6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister ofDefence say whether it is a fact, as stated in the Age of this morning, that, although the Government have made repeated application to the Imperial authorities for the specification of the 18- pounder shells, they have been unable to obtain it, except through the courtesy of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, from whom they have received a copy of it?
– I do not know whether the statement made by the honorable senator is a correct report of what appears in the Age.
– It is, substantially.
– The facts are that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company has received the specification, which, I understand, they obtained from the Imperial Government through their representatives in London. The Home authorities have informed us that they have sent the specification to the Federal Government, but the steamer by which it is being sent has not yet arrived in Australia. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has made available to us a copyof the specification it has received.
Returned Soldiers : Recruiting at
Victoria Barracks, Sydney : Northern Concentration Camp : Telegrams to Relatives
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence, in connexion with soldiers returning to Australia, if, in future, in returning these troops to their respective States, steps will be taken to differentiate between those who have loyally served their country and those who are Bent back under discreditable circumstances for disciplinary reasons ?
– Differentiate in what way?
– I may be allowed to explain that it is not a little annoying to citizens who attend to welcome returned soldiers who have done their duty to the country, to find that they have bestowed their confidence and’ favour upon men who have disgraced both themselves and their uniform.
– So far as what the honorable senator proposes can be done it will be done. But I point out that if the honorable senator is referring to the Kyarra, if we had only returned the wounded by thatship it would havebeen comparatively empty.
– I spoke of returning the soldiers to their respective States after disembarkation.
– I think that, after disembarkation, the differentiation suggested by the honorable senator should be made, and I will see that it is made.
– Has the Minister of Defence seen in the Sydney newspapers published last week comments upon the inadequate and unsatisfactory arrangement made at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, for the enlistment of recruits? The statement is made that the rooms in which recruits are assembled are dirty and unhealthy, that the recruits are required to deposit their clothes on dirty floors, to plough through water and mud to a shed, and back through the water to a room with a cemented floor to await medical inspection? I think it is desirable to bring these statements under the notice of the Minister, feeling confident that he will take steps to remedy the unsatisfactory state of affairs pointed out.
– I have not seen the paragraphs referred to. I do not get time to read the Melbourne, let alone the Sydney, press. I shall have inquiries made into the statements, and if they are found to be correct I shall have the state of affairs remedied.
– If the statements are correct, the persons responsible should be sacked.
– I shall give the Minister the newspaper cuttings describing the state of affairs.
– I shall be glad to have them.
– In view of the fact that 300 recruits went from Newcastle to the Liverpool Camp yesterday, and that this may be regarded as a first instalment of recruits from that district, will the Minister of. Defence take into consideration the advisability of establishing a concentration camp in the northern district of New South Wales?
– It is becoming evident that there will be a tremendous increase in the number of’ recruits throughout Australia. We are all very pleased that that is so. This morning I discussed with my military advisers proposals for the best means of meeting the rush. In the opinion of the military advisers, it is not wise to divide up the camp, for the reason that the number of our instructional and staff officersis now very small, and we have had to call to our assistance a number of Militia officers. As each camp has to have a head-quarters staff, it will be seen that if the camp is divided up a large number of staff officers will be required. We have ample training ground at Liverpool, and this morning I gave instructions that arrangements were to be made for the erection of more hut accommodation, not on the present site, but on another site onthe Liverpool area, known as Holdsworth. It is a far better locality than the present one. In view of all the circumstances, we do not propose to divide up the camp in the State of New South Wales.
– I direct the- attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to the following paragraph which appeared in the Age of yesterday: -
A mother was recently called upon to pay 5s. for the delivery to her of a telegram from the Defence Department notifying her that her son had been wounded in action. The postal authorities have taken steps, on the advice of the Defence Department, to avoid a repetition of such a scandal by perpetrating another. In future, telegrams relating to wounded soldiers will be held back until the usual delivery by mail, if any amount over and above the cost of the telegram is involved for porterage. Mothers who have Bent their sons to fight the Empire’s battles thousands of miles away will not appreciate the humanity of such economy.
– Order ! The honorable senator is transgressing a ruling which I gave a few minutes ago relating to newspaper extracts. It is not in order for an honorable senator to. read long extracts from newspapers for the purpose of asking questions.
– Perhaps I should not have added the comment which appeared in the paper. I will content myself by asking the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if he will take immediate steps to have this scandal remedied.
– If the honorable senator will give me the paragraph referred to, I will have inquiries made. I have no reason to believe that the Postal Department carries on business in the way referred to.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister noticed in the leading columns of the Argus, of 20th July, the following statements: -
It is notorious that the Departments are plagued with incompetent persons who are being engaged because the Ministry dare not refuse to appoint them.
If there is no. ground for such a statement, do Ministers think it desirable to allow such a libel upon their capacity and integrity to go unchallenged?
– In reply to the honorable senator, I can only say that, speaking for myself, and possibly this applies also to every other member of the Ministry, if I were to challenge every libel upon the integrity and ability of Ministers which appears in the daily press, my time would be very fully occupied.
-What about appointing another Assistant Minister?
– I will add that the statement quoted is largely discounted by the source from which it comes.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been called to an address delivered by the Rev. J. Adams at an Orange service at Brunswick, of which the following are excerpts : -
The Rev. J. Adams said that Germany had not gone so far yet as to recognise Roman Catholicism as the State religion, yet the German Roman Catholics were in close touch with the Government to-day. Romanism was stronger in Germany than in any other country, with the exception of Austria and Spain. In the German Parliament, the followers of the Papacy held the balance of power, and always used it in favour of militarism.
He further said -
The greatest blow the Papacy could receive would be the defeat of Germany and Austria, and it was grand to know that Australians were going to help deliver that blow.
He also said -
The aim of the Vatican was to secure worldwide dominion, and to enthrone the Pope as the potentate of the world. The war was going to inflict a crippling blow to the Papacy.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled in asking a question to read a long extract from a newspaper. If that were permitted a whole sitting of the Senate might be occupied by honorable senators reading columns of matter from newspapers.
– I have no desire to infringe the Standing Orders. I want to ask the Minister of Defence if he considers such utterances conducive to good feeling amongst His Majesty’s subjects, especially in view of the fact that thousands of Roman Catholics are to-day shedding their blood in defence of the Empire and the King? Should not the man who is responsible for these utterances be dealt with under the War Precautions Act?
– I am of the opinion that the statements quoted are of such a ridiculous character, and are so obviously contrary to facts, as only to excite the amusement of any person at all well informed. They appear to me to indicate that a certain character, Mr. Dick, depicted by Dickens, is not yet dead, though he was made known to us a very long time ago.
Voluntary Aid Detachments
– Is the Minister of Defence aware that there is a prevalent disposition among the women of Australia to offer their services for the purpose of nursing wounded soldiers who return to Australia, and also is he aware that possibly the authorities responsible for the care of the wounded soldiers may not be disposed to view such offers with a very great degree of enthusiasm, but desire persons who have qualifications for nursing to undertake this work? If those circumstances are correct, will he take into consideration the advieableness of having some succinct statement made public as to how the services of those women volunteers may be utilized, and in what way they should be offered ?
– That matter has already come under the notice of the Department through the Red Cross Society, and a suggestion has been made that the Red Cross Society should organize what is known as voluntary aid detachments. As soon as the Red Cross Society has formulated its proposals they will then be made public.
– I ask the Minister of Defence if it is a fact that a large number of our soldiers returning by the Kyarra deserted in Western Australia, and, if so, can he assign any reason for their action ?
– I understand that some soldiers - not a very large number-
– About twenty-eight were reported as deserted.
– This is not a large number out of 500. I understand that that number did desert, but I have not yet received the report of the officer commanding the transport. I expect to receive it any time now, and will be in a position to answer the question more definitely later on.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Works in Queensland - Summary of, completed, in progress, and about to be commenced - 1914-15.
Defence Act 1903-1915 - Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 113.
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 115.
European War: Collected diplomatic documents relating to the outbreak of the war.
Norfolk Island - Ordinance No. 3 of 1915- Public School.
Public Service Act 1902-1913-
Promotions - Department of the Treasury - J. F. Hughes, as Clerk, 4th Class, Land
Tax Branch, Central Staff.
Postmaster-General’s Department -
Class, Clerical Division, Victoria.
Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 121.
War Precautions Act 1914-1915 - Regulations cancelled - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 114.
– I direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to the following statement which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of last Saturday : -
Speaking at a luncheon in London held in his honor, Sir R. L. Borden, the Prime Minister of Canada, said that that Dominion had sent nearly 75,000 men to the front.
The following paragraph also appeared in the Herald of the same date: -
Mr. J. A. Jensen, Minister for the Navy, has received reports from transport officers, shewing that since the war began 74,375 persons for active service, including 2,826 officers and nurses, had been transported from Australia, as well as 24,172 horses. In this work nota single accident has occurred.
In view of those statements, will the Minister in future, when any persons make comparisons between Australia and Canada in regard to our contribution to the war, direct their attention to these statements ?
– I noticed the paragraphs referred to, and I have no doubt they will receive the attention they deserve.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What quantities of the following have been imported for the use of the Electrical Branches of theGeneral Post Offices, and value of same respectively, during the past four years : -
Underground cables, showing sizes and quantities;
– Inquiry is being made, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The information sought is now laid on the table in the form of a return - a rather lengthy one.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. The Queensland barristers employed during the period mentioned, and the fees earnedby them during that period, are as follow : - Mr. A. D. Graham, £91 3s. 6d. ; Mr. 13. Hobbs, £3 3s.: Mr. P. B. Macgregor, £488 9s. 8d.: Mr. A. D. McGill,.£8 8s.; Mr. L. M. Marsland. £1316s.; Mr. F. W. Murphy, £15 15s.; Mr. J. S. Wassell, £2 2s.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Captain H. C. Coxon, censor.
MajorW. G. Allsop, senior assistant censor.
Lieut. C. V. Rees, senior assistant censor.
Captain H. L. Dixon, assistant censor. Major F. O’Mahony, assistant censor.
Lieut. W. S. Jones, assistant censor. Lieut. C. K. E. Woods,
*Assistant censors, employed part time only and paid accordingly.)
*Licut. N.E. P. Draper, assistant censor.
Mr. J. Warren White, assistant censor.
Mr. J. Botten (Thursday Island), assistant censor.
Note. - Assistant censors are not all fully employed.
Houses : Enlistments
asked the Min ister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
The number of volunteers accepted in Queensland for service in the Expeditionary Forces of the age of nineteen years and under?
– This information is not available. To obtain same it would be necessary to classify the men according to age, by making out a return for each unit and obtaining a summary. This work cannot conveniently be undertaken at present.
ENGAGEMENT OF MR. R. McC. ANDERSON.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Bacteriological Investigation of Soil
asked the Minister of Defence,upon notice - l..If he has noticed the following press report of a bacteriological investigation of the soil of Trenthom (New Zealand) Military Camp, and that the diagnosis has revealed a disease that has occurred in military camps in Great Britain and Europe : -
Drs. Champtaloup and Bowie, of Dunedin, have made a bacteriological investigation of Trentham Military Camp, and have definitely diagnosed a disease, the nature of which they will not reveal, pending an official report. They state, however, that the disease has occurred previously in New Zealand, though it is not peculiar to Trentham ; and that it has also occurred in military camps in Great Britain and Europe ?
– A report is being obtained from an authority as to the feasibility or value of such an examination.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That standing order No. 68 be suspended up to and including the 30th July, 1915, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past ten o’clock at night.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to provide for compulsory voting at the referendums, under the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1912. which are submitted to the electors during the year 1915.
Suspensionof Standing Orders.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
– I move, pursuant to contingent notice of motion -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the War Census Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
It is proposed that Senator Gardiner shall move the first reading, and then the second reading, and explain the Bill. If there is any desire on the part of the Senate not to put the second reading through to-day, an adjournment of the debate till to-morrow will be agreed to, but if there is no objection, it is proposed to carry the Bill through all its stages today.
– I expected the Minister to give reasons for the urgency in this matter. Our Standing Orders seem to be, to a large extent, useless. I always thought they were safeguards to prevent the Government from bringing forward and pushing through measures without due discussion, against the wishes of the Opposition. Seeing that the Opposition in this case have abandoned that duty, I -have felt called on to take it on myself. I have always objected to the suspension of the Standing Orders. Although I am speaking from the Opposition side of the chamber, it must not be thought that I have joined the Opposition, because an Opposition that feeds out of the hand of the Government, as this one does, is not worth joining. I see no reason why the measure should not be fully discussed by the Senate. If the Senate does not want to discuss it, it can be put through posthaste. The effect of suspending the Standing Orders is to abolish all the rules formulated, as the result of long experience, for the conduct of public business in Parliament. These rules should never be done away with except in times of the greatest urgency, and I see no particular urgency here. It is not proposed to close up Parliament at an early date so far as I can discover, and, even if it is, that is no reason why the ordinary rules governing the conduct of business should be suspended. In the ordinary course, the Bill can be passed into law in a comparatively short time, and every opportunity and encouragement should be given to honorable senators to discuss it to the fullest.
– I cannot undestand Senator Stewart’s position, and am at a loss to understand his motive. Has he gone over to the other side to shake the Opposition out of their Rip van Winkle condition, or is he objecting to the motion out of sheer cussedness? If the Government desired to gag any one, or force the measure through against the wishes of this Chamber, I could understand Senator Stewart’s objection; but the Minister of Defence outlined the position exactly. If Senator Stewart desires, he can have to-day and to-morrow to discuss the Bill, and that ought to satisfy even him. The Standing Orders are very useful in their way, but when measures of great urgency and vital importance are submitted the Standing Orders will not stand in my way in respect of their early passage. Every day is of importance in connexion with the statistics required.
– We have them.
– Not in the way we desire these to be obtained. They will be invaluable, and the sooner the measure is got through, the better position will the Government be in to get the information. So far as this war is concerned, there is no such thing as party. The great mass of the people are at one with us on that subject. We find the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition on the same platform, and the president of the Employers Federation and the president of the Trades Hall Council making a joint appeal to the people for funds forthe wounded. I am most anxious to secure all the information possible to aid the Government in their desire to bring the war to a speedy and successful termination. I, therefore, hope the Bill will not be delayed, and have no objection to the suspension of the Standing Orders on this or any other day when matters of real urgency come before us.
– I was slightly perturbed a few minutes ago when I heard Senator Stewart say something as to the position which he occupies in this Chamber. I was almost afraid that he contemplated joining the Opposition. We have quite enough troubles already. If I might paraphrase a well-known sayingapplied to war, I would say, “ One more such recruit and we should be lost.” For Senator Stewart to find fault with the Opposition is not extraordinary. The honor able senator finds fault with his own party, and we cannot expect to be regarded by him in any more favorable light. I have always suspected the honorable senator of being occasionally consistent, and I was therefore a little surprised to-day when he raised his voice against swallowing this quite insignificant proposal, knowing that only a little while ago he made no protest against the most serious inroad upon the Standing Orders ever sanctioned by the Senate - the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow of an early call of the Senate to consider the Constitution Alteration Bills. If the Standing Orders should have been observed to the letter upon any occasion, it was when the Senate was asked to deal with the highly important subject of a proposed amendment of the fundamental law under which we live. Senator Stewart was then found in the attitude which he described a littlewhile ago. He was feeding out of the hand of the Government. He was then the most silent man in this chamber.
– I must have been asleep.
– The honorable senator is not often asleep. He allowed that proposal to go, but he rises to-day, in apparent indignation, to protest against what the Government now propose. The Government have now made a proposition which is merely the expression of a desire to get the War Census Bill through, if the Senate is prepared to pass it. If not, they propose to carry it over until to-morrow. I cannot conceive the Government putting a proposition more reasonably and fairly to the Senate than they have done in this instance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.53]. - I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Although the Government are willing, should honorable senators so desire, to give further time for the consideration of this measure, I ask the Senate to permit the Bill to go through all its stages to-day. If it embodied important principles requiring long consideration, I should not make the request. Everything of importance in the measure will’ be found in the schedules and the questions which they embrace. This is the most urgent, the most far-reaching, and the most important of the war measures it has been my pleasure to introduce in the Senate. I ask honorable senators to assist the Government in getting it passed through all its stages without delay, that the Government may take up, in the manner in which they are prepared to take it up, the work of organizing. This Bill is the very basis of organization. Its intention is to enable the Government to know what men, what material, and what wealth is at their disposal for the conduct of the war in the way in which they propose that it shall be conducted from this day forward. I should like to follow the lead of the honorable gentleman who introduced this Bill in another place, and say that it must not be regarded by any one as a first instalment of conscription.
– I wish it to be clearly understood that the Government, in introducing this Bill, have no idea of following it up with a measure to provide for conscription.
– Why are the Government so fearful of conscription ?
– Recruits are presenting themselves in such numbers and with such splendid enthusiasm that the Government prefer to fight the battles of the country with volunteers rather than with conscripts. I do not desire to enter upon an argument as to the merits or demerits of conscription, but I wish to assure not’ only honorable senators, but people outside, that in introducing this measure it is not in the minds of the members of the Government to follow it with a measure to provide for the conscription of men for service outside the country.
– The Government will have to come to that yet.
