6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Reported Naval Engagement
– Has the Minister of Defence received any official intimation, either in confirmation or in amplification, of the newspaper reports as to a naval engagement proceeding in the North Sea?
– I regret that we have received no official communication yet. I have only heard of press reports.
Reduction of Garrisons
– Can the Minister of Defence give me any information about the demobilization of the Australian Garrison Artillery at the forts of Sydney or any other demobilization in connexion with forts ?
– Owing to the destruction of the warships which were likely to be a menace to Australia it has been found possible to demobilize a considerable number of troops stationed at different parts throughout Australia.
The whole of the troops are not being demobilized, but a considerable portion are, sufficient being left to keep watch on danger points and also to meet any sudden emergency.
Payment for Holidays
– Is the Minister of Defence in a position to answer the question I asked yesterday in connexion with the payment of temporary employes during the Christmas holidays?
– The answer to the question is -
The casual employes willbe treated in the same way as the permanent employes of the Government in regard to Christmas holidays.
The understanding, I believe, is that they will be treated as that answer indicates.
Rates of Pay
– Is the Minister of Defence able to reply to the question I asked yesterday regarding the pay of cooks and motor-drivers at Broadmeadows camp?
– The honorable senator asked whether it was a fact that cooks were directly employed by the Department and wore paid 10s. a day of seventeen hours, and are now paid 36s. a week, and that drivers in the motor transport were paid 8s. a day and are now paid only 6s. The answer is that the Department is not aware of any such rate as 36s. a week being paid to cooks. The only cooks directly employed by the Defence Department are those engaged in connexion with German prisoners of war at the depot, and they are paid 10s. a day. and have suffered no reduction. In regard to the motor transport, I understand that Senator O’Loghlin is going to ask a question, and perhaps Senator Barnes will accept the reply to it.
– Has the Minister of Defence any information to give to the Senate in regard to the alleged reduction of the pay of motor-drivers and mechanics in the Expeditionary Forces from 8s. to 6s. a day ?
– The answer to the question is-
The advertisement mentioned appeared in the principal daily papers in Brisbane, Sydney,
Melbourne, and Adelaide.
Over 200 first-class driver-mechanics were required, and the rate of pay for these was fixed at 8s. per diem. The total personnel of the two units for which these driver-mechanics were required, viz., the “ Divisional Ammunition Park (M.T.),” and “Divisional Supply Column (M.T.)” is 12 officers and 704 men, made up as under: -
After the date for application had closed a preliminary selection was made, and later on each applicant was put through an exhaustive competitive test to fill the vacancies. The most efficient men were’ appointed to the non-commissioned ranks on probation, while the others were made driver-mechanics. Those who were unsuccessful in obtaining appointment as drivermechanics were offered the position of cleaner, which many accepted. (The cost of these motor lorries was so large that it was in the interests of the service to get the best men to drive them.)
The rate of pay for cleaners has been fixed at 6s. per diem prior to embarkation. Subsequent to embarkation, the rate will be 5s. per diem, plus1s. per diem deferred pay.
Anything in the nature of the reduction of driver-mechanics to the rank of cleaner has not reached the Motor Transport Board, but it is considered that as these drivers were only taken on probation, and as the Commanding’ Officers of the units above mentioned have power to promote members of their unit, it is only natural that some changes would be found to be necessary, especially as the first selection was not in any way final, but subject to later confirmation, and possibly this is the reason for the complaint made.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs answer to-day the questions I asked yesterday respecting the building of a Quarantine station at Townsville?
– The following information has been supplied: - 1 to 3. Tenders closed on the 5th June last, but owing to the excessively high estimate which was received a fresh scheme was drawn up, and the Public Works Department, at Brisbane, were asked to furnish the necessary provisional sketches, together with an amended estimate. Advantage was taken of this opportunity to include in the general scheme a disinfectingshed and laundry. Further action is awaiting the receipt of these plans, which are expected at an early date.
– In view of the number of carpenters who are out of employment in the northern part of Queensland, as advices received by me seem to indicate, will the Assistant Minister impress upon his colleague the advisableness of proceeding with the construction of the quarantine station by day labour as soon as the plans are prepared ?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs, and I feel confident that he will treat it sympathetically.
Contracts with German Firms - Patent Rights.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence aquestion concerning the following cablegram in the Age of to-day : -
London, 16th December. Messrs. Harland and Co., steam-ship brokers, in a letter to the MorninyPost, state: - “It is understood that a group of financiers has fully considered the question of laying down a plant for the reduction of Australian ores, but it is impossible to proceed if the German group is able to claim damages after the war for the non-delivery of ore. The Government should pass a short Bill limiting the liability of Australian mining companies for deliveries to date from the declaration of war.”
Have the Government taken into consideration the question of the liability of the companies for the delivery of ores to German firms, and will they bring in such legislation as will obviate that defect in pre-existing contracts ?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral. and if the information can be obtained to-day it will be furnished to the honorable senator.
– Arising out of the question asked by Senator Senior, and Senator Gardiner’s promise to have an inquiry made and a reply furnished if possible, I would ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if it is not correct that in the second Trading with the Enemy Bill, passed this year, provision was made in the last clause for Australians who were indebted to enemy subjects through pre-existing contracts to pay over to the Comptroller-General or other officer authorized by the Government such sums as they deemed were due.If so, will he draw the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the provision with a view to ascertaining whether it does not cover the matter mentioned by Senator Senior ?
– I think the honorable senator’s recollection in regard to the Bill is quite correct, and I shall call the Attorney-General’s attention to the clause.
– That does not meet Senator Senior’s point.
– I think it will.
– Provision was made in the Bill dealing with enemy subjects’ patents for the suspension or abrogation of the claims of enemy subjects to patents in existence. Similar provision should be made in regard to these contracts. I am urging that the mining companies here should be protected, because during a time of war-
– Order ! It is not permissible at this stage for the honorable senator to “ urge “ a certain course on the Minister. He has the right now simply to ask a question to elicit information.
– I used the word “ urge “ to emphasize my point, in order that the Minister might know the real object of my question. If the Minister is seized of the fact that there were contracts existing prior to the war, he will recognise that it may be necessary to take legalaction with regard tothem, in order that we may benefit those who are seeking to establish similar industries in Great Britain.
– The AttorneyGeneral has considered that aspect of the matter. The honorable senator’s question will be put before him, with a view to directing his attention to that portion of it.
Rates of Pay
– Is the Minister of Defence in a position to-dayto answer the question I asked yesterday in connexion with the payment of armament artificers ?
– The question asked by the honorable senator was -
Was any representative of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers present when EngineerOverseer Barnes made his investigations into the request of armament artificers for increased pay.
The answer is “ Ko.” The next question was, “ If not, why not ?” the answer is -
A deputation waited upon me from the Engineers Society to give reasons why the armament artificers should get a rate of pay higher than that of engineers outside the Department. One of the reasons put to me was that the men did a specially high class of work, more difficult and technical than that of the ordinary engineer outside. 1 knew that EngineerCommander Barnes had himself worked as an engineer, and was a skilled man, and I thereupon promised that I would have an inquiry made as to the class of work these men were called upon to perform. I instructed Engineer-Commander Barnes to make an independent investigation of the work of the engineer artificers. It was not necessary for a representative of the Engineers Society to be with him to explain the work, because as an engineer he would understand its nature. He accordingly inspected the work, and made a report to me. That was the reason why no representative of the Engineers Society was asked to accompany him.
The third question was -
Has any attention been given to the recommendation of Captain R. Harding asking that favorable consideration be given to the request of the armament artificers.
The answer is -
Recommendations submitted by Major E. Hard hip; have been considered, but inquiry has shown that the pay and privileges of armament artificers are more favorable than those of workmen doing similar work outside the Service.
It is, therefore, not proposed at present to give effect to his recommendation.
Day Labour and Contract Systems
– Yesterday I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if any work in connexion with the trans- Australian railway at either the Port Augusta or Kalgoorlie end was being carried out under contract, and, if so, would the Minister see that all the work connected with the line was carried out by day labour.
– The information supplied by the Department is as follows : -
Yos, excavation of Cardonia Reservoir (western end).
– Is the whole of the work going to be carried out on the day-labour principle?
– So far as practicable, it is the intention of the Govern ment to carry out all work on the daylabour system.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act 1903-1912 - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1!114. Nos. 171 and 172.
– Have any representations been made to the Home Affairs Department by the Queanbeyan municipal council, by deputation, or by private citizens, with reference to securing a water supply for Queanbeyan from the proposed reservoir at Red Hill? If so, what is the nature of the representations, and what decision, if any, has been arrived at?
– 1 understand that a deputation waited upon the Minister, and I shall endeavour to ascertain, before Parliament rises, what the results were.
– Some time ago the Minister of Defence promised that the matter of State restrictions on InterState exportations of wheat would be referred to the Law officers of the Crown for inquiry and report. How far has the matter gone, and has any determination been arrived at by the Law officers ?
– I have received no communication in that regard, but I shall make inquiries during the day and see if we can get the information before the Senate rises.
– I recently drew attention to the alleged abnormal despatch of gold from Australia to China, and asked if it had any bearing upon the present war. I was requested by the Minister representing the Prime Minister to postpone the question, and I would ask him now if he has any information on the subject.
– I communicated the matter to the Treasurer, but have so far received no reply. I shall see if I can get a reply during the day.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 16th December, vide page 2002) :
Clause 35 -
Subject to any different disposition made by a testator in his will - ….
The duty shall, in the first instance, he apportioned among all the beneficiaries in proportion to the value of their interests; and
where there are any beneficiaries under the will each of whom takes only specific bequests or devises of a value not exceeding Two hundred pounds, the duty which under paragraph (a) of this section would be payable in respect of the interests of those beneficiaries shall be apportioned among all the beneficiaries in proportion to the value of their interests….
. -We had what at this stage of our proceedings may be called a somewhat lengthy discussion on this clause last evening. I was hoping that the Minister would have some communication regarding it to make to the Committee today. As he has said nothing on the subject, I must assume that he is still disposed to resist any attempt to amend the clause. I do not propose to go over the ground traversed last night further than to point out that by the wording of the clause it is apparent that the Government are anxious to be a little generous to the smaller beneficiaries of an estate. I have no objection to that, but they should be generous at the expense of the Treasury, and not at the expense of the other beneficiaries in an estate. If they think that the beneficiaries up to £200 should be treated leniently, let the Government introduce a proposal to exempt them from the duty under this Bill. It is indefensible to propose to relieve the smaller beneficiaries of duty payablein respect of the benefits they receive by transferring the liability to the larger beneficiaries.
.- The position is that each estate as a whole will be liable to the duty. The difficulty arises in connexion with the apportionment of the duty amongst the beneficiaries. The Bill provides admittedly for a rule of thumb, and under it, in an extremely limited number of cases, some injustice may be inflicted. Under any other system which could be suggested I think injustice would be inflicted in a majority of cases. I take the case of an estate in New South Wales upon which the duty under this Bill would be 15 per cent., and the State duty also 15 per cent. I assume that there would be a small beneficiary to the amount of £200 in that estate. In my view, it would not be at all equitable to take 30 per cent. off that amount by way of duty as compared with the position in which a beneficiary to the extent of many thousands of pounds from the estate would be placed.
– What about a beneficiary to the extent of £250?
– I have admitted that in a limited number of cases the clause may work a little injustice, but it would be a greater injustice to compel a small beneficiary to pay duty at, perhaps, the highest rate under the Bill because he happened to be a beneficiary in a large estate.
– Why not exempt the small beneficiaries from duty?
– I do not think that that would be desirable.
– It is nothing short of an iniquity to say that in a matter of taxation one man shall carry another man’s burden. The Minister has pointed out that a beneficiary to the extent of £200 in a big estate would be liable to duty at the rate of 15 per cent. but for this clause. I ask him what will be the position of a beneficiary to the extent of £250. He will have to pay the 15 per cent. duty plus his share of the duty, which, but for this clause, would have to be paid by the beneficiaries in the same estate who receive amounts not exceeding £200. Whatever justification there may be for taking money from people to meet the necessities of the Treasury, it is nothing less than downright robbery to take money out of the pocket of one man in order to put it into that of another.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 36 to 40 agreed to.
Clause 41 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clauses 42 to 50, and title, agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the Bill be reported with amendments.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That clause 8 be reconsidered.
Clause 8 (Duty on estates).
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (8) In this Act public educational purpose includes the establishment or endowment of an educational institution for the benefit of the public or a section of the public.”
I think it will be generally recognised that the position will be better expressed in that form than it is in sub-clause 5.
– Will that sub-clause cover, for instance, a private school ?
– It will cover the endowment of a private school.
– Of an existing private school ?
– I am not in a position to thoroughly analyze these words at the present juncture, and, therefore, I suppose that the sub-clause will have to pass.
– It is really explanatory of sub-clause 5.
– The fact that it is an addition to the clause means that it is either an extension or a contraction of it.
– It is rather explanatory of sub-clause 5.
– As the Committee are waiting to get the Bill through, I cannot pause to study this provision now.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is purely a machinery measure. Honorable senators will recollect that the Treasurer’s Budget contained an announcement that a sum of money, in aid of revenue, would be raised by means of the issue of Treasury-bills. This is the ordinary machinery measure empowering the Government to do that. It merely contains the necessary provision for the punishment of offences such as the forging and uttering of Treasury-bills, or of the coupons attached to them. In these circumstances, it is not necessary for me to speak at further length.
– I do not propose to discuss the measure, but I venture to take advantage of this motion to raise a matter that I intend to raise in Committee. I do so now for the purpose of affordingthe Minister an opportunity of considering it in the interim. It seems to me that, under the Bill, there is an extraordinary discrepancy between the punishment which is to be meted out to offenders guilty of two classes of offences. For forgery, a penalty of ten years’ imprisonment is imposed, whilst for being in possession of forging implements, a punishment of only two years’ imprisonment is inflicted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
Any person who, with intend to defraud, forges, or utters knowing it to be forged -
Penalty: Imprisonment for ten years.
Any person who, without lawful authority (proof whereof shall lie upon him) -
Penalty: Imprisonment for two years.
– This is the clause to which I referred in my second -reading speech, and I desire to direct attention to what seems to me a startling fact. The clause provides that a person issuing a forged Treasurybill shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years, but the person who makes the instrument from which the bill is printed is liable to imprisonment for only two years. From what one reads of these cases in print, I cannot help thinking that it is generally the master mind who makes the notes and commits the forgeries, and some less responsible person who issues them. Very frequently they are distributed through the hands of lads, and sometimes unfortunate women are employed to get them into circulation. I suggest, unless the Minister can offer a good reason, that the. discrepancy between the punishment meted out to the two classes of offenders is altogether too great.
– I have a certain amount of sympathy with the proposition of Senator Millen) so far as it applies to parts of sub-clause 2. Leaving out paragraph c, with which I will deal separately, paragraph a deals with a case of deliberate forgery. When a man or a woman forges a bill and the signature to it with intent to defraud, that is a very serious offence, and in order to protect the revenue of the country a very substantial penalty is necessary. Paragraph b deals with the case of a person who, without lawful authority, makes or has in his possession any form of a coupon for the payment of money in respect Jio a Treasury-bill. A form of a Treasury-bill is not a signed bill. It is of no use or value unless something else takes place - that is to say, it has to bear the signature of the Treasurer.
– It is no good, and it is no harm.
– The harm comes in when a person, having a form of a Treasury-bill, forges the signature of the Treasurer, and makes the document an instrument for fraud. It seems to me that imprisonment up to two years is a fairly substantial penalty for a person having a blank form in his possession.
– It is necessary to read sub-clause 3, which contains a definition of “form.”
– Still, it is for merely having the form in his possession.
– People do not prepare tilings to keep them in their possession for fun.
– I remind the honorable senator that very frequently tradesmen do have what appear to be bank notes, and advertise on them. In perfect innocence they might prepare a note like a Treasury note, and issue it inadvertently.
– In such a case if the man proved his innocence he would escape.
– It might be very difficult for the person to show that he had no unlawful intent. In my opinion imprisonment for two years is quite adequate punishment. I must confess that Senator Millen has raised a doubt as to whether paragraph c is not in the wrong sub-clause. I think that it ought to follow paragraph b in sub-clause 1. I admit that if any person has an instrument or thing for the purpose of making an imitation of a descriptive mark or signature, it is a crime equally as heinous as the forging of a bill. It is the means by which the ill-deed can be done. I move -
That sub-clause 1 be amended by the insertion, after paragraph (b) in sub-clause 1, of the following words : - “ or (c) makes or has in his possession any instrument or thing for the purpose of making any imitation of any descriptive mark or signature on any Treasurybill or coupon for the payment of money in respect of a Treasury-bill.”
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales; [2.52]. - I was disposed at first to think that the Minister’s suggestion was a great improvement. Certainly it met the case I defined, but I am disposed now to think that the proposed alteration would rather destroy the symmetry of the clause. Subclause 1 deals with a particular class of offence, the forging and the issue, while sub-clause 2 deals with the making of the note and the making of the instrument to produce the note. I think that the offences ought to be kept together, and the only question, to my mind, is whether the penalties are im properly apportioned.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment, by Senator Pearce, agreed to -
That after the word “ it,” in sub-clause 1, line 7, the following words be inserted : - “ or makes or has in his possession any instrument or thing for the purpose of making any imitation of any descriptive mark or signature on any Treasury-bill or coupon, for the payment of money in respect of a Treasury-bill.”
Clause also consequentially amended.
– I wish to refer to the penalties provided for the two classes of offences. There is nothing to indicate that it is other than a minimum penalty.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - According to the Acts Interpretation Act, when a clause of a Bill mentions a penalty, that is the maximum.
– It is not mentioned here in any form. The hands of the Judge would be tied if he had no discretion as to penalty.
.- The Acts Interpretation Act covers all the Acts that we pass. In that Act we provide that the penalty mentioned shall always be regarded as the maximum penalty. We thus avoid putting it in every Act.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 14 and 15, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of. Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
, - I move -
That this Bill bc now read a second time. It is only a little Bill, but it represents a great deal of money. I suppose it is the biggest Loan Bill ever brought before an Australian Parliament. The unfortunate circumstances with which we are faced compel the Government to make this provision, and we are happy to be able to say that we have already made arrangements with the British Government for the loan. The money is being borrowed at the rate of £95 per £100, with interest at 3J per cent. Including the disco.! nt and expenses of flotation, the interest works out at £3 19s. 7d. per cent., and the term is fourteen years. The fact that the money is being raised by the British Government in a time of war, and is, after all, only a small proportion of the total amount raised by the British Government for war purposes, is a wonderful illustration of the financial strength of
Great Britain, and a striking tribute to the confidence which those who have money to lend have in the future of the British Empire. The Bill itself is in the usual Loan Bill form, and there is nothing out of the ordinary in it. It authorizes the Government to borrow £18,000,000 from the British Government. The arrangements have been completed and the first £1,500,000 has been already paid to the credit of the Commonwealth with the Commonwealth Bank in London.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What amount are you going to issue in debentures- enough to get £18.000,000 net?
