6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General have laid on the table of the Library the papers relating to the appointment of Mr. E. P. Ramsay as superintendent of the Mail Branch, Melbourne?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and ‘have the papers looked into, and give a further reply to the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice - ‘
– I have not been able to ascertain the whole of the facts, but I will endeavour to let the honorable senator have them before the day is over.
Motions (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That standing order No. 283 be suspended seas to enable a call of the Senate to be made without the usual twenty-one days’ notice for the third reading of the following Bills, viz.: - ConstitutionAlteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Corporations) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Trusts) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Railway Disputes) Bill, and Constitution Alteration (Nationalization of Monopolies) Bill.
That there be a call of the Senate on Wednesday, the 14th day of July, 1915, at 3 o’clock p.m., for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Corporations) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Trusts) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Railway Disputes) Bill, and Constitution Alteration (Nationalization of Monopolies) Bill.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia
Minister of Defence) [11.8]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In section 65 of the Constitution the following provision is made: -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Ministers of State shall not exceed seven in number, andshall hold such offices as the Parliament prescribes, or, in the absence of provision, as the Governor-General directs.
Section 66 reads -
There shall be payable to the Queen, out of the Consolidated Revenue FundoftheCommonwealth, for the salaries of the Ministers of State, an annual sum which, until the Parliament otherwise provides, shall not exceed Twelve thousand pounds a year.
The Government propose to amend those provisions so as to permit of the creation of an additional Minister with portfolio. There is not the slightest doubt, that even if this war had not occurred the time was fast approaching when additional Ministers would have been required for carrying on the government of the Commonwealth. In fact, I am not prepared to say that by creating an additional portfolio we are now fully meeting the present demand. But honorable senators generally - if they hold that view - will, I think, agree that it is undesirable to create more portfolios than are absolutely essential to meet the existing crisis. No doubt the time will come when the provision in the Constitution relating to the appointment of Ministers will have to be still further extended. But this is not the proper time to do that. It can be done at a later stage. Of course, our chief difficulty is so to divide responsibility - particularly in the Department most closely affected by the war - as to secure efficiency and to afford two Ministers sufficient time to fully consider matters of policy in regard to-the prosecution of our part in this great .struggle. I speak from what I may properly call bitter experience when I say that in the Defence Department at the present time, it is impossible for any one man to deal with the mass of detail which is thrust upon him as the result of regulations and of laws, and simultaneously to devote his abilities to the solution of the big questions which constantly demand his attention. The result is that a busy and overworked Minister cannot find time to think out all the large matters which crop up from day to day. Then we must remember that this is the first occasion upon which Australia has been faced with such an immense responsibility as that which now confronts her. Consequently, the Minister has no precedents to guide him. He has to make his own precedents, and unless he has time to consider questions as they arise, the best cannot be done, and mistakes will assuredly be made. Before proceeding further, I should like to bring before the Chamber one feature of this matter which perhaps has not occurred to many honorable senators. We adopted our system of Ministerial duties from the system which obtained in the various Colonies prior to Federation. What were those conditions? In each State there was a Minister of Defence. Let honorable senators reflect upon what the Defence Forces of the various Colonies used to consist.
– But the Minister of Defence in each State did not confine his attention solely to defence matters.
– In some States he did.
– In which States?
– In Victoria there was a Minister of Defence, who performed no other duties than those relating to the Defence Department. When exSenator Sir Frederick Sargood held the portfolio, he performed no other duties. Where the Minister of Defence in any State held some other portfolio it was generally of an unimportant character.
– The Defence Department was a minor Department in South Australia.
– -Probably. But there were States in which there were Ministers of Defence, whose primary duties related to defence matters.
– But they had really nothing to do with defence then in Australia.
– Whether they had nothing to do with defence or not, the fact remains that the portfolio and the Department existed.
– There was something to do when the South African war was in progress.
– Even then there were six Ministers of Defence in the different States, notwithstanding that the total contribution of Australia towards that war did not equal the first division of troops which was despatched from the Commonwealth to the front during the present struggle. What I am coming to is that under the conditions which then existed, the Treasury regulations which lay down the duties of Ministers were so framed that the Minister of Defence was able to give personal attention, and bis personal signature and assent, to all sorts of details. The Treasury regulations and the departmental rales were so drafted that papers on the minutes of the Department found their way to the Minister for his personal assent. When Federation was accomplished, all these Departments of Defence were grouped into one. In pre-Federation days, all sorts of petty details used to be referred to members of Parliament by their constituents, and those members in turn brought them under the notice of the Minister’. This practice imposed a responsibility for detail on the Minister, which was only possible under the circumstances which then existed. With the advent of Federation, I repeat, all these Defence Departments were grouped into one. But still the Defence Department remained comparatively insignificant. Honorable senators will appreciate that .fact when they recall the circumstance that in the early years of Federation, our total expenditure on defence, both Naval and Military, was less than £1,000,000. Our defence system of to-day was not then in operation. We had a defence system of the most casual character. Under that system, it was possible for the Minister to give attention to details on comparatively minor matters -
– But although our expenditure was less than £1,000,000 annually, we even then talked of economy.
– Exactly. The necessity for systematized defence had not then become so apparent. It was only after world-wide events of great significance that the truth was brought home to Australia that our defence system must become a very real one. I confess, without any compunction, that the event which first awakened me to its true significance was the Russo-Japanese war. Prior to that struggle I had regarded the question of defence as an extremely minor one for Australia. But that war forced upon me the conviction that we had been drawn into .the maelstrom of world politics, and from that time onwards defence to me became a matter of absorbing interest and of vital importance to the Commonwealth.
– We shall- never get out of that maelstrom again.
– The point I want to make is that we have continued from »that time forward on the same lines as regards Ministerial responsibility for detail as existed in the Colonies before Federation. We have endeavoured to continue that cumbrous system with an ever-growing Department and increasing responsibility.
– Can we get out of it?
– I think that we can, and ought to get out of that system. If I am permitted to remain in my present office I shall endeavour to devisesome scheme to get out of it. I say, advisedly, that there is a tremendous amount of detail to-day thrust upon the Ministerof Defence which the permanent officers of his Department should deal with. If they are not competent to carry out such duties they are not fit to occupy the positions they hold. When the Minister iscalled upon to devote his time and attention to small details he is not left free,, as he ought to be, to give his mind to the bigger questions which should be his’ special concern, and the settlement of which, in the long run, affects the decision of all the minor questions whicharise. I make these remarks in no complaining spirit, because I dare say I have, in the matter of adherence to the old system, been as great a sinner as any oneelse. Members of Parliament who havebeen accustomed to that system have themselves perpetuated it by taking up questions of detail and pressing them upon the notice of the .Minister. I have said that we inherited . the system, and have continued it because the Department is still established on the same lines as the Defence Departments of the States in pre-Federation days. Even if the system were changed, as I suggest, there would still be sufficient responsibility and work to occupy the attention of two Ministers in the Defence Department. The most natural division of the work of the Department seems to the Government to be to separate the Navy from the Military. It is not to be understood that the separate Departments proposed will work in watertight compartments. I wish it to be clearly understood that nothing of that kind is intended. It is intended that the two Departments and the two Ministers in charge of them shall be closely associated, that there shall be a complete interchange of views between them on all important questions, and cohesion for all purposes of national defence. The relations between them must be of the most intimate character. That can be secured by the arrangements which will be laid down by the Cabinet. The new Minister will take direct responsibility for naval defence in all its ramifications - citizen training, Navy office, dockyards, building and repairing of ships, upkeep of -Fleet, provision of new ships, and manning and victualling. It has to be remembered that the Navy Department will he charged with the responsibility of the transport of our- troops oversea. No more striking instance could be suggested to show the necessity for the closest relation . between, the two Departments. The Defence Department, on the military side, will be responsible for the raising, training, and equipment of troops, and the Navy Department will be responsible for taking; them oversea. There clearly must be cohesion between the two Departments if serious mistakes and confusion are to be avoided. The titles to be given to the respective Ministers have yet to be determined; but, after all, that does not matter very much. In the direction of- the war, and in the administration of the military side of the Department, owing largely to our system, there will still be too much work and responsibility for any one man to undertake. What is proposed in the circumstances is to call in the assistance of one of the Honorary Ministers. The Prime Minister has informed me that he has allotted to the Vice-President of the Executive Council the duty of Assistant Minister to the Minister of Defence. He will be able to relieve the Minister of a great mass of detail work, leaving the Minister free to deal with the bigger questions which need close and vigorous attention at the present time. I venture to say, for instance, that the question of the supply of munitions demands such attention. Ifc needs the exercise of all one’s ability and the use of all ones’s time to see that something effective is <l.one in this direction. We have a Departmental Committee, composed of men of the very highest attainments, but there needs to be some one at the helm to make available the expert information they can give, and to direct it into the channels into which the people and the Government desire- that it should go. I hope that, as a result of this proposal, if I still remain in office as Minister of Defence, I shall be free to give the closest attention to this particular work at the present juncture. It is a most’ important feature of the work of the- Department. I can only say that up to the present we have not been able to get any satisfactory statement from the War Office as to what they require> and how we can assist them in supplying their requirements in the way of munitions of war. We are pressing them almost daily on the question, and 1 hope that we shall shortly have some satisfactory reply-
– If not, Ave shall have to go on our own.
– It is not a question of going on our own. We want to do something more than merely provide munitions of war for our troops. We want to make a contribution to the common pool of the Empire.
– How can we do that if we are not supplied with the necessary information?
– Our suggestion to the War Office authorities is that apart from providing munitions of war for our own troops we should assist by contributing something to the common pool. We have pointed out our extensive resources for the manufacture of munitions of war in Australia, and we have offered to utilize them in any way possible. We have asked for information to enable us to get to work in this direction. We have communicated directly through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and also through the High Commissioner, and have been pressing the matter for a considerable time without, so far, any satisfactory result.
– They are as slow as a funeral, anyhow.
– I do not know that. We have to- nut ourselves in their place, and we must remember that the Imperial authorities are faced with problems and responsibilities beside which those with which we are confronted dwarf into insignificance. We have to remember also that the men directing affairs in the Old Country are human like ourselves, and have human limitations.
– The problem affects us as much as it does them.
– That is so, from our point of view, but compared with the matters pressing upon them for immediate attention ours are somewhat of an insignificant character.
– There is no excuse for withholding information.
– I try to take a charitable- view of the matter. Our responsibility is to do all that we can, and everything that is humanly possible, and to that end I say the proposals of the Expert Committee to which I have referred needs the close attention of a Minister. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to relieve me of a tremendous amount of detail, and will thus enable me to devote my mind to these bigger questions. The appointment of an additional Minister, and the re-arrangement of the work in the way proposed will enable us to deal promptly, and I hope effectively, with the various questions that may arise for settlement. In addition, we shall have the assistance of the non-party Parliamentary Committee that is to be appointed, and to whom will be referred special questions in connexion with which the advice of such a Committee will be invaluable. The Minister directly affected by a particular question referred to the Committee will preside at the meetings at which that question is considered. He will hear the views expressed, and will take part in the discussion. He will be able to inform the members of the Committee of the resources of the Department, and of what it is proposed to do. In that way he will be helpful to the Committee, and I have no doubt that the deliberations of the Committee will be helpful to him. I have explained the considerations which have moved the Government, and those supporting them, to approve of this proposal for the appointment of an additional Minister. I should like to say, in conclusion, that it is desirable that the Bill should be passed to-day. I ask the unanimous approval of the Senate for that course.