– I shall not speculate upon that. I wish to go further, and say, in order to assure the wealthy section of the community that, although we are asking by this measure in the schedule dealing with the wealth of the people, that we should know exactly what the financial position of the people of Australia is, it is not the intention of the Government to deal in any harsh, unreasonable, or unprecedented manner with the owners of wealth in Australia.
– I hope that the Government will deal with them in an unprecedented manner.
– That is not the intention of the Government in introducing this Bill.
– I am sorry to hear it.
– I am not concerned with what honorable senators may individually be sorry for. The proposals of the Government for financing the warwill be placed before Parliament in the ordinary way., and the community, sensible of the magnitude of the struggle in “which we are engaged, must be prepared to meet them. There is, with regard to men, no connexion between this measure and conscription, and with regard to wealth, no connexion between the information for which we are asking under it and confiscation. That is not in the minds of the Government at the present time, and I venture to say that it will never be in their minds. If the fortune of war should go in the direction which some people fear, and it becomes necessary to resort to conscription to provide the trenches with an even fighting line, no matter what Government may be in office, they will have to face such a situation as it presents itself. This Bill is the first step to enable the Government, when considering the number of men who may be required, to know exactly what, in regard to the supply of men, the resources of the country are. We desire to have them tabulated, so that Ministers may be able to decide at a moment’s notice what help they can give the Mother Land in strengthening the fighting line.
– The Government have the numbers already.
– We want them in the form in which we are asking for them here. If a business man finds himself up against a sudden change in business conditions which could not be anticipated, he requires to know his resources in stocks, and the men upon, whom he can call to conduct different parts of his business. He must be in a position to know the means at his disposal to overcome his difficulty.
– He gets the information with the intention to act.
– He certainly does. He gets the information so that* he may be prepared for any emergency and be able to use it at the moment when it is most required. This is really the beginning of organization. Possibly it will be said this ought to have been done months ago.
– The war will be over before this information is available.
– That is a pious hope.
– I recognise that the work we are doing will be very costly, but it will not be in vain even if the war is over - and I join most heartily in the cheers that welcomed that expression of opinion, because I recognise they come from men who desire that the war shall be terminated in only one way, and that is in the triumph of the Allies, and that there shall be not an armed truce, but a .guaranteed peace for the civilized world for a considerable time ito come.
– That is what we want.
– As far as this Bill is concerned, it is the beginning of the organization of the affairs of this country, not in anticipation that the war will be over this week, next week, or the following week, but in recognition of the fact that we are up against a big proposition, the end of which no man can see. The cost of the census will be very large.
– Approximately, how much ?
– Approximately, £150,000. But that statement, like the Bill itself, has been arrived at hurriedly and without time for actual computation, and there may be a difference on one side of the estimate or the other. I refer to the estimate because we know the magnitude of the work to be taken in hand, the object of which is to secure for the nation information that will be available promptly and effectively, and which will be at, the disposal of the Government or the Committees that may be working in unison with the Government, in order that we may systematize the machinery necessary for the efficient conduct of the war. The chief importance of the measure itself is in the questions which we are asking people to answer, and I - with those conservative instincts of my nature which are always strong in times of peace, when perhaps I would have something strong to say about an inquisitorial measure of this kind - say here, that as these are times of war through which we are passing, we all ought to revise our views concerning legislation which may be necessary. I want to say that, when Senator Stewart was opposing the suspension of the Standing Orders, if he had turned up Hansard he would have found instances where I joined issue with him concerning departures from the regular methods of debate in this chamber.
– You did not sit over there then.
– It is not the position that I occupy that has caused me to change my opinion, but it is the condition of things under which we are working. Even now I do not like departing from the view which I held so tenaciously and for so long, that the less you interfere with the individual the better for the individual and the country generally. The schedules to the Bill contain a list of questions which I have no doubt many people will seriously object to answer, but I appeal to those people that this is not a time for any trivial objections. We are up against a big proposition, and it is desirable that we should get as quickly as possible all the information we are asking for.
– The questions ought to be amplified in some respects.
– I may say that, in dealing with them, we could have amplified them in such a way that we could never have got the questions answered as they ought to be. The AttorneyGeneral made the statement that any further questions with regard to the wealth census would be submitted, before the Government gazetted’ them, to the Committee of both Houses.
– It is a guarantee that practically ignores Parliament.
– I do not want the honorable senator to misunderstand me. It does not. The Government are not going to get this Bill through, and then use any power to ask unreasonable questions.
– Why was this special assurance given with regard to the wealth schedule only, and not the other ?
– Because no exception was taken to the other; but, personally, if the honorable senator asked me, as Minister in charge of the Bill, if I would give an assurance with regard to the other, I would willingly give it. There is little to which anybody can take exception. In the absence of Parliament sitting, the guarantee given by the AttorneyGeneral is an assurance that nothing is intended in that direction. I would like to quote clause 6 of the Bill for the information of honorable senators -
Every person who is included among the persons or classes of persons specified in any proclamation under this Act shall -
obtain, or cause to be obtained, a copy of any form which he is required to fill up;
fill up and supply in a form, in accordance with the instructions contained in or accompanying it, all the particulars specified therein;
sign his name to the form; and
within the time specified in the pro clamation in which he is included, transmit the form to the Statistician in accordance with the instructions contained in or accompanying the form.
I have read the clause because it is important for the people to know that they are responsible, under this measure, for obtaining the forms and filling them in. I have said, and I say again with a view of giving a little publicity to it, that at the present time there is a splendid opportunity for members of the public anxious to do useful work to render valuable service to this country by assisting people to fill in these forms. I venture to say that districts can be organized, and that honorable senators may with advantage exert their influence in organizing them. If the people in different localities will use their educational abilities in the direction of insuring the filling in of these forms quickly, such voluntary aid will be of very great assistance to the Government at the present time.
– I take it that the forms will be carried free of postage?
– Yes. The whole resources of the Postal and Defence Departments will be used in effectively carrying out this work.
– Then I hope that the Government will impose a special tax to cover the cost of the undertaking.
– I recognise the desire of some honorable senators to impose taxation. When I was quite a youth I used to be assured that there were two things which Heiland men hated - tolls and taxes. Yet in this Chamber I am up against two Scotch senators who are always anxious to tax people.
– But they only desire to tax the “ other fellow.”
– That may beThere is no honorable senator who is notaware that owing to the pace at which we are spending money to meet the present great emergency, taxation is inevitable. Everybody will be thoroughlysatisfied with the nature of the taxation that the Government feel themselvescompelled to propose to meet theexigencies created by the present war. Our expenditure has been enormous, and if the war continues that expenditure will be an increasing one. The need for meeting it will be in exact proportion tothe part that we take in the momentousstruggle. If by an unusual expenditure of arms and men during the next few months we can bring the conflict to an early termination, obviously we ought not to pause in our efforts. The quicker the war is ended the better will it be for all concerned.
– And the cheaper.
– Yes. This Bill, in itself, does not foreshadow any fresh taxation. It is necessary in order that we may know what wealth exists in. the country when we come to consider measures of taxation in the future.
– The Governmentwill not be able to base anything upon the information acquired under this Bill for about twelve months.
– I am quitesure that the honorable senator whomade that interjection has not the slightest idea of the capacity for work of the gentleman who will be called upon to administer this measure - the AttorneyGeneral. I venture to say that nosooner will the Bill be the law of the land than machinery will be at work printing the forms to be issued to thepeople, and that within a fortnight thereturns will be coming in, and will be in course of classification. I do not hesitate to say that within ten weeks of the passing of the Bill, the Government will be in possession of information which will be really valuable to them in the conduct of the war. If the honorable senator thinks that the measure is going to wait on our present overworked Public Service he is labouring under a delusion. The Attorney-General is already making preparations for the employment of a huge body of clerks to carry on this work immediately the Bill becomes law.I have endeavoured to put before honorable senators the provisions of the measure, and’ to emphasize its urgency. The most important portions of it are its schedules. I quite recognise that some honorable senators may think that the questions which it is proposed to put to the people go too far, whilst others may be of opinion that they do not go far enough. Personally, I think that they strike the happy medium.
– I intend to support theBill, but I regret to state that my action is not influenced by anything that I have learned from the speech just delivered by the Vice-Presidentof the Executive Council. I was hoping that he would have clearly outlined the practical results which will follow the placing of this measure on our statute-book. He said that the Billis necessary for purposes of organization. But what organization is contemplated ? What is the information sought under the Bill, and which, I think, ought to be obtained, to be available for, and of what valuewill it be ? To my mind, it will have a distinct value if we accept the Bill as one providing machinery which can be set in motion if at any time conscription becomes necessary. But the VicePresident of the Executive Council went a long way out of his road to make it perfectly clear that that is the last thing of which the Government dream. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not advocating conscription at the present juncture. To my mind it is not necessary. Until the necessity for resorting to that system is apparent to those who control the position at Home, the thought of conscription in Australia should be banished. Of course, I am dealing with conscription in relation to this war, and not as the settled policy of the country. To my mind it is unthinkable that any responsible person in Australia would urge that we should adopt conscription until the necessity for that course has been recognised in the Old Country. To me the value of this Bill lies in the fact that, should such an emergency be brought home to us, we shall have available the machinery upon which conscription can be based.
– I do not think that the Minister disavows that possibility.
– He said that the Government have no idea of conscription. Whilst the passing of the Bill does not -involve conscription - which could not be adopted without Parliament being first consulted - it is, in my view, a measure which will supply the information which is necessary to enable us to give effect to conscription if we decided to resort to it.
– Will it not disclose information of value in connexion with certain services in Australia - munition making, for instance?
– It may. I was hopeful that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have told us how he proposed to utilize the information which will be gained under the Bill short of resorting to conscription. He failed to do so. He used the term “ organization “ pretty frequently. But how do the Government propose to organize? Is it intended that certain classes shall not go to the war, and that others shall go ? I cannot conceive that the measure can serve any useful purpose unless we are compelled later on to resort to conscription. In that event the value of the Bill will at once become apparent, because the Government will have in their hands information which will enable them to act promptly and with effect. I am rather surprised at the tremendous effort which a number of persons are making to put forward apologies in reference to the matter of conscription. To my mind those apologies are entirely unnecessary. I venture to say that, whatever views we may hold concerning conscription in normal times, those views are of no value when the safety of the Empire’ is imperilled in times of emergency.
– Conscription is of no value in peace time, surely?
– It is valuable in the minds of many people, who regard it as a necessary preparation for war. There is no need to apologize for conscription at times like the present, because, whatever views an individual may hold on the subject generally, if we were confronted with the spectacle of a triumphant Germany, none would object to the conscription of every man who could possibly render service in the firing, line sooner than that that should happen.
– There would be thirty-six senators to begin with.
– Yes, there would be thirty-six senators, unless any were exempt for various reasons. To me the value of this Bill is that it provides the necessary machinery, but, fortunately, we have not reached that stage yet.When the Vice-President of the Executive Council was seeking to dissociate the Bill from conscription, I was hopeful that he would give us some indication of the purpose to which the Government propose to put the information when it is obtained. All he did, however, was to say that the measure was necessary for organizing the resources of the nation, and to instance the case of an employer of labour suddenly confronted with a big emergency in his business, and immediately getting together all the information possible about his business and his staff. The answer to that is that that employer would do this only for the purpose of taking some further action. What action, then, do the Government intend to take on this Bill?
– I suppose that lies in the future.
– It does; but if the Government have any idea in their minds of the purpose to which they intend to put the information, they might reasonably have told us.
– The British Government have not done that.
– The honorable senator is one who would generally say that we are “ paddling our own canoe,” and should not slavishly copy the Imperial authorities. I hope that this Bill is going to prove so much waste paper, and that there will be no need to act on the information it aims at obtaining. I support it for the only virtue in it, which is that, if we are ever confronted with a more serious position than we are faced with to-day, Ave shall have available information upon which we can proceed to draw on the resources of the country. What I have said applies equally to the schedule of population and the schedule of wealth. If it is necessary to take extreme action in the one case, it will obviously be equally necessary in the other. I have no objection to the demand in the Bill that those who own wealth in various forms should disclose their position to the Government. My objections to the schedules are on matters of detail, and I still think they can be improved. In the first schedule, questions six and seven are not only unnecessary, but mischievous. One is, “ State whether your general health is good, bad, or indifferent.” That is an entirely useless question. If a man returned his health as being bad, and we had conscription, his word would not be taken for it. He would still haveto go to the doctor to be examined. The value of his answer to the question is, therefore, nil. There is no question on which the average person is less disposed to make a public statement than that of his health.
– You would not regard the answer to that question as a public statement, as it would be confined to the recorder.
– It would still be a public record, whether it became publicly known or not. There is undoubtedly a strong disinclination among a large number of people to disclose particulars regarding their health. If the information served any useful purpose, that objection ought to go by the board;: but it serves none, because the answer would not be taken as final, or even as indicative, if the person was afterwardscalled on to render military service or assist the Government in other ways in connexion with the war. A number of people are presenting themselves at thebarracks who think their health is good, but they still have to undergo a medical examination, and it is the doctor who finally decides. That question might, with advantage, be left out. No answer which any individual gives to it will helpthe Government to determine who shall be called on and who shall not.
– By its means weshall ascertain approximately the physical condition of the community.
– You will not, nor do you want to know the approximatephysical condition of the community generally. What you want to know is the physical condition of each individual. The answer will be useless, because you, will not act on it. If a man states that his age is twenty-five, he will be called on with other men of his age, and if he does not come, he will be hunted up ; but his statement as to his state of healthwill not be accepted. In the other schedule the Government, in asking for some of the details, are putting the people to a great deal of unnecessary trouble, as the information is already available. The simpler the schedules are made the better; I can buy for1s. in my own State a bookgiving the name and address of the owner of every motor ear registered in New South Wales, and its description and power. Those in stock are returned by the firm as part of their stock in trade. The Government can get that information without payment by applying to the police authorities in New South Wales, and the same thing can be done in Victoria and other States where registration is insisted on. The list is kept up to date and fairly clean. Every State also secures from its stock-owners a yearly return of the stock they possess. We should not put people to the trouble of making up fresh returns covering the same ground. I do not mention either of these questions as presenting serious objections, but point them out as an attempt to get information which is already available. The fewer the questions asked, and the more simple their form, the less the inconvenience to which the people will be subjected, and the more reliable will be the answers given to them. I shall not take the responsibility of moving any amendments upon the schedules unless the Government are agreed that there is something in the remarks I have made. I think the most serious objection is taken to the question relating to the health of the individual. The Government, I understand, modified that as the result of criticism in another place, but I suggest that, since they would serve no useful purpose, and are objected to by a large number of people, the Government should consider whether’ it would not be well to delete the two questions to which I have referred.
– I welcome -this Bill. It has not been introduced a moment too soon. Any one who considers the present unsatisfactory position of affairs must recognise that the war is far from being at an end, and that we may have to adopt methods other than those we have adopted up to the present time. References to the attitude of the Old Country with respect to registration, or, as some people prefer to call it, . conscription, are quite beside the question here. The people of the Old Country have their own responsibilities, as we have’ ours. I hold that the step we are taking in this Bill is a perfectly logical outcome of the step we have already taken in the establishment of compulsory military training. We are very much further along the road to which this Bill points than are the people of the Old Country. I do not know that I have any right to criticise the Government of the Old Country, but I go so far as to say that their conduct of affairs connected with the war has been far from satisfactory. From the way in which things have gone I. am disposed to say that the present Imperial Government is about the last of the Governments involved in the war that we should follow.
– They cling to traditional practices too ‘long.
– They are clinging to a silly superstition concerning volunteers, and what is becoming to a free nation, to an extent that is ridiculous.
– They have become quite Socialistic.
-That is only because the collectivist steps which have been taken in connexion with so many matters have been forced upon them as a result of the war. The fact that they have done certain things will not excuse us for any blunders we may make. It will not help us to take an optimistic view at the present time. -It is more fitting that we should take a pessimistic view, provided that our pessimism urges us to renewed energy and to set an example that may be useful to the people of the Old Country. The danger of the position is evident when we see a British community such as ours adopting the principle of compulsory service with the intention of putting it into practice, and not of apologizing for it, as, I am sorry to say, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has done in introducing this measure. The honorable senator’s speech was not at all satisfactory to me. He struck a very despondent and ‘disappointing note. Why should we be afraid of the consequences of putting the principle of compulsory military service into actual practice?
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that matter, since compulsory military service is not provided for in the Bill, and, further, because, by discussing compulsory military service, he will be anticipating the discussion of a motion which is already on the business-paper in the name of Senator Bakhap. He is aware that that would be directly contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I should be sorry to run counter to your opinion of what is contained in the Bill, or to the Standing Orders, but if this measure is not intended to provide for compulsory military service, and to go the length of enabling the Government to avail themselves of the services of every able-bodied man in the community for the conduct of the war, it has no meaning at all. If that is not its meaning, the Standing Orders are defective in permitting the introduction of such a Bill. If the measure is in conflict with a notice on the businesspaper it is out of order.