– Yes. The total amount raised will be £18,940,000. That provides for the discount of £5 per £100 and the expenses of flotation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Treasurer may borrow from or through the Government of the United Kingdom moneys to such an amount that, after discount and expenses incurred by the Government of the United Kingdom and by the Government of the Commonwealth in connexion with the borrowing are allowed for, there will remain for expenditure an amount not exceeding eighteen million pounds.
– Does not the clause mean that in addition to the £18,000,000 all sums necessary to meet .the flotation expenses must be raised?
– We shall get £18,000,000, but will have to pay more than £18,000,000.
.- The total liability will be £18,940,000, repayable in fourteen years.
– Is there any provision for sinking fund ?
– Not in the Bill, but the British Government have a general provision for a sinking fund in connexion with all their loans.
– But this is our loan.
– The British Government borrow it for us, and they are primarily responsible.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [3.6]. - We are receiving only £95 for every £100.
– Yes; although the money is lent to us at 3^ per cent., it actually represents £3 19s. 7d. per cent., including all the costs of borrowing.
– This is almost the beginning of a new policy, but it has not come as a surprise to us, and we are pretty well reconciled to the inevitable. I should have preferred to see a different provision for a sinking fund to pay the loan off. We ought to be told by the Minister whether that is to be arranged for, or whether there is a provision for a general sinking fund applying to this and all similar Bills. Whilst I am quite prepared to give the Old Country all the credit to which she is entitled for coming to our financial help at this juncture, I do not know that the money-lenders of Great Britain have ever deserved so much credit as some of the remarks made here would lead an outsider to believe, because the raising of this loan is only another way of saving the rich man from stumping up by direct taxation in the meantime to meet at least some part of the war expenditure. We are really giving the rich man an opportunity to make money out of the war by lending us money.
– You ought to go down on your knees and thank God there is a rich man to lend it to you.
– That is true as far as it goes, but I do not think we should be so ready to give the rich man an opportunity to make money out of the war. He is actually getting £ s. d. out of our necessities, and I am not inclined to thank anybody for a transaction of that kind .
– There would not be so many wars if rich men could not make money out of them.
– I quite agree. We cau never tell where the money power comes in in war transactions. It is hard to say where the money is being obtained from, although the British Government is raising it for us.
– Surely you do not think they would raise it in Germany ?
– There is no knowing. Money is so international now that even in times of war one cannot tell where it comes from. I should like to see a sinking fund provided in the Bill to wipe the loan off.
– One or two observations made by Senator de Largie constrain me to make a few remarks in reply. It would be well if the point were pressed’ that we are to get £1,500,000 per month, and that our resources in connexion with this loan are indubitably bound up with the supremacy and inviolability of the Mother Country. If anything in the shape of a disaster - which God forbid - were to happen to bor in the next few months, we would not get this money. As Senator Millen has remarked, it is a matter for our devout gratitude that the people of the Old Country are in a position to lend us the money at this crisis of the Empire’s fortunes.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of the Bill, but I should like to have had from the Minister some statement on the subject of a sinking fund referred to by Senator de Largie. Embarking as we are on a big loan policy, which is inevitable owing to the war, we should, I think, take some steps for the repayment of the money we borrow. I recognise that, in connexion with a short-dated loan, which this may be called, the difficulty of establishing a sinking fund is increased, but I still think that some efforts should be made to establish such a fund. 1 may inform honorable senators that next year, when, perhaps, the Empire will still be involved in war, the Government of Queensland will have to repay no less than £13,000,000 of borrowed money. If they had taken the precaution in the past to establish sinking funds for the repayment of their loans, they would not be confronted with their present position.
– Yes, they would.
– It is possible that the securities in which the sinking fund would be invested might be to some extent depreciated, but the Government would not be confronted with the difficulties which will confront them next year. Happily Queensland is wealthy enough to enable the difficulty to be overcome. My point is that a similar difficulty may arise in connexion with this loan if we make no provision for a sinking fund. When the loan matures we might, as the result of a drought or financial crisis, find ourselves in financial difficulties, and under the necessity of paying an exorbitant rate of interest for the money required to pay the loans. I should be glad if the Minister of Defence would give the Committee some idea OF the policy of the Government on this subject,. 1 am aware that people are divided iu opinion concerning the value of a sinking fund, but I am one of those who have an implicit belief in the absolute soundness of the establishment of sinking funds for the repayment of war loans, or money borrowed for any other purpose.
– Senator Mullan has asked the Minister of Defence to give the Committee some idea of the policy of the Government with respect to the establishment of sinking funds for the repayment of this loan. I precipitate myself against a very considerable measure of public opinion when I say that I know of no delusion so absolutely misleading, or that can compare in any way with this idea of the advantage of establishing a sinking fund, so long as the country continues to borrow. There is only one sound sinking fund, and that is the surplus of revenue over expenditure. Where there is no such surplus, the establishment of a sinking fund means only that the country is compelled to borrow for the sinking fund.
– There may be no incentive to provide a surplus of revenue if there~ is no payment to be made to <» sinking fund.
– The best proof of what I have been saying is to be found in a Bill which will shortly come before the Senate. We have sinking funds in Australia, and we are paying into them every year. It would have been better for us to have had no sinking fund, as it would have been necessary then to borrow less. The figures supplied by the Minister m connexion with this Bill show that we cannot borrow without paying for it something in addition to the interest we are charged. We shall be paying £100 for every £95 we receive from Great Britain, and if, at the same time, we are no pay £100 into a sinking fund, it would be far better if we refrained from paying into the sinking fund and borrowed £100 less, and so saved £5. I could multiply instances of the kind. This is a most interesting subject, and I suggest to my honorable friends who advocate the establishment of sinking funds that they should consider the remarkable history of the bitter experience of Great Britain in connexion with the establishment of such funds. The British people tried all sorts of expedients for the establishment of linking funds, only to come to the conclu sion, which has been affirmed, and, I think, demonstrated by one writer, that Great Britain lost in her sinking fund experiments, while continuing to borrow, a sum of money equal to the cost of the whole of the Napoleonic wars. I repeat that if we borrow at Home, and in return for £100 receive £95, while paying £100 into the sinking fund here, we shall lose £5 on every £100 that we pay into the sinking fund, because, if the money were utilized for the purpose for which we are now borrowing this money, we should not lose £5 on every £100.
– Does the honorable senator say that it is unwise to establish a sinking fund to meet the expenditure on public works?
– Undoubtedly I do. [f, for instance, we borrow £1,000,000 for public works, and provide for the payment of £100,000 every year into a sinking fund, and next year we borrow another £1,000,000 for public works, mid put another £100,000 into the sinking fund, I say that it would be better not to pay the money into the sinking fund, and to borrow £900,000 instead of £1,000,000. We should avoid the expense of borrowing the additional a i noun t.
– How would we lose by the particular transaction to which the honorable senator refers?
– In making a general statement on the subject, I exempt borrowing by means of the notes reserve, which however . is limited. When we come to borrow in the public market we find that we cannot borrow to-day the money that Ave require to use to-morrow. We have to borrow to-day the money which will be used in the next twelve months. So that we have to pay interest on some of the money for a longer period than that for which Ave have the use of it. It frequently happens in connexion Avith the flotation of loans in the Old Country that there is considerable expense to be met in the way of banking and brokerage charges. The Minister of Defence has explained that these charges are represented by no less than £900,000 in connexion with the loan we are now considering. There have, of course, been isolated instances where a Government has borrowed at 4 per cent., and has been able to invest the moneys of a sinking fund at ‘5 per cent. But, ordinarily speaking, there is another loss besides the loss in borrowing money. There is a loss in the investment of our sinking fund. We receive a certain amount which we pay to the credit of the sinking fund, and as it cannot be immediately invested there is an interest leakage there again.
– If we borrow from the Old Country at £3 19s. 7d., and can invest the moneys of a sinking fund in local securities at 5 per cent., that is surely an advantage.
– The advantage will be greater if the moneys of the sinking fund were earning 7 per cent. or 10 per cent. But the honorable senator has evidently not studied the experience of the Old Country, and, for that matter, of every State in Australia. I say that so long as a country continues to borrow the establishment of a sinking fund is a distinct loss. If we are paying into a sinking fund £250,000, and we are, at the same time, borrowing £1,000,000, we are, for ail practical purposes, borrowing the amount we pay into the sinking fund. We can juggle with the term and call the fund by any name we please, and we may plume ourselves on being very virtuous in building up a sinking fund, but the fact will remain that we shall only be borrowing a larger amount than we should require to borrow if we had no sinking fund.
– Is not a sinking fund generally only so much money lying idle?
– Is it lying idle? We have a deficit this year. If Senator Mullan’s idea were carried into effect, wo should only have a bigger deficit, and would require to float more Treasury-bills to meet it. I say that wherever a country’s revenue is not more than its expenditure the establishment of a sinking fund simply means that the country is borrowing for the sinking fund. This talk about sinking funds is merely applying a dose of chloroform to the public, and frequently to the men who talk about it. I have been very pleased to see that in connexion with this loan there has been no provision made for the establishment of a sinking fund.
– Wipe out the sinking fund, and will there not be an induce ment to Parliament to borrow without limitation ?
– On the contrary, the sinking fund may be used as an excuse to justify borrowing more than would otherwise be borrowed. The Government in a State Parliament pressed by the members of that Parliament to embark upon a lavish public works policy submit, for instance, a Loan Bill for £1,000,000, with aclause requiring £50,000 to be paid every year into a sinking fund. What will happen after a few years ? I believe 1 am right in saying that there is not one sinking fund in the whole of Australia that has not been violated by the Treasurer of the country in which it has been established when he has become impecunious. Therefore, I say that sinking funds not only become an expensive delusion, so far as the purposes for which they were created are concerned, but they inevitably fail, just as they will fail in the Commonwealth arena if ever we have the misfortune to become financially involved.
– In reply to the remarks of Senators de Largie and Mullan, I wish to say that I am not prepared to announce any policy on the part of the Government in regard to sinking funds - first, because I do not think that such an announcement is called for upon this Bill, and second, because I have not been authorized to make it. The question of the desirableness or otherwise of establishing a sinking fund” may well be threshed out by itself, apart from any particular loan. If it be a good thing, it is a good thing to establish in connexion with all loans. If it be a bad thing, it is a bad thing to establish in connexion with all loans. The Leader of the Opposition has put forward a view with a considerable amount of force, and one which merits consideration. But the question that he has raised does not crop up under this Bill, because no sinking fund is contemplated in connexion with it. In answer to Senators de Largie and Mullan, I can only say that the Government have no policy in regard tothe establishment of sinking funds at the present juncture. That they will have a policy in the near future, I have no doubt.
.- This Bill is intended to authorize the Treasurer to borrow from the
Imperial Government the sum of £18,000,000. A similar amount is being loaned by the Commonwealth to the States, and for the information of those who read Hansard, I would like the Minister to make it perfectly clear that we are not borrowing from the Imperial authorities for the purpose of lending to the States.
– That is correct.
– I do not agree with the remarks of the Leader “of the Opposition in condemnation of sinking funds. Indeed, I was rather surprised to hear him denounce the practice of establishing such funds. While I say that there is only one properly conducted sinking fund in the Commonwealth - that which has been established in Western Australia-
– In spite of that sinking fund, Western Australia is getting deeper into debt every year.
– That State has more to show for her indebtedness in the shape of real assets than has any other State.
– She borrowed last year to pay into her sinking fund.
– That is so. But there is no State in the Commonwealth in a better position, simply because her borrowings have been of vast benefit to the entire community. The conditions surrounding the establishment of her sinking fund have been honorably observed by all Governments. I am sorry that other State Governments cannot point to a similar record in this connexion. I do not agree with Senator Millen that it is a fallacy to think we should be doing any good by establishing a sinking fund when we are borrowing. If we continue to pay into such a fund, we shall at least be making an effort to pay off our old debts before incurring new obligations. That is a guarantee of honesty and that we are proceeding upon sensible lines. Where no such arrangement is made, we give those from whom we borrow very little justification for reposing confidence in us. We have to recollect that whilst this loan has not a sinking fund attached to it, we have made an arrangement in connexion with another loan. We have promised to redeem the £10,000,000 which the banks have lent to us in hard cash as soon as the war is over. I am disappointed that so far some scheme has not been outlined for wiping off the debt we shall incur under this Bill. But apparently the matter has not even been considered. I venture to predict that we are only at the beginning of a very long war. As I stated last night, I had my eyes opened quite recently as to the financial position of the enemy, and if it is anything like as good as it is represented to be by a very reliable financial journal in the Old Country - I refer to the Economist - it is a very strong one indeed. That journal tells us that the gold reserve of Germany is increasing, that her finances are satisfactory, inasmuch as her interest bill has been kept steady, and it seems probable, therefore, that we are only at the beginning of a protracted struggle. In such circumstances, this will not be the last Loan Bill which will come before us. That being so, we ought to have some understanding as to how we are going to wipe off our war debts. I am of opinion that we ought to levy a war tax.
– Ought we not to wait until the war is over ?
– Why? Surely we ought not to wait until the war is over before deciding how we are going to pay off our indebtedness ! That is the reason why I think the Bill should have contained provision for the establishment of a sinking fund. However, the matter will come up again for discussion, and perhaps by that time we shall have before us a comprehensive scheme for liquidating the obligations which we are now incurring.
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.35].- I do not propose to emulate the example of previous speakers by discussing the attractive subject of a sinking fund. But I would point out that in the Inscribed Stock Act of 1911, provision is made for the establishment of such a fund. That Act sets out that -
The Treasurer shall on the last day of March, and on the last day of September in each year, pay out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated for the purpose, into the Trust Fund, under the head of the Stock Redemption Fund, such sum as is fixed by any order directing the sale of any stock, being not less than 10s. per centum on such stock.
It will be seen, therefore, that we have adopted the principle of providing for a sinking fund. If we desire to redeem any loan in this way, the order directing the sale of any stock will specify that it is to be redeemed, and the amount paid must not be less than 10s. per centum per annum on such stock. If we were simply to provide that there should be in the hands of the Treasurer a sinking fund, which should be applied in redemption of stock when it matured, what would happen? When hard times were experienced he would come to Parliament and say, “ We have so much money in our redemption fund, and I am in a position to hand it over, so that it may be used for the ordinary purposes of government, provided that you will enact a law authorizing me to so appropriate it.” The only way in which we could establish a proper sinking fund would be by placing it in the hands of trustees, with instructions to them to purchase stock as they thought fit. Then the Treasurer would not be able to get hold of that money in time of emergency.
– Imperceptibly we should be getting a loan without interest.
– Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Imperceptibly also we should be wiping off the loan. But it may happen that we shall have to borrow more money to carry out fresh works. I remember a rather amusing incident in this connexion. In the good old days in the New South Wales Parliament, we determined to build a lot of bridges out of loan moneys, and to establish a sinking fund in connexion with them. Then when £1,000,000 was required for the purpose of building bridges over all sorts of creeks, and anybody asked the ques tion “ How are you going to pay for these works?” the reply always was, “ Never mind. We have established a sinking fund for that purpose.” But as the years rolled on we found that that sinking fund was a formidable charge on the Consolidated Revenue, and action had to be taken to retrieve the position. So that we must be certain that we borrow wisely, and that we shall be able to pay a small percentage year after year towards redeeming the loan. I recognise that by paying only 10s. per centum per annum, a long time will be occupied in redeeming a loan. Still, each year it is becoming less. A sinking fund is only safe when it is put in the hands of trustees who will utilize if for the purpose of buying stock in the open market when it goes below a certain value.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 6, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Re presentatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill he now read a second time.
There are two points in connexion with the Bill which need explanation. Clauses 4 to 6 amend some Loan Acts and Treasury Bills Acts, and the question naturally arises why that is necessary. Each of the Acts referred to in those clauses authorized the borrowing of money or the issue of Treasury-bills to raise money for some specific purposes. In some cases the specific purposes have not been fully carried out. ‘As money was required it was borrowed; that is to say, as the purpose for which the borrowing was authorized is not yet completed so the borrowing is not yet completed. We desire to amend the Acts in order to be able to borrow the money under this measure.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Apart from the big items, are the other items in this Bill the same as the items in those Acts?
– Yes : although the authority to borrow was given, the money was not borrowed. For instance, the purchase of some land may have been authorized by an Act, but all the land has not yet been purchased ; and therefore we take authority in this measure to purchase the remainder. That is why so many Acts have to be amended by the Bill.
– This is a consolidation of the authority .
– Yes. The item in the schedule which will arouse interest is the £7,000,000 to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. As honorable senators know, we have to make good the deficit in the revenue by issuing Treasurybills to the amount of £2,580,000. That amount is included in the item of £7,000,000 in the schedule. Honorable senators are aware that our estimates of revenue are based on the assumption that the land tax and the probate and succession duties will realize a certain amount, particularly the laud tax. Much of the revenue from the land tax will not be available until towards the close of the financial year, nor will much of the revenue from the probate and succession duties be available until then. At the same time, the expenditure outlined in our Estimates is taking place, and for much of it we have incurred a liability, lt will be seen that while our liability is a progressive one, our income is in the future. I hope that it will all materialize, lt will not materialize until late in the year.
– How much of the £7,000,000 in the schedule do you anticipate is necessary for till-money ‘
– That is what I am going to point out. The amount to be met by the issue of Treasury-bills is £2,580,000 ; the land tax is expected to yield £2,700,000, and the probate and succession duties £1,000,000, making a total of £6,280,000. The balance is required to meet any disturbance which may be caused in the Customs revenue by the combined effects of the war and the drought. Our Customs revenue may bo seriously disturbed to an extent which we cannot forecast now, and therefore we ask for power to appropriate £7,000,000 so that we shall have sufficient to meet our liability. Assuming our Estimates to be correct, the position at the close of the financial year will be that we shall redeem the Treasury-bills which are issued with the exception of those issued to cover the deficiency of £2,580,000 in the revenue. They, of course, will have to stand.
– You used the word “ redeem.” You will not issue any Treasury-bills if your Estimates are borne out.
– We may have to issue the Treasury-bills very shortly. Of course if our revenue comes in to such an extent that we do not need to issue Treasurybills, we will not do so; but this measure will give us the authority to issue them up to £7,000,000.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - You have taken enough to cover the whole of the estimated proceeds of the new taxes ?
– Yes. This is practically a blank cheque with a limitation of £7,000,000, of which Parliament has already authorized us to- issue bills to the amount of £2,580,000. As regards the balance, our desire is to have sufficient money to meet the liabilities of the Commonwealth should our estimates of revenue be disturbed, either to the whole amount or any part of it.
– Senator Senior asked a question a few minutes ago that embodied a matter which aroused a good deal of interest a while back. He asked whether the £18,000,000 which the Government got power to borrow through the medium of a Bill we have passed was identical with another sum of £18,000,000; in other words, whether the £8,000,000 included in the schedule to this Bill, added to the £10,000,000 advanced by the banks, make the loan of £18,000,000.