– I have no reason to anticipate the slightest opposition to the proposal contained in the Bill, the second reading of which lias just been submitted. But I think it desirable to make a few observations respecting, not only the proposal, but abo the remarks which have been made by the Minister of Defence. Any one who has had any parliamentary experience, and certainly any one who has had Ministerial experience, will agree with me in saying that the administration of affairs in the Commonwealth has reached such a stage, quite apart from the war, that some re-adjustment of Ministerial duties has become absolutely necessary. This was known to the last Government, who had in contemplation the creation of additional portfolios. The real reason why all this multiplicity of details crowd upon the Ministry is that members of Parliament have been affected by the practice prevailing in their States, because members of Parliament are, after all, ephemeral beings. They are constantly changing, and the real reason why a Minister in a democratic country is always) worried with detailed work is, I think, found in the very close relationship existing between the electors and the person who represents them. No matter what system is introduced that difficulty, in my judgment, will continue so long as any elector knows that he. may approach a member of Parliament.
– That is the one thing that the Australian insists upon.
– The Australian, 1 think, has a lively and ever-present sense of his privileges, and he has never been unduly slow in exercising them. I see no indications or promise that any alteration in the organization of the Department by the Minister will get away from that difficulty. Quite recently, to illustrate my point, I would remind honorable senators that the Postmaster-General came forward with a policy for decentralization, under which greater powers were to be conferred on the Deputy PostmastersGeneral in each State, ‘ in order that the Minister might not be so fully occupied with the representations of members of Parliament upon various matters. I should like to ask honorable senators, now whether they are not wearing out just as much shoe leather as previously in going over to see the Postmaster-General on matters of detail, and whether the Postmaster-General has any more spare time now to devote to the larger duties in his Department? What happened was, that just so long as local officers were doing what members thought ought to be done, members did not approach the Postmaster-General, but the moment a member found that the local officer was not prepared to take his view he did not stop there, but went at once to the supreme head. That, in my opinion, will always be the difficulty. As to the proposal to appoint an additional Minister, that is a course which I entirely approve, but I still feel disposed to think that the Minister will not get any great relief from what is now. proposed. It does look like a simple division of labour to divide the naval administration from the military, but as a matter of fact naval affairs, with the exception of transport, are practically normal. Our Fleet to-day, our large vessels, are not under Australian jurisdiction, and ara not in Australian waters, so in that regard there is a lighter volume of work to be done than ordinarily. All the supplies and requisitions for our larger vessels are attended to in other parts of tho world.
– There will still be recruiting.
– Yes, but we had that before. The position, so far as the Naval Department is concerned, is quite normal, with the one exception of seeing’ to the transport of the troops. We have to remember that it is not proposed to place in office somebody who was not there before, because Mr. Jensen has been assisting the Minister all the time.
– But there are many documents which Mr. Jensen is not at present able to sign. He has not been the Minister in charge, and, therefore, he could not deal with these matters. He might look them over and send them on to me ; but that is all.
– The ‘ looking over of papers and the signing of documents would not involve a great amount of work. I agree with the Minister that it is necessary to have a responsible Minister to assist, and to that extent the duty of the present Minister of Defence will be lightened. But I submit that the relief is going to be quite infinitesimal. The real congestion does not arise from the association of the naval with the military branch. It arises from the tremendous augmentation of work in connexion with our Expeditionary Forces. And more than that, another matter that stands out as constituting demands which no single human being could possibly supply is, what are we going to do in the way of developing our national resources for the supply of munitions ? That is a big question which has been superimposed, not merely on the ordinary duties of the Minister in carrying out the Defence policy, but superimposed on the extraordinary duties which, have arisen in connexion with the enlistment of the Expeditionary Forces. This superimposed duty is demanded of the Minister, and the proposal to appoint- a Minister for the Navy will not help very much there. Just let. me remind honorable members what are the duties of the honorable Minister to-day. Before the war broke out any one who had any knowledge of the Defence Department recognised that it was possibly the biggest Department in the Commonwealth. The amount of work associated with the development of our defence policy ‘alone was enormous, and there was superimposed upon that all the obligations arising out of the war, and in connexion with the raising of Expeditionary Forces at a time when the machinery for the purpose was not in existence. That in itself, quite apart from the ordinary, training of the Citizen Forces, would have been enough to tax the energy and resources of any man, no matter what his abilities ; and I submit, therefore, that this proposal deals only partially with the difficulties that confront us. I recognise that by calling to his assistance one of the Honorary Ministers, the Minister of Defence* will be able to divest himself of a good deal of detailed work; but the proposed apportionment of duties is a somewhat unsatisfactory one. There has been for some time a request, which we can well understand, that the larger House of Parliament should be in more direct communication with Defence matters. It would certainly have been desirable, had it been possible, for the Government so to arrange representation that the Assistant Minister of Defence should be in the House of which the Minister of Defence is not a member. That principle has long since been recognised. Admiral Henderson in his report suggested that there should be on the Naval Board, a civilian or parliamentary member, and that that member should sit in the House in which the Minister of Defence had not a seat. The reason for this is obvious. Honorable members of both Houses naturally desire information, and one can understand that at a time like this when men’s minds are tense regarding the conduct of our Defence system, honorable members of another place wish to be in touch with seme one able to speak with knowledge and authority. I am not now referring in any way to the personnel of the appointment, but I think it would have been a better adjustment had it been possible to make the Assistant Minister of Defence a member of the House in which the Minister of Defence does not sit.
– Even an Assistant Minister cannot speak with responsibility unless he is responsible. The request to which the honorable senator has referred arises largely from the demand that all Ministers should be in the House of Representatives.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - Why should not Ministers be able to speak in both Houses?
– Such an arrangement as Senator O’Loghlin suggests would merely enable a Minister in. one House to attend the other to make speeches on questions of policy, or to deal with Bills affecting his Department. It would not enable him to attend there to answer questions. Notwithstanding his interjection the Min ister of Defence will quite agree that even although the standing of an Assistant Minister is less than that of his chief, it would be desirable in the apportionment of these positions to have a representative of the Department in each House rather than to have two representatives in the one House. The Minister placed his finger upon a very important matter when he urged that there should be the closest co-operation between the naval and military branches of the Defence Department. That close cooperation is absolutely essential, since, putting on one side for the moment matters connected with the war, finance is always an important factor of defence, and in time to come will be still more important. I do not believe it is possible (o secure that close Go-operation and financial control if these two branches of the Department be under separate Ministers. We may lay it down in theory that the two Ministers shall co-operate, but any one possessing the slightest knowledge of human nature will recognise that, if at some time a question arises as to the apportionment of the money which Parliament is prepared to vote to the Department of Defence, that branch of the Department which is presided over by the stronger man is sure- to obtain the greater part of the vote.
– That is* not likely in time of war.
– This will be a permanent! provision. It may not have- been intended merely to meet the war emergency - and I take no exception to the Bill on that account - but, as we are now dealing with a proposal to create an additional portfolio, I think that this is an opportune time to direct attention to this matter. Some time ago, when the present Parliament was but a few days old, I in? formed the Senate that I had submitted to the Government of which I was- a member a suggestion in this regard. I was then, and am now, very much struck with the principle which prevai-13 in the Imperial Parliament, and which provides for Parliamentary UnderSecretaries. These gentlemen are members of Parliament who, as their names indicate,, are under the political heads of their respective Departments.
– They are. Ministers, but not Cabinet Ministers.
– Yes. If it had been possible it seemed to me- that a Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Army and a Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Navy, with a Minister of Defence superimposed over both of them, would have been an ideal state of affairs. it would have given to each of these Under Secretaries a full knowledge of what was going on, and would have placed them in a- position to answer in Parliament questions relating to the Department, and also . to deal with routine matters which must be dealt with by some one having authority. In this way the Minister would have been left absolutely free ta deal with larger matters of policy and, being Minister over both branches of the Department, he would have been able to co-ordinate matters relating to the two services. Our Constitution unfortunately will not permit that to be done. It declares that there shall be no payment except to Ministers of State, and, as these Parliamentary Under Secretaries would not be Ministers of State, it would be impossible to create such positions unless they were entirely- honorary. It was, therefore, impossible for us to follow that line of reasoning.
– It is quite possible to have Parliamentary Under Secretaries.
– I think not.
– Does not, the honorable senator think, a system of Committees would be an improvement on the present method of controlling the Departments ?
– I have no language to express what, I think would result from a system of Committees to administer our public Departments.
Senator- STEWART. - They are administered now by the permanent officials.
– And surely that is bad enough without our substituting for permanent officials public Committees. Senator Stewart is under a misapprehension. We are looking for an improvement on the present system.
– So am I. The present position is bad enough, and the appointment of another Minister will not improve it very much.
– The creation of another portfolio will help. I have endeavoured to show that the appointment of an additional Minister, who is to be allotted the particular duty of attending to the Navy, is not going to afford the Minister of Defence the help which the situation requires he should have: ‘but this Bill is going to be helpful, although only in a minor degree, and therefore I am cordially supporting it. I wish now to refer to the statement of the Minister as to the inability -of the Government to obtain from the Imperial authorities the information necessary to enable us to proceed with the manufacture of munitions of war. I heard “that statement, I shall not say with surprise, but with a good deal of regret. It seems to me that, if, as I suppose, several communications have been sent through the ordinary official channels without any satisfactory response, then it would be well . to send a message direct from the Government of the Commonwealth to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. That has been found necessary before in the relations of the Dominions with the Imperial authorities. I am going to assume that it has .been done in this case. If it has not it ought to be.
– The honorable senator suggests that we ought not to communicate with the Home Government through the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
– If the Government cannot obtain through the Secretary of State for the Colonies the information they desh-e, let them communicate directly with the Prime Minister.
– It is possible to get an answer without getting information.
– As we all know, .there are answers* which are not answers at all. I have received enough answers of that kind myself. I want no one to assume that I am wanting in a sense of proportion as to the part that Australia can play in this great world conflict. Our part is a minor one, but the consequences to us are major. We stand to lose as much as Great Britain or any other Dominion, and if we think we can help we. are perfectly entitled to tell the people at Home that we are prepared to help. It is for them to say whether we should do it or not. I heard almost with impatience the intimation that the Imperial authorities are refraining from giving a definite reply. We can speak to them as sons in our father’s house, and tell them plainly and distinctly that we have cabled. We could send them such a message as would leave them only one option, either to send us the information, which would set us to work, or tell US distinctly that they will not do it. These are not times to waste valuable moments in a choice of words merely to save anybody’s susceptibilities. The position “is too serious, and I am. confident that the Prime Minister can draft such a message to the Prime Minister of Great Britain as will bring this interminable delay to an end, and enable us to know at once whether we are to proceed in this direction or not. The matter is of such importance that the Minister should have no ‘hesitation even in ignoring the ordinary language of official communications, if by no other means he is able to get a direct answer to our offers of assistance. I therefore urge him to see that the negotiations are terminated one way or the other.
.. - I welcome this short measure as far as it goes, but I do not think it goes far enough. It would be better, in the interests of the Commonwealth, to make clause 2 read, “ the number of Ministers of State may exceed seven, but shall not exceed nine.” Although we are bending all our energies to the successful conduct of the operations connected with the war, the business of the country must’ go on. It could go on far better if still another portfolio were created in addition to the one provided for in the Bill. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, virtually acknowledged the necessity for such a course, but said it was a matter for future consideration. We are making two bites at a cherry. It would be better to do all that is required in one measure. I believe the majority of honorable members of both Houses agree with the view I am putting forward. I am not going to oppose the Bill or move an amendment, but
I state definitely my opinion that in addition to a Minister of Home Affairs there ought to be a Minister of Works, or, as he could be called, a Minister of Works and Railways. There has been a great deal of grumbling, not only by honorable members of both Blouses, but by the public, that certain things were not being done in connexion, not only with the Department of Defence, but in connexion with the Home Affairs Department. It is complained that information cannot be got as quickly as it should be. The reason is plain - that the Minister of Home Affairs is also overworked, and while the duties of Ministers are being re-allocated, it would be far better to do the job thoroughly. Senator Millen said it was the intention of the Government to which he belonged to create additional portfolios. He did not say an additional portfolio, and I take it that had that Government stayed in office another portfolio, as well as the one now contemplated, would have been created. This shows that if such a measure had been brought down by the present Government it would have had the approval of at least the leading members of the Opposition. In addition to nine Ministers with portfolios, it would probably be advisable to have one Honorary Minister in each House, so that there would always be one man ready to take the place of a Minister who, through sickness or other cause, might be unable to attend to his duties.