– I did not say that the Bill was in conflict with a motion already on the business-paper, because it is not. I have read it carefully, and there is no reference whatever in this Bill to conscription. There is a motion on the business-paper, in the name of Senator Bakhap, dealing directly with the subject of conscription, and, therefore, any reference to the Bill as covering conscription is not in order.
– It is not usual to put on the face of a Bill all’ that it means. If there were a preamble to this Bill, as there, is to other Bills, it might be possible to say whether the discussion of a particular subject in dealing with it is out of order. If we are to refrain from addressing ourselves to a principle that is in every one’s mind - the principle of compulsory military service in the conduct of the war - I .do not see how we can discuss this measure at all.
– The honorable senator is misrepresenting the matter. There will be ample opportunity to discuss the question of conscription. He must be aware that Senator Bakhap has already discussed that question on a number of occasions, and it will be possible for Senator de Largie to discuss it freely in dealing with the motion on the businesspaper to which I have referred. ‘
– I can assure you, sir, that I have no intention to challenge your interpretation of the Standing Orders. I do not know of any law in existence anywhere that gives the name of “ conscription “ to the principle of compulsory military service to which I have referred. If we cannot discuss that principle we shall be debarred from discussing the principle which underlies this measure, by which it is intended to take the services of all able-bodied men’ within certain ages in the Commonwealth, and ask them to do their duty to the country. Another principle of the measure is to take the wealth of the country and utilize it in the same way. If these principles are not involved in the measure, what in, the name of all that is reasonable does this Bill contain? I shall not apologize for any principle which I consider right and proper. I hope the day will never come when a Labour Government and the Labour party will bring forward a measure ostensibly for one purpose when they know in their hearts it is for another.Why should we apologize ? Why not be candid with the country, and let the people know what we intend?
– I went out of my way to be candid.
– Does the honorable senator believe that the Bill is a first step to conscription?
– Undoubtedly I do.
– I went out. of my way to say that the Government never intended that it should be so regarded.
– The Minister was quite unequivocal upon that point.
– If that be so I am misled and disappointed by the Bill. If the Labour party are afraid to take the only step by which they can do their duty to the country in the present circumstances, it is good-bye to the party and to the Labour Government. No people will tolerate’ a Government” retaining office who are afraid to take certain action where the necessity of the case demands it. All prejudice against conscription, to give compulsory military service its ugliest name, should be set aside at a time like the present. We are facing serious danger, and in view of the state of preparedness of the German nation, the wonder is that the nations opposed to Germany were not swept off their feet before they could get into proper fighting trim. The enemy is now driving the Russians before them, just as they drove the Belgians in the early days of the war. . Are we, in the face of danger, to fold our arms and do nothing, or are we going to organize our resources of men and material for the successful accomplishment of our duty in this struggle? If this measure is brought forward by the Government as a pretence, because they are afraid that the people will not support them, the sooner we know exactly where1 we stand the better. Let us remember how well the German people were prepared before they struck the first blow. I read in the Atlantic Magazine of last November an article by Professor Usher, giving a description of the state of preparedness of the German Empire before war was declared. It is one of the most important articles written in connexion with the war. The writer showed that everything had been organized systematically on a war footing in Germany during the time of peace. The Germans had everything prepared. They knew where every man and woman in the country were to be found, and the service they could render in the event of war. They knew what would likely be the disturbance brought about in connexion with industries. They were prepared to lay on one side for the time being those industries that were regarded as useless. They had also so organized their industries that it was said at the outbreak of the war that 92 per cent, of the lands of Germany were utilized up to their fullest possible extent, and that, too, I would remind Senator Grant, without the necessity for the single tax.
– Where would they get the revenue from? Not from the Customs ?
– The revenue would come from the utilization of the land to its fullest extent, and any policy with that object in view will always get my support, as against a policy that would levy taxes on the land the effect of which would place land-owners in much the same position as were the crofters of Scotland or the Irish farmers for many years.
– There is no land tax at all in Scotland.
– I have made reference to the article from which I have quoted, with the object of showing that the Germans left nothing to chance, and that, as the country is now practically self-supporting so far as food supplies are concerned, there is no possibility of Germany being starved into submission. Recognising all this, we must ask ourselves : How are we going to make the most of our own country ? The lesson is as plain as possible. We must adopt the methods which have been so successfully practised in Germany, and put our country in such a condition as to be able to make the most of our resources.
We undoubtedly have a number of industries which, in times of war, could very well be dispensed with. We have quite a number of services12- services which might be called parasitical - which could be laid aside by a common-sense arrangement for the time being, so that we would be able to utilize” all our ablebodied men in those services which they may be well fitted to perform, and which may be essential to the welfare of this country at this particular time. In such industries as shopkeeping and clerical work, the older and weaker men of the community, as well as the welleducated, girls who are being turned out of the business colleges in every city of Australia, could be very well employed, and thus release for more important work the able-bodied men who are at present engaged in those occupations. If things continue to go as they are at present, from bad to worse, we shall have to organize, so as to be in a position to say, “ Here is a business that is of very little use to the community just now, so we will let it go,” in order that we may call upon the able-bodied men employed in it to do work of more importance to the nation. There are, of course, industries that must be kept going in order to finance ourselves in this war; such, for instance, as farming and mining, because it is by the exports of these industries that we expect to pay our debts. Again, those manufacturing industries that serve the community, but which do not export, are also essential to our welfare. Useful commodities we must have for consumption, and goods we must export to pay our debts. It is only right that we should have in our mind’s eye an idea of what we are going to do with particular industries. Are we to allow them to continue as at present? In my opinion, the necessity will be forced upon us to economise in many directions. In many of our Government services we are spending a lot of money, and it is no use blinking the fact that we have very anxious times ahead of us, and that there will be great need for economy. We want to know what is contemplated, and I think the Government ought to indicate the character of the scheme they intend to adopt. Are we going to continue during the time of this war all those services which could very well be dispensed with for the time being? These, I think, are matters which should call for attention. I am obliged to make these references because there has been some criticism with regard to football, and we * have been told that football matches ought to be stopped; but I would ask, “Why should football be interfered with any more than any other amusements?” There is no reason why football should be stopped if theatres are allowed to remain open. As a matter of fact, unless the footballers are professional players, and are doing nothing else hut play football, there is no reason at all why objection should be taken to this healthy pastime.
– There may be many reasons why football should be continued.
– Yes, I agree with the Minister. If men who are engaged in our factories and other industries during the week pass their Saturday afternoons in looking at football, I think that is as healthy and as innocent a way as any other in which they could spend their leisure time. But I do say that if the worst conies to the worst, and Australia is faced with a more serious situation than i3 the case at present, football and every other means of amusement should be laid aside, and only the essential things in the community be allowed to continue.
– If football is stopped, the Melbourne Cup will be stopped later.
– As a matter of fact, I would sooner see horse-racing interfered with than football matches, because I think there is a larger percentage of men permanently employed’ in that form of sport than in football, and that for every man released for other occupations by the stopping of football matches, half-a-dozen could be released by the stopping of horse-racing. I would like to ask those who are opposed to what they call conscription, but what I call simply serving their country, how they can justify a measure that is likely to’ come before them in the near future - I refer to compulsory voting - and at the same time oppose compulsory service in the community?
– We have compulsory service in Australia already.
– No, we have only compulsory training. But there is a section in the Defence Act - section 60 - which provides that in time of war the Government may call upon all persons liable to serve in the Citizen Forces - that is, persons between eighteen and sixty years of age - to enlist and serve as prescribed.
– What is that, then ?
– I agree’ that the underlying principle is compulsion.
– Do you want to compel men to go out of Australia to fight?
– Yes ; if by so doing they will be defending Australia. And I contend that the men who are at the Dardanelles at present are just as truly defending Australia as if they were fighting only a few miles from Melbourne.
– Was not the Sydney defending Australia?
– Yes. Senator Millen reminds me that the Sydney was just as truly defending Australia at the Cocos Islands as she would have been if she had been engaged off Sydney Heads. We cannot ignore the fact that this country may be just as truly defended by the fighting on some portion of the European Continent as by fighting in this country itself. Are not the Belgians fighting for. their own country? We know that there is no nationality so determined in this war as the Belgians, and yet every Belgian, practically, is fighting outside the confines of that little kingdom. Then, again, are not the British soldiers, in the trenches in France, fighting in defence of the British Isles?
– Undoubtedly they are.
– The meaning of the term “ defending Australia “ is so apparent that I wonder that any one will, quibble over sections 59 and 60 of the Defence Act. I hold that that Act is applicable to the present position, and that it gives the Government power to take our able-bodied men, and send them anywhere in the defence of this country.
– No, it does not.
– Well, that is my interpretation of the Act.
– You cannot send them out of the country without an amendment of the Act.
– I agree that an amendment is necessary, but that is in regard to another section. As far as the defence of Australia is concerned, the troops that we are sending to Turkev or Europe are just as truly defending Australia as if they were fighting ou Australian soil.
– For the defence of Australia the Government can call them all up.
– We have to ask ourselves what is a reasonable interpretation of the Defence Act?
– It must be interpreted in the widest sense.
– Yes, and in accordance with common sense. Any one who looks at the position must admit that it would be an insult to our soldiers who are fighting at the Dardanelles to say that they are not fighting in defence of Australia. It would be a slight on their efforts and on the motives which prompted them to volunteer. If the enemy were strong enough to invade New Zealand, should we, or should we not, have power to defend the Commonwealth tin accordance with sections 59 and 60. If we wish to be logical, those of us who believe in the principle of compulsory voting ought certainly to believe in compulsory service. A country that is not worth defending is not worth voting for.
– The honorable senator has put his finger on a very vital spot
– We must all recognise that as citizens we have duties to discharge as well as rights to enjoy. The Bill, I hope, will be discussed in a candid manner. No good can result from blinking the position with which we are faced to-day. That position is a very serious one. Not on© of us can foresee the end of the war. Indeed, the information which is forthcoming from day to <Jay shows that we are going from bad to worse. That being so, why should we endeavour to disguise the meaning of this Bill ?
– I may ask why the honorable senator attempts to misrepresent its meaning ?
– I can assure the Vice-President of the Executive Council that I do not wish to misrepresent its meaning. I may also tell him that when the measure was first projected nine out of every . ten members of our party believed that it meant, exactly what I regard it as meaning to-day.
– That is not my belief, or the belief of the Government.
– Then the Government are shirking their responsibilities in that they are not candid with their supporters and the country.
– If, because we disagree with the honorable senator, we are not candid, that is all right.
– I know the circumstances under which tins Bill was originated just as well as does the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I know where it was initiated, and I think that the interpretation which I place upon it is a great deal more reasonable than is that of the honorable gentleman. If the Government have seen fit to revise their view that is a matter for them to explain. I am merely expressing my OWn attitude towards the measure, which I give my hearty indorsement.
– I think it is very desirable that at the present juncture the Government should be in possession of the information which it is intended to gather under the provisions of this Bill. My objection to the measure is that nearly all the information that is necessary is already available to the Government, without incurring the expense of what may be termed a census of our population and of our wealth. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that this census will cost about £150,000. Now the question which honorable senators should ask themselves is, “ Would it not be wiser to spend that money upon practical defence rather than in an effort to obtain information which can be secured for a comparatively small sum of money?” With regard to our effective population, from a defence stand-point, I would point out that only this afternoon a return was presented to the Senate in which the numbers for each State are clearly set out. Our last census in Australia was collected in 1911 - only about four years ago. There cannot ‘be a very great difference between the position which was then revealed and the present position, and consequently there is no need for the Government to spend this large sum of money in seeking information which is already at their disposal. With regard to wealth, I think it is necessary that the Ministry should have some clear idea of the extent of our national resources - resources upon which it may be necessary for the Government, in certain eventualities, to levy. But again I say that that information is already at their disposal.
In every State an income tax is in operation. In nearly all of the States there is an exemption of £200, but above that exemption there is a complete record of the income earned in every State. That record can be secured by the Government.
– It will not give us any idea of the wealth of the country.
– There are no State income tax returns which indicate more than one-third of the income of the people of Australia.
– That is because twothirds of that income is in the hands of people whose incomes fall below the exemption.
– The honorable senator wishes the Government to beg of the States’ Governments for information which they ought to get for themselves.
– Some honorable senators seem to think that £150,000 is a mere bagatelle, but let me tell them that before we are ‘out of the wood we shall think a great deal more of £150,000 than we do now. My objection to the Bill is that all this information can be obtained for comparatively a small amount of money. The Assistant Minister has interjected that we cannot get at more than one-third of the incomes of the people of the Commonwealth. But in every State - as I have already pointed out - there is a record of the incomes above a certain exemption. That record is available to the Government. Senator. Newland interjected just now to the effect that the Commonwealth Government are being asked to beg of .the States for information. There is nothing whatever in that contention. The Commonwealth Government have a perfect right to ask the States for all the information that is in their possession.
– The Statistician sets out the total amount of incomes in excess of £200 in Australia at £62,000,000, but estimates the total incomes of the people at £295,000,000.
– The difference, I take it, represents incomes which are below the exemption. I do hope that there is no intention on the part of the Government to tax persons whose incomes are on a par with what I may call a living wage. If there is any such proposal put forward I shall feel compelled to oppose it. No man who is only earning a living wage ought to be called upon - except in the last extremity - to contribute even to a war tax. There is in Australia a vast amount of property which can be levied upon and which ought to be levied upon. Until that is exhausted I will not consent to taxation being placed on the backs of cbe working people of this country.
– I would remind the honorable senator that there is nothing in this Bill relating to taxation.
– The object of the measure is to ascertain the resources of the. people of this country. For what reason ? In order that the Government may know whom to tax and in what amounts. That appears to me to be the object of the Bill, and, consequently, I think my remarks, as to probable taxation are quite permissible.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not dispute my ruling, except in a proper way. Senator de Largie insisted that the real object of the Bill is conscription. Senator Stewart says that its real object is to ascertain what taxation may be levied. Now, our Standing Orders take no cognisance of the object of the Bill but only of its provisions. It is laid down in our Standing Orders thatdiscussion upon a Bill must be relevant to its provisions. There is no referenceto taxation in this measure, and, consequently, I cannot permit a debate on “that subject, although a passing reference to it is allowable.
– Unfortunately our Standing Orders appear to render it impossible for one to intelligently discuss any measure coming before the Senate. I have already pointed out that, so far as income is concerned, the Government can put their finger on all the information that they require for the purposes of this Bill. Now, with regard to land. The second schedule to the measure provides for the acquisition of information relating to the capital value of land, together with the value of all improvements, including houses and buildings thereon. That information also is at the disposal of the Government, in every State. Every year people are called upon to make returns, not only of the land they own, but of the buildings thereon, of the live stock they possess, and of a number of other things which are referred to in the second schedule. To my mind, therefore, this expenditure is entirely unnecessary. It is proposed to spend £150,000 in securing information which is already in the possession of the various State Governments. Senator de Largie indicated that he was strongly in favour of conscription. I may indicate just as clearly that I arn not in favour of compelling any Australian citizen to leave Australia for purposes of defence, and have no intention of consenting to anything of the kind unless much stronger reasons than have ever been advanced here are given for doing it.
– Are you in favour of recalling the Australian Navy to Australian waters?
– I’ am not going to say what I am, or am not, in favour _ of doing, but, if permitted by the Standing Orders to do so, I could give reasons that probably would not appeal to some honorable senators here,’ but that would find a hearty response throughout the Commonwealth, for confining our defensive operations to this continent. I oppose the Bill, because it is unnecessary, and means wasting money which might well be directed to other purposes. The Government estimate that this census will cost about £150,000. Probably before the information is obtained and tabulated in such a form as to be of any use to the Government the cost will be double that amount. It will certainly cost a great deal more’ than an ordinary census. The expenditure is unnecessary, the information can be obtained, at any rate, approximately, from the States, and the money might well be employed more profitably in another direction.
.- I support the Bill. I think I understand exactly what is behind it. The Government appear to desire to ascertain the population of the Commonwealth capable of taking up arms in its defence, but it is not their intention to insist on any or all of those people being forced to do so. They believe the present method of voluntary service will be amply sufficient. It is evident, from the results of the recruiting campaign just closing in Victoria, during which over 1,000 men have enlisted every day - and we have no reason to believe that similar good results will not follow in the other States - that the resources in men will soon be depleted. to the point at which conscription would be of very small value. It, therefore, does not appear that, under the Bill, the Government contemplate anything of the kind. They wish to know definitely, not from a four-year-old return Supplied by the Census Department, but from up-to-date information, the actual resources of the Commonwealth.
That is a most reasonable request for the Senate to agree to. The other important part of the measure is the second schedule. The census does not show the land values of the community. All my efforts have failed so far to elicit that information. The Government Statistician or Land Tax Commissioner informed Parliament, through the Minister, a few days ago, that it was not available. Mr. Lloyd George recently tried to extract similar information from the British propertyowners, who raised a howl of indignation when asked, not to pay a tax, but merely to inform the Government of the amount of their wealth. I do not know that they have supplied the figures even up to the present moment. The schedule, as drawn up by the Government, is extremely faulty, and in one respect I intend to move its amendment. I wish to see the return furnished in such a way as to disclose the value of the land alienated in the Commonwealth, apart from buildings and improvements. I have been trying to get that information here for some time, but so far have failed. Now that this opportunity has presented itself, I shall exhaust all the forms of the Senate to see that the information is furnished. There is no reason why the Government should not at this juncture amend the schedule so that the return may disclose the value of the land held by the person making it. A second question could show the value of the houses and improvements on the land.