– One has no relation to the other.
– I feel disposed to fall back on a quotation from Bret Harte -
Do I sleep ? do I dream ?
Is there visions about?
That a Labour Government which hasalways expressed itself with a Spartan severity on the subject of borrowing, should present such an extraordinary borrowing proposal as this would not have been believed if the prediction had been made before the event happened.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - If made before the war.
– It is not owing to the war, as I can show. The “honorable senator, by an interjection just now, put his finger on a weak spot. He could not fail to see that this borrowing proposal goes much beyond what is required; or if it does not do that, the Government already feels that its estimates of revenue will not be realized. We are asked today, not merely for authority to borrow for the deficiency disclosed by the Budgetpapers, but for every penny which we assume will be received from the land tax, as if not one penny had been received in this financial year.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - That is so.
– We are also asked to believe that nobody is going to die in time for his estate to pay probate duty before then, and having done that, and gone on that assumption, £800,000 is borrowed beyond the amount necessary to meet those three purposes. I cannot resist the conclusion that the Government feel that they will either spend more than Parliament has authorized, and want the money for that purpose, or have already begun to fear that their revenue will not reach the Treasurer’s estimate.
– They take power to borrow if necessary.
– The honorable senator, whose interjection shows that he has a logical mind, knows that some portion of the land tax has been paid already, leaving the new taxpayers out of the question altogether. Last year the major portion of the land tax came in during the last portion of the financial year, but about a third was received before then. The Government are asking authority to borrow on the assumption that they will not receive a single penny of land tax or probate duty until the 30th June. In addition to the £2,500,000 deficit which they have disclosed, they ask power to borrow another £800,000. Do they anticipate a further deficiency? Instead of a £2,500,000 deficit, do they think there is going to be a deficit of £3,250,000?
– In a state of war, any ti ling is possible.
– A state of war is not going to prevent a man dying.
– It may prevent his estate being worth anything when he does die.
– The war is not going to prevent all, or, at any rate, some portion of the laud tax being paid. As a matter of fact, the Treasurer has received some of it already, and no state of war will get that amount out of the Treasury into the taxpayers’ pockets again. There is evidently a fear in the minds of the Government that the finances are even now developing in a direction less favorable than the Treasurer estimated when presenting the Budget. If so, the Government, when asking authority for such an extraordinary borrowing proposition, should make a supplementary statement of our true financial position. My honorable friends are learning very rapidly. For years many of them said borrowing was an evil policy ; but what has happened reminds one of the saying about the rapidity with which people slide down a slope. We have had in New South Wales an instance of the extremely virtuous non -borrowing party going of late years on a real financial drunk. Our discussions on wet and dry canteens were nothing to it. When once they taste the thing there is no holding them back, and I venture to predict that, in a few years’ time, they will be found apologizing for, instead of denouncing, borrowing.
– The present extraordinary circumstances afford a quite sufficient explanation of a Bill of this kind. Even in ordinary times estimates are only estimates, and we can never be quite sure whether our forecast of revenue will equal our estimated expenditure; but in a time of war it would be folly to think we could absolutely rely on getting the requisite revenue from taxes without having power to raise the money necessary to pay our way. We know that accounts have to be paid, and it is only right and proper that the Government should have sufficient funds to meet them. I am not at all surprised, therefore, at the introduction of a measure of this kind. The sittings of Parliament will be suspended during the next few months, and it is, therefore, necessary for us to take precautionary steps. Whilst I am with the Government so far, I do not altogether agree with them on another aspect of the case, about which we should certainly have a clear understanding. Our gold reserve is in the most dangerous and critical position of any in the world. We have no control over it, and a question put by Senator Ferricks in the last few days discloses the real position. The world is at war. we maintain a gold standard, and we all know the demand there is for gold at this time. All other countries have means of preventing the export of gold from within their borders, but we have taken no precautions in that direction. That is an extraordinary position, and it is time we provided the necessary safeguards. The Government should certainly have introduced a short Bill to safeguard our gold reserves before the Houses rose. As things stand, I quite recognise that the Government require the money which they propose to raise by this Bill, because there is no knowing what claims may be made on them within the next few months. Many of our industries have already been dislocated, and if others are adversely affected, the Government will have to come to their aid. This measure may provide funds for that purpose. Since the war began, the Western Australian Government have had to come to the rescue of the tin industry and the timber industry. Similar surprises may be sprung on any of the States, and if Parliament is not in session, and the Government have no funds in hand to render help to industries, the evil effects of the war will be intensified.
– The Tasmanian Government had to come to the assistance of a number of mining companies by purchasing tin and other ores.
– Then Western Australia was not the only State which had to come to the rescue of private enterprise. When Senators Gould and Millen talk about the generosity of capitalists in lending their millions, they forget the help that the Government of the day are rendering to others of the same class engaged in Australian industries.
– The Government of Tasmania had to come to the assistance of thousands of men who were thrown out of employment by the shutting down of private mining companies.
– We had the same state of affairs in Western Australia within a few days after the war broke out. I hope the ordinary sources of revenue will continue to supply the Government with funds, but we cannot be sure that this will be the case. The Government are, therefore, acting wisely iri submitting a Bill of this kind to give them authority to raise loan money to be used if necessary.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.5].- The position of the Labour Government with regard to borrowing is most interesting. Whatever honorable senators may say to the contrary, in the early days of the Labour party they expressed themselves as entirely opposed to borrowing in any circumstances. Everything had to be paid for out of revenue, but as time went on they began to discern that to carry on the business of the country they would, under certain circumstances, have t©> borrow money. They then put forward a plank discountenancing borrowing except for reproductive purposes.
– You said they were against borrowing in all circumstances.
– Originally that was so, but they began to realize that money would have to be obtained somewhere, and they then said that borrowing would have to be limited to reproductive works. In that they went back to the principle upon which borrowing was first started, because money was originally borrowed to provide for works necessary to carry on the business of the country. Our great railways were all built in that way, and no one will say that we made a mistake in borrowing the money we did to open up the country. Our honorable friends, however, are advancing at a very dangerous rate. They say, “ We expect to get £7,000,000 out of particular sources of revenue during the next year.” They are not content to wait for it, but propose to borrow, in anticipation of its collection. A sum of £2,500,000 is to be raised by Treasury-bills to meet the deficit, and the Treasurer intends to anticipate the receipt of the land tax and probate duties. If the Treasurer finds he has made an over-estimate of his receipts from those sources, and does not get the revenue he has anticipated, he will nevertheless have received from loan sources the money which he anticipated getting, and if any one asks why the money is not paid, the answer will be, “ We have borrowed the money by means of a Loan Bill, and it will be repaid in due course.” We do not know when the money is to be repaid.
– Did you hear Senator Millen on sinking funds a few minutes ago?
– I am not dealing with sinking funds now. Nothing is said about the term of the loan, and that is information which we ought to have. If the Treasurer obtains the revenue he anticipates, is he going to apply it to redeeming the loan ? He may be in the happy position of borrowing £7,000,000, and receiving his full revenue of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 from the sources named, and when he brings up in the House his statement of receipts and expenditure in connexion with the Consolidated Revenue, he will not take into account the fact that he has borrowed £7,000,000 in augmentation of his revenue, but will put it to loan account, saying, ” We have received so much revenue, and can show a surplus- instead of a deficit at the end of the financial year.” We all recognise that the £18,000,000 war loan was inevitable, but we are now asked to authorize the borrowing of an additional £7,000,000. The Government are proposing to borrow that £7,000,000 in anticipation of the revenue that will be coming in during the next six or twelve months. No provision is made by law to have that revenue appropriated for the repayment of the money which it is proposed to borrow in advance of its receipt. If a member of the Senate went to a bank and said, “ I receive £600 a year salary as a member of the Federal Parliament. I have one or two years yet to run, and I wish to borrow £500 or £600 on the strength of my parliamentary salary.” Honorable senators will agree that he would have to make it very plain to the authorities of the bank before he would get any money that they would be entitled to receive his salary each month as it became due. There is no provision made here for the application of the anticipated revenue to the repayment of this £7,000,000 within twelve months, or within any other period. The Government are proposing this session to borrow this £7,000,000, £18,000,000 of a war loan, and £10,000,000 from the banks, or, in all, they propose to add £36,000,000 to our debt. They propose to advance £18,000,000 to the various States by way of loans, in order that certain necessary works may be carried out; but we have had no statement as to the way in which this money is to be raised. I ask the Government to say whether they are going to borrow it, or issue paper for it. Mr. Holman, the Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales, deprecated very strongly the issue of bank notes to meet these particular loans, and his State is to be the largest borrower of the lot. He gave an address in which he said that this money should be obtained in the ordinary way. He pointed out to the Conference recently held that it was a very serious thing to issue notes to so large an amount. We have had no estimate as to how much the country can absorb in the way of notes. It is possible that we may be able to absorb more notes than we have hitherto done, because, so far, our currency has been partly in notes and partly in gold. Now it is proposed that the gold shall be taken by the Commonwealth Treasury, and notes issued to a much greater extent than has ever been, the case before. Where is the £18,000,000 which is to be given to the States to come from? Some honorable senators were under the impression that a portion of it would be provided by the £7,000,000 which it is proposed to borrow under this Bill, and another portion by the £10,000,000 in gold borrowed from the banks. The Minister tells us that that is not the case. Is it the idea of the Government that because they have £10,000,000 in gold in the Treasury, in view of the 25 per cent, reserve required, that will enable them to issue £40,000,000 in notes. We ought to know whether the £10,000,000 in gold which is being borrowed from the banks is to be utilized to enable the Government to lend the States £18,000,000 in paper, or partly in paper and partly in gold. There has been so much mystery surrounding these affairs that we do not know how the finances stand. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that we are getting into a position when it has become necessary that we should have a further financial statement, in order that before we rise we should know exactly what are the financial proposals of the Government. We are told that this £7,000,000 is to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue; that £2,000,000 of it is to be used for the redemption of Treasury-bills which have been issued to enable us to pay our way, and that the balance is in anticipation of the money we are to receive from the new taxation for which we have made provision, if the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue to be derived from it is correct. We ought to know whether it is intended to pay this money within a limited period, and, if so, what that period is. If it is to be paid from the revenue to be collected during the current year from the new taxation which has been imposed, and if it is found that that is insufficient for the purpose, we ought to be told what the Government intend to do to meet the unpaid balance of the loan. It is possible that the Minister of Defence may be able to give a perfectly clear explanation of the whole matter. He may say that it is the intention of the Government only to borrow the money day by day as they find it necessary. He may say that this money will be repaid from the £10,000,000 in gold paid into the
Treasury by the bants. So far as the money borrowed from the banks is concerned, we do not know the circumstances in which it has been borrowed, or what representations were made to the banks as to how it is to be repaid. An agreement was published in one of the newspapers to the effect that the banks were to hold the notes for this money for a period of twelve months, and that it would be repaid after the war is over. Mr. Fisher says that that is not so. He says that the banks are to hold these notes, and are not to apply to the Treasury for their repayment in gold. Of what use will these notes be to the banks if they are merely to hold them ? Are the banks to hold the notes without interest, while the Government lend the money which they represent at interest? We are confronted with the greatest emergency which Australia or any other part of the British Empire has ever been called upon to face. In the circumstances, it behoves us to look ahead as far as we can. If the Government were to say that it is necessary to borrow, not £18,000,000, but £36,000,000, for the purpose of prosecuting the war, there is not a member of this Parliament who would object to give the Government authority to borrow all that may be necessary to carry the war to a successful termination, and secure the independence and integrity of the Commonwealth. That must be clearly understood, though honorable senators feel justified in criticising these loan proposals. I hope the Minister of Defence will be able to give us a better explanation than has so far been given of the way in which the Government propose to deal with the finances. The honorable senator may not b« able to do so while this Bill is under consideration, but if he will say that, before we rise for the special adjournment, he will be prepared to make a statement explaining the exact financial position, it may be the means of preventing a great deal of misunderstanding and, perhaps, misrepresentation of what the Government propose to do.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) [4.221- At the close of his remarks, Senator Gould said that, in view of the present great emergency, we should look well ahead. I think that the Government are to be complimented for having done so, and for seeing that we shall be in a state of preparedness to meet any emergency that may arise before we re-assemble next year. What a serious position the employes of the Commonwealth would be in if the Government had not introduced this Bill. It is admitted that we have a deficit of £2,500,000. It is necessary to make good that deficit and to be in a position to pay our way. It is anticipated by the Treasurer that the revenue from the land tax with the recent amendment of the Act Will amount to £2,750,000. He expects to derive a revenue of £1,000,000 from the estate duties. But until that revenue is received, it is imperative that the Government should have money with which to carry on the services of the country and to pay the employes of the Commonwealth. If Parliament did not make provision for this purpose we should find ourselves in a very serious position. Whilst on that point, I wish to say that we are now experiencing exceptional times. I do not recollect a period when there were so many unemployed in Victoria. Day after day I receive the most pathetic letters from men who for weeks past have been unable to secure employment. 1 think that the Government ought to make a supreme effort to keep going the works which are in hand, and that, with the surplus of probably £750,000 which they will have after this Bill be passed, an earnest attempt will be made to relieve the distress which exists in every State. We are now approaching the festive Christmas period. But I fear it will be a very sad Christmas to quite a large number of persons who in previous years have been able to enjoy a holiday at this particular season. But, bad as times ai-e, the distress which exists would be intensified twenty-fold in the absence of this measure.
– But is it intended to go beyond the expenditure which has been authorized by Parliament?
– Provision is made in the Bill for borrowing £7,000,000 to meet the deficit, and in anticipation of the revenue which will be derived from the land tax, and from probate and succession duties. Totalling the figures, I find that, after allowing for a deficit of £2,500,000, and for the revenue which it is expected will be collected from the land tax. and from probate and succession duties, there will probably be a surplus of about £750.000. The Government will be doing the right thing “if they expend that surplus on Commonwealth services.
– Is it proposed to spend the amount set out in this BiU, in addition to the sums which have already been authorized by Parliament? The honorable senator is advocating that that should be done.
– I am.
– If the Government intend to do that, they ought to tell Parliament.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. May I point out that there is one large work; in progress - that in connexion with the building of the Federal Capital? The Minister will probably tell me that some of the money raised under this Bill will be devoted to that work. I admit that the progress which has been made at the Federal Capital during the past two or three years has been much more satisfactory than the progress made previously. But there is no reason why the building of the Federal Capital should not be proceeded with now at express speed. If that were done, employment could be found for all kinds of artisans. Then there are other works on which additional men might be given employment. In my experience, I have never known so many men who are deserving of sympathy and support to be unemployed.
– Practical sympathy.
– I said “ sympathy and support,” which means practical sympathy. In my judgment, Ministers should put forward a special effort to relieve the distress which exists in all the States. I give my support to this Bill, knowing that the money which it authorizes the Government to raise is required, and that Ministers will be able to justify the expenditure of every pound of it. In conclusion, I would again impress upon the Minister the necessity which exists “between now and the re-assembling of Parliament for a special effort being made to relieve the acute distress which exists in various spheres of industrial activity.
– I do not complain of the criticism of Senator Millen and Senator Gould. But it may not be out of place to remind them that they are prominent members of a political party which only two or three months ago loudly protested its intention of assisting the Labour party - if that party were returned to power - in all legislation necessary to meet the abnormal circumstances occasioned by the war. It is well within the recollection df everybody in Australia that on the occasion of the last elections one manifesto was issued by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Cook, and another by Mr. Fisher. Each of those gentlemen, as the leaders of their respective parties, promised the electors that if the opposing party were returned to power they would cordially cooperate with them in putting on the statutebook any legislation rendered necessary by the war. The electors returned the Labour party to power, and since Parliament met various emergency measures occasioned by the war have been submitted for our consideration. In dealing with those measures we are entitled to expect a little more generosity from the Libera] party than has been exhibited by its members. It does not lie in the mouths of Senators Millen and Gould to censure the Government for borrowing in this time of crisis. Ministers are pursuing a borrowing policy which is entirely the result of the war, whereas Senator Millen was a prominent member of a Government which decided to borrow for defence purposes in time of peace. Seeing that we are suffering from a disastrous war, as well as from an almost unprecedented drought, and that the two evils combined have produced such a condition of affairs in our commercial and industrial life as is without a parallel, our opponents might well have been a little more generous in their treatment of Government measures. Senator Findley has opened up a phase of this question which is a very important one. Speaking on behalf of Tasmania, I wish also to urge Ministers, if it be possible through any of the channels which are controlled by the Commonwealth, to lessen unemployment, and to do so by all the means in their power. To-day there are tens of thousands of honest working nen in Australia who are lacking employment.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done?
– I am indorsing Senator Findley’s suggestion that the Government should push on as rapidly as possible with necessary works. Wherever the Commonwealth has works in contemplation, those undertakings should be pushed on during the next few months with as much expedition as possible.
– There is no reason to think that Ministers are not doing that.
– And there is no reason why they should not continue to do it. I am not attempting to say that the Government are not doing all they possibly can to meet the existing circumstances. I am quite sure that in the short time they have been in office they have done all that they could. I am putting in a word on behalf of the Government, and of this Bill, which has met with pretty strenuous criticism, not only here, but in another place. The measure is necessary.
– What has Tasmania done with the £90,000 which it gets from Australia every year?
– The honorable senator ought to try to be Federal, and not to single out a part of Australia. I am not speaking on behalf of a particular State, but supplementing what Senator Findley said; and if Senator Grant is fair he will admit that in every State the Commonwealth ought to do something. What has the grant of £90,000 to Tasmania to do with my argument, or with this Bill? Nothing. I am commending the Government for having brought in the Bill, which is perhaps of an unusual kind because of the extraordinary times in which we live. I do not think that the Government could have expected to meet with quite so much opposition to their measures, which they admit to be of an unusual character, but which are necessitated entirely by the exceptional circumstances of the time. That being so, the Government might have expected a little more generous treatment of this measure, and not quite so much criticism. I, as a member of the party supporting the Government, have no apology to offer for their introduction of the Bill, and will certainly support it.
– If the Government purpose spending any portion of this £7,000,000, I think that they ought to spend some money in connexion with the Federal Capital. So far as I can see, there is no proposal to spend a penny there during the present financial year.
– That is not correct. You helped to pass a Bill only a week ago authorizing an expenditure of £270,000.
– I am aware that £270,000 was voted for the Federal Territory, but, so far as I can see, no portion of that sum is to be expended on what I term the Federal Capital. I pointed out here some days ago that the plans for the Capital were so far advanced by Mr. Griffin that the main thoroughfares could be laid out. The Government have made no provision to do any of that work. I take advantage of this opportunity to suggest that at least a portion of this money should be used for the purpose of levelling the main thoroughfares. According to the information supplied to me, the plans are advanced sufficiently far for that work to be undertaken. Why they are not completed is to me quite inexplicable. There are plenty of draftsmen available, and, apparently, Mr. Griffin knows his business. Why is not the work completed ?
