6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Bonus for Recruits
– I desire to know whether the Government have been making an allowance to the State Governments to defray the cost of their recruiting efforts; and, if so,’ whether the capitation grant paid to the New South Wales police, in respect to recruits, was paid from that allowance?
– The Commonwealth Government have made no payment or allowance to any State Government in connexion with recruiting, and, therefore, they have not, either in that way or directly, paid the capitation al lowance which was granted by the New South Wales Government.
– Has the Minister of Defence noticed in the morning cablegrams an intimation that a move has been made at Home for the purpose of obtaining skilled mechanics from Australia, and other portions of the Empire, to aid in the manufacture of munitions there? If that step is. contemplated, will he consider whether it would not be better to, as far as possible, utilize the services of such men in Australia at similar work than to allow them to be despatched to England ?
– I saw the cablegram, but I think that it must be inaccurate, because we have received no such intimation from the British Government. On the contrary, a little time ago, when suggestions were made that mechanics should be sent to England we communicated with the British Government, and learned that they were against the proposal. Later, when it was suggested that a firm manufacturing munitions was applying in Australia to obtain artisans, we asked the British Government if it bad - their indorsement, butso far we have not received a reply.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1-. Was any frozen meat sent out of Victoria from 1st June to 7th August, 1915?
– The answers are-
June, 1915, at the request of the State Government, export of meat from Victoria was suspended, and from that date until 7th August, 1915, no meat has been exported from Victoria.
– Arising out of the reply, will the Assistant Minister ascertain if it is not a fact that the prices given are considerably below the prices which have been charged for meat in Victoria within the last fortnight, and whether as high as ls. 6d. per lb. has not been charged for steak, and ls. a pound for chops ?
– I have paid ls. a pound for mutton.
– I suggest to Senator O’Keefe that he should give notice of a question, because it means a reference to the official concerned to ascertain if his facts are correct. .
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Only one vital question is involved in this measure, and that is should or should we nob compel persons to vote. The other provisions are practically machinery clauses for carrying that principle into effect. In introducing the Bill we make no apology in any shape or form for what may appear to be placing compulsion on the citizens of Australia in connexion with voting. I know that from time to time it ha& been asked, Why should we compel persons to vote? On the other hand I have often heard the question, If people have not sufficient intelligence to go to the poll, is it not dangerous to compel them to go there and vote ? I think that recent events have led ‘to a newer conception of life, and that is that if Democracy has any advantages it also has responsibilities which an intelligent and clear thinking people cannot avoid, nor be permitted to shirk. I trust that the Bill will be considered on its merits pure and simple, and not as a party question, for the simple reason that Australia is bigger than both parties put together. As regards any material advantages that may accrue to the party with which I am connected, may I point out that the result of the introduction of compulsory enrolment, which has practically led up to this proposal for compulsory voting, was that the Government of the day lost’their position as governors of the Common wealth.
The more we analyze the operation of compulsory enrolment the more we must recognise that there has not been very much party gain, from any point of view, with the increased voting. I believe that in each case it has led to a fuller citizenship and a higher realization of what citizenship means. In Australia we recognise that the majority of the people have the right to elect their members of Parliament. In other words, we have recognised the principle that the government of Australia should be by the people, for the people, and in the interests of the people, according to their light and intelligence. In 1903 only 46 per cent, of the electors enrolled Voted, that is less than one-half. I feel sure that the Democracy of Australia does not recognise any virtue in minority rule. In 1906 only 50.21 per cent, of the electors enrolled voted - that is, a little over one-half of the electors determined the political issues of this country. In 1910 62.16 per cent, of the electors enrolled voted. In 1911 the referenda proposals were before the people of Australia. I do not desire to enter upon the merits of those’ proposals, except to say that those who supported them, as well as those who opposed them, recognised that the questions were vital to the people of Australia, and yet, notwithstanding that fact, only 53 per cent, of the people of Australia were sufficiently interested to go to the poll to vote either for or against them.
– And some of those who went to the poll littered the floors of the polling booths with papers.
– In .1913, the first year following the introduction of compulsory enrolment, the percentage of voters was 73.66, and in 1914, 72.64. Recently the experiment of compulsory voting was tried in Queensland, where the percentage of voters to enrolment got as high as 89.
– Can you tell us what else happened in Queensland ?