– Does not the second schedule provide all the information you want?
– No. The answer is required in a lump sum. It is. of no satisfaction to me to know that a man possesses property worth £50,000. I want to know how much of that is land, and how much improvements, because, if the Government later on propose to tax industry in any form, I shall be up against them, and shall seek to see the taxation imposed on the land values.
– I am afraid we shall have to tempt your wrath.
– I object to the idea of the Federal Government seeking to impose an income tax or any other tax on industry. Some States are imposing an income tax of up to 15 per cent. The present is the fitting opportunity to impose a straight-out land tax.
– Order ! The honorable senator’ must’ not anticipate the discussion on the motion, which he himself has put on the notice-paper, relating to the land tax.
– I want to see the schedule so amended that if the Government later propose any form of taxation we shall have information disclosing the total value of the land alienated. I understand from unofficial sources that the total value of the alienated land of the Commonwealth amounts to £700,000,000. If that is so, it should be able to stand some . part of the expense of the war. One would infer from Senator de Largie’s remarks that very heavy land value taxation was imposed in Scotland. The crofters were. called on to pay such exorbitant rents that a Committee of the House of Lords - realizing that their fellow landlords in Scotland were so greedy that they were killing the geese that laid the golden eggs - reduced the rentals in many cases by half, wiped out all the arrears, and left the crofters ju3t about sufficient to live upon.
– What is the differnce between taking it as rent and taking it as taxation?
– The difference is that the landlords get it as rent, while the State gets it in the form of taxation. If the Scottish people had Home Rule they would make short work, by taxation, of the landlords of Scotland, notwithstanding the opposition of men like Senator de Largie. The war may last another two or three years, as the Germans are about as stubborn as the British; but I have no doubt the Commonwealth will do its duty in men, money, and material, to bring to an end the long-drawn-out struggle. I believe our war expenditure for the current year will approximate £50,000,000, and as the war proceeds our share must increase. It is wrong for the Commonwealth to shirk any part of its expenditure, or expect it to be defrayed by Great Britain. We are part of the Empire, and ought not to dodge our responsibilities. I congratulate the Government on bringing the measure forward, because I believe the intention is to find out, exactly how we stand as to men and taxation resources, and that the Government will take the necessary steps to get the men, and also the money to defray the cost of the campaign.
– Senator Millen was anxious to find out the reasons for taking this census, if the Government had no intention to bring about conscription within a’ reasonably short period.
– I did not say that the Bill was introduced with the intention of bringing in conscription, but I said that it would provide the machinery which would be necessary, if, later on, the Government were compelled to adopt that course.
- Senator Millen has misunderstood me. I think I am quoting him fairly when I say that he asked what would be the use of this- Bill if the Government did not intend to go in for ‘conscription. I agree with much that the honorable senator said, but I think thata very useful purpose may be served by the Bill in ascertaining the exact industrial resources of the Commonwealth”, and the number of men engaged in every industry. It is within the region of possibility that conscription mav yet have to be resorted to. Most of us hope that the time is far distant, and we must all be pleased with the magnificent response which has been made in Victoria to the call for the voluntary service of the ablebodied men in the State. I have no doubt that a similar appeal in the other States will meet with a like response. But if it is found that we must go beyond the voluntary principle, this Bill will serve a very useful purpose. If we are to take our share of the burdens now falling upon every portion of the Empire we shall require a number of skilled men for the making of munitions of war, and possibly of arms. We are now making small arms, and I hope the day is not far distant when we shall extend that sphere of our activities. We should not be misled by a. feeling that when the present war is at an end there will be no danger of Austrafia becoming involved in war in the future. In view of what will almost certainly be the circumstances in which we shall have to live in Australia for many years to come, we must enter largely upon the manufacture of munitions of war, and it is necessary thai we should know the number of men in Australia whose training fits them for such work. It is very difficult for us to say to-day that there are so many men in Australia who at a. moment’s notice could be put into a factory to turn out ammunition or arms. This Bill will serve a . useful purpose in supplying us with that information. Though Senator Millen appeared to object to the use of the word “organize “ by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I think it was correctly used. Some such measure as this must precede any attempt made by Australia in the near or the remote future to get into line with the older nations of the world in the preparations made for defence. We have had our eyes suddenly opened by the war to the fact that Australia has passed her time of peace, and must in future take her place with other nations in preparing for selfdefence. The importance of the difficulties which may have to be faced in the settlement of questions arising out of the war should be brought home to us by the struggle in which we are now engaged. Our easy times in the Commonwealth have gone by, and we must be prepared to resist aggression. It is necessary as a starting point that we should know the number of mechanics we have in Australia who may be called upon in time of need to do a particular kind of work.
– -This Bill may be described as a measure for national stocktaking.
– That is a very good term to apply to the Bill. I hope that the time is not far distant when, for the manufacture of our own munitions and arms, we shall use a large quantity of material we now export to other countries’, and thus provide increased employment for Australians. These are questions which Australian legislators must face from this time forward. If the Bill contained only two or three clauses, and the second schedule enabling us to ascertain the wealth of the people of Australia, it would serve a very useful purpose. We are faced with the very unpalatable fact that in the future we cannot hope to have the easy taxation we have found sufficient hitherto. We must in the next few years face a heavy burden of taxation.
– Order !
– I do not wish to discuss the kind of taxation that is necessary, but as the second schedule will discover the sources of wealth which may be taxed, I thought I was entitled to make a passing reference to the taxation of the future. The object of the census of the wealth of Australia is to enable the Government, if, and when, it becomes necessary to impose additional taxation for the purposes of the war, to know where they may go for the money they require. According to the latest estimates, we shall have to meet within the next year an expenditure, for war purposes, of from £45,000,000 to £50,000,000. This will amount to £9 or £10 per head of the population. A month before the war broke out, it would have staggered us to contemplate such a thing.
– No one imagines that all that money should be provided in one year.
– As we have a population of only 4,750,000, it is clear that, to meet a war expenditure of £50,000,000 in one year, we must raise over £8 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
– We shall have to raise the interest on that amount. We cannot expect to raise the capital sum in one year.
– This Parliament has never done anything more useful than the Government propose to do by this Bill in finding out exactly what is the wealth of Australia, and who owns it. With the information which may thus be obtained, the Government will be in a position to decide how they can best raise the money required for war purposes, and I say that it isunthinkable that it should be raised by a poll-tax. A number of those who are opposed, on general principles, to the Bill are asking why it should be necessary tohave this information with regard to the wealth of Australia. Many letters have been written to the newspapers question ing the necessity for the questions inr eluded in the second schedule; but I say that, before the present or any other Government attempt to impose the heavyburden of taxation which must be imposed in Australia in the near future, it is necessary that they should obtain thisinformation. The taxation must be imposed upon those best able to bear it, and” who they are cannot be discovered untilwe know where the wealth of Australia is, and who owns it.
– In supporting this measure, I’ want to say that up to this stage I havenoticed only two forms of objections, and-‘ one is that we are seeking information of a kind that is already in the hands of the several State Governments. I do not know whether it is so or not, but we cannot get m that information at the present moment without paying for it.
– We want it in a concrete form.
– If we depend on the State Governments to do this work ‘for us, we shall simply be deceiving ourselves, because in the end that information will not satisfy our requirements. Therefore, the best course to pursue is to do the work ourselves, so that if any blame is attach- able to anybody, it will rest upon our shoulders, and not upon those of the State Governments. There is also another aspect to be taken into consideration, lightly or wrongly, some of the State Governments hold the view that the Commonwealth wants to get a lot of work done cheaply. I know- from personal observation that that is the opinion held by a certain number of people whose interests, it is true, lie chiefly with the State Governments, and therefore if the Commonwealth wishes to rid itself of that form of complaint, it can make a start now by passing this Bill, and doing, in its entirety, the work that we require done. I do not know that we need take any notice of the objection urged in other quarters concerning the inquisitorial nature of the Bill. That is a very ancient form of objection to any legislation of this nature, and is usually held (by men who are the first to be hit by any proposed legislation. If men come honestly by wealth or any earthly substance, they should have no objection to make a return disclosing the amount of it, and how they came by it. No good purpose can be served by me in addressing myself to this form of objection, because it has been urged so often by interested parties that it no longer serves duty as a valid reason against passing legislation of this kind. I hold that the intention of the Government to engage in a national stock-taking, so to speak, is necessary, and that it will also prove convenient in this terrible time as well as in times of peace. In ordinary times this Parliament is engaged in forms of legislation about 90 per cent, of which has mostly to do with the every-day life of its citizens. To a large extent we legislate in the dark, and we -will continue to do- so until we are in a position to know what is the condition of the people financially and economically. Until we know what is the condition of the people in whose interests we are making laws, what earthly chance shall we have of passing well-balanced legislation that will bring even-balanced justice to the people ? Therefore, any objection to this proposal on that score is urged perhaps in order that some people may be allowed to hide something which they may be ashamed to make public. There is however, one shortcoming in the Bill that appeals to me. I believe it is going too far in asking for returns as to the resources of this country in a charitable, educational, or religious sense. The schedule, as it appears at present, compels every citizen over eighteen years to furnish a return of all kinds of material property in his personal charge, or of which he stands in trust. Let us consider the position with regard to educational establishments of a private nature, that are run by certain religious organizations of the country, such as the Roman Catholic Church, and the various branches of the Protestant denomination.
– The Salvation Army, also.
– Yes. A great many of these educational establishments are directly under the control of, or are managed in conjunction with, various religious denominations, and this schedule will compel the people nominally in control to furnish all particulars concerning such establishments. The particulars so obtained, I submit, will not contribute one whit to the information that we really desire to obtain, and, therefore, it is needless to ask for a return concerning those institutions.
– It is difficult for some to make a return at all.
– That is quite true, and I might quote St. Paul’s Cathedral as an instance. Under the terms of the Bill, that property will have to be accounted for. I believe that during the last boom the ground on which St. Paul’s Cathedral stands could have commanded over £1,000,000; but it. is bard to assess correctly the value of that building and the land upon which it stands at the present time. The same could be said of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The same objection will apply to charitable institutions. A return concerning those institutions could serve no purpose at all. Reverting again to the educational institutions, I understand it is not proposed to call upon the several State Governments to furnish returns of their schools, but it will be incumbent and obligatory upon those who manage private establishments to supply returns. It would appear, therefore, according to the terms of the schedule as drafted, that an invidious distinction will be made between State Governments and those in charge of private institutions. That is a distinction which cannot be_ sustained fo>a moment, and by the time the Bill leaves this Chamber I hope it will be removed. I support the Bill, not only as a measure that is absolutely necessary at the present juncture, when we are almost at our wits’ end to know what to do in order to put up the best effort on the part of the Commonwealth, but in order to assist our Allies in this war. We must make the inquiry, which is the first and essential step, before further action can be taken. Inquiry always precedes action, and in setting about this national stocktaking we are doing what ought to be done, and what should have been done in times of peace. Still, now that it is to be done in war time, I welcome it, and I support the Bill, but intimate that at a later stage I shall move an amendment which will have the effect of excluding educational, religious, and charitable institutions which are not run for a profit.
– Like other honorable senators who have already spoken in support of this measure, I agree that this national stocktaking is not being taken at all too early in our history. Certainly the events of the last twelve months, arising from the war, have forced the attention of Ministers to the necessity of adopting some such course as this. I believe that the principle underlying the measure is in every respect right. I think, however, there are some details in the provisions of the Bill and the schedules which may require consideration from the Senate. The Minister, at the outset, stated that he desired, if possible, that the measure should pass through at this sitting; but he intimated that if any honorable senator thought it was necessary that further time should be given to its consideration, the Government would offer no objection. I hope that some suggestions which may be made during the course of this debate or in Committee, will receive sympathetic consideration, and perhaps we can advance so far with the Bill that we may pass it through all its stages, except the third reading; then if such suggestions as I have mentioned commend themselves to the Minister, opportunity might be given for the recommittal of the measure. That would not be interfering with the passage of the Bill to any great extent. However, we shall see as the debate proceeds whether it will be necessary to take any such course, or whether suggestions which might commend themselves to the Minister may be incorporated in the Bill before it reaches the third reading stage. I have noticed that the Minister elsewhere invited the fullest and freest discussion of this proposal. In fact, the Minister who introduced the measure asked for the loyal assistance and co-operation of all members on both sides, and he said he would appreciate any such effort, and consider carefully all suggestions.
It has been said that a great deal of the information sought to be obtained by means of this Bill is already available to the Government. With that I agree to a certain extent. Some of the information is available in the returns furnished under various State enactments to various State Departments.
– Some of it.
– Yes. But if we obtain that information from the States Departments, even then for our own purposes a great deal of work will be necessary in allocating that information into its proper quarter. There will be a great- deal of what I may call cross-headings, cross catalogueing, and cross-indexing in handling particulars so received from the State Governments. We desire to get certain information in a certain specified form. We might get that information,, or a great , deal of it, from the State Governments, but then would begin an arduous task of collocating it, and assigning it into its proper divisions. Senator Millen has pointed to two matters in particular in which he thought an improvement might be effected. He has suggested that, apart from the Bill, information should be acquired in respect of the number of motor vehicles in the country, and also the number of live stock. How far that information, when we obtain it, will be immediately useful for the purposes of the measure I am not in a position to say. I am of opinion that a considerable amount of labour will be involved in sorting such, information and in classifying it.
We all realize the difficulties with which the Commonwealth, in common with other parts of the Empire, is faced to-day. We recognise that there is a stupendous work ahead of us if we are to achieve the purpose which we have in view, namely, the speedy and successful termination of the war. Willing as it has shown itself to be, Australia is now asked by the Government, metaphorically, to take off its coat, to take stock of its population and wealth, and to prepare itself for any emergency. I am not one of those who say that this stocktaking necessarily implies other specific action. It has been suggested that the taking of a census is the precursor to something in the nature of compulsory service or of conscription. But when a man takes off his coat it does not necessarily follow that he is going to fight. It merely indicates that he is desirous of preparing himself for emergencies. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has expressly disavowed, so far as this Bill is concerned, any intention on the part of the Government to introduce anything in the nature of conscription, and I am content to accept his assurance.
Reference has been made to the fact that for some time Australian troops have been fighting at the Dardanelles, and the question has arisen as to whether or not they are fighting in Australia or for Australia. Geographically, of course, they are not fighting in Australia, but as a matter of fact they are fighting for Australia and for the Empire. Indeed, I venture to say that the destinies of Australia, more directly than those of any other country, are being determined at the Dardanelles. Let us reflect for a moment upon what would happen if we were not forcing the position there as we are doing. We know that quite recently Germany succeeded in allying herself with Turkey.. Prior to that she was, to some extent, bottled up in the southeastern portion of Europe. If she could establish herself at a base in the vicinity of the Dardanelles she would occupy a most threatening position so far as Egypt is concerned, and a commanding position so far as the Suez Canal is concerned. In such a contingency Germany would be able to dominate the civic intercourse between this part of the Empire and the
Home Land. Our soldiers, therefore, are fighting in Gallipoli for Australia. If Germany secured anything like a proper base at the Dardanelles she would be very much nearer to Australia than she would be by any route via the North Sea - assuming that the North Sea were open to her. She would also be nearer to South Africa. That is, doubtless, one of the. reasons why the Australian troops in Egypt were sent to the Dardanelles. I repeat that at this point more than anywhere else the destinies of the Commonwealth are being determined.
If we can prepare ourselves now for any emergency that may arise we shall be taking the proper course. I believe that a separate census will insure to us a more speedy return of the data we require than will a resort to the information that is already in the offices of the different State Governments.
A few moments ago I said that some details of this measure required modification at our hands. Senator Lynch referred to the fact that, under the Bill, returns will have to be furnished in regard to certain properties; such as church properties, school properties, the properties of charitable bodies, or of organizations no’t formed for profit, &c. Not only would returns relating to these properties have no value from the standpoint of enabling us to determine the available assets at our disposal for the prosecution of the war, but in many instances it would be impossible to furnish accurate returns.
– Would those properties include trades halls ?
– I am not specifying particular cases. I am merely suggesting the advisableness of modifying the particular clause of the Bill which deals with the issue of a proclamation by excluding from the scope of that proclamation all the lands which are exempted from taxation under Commonwealth legislation. Section 13 of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1911 sets out a number of lands which are exempted from taxation, and section 14 of that Act cuts down the limitation, and provides that where such lands are being enjoyed for the particular purposes described, and there is an outside owner of them, that owner shall not escape taxation. I mention this matter so that the Minister may take into consideration the prac- ticability of inserting in the section relating to the issue of the proclamation some provision of the character I have suggested. The lands in question include lands owned by the State, by a municipality or public authority, Savings Bank lands, friendly societies’ lands, building societies’ lands in which the building, society has not become the owner by foreclosure of mortgage, lands of trusts, charitable, and educational institutions, or of religious societies, or belonging to places of worship, &c.
– ‘Any widows’ lands?