– Senator Findley and I are urging the Government to do all these things as soon as possible.
– I suggest that a portion of the £7,000,000 should be devoted to that work. It can be done now, and if my information is correct, as I believe it is, it will not be necessary to remake the streets at a future time. There are, no doubt, many other directions in which this money could be advantageously expended. Why cannot honorable senators realize that all these efforts to deal’ permanently with the unemployed problem are futile? No one should know that better than Senator O’Keefe. When we get back to first principles; when we realize that the unemployed difficulty prevails, not only here, but all over the world-
– These men might starve while we are getting back to first principles.
– They are always starving under the honorable senator’s system. We have this discussion time after time, but when a scheme is laid before the honorable senator to mop up the unemployed difficulty, not for a day, but for all time, he carefully insists upon retaining things as they are.
– I do not think so.
– Do you want to stop other works!
– I do not suggest the stopping of any works. I have suggested that a portion of this money should be spent in a certain direction.
– Let us do something. I do not want a moral lesson or a lecturette on first principles. I want bread and butter for the men who are on the border line of starvation.
– No doubt the honorable senator desires the poor to be always with him.
– Nothing of the kind.
– A scheme is placed before the honorable senator whereby the unemployed difficulty could be permanently removed, and he steadfastly refuses to adopt it.
– “What scheme is that? I do not know what it is.
– I will indicate the scheme in a few words if that is necessary. I believe that the honorable senator is only too well aware of it, and so is Senator Findley, too. If honorable senators desire to remove the unemployed difficulty, there is only one way in which it can be done. It is the duty of the Commonwealth to appropriate for communal requirements all the value which the community give to land. When that is done, lots of country will be opened up.
ThePRESIDENT. - I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument on this Bill.
– The honorable senator could institute the single tax as easily as falling off a log.
– The honorable senator takes good care that he will do everything except adopt an additional measure of land-values taxation. I find that, with regard to revenue, the Commonwealth is rapidly drifting into the same position as is occupied by Great Britain. I am sure that there is nothing farther from the mind of Senator O’Keefe than to adopt the British method of raising revenue. Yet that is the position to which the Commonwealth is drifting very rapidly, and for his information I propose to quote some figures explanatory of the position there. It will be recognised that the unemployed difficulty is just as acute there as it is here, if not more so. According to a summary of the sources from which Great Britain secures her revenue, in 1913-14 the receipts were as follow : -
– That is supposed to be a Free Trade country.
– It has a high revenue Tariff, in which the honorable senator believes.
– I do not believe in Free Trade.
– The honorable senator realizes that the affairs of the Commonwealth to-day are in the hands of the Democracy. Men are elected today to the State and National Parliaments purely on the adult franchise.
– Not to anyState Parliament.
– The people of Great Britain have had their laws manufactured for them, not for the past few years-
– Order ! I have allowed to the honorable senator considerable latitude, but the facts and figures he has cited have only the remotest possible connexion with the Loan Bill. There have been before the Senate during the last few days measures to which the remarks he is making would have been perfectly relevant. They are not relevant to this Bill, and I ask him to confine himself more strictly to its subjectmatter.
– I shall not further pursue that matter, sir; but I did desire to bring some facts home to Senator O’Keefe, and this is the first opportunity I have had.
– I know all the facts already.
– I would like to know the reason for the extraordinary delay in connexion with the completion of the plans for the Capital. Are the officers working harmoniously with Mr. Griffin, or are they at cross-purposes? I have seen no evidence of that; but surely (here must be something wrong. That is a point which, I think, ought to be cleared up definitely.
– Order ! The matter which the honorable senator is now beginning to discuss was quite a proper subject to consider when the Works Estimates were going through the Senate a day or two ago. It could have been debated on the first, second, and third readings of the Supply Bill; it could have been debated again and again in the Senate itself, and at length in Committee. That was the honorable senator’s opportunity to engage in a discussion of that kind. But, as he failed to avail himself of the opportunity, I cannot allow him, under cover of a Loan Bill, to discuss a matter which really has no relevancy to it.
– I would like to reply to some statements made by members of the Opposition to the effect that the Labour Government are acting inconsistently with their platform in asking the indorsement of the Senate to a proposal to borrow £7,000,000. So far as I know, there is nothing in the Labour platform to render inconsistent any action on the part of the Government when they desire to borrow under certain conditions. Now, the conditions are that the money should be borrowed for reproductive works, or for the repayment of loans. If there was a slight deviation from that principle at the present time, I think that the circumstances would more than justify it. But even now the Government are not deviating from the principle, and it is well to put that fact on record-
– If it were not for the tragic situation in which we find ourselves to-day, one would certainly feel amused at the tenor of the debate which so far has taken place on this Bill. On the one hand, we have Senator Grant appealing, in something like a parish-pump style, for the money to be expended on the Federal Capital, and devoting practically the whole of his utterance to that parochial cry, while, on the other hand, we have the members of the Opposition, though few in number, criticising the action of the Government in daring to borrow a certain amount to tide them over a crisis which is world-wide to-day.
– I think that the intention of honorable senators on this side was rather to point out that the Labour party, who had always been decrying borrowing, had been forced to adopt it as a sane method to deal with the -crisis.
– The honorable senators to whom I referred have erred again, as they usually err, in connexion with the policy of the Labour party so far as borrowing is concerned. I defy any honorable senator on the other side to point to any plank in the platform of the Labour party, either Federal or State, which says that there shall not be borrowing. If they can do so, I will admit that they have some justification for their criticism of this measure. Tie plank in our platform is “no borrowing except for reproductive works.”
– Are these reproductive works ?
– I admit that the purchase of shot and shell is not a reproductive work; but the conditions with which we are faced compel the Government - although it is a Labour Government - to seek assistance to help this portion of the Empire to tide over the present crisis.
– The object is legitimate enough.
– But the honorable senator’s friends hav« criticised the action of the Government, although they suggested a similar course of action when war was declared.
– They have criticised the former criticisms of your party.
– That is a very lame way of getting out of it. Every member of the Labour party is against borrowing for any but reproductive works; but they, in common with every citizen of Australia, recognise the necessity of having money to tide us over the present emergency. This is the greatest crisis ever known, and we must not forget that when we are about to enjoy Christmas in the usual way. and exchange the usual Christmas greetings, the sentiment, “ Peace on earth and good will to men “ does not apply now because millions of men are at each other’s throats, and, unless some extraordinary miracle occurs, there will not be peace on earth on the 25th December, when we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Redeemer of the world.
That is regrettable; but there is the solid fact. Thousands of men and women in Australia will not be able to have a merry Christinas this year; but the Government are taking extraordinary measures to do their best to insure that Australians shall have some sort of a peaceful and merry Christmas. Our friends opposite, however, are not satisfied, but criticise us. William Ewart Gladstone, whose memory we allrevere, said on one occasion on the floor of the House of Commons that it would be cruel to borrowmoney for defence purposes in times of peace. The Labour party the wide world over fully indorse that sentiment ; but in the closing days of the session of 1909, during a time of complete world’s peace, the Fusion party, to which Senator Bakhap belongs, rushed through this Parliament a Bill to borrow £3,500,000 for the purposes of Australian naval defence. The Labour party returned by the people in 1910immediately repealed the Act, and, during their three years’ term of office, built up the Australian defence scheme, which to-day is the admiration of the world, out of revenue.
– Would there not have been a deficit this year, even if there hadbeen no war ?
– It is just possible that, in a country expanding as this is, with so many requirements to meet, there might have been a deficit, but it would have been much greater had the other side remained in power. I regret the necessity of voting for this Bill, and every man in the Empire regrets that such a policy is imperative. The House of Commons is asking for hundreds of millions, and why should we not bear our share ? We are simply trying to help the Empire in the struggle in whichit is engaged. We learn by to-day’s cables that a naval battle has begun. The enemy is at the very heart of the Empire, although Britain claims to be mistress of the seas, and will, I hope, always remain so; but it is very surprising to us at this outpost of the Empire to learn not only that submarines have entered the port of Dover, but that the north-east coast of England is being attacked by German cruisers. What has happened is alarming, but I am confident that the final result will be that Britain will retain her present proud position. When the Government are trying to assist those who are suffering in this country as the result of this terrible conflict, our friends opposite ought to carry out their platform pledges by assisting the Government, no matter what they may do, to tide over this time of national difficulty. Our honorable friends made certain promises to the people, which today they seem to have forgotten.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill is self-explanatory. Parliament has authorized the construction of the railway, and the Bill provides for the raising of £2,000,000 to carry on the work. I need not explain or justify it, because part of the policy of the Government is to spend loan money on reproductive works. This work will do a great deal to assist in dealing with the unemployed difficulty of which Senator Findley spoke, because it will enable a considerable number of men to be put on. The Home Affairs Department is doing what it can to expedite the construction of the line.
– Is it intended to fence the line on both sides as the work proceeds?
.- My remarks upon this Bill will be very few. I am very glad, indeed, that £2,000,000 is to be borrowed for this purpose. The Minister might say whether it is expected that this amount will nearly complete the preliminary works in connexion with the railway. I hope that the money will be expended within a very reasonable period. If that is done, an opportunity will be afforded for the employment of a considerable number of men, who are to-day on the unemployed list, in the construction of a railway, which, I believe, will, in the course of a Few years, be reproductive. I am not so optimistic as to believe that it will be a payable proposition within the next three or five years, but it may be so, because we never know what sort of country may be opened up by the line. Until it is finally constructed, we shall be unable to say that we are truly an Australian people. I went to the West at the beginning of this year, and found the people there very enthusiastic about the line. They are satisfied that they have been handicapped by the absence of railway communication with the east, and that this has made Australia less united as a Commonwealth than it ought to be. When this line is completed, we shall have the iron horse running from one end of Australia to the other. It is quite on the cards that mineral fields may be discovered, which could be opened up by this line, and which may not have been observed by those who are said to have travelled over the whole of the country through which the line will pass. I heartily support the Bill because it is in accordance with the policy of the Labour party never to hesitate to borrow for reproductive works. I gladly support it also because it may be the means of providing employment for many men now on the unemployed list in different parts of Australia, who are accustomed to railway work, who know what hard work is, and are prepared to take it on. I hope that, in accordance with the promises made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister of Home Affairs will see that this money is made available as soon as possible, in order that relief may be given to a number of very deserving men who are now out of employment in different parts of the Commonwealth.
– I am reminded that the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat is one of the men who helped, at a critical stage in the history of this line, to assist the passage of the Bill introduced to provide for its construction. The honorable senator was broad-minded enough to support the proposal when it was anything but popular. When the press in this State was constantly referring to this national work as a desert, railway, howling it down, and denouncing the waste of public money in its construction. Senator Findley, to his credit be it said, stood for the policy of making Federation a thing of reality, instead of a disjointed affair. I mention this because we are prone to be forgetful of those who do the right thing at a time when it would be more to their interest to follow another course. I hope, with Senator Findley, that there will be no delay in proceeding with this work. I have in mind a return presented some time ago showing the number of men engaged at either end of the line. I think it showed that there were three times as many men employed at the South Australian end as at the Western Australian end. That seemed strange to me, because the country at either end and the facilities for construction are so similar. Recognising that there is in Western Australia at the present time, perhaps, even a greater need for employment than there is in South Australia, I contend that there should be as much of this construe tion work undertaken at the Kalgoorlie end as at the Port Augusta end. The fact that 1,400 men were employed at the Port Augusta end as against 500 at. the Kalgoorlie end indicated a state of affairs that required some explanation.
– I think that explanation was that the work at the Western Australian end was given to a contractor who, after .pottering about for a time, threw up his contract.
– If that be so, the contract should be terminated, and I hope that the Government will see to it that this work is pushed on, and that as many men are employed at one end of the line as at the other.
– Why not in the middle, also 1
– That was suggested some time ago, and there was much to recommend the suggestion. It was howled down by the enemies pf the Labour party. Had Mr. Fisher, when Prime Minister, undertaken the construction of a short line of 50 miles from Eucla to the route of the transcontinental line, this work could bave been proceeded with from four points. A great deal of expense in the shape of freight on sleepers and rails might have been saved in this way. The cry was raised at the time that this should not be done because the Eucla lands were in the hands of members of the Labour party. This project of Mr. Fisher’s was declared to be a political job, and was howled down by the daily press at the time.
– It was said that it would make millionaires of Labour men.
– It was suggested that millions of acres of land, held by Labour men, would become wealthproducing if this proposal were carried out.
– Land that no one else would take up.
– Land which has since been thrown up by those who selected it.
– That does not say much for the country through which this line goes.
– Nevertheless, it is a fact.
– Many of the arguments urged against the construction of this railway have a certain amount of validity about them.
– The arguments to which I am referring were untrue. They were also unfair in a political sense, and as to the quality of the land. What we have now to consider is the hastening on of this work. I hope that there will not be three times as many men employed at one end as at the other, especially in view of the fact that, owing to the war, many industries established in Western Australia have been seriously disturbed, and there are many men there out of employment. Whilst I am very anxious that this work should be pushed on without delay I hope that we shall not have half-a-dozen officers appointed to supervise every man engaged in pick and shovel work. I hope that we have already reached the limit in the proportion of men in dandy billets, officers, and so-called engineers, to the number of useful workers engaged in the construction of the line.
– I wish to say, with regard to the quality of the country through which this railway will pass, that Senator Bakhap need not have any fear about its value, or in regard to its productive properties - mineral, pastoral or agricultural. If the honorable senator will spare a few hours to peruse the reports of the various engineers who surveyed the route of this railway he will be fully satisfied on that head. There is good country all along the route of this line, but whether there is or not it is imperative, from a defence point of view, that it should be constructed as rapidly as possible. Senator Bakhap will recognise at once that, whilst this line has many recommendations, the paramount one is its value for defence purposes. Mr. Fisher, as Prime Minister, when the first sod of this line was being turned at Kalgoorlie, made the statement that not only would gangs of men be employed from Kalgoorlie eastwards and from Port Augusta westwards, but that other gangs would be employed at intermediate points. I think that the time is opportune for the redemption of that promise. I might also remind the Prime Minister that only a short time ago a great deal of criticism was indulged in concerning the Teesdale Smith contract. The letting of the construction of any portion of that line by contract was vigorously denounced both in this Chamber and in another place. Yet the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs said to-day, in reply to a question which I put to him, that this railway would be built under the day-labour system “ as far as practicable.” I take this opportunity of assuring the Government that that reply is not satisfactory to me. Upon the hustings I had no hesitation in declaring that 1 would support the construction of public works by day-labour, without any qualification. I did not use the words “ where practicable,” nor did Senator Russell, when he was addressing his constituents, I am sure.
– But there are some cases in which it is impossible to resort to the day-labour system.
– I have never heard the Minister of Defence make that statement on any public platform.
SenatorPearce. - I have made it on many public platforms.
– I do not think it is in consonance with the platform of the Labour party that we should carry out public works by means of day labour “where practicable.”
– We must recognise that it would not be advisable to send a gang of men up the country to do a small job there.
– I quite recognise that, and if that is what the Minister meant I can understand his answer. I wish to know whether it is not possible to build the east to west transcontinental line on the day-labour principle. The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs has told me that it is the intention of the Government to do so “ where practicable.”
– The honorable senator’s question implied more than that, and, as I explained yesterday, we might have been left with a heritage from the late Government.
– I admit that any contract entered into by their predecessors in office must be honoured; but what I wish to ascertain is, Will this Government construct the transcontinental line on the day-labour system ?
– Suppose that we require trucks of a special kind ? Cannot we call tenders for them ?
– If trucks of a special kind are required they can be obtained in Western Australia. I would not object if the Government obtained all their bogey trucks from the State works at Fremantle. If there be any State Government works in Australia in which those trucks can be built, I have no objection to the Ministry obtaining them there. I would be very glad if the Minister could give me an assurance that the transcontinental railway will be constructed on the day-labour system.
– My attitude towards this railway is very much like that of the Highland chief towards the young nian who eloped with his daughter. The chief was very wrath, and aroused his clansmen to go in pursuit of the young couple. But on overtaking them at a hamlet te learned, on inquiry, that they had been to the kirk and had got married, and bad then retired to the bridal chamber of the inn. He at once recognised that the time for intervention and demonstration had passed, and that the period for conciliation and benediction had arrived Accordingly he ordered the inn-keeper to provide refreshments for his men, intimated that in the morning he would be pleased to interview the bridegroom in order to partake of a glass of whisky with him and to give the young couple his blessing. Having done that, he returned to his village in the mountains, determined to allow events to work themselves out to the usual conclusion. I have spoken in denunciation of this railway because I regard its construction as premature. I consider that the time is not ripe for it. I opposed the line, not from any spirit of hostility to the people of Western Australia-
– The honorable senator could not have prevented its construction.
– No. Like the Highland chief, I was too late on the scene. But seeing that we are confronted with a very large expenditure which has been occasioned by the war, I am very much afraid that this railway will prove a white elephant for years. I trust that it will prove a venture of the most satisfactory kind. Senator de Largie has spoken as if Western Australia would not have been part and parcel of the Commonwealth had not a promise been given that this line would be constructed. What about the very satisfactory marine communication which existed with the western State even prior to Federation ? What about the position of Tasmania, which is absolutely severed from the mainland ? I admit that in Western Australia there is a population of about 250,000, and that it may be desirable to link up that State with the eastern part of the continent. But I harbor no delusions as to what will be the result of the working of this line for many years to come. I hope that I shall prove to be a false prophet, but I cannot help thinking that there are very few persons who will cross one oi the most inhospitable parts of the continent when they can travel by sea in vessels which go as far as the Home Land.
– Suppose that Fremantle were attacked, how would we get troops there?
– So far as I have been able to do so, I have given some attention to the military art. So long as we had a satisfactory marine transport, we could send troops to Western Australia in ships much faster than we could transport them to Western Australia by rail.
– Then the honorable senator has not paid much attention to the military art.
– How long would it have taken us to transport our first Expeditionary Force to Western Australia by means of a railway ?
– I have some respect for the honorable senator’s knowledge on other matters, but none for his knowledge of the military art.
– No less a soldier than Lord Wolseley has stated that troops should always be transported by water in preference to land if possible. He laid it down as an axiom that they could be transported more satisfactorily by sea than by rail. To argue that this line is essential for the purposes of defence is, I think, wrong.
– The honorable senator pits his opinion against that of Lord Kitchener?
– Lord Kitchener is no greater soldier than was Lord Wolseley. During the next ten or fifteen years it is very possible that we may have cause to regret having provided railway communication with parts of the continent which are not as thickly inhabited as is Western Australia. I shall vote against the construction of the transcontinental line from south to north, but that work is not in question at the present moment. As we are committed to this expenditure upon the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line, I intend to make a virtue of necessity. I hope that the money which will be voted under this Bill will be expended expeditiously, and that if there is any benefit to be derived from the construction of the line, we shall see the iron horse running from east to west within the next year or two. Of course there will always be found persons who are in favour of railway construction. Is Senator de Largie aware that a great many of the difficulties in which Victoria found herself some years ago were occasioned by the circumstance that she had borrowed a good deal of money for the construction of railways which she afterwards found it necessary to close up ? Railways were constructed in this State which locomotives did not run over for years.