– The Minister of Defence has no time to be sick.
– The honorable senator no doubt speaks from bitter experience, because he was Minister of Defence when the war broke out, and so much additional work was thrown on his Department. I have heard the present Minister of Defence say that he was working up to the full limit of any man’s physical capacity. We know that he has been working beyond the limit of an ordinary man’s capacity, doing far more work and devoting far more hours to his duties than any man ought to be called on to do. That is not necessary, and if we believe there should be two additional Ministers, we should decide the question at once in the best interests of the country instead of making two bites at a cherry. The Commonwealth works to-day are enormously greater than they were at the establishment of Federation. The Constitution provided that the number of Ministers of
State may not exceed seven, but that was intended to apply to a time when the work undertaken by the Federal Government was not one-fifth of what it is to-day. Fourteen years ago the work the Federal Parliament and Federal Government had to do was not nearly so great as it is now. The expenditure that had to be handled by the Federal Government of that day was, I suppose, not more than one-tenth of what it is now.
– We were told in New South Wales that the cost of Federation to the people would not be more than the price of registering a dog - 2s. 6d. per head.
– The honorable senator is quite right. It was estimated, in the Convention, that the total additional cost that would be put upon the people of Australia by creating the Federal Parliament, over and above the cost of the State Parliaments, would be only £300,000 per annum. That figure has been far exceeded, and the work in every direction is infinitely greater than was contemplated at that time. We should no longer go blundering along in the same old way, hoping to come out right somehow, but should take the necessary steps to right matters at once. As I understood Senator Millen, he said that the Bill suited him, but did not go quite far enough, that the re-allocation of the duties in the Defence Department would not work out entirely to the satisfaction of the Department or the public, and that the work of attending to the supply of munitions would be greater than the present Minister, even with the assistance of the additional Minister, would be able to handle satisfactorily.
– We may yet need a Minister to control munitions.
– We may. But to-day we are face to face with the fact that we need a Minister of Works and Railways, because the work of the Government and the business of the country must continue, even though we are in the throes of this terrible war, and even though, the greater part of our energies are devoted ito its successful prosecution. The obligations of the war should not debar us from carrying on the internal work of the country as well as we possibly can. Therefore, I repeat that it would have been better had the Bill provided for nine portfolios instead of eight. I admit that such an increase would involve an alteration of clause 3, which provides the payment for the new portfolio, but, after all, in the present state of affairs, that would be a minor consideration. If the majority of honorable senators should think that it would be unwise to largely increase the payments for Ministerial service during the present strain upon the finances, the amount that will be set apart under this Bill for the payment of eight Ministers could be distributed over nine Ministers. The main question, however, is whether eight Ministers will be sufficient to effectively conduct the affairs of the country, and handle the enormous amount of work under which the Departments are now staggering. I say that the work would be better done if there were nine portfolios, and an additional Honorary Minister.
.- I think Senator O’Keefe has voiced an impression that is in the minds of most of us, namely, that the Bill scarcely goes far enough. At the same time, we must remember that what is being proposed is a step to relieve a temporary difficulty, and consequently we cannot delay action in order to amend our Ministerial system as perfectly as we should like. Doubtless, when the war is over, we shall see the necessity for quite
A number of changes.
– Why wait until the war is over?
– We shall be in possession of further information then, and we shall be undertaking tasks which we can very well leave alone at the present moment. It is because we view the matter from that stand-point that we are prepared to agree to the Bill in its present form. What is to be done must be done quickly. The Bill has been brought forward not a moment too soon; indeed it should have been introduced months ago. The objections of Senator Millen and Senator O’Keefe can be met, to a considerable extent, by the appointment of Assistant or Honorary Ministers. This Bill does not prevent the Government appointing as many Assistant Ministers, who can be understudies to the holders of portfolios, as they think fit.
– No Ministerial office should be honorary.
– Every increase of salaried Ministers involves an alteration of the law, and it would hardly be possible to be continually altering the law in order to appoint salaried Ministers to deal with a temporary stress of work. Whilst I do not wish to belittle the Senate in the slightest degree, I recognise that another place sits more often than the Senate, and that much of the war legislation must be introduced in the other Chamber, because it involves the appropriation of money from the public purse, and those facts, together with the large membership of another place, undoubtedly throw upon it a greater amount of work than is done by the Senate. Therefore, I think that the Ministry will be well advised if, in addition to appointing another salaried Minister, they appoint an Assistant Minister or understudy to the new Minister. In other words, I do not think the creation of another portfolio removes the necessity for an Assistant Minister in another place. In regard to the allotment of the work amongst Ministers, I recognise that it would be difficult, especially during a time of war, to draw a sharp line of demarcation between the two Ministers who will be dealing with defence and war matters. Their united effort will always be directed to making the most of the forces Ave can send abroad, and, therefore, I. say that anything like a rigid division of the work Will be impossible and unnecessary. Nevertheless, A’e recognise that in Australia, as in the Old Country, the supply of munitions is the most important new work which the Avar has shown to be necessary, and it is because of that fact that I interjected, when the Minister was speaking, that if Ave cannot get from the Imperial Government the assistance we are asking, it is of no use our “ dilly-dallying “ and wasting time. If Ave are to do anything at all Ave must proceed on our own account, instead of continually cabling to the Home Country and getting no reply. Why the information has been withheld I have been unable to understand, because one would naturally expect that the Home Government would be anxious to accept any help which Ave are capable of giving. It may be that the Imperial Government have A’ery good reasons for withholding the information sought. I cannot believe that they are not in possession of it, because Ave know that there are army contractors, and that the big machinery, engineering, and shipbuilding firms are in possession of at least the greater portion of the information which the Commonwealth has been asking for. Of course, there may be some departmental secrets in connexion with the manufacture of high explosives which the War Office has not yet disclosed to the contractors, but we do know that much of the ammunition is made by private firms. The old shrapnel shell, which has been proved not to be as efficient as the more up-to-date high explosive shell, has been manufactured for so long that everybody is in possession of the particulars of its construction. Whilst we in Australia may not have the precise type of machinery necessary for the output of these munitions, we could produce a good deal of the material in a short time. Ten years ago there was no steel manufactured in Australia. To-day there are a number of private firms making steel of a high-class character, and all that it is necessary for them to do to meet the call of the present situation is to experiment in the work of dealing with the different kinds of ores, and in the manufacture of steel of the various tempers that are required.
– Do you say that there are a number of private firms making steel now?
– Yes. There are the steel works at Lithgow, which are turning out a very fine class of steel.
– Order! That question can hardly arise in this discussion.
– I merely referred to it as coming under the head of munitions. I do not want to dwell too long upon the question, but I should like, for the information of Senator O’Keefe, to say that, besides the Lithgow works, there are now the very much greater works at Newcastle.
– Those are two. I did not know we had others.
– In a smaller way, steel of a very high-class character is being made in Melbourne. The manufacture of steel to-day is. quite different from what it was a few years ago in Australia. Steel can be manufactured today very economically in small quantities by means of the smaller plants that are constantly being invented. Steel that used to be very difficult to manufacture can nowadays be manufactured very economically and very .easily. So far as shell making is concerned, any difficulty will be the aluminium portion, which contains the fuse; that is the most intricate part to make. As I have already said, if we are going to do what I think Parliament desire that we should do, and manufacture here everything that is required todeal with the present situation, we have waited quite long enough for information, and we should be prepared to strike out on our own path, notwithstanding that we may not have all the scientific information that we should like. We know that during the Boer War, in South Africa, the men at Mafeking, falling back on their own limited resources, were able to make their own big guns. Their position can hardly be compared with that which we occupy today, but, in any case, my view is that something will have to be done, and done quickly, in the direction I have indicated. As to the appointment of new Ministers, I think we may safely leave the allocation of their work to the Government. It would be impossible for honorable senators to say here what that work should be.
– I have listened with a good deal of care and attention to what the Minister had to say in introducing this Bill. I quite agree with everythinghe said, and it is largely because of my agreement with him that I . am in disagreement with the provisions contained in this Bill. The Minister’s statement, coupled with knowledge already in the possession of every honorable senator, makes it very apparent that the Ministers- - not only the Minister of Defence, but all the Ministers - are at the present time very much overworked. I think that, has been well understood by everybodyIf any corroboration were necessary, it has been supplied by what the Minister has said this morning. Yet this Bill provides for no relief whatever for these overworked Ministers. Not a single additional Minister is1 to be appointed to assist the Government.
– As far as the Act of Parliament will permit, we are going to give them relief.
– -We give them no relief at all by this Bill. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that much of the work the Assistant Minister of Defence, or whatever his title may be, will have to do in the future could have been delegated to him, under present circumstances, by the Minister of Defence.
– We are not abolishing that position.
– 1 do not lose sight of that fact, but my contention is that we are not providing any additional’ .assistance. We are simply giving a man who has been in temporary occupation a permanent billet. Mr. Jensen has been doing this work up to the present, under the authority of the Minister of Defence-, though not with the power to tackle any question and settle it definitely. All he has been in a position to do in regard to any big question has been to deal, with it up. to a certain extent and to communicate his suggestion to the Minister of Defence. He has not been in a position to attach his signature to any document. All that he will be able to do in the future that he cannot do now will be to sign documents himself. Are we afraid of. the expense of going, further? I am not afraid of meeting the expenditure that would be incurred by the appointment of several more salaried Ministers. I do not contend that any expense is absolutely necessary, but is the present, when Ministers have more work than it is possible for them to do, the time to consider questions of expense? If we look at the British Parliament we find that there the question of expense has not been considered in making the appointments of additional Ministers. Members of the Opposition have been taken into the Cabinet and appointed to salaried positions. A Minister for Munitions has been appointed at a salary of £5,000 a year.
– Has the total amount been increased ?
– I do not think there is any doubt about it.
– Only one additional Minister has been appointed.
– Large salaries are paid to these men in. England, and the question of expense in connexion with their appointment has not been dwelt upon. It seems to me- that we are afraid of appointing an additional Minister to carry on the tremendous volume of work that, has fallen upon the Government as “the outcome of the war. We are told that the time ia not opportune for the appointment of additional’ Ministers, and that we should wait until the1 war is over. ‘.Is it suggested that we should* wait until the need is over, and then tackle- the question ? I think not. If ever there was an occasion in the history of any country when Ministers should be saddled with responsibility, and when any Assistant Minister who is appointed should take full responsibility for everything that passes above his’ name, the time is the present - not the f uture, not when the war is over. At all events that is my opinion. I have no doubt at all that if we had taken in certain honorable members of the Opposition, and formed a Coalition Government, there would have been no objection to the payment of salaries to those honorable members of the Opposition. At all events, I do not think there would have been any objection from this side, and I am confident there would have been none from that. At the same time, I am confident that honorable members sitting on this side are just as capable of managing the affairs of the .country as they would have been had honorable members of the Opposition been called in to help. So that I do not see that we should have been in any better position had we formed a Coalition Government. The present Government are doing the work of the country to-day, and there is no reason why ample salaries should not be paid if in the opinion of this Parliament it is considered necessary that they should be paid. I hope that Senator O’Keefe will move the amendment that he has suggested. He contends that it is absolutely necessary to have a Minister of Works and Railways. At the present time our works are distributed over all the Departments. The Defence Department carries out its own- works; the Department of External Affairs carries out its own works ; the Post Office carries out its own works. These works are carried out in a haphazard way, and it is admitted that they are not carried out in a successful way. I think that a Works Department should be created; also a Railway Department. It is proposed to appoint a Committee of members of both sides and of both Houses in connexion with the prosecution of the war, a step which should have been taken some time ago, and the creation of this Committee will in itself be sufficient justification for the appointment of another Minister. The Government, in this regard, seem to display fear, or else they have not thoroughly awakened to the seriousness of the position. They propose to wait until the war is over before they appoint other Ministers and set their house in order. If ever there was a time in which they should set their house in order it is the present. I regret that it was not done months ago, but even now it is not too’ late to do so, and the amendment suggested by Senator O’Keefe will effect something in that direction. Not only should we have two additional Ministers; we should also have two further Assistant Ministers appointed. I never entertained the idea that another portfolio should be created without the appointment of other Assistant Ministers. Because the work that Ministers have to undertake is rapidly piling up. We learn to-day that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is to be taken from the Postal Department where he has done good work, and where undoubtedly there is sufficient work for a second industrious and capable Minister, and put in the Defence Department. I have no fault to find with the proposal to take Senator Gardiner away from the Postal Department, and place him in the Defence Department; but I am anxious to know who is now going to help the Postmaster-General, because, if another Honorary Minister is not to take the place of Senator Gardiner in the Postal Department, it will mean that a Minister will be deprived of the assistance that he is now getting. In fact, unless other Ministers are appointed, the Government will be in a worse position than the present, and I therefore trust that they will take this matter in hand immediately, and not put it off until the war is over, when the urgency of the bulk of the work will be gone. In hoping that Senator O’Keefe will submit his amendment, I am not pleading for further expenditure, but I am pleading for greater efficiency.