– I do not desire to enter into that matter except to say that from the honorable senator’s point or view, and from my own, the results were very satisfactory. But we have had a contrary experience to that on other occasions. Some people may say, “ What is the use of compelling people to go to the poll, because you cannot make them “vote when they get there?” That may be quite true, but I point out that if a man goes to the poll and does not vote, he is, nevertheless, a participant in the election, because by hisfailure to exercise the franchise, he indorses the existing party and the existing condition of things. It is no hardship to compel every person to go to the poll, and I want to say this, and I say it deliberately, that I regret there is yet a limitation which prevents any person being permitted to cast a vote. Compulsory voting necessarily implies that adequate provision shall be made for every person to cast a vote, but at present, certain people who are ill will not be able to do that, and provision, therefore, is made in this Bill to the effect that where a person cannot attend a ‘polling booth, a neighbour or relative knowing the exact position, will be able to send along a written excuse, which I trust in all cases will be accepted.
– You are not sorry that postal voting was abolished, are you ?
– I am not sorry that it was abolished in the form in which it existed, and I know I enjoyed the unique distinction of voting against the whole of my party in regard to the abolition of postal voting. I am not against the principle of giving people who are unable to attend a polling booth a. vote, but I am against the form in which the postal vote was exercised. I still hopethat some day, whatever party may be in power, we shall be able to devise a system that will enable all the people to vote, without leaving their own doorsteps, if necessary, and that safeguard* will be provided to keep the system clean. Under the Bill now before the Senate,, it is not the intention to harass peoplewho are unable to go to the poll. There is not much to be said against the measure. I believe that just as every man who is physically fit has the responsibility upon him to fight for his country in its hour of danger, so should all the people of the country who are entitled to the privileges of the franchise be. required to take an intelligent interest in its government. If that condition of things had prevailed in the world, if. a particular section had not been permitted, to use the machinery of government in-, their own selfish interests, I believe wewould ‘ not now be witnessing the great, disaster of the world war that is in progress to-day.
– But the people in ithe countries you refer to have had no chance to exercise the franchise.
– I am aware of that, but I do say that the people of this country have a larger opportunity of citizenship than they choose to enjoy on election day. After all, the only reason for the existence of Parliament is the fact that with the larger aggregation of people it is not convenient to meet under & tree, or elsewhere, to settle our legislative affairs, and so we have adopted *he ‘ representative system, and the per- : son who says he does not wish to be represented in . the Parliament of his country is not exercising his citizenship to the full extent. I feel safe in saying that at present , -tihere is no party in Australia, and that, though we sometimes charge each other with being the representatives of a class, we all have a desire ito get away from that condition of things, and, therefore, we are seeking, by this Bill, to obtain the full exercise of the franchise by all the : citazens of Australia, irrespective of ‘their age, their -creed, their social or wealth status. By this measure we are inviting them to use their privilege to its fullest extent.
– You are . not inviting them; you are seeking to compel them.
– If the honorable senator will allow me, I will show that we are inviting the people, and that there is a distinction between compulsion under : this Bill, and compulsion as generally understood. For instance, we do not intend to treat a person who fails to vote as a criminal, and the fine of £1 will really be regarded more as a suggestion to the people of Australia that they should do their duty as citizens. You may go down any street you like in this, or any other city, and if you mix with any crowd of men, you will find that they are not lacking in brain power. The majority are able to discuss football records, and make an accurate calculation as to the time in which 6 furlongs can be done : at Flemington, but, in many causes, those men have not had their attention sufficiently directed to the affairs of their country to be persuaded to exercise the franchise. I believe that if such persons were obliged, by law, to vote, they would then give serious thought to the affairs of this Commonwealth, and would exercise the franchise in an intelligent manner.
-Suppose they did not, would you follow them with a prosecution ?
– Certainly. But’ I want to emphasize again that this is not regarded as a criminal law, and I know that any amount of men would be quite willing to pay £1 to get out of going to the polling-booth.
– This will be a new form of taxation then?