– Is the honorable senator aware of the fact that Victoria, with a population of 1,250,000, has a less mileage of railways than has Western Australia with a population of only 300,000 ?
– But the honorable senator must take into consideration the large area that is embraced in Western Australia, and the long distances which have to be traversed between the coast and the gold-fields for example. One or two of the lines in that State would aggregate a greater mileage than is possessed by the railways of my own State. I hope that the Government will prosecute the construction of this line with great vigour, so that within the next year or two a large amount of labour may be absorbed by it, and I trust that my prediction in regard to the unprofitable nature of the undertaking will not be realized.
– I will ask my colleague, Senator Russell, to bring the representations of Senators de Largie and Needham under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs, who, I have no doubt, will be quite willing to have the question of constructing a line from Eucla looked into again. Regarding the delay ‘in the construction of the transcontinental railway, particularly at the Kalgoorlie end, honorable senators know that when the late Government came into office they announced their intention of not carrying out the construction by day labour, but of letting the work by contract. As soon as they could, they proceeded to do that. Tenders were called for at each end of the line, and a few days before the election took place they did let a contract at the western end. Of course, they made no attempt to push the day-labour staff, and I understand now that the contractor has thrown up his contract. That, naturally, has disorganized matters, and now we have to get in motion again our recognised policy of day labour. As soon as that can be clone - the staff is fully organized - there is no doubt that the Department will push forward the line as quickly as possible. In the meantime Senator Russell will bring under the notice of the Minister the suggestion about constructing a line from Eucla with the view of having that matter again inquired into.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Purpose for which money may be expended).
– I would like the Minister who represents the Minister of Home Affairs to state how much money has already been expended on this railway, the mileage which has been constructed, and the mileage which has yet to be constructed.
– I am not in a position, unfortunately, to tell the honorable senator, because I do not come armed with that class of information except when we are dealing with the Works Estimates.
– From each end it is 130 miles to the head of the line.
– I am obliged to Senator de Largie for supplying the information.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That somuch of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
The Bill is being reprinted owing to one or two amendments having been made, and we hope that fair copies will be available by8 o’clock. I would like the Standing and Sessional Orders to be suspended and the Bill to be read a first time now, so that I may move the second reading after the dinner adjournment.
– Are the amendmen ts material to the measure?
– I have a copy of the Bill with the amendments written in. None of them is material.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– In view of the state of the business-paper, and the probability that other measures will come from another place for consideration later, I think that this will be a convenient time for me to leave the chair, and, accordingly, I suspend the sitting until 8 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m..
. -I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure will appeal to both sides of the Senate, and there will be very little division of opinion as to its necessity and justice. I am sorry to say there is a reason for its urgency, Australia having already contributed some of her sons to the defence of the Empire. Some have died in action, and left relatives who were absolutely dependent upon them, and for whom it is the bounden duty of the nation to make provision. One of the saddest spectacles in the past has been to see men who have been willing to risk their lives in the defence of the country left destitute, and the dependants of men who have laid down their lives for their country having to live on charity. The nation has made progress and increased in wealth as the result of their sacrifices, and yet the relatives of those men have had to beg their bread. It would be an eternal disgrace to this young and rich Commonwealth if any of the relatives of those who are going to the war had to beg for a living. We desire, in this Bill, to make such modest provision as will keep the wolf from the door of any of those who are, unfortunately, bereaved of their breadwinners. I am sure that is also the unanimous wish of Parliament. The Bill will be administered by the Treasury. I cordially indorse that arrangement, as the Treasury is organized already to deal with old-age pensions, invalid pensions, and the maternity bonus, and is, therefore, peculiarly adapted to deal with war pensions, It would be much better not to have two Departments of the Commonwealth dealing with the payment of pensions. The rate of pension is set out in the schedule. For a widow it ranges from £156 per annum to £52 per annum, the former in the case of the highest paid officers, and the latter in the case of privates. In each case the payment for a child is £13 per annum. No limit is set as to the number of children, and the pension applies to either sex under the age of sixteen. The Bill also provides for a pension for any man who is disabled or incapacitated, so that he cannot earn his living, or a living for his wife and family or others dependent on him. In such a case there ought to be some equivalent towards his maintenance. We have provided that a member of the Naval or Military Forces who is totally incapacitated shall receive a pension at exactly the same rates as I have mentioned as applying to widows, while to his wife we pay half that rate, and to each child a pension of £13 per annum. I do not think that provision can be cavilled at. In the case of the partial incapacity of a member of the Forces, such less rates are to be payable as are assessed by the Pensions Board, having regard to the nature aud probable duration of the incapacity. It is necessary to have some one to go into the circumstances of each case to determine the degree of incapacity, which is a very difficult matter to settle.
– Unless you have a very complicated or technical schedule.
– That is attempted in some of the Workmen’s Compensation Acts, but even then it is a very roughandready way of estimating incapacity. We have, therefore, decided to institute a Pensions Board, one of its members to be a medical” practitioner. Another very worthy feature of the Bill relates; Ito British reservists. When the war broke out, there were in Australia a number of British reservists who were bound, if war occurred, to serve when called on by the British Government to do so. Iu many cases they brought their families here, and settled down as citizens of the Commonwealth. They have had to rejoin the colours, and we have decided that, as an act of justice, although they may not belong to the Commonwealth Forces, seeing that they are fighting for the Empire, and are British citizens of the Commonwealth, it is our duty to provide for them. We therefore enact that those who. at the outbreak of the war were bond fide residents of Australia shall be provided for in the same way as if they were members of our own Forces. If they are entitled to an Imperial pension, that amount will be deducted from the payment we make them. Similarly, if any of our own soldiers are entitled to any payment under any Commonwealth Act or regulations, there will be a corresponding deduction in their compensation.
– Has any provision been made in the Bill to prevent the possibility of a claim arising for both an invalid pension and a war pension ?
– Yes. If any person claims against the Commonwealth under any other Act, he cannot claim under this Act; he cannot make a double claim. The pensions provided here do not apply to Naval and Military Forces called out for service in the Commonwealth. They apply only to those who have been sent for service outside the Commonwealth. I shall give an example to show how the provision relating to total incapacity will work. Private B is totally incapacitated. He will receive £52 per annum on his own account, £26 per annum on account of his wife, and if there are any children under the age of sixteen, £13 per annum for each child. If there are any other dependants, he will be allowed for them an amount to be determined by the Pensions Board. If a highly paid officer is totally incapacitated he will receive £156 per annum, and in respect of his wife, £78 per annum. That is the maximum. He will receive £13 in respect of each child under the age of sixteen, and if there are any dependants, the Pensions Board will fix the maximum allowance.
– The payment in the case of children is the same all through the scale?
– Why should there be a difference between the soldier’s and officer’s wife, and none between their children ?
– We have followed the principle laid down in the Workmen’s Compensation Acts of the various States and of our own Workmen’s Compensation Act, where the amount of compensation varies according to the amount of salary received. In this Bill there is less difference, however, between the highest and lowest rates of pay than in any Workmen’s Compensation Act in existence.
– There is no discrimination in respect of the children; that is democratic enough.
– It is a democratic provision. Whatever may have been the difference of pay in the case of officers and men, we consider that all children, so far as this Bill is concerned, should have an equal chance in life.
– They have not an equal chance when the officer’s widow gets a higher rate.
– The question is governed by the same principle as in the case of workmen’s compensation. We assume that the man who has been living at a higher rate of income deserves a higher rate of pension, and the wife naturally lives at the same standard as the husband. Some figures have been supplied by Mr. Knibbs, Commonwealth
Statistician, who was requested to work them out by my predecessor, Senator Millen, who had this Bill in contemplation. Those figures have been modified, because the amounts of pension have since been altered. The rates ran from £50 to £150 in the schedule I found when I took office, and we have made them from £52 to £156 to correspond with the number of weeks in the year, with £13 for each child instead of £12 10s. Mr. Knibbs says-
Figures based upon past years, spread over 100 years, give the death rate per annum from wounds and illness of armies engaged in war at5 per cent. In the American Civil War the rate was estimated to be 7 per cent. In the South African War the death rate from wounds and illness per annum was 5.32 per cent. for officers and 3.82 per cent. for noncommissioned officers and men.
For the Australian Expeditionary Force of 20,000 which had left for the war-
These figures are, of course, subject to increase, seeing that we are sending far more than 20,000 - the number invalided would, on the estimates of past wars, be as follows : - Officers, 110; non-commissioned officers and men 1,520; total, 1,630. It was feared that in this war these figures might be exceeded. Taking this into account, it was estimated that, on past figures, the invalidity pensions for a year for our 20,000 men would cost £103,000, and the death pensions £130,000; or a total cost of £233,000. The capitalized value of the invalidity claim would come to £1,230,000 for the year’s operations.
By reckoning the increased number of men who will be sent, it is easy to make the necessary additions to these figures. There is in the Bill a provision for smaller payments to dependants according to the degree of dependency. There may be some people, the degree of whose dependency will be relatively small, and the amount of pension payable to them will be small in proportion. The Bill provides that in such a case, the amount of dependency having been determined, and the amount of the corresponding pension, the pension may be capitalized and paid in a lump sum. It is believed that that would be more satisfactory than the payment of a small amount of £5 or £10 a year for an indefinite period. There is a good deal in the Bill which may be better considered in Committee, and I have confined myself in these remarks to its general principles.
– While regretting the occasion for this Bill, we must, for the reasons given by the Minister of Defence, welcome its appearance. I am entirely with the honorable senator in the regret he has expressed that already occasion has arisen for the operation of such a measure as this. I should like to follow that up by expressing the hope that the financial liability of the Commonwealth under this Bill will be found to be very much less than the estimates indicate. I am sure that every one recognises that these estimates are a very uncertain guide indeed. They may be a reasonably safe guide when applied to the whole body of troops engaged in the war, but they may be entirely misleading as applied to a single unit of an army. One particular portion of a Force may come through a war almost without losing a man, whilst another section may receive what military men would describe as a serious cutting up. We can only regard the estimates as a loose guide, although I do not doubt that they are the very best which our statisticians could prepare. As to the principle of this Bill, there will be not one word of hostile criticism from one end of Australia to the other. I need only remind honorable senators of our experience in connexion with the South African war. We all know how we cheered our troops on their way to the front, and that, when they came back, one of the most pitiable sights that could confront any one was the spectacle of a number of our returned soldiers absolutely driven to beg for a living for some time after they had returned to Australia. I venture to say that the people of Australia are ready to be fair and to face squarely the obligations which will be thrown upon them as the result of this war. I should like to say, and the Minister of Defence has been good enough to mention it, that when the war broke out, one of the first things I did was to determine, as far as was in my power, that the experience of the South African campaign should not be repeated. I took the initial steps to prepare such a measure as this. Having obtained Cabinet approval of a scheme, I caused an outline of it to be published in the press, and to that extent I feel under an obligation to attempt in this Chamber to redeem what I regard as a promise to the men who were then being invited to enlist and who are enlisting to-day. That brings me to this point that I regard this measure as very ill-propor- tioned, and as, in some respects, entirely inadequate. There is only one point I propose to examine to justify that statement. So far as the pension to the widow is concerned, the present scheme and mine are practically the same. There is a difference in assessing the method of the pension. The scheme I had prepared provided for a graduated scale for men and officers, but in the case of total incapacity, fixed the payment to the wife at £30, irrespective of the rank of her Husband, the husband receiving an increased amount in proportion to the salary he had drawn in the service.
– That was not left on record.
– The honorable senator will see that it is on record. I shall produce the papers to show that I made that public. The Minister of Defence will understand that I am wholeheartedly behind a pension scheme, and I am sure that we can, without heat, discuss the details as to the best way to give effect to a policy which we all warmly approve.
– That does not bear out the honorable senator’s statement that the scheme of this Bill is not as adequate as that which he produced.
– I shall endeavour to justify the statement I have made. You have to discriminate between the amount paid to the wife of an incapacitated man and the amount paid to a widow. The proposal I made was that, in the event of the death of a private, his widow should receive £50. I should like to say here that I made a strange mistake through overlooking the fact that there are fifty-two weeks in a year. My intention was that the pension should be at the rate of £1 per week. If, instead of being a widow, the woman received at the end of the war a totally incapacitated husband, my scheme differed from the scheme of this Bill in this way. Under the Bill a totally incapacitated man would receive a pension of £1 per week, and his wife a pension of 10s. a week in addition. My proposal was to give the totally incapacitated man £75 a year, and to give his wife £30.
– I can produce the published statement.
– The amount in the schedule was £50.
– No; £50 for the widow of a private, and in that respect my proposal does not materially differ from that of the honorable senator. I am dealing with the case of the totally incapacitated private. I proposed that he should receive £75 a year if a single man, and that if he were a married man his wife should receive £30. That would amount in all to £105 for husband and wife, as against £78, the provision made by this Bill. The rate for children would remain the same.
– Why discriminate between widows of officers and of men ?
– The honorable senator may regard that as a flaw.
– I do.
– There were two things to consider. As the Minister of Defence has pointed out, one can hardly lay down arbitrary rules in dealing with these matters. I am sure that the honorable senator, like myself, has given a great deal of thought to the question and to efforts to devise a scheme that would be considered reasonable by the people of Australia, and at the same time not wanting in fairness to those who are serving at the front. The proposal I have outlined worked out in this way: A single man returning totally incapacitated would receive £75 ; if he had a wife, he and she together would receive £105 a year. I proposed that if they had children, they should receive pensions at the rate of £12 10s. a year, which, again, ought to have been £13, to make the even money. I proposed, further, that the pensions should be paid for boys until they reached the age of sixteen years, and for girls until they reached the age of eighteen years.
– The honorable senator limited the number of persons for whom pensions would be paid to four.
– That may be so. I extended the time for the payment of pensions in the* case of girls for the additional two years for reasons which I am disposed to think will appeal to honorable senators generally. The reason why, in my opinion, a totally incapacitated man is entitled to receive a larger pension than a widow is this : We may leave out of consideration the pensions to be paid to children, because it was the same whether they were left fatherless or their fathers returned to them totally incapacitated. A widow possessed of her faculties would, I considered, be able to manage with£1 per week, because she would be in a position, by her own efforts, to do something towards earning her own livelihood. I do not think I am drawing any fancy sketch when I say that the widow of one of our soldiers - and it should be remembered that most of the wives of the members of our Expeditionary Forces are comparatively young women - receiving £1 per week would find no great difficulty in securing a home in return for her services, and her position would be reasonably safe. A man returning from the war totally incapacitated, having perhaps lost both hands, both legs, or both eyes, is to receive under this Bill a pension of £1 per week, and it should not be forgotten that he will be under the necessity perhaps of having to pay for everything he wants done for him. I put it tohonorable senators whether a widow in possession of all her faculties, with a pension of £1 a week, would not be in an infinitely better position than a totally incapacitated soldier, unable to do anything for himself, and under the necessity of looking to others to attend to his wants. It seems to me incontrovertible that a woman in possession of all her faculties would be reasonably provided for with a pension of £1 a week, whilst an unfortunate man coming back from the war and crippled for life might be badly off at £1 per week. Total incapacity may last for more than a few years. The bulk of the men who have gone to war are comparatively young, and if any of them return here totally incapacitated, it is reasonable to assume that they may live in that condition for a number of years. I wish honorable senators to consider the position of these men, who, being young, will probably live to a reasonable age, who will have only £1 a week with which to maintain themselves, and who in their later years must, from their very needs, be obliged to look for assistance to their friends. In such circumstances I say that £1 a week is quite an insufficient pension. If it be a fair thing for a widow, it is not a fair thing for a totally incapacitated man. I ask honorable senators to support me when I submit a pro posal to grant a more liberal pension to men who return from the front in that unfortunate position. I would like to show that what I have outlined is the scheme that I gave to the newspapers in September last. I had hoped that the Government would have recognised the promise which I made on that occasion to those who joined the ranks of our Expeditionary Forces, and would have felt morally bound to take up the scheme which I then published.
– I saw what was on the files of the Department, but I never saw that scheme.
– The scheme which I have outlined was typewritten by my secretary, and was then handed to the press. It reads -
The main feature, the basis of the scheme as it affected the large majority of those who volunteered, viz., the rank and file, had, however, been settled. It provided for an annuity of £50 per annum to the widow of any mart who lost his life on service, with an addition of £12 10s. per annum for every child up to the age of sixteen for boys and eighteen for girls. In the case of total incapacity, the annuity for a single man would be £75 per annum. Married men would receive this sum also but in addition there would be an annual allowance of £30 for their wives and £12 10s. in respect of each child.
That is the scheme which the Minister of Defence will find in his Department.
– From what newspaper is the honorable senator quoting?
– The Argus of 3rd September last.
– I think that the statement was published in the press of Australia.
– I am certain that it was dictated to my own secretary, typed, and handed to the representatives of the press, and that it appeared in all the daily journals both of this city and of Sydney. I do not think it can be contended for a moment that the allowance which is requisite in the case of a widow should be equal to the amount that should be paid to an unfortunate man who is the victim of incapacitation. Because of that I propose to ask honorable senators to consider my scheme, with a view to making the payments to such soldiers a little more liberal. I may add that the method upon which I proceeded is that which is being adopted by the Imperial Government to-day in the pensions for their incapacitated soldiers. Naturally we are making more liberal payments here, but I intend to quote figures, with a view to showing that the Imperial authorities have recognised that a pension which is reasonable in the case of a widow is not reasonable in the case of a totally incapacitated man. Under their pension scheme they propose to pay 14s. a week to a totally disabled single man, and 7s. 6d. per week to a widow. It will be seen, therefore, that the amount payable to an incapacitated soldier is almost double that which is to be paid to a widow. The same idea must have animated those who drew up the Imperial pension scheme as animated me in formulating this larger payment to the victims of total incapacity. Although in that scheme I have adopted the proposal for an even payment to the wives of totally incapacitated men, I have no quarrel with this Bill because it proposes to proceed on different lines, -seeing that the result produced is very much the same, at any rate in the higher ranks. The amendment which I intend to move will be in the direction of making the payment to totally incapacitated soldiers 30s. per week, or £78 per year, in the case of single men. In the case of married men who are totally incapacitated my proposal is that the amount payable to the man and his wife shall be £108 a year. If my amendment be adopted it will be necessary to alter the scheme of this Bill which provides that 50 per cent, of the amount payable to the husband shall be paid to his wife. That would mean, not £108 a year, but something in excess of that. If we make provision for the payment of £2 per week in the case of an incapacitated man and his wife, I think we shall be doing what is right. But to ask an incapacitated soldier to live on £1 a week, and if he is a married man to expect him and his wife to rub along on 30s. per week, is, I think, to neglect a duty which we owe to these men, and to ignore a promise which I made, and which I feel bound to redeem.