– We cannot have greater efficiency without expenditure.
– There would be certain expenditure in the matter of salaries. The only advantage the country will get from the Bill before us is that £1,650 will have been added to the expense of the Government.
– It should be a great deal more.
– I would have no objection to increasing the amount. If the Bill had provided salaries for two or three additional Ministers, I would agree to it with a great deal more cheerfulness than I support the measure in its present form, and if Senator O’Keefe is not prepared to move an amendment I shall do so, in order to show that I thoroughly believe in the need for increasing the number of Ministers. However, as Senator O’Keefe was the first to make the suggestion, I hope that he will stick to his guns and submit the amendment, for then we shall learn whether or not Honorary Ministers are to be appointed to take some of the work off the shoulders of Ministers.
– Like some honorable senators who have spoken, I am not very sure whether the remedy proposed in this Bill will cure the disease. The trouble seems to be that in one particular Department the Minister is very much overworked, and the business of the Department is getting into a state of confusion, which the appointment of an additional Minister is designed to remedy. According to the statement made by the Minister of Defence, the new Minister is to be put in charge of the Navy, but as we know perfectly well that there will not be very much work in connexion with that portion of our defence, the great burden of the work in connexion with the Department will continue to rest on the shoulders of the Minister of Defence. In fact, the cure which has been proposed seems to be no cure at all, or is, at least, a very poor one. A little while ago I suggested tha t the whole system of overlooking the administration of the affairs of the country should be reviewed and probably changed. In every public Department the Minister is alleged to be overworked. I have come to the conclusion that Ministers are not overworked, but that they are simply rubber stamps for the heads of their Departments. As a matter of fact, they cannot be anything else. How is it possible for one man to grasp all the detailsof a large and important Department such as the Defence Department or the Post Office? It is impossible for any one man to get a complete grasp of thedetails appertaining to these Departments. That being . so, in nine casesout of ten, the Minister in charge, when matters are brought before him, wisely gives way to the permanent head of the Department.
– Even if what the honorable senator says be correct - and I do not admit it to be so - the more detailed work that a Minister has to do, the more he must become a rubber stamp.
– Certainly. The administration of the various Departments of Government is causing a great deal of dissatisfaction, not only in Parliament, but also throughout the country. The control of the Departments is left largely in the hands of their permanent heads, so that, instead of having a democratic system, we have a more or less official system of government. The evil has been aggravated under previous Governments, and, to some extent, the same thing may be said of this Government, by the moving of Ministers from one office to another. A Minister may one day be Postmaster-General, the next Minister of Defence, and a little later Minister of External Affairs. The conclusion to which one is driven is that a Minister is a mere ornament to his Department, and in some cases he is not even that. Certainly he is not useful, because if he were useful and necessary he would be left where he could do good work. But just when a Minister is getting some little acquaintance with the affairs of the Department of which he has been placed in charge he is moved to another of which he knows nothing, and thus no Minister ever gets a complete grasp of the business of any Department. This changing of Ministers from one Department to another has not been so much in evidence of late, but I can remember the time when Federal Ministers were moved almost every month ; in fact, we have had members of this Parliament who have occupied nearly every salaried post, and, as an honorable senator interjects, distinguished themselves in none. What we require is better administration, and a little while ago, when Senator Millen was speaking, I interjected that we should try the effect of appointing Committees. The honorable senator scouted the idea, and I believe that the members of this Government also scout it. I can understand that Ministers do not wish to be supplanted or to have their privileges encroached on, and that members who have been Ministers, and hope to be so again, have no desire to change the system. But our present system does not conduce to good government. That fact is outstanding, and a second and. more important fact is that the great bulk of the members of the Parliament know little or nothing about the administration of public affairs. When a member tries to obtain information he is met with difficulties at every stage. The Parliamentis charged with the making of laws, and with seeing that these laws are faithfully and properly administered. For purposes of administration it appoints a Committee which is supposed to be its servant, but which actually has become its master. If a member in the discharge of his duty ventures to criticise the administration of the Government which he is supporting, some Minister, or some other member of his party, immediately charges him with disloyalty, notwithstanding that he may be doing what he thinks best in the public interest. A member must, therefore, either remain silent and allow the grossest acts of maladministration which he may have discovered to pass without comment, or be disloyal to his party. I hold that a man’s loyalty is due first to his country. Parties are mere instruments. What we should seek is good government, and- the interests of the country should at all times be paramount in the mind of every member. Under the existing system that is not so. Of this there is ample proof in what occurred the other day, when, in another place, a member made certain statements regarding the military camp at Liverpool. He was immediately attacked by members of the opposite party, who said that he had made those statements for party purposes. Surely if, at Liverpool or elsewhere, the men who are offering their services, their lives, and all that they, possess for the safety of the country are not being properly .treated, it is for any member of Parliament who knows that that is so to make the facts public. Senator Gardiner visited the camp, and found quite a different state of affairs there.
– How does the honorable senator connect his remarks with the subject-matter of the Bill ?
– We are discussing a measure to sanction the creation of another Ministerial office, and I am trying to show that the appointment of an additional Minister will not effect the purpose in view, and I am also suggesting another system of government which I think would do so. In buttressing my argument I am showing how the present system works. I think I am therefore in order. What we need is to get at the truth in all matters, without regard to party interests-.. Let nothing be covered up, even for party purposes. One of the meanest things which can govern a man’s mind is the desire to cover up anything for such purposes. The welfare of the country should be the supreme desire of every man, and we never will have good government until that is the case. Our present system, has, apparently, broken down, and I suggest again, a system wherein every .honorable member of each House of the Parliament could take his share in the responsible administration1 of the affairs of this country. Some persons will say that that is a thing unheard of. Of course, it is a thing unheard of; but a great many things are happening today which were unheard of a few years ago. Our parliamentary institutions are built slavishly on the lines of the British Parliament - the Mother of Parliaments, as’ some persons are so fond of styling it. If they knew the history of that Parliament as well as- 1 do they would not have very much respect for it. The Parliament of Great Britain, up to a very recent period, was composed of the sons of peers and’ the sons of rich men ; it was really a gentleman’s club where the members pretended to quarrel with each other while all the time they robbed the multitude. They were just like a gang of pickpockets that cause a row in the streets so that they may all the more effectively rob the unthinking members of the public as they pass by. That is the only description I can give of the Houses which sit at Westminster. The result, so far as the government of the country was concerned, was that the management of affairs was placed in the hands of a very few individuals, and the great mass of the members of Parliament cared very little as to how administration was carried on, so long as their particular interest was conserved. So long as this war against the great mass of the community was carried on in proper order, and the loot was garnered in- the usual way, the average member of Parliament took no interest in the methods by which the country was. governed. Consequently, the w.hole powers of government were centred in the hands of a few men;, indeed,. I believe, that that is the case at the present moment. I, trust that it will not continue very much longer. I believe that the people of Great Britain are waking up.
– Order ! A. discussion of the House of Commons or. of
British politics is not- in order on this Bill.
– Very well, sir.’ I suppose that I can find plenty of material in discussing the Federal Houses of Parliament. I was pointing out that we had followed the lines operating in Great Britain in the most slavish fashion, and were getting into the same trouble here as they have there. Our present system, I repeat, has broken down absolutely. Take one of the big Departments: We find that there are troubles in connexion with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department from one end of Australia to the other, and no remedy seems possible, at least no remedy has yet been offered for that state of affairs. Wherever you go you find persons complaining about the bad telephone system, and no remedy seems possible. Why ? I believe it is because, the management of the Department is in the hands of officials’ who have no real interest in making the service effective. The Minister may try to do something to improve matters; but, in a great measure, he is powerless, simply because he has not the special knowledge which is necessary to bring about reform. If that is the case with regard to the Post Office, it seems to me that absolutely “the same state of affairs obtains- in connexion with the Defence Department. We want a better system-. The Government, as well as the Parliament, acknowledges that the present situation is not met as it ought to be. Senators other than myself have said that the remedy proposed by the Government, namely, the appointment of an additional Minister, will not do what is expected of it. I do not think it will. As the Minister of Defence put it, if you- have a l’ot of detail to deal with an additional rubber stamp helps you to get through it, and no doubt that is the case. If all that is wanted is a rubber stamp, it may be provided for a much less sum than £1,650 per annum. What we want is a live system of overlooking the administration of the various Departments, and I suggest a. system of Committees. I believe that such a, system is in operation in the United’. States of America,, and has had most excellent results,, and I think that if it were put into operation here the results might be very beneficial. look at. the number of matters which the Minister of
Defence, for instance, has to overlook, and the minutest detail in connexion with every one of them has to be submitted to him. Take, for instance, the matter of the camps, and the purchase of stores, arms, and munitions. Then we had the operations of the Small Arms Factory hanging in suspense ‘for about a year owing, I maintain, to the present system of administration, which leaves matters almost -entirely in the hands of permanent officials. Again, ‘take the matter of training generally, the college, the purchase of horses - in connexion with which, by ‘the way, we heard a good deal of scandal-
– We heard that they purchased a lot of mares, thinking that they were horses.
– I heard rumours of various scandals in connexion with the purchase of horses.
– In Queensland they purchased .mares in foal.
– Very likely. Then there are the matters of the Tine ranges and the administration of the various factories. That is only in connexion with one Department. If what might be called a Grand Committee were appointed in connexion with each Department, it would be of invaluable service to Parliament in carrying on the administration of the various Departments.
– A Committee of which the honorable senator is a member is doing good work, is it not ?
– I think so.
– And the Public Works Committee, too.
– It is the knowledge I have gained on that Committee which has driven me to this conclusion. In my opinion, the average member of Parliament knows nothing whatever about the details of our administration. If he but knew a little more about it, it would make his hair stand on end, if he had any hair, and, probably, if he had not any hair, the information obtained there would act as a hair restorer, because I can assure honorable senators that in some cases- it is of a very hair-raising character indeed. The information I have gleaned on the Committee has driven me to this one conclusion, that the running of the various Departments is an abject failure, that the running of Government institutions is done on lines which private enterprise would not tolerate for a single instant; indeed, under which private enterprise could not live. If private peoplecarried on their business in the ‘.same fashion as the Government carry on theirs, -every one of them would soon be in the Insolvency Court.
– If the Government conducted their business the sameas private enterprise does, the peoplewould not tolerate it.