– I do not know. A modification of the provision of the Bill in the direction I have indicated would be a recognition of the policy to which we have already given effect in the Land Tax Assessment Act. At the same time, we would not be exempting persons from any obligation the discharge of which would be of value to the Commonwealth. Returns relating to these lands would not be of much value in enabling us to determine our Avar assets. At the same time, it would be extremely difficult in some cases to get anything like an accurate return, such as is required by law. The schedules to this Bill have already been criticised. I feel that the first schedule is defective, and I have no hesitation in suggesting modifications in the nature of additions. In that schedule every person is asked the nature of his employment. The next question is, “What other occupation, if any, could you undertake?” Then there is another which reads - “What military training, if any, have you had?” I should like to see some more specific questions inserted. One of the objects of the measure, I take it, is to ascertain -our war capabilities. I would like every person to be required to fill in an answer to some such questions as these - “Are you a machinist?” “ Have you any knowledge of the working of motor engines?” and “Have you had any experience of the handling or manufacture of high explosives?” In the form in which the schedule stands at present, many a man who may possess knowledge in the direction I have outlined may not be prompted to notify the fact.
– Is not that possibility covered by the question, “What other occupation, if any, could you undertake “ ?
– I am inclined to think that that question is too general. In many cases it will fail to elicit the fact that men are machinists, or that they have a knowledge of motor engines or of high explosives. I would suggest that the question should be made a little more searching than it is.
– A little more direct.
– Yes. I have bad some experience of getting personsto fill up returns that are required of them by law, and it is astonishing, no matter how simple the returns may be, how otherwise ‘intelligent persons fail tosupply the information sought. I believe that there are a good many young men in the community who have a knowledge of motor engines, and who might easily pass by the question referred to by Senator Pearce without giving the desired information. Similarly there may be some who have a knowledge of high explosives, but who would fail to realize the fact that the possession of such knowledge is an extremely valuable asset in the prosecution of .the war. If we are to assess the war capabilities of the nation, we require to put a few more direct and pertinent questions to the people than are set out in the first schedule. The Minister will know, from what I have said, that any criticism of the Bill which I have to offer will not be hostile either in regard’ to its principle or its details. Except that I would like more direct information to be supplied in regard to personal matters, and that I desire to see ecclesiastical and charitable institutions exempted from its operation, I heartily support the measure. I come now to the making of income returns for the twelve months ended! 30th June, 1915.
– I intend to propose an amendment to alter the date in question 7 of the second schedule from 30th June, 1915, to 31st December, 1914, as in question 6.
– The income tas returns in several of the States are made up to 31st December of each year, aud it will simplify matters, while also giving the Government a check on the returns, to keep to that date. I wish the measurea speedy passage, believing that, after it is passed, its objects will have just ,as speedy a fulfilment as the Minister has indicated.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.7].- I was anxious that the Minister, when introducing the Bill, should give reasons for its introduction, and state what the Government proposed to do under it, but the Minister appeared to avoid the question by carefully explaining what the Bill did not mean, and what the Government did not intend to try to get out of it. He seemed particularly anxious to point out that the idea of conscription did not underlie it. The question was raised in another place, and, apparently, he thought he had better anticipate the possibility of it being raised here. Perhaps he thought it might give the measure a little better chance of being acceptable to honorable senators than if he left in their minds a suspicion that it sought certain information as the foundation of a subsequent demand for national conscription. It is curious that the first schedule applies only to men within the fighting ages - eighteen to sixty. No one under eighteen or over sixty is called on to make a return. That seems an indication that it is intended to use the information for the ultimate purpose of conscription. If that is not the present intention of the Government, the information will still be available later on for this or another Government to use for that purpose. Several other questions indicate the same tendency. A man is asked to state whether he is single, married, or widowed, and the number and relation of his dependent relatives, if any. Of what use is that information to the Government or the public at this time unless it . is to show what the man would be suitable for? If it ever became necessary to call out the nation, the single men would be called out first, because they have not the same ties and obligations as married men. The whole schedule, on the face of it, appears very much like a foundation for something of the kind. A man has to state his present occupation - information which will probably be very useful if service other than actual fighting is required, because certain men would, perhaps, do much better work here than at the front. He is asked to state what other occupation, if any, he can undertake, what military training, if any, he has had, and the number, and description of firearms and quantity of ammunition he possesses. Of what value is it, from an ordinary business standpoint, to know whether a man has had military training or not, or if he possesses a revolver and a few cartridges, unless there is some unspecified object of another kind behind? The question about military training must give the idea that a man who has had it will be more valuable than if he has not. The schedule bristles throughout with invitations to regard it as very valuable if such an emergency as national conscription should arise. Otherwise, the information sought could be, to a large extent, obtained from the ordinary census returns, under which a man has to state his name, postal address, date of birth, whether married or single, number and ages of children, his occupation, where born, and whether naturalized, although the number of dependent relatives is not asked for. An immense amount of the information sought under the schedules in this Bill is already in the hands of various Government Departments. I admit that we should like to bring it right up to date, as the census information is now about five years old, although the annual statistical returns give us a very shrewd idea, from year to year, of the number of individuals of various ages in the community. This Bill may get that information *a little more accurately, but unless it is- to be made the basis of something on the lines I have indicated, I do not see how we are to justify the spending of £150,000 - the Government estimate - in obtaining all these details. We are confronted with serious financial obligations which we cannot evade, and it behoves us to be particularly careful how we spend our money. It has not been shown that the information to be obtained under the Bill will be sufficiently valuable to justify the spending of that large sum at a time like the present. We are confronted, also with a proposed expenditure of £100,000 on the referenda, and the two items make £250,000 - a very big sum. We ought to be absolutely satisfied before we pass the Bill that the information we are going to get will be worth what we pay for it. If there was any idea, in the minds1 of Ministers that something in the way of national service might be required, there would be some justification for asking us to incur the expenditure, for if such a thing came upon us we ought not to wait until the last moment to prepare to meet it. I presume it may take months to get the full information. Even those who are now most strongly against dealing with the war in any other way than it is being dealt with at present may be converted by the stern logic of events to the view that national service must be tried, at any rate, while the war lasts. If that were in contemplation, it might be a justification for voting for this large expenditure. Question 7 of the first schedule is, “ If suffering from blindness, deafness, or loss of a limb, give particulars.” That sort of question can be necessary only if there is a possibility of calling out all men of the fighting ages, and it is desired to know how many able-bodied men can be called on in case of emergency. The wealth schedule contains many searching inquiries regarding the material position of individuals. A return showing the real wealth of the community, apart from the progress statistics now available, may be valuable for general purposes, but why is it wanted now ? What do Ministers propose to do by virtue of it? Do they intend to introduce any legislation which such information will further? If an income tax were to be levied, I could understand the Government asking the various States that have income taxes in operation to supply them with returns of income, omitting, naturally, those whose earnings’ are below the assessable amount. I do not suppose Commonwealth Ministers would wish to place an income tax on people in humble circumstances, earning bare livings. These would probably and properly be exempt. Information about all other incomes can be obtained from the State income tax returns, and if there is any State which imposes no income tax there will be sufficient information from the other States to enable a fairly accurate judgment to be formed of the distribution of wealth and earnings in that particular State. If the intention of the Government is only to introduce an income tax, the particulars required in the wealth schedule appear to be valueless, or, at ally- rate, not worth the money they will cost to collect; but if the Government tell .me that they are going to introduce a wealth tax, I can understand their desire to obtain particulars of this kind. Do the Government contemplate the imposition of such a tax? If they do not these inquisitorial returns can only serve, as in the case of those which will be furnished under the first schedule, to provide a foundation for future action. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell me why the Government consider it necessary to have all this information about the wealth of the community I may be given a reason for voting for the Bill.
– The reason is that so many things may happen within the next twelve months.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - That is how the Minister justifies the first schedule. The suggestion is that emergencies may arise within the next twelve months for which we should be prepared, and it is better to collect this information now than to leave its collection until an emergency has arisen.
– What are the Government going to do with the furniture ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I remember that in New South Wales many years ago a Government introduced a property tax, and in the Bill dealing with the question people were called upon to state what furniture they possessed, and what was its value. I believe that detailed schedules of the furniture they possessed had to be sent in by the people. Is that kind of thing really worth while? A man may own furniture to the value of £50, £100, or £1,000, but how will it help the Government to know what is the value of the bedsteads and sticks of furniture which he has in his house ?
– If every one starts to sell his furniture the value will drop very quickly.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - A man may misrepresent the value of his furniture. Will the Government take possession of it in such a case ?
– Will the honorable senator read question 6 of the second schedule ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- It reads-
What was the approximate value of real and personal property held by you in Australia nt 31st December, 1014.?
– “ Approximate value.” There is no reference to a detailed schedule.
– I did not say that a detailed schedule was proposed, but that I thought that wa3 provided for in the New South Wales measure, to which I referred. I may value my furniture at an amount which it would never bring if put up to auction. It is apparently intended by this Bill that the inquiry with respect to property shall be very searching, because after dividing it into ten sections, there is a further section covering “ other property, exclusive of life assurance policy.”
– That may refer to golf sticks.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It may cover golf sticks, tennis rackets, and golf and tennis balls. Surely the Government are in this matter going too far altogether. People as a rule do not invest much wealth in furniture.
– The return is required of “ furniture and personal and household effects.”
– It is possible that some people may have collected art treasures?
– Or diamond rings.
.- Such things might be dealt with separately. It might be provided that if a person owns jewellery beyond a certain value he should make a return of it. That would not affect very many people. There is the same objection to the making of all these particular inquiries. The Vice-President- of the Executive Council has said that he has always been strongly opposed to inquisitorial investigations, and yet he is now proposing to ask people for returns which will be inquisitorial and useless. I should like to direct attention to the fact that trustees are to be asked to make returns of interests as beneficiary in trust estates up to the 31st December last. It is usual for the trustee of an estate to supply a statement of assets and liabilities connected with the estate twelve months after the date of the death of the testator or granting of probate. The second schedule should in this matter be based on that practice, so that the return furnished iti such cases may be the same as that which has to be furnished to the Courts by executors and trustees. That would require a slight alteration of the schedule. But it would simplify the obligations of trustees under the Bill.
– I do not quite grasp the amendment the honorable senator suggests. .
– The trustee of an estate has to send in a return to the Court at a particular date, which may be, for example, the 31st October, and under the Bill he would be called upon to furnish an additional return up to the 31st December.
It should be sufficient for a trustee to supply a copy of the return for the year which he is obliged to furnish to the Court.
– The honorable senator means that he should send in under the schedule a copy of the latest return he has made up for the Court.
.- That is so. Under clause 8 of the Bill it is provided that -
The forms which may be required to be filled up shall be in accordance with the forms in the First and Second Schedules to this Act, with such modifications or additions as are prescribed.
The meaning of that is that the forms may be altered by regulation. I do not think that in a Bill of this character it should be left to regulations to determine what information should be given or to decide that people may omit to give certain information which Parliament has deliberately said ought to be given.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given some guarantee as to what it is intended shall be done.
– The honorable senator pointed out that a matter may be referred to the War Committee, and may then be dealt with by regulations, but that those regulations will have to be approved by Parliament. I would remind honorable senators that they will have effect unless they are dissented from by a specific motion within a limited time after they have been tabled.
– Is that not a guarantee that modifications or additions will not be decided solely by the Government?
– The honorable senator will be in an infinitely better position *on the War Committee in dealing with the matter than he is in as a member of the Senate.
– It should be understood that in my criticism of the Bill- 1 am not hostile to the present or any other Government. I am satisfied that the Government will administer the Act in accordance with their honest convictions.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Referring to the possible modification and additions of questions prescribed in the first schedule, I was pointing out that under this provision it will be competent for a large number of additional questions to be submitted, although the Minister interjected that they would first come before the War Committee. I must point out, however, that while this might be the intention of the Government, the Government would by no means be Bound by the decision of that Committee.
– You would not expect us to be, would you ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - No ; because the Ministry, after all, are responsible. They mightconsider that certain questions ought to be submitted, and provide for them by regulations. It is true those regulations would have come before Parliament and could be objected to within fourteen days, but if they were made when Parliament was not sitting, they would take effect from the date they were promulgated and gazetted. We would then find that the regulations, having been passed, had the force of law until they were dissented from; but it might be two or three months before Parliament would meet, and in the meantime the regulations would be operative. I know that the Census Act of 1905 covers nearly all the particulars required under the Bill. It embraces - the name, age, sex, condition as to, and duration of, marriage, relation to head of the household, profession or occupation, sickness or infirmity, religion, education and birthplace (where the person was born abroad), length of residence in Australia, and the nationality of every person abiding in the Commonwealth during the night of census day.
The only particulars that are not asked for under that Act are as to a person’s military knowledge and his offer to take up any particular class of occupation. But substantially all the questions we are asking in this census were embodied in that Census Act, and, in addition, under sub-section c particulars were required regarding “ any other prescribed matters.” We know that there were other prescribed matters, because there was a debate in this Senate on that subject, with a result that several questions proposed to be put to the people were omitted from the schedule, on the ground that they would be of no value, because they were purely of personal concern. I want honorable senators to realize that in prescribing the questions we should do it in the Act of Parliament, so that every one will know how the law stands, and will not be liable to be surprised by some new provision.
– Do you not think that we ought to have the greatest freedom in regard to war matters?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The Government are seeking to pass a Bill by means of which they will acquire certain specific information, and I say that we should have all the information required embodied there. But let it end there. Of course, there might be some special matters which should receive very special consideration, but I say that if we are going to allow legislation by means of regulation, we shall be establishing’ a very dangerous precedent.
– We have it now.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - But not so strongly as is provided for here. I remember quite well that when the census of 1911 was taken certain questions were objected to.
– Yes, I remember that I took exception to one. They wanted to know what sort of liquors a man drank, and I thought that was quite unnecessary.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I find that question No. 4 dealt with the amount of money held in gold, notes, silver, and in copper during the night of census day; and the last question was to the effect whether a person was a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages. These were two of the questions that were objected to, and they show the possibilities of legislating by means of regulation.
– There is nothing like that in this Bill.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - There is no reason, if questions canbe put in by means of regulation, why they could not be included, if the Government wanted to ascertain what was the attitude taken up by citizens with regard to alcoholic beverages and the drinking habits of the people. A question of that kind would be just as pertinent, and probably more so, in a measure of this kind than under the Census Act, under which the only information required was as to the number of people and their occupations, and not as to whether they are hard drinkers or moderate drinkers. That is one of the reasons why I object to questions being introduced by means of regulation, although there’ would be the safeguard, as the Minister said, of sending these questions before a Committee of both Houses before being gazetted. Notwithstanding that, it might happen that these regulations would be in force for a period of two or three months before Parliament would have an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon them, and during that time the people might be compelled to furnish these particulars. I want honorable senators to understand I am not desirous of criticising the measure in a hostile manner. I realize that it has been introduced with the idea of obtaining information that will be of value in connexion with the- present great emergency. In this matter the Government have received a pretty free hand from Parliament, because, after all, it is immaterial what Government are in power; when the question of the national safety arises, it is only right that men, wherever they sit or whatever their political views may be, should stand together as one body in defending the integrity of the nation and the integrity of their own portion of the Empire. For that reason we should criticise measures of this kind fairly and reasonably, and any suggestions made in the best interests of the community should in this time of emergency receive careful consideration at the hands of the Government.
. - I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Senate for very long. I regard this measure as indicative of the fact that we are about to enter upon a systematic organization of our national resources, which, it seems to me, we shall have to undertake before we can decisively defeat those formidable Germanic people with whom we are now at mortal grips. But I venture to suggest respectfully to the Administration that a preamble of what our real intention is would perhaps remove some misapprehension among our own people, and would have a very considerable moral effect upon our foemen, who do not long remain in ignorance of the intention of the Commonwealth Legislature and people of Australia.
– What do you mean by our real intentions ?