– - I intend to support the Bill, but I would like to point out one or two matters in connexion with it, and I hope that in doing so I shall not be ruled out of order. The position of widows is very frequently referred to in this measure. Since the opening of the present session it will be admitted that I have been pretty persistent in endeavouring to obtain from the Minister the percentage of married men who enlisted in the ranks of our first Expeditionary Force. I venture to think that that percentage is unnecessarily high, seeing that there is an ample number of young men in Australia who ought to be fighting for the Empire in this great war. Very early in the ‘ history of the struggle I recognised that married men, who would leave wives and comparatively large families behind them, were being selected from amongst those who volunteered, whilst strong young men, full of military ardour, were, for some reason unknown to themselves, rejected. I had experience of that during the Federal campaign. In dozens of instances I was met by young men who had volunteered, and who addressed questions to me to which I could give no answer.
– Some of the marriageable girls were protesting that too many single men were going to the war.
– I am not in a position to state what was the percentage of married men who enlisted, but I think it is unnecessarily high. It is bad public policy for married men to be taken out of Australia in large numbers at this juncture, unless they possess special military knowledge, while plenty of single men are available. If I had my way, the single men would go to the front, whether they liked it or not. That would solve one feature of this problem, for, liberal though we ought to be to the incapacitated soldier, we must not have on the stocks a pension scheme like that of the United States of America. There, pensions are being paid to men who are alleged to have fought in the war of the revolution. It is well known that the pensions system of the United States has been fruitful of corruption, and that it could not have been maintained but for the fact that America is such a rich country.
– We will be free from that, because we keep a more accurate list of the men who have enlisted.
– But I would like to have accurate knowledge of the number of married men who enlisted in our first Expeditionary Force. Only to-day some of us must have seen a little boy in the ranks of our second Expeditionary Force, led by his father. Whilst there are so many single men in the country, it is regrettable that the man should be separated from his wife and young children. If the single men went to the front, there would, perhaps, be wider avenues of employment open to the married men who remained here. Undoubtedly it is necessary in some cases that married men should go to the front. Some of them possess special military knowledge, and, in many cases, their wives are well provided for.
– A lot of married men are going to the front without the consent of their wives.
– I was told the other day by a soldier who came from Queensland that married men who volunteered in that State could not be enlisted without the written consent of their wives. I call that a most salutary provision.
– How can a different condition, regarding enlistment, obtain in one State from that which prevails in another ?
– I do not think that Senator Bakhap’s statement is quite correct.
– If some such provision were observed it would be a most sensible course to adopt.
– I think the provision which operates is that no married man is allowed to go to the front who has not made reasonable provision for the maintenance of his wife and family.
– I believe that the exigencies of the Empire are so great that we should have conscription, and that the single men of a military age should be the first called upon to go to the front, and if the war continues so long that it will be necessary to draw upon married men they should be called upon. The pension scheme has my approval, but I believe that we would find ourselves much better able to meet the probable great cost of the scheme if we were to exercise sufficient forethought and adopt a better plan in regard to the utilization of our military resources in other directions. But I will not stress that matter, sir, for I know that if I did, it would not be long before you called me to order. I do not wish to delay the proceedings, but there are two little matters to which I desire to direct the attention of the Minister. It is true that we have in the Chamber only one or two legal gentlemen. No doubt a great many points have been considered by the legal advisers of the Administration, but now and again, to a lay mind, something will occur which even the legal mind will have overlooked. We talk a great deal about totally incapacitated soldiers. I am- sorry to say that if our soldiers have to go through the hazard of war, like the Imperial troops who have already fought, it is probable that many of them will come back who will be incapacitated in one sense, they will be incapacitated as regards the earning of a livelihood, but at the same time they may become fathers of children. I ask the Minister whether it has been overlooked that incapacitated soldiers after their return may procreate children. Such children, I venture to say, should participate in the benefits of the pensions scheme. That appeals to common sense. There may be, perhaps, a little oversight. We know what thelaw is. If the Minister does not provide for that, the omission may have to be rectified later.
– They would be the children of the incapacitated soldiers.
– If the definition in the Bill is ample enough, I have nothing more to say; I am satisfied. Again, there may be posthumous children. An incapacitated soldier may return and die, and after a certain time his widow may give birth to a child. I hope that the scope of the measure will include provision for posthumous children. These are slight details which, perhaps, mav escape the attention of legal gentlemen. I think it my duty, although I may be doing something which is superfluous, to call attention to the two points. I am against the provision which takes away the pension of a widow who remarries. It is very bad public policy to put a woman in the position of having to lose something of monetary value before she can remarry. I am not going to indicate in how many directions the policy may be bad, but I do not think we ought to make two bites of a cherry. I want to economize in connexion with the war expenditure in a totally different direction. I do not want any cheeseparing policy in connexion with the pension scheme. A war-worn veteran who comes back unable to earn a living should have the fullest consideration, and I give all praise to the exMinister and the present Minister for having elaborated this scheme, which I hope will prove satisfactory, and will not have to be worked at too great expense, because it would be regrettable if Australian soldiers experienced more than the usual percentage of casualties. It is proverbial that a rich old man, who marries a young woman, and prohibits her from marrying again except at the cost of the estate he leaves her, is a fool. It is a very unsatisfactory thing to do, and as it is unnecessary for me, seeing that I am a supporter of the measure, to do more than casually allude to a few points I hope that the Administration will see their way clear to excise that clause. If a woman remarried there is the Women’s Property Act, and if she had any property it would not become that of her husband. It is probable that the pension might be most useful to her. It would supplement the earnings of her husband, and be of assistance in the proper upbringing of the children she may have had to the deceased soldier. I see very little advantage, and very little economy, and that only of a false kind - a kind opposed to good public policy - in taking away the pension from a widow who remarries. I hope that the Administration will excise the clause. In every other respect the Bill has my hearty support.
– In a few words I wish to support the second reading of the measure, and, at the same time, to express my regret at the necessity for its introduction. I feel sure that any person who viewed the march past of the military men to-day must have realized that the measure is essential, and that any feeling of pride which he had for being an Australian - and every Australian must have felt a thrill at what he witnessed this morning - was tinged with a pang of regret for the necessity for such a procession. It is a very poor tribute to our boasted civilization that we should use the glinting steel and the fixed bayonet. The objective of every bar of steel, I suppose, was the body of a human being, an endeavour to make more widows and orphans such as. are provided for in this measure. I can assure you, sir, that the difficulty with which we are now confronted is but the first step in what we shall have to en counter under the military caste that is fast growing up in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out an anomaly in the Bill. I feel sure that many more anomalies will arise, as they did arise, and were continued for many years in our experience of Workmen’s Compensations Acts, and so forth. I think that the provisions of the Bill are too discriminating. I cannot see why any difference should be made between the pension to the widow of a private and the pension to the widow of an officer. The Minister of Defence pointed out that the widow of an officer would have lived on a scale commensurate with the income of her husband. That can be counteracted by the argument that she, therefore, was in a better position to provide for the eventualities consequent upon the profession of her husband. I think that, in regard to the widows, there should be no discrimination in regard to the pension, seeing that no discrimination is made in regard to the children of officers and men. I quite realize that, from time to time, many of these anomalies will arise under the pension scheme. It makes one wonder where it is all going to end. Heroes, of course, we saw marching along the street this morning. Heroes we have in the Commonwealth, who go to their daily toil every morning without any beating of drums, but for whom, in many cases, no such provision is made. In my opinion, the problem confronting Australia in that regard is a most serious one. This is but the first step in what we shall have to face after the war is over, because the estimated expenditure under the measure, I understand, is a modest £230,000 for a commencement.
– That is on the basis of 20,000 troops, and already we are committed to more than that.
– That is so. I have no’ scruples about raising the expenditure to meet such meritorious cases as those which will be presented to us, because I realize that, throughout the six States, no less than £300,000,000 has been borrowed for the improvement of the land and expenditure on public works. Therefore I would have no qualms in calling upon the landed wealth of the Commonwealth to bear this and similar expense. In fact, I would obtain from that source the whole of the expenditure in connexion with defence. I merely mention, in passing, my fear that the pension scheme which is now being launched is but the first step towards the trouble which will confront Australia after the war is over. I trust that any little anomalies in the Bill will be rectified in Committee. I sincerely hope to see the day when the workers of the world will have better sense than to march to the field of battle to pour cold lead into each other, or to stick cold steel into each other, when they have no quarrel among themselves, and will let the capitalists of the world who cause these wars go and do the fighting themselves.
– The Government have had three months in which to formulate this pension scheme, and apparently they have made it as liberal as, in my opinion, it would be wise at this juncture to do. An objection has been raised to the amount proposed to be paid at certain stages. If it is found that our finances are in a much more flourishing condition in the near future, it will be easy to amend the scale so that larger payments could be made. That should be quite a simple matter. According to the statement of the Minister we may look forward in the ordinary course of events to an annual payment of at least £500,000 from this fund. That is a small item for the Commonwealth to raise. It will not trouble us in the slightest degree. It should be remembered that the mere payment of taxes is of no importance compared with the actual work of going to the front as these heroes are doing. To my mind, there is nothing more discouraging to the British people than to see, as I have seen, in the Old Country many soldiers who have returned from the front eking out a miserable existence by begging at street corners. It is a disgrace to the British Empire that that kind of thing should exist. I am pleased to see that the Australian Parliament is taking what I regard as a wise step. It is telling the soldiers that it is prepared, if they should be injured, to give them some compensation. It is telling them, furthermore, that in the event of their death, their widows and families will be looked after. That, to my mind, is a right and proper course to adopt. It is to be regretted that the Ministry have not seen their way clear to continue the pension to a widow if she remarries. There is the possibility of a second hus band dying, and, according to my reading of the Bill, the pension to her would not be restored. I advise the Senate to accept the Bill as it stands, and allow it to pass.
– If they have children, the children will still receive the pension
– To continue the pensions to widows who remarry would not increase the total amount payable very appreciably.
– This is asking a woman to discount her own attractiveness. That is not fair to her.
– There are a great number of - unfair things in the world, and apparently the Bill represents the extreme distance to which the Ministry are prepared to go. They are in charge of the finances, and we ought to have some consideration for their views ; I do not see why it should be possible in Australia for any large additional number of persons who have not served to get on to the pension list, as appears to have happened in America. They must do things there on a very different scale.
– The trouble was that in the American Civil War no proper lists of the men serving with the colours were kept.
– It should not have been possible for an American who took no part in the war to get on the pension list, but apparently it has happened. I understand that the Commonwealth has a complete record of all those who have volunteered.
– They have never been able to give me the names of the married ones.
– There should be a complete record of those who have enlisted, and a statement as to whether they are married or single, but I do not know whether that statement would be capable of verification in every case. I have no fear of the Commonwealth being confronted by the condition of things that exists in America. I regard the Bill broadly with great satisfaction. Almost as many accidents and deaths occur in peace as in warfare, but whereas in previous wars only a small percentage of the men have fallen, it will be a very different matter in this war. We are told on what appears to be very good authority that the Germans have already lost 1,250,000 men. If that is so, it is reasonable to assume that the Allies have lost a considerable number also, and we must anticipate a much greater percentage of casualties in this war than in former wars. In the circumstances we had better regard the rates of pension and compensation proposed by the Ministry as being fair, and pass the Bill as it stands.
– I am sure the Bill will receive the support of honorable senators on both sides, as there is practically no difference of opinion amongst us as to its principle, which is in accordance with the spirit of the country that we represent. I am proud of the history of the pension system so far as this Chamber is concerned. The first attempt to pass a pensions law here was to provide pensions for the High Court Judges. I am pleased that it was turned down, as the temper of Parliament at the time was against any partial system of pensions. The next proposal was the Old-age Pensions Bill, which we passed as we did a subsequent measure providing pensions for invalids. This record reflects credit on Australia, and we may claim to some extent to have been pioneers in that direction. This measure is quite in keeping with that record. One of the most regrettable features of past wars has been the way our wounded soldiers have been treated afterwards. The way our suffering soldiers who were unable to earn a living have been neglected by their fellow countrymen on returning from the wars has always been a sore point.
– The first man to treat them really well was Napoleon.
– He had many good qualities, so far as his soldiers were concerned. I am pleased that we, in this age, are more ready to recognise our duty to those who go to the front. The only part of the measure that I cannot heartily support is the great differentiation made in the schedule. Contrast the position of the ranker who, returning totally incapacitated, receives only £1 per week with that of the officer’s widow, who receives £3 a week. We saw to-day a lot of the pomp and glory of war, but in a year or two we shall see its horrible aspect, when the crippled or disfigured veterans return. These men cannot possibly get out of their £1 a week pension the amount of benefit that the widow of the higher -placed man in the regiment will get out of her pension. The disparity in the amounts is altogether too great. The comparatively rich man’s widow, who has never been out of Australia, may ‘be in possession of perfect health and able to earn her own living through being highly educated, or Having a profession at her finger tips, yet she can draw a pension of £3 a week, while the poor fellow who has suffered all the pains and penalties of actual warfare returns here to obtain £1 a week. I hope something can be done to rectify this glaring inequality. I do not want to throw any difficulties in the way of the passage of the measure at this late hour, but the matter ought to be attended to. Apart from that objection I hail the Bill with every satisfaction, believing it to be on right lines.
– I did not intend to speak on the second reading, believing that we were all unanimous as to its principle, but certain matters have arisen during the debate that call for some comment. The schedule has been criticised on the ground of discrimination. The Government have endeavoured to meet the obligation cast upon them in regard to those going to the war with a fair amount of success, but some honorable senators think that the privates are not being treated fairly in comparison with others. I have not heard anything to justify that contention. It might be inferred from Senator Ferricks’ remarks that this war waa one in which, so far as Australia’s participation in it was concerned, only workers were taking part.
– He made no statement like that.
– His remarks are quite capable of that construction, but they are not borne out by the facts. Reference has been made to the large pension list of the United States of America, and we have been accustomed to read in American literature in regard to the War of Independence, the war of 1812, and the Civil War, about the glories of the American race, but I venture to say that nothing that can be brought forward, even by American fiction writers, can exceed the general attitude and sentiment of Australia with regard to this war. Men have enlisted in the Forces who are not likely, personally, or through their dependants, to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill. In one tent alone in New South Wales four men who volunteered as privates, and have since gone to the war as privates, doing every duty that fell to them cheerfully, had incomes aggregating over £15,000 a year, while the officer immediately over them was a man who was shearing for two of them last season. They did their duty ungrudgingly and unmurmuringly, recognising their responsibility to their country.
– That is a splendid spirit.
– It is ; and we are producing that spirit in Australiatoday.
– It is the spirit of the French Army.
– Senator Bakhap referred, when Senator de Largie was speaking, to what Napoleon did for his men, and Senator de Largie replied that Napoleon recognised the value of his soldiers. The Minister and the exMinister of Defence could give numbers of instances of men who have thrown up everything to enlist as privates, recognising the duties in times of war of those who, in times of peace, occupy official positions. I am certain that the estimate given by the Statistician of the amount that this Bill will cost is based to a large extent on an average rate of £11 per man for a contingent of 20,000 men. If we send 20,000 men away, £230,000 may possibly measure the sum for which the country will be responsible under this Bill. We have to take into consideration the fact that a certain proportion of the men will not call for this assistance. Any question of differentiation can be better dealt with in Committee. Many men have joined our Forces worked up from the ranks, become commissioned officers, and have gone away with our Expeditionary Forces. Their whole household is maintained and carried on upon the assumption of a continuous income. They have entered into obligations it may be, in respect of the education of their children or other matters of that kind. I think the Government wisely and properly are considering the difference of income as the basis of the allowance to be made to them. The Government rightly and democratically are providing that, so far as the children are concerned, the allowance shall be uniform, irrespective of whether they are the children of a ranker or of an officer. So far as the widow of an officer is concerned, she has been bearing with him the heat and burden of the day in relation to their domestic circle, and the Bill, in my opinion, properly provides that she shall not be abruptly deprived of an income commensurate to some extent with the obligations she has incurred. I think it is desirable that no impression should get abroad that, so far as this war and Australia’s participation in it are concerned, there is any divided opinion or any divided sense of duty. All persons in the community feel that we are at war, and that those who are voluntarily taking upon themselves the responsibility of representing Australia at the scene of action have been drawn from every class in this community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Appointment and constitution of Board).
– I ask whether this is not a Bill increasing the burdens of the people, and on which amendments should be moved by way of request.
– I am putting the clauses to the Committee in the usual way, when considering such a measure. This is not an annual Appropriation Bill, nor yet a Taxation Bill, upon which amendments are submitted by way of request.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
The rates of pensions payable under this Act shall not exceed the following : -
In case of the total incapacity of a member of the Forces -
to the member, the rate specified in column 3 of the schedule, opposite to the rate of pay of the member, and
to the wife of the member, 50 per centum of that rate, and
to each child of the member, the rate of Thirteen pounds per annum.
– I find that some difficulty of a purely technical character may arise if I attempt to submit the amendment I desire to the Committee. This is not an ordinary Appropriation Bill, and it does not in itself propose taxation. It is therefore, a Bill which we can amend and in connexion with which we need not make request. But having had the advantage of a consultation with the President, I feel that J. am on safe .ground when I say that it would be irregular or impossible for me to move an amendment which would have the effect of increasing in any way the burden of the people proposed by the Bill. I was confronted with the difficulty that I desire to elicit from the Committee a certain expression of opinion, and it is clear that I cannot move to increase the payments provided for by the schedule. What I propose to do is to move to delete certain words in paragraph 6 of this clause, it is immaterial which, in order to leave a blank in the clause. If honorable senators will assist me in doing that, it will be an intimation to the Government that it is the desire of the Committee that they should move in the direction I have indicated, by increasing the rate of payment to a totally incapacitated man provided for in the schedule, under a message from the Crown, which can only be secured by the Government.
– Could the honorable senator not move by way of request? We have considered Bills in connexion with which both .amendments and requests have been received.
– That is quite true. The Constitution says that we can amend all Bills with two exceptions - the annual Appropriation Bill and a taxation measure. With regard to those Bills which we cannot amend, we are at liberty to request the other House to amend them. This not being an ordinary Appropriation Bill or a taxation measure, it is clear that we cannot make a request in connexion with it. We can amend it. But there is another provision which renders it impossible for us to amend it in the direction of increasing the burden upon the people. I trust that no technical point will be taken by the Government, and that I shall be enabled to get an expression of opinion from the Committee. I shall move to delete certain words from paragraph b, and I hope that if there is a division upon it, it will be regarded as a test vote, the purpose of the amendment being quite clearly to give expression to a desire to give an increased amount to a totally incapacitated soldier. If the amendment be carried, the Government will no doubt feel themselves under an obligation to obtain :a message from the Crown entitling us to increase the rate referred to in the schedule. Probably the quickest way to deal with the matter would then be to discard this Bill and to introduce in another place a new Bill, with a different schedule. I remind honorable senators again of the unfortunate position in which this Bill will leave a totally incapacitated soldier. We aTe asked to give to that man only £1 per week, and I will ask any honorable senator here to say whether a totally incapacitated man can live on £1 a week.