– The sweating which goes on under private enterprisecould be eliminated from our Government institutions; but the other attributeswhich undoubtedly belong to successful enterprises could be imported, with very great .profit to the people, into our publicenterprises. The present system of government is wholly responsible for that, serious state of affairs, and I, for one, would like to see it altered. I think that, instead of having a few men, whoare supposed to be the servants of Parliament, but who are in reality itsmasters, responsible for the administration, every member of Parliament ought to be made to feel his responsibility. In talking with honorable senators I have often pointed out that they were responsible, not only for what they did, but for what the Government did. But their plea was this, “ Oh,, well ; we have placed these men in charge,, and we leave the responsibility to them.” The responsibility lies with Parliament,, with every member of Parliament.
– And some of them say that they have voted against conscientious convictions because the question was a party question.
– No doubt thehonorable senator has often done that.
– I am like the honorable senator-
– I have no particular hope that we shall have any great, change in our system at present. Theappointment of the new Minister mayhelp the Minister of Defence a little - I hope that it will, because I believe thathe is over-burdened with work. I have not the slightest doubt that he has on his. shoulders a burden as heavy as that which Atlas carried, and one would be glad to know that he had obtained at least some- little relief, although. I do not think that this proposal goes far enough. I have nothing to suggest other than that Committees should be appointed. We have two Honorary Ministers who seem to me to be not too hard worked, that is, Senator Russell and Senator Gardiner. I do not think that they are over-burdened with anything in the way of work.
– You do not know.
– I do not know it for a fact.
– It is a guess.
– But I suspect that they are not over-burdened with work, and I think that a more equal division of administration might be effected which would insure that no one member of the Government was doing too much, while others were doing only very little. There is another Minister who, it seems to me, cannot be overburdened with work, and that is the Minister of External Affairs. There may be a lot to do in that Department, but I cannot see where it comes in. I think that that Minister might very well take up or at least share some of the duties now performed by other Ministers. I believe that a reshuffling of the cards might be brought about in that direction, which would lighten the labours of some Ministers, and make the work done of a more equal character all round.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [12.55].- With other honorable senators, I must confess that I am somewhat disappointed with the arrangements embodied in this Bill, because in my judgment they do not go far enough. Now that the Assistant Minister of Defence is to be given a portfolio, I should like to know whether his present position is to be filled by the appointment of an additional Honorary Minister, or whether the total number of portfolios and Honorary Ministers is to remain the same as at present.
– For the present, “ Yes.”
– No additional Honorary Ministers are to be appointed ?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Then the position, to use a military illustration, resembles that of an army which is hard pressed, and which, instead of being afforded assistance, has merely its command readjusted. The provi sion that is embodied in the Bill will confer no additional strength upon the Ministry. Doubtless it will relieve the Minister of Defence of a good deal of the detail work which he now has to perform, but it will not strengthen the administrative capacity of the Government generally. I do not know whether existing requirements could be met by the appointment of another Honorary Minister for the present. Probably that would meet the difficulty. Certainly something of that kind is necessary if we are to give, not only to the Defence Department but to Ministers generally, the additional assistance that is required. Reference has been made to the title which is to be bestowed upon the new Minister. I understand that he is to be called the Minister of Marine. Personally, I do not think it matters two straws what he is called, so long as there is such a division of his duties as will afford Ministers generally, and the Minister of Defence particularly, some measure of relief. To my mind there has been too much tendency to assume that the Naval Department has very little to do at the present juncture because of the fact that the control of our Fleet has been transferred to the Imperial authorities. But, although that transference has been effected, we must recollect that our Navy is charged with the arduous duty of transporting our troops to the front, and that in addition it has control of a large mercantile marine inasmuch as the vessels which are used for the transport of our soldiers abroad, are also utilized to bring general cargoes back to Australia.
– Certain of those vessels are used for that purpose exclusively. Some of them do not carry troops.
– The Commonwealth is the biggest ship-owner in Australia.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.It will be seen, therefore, that notwithstanding the transfer of the Australian Fleet to the Imperial authorities, our Navy office has very important duties to discharge in other respects. It by no means follows that the mere transfer of our Fleet has relieved it of heavy responsibility.
– But although the vessels of the Australian Fleet have been placed under the control of the Imperial authorities, we still have to pay, provision, and equip those ships.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.I recognise that our Naval Department is a very important one, and that the Minister who is to be placed in charge of it will have his time pretty fully occupied. In moving the second reading of this Bill the Minister of Defence referred to the fact that in pre-Federation days a good deal of detail work was pressed upon the Minister of Defence in the different Colonies.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– There are reasons other than the traditions inherited from the old State regime for the many details which have to be attended to by the Minister in charge of the Defence Department. There are several thousand men who have intimate relations with the Department, and the increase in the number of persons so associated with the Department must naturally involve an increase in the number of matters demanding inquiry. Further, any one who has had anything to do with Defence administration must be aware ‘ that an atmosphere of autocracy pervades the military Department which is not evident in other Departments of the Public Service. That is .not an inheritance from the regime of the States prior to Federation, but is due to the traditions of the British Army. Conditions in the British Army may have recently improved, but it is well known that in that Army Tommy Atkins counts for very little until the guns begin to shoot. Of course attention to his clothing and food is recognised as necessary to make him an efficient factor in the fighting machine, but his personal rights count in the British Army for very little. Our institutions being so largely founded on the institutions of the Old Country, the tendency has been, perhaps natural, to import into our Military Department the autocratic atmosphere to which I have referred, and the arbitrary methods of dealing with the ordinary soldier. But it should not be forgotten that the citizen soldier of Australia occupies an entirely different position from that occupied by Tommy Atkins in the Old Country. The Commonwealth soldier is also a citizen, and rightly claims that his grievances, if he has any, shall be thoroughly ventilated through the proper channels. Consequently we find in connexion with our Defence Department perhaps more occasions for personal inquiries than are to be found in connexion with the British Army or with any other of our own Departments. Although this may be a source of much inconvenience, I hope that it will continue, and that our citizen soldiers will see that their grievances are properly inquired into, and that they are not entirely at the mercy of those who are placed over them. I admit that most of the officers of our Citizen Forces are exemplary men who have themselves risen from the ranks of our citizen soldiery, but there are soma who are inclined to be autocratic, and to fail to recognise the just rights of those under them. I look with much hope to the appointment of the advisory Committee foreshadowed * in the statement made by the Minister of Defence yesterday. I regard this departure as a very important one, not only because it is intended that the Committee shall, regardless of party considerations, be composed of equal numbers from both political parties, but because, as a Committee of public safety, the members will approach the consideration of the matters that are brought before them free from departmental bias, and from the influences of red-tape and routine which are necessarily associated with purely departmental investigations. I am inclined to agree with Senator Stewart that if it could possibly be brought about it would be a good thing if every member of the Commonwealth Parliament felt that, in addition to his legislative duties, he had some particular duty assigned to him in the emergency before us, and in connexion with which his abilities might be utilized with advantage to the community. I am sure that every member of this Parliament is most willing that any individual duty of that kind should be assigned to him. It would create a sense of personal responsibility to render service in the crisis which we are now called upon to face. With regard to the statement by the Minister of Defence, that the difficulty of getting information from the Old Country in connexion with the inquiries made as to how we can best help the Imperial authorities, I think that the Government have done all that they could be expected to do in the circumstances. They have said to the authorities of the War Office, “ Let us know how we can help you, and we shall do our best to carry out what you suggest.” If the War Office has not responded it- is probably because those in charge cannot at present , decide in what way they could utilize our services. Still,, they might have replied, and have let the Minister of Defence know that the offer of the Australian Government was under consideration, and that they would be advised as to what they could do at. the earliest possible moment.
– They have said that.
Senator Lt.-Colonel1 O’LOGHLIN.Then I do not think there is very much to complain of. The authorities of the War Office have very important matters to attend to in connexion with the great struggle in which the Empire is engaged. It is hardly to be expected that they could immediately formulate’ schemes to take advantage of the offers of assistance they have received.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that they have not time to secure and transmit the information which the Commonwealth Government have asked for?
.- I think that, if we. asked them how we might help in the manufacture of shells and other munitions of war, the question i3 one that might require considerable investigation.
– All we have, asked for is to be supplied with the formulae and specifications for the making of shells.
.- 1 understand that the Government have asked the War Office to advise them definitely as to the way in which the Commonwealth Government may give them assistance.
– That is so, but wc have asked for the formulae and specifications for shell making.
.- [ see no reason why that information should not be furnished, though some specifications may be the subject of patents. Such information as can be given ought certainly to be furnished. We are far removed from the War Office, and are unable to decide what considerations influence those who are called upon to deal directly with these matters. I trust that some more extended effort than that proposed by this Bill will be made to render members of the- Ministry individual help, in order that their aggregate capacity to meet the present crisis may be increased.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . £2:.40]. - I am glad, that this Bill has been introduced for1 two reasons; first, because it proposes to apply a remedy, although a somewhat half-hearted one, to an ailment that is of long standing. Those who have watched the administration of the Federal Departments must have come to the conclusion that either those at the head of them are overworked, or that their work has at times been imperfectly done, npt through any fault of their own, but because of their physical inability to cope with the duties imposed upon them. One reason why we require a greater number of Ministers is that it is necessary that the members of the Federal Government should make themselves as familiar as possible with every part of the Commonwealth. That has been impossible in the past, because of the limited number of men who have been called upon to- do- the necessary work’ of administration. If we take Western Australia,, for example, it may be said that so far as that State is concerned the Federal Government exists in scarcely more than the name. Occasional visits to the West are made by representatives of that State, who have to go there to keep alive- their association with the people. In the- past the people of that State have scarcely had any opportunity to see Federal Minister face to face. That is not a healthy state of affairs between the electors on the one hand and Ministers on the other. One reason for- its existence is. that the number of men provided for by the Constitution to carry on the administrative work of the Commonwealth has been entirely insufficient. That has been made quite clear at this compara1tively early stage of Federation. The framers of the Constitution had no small experience of political affairs in the different States, but they were guided by the standards to which they had been accustomed in fixing the number of Federal Ministers at seven until the Federal Parliament otherwise provided. It was not long before the Parliament found it necessary to provide otherwise. Advantage is being taken of the present occasion to make provision which will at least do away with the subterfuge which Federal Governments have been forced to adopt in the past of appointing Honorary or Assistant Ministers. If the Bill emphasizes, as I think it does, the shortsightedness of the framers of the Constitution, it will have done some good.
Events have amply demonstrated’ that they did not take into account even the developments of the immediate future .- They under-estimated our revenue, and the work that would be done by .this Parliament, to a ‘grievous extent. Even in the matter of fixing the number of Ministers who would be required to carry on the administration of the Commonwealth, they quite failed to anticipate the future.
– I think they limited .the number of Ministers from a fear that the expense involved in the payment of a greater number might raise a public prejudice against the Constitution.
– Possibly that was so. It seems to me to be a fallacy to perpetuate a fiction that was embodied in our Constitution. Under that instrument, seven Ministers were provided for, and when this number was fixed upon, it was generally agreed that the Prime Minister would not draw any salary at all, but that the £12,000 provided would be for the other six Ministers, the understanding being that as Prime Minister he would be satisfied with any honour ,and glory that might attach to the position.
– The first Parliament created two new portfolios.