– I mean our intention to ascertain our national resources, and so to organize them that the pos sibility of victory will be beyond all shadow of doubt. There is not the slightest doubt that we shall have to organize our resources on scientific lines. If we do that our efforts will be as superior as the exertions of a well-trained fire brigade operating hydrants from which water is forced at a very great and systematized pressure, are superior to those of a few civilians armed with buckets in attempting to arrest a conflagration. I would like a preamble to be inserted in this Bill which would read something like this: “Whereas the people of the Commonwealth have inflexibly determined to assist the Forces of the Empire and its Allies to complete victory in the present war by the employment of their full forces, and they now determine to ascertain the extent of the resources of the Commonwealth, with this end in view.” Our peculiar legislation and the necessities of the Commonwealth Statistician cause us to take a census from time to time. A census is necessary, in order to enable the statutory allocation to be made in accordance with the financial agreement with the different States. A census is enjoined upon us by our Constitution. But I venture to say that, in a general way, a.n ordinary census is only of academic or scientific interest. Its practical value is not considerable. But a census of the character proposed under this Bill will enable us to survey the whole field of our national resources, and to lay down some fixed inflexible policy which will go very far in .assisting the Empire at this crisis in its fortunes. Now, what is necessary to prosecute a war successfully? What are the cardinal essentials in a war such as that in which we are now engaged? It is hard to tabulate them in the order of their necessity, but it is not difficult to enumerate them. I say that the most vital things for us to ascertain are, first, the. number of units in the community who are fit for military or industrial service; second, the material resources, other than gold, of the nation; third, the income of the individuals of the community ; and last, the amount of gold in coin or in any other form, alloyed or unalloyed, save, perhaps, articles which are used in connexion with religious services.Having ascertained these four things, we can lay down such a policy as will, humanly speaking, enable an Empire with resources such as those possessed by- the British Empire to pursue inflexibly the path it has to tread to secure, not partial, but unqualified, decisive victory. The thing which I fear most in connexion with the present war is that the people may become slack; that they may be appalled by the losses sustained in its prosecution, and that they may he content with some sort of patchwork peace which will leave a fearful legacy to our descendants, between whom and the descendants of our foes this struggle will be renewed. I want to see the Empire emerge from the present conflict decisively successful, and to this end it is absolutely essential that we should do everything that is necessary to insure such a victory. It is quite true that a good deal of the information sought under this Bill may be obtained from the States. But I know that the statistics relating to crops and stock are taken in some of the States in a most perfunctory way. Seeing how essential it is for us to ascertain the national resources, it is necessary that the work should be done in such a way as to supply information which is vitally valuable to us. I should like to see one of the schedules to the Bill altered in such a way as to enable us to ascertain what amount of precious metal not in the form of coin is in the possession of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– Mining companies’ gold reserves?
– Quite so. We know that the Government are very much exercised in mind over a £20,000,000 loan, and we know that a good deal has been said about the note issue. But nobody is concerned about the note issue, so long as it has a sufficiently strong gold backing. If there were placed in the hands of the Government to-morrow another 5,000,000 or 10,000,000 sovereigns, would not the Government be able to give to the persons providing that gold its equivalent in Commonwealth notes, and increase the note circulation by another £20,000,000 or £30,000,000? Seeing that we have to put all our resources into this fray, what do we want with gold that is not in the form of currency? What do we want with gold watch-chains, gold rings, and gold scarf pins? What do we want with gold passes, when gunmetal passes will serve just as well? When the war began, and German women were giving up their gold wedding rings, and were receiving in exchange for them iron rings, bearing the inscription, “ In the year 1915 I gave our country gold for iron,” their action was derided. But, as Lloyd George properly remarked, in connexion with the issue of German war bread, it was not an indication of national weakness, but of national strength and resolution - that national resolution which is the most formidable thing we have to combat. I repeat that the Commonwealth Government will require gold to back its paper currency. If, as I believe to be the case, there is probably £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 worth of gold in the shape of personal, portable property in the possession of Commonwealth citizens, it is our duty to ascertain whether its owners are sufficiently patriotic to exchange that gold for Commonwealth notes, and thus enable the Government to add to the note issue by £20,000,000 or £30,000,000, or perhaps even £40,000,000. Honorable senators will now understand what I meant when I said that the second schedule to the Bill requires amplification. Above all things it is essential for us to know what is the stock of precious metals, other than coin, in the possession of Australian citizens at the present time.
– Is that the same note issue which the Fusion party fought so bitterly against?
– I may tell the honorable senator that there are plenty of persons in the Liberal ranks who have always been in favour of a Commonwealth Bank and of a Commonwealth note issue. Only the other day the honorable senator twisted a simple question of mine in such a way as to give it the appearance of having been addressed to the representative of the Treasurer in an inimical sense. I challenge him to produce a single syllable which I have uttered in opposition to the Commonwealth Bank. I repeat that, until we get the information to which I have just referred, there will be a flaw in the knowledge at our disposal - in the knowledge that we require to enable us to vigorously prosecute this war.
– We will screw the honorable senator up all right.
– I have no objection to the Government taking all that I possess, and giving me Commonwealth notes in exchange for it. I venture to say that if the members of this Parliament were to surrender the gold in their possession which is not in the form of coin, it would represent £1,000 in value. There is nothing at which I would stick in the prosecution of the present struggle. Very few persons, I claim, have that inner knowledge which I possess as to what the outcome of this war really means. If the struggle be not brought to a successful termination within the next year or two, British interests in one quarter of the world will suffer in such a way that they can never be repaired. I desire to see the conflict terminated by this day twelve months, or this day six months, if possible. Consequently, we ought to exhibit to the world our inflexible determination to prosecute it to a successful issue. I suggest, therefore, that it is desirable that we should insert a preamble to the Bill declaratory of our intention in regard to its object. The object of the measure, if it is to be of any value at all, is to enable us to acquire such a knowledge of the country’s resources as will aid us in drawing upon those resources, not with any confiscatory design, but in such a way as will permit the Empire of which we are a unit to survive. That is the intention of the measure, and that intention ought to be declared in it. If we go through the legal form of having preambles in other measures which ha,;e not nearly such a vital principle as this, the least we can do is to exhibit to the whole world, which is not oblivious of th° actions of the Commonwealth Parliament, the national intention. I shall, perhaps, in some particulars assist in amending the schedule, but so far as the general principle of the measure is concerned, and. in fact, in regard to almost all its details, I am its unqualified supporter. I reck nothing at this juncture of the £100,000 or £150,000 that it may cost, because we have constitutionally enjoined upon us the expenditure of that sum of money every nine or ten years, and if our financial condition at the end of this, I hope, successful war is such as to cause us to economize in other directions, we can, perhaps, postpone the taking of the next census constitutionally provided for. It is not imperative that we should take an ordinary census. The calculations from year to year and month to month of the Commonwealth Statistician could be accepted in lieu of a general census. We can economize in that direction, but the taking of th’scensus, if we really mean business, is essential, and the measure has therefore my unqualified support.
– I am glad to have the Minister’sassurance that the Bill does not forecast conscription, but if we were going to have conscription, the Bill is certainly the first step we should have to take ;n order to achieve that end. I should like to be able to give it my whole-hearted support, but I think it will be of doubtful advantage to the Commonwealth. I cannot see what the Government mean by introducing it. If the Bill meant, as it should, coming from a Socialistic Government, the scientific organization of society as a whole, it would have my heartiest SUPport, but it is to operate during the present war. and no longer, and possibly the material obtained by its means will not be available until the war is over. That is an extraordinary situation. It goes without saying that we should all be glad to have the war over to-morrow, but if we are going to expend £150,000 to collect these statistics, why should the Bill apply only during the period of the war? Why should we not utilize it after the war? If the Bill is good in time of war it will be much better in times of peace. The limitation of its operation to the period of the war and no longer, should therefore certainly be removed.
– Having obtained the .information, what further use have you for the Bill?
– Practically all the information required under it could have been obtained from Mr. Knibbs.
– Then what need for the Bill at all ?
– Quite so. The statistics obtained under the Bill are to be up to 31st December last. Our yearbooks and the monthly bulletins will give us practically all the information we require if it is wanted only for the purposes stated by the Government. I take strong exception to an assurance given by Mr. Hughes in another place, and confirmed here this evening, that, regardless of what we do here to-day, or what kind of schedules we frame, the War Committee will have the right to go over the head of Parliament, and, even when Parliament is not sitting, alter the schedules to suit their own sweet will.
– That Committee means the Government.
– Does it mean the Government? Mr. Hughes has given his assurance that the suggestions of the Committee will be favorably considered. In fact, I think he went so far as to say that any suggestions made by them would practically be accepted by the Government. We are the Parliament, and surely we should not be subordinate to the Government, much less to any Committee appointed by the Government. The Government should be subordinate to us.
– That is a good enough reason for throwing the Bill out.
– It is a very good reason. It will be a sorry thing for this Parliament to hand its power over to any Ministry or Committee. I know the War Committee is not a matter of party politics, but we have- a majority of only one on it. Contrast that with our majority in this Chamber?
– The Committee cannot take away anything from what is in the Act.
– They have been told that they can fundamentally alter any schedule of the Act.
– They can add to it. They cannot take anything away.
– They may add things which are undesirable, or add to it in such a way as to neutralize its provisions. Anyhow, it is a wrong principle to institute to give any Committee, particularly one not appointed by Parliament, the right to go over the head of Parliament, and make fundamental alterations in an Act of Parliament. The thing is absurd, and I hope this Chamber, before it assents to the measure, will insist that no Committee subservient to Parliament shall dominate Parliament.
– Under what’ power can they do that?
- Mr. Hughes, anxious as every Minister is to get his Bill through, gave a distinct assurance in another place that if there were any contentious matters in the schedules, and the War Committee in their wisdom thought fit to alter them, he would be quite favorable. That is an unprecedented promise for a Minister to give, and is certainly one of the reasons why
I am not too keen on supporting the measure. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said the Bill was not for the purpose of conscription. He said also that no unprecedented action would be taken so far as wealth is concerned. I was very sorry to hear that remark, because our actions will certainly have to be unusual, and, therefore, unprecedented in dealing with wealth. We shall want a great deal of money in prosecuting the war, and wealth will have to pay. When the time for paying does come, I hope the Government, just as they are; eager to send the most physically fit to the front, will make the men most financially fit pay the bill. The Government are to be taken, I suppose, as indulging in a national stocktaking. Will the Minister tell us frankly whether the measure implies industrial as well as military organization ? Is it intended to collect all the industrial data possible, as well as the data regarding men for military service ?
– Yes, as concerns occupations in the first schedule. We already have the information regarding machinery in every State.
– Why, then, if we . are indulging in a national stocktaking, and the Government want to gain information as to our national resources, is the Bill confined strictly in the first schedule to information from males? Has it not occurred to the Government that it is desirable to get information for the firstschedule from females also? Do we not want nurses, and should we not know how many women have nursing qualifications? A vast army of women is employed in industrial occupations, yet all this information is being left out. How are we to have a national stocktaking worth the name, unless we include that valuable information in the first schedule? It will not be worth the paper it is written on unless we include female as well as male labour, and also the labour of those below eighteen, as well as those above it. That is the sort of thing which makes me think the Bill really means conscription. The first schedule undoubtedly looks as if it was required for military and not for industrial purposes. If the Government are sincere - and I am not going to doubt their intentions, because the Minister has said that the Bill does not forecast1 conscription, although I have a little suspicion about it, and therefore do not like it - and if they are out to indulge in a national stocktaking, let us have it complete as far as is practicable. But I claim that most, if not all, the information could have been obtained without going to this unnecessary expense. The second schedule involves the important question of the land values of the Commonwealth. I know of no other information of more material importance. That one piece of information alone, if we could obtain it, would repay us the cost of this tremendous expense, and I believe we can. If we are going to put this machinery in operation with the object of securing definite information as to our material resources, let us by all means ascertain the unimproved value of the lands of the Commonwealth. One question asks for this information, but in such a way that the unimproved and improved values are mixed up together. We want them separated, so that later on if the Government propose, as I hope they will, the imposition on the unimproved value of the land of a sufficient tax to secure for the community that which is created by the community, we shall have the proper data to act on. I trust, therefore, that when we come to the second schedule the Government will agree to separate the information regarding land values. If we can get it collectively, it follows that we can get it separately. No additional labour will be involved on any body getting it, and therefore we ought to do it, especially as the information will be of immense value. Even if a Conservative Government, with no intention to impose a land tax, were in power, it would be to their advantage to have the information, which necessarily, therefore, must be of even greater value to our party. I repeat that I am not too keen about supporting this measure. I agree with Senator Stewart that the £150,000 which it will involve might be expended to better advantage, especially if the Bill is accepted in its present form. I think it will be of little or no use unless the first schedule is so altered as to obtain the information required from females, as well as from males, and from both, below the age fixed in the Bill. I hope that in Committee the Government will be prepared to accept reasonable amendments. Senator SENIOR (South Australia) [8.46] . - I am thoroughly in accord with the spirit which has prompted the pro posed stocktaking. The measure represents an experiment by which it is hoped to obtain a knowledge of the wealth of the Commonwealth. One of the moat vital objections urged against it is that mentioned by Senator Mullan. We have reached a stage in the conduct of the war when we are satisfied that organization of all our forces is absolutely necessary. It is sought by means of this Bill to organize our forces of wealth and power so that wemay know what we are best fitted to do ; but, as Senator Mullan has pointed out, it is proposed to obtain information under the first schedule only from males, and then only from those of a certain age. Australians begin to work before they are eighteen years of age, and it is as necessary for us to know the labour that will be available in twelve months or two years’ time as it is that we should know what labour is available at present. We should know what are the latent possibilities in a lad of sixteen as well as in a lad eighteen years of age.
– I might remind the honorable senator that in 1913 there were engaged in industrial occupations over 250,000 males and only 82,000 females.
– I am glad to hear that interjection. New occasions teach new duties. If we are going to send our young men to the front, we must have somepersons to take their places.
– To obtain particulars from the 82,000 females we should have to distribute nearly 2,000,000 cards.
– We learn from the reports which have come to us that in Germany the places of the men who have gone to the front are being filled by women and the aged in cultivation and manufactures. It seems to me that no reasonable objection can be taken to obtaining the information with respect to females. The women of Australia will feel that they have an interest in this matter. It may involve the distribution of a great number of additional cards.
– And delay.
– Provision is made under the Bill that the persons who are obliged to fill up the cards must procure them for themselves. This will mean the distribution of the cards only to certain centres.
– Obtaining information from females will involve additional delay in sorting out the cards.
– If that be so, the cards filled up by females may be put aside until those sent in by males have been considered.
– All the cards will come in together, and we should have to separate those sent in by males from those sent in by females.
– I am surprised at the interjection, because the separation will be easy enough in view of the fact that the cards will have to be sorted over a dozen times or more.
– Cards of different colours might be distributed for males and females.
– That is .so. Those sent by females might be set aside until the others are dealt with.
– God forbid that Australia should see the day when it will be necessary to get women to do men’s work.
– “We might just as well say God forbid that there will ever be another war like that in which we are now engaged. We are up against a tough job,, and it would be better to utilize the labour we have than it would be, for instance, to import coolie labour. There will be many men taken from our factories who might be replaced by women,and unless I have not read their character aright, I have little doubt that when their husbands and bro;hers are fighting for the country, the women of Australia will be anxious and ready to do their share. The first schedule might be considerably improved by requiring men to state what qualifications they have for employment in trades and callings other than those in which they happen at present to be engaged. If a man has a knowledge of telegraphy, or a knowledge of engines of any kind, we should have that information. If this census is to be carried out at all, we should make it as useful as possible. We do not want superfluous information, but we want all the information we can get, not for the mobilization of our forces, but for their organization in such a way as will best prepare us for the work we have to do.
– We want something more definite than would be supplied in answer to question 9.
– I agree with the honorable senator. I have done many things in the course of my life, though I do not think that my knowledge of any of them would be of very much value from the stand-point of the Minister of Defence.
– It would be interesting reading.
– They would afford matter for a biographical sketch which might create some smiles. My fear is that a question so vague is likely to be answered in a frivolous or indefinite way, and if there is anything that we need in this connexion it is definite information. Wo want to be in a position to make the best use of the service of every man and woman in the Commonwealth for the benefit of the community as a whole. It is of infinitely greater importance to us at this juncture to know the capabilities of a. man than to know what was the nationality of his father or mother. I should raise no objection to requiring that information in a general census, but I cannot see that it will be of very much advantage in promoting the objects of the proposed war census. Looking through the second schedule, I have been at a loss to know how a man is to state the capitalized value of a partnership interest, which is a very variable quantity. A partnership interest in a business to-day might be worth very little, and in twelve months’ time it might be worth a great deal. Partnership interests in businesses that have suffered by reason of the drought have shrunk in value to almost nothing, whereas twelve months or two years ago they were of considerable value. The value of partnership interests is as unstable as the price of shares. The questions proposed are not likely to supply the information we want as to the capital value of the wealth of Australia. It is strange that it did not strike the framer of question 4 of the second schedule that information in respect to the number of motor cars or motor cycles possessed by the people would not be nearly so useful as information as to the number of motor lorries in their possession. The information might be covered by the expression “ other vehicles.”
– Does the honorable senator think that “motor car” will not cover “ motor lorry “ ?
– I think it would have been better to have definitely mentioned motor lorries.
– The use of the expression “motor vehicles”would meet the difficulty.
– That would be much better. Knowing the usefulness of motor lorries, I mention this matter in order that we may obtain information of considerable value. It has to be admitted that the Bill was prepared inhaste, and there are many excuses for its defects. We are attempting an experiment, and are treading new ground. I tried to obtain the schedules used in connexion with the collection of income tax in South Australia, but I was unable to do so. If I had been able to get them, I think it would have been possible to have suggested several lines from them which would have served as a drag-net to reveal wealth, which, under the schedule proposed in this Bill, may be covered up. It is as necessary that we should know what the wealth of Australia is as that we should know the number of men we can place in the field. Those two matters are correlated-, and we cannot divide them. If a demand is made on the manhood of Australia, we shall then know that a demand will also be made on the wealth of Australia. If the one replies, as it has already done by such a gallant and unstinting sacrifice, I fail to see how the other can be kept back. The question raised by Senator Gould regarding the disposition to legislate by regulation is an important one. It seems to me that there is an everlasting tendency on the part of Governments, whether Labour or Liberal, to legislate in this manner. Nearly every Bill that comes in contains a clause that the Governor-General in Council may make regulations, and very often after those regulations are made, the time allowed goes by before objection can be taken to them. Regulations sometimes are so numerous, are spread over so many different subjects, and are made or altered so frequently, that it would take up a great deal of an honorable senator’ s time if he set out with the object simply of watching them. Here is another case in point. This Bill even provides that schedules shall be provided under the regulations. The regulations may be good, but I say the schedules should have been in this Bill, so that we might have examined them more closely to see whether they are sufficient, or whether they are objectionable.