– Certainly not.
– Is Australia so poor that she cannot afford to maintain a soldier now fighting for her, if when he returns he is totally incapacitated ? We are to pay £1 per week, which I think is a fair amount to a widow without children. She will be in possession of all her faculties, and able . to do something to maintain herself. She will be able, at any Tate, to look after her personal wants. The Government propose that we should pay only the same amount to a totally incapacitated cripple who returns here unable to do anything -for himself. In many cases, especially after a lapse of years, such a man will be under the necessity, possibly, of paying others to attend to him. How far will £1 per week go in such a case as that ? I do not believe, even though this Bill should pass, that Australia would be content in later years to see these unfortunate men starving upon her streets. Sooner or later, Parliament will be forced to recognise the necessity of making better provision for them. Why should we not do it now ? If honorable senators think that £1 a week is sufficient to maintain a totally incapacitated man, I cannot expect their votes; but if they agree with me that that amount is quite insufficient for the purpose, I appeal to them to support the effort I am now making to secure an increase of the rate proposed in the Bill. We have heard a good deal of late years in this country about a living wage. My honorable friends opposite are great believers in the living wage as fixed by our Arbitration Court. Civilization is advancing, and the living wage will probably go up. I ask honorable senators to contrast, I cannot say compare, their idea of a living wage with the £1 per week which the Government propose to give as a dole, I cannot call it a pension, to the soldier who returns here a helpless cripple for the rest of his life.
– Does the honorable senator propose proportionate increase if the total amount is increased in the way he desires ?
– I have already explained the proposal I originally put forward. It would be impossible for any one in this Committee to alter the whole of the schedule. I have proposed that the amount paid to the wife should be the same, irrespective of the rank of her husband; and if that course were followed, the amount to be paid to the incapacitated soldier would move up. It is impossible for me to adjust the varying amounts, because they all move in a certain arithmetical proportion.
– What does the honorable senator wish to do?
– I wish, first of all, to provide that the rank and file men who return here totally incapacitated - I refer to single men - shall receive 30s. a week, or £78 per year. In the case of married men who are totally incapacitated, I would supplement that sum by £30 a year, thus giving them £108 a year.
– Am I correct in assuming that the honorable senator wishes to make all the payments in column 3 a minimum of £78?
– No. I propose to start with a private who is a single man, and to fix his pension, in case of total incapacity, at £78 a year. The others should then move up in their proper proportions. If the Committee agree with me that 30s. a week is a fair thing to pay to a single man who is totally incapacitated, I assume that the Government, in preparing another Bill, will instruct their officials to work out the graduations in this scale.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator desires to proportionately increase the pension of officers, which stands at £156 a year.
– No. But I occupy this unfortunate position, that it is impossible for me to work out the de tails of my scheme whilst I am on my feet. All I can ask the Committee to do is to settle one or two of the main details, leaving it to the departmental officers to work out the varying amounts which would be payable to the men and officers of the Australian Expeditionary Forces under that scheme. As my starting point, I say that we should pay 30s. a week to the totally incapacitated soldier, and £30 a year to his wife. The difference between my proposal and the Bill, in the case of a single man, is that under the Bill he will receive a pension of only £1 a week - an amount upon which he cannot live. I propose that he shall receive 30s. a week, or £78 a year. Then the Bill provides that a married man who is totally incapacitated shall receive £78 a year. My proposal would give him and his wife £108 a year. I say again that to offer single men who fire totally incapacitated £1 a week is an insult to the wealth and generosity of Australia. Great Britain is paying 14s. a week to its soldiers who are totally disabled, apart from the advantage which they gain under a national insurance scheme. In relation to the pay of its soldiers, I say that its pensions are very much more generous than are those proposed under this Bill. I must apologize to the Committee if I have exhibited a. little warmth on this matter, but I feel that we are not showing a proper sense of proportion when we vote millions of pounds largely for the purpose of finding employment for able-bodied men in Australia, and shrink from incurring a liability of, say, another £50,000 a year to adequately provide for Australian soldiers who return from the front totally incapacitated. I know that honorable senators are with me, but that they fear the financial consequences of my proposal. What are those financial consequences? What will the extra amount represent, and can Australia afford to pay it? If it cannot, seeing that no man can pretend that £1 a week is a sufficient allowance to maintain a single man who has been totally incapacitated as the result of the war, we must say to these men, “All right, you must half live. You must get along as best you can, but Australia is unable to maintain you.” To any such doctrine I refuse to subscribe.
– The Imperial authorities have to say the same to their men.
– They are treating their men more generously than we propose to treat ours.
– Allowing for the difference between the cost of living in Australia and in the Old Country, and adding to it the advantage which the Imperial soldiers enjoy by reason of a national insurance scheme, I say that 14s. n week in their case is much more generous than is the pension which is proposed under this Bill.
– The honorable senator might just as well say “ plus the insurance which our men may have in Australia.”
– Then I will leave out the advantages derived from a national insurance scheme in England, and I still say that a pension of 14s. a week there is quite equal to one of £1 a week here. The Imperial authorities have recognised the difference which exists between the absolutely helpless position of a totally incapacitated man and the position of the not incapacitated widow. They grant the former twice the pension which is granted the latter. I know that the Minister is naturally desirous of getting this measure through in its present form. But I cannot help thinking that if the scheme had been thought out a little more than it has been, and if the view which I have put forward had been pressed previously, ho would not have been unsympathetic towards it. I hope that it will not go forth to the world that members of this Parliament think they have discharged their duty by granting a pension of £1 a week to totally incapacitated single men, and that they are also of opinion that those men can live upon that small amount. I move -
That in paragraph 1 of sub-clause B the words “ the rate specified in column three “ ha left out.
If carried, that will be an intimation to the Ministry that this Committee does not approve of the schedule to the measure. We cannot move to increase the rate set out in the Bill for the reasons which I have advanced. But if the Committee indorses my proposal, the Minister will doubtless proceed to submit another
Bill drafted in accordance with its decision.
– I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will not press the amendment, and I would point out that it is a very easy thing to go bidding on a clause like this. I have no doubt that if some other honorable senator moved to grant a pension of 35s. per week, or even £2 per week in the case of single men who are totally incapacitated, he could make out even a stronger case than that which Senator Millen has made out in favour of 30s. per week. A still more popular case could be made out in favour of 45s. per week.
– The point is not so much the amount as the insufficiency of it.
– This is one of those cases in which, if we had no sense of responsibility, we could all start bidding one against the other. On the question of what is ;i fair rate to fix, I wish to observe that the preceding Parliament passed a Bill providing for another form of incapacity - I refer to invalidity - arising largely from industrial activities. What was the rate there provided ? It was 10s. per week. Unfortunately, in dealing with all these questions, there is a financial liability from which we cannot escape. It is that to which we must at all times give consideration. It was a recognition of this fact which induced Parliament to fix invalid pensions at 10s. weekly. That amount was not fixed because Parliament was of opinion that it was sufficient. But, having regard to our liabilities generally, that was the rate which commanded parliamen.tary approval. Then let me point to old-age pensions. Does anybody suggest that an old-age pensioner can live as he ought to live on 10s. a week? Yet “we have been forced by circumstances to adopt that rate. There is not an honorable senator who would not like to see the old-age pension fixed at 20s. a week. But we must pay regard to the financial position of the country, and Ministers have to defend a rate which nobody can regard as adequate. In this case we propose to give soldiers who are totally incapacitated double the pension we are granting to incapacitated soldiers in our industrial army. That is a substantial increase, and, as Senator Grant points out, in the industrial army we have made absolutely no provision for widows. I wish to point out here the value of the provision we are making as compared with the pay of the men. It has. to be remembered that in a large number of cases the men are married and have children. The pay of a private is £109 a year. If the proposal of Senator Millen were adopted a married man with two children would get £134 a year, although before he was incapacitated his pay was £109. We have to look at this matter all round. In such a case as I have put we would give that family more than we did before tie man was incapacitated.
– You are forgetting that in addition to the pay of £109 a year you fed the man and clothed him
– That is so. But the fact remains that under the proposal of the honorable senator the man would draw more pay from the Commonwealth when he was incapacitated than he drew when he was enjoying full health Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to accede to this request right off, or even to increase the suggested rate. That appeals to one’s sympathies; but, at the same time, we have to consider the burden which we are taking upon ourselves. When it is considered that we are sending away nearly double the number of men on which the estimate of £233,000 a year was based, and when it is remembered that we hope to send still more if the war is continued, it must be recognised that, even on the present estimate, the country is taking upon itself a liability of half-a-million a year. The Committee should pause before it proceeds to unduly enlarge the estimate. A pension of £1 a week, inadequate as it may be to some extent is far more than we give to a very large class whose need is just as dire, if not more so, as the need of the soldiers will be. It ought to be borne in mind, too, that there are many ways in which the community itself does and can help men who are so situated. I have in my mind a scheme which has been placed before me by a body who have an institution known as the Drysdale Old Soldiers’ Home. For one-half of the amount of this pension they are prepared to provide good accommodation - I have seen it - for single soldiers who would be taken in practically as boarders - who would live, not in old men’s homes such as we are familiar with in the States but in what are practically cottage homes. The institution accommodates a number of old soldiers, a dwindling quantity.
– How many can. they receive?
– I do not know. At the present time the institution can accommodate about fifty, but the accommodation can be increased very largely.
– That is not the only institution which will do that.
– No. It is a type of institution which, if the scheme I have in my mind is going to be carried out, I would urge the Government to extend considerably. In such a place, not only would the men live better than they could if they were allowed to roam about the community, but they would receive skilled attention, because a medical man could1 be attached. Men who are wholly incapacitated will possibly need from time to time medical attention.
– You could have one institution in each State capital.
– I see no reason why the Government could not arrange to have one of these places at each State capital, so that single men who had been incapacitated, could have a home where they would be catered for far better than they would be even if they had a pension of 30s. a week, and were allowed to roam through the country. The trustees of this institution assure me that for one-half of the pension they could keep the men better than they would be kept in the average boarding-house to which otherwise they would go.
– -Did they mention the capital outlay on buildings?
– They can give the particulars, but, of course, that would have to be a charge on the Treasury. It would be a good investment for the Government. I have often thought that we should do something of the kind in connexion with old-age pensioners. Some of them would be much better off in such homes, and enjoy far more liberty, than they do in old men’s homes. They could get better-cooked meals and more wholesome living than they can when they are allowed to wander about and have to provide for themselves in cheap lodginghouses or in cheap rooms in the slums of the city. The proposal of Senator Millen appeals to our sympathies ; and if somebody moved to make the amount still higher, that would appeal to them more; but the country is pledging itself to a very fair burden. The Government will give every consideration to such a proposal as has already been made to me, and which could be extended in order to sec that the men got every possible attention, and received full value for their money. I would appeal to Senator Millen, with his knowledge of the financial position of the Commonwealth, not to press the amendment; but if he should press it, I would ask the Committee not to vote for it, because the Commonwealth i3 taking upon itself at this juncture a very heavy burden, and one which, I think, is about as much as it can stand.
.- The Minister of Defence probably expressed the feeling of every honorable senator when be said that our sympathy is with the suggestion of Senator Millen ; but he also put his finger on sl vital spot when he pointed out that this is a question of finance. Every one of us would like to vote, if he felt that the resources of the Commonwealth warranted it, for a larger payment than is provided for in the schedule, and, as the Minister said, for a. larger payment than even that which is suggested by Senator Millen. Under our old-age and invalid pensions system, there are many cases of hardship which we. would like to remedy, “but we are precluded from doing that owing to the financial exigency of the times. I have in my mind a .case very much harder than the supposititious case put by Senator Millen. A young man -who lost his right arm is unable to get anything under the Invalid Pension Act simply because the medical officer will not certify that he is permanently incapable of earning his living. The doctor thinks that, in the course of time, the young man will be able to learn to write with his left hand, and will then be able to keep himself. I thought, and still think, that it is a very hard case; but, under the Act as it stands, the medical officer “has that power, and until he issues a certificate, no allowance can be made to the young man. No doubt there are many cases of that, kind. So it is in connexion with the Old-age Pensions Act. None of us thinks that a soldier who has the misfortune to become permanently in capacitated in the service of his country will be as well off if he receives £1 a week for the remainder of his life as he would have been had he not met with the accident. It is a question of finance; it is a question of how far-
– How far you will make the man bear the cost and the consequences of the war, and how far youwill ask the community to do it.
– It is a question of how far we are inclined to ask the community to bear with this burden at the present moment. During the last few days in Parliament we have heard a good deal about the enormous expenditure which is necessary, not only to carry on the ordinary services of the country, but to meet the additional expenditure owing to the war. We are now adding to the actual cost of the war an annual sum of about £250,000; that is on the basis of 20,000 men. I believe that every one of us is fearful that we will probably have to send not less than 80,000 men before the war is finished. If that is so, on the figures given by the Minister, our pension scheme will cost £1,000,000 a year. It is quite on the cards that, under the Bill as it stands, if the estimates of the Statistician work out correctly, the expenditure, within a little over a year, will be £1,000,000. I believe very many honorable senators are questioning whether his’ figures are likely to work out correctly. They are based on the results of wars in past times; but the daily accounts of the carnage and slaughter on the Continent suggest that there may be a far larger proportion of casualties per 1,000 or 100 of the men fighting than occurred in any previous wai.
– And because the burden is going to be heavier, you would shirk it?
– No. I do not think that the honorable senator is quite fair in making that charge against me, or any other honorable senator who for the present is supporting the Minister. I feel that I must support the Minister, on the grounds that he has given. He has pointed out that it is a question of how far we can meet these liabilities, so that, in his interjection, Senator Millen was not quite fair to those who will not support his suggestion. It is not a question of shirking our liabilities, but a question of how far Australia is able to meet suck a liability at the present moment. I do not think that Senator Millen will find any member of the Labour party wanting to shirk any liability of this kind. He will find, as he has found in the past, that, the members of the Labour party are far more willing to take up and bear responsibility in connexion with other sections of the people than are the party to which he belongs. I do not think the charge will fairly lie against any member of this party of shirking his responsibilities to any section of the people. In other directions we have been accused by Senator Millen and his party of extravagance. He would say I was not fair if I told him he had shirked his responsibilities towards the soldiers of toil who fell in the industrial army, but when he and his party were in power they shirked their responsibilities in that regard by not bringing into operation the invalid pensions section of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. They could have done so if they had liked, but they left them for the succeeding Labour Government to put into force, on the ground that the country could not afford the expense. I am as much justified in accusing Senator Millen of shirking his responsibilities then as he is in telling me that I am shirking mine now because I cannot fall in with his proposal. This is not a question out of which we ought to make party capital, and I rather resent the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– I am sure we are all willing to give Senator Millen every credit for the best of motives’ in moving his amendment, but before we can do justice to it we must know what he intends to do with regard to the rest of the schedule. He wants to increase the minimum. Will he help us to reduce the maximum ?
– If the Committee approve of what I propose in regard to the private, they can move the others up or down as they like.
– I want to know how the balance is to be kept between the two portions of the schedule. Our pension list is not confined to this Bill. Many complaint’s are made that the old-age pensions are too low, and before I agree to increase the minimum in this case I want to know if we can reduce the maximum.
– I am concerned only about the minimum man.
-We must look at the total responsibility involved in any alteration. It is necessary to keep the pension list within reasonable bounds. I cannot support this proposal, unless we reduce its maximum amounts, which are altogether too great. The widow of an officer who is paid 22s. 6d. per day will draw £101, and the scale goes up as follows: - 30s. per day, £116; 37s. per day, £131; 45s. per day, £146; 50s. per day, £156.
– There will be very much fewer of them.
– That does not matter. We must try to do even-handed justice, and even though there are fewer officers than privates, we ought to reduce the higher rate. Those figures show the very large salaries we are paying now. We cannot pay out in pensions more money than we have got. Many women are now drawing pensions of only £26 per annum, and the proposed war pension of £156 per annum is out of all proportion. We are too generous at one end of the scale, and too niggardly at the other ; but’ unless we can adjust it at both ends, I cannot support the proposal to increase the minimum.
– I .cannot follow Senator de Largie’s logic. He admits that we are paying a niggardly pension to certain people, and so doing an injustice, but he will not help to remedy it because he thinks somebody else is being paid too generously. The fact that the country is being too generous to one man does not relieve the honorable senator of the obligation of trying to prevent its being niggardly to another. I cannot withdraw the amendment. Not only do I feel strongly on the matter, but I feel under an obligation to every man who has enlisted in this army. I made the public statement as to the rates I would propose, believing that there would be no difficulty in getting Parliament to approve of them. I thought they were low enough, and that, if anything, the tendency of Parliament would be to raise them for the lower ranks above the amount which I felt in a position to offer, bearing in mind the responsibility to which the Minister has referred.
– That has been done to some extent, even though the pension for total incapacity is smaller.
– That pension has been cut down.
– We have increased the pensions to widows and children.
– By £2 a year for the widow and 10s. a year for a child. Imust press the amendment to a division because of the public statement I made, which evidently influenced quite a number of people. I regret that the Minister should have referred to such things as bidding for popularity. I am not aware that in bringing the matter forward I did anything to suggest any want of recognition, on the part of the Labour party, of the claims’ of the members of the Forces.
– How would you finance the scheme ?
– How are the Government going to finance theirs?
– By increasing the land tax.
– No Government finances one of its obligations without regard to its others.
– If we knew you had a sound scheme by which to raise the money required we might support you.
– I do not expect the honorable senator to support me. He will ask the Senate to vote millions without bothering where the money is to come from, but he becomes a rigid economist when a few extra thousand pounds for disabled soldiers are in question. Senator Pearce referred to the responsibility, but I held that responsibility when I put forward my scheme. If the Labour party were on this side of the Chamber, every one of them would be either moving or supporting the proposition I have put forward. They would not pretend that the country was discharging its duties to its permanently crippled soldiers by offering them a dole of £1 per week.
– If you were on this side, would you change your opinions?
– It was when I was on that side that I first put forward this very proposal. If I had been still there I should have been submitting it as Minister.
– Can you tell us one case where we increased the charges on the people when we were on the Opposition benches?
– Had I remained in office and submitted this proposal, every member of the Labour party would have supported it.
– No one can find fault with you for moving it now. Your attitude is quite consistent.