– Early in the history df the Commonwealth it was shown that we should get .away from this attempt to fix, in a business-like document like the Constitution, anything in the nature of a fiction, because, in actual practice, the Prime Minister, on nearly every occasion, has had to include amongst his duties same portfolio or salaried position, for the very obvious reason that a man engaged in the hurly-burly of public life - no matter how much it might appeal to him on the honour and glory side - could not maintain his position without some salaried portfolio. I say, therefore, that we are in a measure following that fiction by bringing in a Bill of this kind, because we are reducing the salary, and, in addition, by appointing only one Minister we are not providing for the adequate requirements of the Commonwealth. When the Commonwealth was established, it was thought that the functions of the Federal Government would be purely administrative, and of such a civil character that it would not be brought into close touch with the people as is found necessary to-day. That conception is wholly out of place with present day requirements, for it was in keeping with the Jeffersonian maxim that that Government is best which does the least governing, whereas the view to-day, after fifteen years of experience, is that a Government is judged, not by the small amount -of governing done, but by the large and the increasing nature of its administrative activities. At present we are striving to carry on the government of this .country under conditions which were .not anticipated when the Federal compact was made. I mention the matter of the emolument, £1,650, and I say that in fixing it at that sum we are approaching the subject in a most parsimonious spirit, and in a manner that ought not to be encouraged for a moment. In the Commonwealth we have a population of 5,000,000 .people, and we are now going to provide a sum of £13,650 for administrative purposes. Apparently, our idea is that a Minister in charge of a Department should be paid in proportion to the services rendered. But is that so ? We are attempting to make ourselves believe it is so, when, in reality, it is not so, because the men who are filling those offices to-day are performing services for which they are not by any means sufficiently paid. If we look into the industrial or commerical fields,, we will find that when men of brains and ability are required, employers are prepared to go to the open market and pay for them. When a bank wants its affairs managed efficiently, the directors are prepared to go up to £2,000 or even higher when a :man of marked ability is called for. Some of the mining companies, too, controlling a mineral area of, perhaps, only 50 acres, pay £3,000, £4,000, £5,000, and even as high as £10,000 a year for a man to manage a property.
– Is that in the West?
– Yes. I am speaking of boom days, when as much as £10,000 was paid by one company to their manager.
– One man was reputed to have received £20,000 a year.
– I maintain that we are approaching this question of emoluments in a wrong spirit if we say that a man should be content to be paid partly in honour and glory for any service he might render the Commonwealth. We should approach the matter in a businesslike way, and if we want to secure men of ability to administer our Departments, who can bring brain power into the discharge of their duties, we shall have to pay for them. If the Commonwealth is not willing to pay adequately for the employment of intellectual power in discharge of its administrative offices, then this country must be prepared to accept some inferior form of service. What I am saying is not a reflection on past Administrations, but we, as a people, are engaged in the serious work of government, and must face our responsibilities. By way of illustration, and in order to bring my argument more clearly before honorable senators, I want to direct attention to what has been done in other countries. In New Zealand, where there is a smaller population than in Australia, there are nine Ministers whose salaries and allowances aggregate £15,000.
– There is also an official residence for the Prime Minister.
– Yes, I omitted to mention that. But as I have said, in New Zealand the members of the Ministry receive £15,000, and we in Australia are making a special effort to provide for nine Ministers who will be paid £13,600.
– Does the honorable senator know what is paid in the one State of New South Wales alone?
– I am afraid if I quoted New South Wales I would fortify my argument more than I desire. Now let us compare the Commonwealth with South Africa.
– The Prime Minister of South Africa gets £4,000 and an official residence.
– Yes; South Africa, a country not to be compared to Australia, pays its Prime Minister £4,000 and provides him with an official residence as well as eight colleagues, each drawing £3,000 per annum, making a total of £28,000 for the administration ‘of its affairs.
– But there are no State Parliaments there now.
– I am aware that the State Parliaments have lost their status in South Africa, but if we compare the expenditure in the Union with the expenditure of the Commonwealth it will be seen that ours is inexcusable modesty. In Canada there are eighteen Ministers. It is possible that the ramifications of government cover a wider area there than in Australia, but at the same time there are certain Departments of this country, such as the Naval Department, for which we are now creating a portfolio, which up to the present are not in existence in Canada. I merely mention this to, show that in our administrative services we have activities which generally do not coincide with those of Canada, where there are eighteen Ministers, including three without portfolios, compared with nine proposed to be appointed here, and if we inquire into the remuneration we find that in Canada the first Minister gets $12,000, and the other Ministers $7,000 each, in all £23,000,” leaving out of account all allowances. As compared with that the Commonwealth will now pay £13,600 to its Ministers. Compared with New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, I think that we are attempting in a very haphazard and lame manner to improve the position in Australia. The Bill will help, in a measure, to make matters a little better than they are at present, but I am certainly in favour of increasing the emoluments to something that will approach what was considered by the framers of the Constitution a fair remuneration, namely, £2,000 a year, and I will move accordingly. I regard the Bill as a. partial instalment for the purposes of improving the position, and giving to the people of this Commonwealth better control of their administrative affairs than they have enjoyed in the past. It will also give Ministers a chance to move about the country, to show themselves to the people, and to give closer attention to the administrative details of their Departments. I am supporting the Bill in the main, but in Committee I will move to increase the remuneration to £2,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The number of Ministers of State may exceed seven but shall not exceed eight
Senator NEWLAND (South Australia) [3.01. - I move -
That the word “ eight “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ nine.”
I submit this amendment in accordance with the statement I made when we were discussing the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I shall not take up any time in debating it, except to say that in carrying such an amendment we shall be, to a certain extent, safeguarding the interests of the Senate. I have always contended that, save in the matter of finance, the powers of this Chamber should be coordinate with those of another place. A proper proportion of Ministers ‘should be chosen from the Senate. Quite recently the suggestion has been made in another place that the Senate should be abolished - that we are a “lot of old fluffs,” and are practically of no use. If we allow another place to override us in this way, then it will be time either to abolish the Senate, or to spur up honorable senators to a recognition of the importance of this branch of the Legislature, and of the requirements of the country which it serves. I am not going to dictate to the Government as to whether the additional Minister for whom I propose to provide shall be chosen from the Senate or the House of Representatives, but I must say that the assistance which Ministers deserve and require is certainly not provided for in the Bill as it stands. In addition to the extra Minister for whose appointment I ask, I think that two more Honorary Ministers should be appointed. I do not believe in the appointment of Honorary or Assistant Ministers in ordinary circumstances, but at the present time I am prepared to make such a provision for the assistance which members of the Government require. If the amendment be carried, then after the war is over I shall be quite prepared to agree to the whole situation being reviewed, and a definite proposal being brought before us, so that the whole matter may bo fully discussed.
– I trust that Senator Newland, having put his view, and put it very forcibly, before the Committee, will not press his amendment It is practically certain that the view which he has expressed will eventually have to be adopted. The Government, however, should be in the best position to determine whether the proposal embodied in this Bill is sufficient to meet the present crisis. They say, after consideration and deliberation, that it will enable them to cope with the existing difficulty. That being so, we feel that we should not make any radical changes while faced with this crisis. The changes we make should be as few and inexpensive as possible. I know that the view which Senator Newland has put is indorsed by a great number of honorable members of both Houses of the Parliament, and some of us would be placed in an awkward position if we had to vote against it. Our vote, indeed, would be misinterpreted, and would not give a true reflex of the opinion of the Senate. If the position were different I should be prepared to support the view put forward by Senator Newland, but, as it is, I feel that I could not. I appeal to him, therefore, not to press his proposal, and so, perhaps, to compel honorable senators to vote against something which, in other circumstances, they would support. I am sure we can all foresee that, with the carrying of our referenda proposals, the powers of the Commonwealth will be so extended as to make it certain that more Ministers will be required. The Commonwealth Parliament will then be given the power to deal with labour questions and large questions of commerce, which it cannot touch at the present time. These two proposed extensions alone open up a vista of administration that will require a far more powerful Government numerically than we have at present. In these circumstances, and seeing that in the opinion of the Government the arrangement for which this Bill provides will enable us to carry through, I trust that Senator Newland will not press his proposal.
– If the Minister of Defence would give honorable senators an assurance of his willingness to consider another view that I’ propose to put, he would make the position much easier for some of us who would be placed in a difficulty if asked to vote upon this question. During the second-reading debate I suggested that provision should be made for an additional Minister, but I did not intend to submit an amendment. If this amendment be pressed to a division, then I certainly shall not be found speaking in one way and voting in another. It may be, however, that Senator Newland would be inclined to accede to the Minister’s request if he received from him an assurance that another Honorary Minister will be appointed. Such an appointment would not involve any further legislation on the subject. When this matter was raised some time ago, I think most of us were under the impression that the object was to insure that Ministers should be no longer overworked. Ministers certainly are overworked, with the result that a number of members of Parliament cannot obtain from them that attention for which they are frequently pressing. This is not the fault of Ministers themselves. They are only human, and, as Senator Pearce has said, cannot work beyond an ordinary man’s physical capacity. If the Bill be allowed to pass as it stands, that position will not be improved. I gather from a statement made by Senator Pearce before we adjourned for lunch, that it is not proposed to appoint an additional Honorary Minister to take the place of the honorable gentleman who is to be -given the portfolio of Minister of Marine. This means that there is to be no addition to the Ministerial strength - no additional Ministerial power to .be spread over the Commonwealth.
– In other words, there is simply to be a rearrangement.
– Quite so. That is entirely “disappointing to a number of honorable members of both Houses. .Senator Millen. - And on both sides.
– Yes. I was under the impression that another Honorary Minister would be appointed to fill the place vacated by the honorable member who is to take office as Minister of Marine, and who has been ably discharging the functions of Assistant Minister. This, however, is not to be -done. The Minister of Defence will probably find that a number -of honorable senators will consider that they must vote for this amendment, unless he can give them an assurance that the Government will reconsider its .decision not to appoint another Honorary Minister. If such an assurance be given, Senator Newland may .be inclined to withdraw his proposal, although it would be very wise to provide for the appointment of an additional Minister whenever the necessity arises.
– Will not the Government do that when the necessity arises ?
– It would be a simple matter to provide in this Bill for the number of Ministers of State being increased to nine, whenever the necessity arises. That would render it unnecessary later on to bring in an amending Bill. There should be an additional Honorary Minister to take the- place of any Minister in charge of a Department who may .unfortunately fall ill. Such an oc currence has been by no means infrequent in our experience. Hardly a month passes without a Minister being absent from his Department for a few days owing to illness due to overwork. It is always as well to have an understudy for important positions, and it is most advisable to have an Honorary Minister in each House ready to step in at a moment’s notice to take up Ministerial duties.
– On the second reading I said I accepted the Bill as offering a small modicum of relief, but not as a serious effort to deal with a real difficulty. When I made that statement I was under the impression that it was intended to strengthen the Ministerial team, but I understand that since I spoke the Minister of Defence has made a statementthat it is not intended to add -to the number of Ministers already acting. If that is so, the plain fact remains that the Bill will afford no relief to ‘Ministers, but will simply add to Ministerial salaries.
– All it does is to give a “ screw “ to brother Jensen.
– That” is its simple purpose. If the Ministerial team is to continue to embrace only the gentlemen who formed it. before,, the sole effect of the Bill is to enlarge the amount which will be paid to them from the Consolidated Revenue. I take no exception to that payment. I entirely indorse Senator Lynch’s remarks in that regard. If there is one thing in which the Democracy of Australia is making a fatal mistake it is in following the Democracies of other parts of the world in trying to pay their public men sums of money which would be laughed at in other callings.
– I do not think that is the general desire -of the Democracy.
– We have seen ii in other countries, and I have heard in the Parliament of my own State a proposal to give a little over £2,000 a year to the finest railway administrator Australia ever saw bitterly fought and contested ion the ground that the salary was excessive. I hope the Democracy of Australia is growing out of that failing. The Bill was a disappointment to me this morning. It is made more so this afternoon by the Ministerial announcement. That, however, is a matter for which the Government must take the responsibility.
