted to borrow money to pay for warships.
– I voted for that Bill, and would do it again, so long as it contained a similar provision spreading the cost of the ships over the time for which they would be effective. It is not right to borrow to meet the current expenses of defence for each year, because these ought to be met from the revenue of each year; but it is a wise policy to borrow for defence works that are going to last for a long period of time, leaving each year to bear its own proportion. The Labour party say they do not believe in borrowing; but I do not suppose any party in the Commonwealth has borrowed more freely than the State Labour Governments have done. The vaunted non-borrowing policy has not been followed in New South Wales; and in Western Australia the Labour party have also been piling up a big debt. Labour members are beginning to realize that there are circumstances in which borrowing is perfectly justified. I hope that when this debate is finished we shall have an opportunity of dealing with the Government Preference Prohibition Bill. If the Opposition regard it as of such small moment, I hope they will pass the second reading, and allow it to become law, reserving to themselves the right of repealing it if at some future date they are returned to power.
– Is it not better to prevent it from becoming law?
– I am quite willing to see the Opposition take that course. I should like to go before the country, in order to get a definite majority in both Houses behind the Government, whether it is a Labour or Liberal Government. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill. There are only five of us on this side, but we invite our honorable friends, if they dare to vote against it, to do so quickly, and let us have this vexed question as to whether we are entitled to a double dissolution or not settled.
Debate (on motion by Senator Babnes) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have been requested to bring before the Minister of Defence a matter of interest to North Queensland in particular, with regard to the selection of the Australian rifle team for Bisley. It has been the practice of the Commonwealth Council, which consists of one representative from each State, to depute to Queensland the right to choose its two representatives, one from the north and one from the south. Tests were held to select those two representatives for the team which has just left Australia, and Mr. E. Grosskreutz was duly selected as the representative for North Queensland. He is a member of the Proserpine rifle club, and went at his own expense to Mackay to shoot in the district competition for the selection of two representatives, who afterwards shot in the final at Townsville, under the auspices of the North Queensland Rifle Association. He was selected as the result of that test, and Mr. Halliday was selected as the representative of South Queensland. Mr. Grosskreutz was informed by letter from the North Queensland Rifle Association that he had been duly selected as the representative of North Queensland in the Bisley team, in the following terms: -
Proserpine, viâ Bowen.
On behalf of our council I have to congratulate you on your good shooting, and now being the North Queensland representative for Bisley.
I have advised Lt.-Colonel Paine, and as soon as I receive your passes, &c., I will write you. You have to be ready to leave Sydney on the 2nd May next.
Shortly afterwards, he was notified by Mr. Pritchard, the secretary of the North Queensland Rifle Association, to this effect -
It is well that you should know that the Brisbane Rifle Association is now claiming the two representatives for Bisley, and practically ignoring our association. We are, of course, making a vigorous protest against this, and trust that you will yet have the honour of representing North Queensland at Bisley.
The second representative was selected from Southern Queensland, on the ground that he had an aggregate of three points more than Grosskreutz. Bagley scored 530, as against Grosskreutz’s 527. On these figures it would seem that Mr. Bagley was entitled to represent Queensland; but, when the difference in the conditions, and the number of shots allowed, is pointed out, it will be seen that the score Grosskreutz compares favorably with that of Halliday, and certainly more so with that of Bagley. The conditions of the North Queensland shoot were: - Thirty shots each over 300, 600, 700, 900 yards - total, 120 shots. Gross.kreutz’s score, 527. The conditions of the Southern Queensland shoot were: - Twenty-one shots each over 300, 500, 600, and thirty shots each over 900, 1,000 yards. By these figures the Southern Queensland man had 123 shots, as against Grosskreutz’s 120 shots, and from .these three shots, of course, it was possible to pile up fifteen points more. By comparison, the northern man’s performance was much the better. I quite realize that it is pretty hard to gauge the conditions of rifle shooting at different places. A dozen different things may enter into the matter - light, wind, and various other conditions have to be considered. But I would point out to the Minister that the same variations of conditions operate wherever these tests are made.
– For that very reason, it will be seen that the two competitors were absolutely on a different footing. The ‘South Queensland man had included in his. test the 600-yards range, which is considered to be the easiest range to shoot over, and he also had substituted the 1,000-yards range for the 700- yards range, which is acknowledged to be the hardest range to shoot over. I approached the Minister on this matter some time ago, when he pointed out to me that the Commonwealth Council had the right of selection, and that he, as Minister, did not consider that he waB justified in interfering. I agreed with that view, and did not further press the matter. The Commonwealth subsidized the team to the extent of £2,000 on the last Estimates, but another £5,000 was accorded to the State Rifle Associations, and a further £5,000 to the District Rifle Clubs throughout the Commonwealth. Therefore the Department should have some greater supervision over these matters than they have had. I recognise entirely that this is a Queensland matter; but a further step has been taken. The father of this young North Queenslander has taken the financial responsibility of sending his son to Bisley as an extra member of the team. I believe that the young fellow will acquit himself very creditably. In North Queensland we regard him as the “ pride of the north,” and he proved it in the recent contest. I want the members of the Senate, and the Minister of Defence in particular, to watch his performances at the international competitions, and if he acquits himself creditably, which I have no doubt he will do, it will be only fair that compensation should be paid to his father for any expense to which he has been put, out of the £2,000 subsidy already granted, if the Commonwealth Council has the money available; but, if not, the money should be found. The Minister of Defence should have sufficient influence and control over the Council to bring that about. I might mention that Colonel Merritt, when I communicated with him on this matter, very kindly offered to bring to Parliament House all the papers, and show me that the Commonwealth Council had acted very largely on the recommendation of the State representatives in Queensland; and, of course, that, with the other representations, went a very long way. He did come up here, at inconvenience to himself, but, being in recess. at the time, the building was closed at 4 o’clock, and, unfortunately, I had gone when he arrived. Later, I saw the Minister, and after hearing his version of the affair, and of how the thing waa conducted, I did not take further steps. I do not say that any outsider should have the privilege at any time of going into a Bisley team and claiming to be franked or compensated for any expense he is put to. But, when I approached the Minister on this matter, he pointed out, very rightly,’ that, even if the Department had sufficient jurisdiction, which he rightly denied, it was more than the Department or the Minister dare do, to oust the man who, had been selected by the Commonwealth Council. He said that if Bagley were ousted, he would have a claim against him as Minister, or against the Commonwealth Government. I believe he would. I believe now that Grosskreutz who was selected by the North Queensland Rifle Association, and acknowledged by it to be the representative of North Queensland under the conditions or practices then operating in that State for the selection of the two representatives, has a very high moral, if not a legal, claim against the Association for any expense that may be incurred. I trust that, a better system of selection will be found for Queensland in the future.
– The thing is for you Queenslanders to agree among your- selves.
– Quiteso. We contend that, for the encouragement of rifle shooting throughout Queensland, the north should be represented. We have there a territory of very huge extent, and, in these matters, we do not want too much centralization in the south. In the north, rifle shooting is one of our chief recreations. The members of rifle clubs in outlying places go to great expense in practising. They put in a lot of their time, and subject themselves to great inconvenience for the indulgence in that very serviceable recreation. I think that the Department, or the Minister, might take this view of the matter, too, that outlying places should receive encouragement to the greatest extent; and, if there is a tendency in any part of the centralized places to not give them the encouragement to which they are entitled, the Department, by virtue of the subsidies which are given to these institutions, should exert a greater influence. I commend these remarks to the members of the Senate generally, and to the Minister of Defence, for their consideration, in the hope that justice will be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140528_senate_5_74/>.