– The fine of £l is the maximum amount, but I should say that if any lady, through indifference or ignorance, failed to vote, a smaller fine would be imposed - perhaps the nominal amount of1s. This Bill is a genuine attempt to impress upon the people of Australia a sense of their responsibility as to the government of this country, and to make plain to them the fact that, whatever may be their views, they can have no excuse for shirking that responsibility.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen), adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill involves a matter only of bookkeeping. Parliament authorized the Treasurer to raise a certain sum of money by means of Treasury-bills, and under the present war conditions it is quite common to have plenty of money at the command of the Treasury to-day, and perhaps very little to-morrow. To provide for this state of affairs, it has been the practice of the Treasurer to issue Treasury-bills, and borrow the money, but a Bill had, in all cases, to be issued, and the interest had to be paid quarterly. Under this Bill, no money will, without the authority of Parliament, be touched. It is desired to create a current account at the Treasury, and to pay the interest on the daily balance, instead of taking money for a longer period than is necessary. Sometimes the transactions ire short. Last year Parliament authorized the Treasurer to raise on the note issue abous £2,500,000 by means of Treasury-bills. At one period of that time we had borrowed from the note fund almost the whole of that amount. Subsequently, when loan money came from the Old Country, we were in a position to pay it back, with the result that we closed the financial year in debt to the note fund to the extent of only £358,000. There is no desire to keep the money borrowed from the fund longer than is necessary, and it is undesirable to have to be always issuing Treasury-bills for what, after all, may represent only small amounts. Under this Bill there will be merely bookkeeping entries, and interest will be paid into the fund on the daily balance of all money borrowed from it under the authorization of Parliament. This will be a matter of great convenience to the Treasurer, and will afford him facilities to make the best use of the moneys at his command.
– There is only one remark I have to make about this Bill. The system proposed to be instituted is on all fours with the practice in banks with regard to overdrafts granted to their clients. The net result financially of this proposal will be to diminish the earnings of the. note fund, and at the same time to lessen the cost at “which the Treasurer will be able to obtain the accommodation he requires. Under the existing system the Treasurer, is charged with interest on the total amount borrowed within a given period, though he may have a good deal of the money lying idle. Under the system proposed by the Bill he will be in a position to return moneys that he does not immediately require, and thus reduce the amount to be paid as interest. From the point of view of the Treasurer, this will be an advantage, but in proportion as he pays less interest as Treasurer, so the note fund will earn less. That will be the net result of the operation of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee . “
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Borrowing money from Australian notes account without issue of Treasury-bills).
– Under the practice adopted in the past, the Treasurer, when borrowing money from the note fund, has made out Treasury-bills for the amount, but I understand they have not been issued. It is proposed under this clause to do away with the necessity of making out Treasurybills for money borrowed’ in this way. Perhaps the Assistant Minister will say whether that is what is proposed.
– In the past Treasury-bills have had to be made outf’or moneys borrowed from the note fund, but the money has practically been deposited in’ the note fund trust account. The law provides for a 25 per cent, gold reserve of the note issue, but the present Government have pledged themselves to maintain a reserve of 33 per cent., and if at any time it should be found necessary to reduce the reserve below that amount they have undertaken to make a frank statement to Parliament of their intention to do so. We have never, so far, got down to the reserve we have pledged ourselves to maintain, and there has always been a little money available. It has sometimes been necessary to issue a Treasurybill for a fairly large sum, which might be wanted for only a week or a few days. In such cases it is ridiculous to be issuing Treasury bonds and going through the formality of practically floating a loan when what is required is really money at current account for only a day or two.
– If the Government were taking money out of the fund for twelve months, would they issue a Treasurybill against it?
– It is not likely that the Treasurer will be wanting the money for a long time, and the balance owing at the close of a financial year will be covered by a Treasury-bill.
– There is nothing in this Bill to compel that to be done.
– At one period of the year we may have only £1,000 borrowed from the fund, and at another wemay have £100,000, but towards the close of the financial year, when there will be no opportunity to pay money borrowed back to the fund, the balance owing will be covered by the issue of a Treasurybill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment;, report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very simple Bill. Practically the only question involved in its consideration is whether the amounts proposed are fair and reasonable, and that can best be considered in Committee. Fifteen cases are provided for, and some of the persons included in the list were for thirty years in the service of the Commonwealth or a State. Technically or legally their dependants may not be entitled to compensation, but any honorable senator who goes through the schedule will admit that, on moral grounds, these claims to compensation may be justified.
– Does the honorable senator not think that a little more might have been given.
– Has this money been paid?
– No; but in some cases slight advances have been made. The total amount involved is £3,850 10s. Senator Long suggests that the Government have not been generous enough, but the different claims were carefully investigated, not only by the Cabinet, but by a sub-Committee, who considered every detail, ascertained the facts, and endeavoured to do justice. As the Bill has been given the close attention of the Cabinet, I hope that honorable senators will not alter the amount, though we are prepared at the same time to listen to any request they may desire to make.