– Senator Russell for the first time in his political existence shows so much regard for the taxpayer that he refuses to help to fix a fair payment for permanently crippled soldiers’ who have fought for the Empire. Invalid pensions have been referred to, but my honorable friends forget that these men are risking their lives and limbs, not in pursuit of a livelihood, but in order to maintain over the heads of my honorable friends and others the homes in which they live. Thousands of people like ourselves are pursuing their ordinary occupations, but these soldiers are facing the risks of war, not for the sake of the pay, but because they feel it is their public duty. The financial risks ought not to fall on them also. The country recognises that the war is going to cost a lot of money. Upon whom should the consequences of the war fall ? Upon the public-spirited, patriotic men who have gone to the front? I say that the least we can do is to say that, as they are taking upon themselves these tremendous risks, which, in the case of too many of them, will become a certainty, the people who stop at home and escape the risks shall see that they have enough to live upon should they return here totally incapacitated.
– That is a good argument for a land tax.
– I am not dealing now with the method of raising the money that we require to do this. I say that, in my judgment, Australia can afford to pay the extra amount. Who is to bear the burden of the war? Is one man to be called upon to bear consequences of the war which should be borne by the whole community?
– Has not the honorable senator and his party fought all the proposals which have been brought forward to secure sufficient revenue to meet the consequences of the war?
– My honorable friends have never brought forward a proposition to do what I ask them to do now.
– The honorable senator was against the land tax and other proposals to bring in revenue.
– They had nothing to do with this proposal. The method of raising the revenue from which to pay these pensions may yet have to be fought out on the floor of this chamber. I say that I would sooner have pensions on the basis I am now advocating, even though the money required to pay them should be raised by the most obnoxious tax that could be introduced, than that we should not pay these pensions at all. I am intensely disappointed that the Senate, which has never shown itself greatly opposed to taxation, should suddenly develop such a callous disregard for the unfortunate position- of those who may return from the war totally incapacitated, and, at the same time, such a tender regard for those who are in a (position to pay such men the pension I am asking for. Senator Pearce brought forward an argument to show that, under ray scale, some pensioner might receive more than he would receive under this Bill, taking into account the amount received for himself, his wife, and hia children. If the honorable senator thinks that is not desirable, he can fix upon a maximum and provide that no one shall receive more than a certain amount,, irrespective of the number of children he has. The person for whom I am- pleading is the unfortunate man at the bottom, who is to get £-1 per week to enable him to live when he can do notthing at all for himself.
– The honorable senator is very, much interested in the “ bottom dog “ just now.
– Senator Barker need not interject, as though I had ever evinced any want of sympathy with other people.
– The honorable senator has never shown much sympathy for the “ bottom dcs “ at any time..
– I can let that pass for what it is worth. My sympathy has been more sincere, more genuine, and more practical than that of the honorable senator ever was. He mouths sympathy now, but when he- is given- an opportunity toput his sympathy to the test he makes insinuations about other people. I can recognise a measure of fairness in the statement of Senator de Largie, that I am at least consistent in what I am proposing now. I. am not submitting this proposal here for the first time. It was put before the country, and I presume that most members of the Committee saw the statement of it in the newspapers.
– The honorable senator could still impute motives to me.
– Because the honorable senator started it, and he must not squeal if he gets a Roland for his Oliver.
– I am not squealing; I am merely calling attention to a fact.
Senator- MILLEN. - I am very much disappointed indeed. I put this proposal before the Committee without further argument than a statement of its merits. I thought that honorable senators would view it on its merits, and that it would be accepted by a Chamber constituted as tl is is. I thought there would have been a more generous reception of my proposal, and that, even if the Committee waa not prepared to go as far as I wished, and. grant a pension of 30s.. a week to totally incapacitated soldiers, some via media or compromise would be suggested. I refuse to believe that, with the practical knowledge of the position of the poorer members of the community which we all have, any honorable senator will pretend that, if £1 per week is regarded as a reasonable pension for a woman in possession of all her faculties, it is a fair thing to pay only the same amount of pension to a. totally incapacitated soldier. I feel thatI must press my amendment, in orderthat I may be in a position to claim that, so far as it was- in my power, I attempted1 by speaking here, and by my vote, to redeem what I regard as a pledge which I gave to- those who-, as Minister of Defence,. I invited to- go and fight for this country.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT’ GOULD (New South. Wales) [10.20].- I shall certainly support the proposal madeby Senator Millen. A pension to a man injured in the- war is different from an ordinary pension. Senator Millen has referred to the position in which men will’ find themselves who return from the- war totally incapacitated;. He has shown that the widow of a soldier who is killed inthe war may go into a business or may remarry, whilst a man who is totally incapacitated is unable to go into any business, and unable to help himself in any way. If we d-o err in connexion with a matter of this kind it is better that we> should err on the side of generosity. Wehave all seen veterans of previous, warn crippled, and in a condition of practical starvation, and have commented upon the treatment they have received as a scandal and a disgrace. That has been urged against Governments time and again. It should be remembered that this proposal is put forward to deal with the emergency of the present war. We have undertaken to bear a burden of £18,000,000 to meet the expenses of the war. We have expressed our willingness to double that burden, if necessary, in defence of the Empire. It may be that, after the war is over, it will be necessary to raise loans to meet the great expenditure incurred iu connexion with such war, in the hope that, at some future date, we may be able to repay those loans. The great debt of the United Kingdom has been built up as a consequence of the wars in which Britain has been compelled to engage. She was not able, any more than we shall be, to meet the expenses of those wars out of ordinary revenue. She financed those wars by raising loans, which honorable senators are aware have been materially reduced during the last century, since when this indebtedness practically commenced. Just now Great Britain must increase her debt materially. Only the other day we saw that she found it necessary to borrow £350,000,000 on account of present war expenditure. She will build up her debt again, and it must remain a standing debt for a great many years. Our debt due to the war will have to be dealt with in the same way. We shall have to borrow money, and we may possibly have to issue interminable debentures to meet some portion of the cost of the war. Reasonable compensation for the men whom we invite to leave their families and give up their ordinary avocations is as legitimately a portion of the debt we shall have to face owing to the war as will be the £18,000,000 we are borrowing to carry it on. The only question for us to consider is what is a fair pension for a man who returns from the war totally incapacitated. The pay we give our soldiers is no inducement to men to risk their lives, though it is immensely higher than the pay given to soldiers by any other nation in the world. We recognise that it is nothing like what the men might earn in less hazardous occupations. We read that in the present war thousands of men are destroyed, and thousands who are not killed outright lose their eyes or their limbs, and become useless, worthless logs so far as their value to the community is concerned. Surely we are not going to say to these men that, having served our purpose, we care for them no longer. It would be better that these maimed and crippled men should be buried than that they should remain an encumbrance to themselves and their relatives for the rest of their lives.
– Life would still be sweet.
– Senator Gardiner is speaking as a Minister now.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Life is sweet to the honorable senator, because he is in full possession of ,all his faculties, but if he lost his arms and his legs he would prefer rather to be dead and buried than to live on in his crippled condition upon a miserable pittance. I know that there is no member of the Committee who, in his heart, would not be willing to assist Senator Millen to carry his proposal, but some honorable senators say that our circumstances do not justify it.
– And we cannot shut our eyes to those circumstances.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - They say that we have not sufficient wealth to do what Senator Millen proposes. If we want our men to go to the front, we should give them a reasonable amount of encouragement. We should say that, although we are taking them away from their families, we shall not leave them in a miserable state of poverty and distress if they are so unfortunate as to be wounded and totally incapacitated. When our contingents were enrolled for the South African war I heard members of a Government say to them, “ You are going away, but you can depend upon us to take care of your widows and children if you should fall, and if you come back hale, hearty, and strong we will see that you are afforded opportunities to obtain employment, so that you will lose nothing for having assisted the Empire in a time of emergency” - an emergency which, compared to the present one> was as nothing. That promise, I regret to say, was not in every instance honoured. I do not think that any honorable senator should be charged with attempting to make political capital out of this measure. I do not believe that Senator Gardiner or Senator Pearce desires to do less than is right to the men of our Expeditionary Forces any more than does any other honorable senator. But I do think that they view this matter from, a wrong stand-point. Any expenditure under the Bill should be regarded as an obligation which we cannot honorably evade, and as one which posterity will not begrudge. If Germany were triumphant in the present war we should be ground down under the heel of a military despotism and lose our freedom and independence. I urge Ministers to give the proposal of Senator Millen more favorable consideration, believing as I do that it is in the interest of the Commonwealth.
– I am altogether in accord with the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition up to a certain point. But my vote in support of it should be regarded only as an indication that I think the pension proposed under this Bill to totally incapacitated soldiers should be increased .to £74 or £75 a year. After that, I would allow the schedule to stand as it is.
– I would be satisfied with that.
– To that extent the honorable senator will have my hearty support. In the case of soldiers totally incapacitated who are at present receiving substantial rates of pay, I do not think that any increase in the pension is required. Senator Millen has, I think, made out an exceedingly good case for the further liberalization of the schedule in respect of totally incapacitated men who are in receipt of 6s., 7s., or 8s. per day. Senator Gould has pointed out that the wife of a soldier who returns totally incapacitated will find her time fully occupied in personal attendance upon him. He will be merely a living log - one of those crushed egg-shells which Carlyle describes as having littered the battlefields of Europe in the Napoleonic period. A good deal of talk has been indulged in concerning the cost of this scheme. I say that our war-worn, incapacitated soldiers, who may be incurably distressed both in mind and body, should have the advantage of a liberal pension scheme. Honorable senators opposite are too fond of charging us with a desire to criticise their proposals with a view to obtaining popularity. I say that we could have formulated a much more popular pension scheme than is contemplated in this Bill if we had adopted conscription, because we would then have been in a position to give gratuities to our troops who return from the war safe and sound, and to provide more substantial pensions in the case of those who come back partially or wholly incapacitated. I recognise that it is quite possible that a strong, courageous advocacy of conscription might cost any parliamentarian his seat until the electors become more fully seized of their responsibilities. But I am not concerned with that, and when a better opportunity presents itself I shall have no hesitation in telling them what I think of the entire position. A man should not expect to be paid for fighting for his country. It ought not to be a mercenary matter with him. I believe that if the men who comprise our Expeditionary Forces were going to be merely fed and clothed they would have volunteered for service just as1 readily. Surely it is their patriotism which we are lauding at the present time. It is a duty which is cast upon every citizen to fight for his country when stern necessity calls upon him to do so.
– I would remind the honorable senator that there is nothing connected with conscription in this clause.
– But the adoption of conscription would largely solve our difficulties in connexion with the war, and would enable us to prosecute it on sound lines if it should prove to be of long duration. It would be more satisfactory to enlarge our pension scheme than to continue what we are doing at present. I have great pleasure in supporting my leader in this matter, so long as my vote is not taken as an indication of my personal desire to increase the pensions of those who are at present in receipt of substantial remuneration, and in whose case the schedule may be regarded as satisfactory.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … Ayes.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 9 agreed to. Clause 10-
A pension payable under this Act to the widow of a member of the Forces shall cease upon her remarriage.
– Is the Minister favorably disposed to the excision of this clause, which, I think, is an exceedingly injudicious one, seeing that it proposes to penalize a widow who desires to remarry. A great many marriages have been made within a few days of the Expeditionary Force leaving. It is most undesirable to ask a woman, so to speak, to discount her charms. If a woman is sufficiently attractive and young to make a good wife for a citizen, let her marry by all means.
– I thought that love laughed at locksmiths.
– The Assistant Minister will recognise that statisticians deplore a tendency on the part of the people, not only of the Commonwealth, but of other countries, to defer marriage until a period which, perhaps, is a little too late in life to allow for the necessities of the nation. If, unhappily, our Forces are going to sustain many casualties, there will be many young widows in Australia. If a young woman desires to remarry, I think it is very bad public policy to put a brake on her inclination.
– You want to give a bonus to the man who takes her.
– What legal right would he have to the money? Under the
Married Women’s Property Act, will not the pension remain her property ? How can the honorable senator assume that the second husband will get the handling of the money? If the woman has children, the pension will be of additional assistance to her in bringing them up aa worthy citizens. I have already spoken in favour of an ample pension scheme. I think that a little liberality, common sense, and knowledge of the world will be most serviceable if exercised in this connexion. I think it is desirable on the part of the Administration to excise the clause. It will be very bad public policy to penalize a woman for remarriage, and, as it were, hold out a premium to her to remain in a state of celibacy. I am not going to throw any reflection on the chastity of the women of Australia - far be it from me - but I know that it is not a good thing, and every man of the world knows that it is not wise - to penalize a woman if she desires to re-enter the married state.Every old man who marries a young wife and leaves money to her on condition that she does not marry again is not only an old man, but an old fool ; and I hope that the State will not act along similar lines.
– I hope that the Minister will not be moved to alter the clause. I think it is finding a very fit and proper place in the Bill. Senator Bakhap has referred to the possibilities which may arise in the case of widowhood, and the acquisition of this pension; but, after all, the pension is a very small one. It is a wellrecognised custom to provide in wills and settlements that certain beneficiaries shall be entitled to certain emoluments or annual incomes dum casta et sola - to’ adopt the phraseology of the draftsman in another Bill - that is, while continent and single, and that applies to widows. Those who have had any practice in the law know that it is attendant, possibly, with some consequences that are not at the moment observed by the demisor or the testator; and very often the fact that the provision of a certain income and its continuance is dependent upon singleness! and continence leads to irregular associations. Nothing in this Bill, so far as I can see, is likely to produce that result. I1 do not think that we need consider that. But there is the possibility of irregular associations being brought about by the mere fact that a woman is entitled to the income she will receive as a widow. The amount is too small. There is. however, another aspect to be considered, and that is that we provide pensions for those who die at the front, and allowances if they become permanently incapacitated. We provide their dependants with something towards their sustenance should they fall. We provide for their widows and their children. If a widow choose to remarry, under the operation of this clause the pension to her will of necessity. But the allowance to, the children will not.
– It will continue.
– If a widow chooses to take the deliberate act of remarrying I think that she has no call upon us, seeing that the Commonwealth has provided for the children. It is right for us to consider the position of the wife of a man who has fallen in war, or been incapacitated. We have seen a good deal as to those who have married, almost hurriedly, those to whom they have been attached just before the latter proceeded to the front. In many instances, it seems to me to be almost a drain on the resources of Australia and Great Britain that we should be asked to provide pensions for those who have married right on the eve of the husbands entering into active service, and with a full knowledge of the fact. A man who has not married before, who may have been engaged to a girl for three or four years, and who, just before he goes to the front, marries-
– That may help to make up the wastage in war in its result.
– I have seen instances where the husband has gone straight away to the front, and I do not know how the wastage of war will be made good there.
– The honorable senator has a better knowledge of human nature than that.
– There are other considerations, too, which we have to regard. There are many going to the front who are not in a position to marry, and are not going to marry on the assumption that if they widow their wives by going there the Commonwealth will provide for them. There are many who are going to leave fi girl behind them, one to whom wifehood and motherhood is a natural ambition, and one, perhaps, who is looking forward to the achievement of that ambition. Where do they stand? We can do nothing, and I think that the single girl in Australia, whose suitor is going to the front, and who might have married her in the course of a year or two, has also to be considered in this regard- It is not right for us to make special provision for those who may marry men just on the eve of their departure, without having regard for others. I am not saying that we can or should, or ought to, make special provision, but in a few years’ time those who remain in this Parliament will begin to wonder and ask the statistician why it is that the conjugal conditions of Australia are so totally different for the years from 1914 to 1920, and some official in that office will report that it was due to the fact that the war took away so many of the cream of Australia, and the girls who, in that period, were of a marriageable age, had their possibilities of marriage lessened. These are circumstances which we must remember when we start out to provide for those who hastily marry.
– Do you think that the retention of the clause will improve the conjugal conditions of the community after the war?
– I do not say that it will improve then at all. We are under no obligation to provide continuous payment to the widow of one who has fallen in the war. We provide for her dependants and his dependants, and we should not continue to do that after she lias elected to remarry. All the sentiment which has been expressed in regard to the widows and in regard to those who are associated as wives with the soldiers who go to the front I share. At the same time we have to consider that there are other people who are making sacrifices, and amongst those who will make sacrifices for the incomes to the widows will be girls doomed to singleness. I read in a cablegram the other day that somebody in authority had said that it was better that girls should be married for a moment than live as old maids.
– It is a sound policy.
– It is a very sound policy, if we can but assure an income for every one in the event of the husband falling in war. But when it is regarded from that point of view, is it right that we should ask that proportion of our population, however small, which -will be doomed to single blessedness, to contribute to those who have had the privilege of happy marriage even for an hour?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 16 agreed to.
– I have persistently from the beginning of the session asked for definite information regarding the percentage of married men in the Forces enlisted and being enlisted. The information ought to- be forthcoming, at any rate, in regard to the Force that has gone away. If there are great difficulties in the way of its preparation I do not want to press the Department unfairly.
f 11.2]. - I want the honorable senator to realize some of the difficulties in the way of immediately placing at the disposal of Parliament the information which he has very properly asked for, and has a right to obtain. Enlistment has taken place, and is still taking place all over the continent. Particulars are taken down in the various military districts, but not all of those enlisted are eventually accepted. The information is available in the -district office, where the first organization into units takes place, and the rolls have to be kept in the district while the units are in the district. When the. unit is brought together the rolls are brought together, but they are not tabulated or worked out. Up till the time General Bridges left Australia he had to have, for the purpose of reference and pay, full possession of the nominal roll. After he left they were sent to head-quarters, but the small staff there is very busy with the question of the allocation of pay to -the wives and families left behind. Men are coming in to the second Force, and a mass of material has to be dealt with in regard to them. When they go away, and the work slackens, we hope to be able to -take out of the nominal roll all the necessary particulars as to ages, married state, nationality, religion, &c, for the whole of the Forces, but it is going to be a big work. All this will have to be tabulated in order to present it to Parliament in an intelligible form, and it will -take a fairly good staff to work out all -these details, but we are endeavouring -to get the information as fast as possible. The Pay Branch is working night and day, and we have put on as many temporary men as we safely can, because it is not work on which inexperienced men can be put.
– I shall be quite satisfied if we get the information before Parliament re- assembles.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn. 1 hope another place will have made sufficient progress to let us get on with the business at 11 o’clock to-morrow morning. I was asked by Senator Bakhap to-day whether any further information could be given in regard to the Inter-State transfer of wheat. The Minister of Trade and Customs informs me that the Crown Law officers have not yet given an opinion on the matter.
– I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs to-day a question with regard to the Queanbeyan water supply. Has he any further information ?
– The Department has informed me that they are communicating with the Queanbeyan Municipal Council with regard to further information to be supplied by the council.
.- I asked ibo Minister representing the Minister of Home Affaire yesterday a question regarding the preparation of designs for the Federal Capital. Has he any further particulars?
- Senator Russell, who represents the Minister of Home Affairs, having spoken to the question, cannot speak again.
– I asked a question the other day relating to the advertising for sale of maps published under the authority of the Defence Department. Has any further information been obtained ?
– - The question was asked and answered in the honorable senator’s absence yesterday.
– My first impression was that these were maps of Australia, but I found subsequently that they were European maps.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 11.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 December 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141217_SENATE_6_76/>.