The burden is there. If they are content to continue with only the- physical and mental strength they had before, that is their responsibility. I would draw attention to the fact that the present allocation of duties of Ministers is not entirely satisfactory. I am accepting the Bill merely as an expedient to meet an emergency. It does not seem to me now to do even that, but this was the view I took of it when I first read it. I would point out to Senator Newland that, if we are going to alter the number of Ministers now proposed, we ought to do so in circumstances which will enable us to review all the Ministerial positions and the duties allotted to them. The time is not opportune for that. It would be rather disappointing to the people outside, and of little benefit to us, if we attempted to-day to consider the re-allotment of Ministerial duties. It has always appeared to me to be an absolute necessity that the Prime Minister should be free from the cares of a Department. The Prime Minister has enough to do now to keep in touch with his various colleagues and the Ministerial work under their control, and to look after those big public affairs, and very often, if you. like, those big public functions, at, which it is necessary for him to appear, without taking into his hands any administrative work, except, those communications which must pass through his hands between the; Government and the- Imperial authorities. If we leave with the Prim© Minister the foreign or external affairs we shall give him sufficient work, if he has to carry with it all those multitudinous, but indefinable, duties attached to his position as. Prime Minister. The difficulty is that we cannot have a Prime Minister with no Department without raising the question of whether he is entitled to- any salary. The sooner we alter our Constitution - if that is necessary - to enable us to say that, with the growing administrative work of the Commonwealth -
– What! more referenda ?
– I am not frightened of’ referenda on sensible proposals. All1 1 object to is harassing the people on proposals which are not- sensible: The sense of the Houses is with me on this subject. I have discussed it with many honorable members, and the sooner the idea is> ventilated, and the people understand the necessity for the change, the sooner the time will arrive when we can effect it. At present the anomalous position is that the Prime Minister is compelled to accept a Department, in actuality or appearance, in order. that there may be no possible question of his- right to draw a share of the Ministerial salary. We have not many people in this country whose resources enable them to devote themselves to public work, and at the same time sustain themselves out of their own means. We have not that class here, and, perhaps, that is one of the glories and advantages of Australian politics. When the number of Ministers is being altered the question of the Prime Minister’s duties should be adjusted. It has always been an anomaly to me that we allocate to the so-called Minister of External Affairs things which are really internal. Surely the Northern Territory is not an external affair. The real external affairs are those which pass beyond Australia, and the only man entitled to talk on them should be the Prime Minister. If we hand over to him those things which are truly external we shall have no room for the Minister of External Affairs, and the duties he now discharges could be properly brought under Home Affairs. The functions of the Home Affairs Department so far as. they relate to works could then form the proper subject for a Works Department.
– A former Prime Minister held the office of External Affairs.
– Originally that was so, and if the- Prime Minister has a portfolio at all he should have only that dealing with affairs’ external to Australia. Whilst Senator Newland’s proposal is in the right direction-, it would, if adopted now:, open’ up. a tremendous call for readjustment of all our administrative duties, and in that way the purpose of the Bill to meet an immediate emergency would be defeated.
– The trouble is that it does not meet it.
Senator- MILLEN. - I admit that it does not. I have said that the Bill is a disappointment to me, especially since I have; learned that the Government are going- on with the- same number of members as before^ and that the sole, effect of the Bill is that the taxpayers will be called on to bring their emoluments- a little- nearer to a reasonable figure. In the circumstances Senator Newland might agree not to press the amendment; otherwise we shall he in the awkward position indicated by Senator Pearce. I firmly believe we ought to have a reconsideration of the whole of the Ministerial positions, but I do not see how it can be done now.
– The Bill is in our hands.
– Of course honorable senators can tie the Bill up.
– We are here to deal- with it, to give our best attention to it, and improve it.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that we can to-day, within the scope of the Bill, properly go into the matter of the reallotment of Ministerial duties and re-adjust the whole position? Things will not be satisfactory until we can deal with the subject properly. We could not, under this Bill, deal with the question of the Prime Minister’s duties, which I regard as the starting point of a re-adjustment of Ministerial duties generally.
– That can wait.
– Then the other can wait. I do not think we are paying our Ministers or many of our high public officials enough, but we must remember the announcement of the Minister of Defence yesterday that it is necessary to make some levy on the material resources of the country. I do not think ‘a”e should be setting a good example, or that our action would be hailed as a genuine indication of the desire and intention of Parliament to share in these privations, if, at this juncture, we unduly loaded the civil list. In the circumstances, I would urge Senator Newland to follow Senator Pearce ‘s advice and withdraw the amendment.
– I had no idea that my reply to Senator O’Loghlin’s question would be taken as anything more than a reply to a question as to what the present proposals of the Government are. I cannot commit the Government to anything other than the Government have instructed me to communicate to the Senate. Everybody knows that the developments that have taken place have been considered and determined upon within the last few days. I am only authorized to say that, concurrently with the proposals made, the Government do not intend to appoint an additional Minister. That is not to say that the Government will not do so later on if necessity requires it. The Bill does not bind the Government at all in that regard, but I am not authorized, nor can I say at this juncture, that the Government are going to ask for the appointment of another Honorary Minister.
– Then you do not think it is necessary now ?
– I ain not prepared to say whether it is necessary or unnecessary. The rearrangement has been made, but has not yet been tried. .Senator Gardiner has been assisting the PostmasterGeneral. He is now to assist the Minister of Defence.
– Then we will have both Defence Ministers in the Senate ?
– No; the other Defence Minister will be in the House of Representatives. The Postmaster- General may find that he requires assistance, or some other Minister may require it, in which case the Government can, without consulting Parliament, appoint another Honorary Minister. That does not need a Bill. The representations of Senator Newland and others regarding the appointment of Honorary Ministers have been listened to by us, and will be conveyed by us to our colleagues. As he well knows, the Government are always prepared to consider the views of Parliament, and of its supporters who gave it life. In the circumstances, I suggest that he should withdraw his amendment. The Government themselves will be the first to feel the pressure if further Honorary Ministers are necessary, and to take advantage of the feeling voiced here today.
– I have heard no argument to shake my determination to proceed with the amendment. The whole crux of the question lies in the fact that Ministers have said they are overworked, Parliament has said they are overworked, and we all say in our charitable moments, when replies to requests are delayed, that they are overworked. We have in our hands to-day a Bill which is supposed toremedy that defect, but it does not do so. It is announced as ostensibly a measure intended to relieve Ministers of some of the work they have to do. The people will examine it, and ask where the relief to Ministers domes in. They will say, ‘ ‘ All we can see in this Bill is an increase in the Ministerial salaries by ?1,650.” The people are common sense and matteroffact, and that is the view they will take. We are asked to agree to this increase in the Ministerial salaries under the guise of giving Ministers help.
– In introducing the Bill, I pointed out that it will give us real additional help.
– We have already one man performing every duty, except the final details, appertaining to an additional’ Minister of Defence. He has unquestionably rendered the Minister of Defence great assistance in the past.
– Yes, but with considerable limitations owing to the fact that he is not the Minister for the De.partment.
– As Assistant Minister, the only difficulty is . that he cannot put the finishing touch on Ministerial decisions.
– Can he do any more work when he is called Minister of Marine than he will be able to do now he is called Assistant Minister?
– The only additional help that the new Minister will be able to give will be in his ability to finalize work which hitherto he has handled up to the finalizing stage. We are told that Senator Gardiner, the Vice- President of the Executive Council, is to be transferred to the Defence Department. Another place is asking that the Minister of Defence should be transferred there, and my opinion is that if the Minister of Defence is to have an assistant, that assistant should be a member of another place. Senator Gardiner would do very well in the Postal Department, where already he has been doing excellent work, and where his ability and determination are sorely needed. My desire is that his services shall be placed at the disposal of the Department in which they are likely to be of most value to the country. I hope that honorable senators will vote for the amendment. Had I been proposing to amend the Bill in the direction of curtailing the assistance to Ministers, there would be something in the argument of the Minister of Defence; but all I am proposing is that the Govern- ment shall take advantage of the desire of senators that they shall have more assistance.
– There was one phase of the remarks of the Minister of Defence with which I did not agree. The Minister stated that the appointment of an additional Minister would give him greater freedom to attend to his . responsible duties ; he would be able to get away from much of the detail work which could be left to the military officers, and if the officers were not capable of performing those duties they ought not to be in the Department. We have since been informed that Senator Gardiner is to become virtually Minister of Defence, and I beseech him not to leave too much detail to the departmental officers. He will find that great attention to detail will be required of him as administrative head of the Department. In regard to the increase in the number of portfolios, I believe that, owing to the extent of our territory, and the variety of functions operated by the National Government, the affairs of the Commonwealth will never be adequately safeguarded until the Ministry comprises about ten Ministers with portfolios. Even in the State Parliament of Queensland steps are being taken to increase the number of Ministers from seven to eight, and the proposal contained in this Bill is a very modest one indeed. As to the amendment, the Government are in the best position to judge whether the assistance which they will get under the Bill will be sufficient. When the referenda proposals are carried, and the administrative functions of the Government are largely increased, the proposal made by Senator Newland will, doubtless, again receive consideration. Until ‘that time I think we should adhere to the proposal contained in the Bill.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
There shall be payable to the’ King, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the . Commonwealth, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, for the salaries of the Ministers of State,an annual sum up to but _not exceeding Thirteen thousand six hundred and fifty pounds a year.
– I move-
That the words “ Thirteen thousand six hundred and fifty “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Fourteen thousand.”
The purpose of the amendment is to provide for the payment of a lump sum of £14,000 for the salaries of Ministers.
– I cannot accept such an amendment. Tinder section 53 of the Constitution the Senate may not amend any proposed law in such a way as to increase the charge or burden on the people.
– I understand that in regard to Bills or portions of Bills which we may not amend directly we have at least the power of request.
– Is this not a Bill, portion of which we may amend, and in regard to other portions of which we may make requests? There are Bills which the Senate can amend, and there are others in regard to which the Senate has only the power of request, hut there is a third class of Bill in which we have the power of both amendment and request.
– Section 53 of the Constitution reads -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications. Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.
– That section seems to make clear our right to request amendments to Bills which the Senate may not amend. Iintend, therefore, to proceed with my amendment by way of request. The amendment I desire to submit is–
– As this Bill was preceded by a message in another place, the honorable senator’s object can only be attained by means of a request.
– That is the position. This Bill was preceded by a message, and that message set out the amount of money required to cover the purposes of the Bill.
– That is hardly my point. My point is that this Bill is one which the Senate has power to amend.
– It is a Bill which the Senate has no power to amend. I do not think that there can be the slightest doubt about the accuracy of the intimation just given by Mr.. Chairman. The point has been raised that, because an amendment’ was accepted before that suggested by Senator Lynch, this is a Bill which the Senate can amend. That argument does not prove anything, because it may be that Mr. Chairman was not right in accepting the previous amendment. Furtherth an that, I would point out that, we have on record instances where, in dealing with Bills, we have made both amendments and requests.
– That is the point I am raising.
– In this case, however, we have nothing to do with anything that happened months ago. I do not think any one who has. looked at the Constitution can dispute the ruling just given, that the only method by which the Senate can secure a change in the Bill is by asking the other House to effect that change.
– In the monetary portion of it. .
– At the same time, I do not think any real difficulty is created. The difficulty is only as to the form of words, and I think Senator Lynch has sufficient words at his disposal to carry him through his predicament.
– Then I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the words “Thirteen thousand six hundred and fifty,” and to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Fourteen thousand.”
I take my stand on a distinctly constitutional ground, and I ask those honorable senators who profess a respect for that sacred document to support me in that stand. Particularly do I request the support of honorable senators who sit on the left of the Chamber, because of the manner in which they have dwelt upon the sacrosanct nature of the Federal Constitution.
– But not as it is interpreted by you.