– The Minister claims that the Government have been generous in connexion with this Bill. On many of the cases included in the schedule, I have no information, and, of course, have nothing to say. I wish particularly to direct attention to the circumstances surrounding the loss of the steam trawler Endeavour and the consequent loss of life. There is considerable dissatisfaction in the minds of the relatives and dependants of : some of the people who perished in the loss of the trawler. The circumstances indicate that this vessel, built particularly for trawling on the banks and in the comparatively shallow waters of the Australian coast, and, I might almost say, in territorial waters only, was sent on a mission to Macquarie Island. She was a vessel of small tonnage. I wish to be fair, and so I will not say that she was an unseawbrthy vessel.
– That has been said.
– Not for what she was built for.
– She was not unseaworthy, as Senator Guthrie very properly interjects, for the work for which she was designed. I am not one of those who try to make a great case on an unsubstantial foundation. I believe that the Court of Inquiry brought in a most reasonable verdict, having in view the objective for which the vessel was built, but the question arises, Was she really a suitable vessel to be sent on an expedition to Macquarie Island ? This island, as honorable senators are aware, is a dependency of the Commonwealth, well down in the stormy waters towards the Antarctic. It is in a higher latitude, I think, than the “roaring forties.” Probably the most tremendous seas known to the experience of mariners are met with between Tasmania and Macquarie Island. We have it on the authority of the Antarctic expedition that gales blow in these latitudes with more than hurricane violence. I am not going to blame the Commonwealth authorities for sending this vessel down there. They anticipated that she would have a safe return. But the Endeavour was sent out on this mission unfitted with wireless, notwithstanding the fact that it would be considered a crime on the part of a private shipping company to send a vessel along the Australian coast, or to Macquarie Island, without a wireless installation. The Endeavour was sent down there without wireless, and is numbered with the ships that never return. The men and officers on the Endeavour did not originally ship for service on an expedition to such a place as Macquarie Island - a voyage which involved the traversing of the stormy waters which intervene between that island and Australia - but they shipped for the ordinary purposes of service in connexion with a steam trawler. Their relatives naturally thought that the Commonwealth in its generosity would give their cases such ample consideration that they might very well throw themselves on the breast of the nation. But what do we find? I. can speak of only one case, of which I have personal knowledge owing to the fact that ithas been particularly brought, under my notice by a gentleman who is a brother of one of the men who lost their lives on this vessel. I refer to the brother of Mr.C. T. Harrisson, who was biologist on the Endeavour. He was a scientific man. His attainments as a biologist were considered to be of a very high order. He was an officer of the Commonwealth, . and one can understand that the services of a biologist were not particularly necessary in connexion with an expedition to Macquarie Island. They were retained for the purpose of giving to the people of the Commonwealth facts relative to the fisheries of our territorial waters.
– The Endeavour went to Macquarie Island to relieve some men, and not to fish.
– Exactly. I think that Macquarie Island is a very necessary wireless station. Beyond all doubt the relatives who may be said to represent the dependants of those who lost their lives on the Endeavour took up the attitude that they might safely leave everything in reference to their claims for compensation to the Commonwealth, although they might not unreasonably have challenged the suitability of the vessel for an expedition such as that upon which she was sent. In effect, however, they said, “ No. We believe that the Commonwealth will treat us most generously,” and consequently they refrained from challenging the seaworthy character of the vessel. They could have brought the evidence of the former captain of this trawler, as well as that of “a cloud of witnesses,” to prove that the vessel had been regarded as unseaworthy in certain seas for a considerable time’ prior to her loss. They could have adduced testimony which would have conveyed to the minds of the citizens of the Commonwealth that this trawler was totally unsuited for the expedition on which she was sent.
– Why did they not?
– Because they thought that the Commonwealth would unquestionably be generous in its treatment of them..
– Because they did not like to lose their billets.