– The question is whether Parliament shall frame the schedules or the Committee.
– The question has been raised as to whether we are acting wisely in regard to the Committee.It was never intended as a legislative Committee, but rather as an advisory Committee, and here we are practically expecting it to take up the work that should have been done in this Parliament. If the Bill had not been prepared in such haste it would probably have contained the schedules so that we could have examined all the particulars of information sought. I have nothing to say in objection to the spirit of the measure, or the desire of the Government to obtain information, but I hope that we shall not find, in a few days, that we shall have to amend the legislation that we are now considering.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Operation of Act).
– I ask the Minister if he will consent to the postponement of clause 2 until we have discussed clause 4. The latter clause gives to the Government power to take as many censuses as they may desire during the duration of the war. I do not know whether the Senate contemplates giving power to the Government to take more than one census, and I wish to propose an alteration to clause 4 to limit it to one census. If that amendment is adopted clause 2 will become unnecessary.
– I do not know that there is any strong objection to the request; but, as a matter of convenience, there is another way of overcoming the difficulty. If clause 4 is amended we can recommit clause 2.
– Very well.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definition).
– I notice that under paragraph b “officer” will include any person rendering services gratuitously in con-: nexion with this Act. Is it intended to have a large number of volunteers working in connexion with the census?
.- There is no such intention at present on the part of the Government, but a number of offers have been made, and if it becomes advisable to accept them it is just as well to have provision to empower the Government to do so.
– It will give the Government control over them while they are so acting.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) A census or censuses shall be taken in such States territories or parts of the Commonwealth, and on such day or days, or within such period or periods, as the GovernorGeneral appoints by proclamation. (2. ) The persons or classes of persons who are required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any such census, and the nature of the particulars required to be furnished by them, shall be specified in the proclamation.
– I ask the consideration of the Government and the Senate to the question of whether we shall allow clause 4 to stand in its present form. I must admit that I did not detect, at the secondreading stage, the point that this clause gives the Government unlimited power to take as many censuses as they like, and, as it stands, clause 2 is necessary, limiting the operation of the Bill to the period of the war. But I take it that all that is wanted is power for the Government to take one census at the present time. I do not suppose that the Government are likely to use unnecessarily the drastic powers contained in this clause, but I suggest that we should limit it to the one census. If, later on, say in twelve months’ time, further action is required, Parliament will be in a position to grant a renewal of the powers. I move, therefore -
That the words “ or censuses “ be left out. This will not in any way Se the hands of the Government, so far as the taking of this national stock-taking is concerned.
– Will the word “ census “ cover the two returns?
– Yes, because it is provided in clause 8 that the forms which will be required to be filled in shall be in accordance with the first and second schedules. I am not prepared to say that, if my amendment is carried, and the words are struck out, other amendments will not be necessary; but I ask the Government whether it is necessary to ask Parliament to give such unlimited powers extending over an indefinite period. My amendment will not impair the value of the present census, nor will it cripple the Government, because long before a second census became necessary the Government could explain to Parliament the reasons that had arisen for it.
– I trust Senator Millen will not press his amendment. I do not think that there is any likelihood that this power will be abused, but it may be necessary for it to be used. I ask the honorable senator to look at subclause 2, in connexion with clause 8, which readE -
The forms which may be required to be filled up shall be in accordance with the forms in the First and Second Schedules to this Act, with such modifications ov additions as ar« prescribed.
One can only put a hypothetical case in illustrating this point; and I would say that, in ‘connexion with industrial organization, it might be advisable to take a second census of a “ class of persons “ indicated by portion of the first schedule, for instance, supposing we wished to take some drastic step in connexion with the engineering trade, we would already have had the information contained in the general census relating to mechanics, but we might want to classify them, or call upon a certain class, say between certain ages, in that or some other trade. In order to do that, we would have to take an additional census to enable us to organize the trade, or some other trade, for industrial purposes. I am only putting that as a hypothetical case.
– You might say as a fanciful case, if the first return is to be of any value.
– No, I do not say that it is fanciful. At any rate, it is a possible case; and, if it is a possibility, why should we restrict ourselves?
– Circumstances might show something to be lacking in the first census.
– Yes. I do not see why we should tie ourselves up in the manner proposed by the amendment. It might be necessary to have a further census of a class of persons. The Government are” faced with the responsibility of an enormous expenditure, and they are not likely to throw away money in taking a further census unless it becomes absolutely necessary. Parliament is not going to be adjourned, but will be called together from time to time to give members an opportunity of discussing and, if necessary, criticising ‘the action of the Government. Therefore, the Government are not likely, on the score of expense, to waste money on a useless census, and abuse this power. In view of that assurance, I think the amendment should be withdrawn.
– In addition to what the Minister has said, there is another feature in the wording of this provision which appeals to me. The clause reads -
A census or censuses shall bc taken in such States, territories, or parts of the Commonwealth, and on such day or days, or within such period or periods as the Governor-General appoints by proclamation.
I understand from what occurred in another place that it is intended to utilize the Post Office in securing these returns. It was thought that the returns might be available within a couple of weeks from the first issue of the cards. But it has been pointed out that that would not be practicable in Western Australia, and, consequently, that the census in that State might not be taken simultaneously with the census in the other States. The question would then arise as to whether a census had been taken, or more than one census. I would also point out that a census could not be taken in the Commonwealth Territories on the same day as it is taken in the States. I think that the use of the word “ censuses “ in the clause will have the effect of removing any doubt that might otherwise exist, if the Government take the necessary action either in the circumstances outlined by the Minister, or in those which I have indicated.
– I cannot support the amendment of Senator Millen. It seems to me essential that the word “ censuses “ should be retained. But I am chiefly concerned with the people who will be employed in the taking of the census. I notice that very many voluntary offers of assistance have already been forthcoming. It has been stated by the Attorney-General that the services of at least 1,000 clerks will be required to expeditiously carry out this work.’ Whilst I have every regard for the offers which have been made, I desire to impress on -the Government the necessity for seeing that every unemployed man or woman in Australia, who is capable of performing this work, is engaged before any voluntary offers of assistance ‘ are accepted.
– The honorable senator ought to have discussed that matter upon the previous clause.
– I am quite content to leave myself in the hands of the Chairman.
– The honorable senator’s remarks may be in order, but I would direct his attention to the fact that paragraph (b) of the previous clause relates to -
Any person rendering services gratuitously inconnexion with any matter under this Act.
He will see, therefore, that the matter of gratuitous service has already been dealt with.
– I submit thatclause 4 of the Bill proposes to vest in theGovernment power to take a census. It seems to me, therefore, that I am quitein order in pointing out the necessity for paying persons to take that census.
– I think that the honorable senator’s argument would be more appropriate on clause 5.
– Then I will postpone my remarks until that stage isreached.
– In regard to the amendment which I have submitted it is rather disappointing to’ learn that. the Minister contemplates the possibility of taking a supplementary census of a special class. In> this connexion he referred to the engineers. Now I would point out that the engineers would have to make their general returns on the main census. The Minister said, in effect, that the Government may require further particulars fromthem, and that, therefore, he contemplated the taking of a supplementary census. In that case it would be necessary to send out the same forms to every post-office throughout, the Commonwealth.
– But not the same number.
– No; but a more limited number. These returns would have to be forwarded to men who had supplied information on the main census. The Minister, conscious in the integrity of his own mind, has sought to persuade himself that no possible hann could result from making the Government the repository of all power. I would be in favour of giving the Government the power asked if I thought that any useful purpose would be served by it.
– But suppose that a useful purpose will be served?
– Such a contingency is not likely to arise within a few months after the taking of the census, and the Government will then have an opportunity of explaining to Parliament the conditions under which the supplementary census should be taken.
– But suppose that Parliament is not in session, and that it is necessary to act quickly?
– It is inconceivable that the information sought can be acquired and tabulated, and that the Government can have so far acted upon it as to discover that a supplementary census is necessary within a less period than six months. To my mind it is unthinkable that if further information is required from the members of any particular trade the Government will invoke the powers conferred upon them, under this Bill. By means of the card system they will be able at once to possess themselves of information regarding all the men with engineering knowledge in Australia. These men will have to keep the authorities informed of their latest postal addresses. Parliament has exhibited no inclination to withhold from the Minister the fullest powers, but in the zeal which we are exhibiting in connexion with this war we ought not to commit the unpardonable offence of vesting in the Government greater powers than the circumstances of the case call for.
– I would point out that in the hypothetical case outlined by the Minister the end in view may be achieved by the ordinary statistical returns. But I intend to support the clause, because I hope that when the Bill becomes law it will remain operative after the war is concluded. I trust that the forthcoming census will not be the last census taken under it. ‘
– The ordinary census can be taken under the Census Act. “Senator MULLAN. - Personally, I hold that wc could have obtained all the information we needed under our Census Act.
– Except in regard to time. This Bill authorizes the taking of a census to-day.
– The information that we require is already in print up to the 31st December last.
– The military training of each person in Australia ?
– We have not their addresses.
– If we needed their addresses we could obtain them speedily enough. I am in favour of retaining the word “censuses” in this clause, and of giving the Government power to continue taking a census on future occasions. I will support the recommittal of the Bill for the reconsideration of clause 2 in order that the operation of the measure may not be limited to the duration of the war.
– My objection to the clause is that if the Government obtain the power they seek our census will be of a very slipshod character. If the proposed census be faithfully taken, and the men engaged in the various industries are carefully tabulated, there will be no need for any second census. Take the case of the engineers as an example. When the returns come in, the officer engaged in tabulating them will divide the various occupations of the men into groups, and will say that there are so many engineer si, so many miners, so many labourers, &c, in the most accurate fashion. But if the Government have the reserve power which they seek, they will say, “Never mind that; if we want fuller information upon any point we can take another census.” But another census will cost a great deal of money. If the results are tabulated as they should be, the Government ought to be in a position to lay its hands on 95 per cent, of the engineers in Australia, or of any class of workers they desire. If the results are nob tabulated, when a fresh census is required the Government will not know whether to seek out these engineers or not, but will have to. cast its net over the whole Commonwealth. This will lead to a large additional expenditure. I ask honorable senators not to forget that financially we are already in it up to our necks, and perhaps above our necks. Unless we are very good swimmers I am afraid we shall come to grief, and my opinion is shared by a number of other people. The Government should be satisfied with the power to take one census. and we should give them no more. As Senator Millen said, Governments want all the power they can get, and he ought to know. In a later clause the Government get power to modify the schedules. If the Minister thinks it will not be possible to get all the desired information in the first census why not amend the schedules so as to get all the fish at the one casting of the net?
.- I cannot understand the objections to the clause as drafted. No Government would take unnecessary censuses and pile up the cost; but if it became imperative for an additional census to be taken the Government would be wanting in their duty if they did not make provision for it, and did not take it. I agree with Senator Keating that the clause is drafted in this way to avoid ambiguity. because it will be impossible for a census to be taken simultaneously in every State and all the Territories of the Commonwealth. If, the words objected to are eliminated the Government may find themselves cramped and unable to get the information they desire from every State at the earliest opportunity.
– I do not think Senator Findley can find in the clause much justification for his argument. The Minister indorsed my interpretation bv pleading that the clause should be left as it stands so as to give the Government power to take a second census if it was desired to do so. The use of the plural has no reference to the date or period of taking. If the amendment is made the Government can still take a census in one State on one day and in another State on another day, because the wording is, “ on such day or days, or within such period or periods ‘ ‘-
– I doubt it. It might be argued that each was a single census.
– It could not be a single census if taken in one State only. The Minister’s argument as to asking the engineers for additional particulars would mean asking them to fill the schedule in again, with additions. That would be an absurdity. It is evident that when the Bill was drafted the Government never contemplated the taking of a second census. Many phrases seem to have got into it as the result of its hurried drafting. Not a word has been said by the Government in. another place or publicly about taking more than one census. Their original intention evidently being to take a single census, they should take steps to bring the Bill into conformity with that policy.
– If one is sufficient do you think we are going to take two ?
– On principle) I have strong objection to granting any Government power which should not be given.
– That is straining at a gnat.
– I am not surprised at that remark from a man new to parliamentary life, but I and many others in this chamber opposed to me politically have a strong objection to granting any Government blank cheques of power, lt is a dereliction of the duty which this Parliament owes to itself.
– The words “or census” are necessary even if only one census is to be taken. Evidently the object of the Government is to begin the work as soon as possible. The more accessible States will be operated on first, and their returns will come in and the tabulation of results will have considerably progressed before the work is much more than commenced in distant States and Territories. Senator Millen took it that the inclusion of the words “ such day or days “ necessarily referred to- different censuses. I think they imply only that a war census cannot be taken in all parts of the Commonwealth on one day.
– The ordinary census is taken on one day.
– I know, but a distinction is necessary in this case, and the clause as it stands is essential.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.44].- The views put by the Minister and Senator Ferricks appear to be quite different. The Minister argued the possible necessity of taking an additional census in regard to a particular class to get additional particulars. I prefer to take the Minister’s interpretation, because he is responsible for the Bill, and should know what is intended by it.
– I do not object. to the other interpretation. There is no conflict between them.
– The Minister says that the section has one purpose, and Senator Ferricks says that it has another. If it had been intended to get over the difficulty of taking the census in certain States, the clause might have provided that it should be taken in certain States and Territories on such day or days as the GovernorGeneral might appoint by proclamation.
– If the census is not taken in each State on the same day, the words “ or censuses “ are necessary.
– No ; it would be the one census that would be taken - in New South Wales on one day, and possibly in Victoria on another day. The same census might be taken in different States at different times, though there might be some difficulty in connexion with the results if the census were taken in Victoria on the 1st January, and in New South Wales on the 1st February.
– Not in the case of this census, because the returns are to be up to the 31st December last.
– That is so. The Minister has said that Parliament will be sitting, and the Government are not likely to do anything of which Parliament will not approve. He suggests that Parliament will be in a. position to rectify anything it considers wrong. It is not clear that Parliament will be able to do so, because we are dealing here, not even with regulations which have to be tabled, and may be disallowed by Parliament, but with a proclamation by the Governor-General, which will have the binding effect of law, and which can only be altered by an Act of Parliament, though perhaps there is some power enabling the GovernorGeneral to withdraw a proclamation. The real question is whether honorable senators are prepared to give the Minister power to deal with these powers as he sees fit. He might just as well tell the Minister that he may put any questions he pleases to the people. We know that, it is right that Parliament should specifically state the questions to be put. We have been told that this may be applied only to a class of persons, but it may be applicable to one individual. The Minister might call upon a particular individual to supply fresh information. I do not think Parliament would regard that as a proper thing to do. Then, under clause 8 it is possible that modifications of, and additions to, the questions may be made.
– The Committee can alter that.
– We have to deal with the Bill as we find it. There is the greater question to be considered whether it is prudent to seek information of a private character from individuals. This may be done where the information is necessary for public purposes, but we know that people always complain of the inquisitorial nature of the returns which have to be furnished in connexion with an income tax. There is the same objection at all times to questions which pry into the private affairs of individuals,and the Government should be fortified by the decision of Parliament as to the inquiries they make. If the Minister required some special information which had not been obtained under this census, he could submit a Bill in one House of this Parliament, and, with the suspension of the Standing Orders, carry it through in one day. If debate upon it seemed likely to be protracted, the closure could be applied, and the Bill could be passed through both Houses in two days. But in that case what was done would be done in the open light of day, and not in the Minister’s back room. I consider the amendment a reasonable one, and it should not unnecessarily hamper the Government.
– At the outset this seemed- merely to be a question of drafting, but the debate has disclosed that something more material is involved. I have been invited by Senators Millen and Gould to consider the effect of the clause if amended as proposed. It would then read -
A census shall be taken in such States, territories, or parts of the Commonwealth, and on such day or days, or within such period or periods as the Governor-General appoints by proclamation. (2.) The persons or classes of persons who ure required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any such census, and the nature of the particulars required to bc furnished by them, shall be specified in the proclamation.
The more I consider the clause in the amended form proposed, the more I am satisfied that it would be attended with the doubt which I indicated when I first spoke upon the amendment. The GovernorGeneral issues a proclamation that a census shall be taken in, say, the threeeastern States on a certain day, and a further proclamation follows that, when arrangements have been made for fixing the day when the census might be conveniently taken in other States. It might be seriously contended that the first proclamation having been issued, the operation of this clause would have ceased, because we make no provision for subsequent proclamations. I take it that a census need not necessarily be taken simultaneously throughout the Commonwealth,
– The one proclamation might contain the whole matter.