– The Constitution provides for the appropriation of £12,000 for salaries to seven Ministers, but the understanding which was arrived at was that this £12,000 should be divided amongst six Ministers. The point has been sustained by the Leader of the Opposition, during the last few minutes, that the Prime Minister, as such, does not receive one penny for his services. This is as curious a make-believe as has ever been upheld by either one party or the other, and the Prime Minister has usually taken to himself a portfolio that has entitled him to draw some allowance from the Treasurer. We are now proposing to add another salaried Minister to the number, making the number seven, but the Bill does not provide that we should allow for his remuneration at the rate of £2,000 per year. Why not? The Constitution originally set apart the sum of £2,000 for each of six Ministers, and any person in this country,1 particularly those who know least about it, if asked what the salary of a Cabinet Minister was, would repy £2,000 a year. The understanding arrived at in the express terms of the Constitution was that a Ministerial portfolio should carry the salary of that amount per annum, no more and no less. Now, in proposing to add another portfolio, we are not following the precedent set by the framers of the Constitution, but are actually cutting down the salary. I do not agree with that at all. The labourer is worthy of his hire, whether he be a Cabinet Minister or anything else. The people of this country are most parsimonious in the manner in which they pay for the services of their public men. I have heard a past Treasurer of the Commonwealth say that, if he had remained in office much longer, he would have been quickly in his grave. That man went out of the country’s service, and is still living a good, healthy life. I quote the incident as showing that those who serve the n 7A.1_ 4 public faithfully and well should at least be rewarded for their services. I am proposing that this request be made to the other House as a means of getting away from the idle fiction that has for so long been associated with the payment of Ministerial salaries: Why not call a spade a spade, and pay our Cabinet Ministers according to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, and in accordance with the standard agreed upon at the time the Constitution was drawn up?
– I can only say that the Government will ask the Committee not to accept this amendment. I admit that the argument, as put forward by Senator Lynch, regarding the comparison between Australia and other Dominions in the payment of Cabinet Ministers is unanswerable. But this point has to be borne in mind, that Australian taxpayers have to carry, not only the Federal Government, but the State Governments as well, and, after all, the taxpayers have to look at the total sum they are called upon to pay. In that total I think they are paying more for government than are the taxpayers of South Africa or New Zealand. I ask Senator Lynch not to press his request. The subject is one that can be dealt with when the general question of revising the Cabinet and the duties of individual Ministers is taken into consideration.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment or request.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– May I be permitted to make a statement as to the business before the House?
– There are several senators who wish to speak upon the Constitution Alteration Bills. The Sen.ate has been called together for Wednesday next, and I think it is a sound principle that when a call is made for a certain date the. sitting should not be postponed. I suggest that those honorable senators who wish to speak on these Bills should permit the second reading to go through now,, and make their speeches or. the third reading.
– The Bills have yet to be dealt with in Committee. Does the honorable Minister contemplate taking them through the Committee stage .now?
– I think that that is rather too much to expect. Discussion will take place on some of these Bills in Committee.
– If honorable senators will intimate to me in Committee which Bills they wish to discuss we can postpone the Committee stages of those Bills until Wednesday next.
– The time has now arrived when, in accordance with the Sessional Orders, the question must be put.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question put and resolved in the negative.
– We might put through the second reading, and if any honorable senator desires to discuss any particular Bill in Committee, we can report progress upon that Bill and discuss it on Wednesday. As honorable senators may have made arrangements for Tuesday, it would not be fair for the Senate to meet on that day. I see no reason why. the whole of the discussion should not take place on Wednesday.
– I do not wish to obstruct the passage of these measures, and I am quite willing to withdraw what might seem to be an attempt at obstruction if the Minister will give me the assurance that if the Senate deems it fit and proper, one Bill that I particularly wish to discuss may be recommitted, or, at any rate, not hurried through.
– I ask, Mr. President, whether the honorable senator, in moving to recommit a Bill on the third reading, is entitled to give reasons for asking for the recommittal?
– At that stage an honorable senator will be in order in moving for the recommittal of a Bill for a certain purpose, and in giving reasons why the Bill should be recommitted.
– I shall formally ask Ministers whether they are prepared to accept a certain position, and recommit one Bill for that purpose. In that way the attitude that I intend to take up will be clearly defined, as well as the position of the Government on the matter.
Order of the Day read for the resumption of the debate, adjourned from the 8th July (vide page 4714), on motion by Senator Gardiner -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Question put, and resolved in the affirmative.
Bill ‘read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed .to-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The Senate has decided that the Bill must be read a second time. After the order of the Senate has been complied with, the honorable senator will be entitled to raise a question of privilege.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to know the position of the Senate arising out of the declaration from the Chair that “ the Ayes have it.” During the course of debate certain honorable senators, particularly Senator Bakhap, spoke strongly against these measures, and though that honorable senator is in the chamber, I observe that he did not indicate by his voice his opposition to the BUI.
– Because there has been an arrangement with reference to these Bills.
– That is not a question of .privilege. Any honorable senator is entitled to address himself to the question of the second reading of the Bill without giving his voice one way or another, when the question for the second reading is put from the Chair.
– In view of the presence of Senator Millen and Senator Bakhap, is the declaration from the Chair to be understood as meaning that the Bill has been carried unanimously?
– The decision from the Chair was that there was a majority for the “ Ayes.” Whether that majority comprised the whole of the senators or not does not alter the position in any way.
– I have called “ No “ several times.
– The constitutional obligation that the Bills must be carried by an absolute majority of the whole Senate applies only to the third reading of such Bills as these. Ordinarily their third reading will take place on Wednesday next, for which a call of the Senate has been made.
Clauses 1 and 2, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to - That this Bill be now read a second time. .Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Expeditionary Forces : Recruiting : Accommodation for Recruits : Instructors - Sugar Industry - Dr. Ernst Carroll - Mr. Schlink. Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister of Defence) ,[4.20]. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn. On. the 24th June, Senator Millen asked this question -
Has the Minister of Defence seen in to-day’s newspaper a telegram from Perth, stating that since “ the recruiting was resumed on the 14th June,” the number of volunteers medically examined were so-and-so, and if so, whether there is anything to justify the assumption that prior “to that date there had been a cessation of recruiting?
We thereupon sent the following telegram to Western Australia: -
Telegram in Melbourne newspaper, Age, 24th June, states that recruiting was resumed in Western Australia on 14th June. Has there been an;’ cessation of recruiting? Wire full report.
In reply the State Commandant telegraphed -
Recruiting this district was not stopped. Owing shortage camp equipment, as previously explained, there was a cessation in the attesting for a few days, but names were registered, and all these have now been called up.
The recruits were not sent into camp at once, but their names were put on a register, and they were called upon to serve as soon as the necessary equipment was ready.
– Earlier in the day Senator Stewart, referring to a statement made by the Attorney-General on the 7th instant, asked a question to which I promised to make an answer later. The honorable member is referred. to the statement made by the Attorney-General in the House of Representatives.
– The statement of the Minister of Defence induces me to direct his attention to a possible recurrence of the trouble that has occurred in Western Australia, by reason of an inability to make provision for the increased number of recruits now coming forward. It is a great pleasure to all of us to know that the campaign now proceeding in this State has resulted in more volunteers offering in one week than previously offered in five or six weeks. A similar movement is to take place in New South Wales, which will also greatly increase the number of recruits, and, therefore, there is a possibility of a congestion such as occurred in Western Australia, but on a much larger scale. The Department has not only to provide housing for the new recruits, but, what is equally important, it must also provide instructors. Hitherto there has been sent away every few weeks a number of men corresponding with the number enlisting, but if the recruiting continues to expand at the present rate, it is clear that provision for their reception cannot be made in that way. I -suggest, therefore., that special attention should be given to the subject, and that, apart from tents, housing of a temporary character should be provided. As to instructors, I would remind the Minister of a suggestion which I made some months ago, and that is that an appeal to retired military officers who are past the a<re for active service would not fall on dull ears. These men, I am sure, would be glad to come forward to act as instructors if asked to do so. I rose, however, not so much to repeat that suggestion as to call attention to the difficulty which may arise in providing for the housing of the new recruits, and the need for taking steps to prevent it.
– This morning I was asked to give notice of a question which I desired to put to the Minister, and I have done so ; but, to make the question easier tc answer, I wish to say a few words about its subject-matter. What I desire to know is if the Dr. Ernst Carroll, who was mentioned in last night’s Melbourne Herald as having given certain information concerning Australians interned in Germany, is identical with a man who some years ago resided in Australia under the name of F. J. Ernst, and, becoming a professor in the Hobart University, was entitled to call himself doctor? I do not know what the duties of the Commonwealth Trade Commissioner in Switzerland are, but if they be of any importance, it is inconsistent with our general policy regarding alien enemies that they should be discharged by a German.
– Is not Ernst a Swiss, born in a German-speaking canton ? I know the gentleman to whom the’ honorable senator refers.
– I had an acquaintance with him extending over several years, and have reason to know him perhaps better than the honorable senator can. My acquaintance was so close that, although I will not say, under cover of parliamentary privilege, what I would say were he here to answer himself, I may mention that my knowledge of his character is such that I think that the Department of External Affairs ought not to allow him to occupy any position of trust and responsibility on behalf of the Commonwealth. When in Tasmania he used to call himself a German, and was known as F. J. Ernst, and if his name is now Carroll, there must be a reason for the change. After Ernst left Australia to reside in Switzerland, he acted there in some capacity for the Commonwealth, though I know that while here he had no great love for the British Empire.
– Quite so.
– If the Department of External Affairs knew about Ernst what is known to residents of Tasmania, it would not for a moment after the outbreak of war have countenanced his acting as an official representative of the Commonwealth. I make these statements with reluctance, because one does not like to attack a person in his absence, but the position seems to warrant plain speaking. The matter was brought under the notice of the Minister of External Affairs some months ago, and I and others were then given to understand that this gentleman’s tenure of his office would be terminated because of his nationality. Whether he is. or is not what he was believed to be during his residence in Tasmania, the fact that he then called himself a German - and that all who knew him believed him to be one - should debar him from acting for the Commonwealth, now.
.- I shall bring the honorable member’s remarks under the notice of the Minister, with a view to obtaining the information that he desires!
– I join with Senator Millen in expressing pleasure that the stream of recruits is increasing; but, as to their accommodation, we have, as honorable senators know, a fair stock of tents, and so far have used tents only to accommodate troops in training. But for some time past, throughout the Commonwealth, we have been erecting galvanized-iron huts. Some of them are completed, but, speaking of the Commonwealth as a whole, they are not yet ready for occupation, so that in most cases the men are occupying the tents. The huts are being completed rapidly, and on their completion we snail have the huts and the tents. In Victoria the position has been complicated by the fact that we have removed temporarily the camp from Broadmeadows. The erection of the huts is proceeding, but the regrading and making of the roads is also going on, and the troops are temporarily accommodated in tents at Seymour. Our tentage is limited, and to meet the shortage we have made an arrangement with the trustees of the Royal Agricultural Society, who have very kindly placed their grounds at our disposal. There is ample accommodation for several thousand men, and they are being sent there. In the meantime the Home Affairs Department is pressing on with the work at Broadmeadows, .and we shall soon have not only the ground, but the huts available, and if there should be any surplus of men, we can fall back on the tents. As regards instructors, that is a difficult question, and it has become increasingly difficult, owing to the fact that we. have been sending away some of the best . officers, and some of the members of the instructional staff have gone, too. I believe, however, that we can overcome that difficulty. So far the Department has been able to cope with it. We have had. to call up a number of militia officers. ‘ There is still in the Commonwealth a number of militia officers who, for various reasons, cannot or do not go to the war. We have the right to call on them for service, and will avail ourselves of it to the utmost extent. As regards the list referred to by Senator O’Keefe, there is one item to which I would like to call public attention. In the list of names of Australians interned in Germany appears the name of Mr. Schlink. It will be remembered that a few days ago I said that the doctor at the Liverpool Camp, who was attacked because of his nationality, had stated that he had a brother who went to Germany in his youth, and was interned there at the outbreak of war as. an Australian. The list contains confirmation of that statement, because it includes the name of a Mr. Schlink, of Wodonga, in Victoria - his place of origin in the Commonwealth. It is confirmation of the statement that the German people, at any rate, look upon him as an Australian, and not as a German.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 4.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150709_senate_6_77/>.