– It might or it might not. It might be more convenient for the Government to have more than one proclamation issued. If the Bill is passed this week, it might be easy for the Government to proclaim the taking of the census in Victoria and in New South Wales at once, but they might have to await the result of inquiries to ascertain what would be the most convenient day for the taking of the census in Queensland, or in the Northern Territory. I find that section 8 of the Census and Statistics Act provides that -
A1 census shall bc taken in the year 1911, and in every tenth veur thereafter.
That is succinct and simple, and it obviously applies to one census simultaneously taken. It does not speak of the Commonwealth, or States, or of territories.
– And there is no division of time.
– That is so. The census with which we are dealing now is something very different from an ordinary census. Ordinarily I share with Senator Millen and others the hesitation he has expressed in giving the Government what lie calls a blank cheque for the exercise of power; but I realize that we are not dealing with normal circumstances now. The Government are asking, in this Bill, for powers to be used upon an extraordinary occasion, and in extraordinary circumstances. It is for that reason this Bill is called a “ War Census Bill,” and the clause which we are now discussing has the marginal note “Taking of war census.” If the Government desire, as I think they will, to have the census taken as quickly as possible, they will issue a proclamation as early as may be convenient in respect to the States where the census can be taken at once, and in respect to other States when they have ascertained the proper time to take the census there. I have heard the Minister say that the Government might need to take a supplementary census in respect of some particulars. That is not in conflict with what I say now, or with what Senator Ferricks has said. I agree with Senator Millen that when the clause was drafted the draftsman did not have in contemplation the taking of a supplementary census; but I believe that what he and the Government did contemplate was that the census should be taken in each State at the earliest opportunity which the circumstances of the States and the Commonwealth warranted.
– There could be noobjection to that.
– As I indicated when speaking on the Bill to-day, I propose to move an amendment upon this clause which is the same in substance as one which Senator Lynch, who preceded me, suggested as necessary. The honorable senator proposed to submit an amendment upon the schedule, and I propose to amend this clause. I move -
That the following words be added to theclause : - “ but shall not include particularswith respect to lands exempt from taxationunder section 13 of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910, subject to the limitations of suchexemption provided for in section 14 of thesaid Act.”
It has been pointed o.ut by Senator Lynch and by myself that, under the Bill, if passed as it stands, a duty will be castupon persons who are the legal owners of certain properties, such as church properties, and properties held for educational purposes, and not for the pecuniary profit arising from them. It waa pointed out by Senator Lynch and by myself that that duty would involve a considerable amount of trouble, which would’ not be compensated for by a return of any value to the Government. I take it that this measure might be summed up as a Bill for the assessment of the war assetsand capabilities of the Commonwealth. After we get these schedules returned’ from our census we shall be able to sum-, up the war capabilities of the people-and’ the assets of this country, but in gettingreturns of such “property as these, we shall’, add nothing to the value of Che information supplied to the Government. One cannot conceive of a church building and’ land such as that occupied by St. Paul’s-, or St. Patrick’s Cathedrals being a tangible asset for war purposes, but they might be a very tangible asset from thepoint of view of our enemies, if theywanted to bombard Melbourne as they- have been bombarding cities on the Continent. The object of this amendment, however, is to exempt such institutions from the necessity for furnishing returns, and the purpose of it is to bring our policy into harmony with other legislation which exempts those properties from land tax. I think it is better to have the amendment in this form, because it will harmonize with our policy in relation to our unimproved land values taxation. Section 13 of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-11 reads as follows: -
The following lands shall be exempt from taxation under this Act, namely -
all land owned or in trust for any person or society, and used or occupied by that person or society solely as a site for -
– Are they exempt from sending in returns ?
– I cannot just now say with certainty. I think they are. Primarily, all these lands are, by the declared policy of the Commonwealth, exempt from land taxation, but there is a limitation to which I have drawn attention in my amendment, concerning those properties in cases where pecuniary profit is derived. These are not exempt from land tax, as will be seen by clause 14 of the Act to which I have referred, which reads as. follows : -
With respect to land which, under the last preceding section, is exempt from land tax -
the exemption shall be limited to the owner specified in that section, and shall not extend to any other person who is the owner of any estate or interest in the land; and
in the case of land owned by or vested in the Crown on any express or implied trust, the person entitled in equity to the rents and profits of the land shall, for the purposes of this Act, and to the extent to which he is so entitled, be deemed to be the owner of the land, and be liable to land tax in respect thereof.
Thus any person who is landlord of any property such as this, and from which he derives revenue, will be required to make a return, and pay a land tax.
– Have the others not to make any return at all?
– For the moment I cannot say. But I know they are exempt from land tax, and I want to point out that with regard to many of these properties it would be almost impossible to make an accurate return. In many cases, persons who are in occupation of them would, I think, be over anxious and . over scrupulous in their desire to get an accurate return, as required by the schedule.
– Only the approximate value is asked for.
– Even so, it would be a matter of extreme difficulty in many cases to supply it. Senator Lynch to-day referred to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the fancy value that was set on that property in the boom time. It would be almost impossible to say what is the value of that building if it has to be assessed. I hope honorable senators will consider this amendment well and realize that even if returns are obtained from those properties, the information will be of very little value whatever.
.- At first sight I felt that this amendment was one that the Government could very well accept, but after further consideration I find that if we did accept it we would be acting unwisely. This is a war census - a national stocktaking, as it was well described by Senator Lynch - and if we are taking stock, why should we leave out of account any of the wealth of this continent? If any honorable senator thinks the object of obtaining this return is to tax such property as has been referred to, I can say emphatically that that is not the purpose of the Government.
– Why get a return then ?
– Because we are taking stock. We want to know the resources and the wealth of this country.
– But these are not assets for war purposes.
– I know that, but why should we make an exemption in the case of churches and charitable institutions? We might just as well make an exemption in regard to friendly society halls and a hundred and one properties of a like nature. If we exempted church properties and charitable institutions there would be good reason for somebody else to come along and ask to be exempted also. I appeal to honorable senators that we are not taking this stock of the wealth with a view of taxing such properties, and if it comes to a question of speaking for the Government, I can unhesitatingly say that they will be exempt from taxation.
– Whatever purpose have you in view, then, in conscripting the wealth of the country, if you are not going to use it as a guide in connexion with taxation ?
– I do not wish now to enter upon an argument as to what we have in view. But I would ask the honorable senator: If we were discussing the question of loans, would we not be in a much better position if we knew what is the wealth of the country? And, again, if we were discussing the question of land tax, would we not be in a better position if we knew what the tax would be likely to bring in?
– But this is not available wealth.
– I recognise it is not.
– Some of it is.
– Now the Minister of Defence says that some of it is available.
– I know what the Minister of Defence means. He has in his mind some of those splendid business sites from which church people are gathering in a good revenue.
– Those properties will not come under this exemption.
– In this matter the country will be involved in heavy expenditure to ascertain its resources, and I see no reason why, because it will cause inconvenience and trouble to a certain section of the community, they should be exempt from furnishing a return. If we allowed that, others would ask to be exempted, too. Would honorable senators exempt a cripple from sending in his name and address simply because he was a cripple and unfitted for war duties?
– You are comparing tilings that are unlike.
– I am only pointing out that in one schedule we arerequiring a return from all persons between the ages of eighteen and sixty years, and the fact that one man may be unfitted for war purposes will not exempt him from furnishing a return. We want this to be a national record. We do not want it to be lacking in any particular, and I want it to be understood that every person who is employed in thecompilation of the record will not only be sworn to secrecy, but will be under heavy penalties if he divulges any information. What harm, therefore, can. come from the furnishing of the approximate value of the wealth of these institutions? There will be no penalty if the returns are a few pounds out one way or the other. If we exempted any one section of the community, that exemption would be fatal to the complete success of this measure, because other people would clamor - and with equally good reasons,I have no doubt - that they should also be exempted from furnishinga return. If we exempted religious and charitable institutions, would there beany reason why we should not exempt friendly societies ?
– They are under this provision.
– I know they are. I am ‘only asking if there is any good reason why they should not be exempted, if we grant exemptions to religious and charitable institutions. This will be a record of our national wealth taken under exceptional circumstances, so why should any section of the community be exempt? I know Senator Keating is willing to do it, but is there any reason ? I venture to say that we will be in a better position to get this .measure through as it stands in regard to this particular matter, and I again give the assurance that we are not asking for the information from churches and charitable institutions for the purposes of taxation. I ask honorable senators not to press it to a division, for the reason that any honorable senator who conscientiously votes against it will put himself in a false light with the public outside.
– I do not think so.
-No sooner has the honorable senator finished speaking than he desires to talk again. Nothing can be done which will meet with his approval. In connexion with this national undertaking, surely we can well say that there shall be no exemptions. The occasion warrants lis in adopting’ that course, and those who doubt the wisdom of it will yet recognise that the difficulties in the way which now seem stupendous are, after all, not very great.
Progress reported. .
Expeditionary Forces : Deserters : Army Medical Work, Queensland - Permanent Officers and the War - Returned Soldiers : Disciplinary Cases.
.- In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I wish to say that a day or two ago Senator Gould asked me whether the Government would cause to be affixed at all military barracks, camps, Police Courts, and post-offices throughout the Commonwealth the names of deserters from our Expeditionary Forces. I informed him that it was intended to have a list of deserters posted at the military barracks and camps. After full consideration’, it has been decided not to have them affixed at post-offices and Police Courts. I need scarcely point out that there may be cases in which some reasons may justifiably he urged in extenuation of a man’s desertion. Of course, when he is convicted of desertion all those reasons are taken into consideration in determining his punishment. But there have been cases in which men have deserted, and in which just reasons have been urged in mitigation of their conduct. It is thought that the affixing of those lists of deserters at military barracks and camps will be sufficient.
– I desire briefly to mention a matter in reference to which I have received repealed requests during the nast month. Since I left Brisbane I have received numerous letters and telegrams in connexion with what is claimed to be the unfair distribution of the medical work in. connexion with the enrolment of members of our Expeditionary Forces and in connexion with medical cases at the Enoggera encampment. When doctors complain, in a case like this, it will be agreed that the position must be serious, because we know that, as professional men, they are very jealous of what they call professional etiquette. This professional etiquette is very rigidly observed by legal gentlemen and medical practitioners, and it is also observed by workers outside those professions, although it is then dubbed by the title of unionism. I have had complaints from three different sources in Brisbane that there has been an unfair distribution of the work, and that it is confined to a small coterie of medical men, who have a monopoly in this connexion.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the work of the medical examination?
– To the medical examination and the medical cases at the camp. It is held that many of the doctors there are not even members of the Army Medical Corps, and that they are not prepared to go to the front, whereas many of the young men who are ostracised have spent time under canvas in Queensland, and have not been asked whether they are willing to accept service either at home or abroad, although some of them are prepared to do so. I mentioned this matter to the Minister some three weeks ago, and it was then arranged that I should write to the Department in reference to it. I did so, and I have received a reply stating that a report would be called for in regard to the contention which I advanced in my communication to it. I have waited three weeks for a reply, and to give the Department an opportunity of remedying the inequalities complained of if they existed, or of denying them if they did not exist. A telegram which I received to-day from a third doctor informs me that the position has not been altered, and that he thinks it is time the action promised by the Department was expedited. It is my intention to endeavour to have this matter definitely settled before this Parliament adjourns. To-night some comment has been made on the unwisdom of vesting in the Government during an extended adjournment too extensive powers. I share that view. If such an argument has any force as applied to a Cabinet, surely it applies with infinitely greater force to military officers. If this Parliament adjourns for a. period of one, two, or three months, and the inequalities of which I complain are allowed to continue, we can understand to what extent the dominance by the military section of the community will prevail. This is an aspect of our national life which the Government and the Parliament will need to - watch very carefully. To-day we are fighting militarism in Prussia, whilst to an extent we are establishing it in Australia.. The events which have transpired in Brisbane since the outbreak of the war have been very seriously commented upon. Many abuses, I am glad to say, have been remedied by the Defence Department. When injustices were found to exist, the Department took action in several important directions and purified the carrying on of work under the military authorities of Queensland. I would like the Minister to expedite the inquiries which he promised would he made into this matter.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.28]. - I thank the Minister for having given further attention to the question regarding deserters which I asked him a few days ago. On previous occasions it has been stated that great difficulty is experienced in tracing deserters. When they are caught of course they are punished. But the difficulty is to get hold of them. They are accustomed to move from place to place. A man will enlist in the Expeditionary Forces. and will enter a camp, say, in !New South Wales, where he will remain until just prior to the date of his embarkation. Then he will mysteriously disappear. Later on, he will enroll in Queensland or Victoria, and spend another period of two or three months in camp. Then, when he is expected to embark for service abroad he will again disappear. My object in putting this question to the Minister was to enforce the position that, when a man enlists in our Expeditionary Forces and receives military training, it ought to be regarded as a very heinous offence for him to abandon the duties which he has voluntarily undertaken. It will be a very bad thing indeed if his desertion is regarded as merely a trifling matter. If he once crossed the water and deserted in the face of the enemy the only punishment meted out to him would be that of death. If the names of deserters were exhibited at post-offices it would afford the public an opportunity of knowing the men who have behaved in this dishonorable way, and who frequently go about bragging of what they have done whilst they continue to wear the King’s uniform. I believe that the action I have suggested would prove a great deterrent. The Minister said that in certain cases reasons were given mitigating the serious character of the desertion. It would be better, if a man was in such a position through some emergency in his familylife, for him to go to head-quarters, explain the . circumstances, and ask to be excused from embarking. If the cause given was reasonable the request might be considered, but the Minister might well reconsider whether it would not act as a deterrent to possible deserters to know that their names would be published. The many permanent men who are anxious to go to the front should receive some consideration. In the early stages of the war it was considered undesirable to let many of them go for departmental and general reasons.
– Far more went in the early stages than subsequently.
– A number still in the service are keenly desirous of going to the front, but have not been allowed to do so on the ground that their services are required in the Commonwealth. Soldiering is their profession, although it is not very remunerative, and if a man can go to the front he may have the opportunity to distinguish himself and earn honours or rewards. These officers ought to be given the opportunity as far as possible to prove that they are men who can render distinguished service and bring credit to their country. I could mention the names of several who would like to go to the front, and I appeal to the Minister to consider if it is not possible to make arrangements to enable, at any rate, some of them to crown their long service by distinguishing themselves at the war.
– I was glad to hear the Minister tell me to-day that he would consider the possibility of distinguishing between the returning soldiers whom people desire to honour and those who come hack in circumstances which deprive them of any claim on public recognition, but I would like the Minister to carry his consideration a little further. It was rather disappointing to the citizens of Sydney, who on Sunday last went to meet the train to welcome a number of returning soldiers to find out afterwards that some of the men whom their wives and daughters had been ministering to and welcoming had been sent home as . a punishment. Unless the uniform is taken from the men who have disgracedthemselves they will still impose on the people. The Minister might consider’ whether it is not possible to drum them out of the army and deprive them of any right to use the uniform. Many have shown themselves so constructed temperamentally that if the uniform is left with them they will continue to attempt to impose on the good nature of the people who desire to extend kindness to returning soldiers.
– I shall endeavour to expedite the report referred to by Senator Ferricks. There is- no knowledge here of what has gone on in that matter at Brisbane except the representations made by him, and we have had to refer to Brisbane for investigation and for a report, which has not yet come to hand. If there has been any favoritism in connexion with the medical service there the honorable senator must lay it at the door of civilians, and not of the military, because the medical service in Brisbane is civilian from top to bottom.
– Who allots the work 1
– The principal medical officer of Brisbane, who was a civilian doctor, but since the war has become a soldier doctor for the time being. Before the war he was a partly-paid officer with his own private practice. I shall try to expedite the reply. It is much to their credit that all our permanent officers apparently want to go to the front. I take leave to differ from Senator Gould when he says that that is what they joined the Service for. Ours is a Citizen Army, and our Permanent Force, apart from the gunners at the forts, is an instructional force. That is what they are there for - to instruct the citizens to command. They are called the Administrative and Instructional Staff, and have no commands. Citizens command our regiments, and we are proud of the fact that ours is a Citizen Force. The State Commandants are the heads of the Administrative and Instructional Staff, and do not hold commands. The great bulk of our Instructional Staff have already gone to the war, and we have too few remaining to carry on the work. By the end of August we shall have in Victoria alone a greater number of young soldiers to train, instruct, and equip than were composed in the whole of General Bridges’ Division - that is, over 20,000 soldiers - yet we have sent a considerable proportion of our Instructional Staff away. Clearly, we should not send any more. The logic of events has forced me to that decision, which, for the sake of these officers, I regret; but it seems to me that it will have to be unalterable if our instruction and administration are to be carried on. The task is increasing and the number of permanent men to carry it out is decreasing. A great deal of the trouble .that we have had nas been caused by new and untried men without experience being placed suddenly in responsible positions. We have undertaken to return the soldiers who are sent back for disciplinary reasons to the States from which they came,, and cannot discharge them until we get them back there. When they are discharged we can take the uniforms from them, and that is what we do. We give each of them a suit of other clothes, and if. afterwards they wear the uniform ‘ they are prosecuted. That has happened in a number of cases, and heavy fines have been inflicted. The police throughout the States have been requested to keep a strict watch to see that unauthorized persons do not wear the uniform.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150721_senate_6_77/>.