– Senator Guthrie has evidently some knowledge of which I am not in possession. I am not going to manufacture evidence, but I say, without hesitation, that the Commonwealth is exhibiting parsimony, rather than gene rosity, in its treatment of the dependantsof these men. Of course I know that I. am powerless to challenge a Governmentmeasure successfully if the force of theMinisterial party is asserted in support of it. But I ask honorable senators to be? somewhat more generous than the Government have been in connexion with, the compensation which is to be allotted, to certain persons mentioned in this Bill. I am informed that the widow of Captain. Pirn is not satisfied with her treatment, by the Commonwealth, but I do not speak with any great certainty in regard to that. I know that Mr. Harrisson, the brother of the deceased biologist, who is representing the widow and children of that, gentleman, has repeatedly stated that the compensation provided by the Commonwealth is of altogether too parsimonious, a character. Had the late Mr. Harrisson been a lieutenant in our Expeditionary Forces, and had he lost his life whilst fighting at the Dardanelles, hiswjdow would have been entitled to a pension of £78 a year. But what will the sum of £525, which it is proposed to pay to her, purchase in the way of anannuity? It will suffice only for an annuity of about £22. By no exercise of financial ingenuity will it produce morethan that sum. The late Mr. Harrisson was an officer of the Commonwealth whowas sent out on an expedition of whichit was unnecessary for him to be a member, and the Commonwealth in an alleged spirit of generosity is now allottingto his widow, as compensation, a paltry sum of £525. I repeat that with theevidence which they possess the Harrissons could have challenged the suitability of the Endeavour for the voyage uponwhich she was sent, and probably would’ have been able to make it apparent tothe citizens of Australia that the widow of this scientific gentleman should receivemore compensation than it is proposed to grant her.
– He would not have gone.
-He ought not to have been sent.
– He was not sent.. He went voluntarily.
– He wanted to. go.
– Even if that beso, the fact remains that he was a member of the staff of the vessel. Probably he thought that at Macquarie Islandsomething would be disclosed which might- prove of an informative character to the people of the Commonwealth. The vessel was sent there to relieve certain officers at the wireless station who had practically been marooned on the island for twelve months. Beyond all doubt, evidence could have been adduced which would have demonstrated that the vessel, although perhaps quite suitable for the work for which she was originally designed, was eminently unsuited for an expedition to Macquarie Island.
– Who sent the vessel there?
– The Commonwealth Government.
– Who was responsible for sending her?
– The Commonwealth Government. Of course I know that the Minister of Trade and Customs - even if he is responsible - hoped that the vessel would return safely. I believe that the Commonwealth authorities honestly thought that the vessel was suitable for the expedition. But the fact remains that she was a trawler of only about 300 tons. She had to be packed with coal to be sent to Macquarie Island, and I have ascertained from experienced nautical men that she did not have sufficient coal to enable her navigators to take such measures as would have permitted her to ride out the storm in which she perished.
– She w.as eating up her cargo all the time.
– But if she had been able to carry sufficient coal to enable her to take advantage of the nautical skill at “her command she would, probably, have been able to ride out the seas.
– Then it was not because she was not seaworthy that she foundered ?
– She was not able to carry sufficient coal to enable her to lie to. I have been informed that in a following sea she was decidedly unsafe, And that many members of her crew, at the earliest opportunity, have taken advantage of any chance to transfer their service to other vessels.
– The circumstances which brought about her destruction could not have been foreseen.
– I do not desire to make any allegation^- -
– But the honorable senator has made them. He has said that “a cloud of witnesses” could have produced evidence as to the unfitness of this vessel to undertake the voyage on which she was sent. The honorable senator is now showing - -
– Order! I cannot allow an extended discussion upon the seaworthiness or otherwise of the Endeavour. I must ask Senator Bakhap to confine hia remarks to the Bill.
– Then I will say that the vessel, having been sent on a particular expedition, caused the loss of the lives of certain men whose names are mentioned in the schedule to this Bill.
– Are they all there?
– No. While the vessel might have been suitable for certain purposes, I repeat that a great deal of evidence could have been adduced to prove that she was unsuitable for a voyage to Macquarie Island. This case, therefore, is one which calls for the exercise of the spirit of generosity in a very full measure. Yet the Commonwealth, far from being generous in the matter, is exhibiting great parsimony to the dependants of those who lost their lives upon her. Without indulging in any further criticism, I ask Ministers, even at this late hour, to provide for these people more ample compensation than is provided for in this Bill.
– I agree with a good deal of what has been said by Senator Bakhap. In the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Endeavour, I think that the Commonwealth might very well have been not only more generous than it has been, but also very much more just.
– That is a much better word to use.
– It isi patent to everybody that the men who were on board this vessel lost their lives in the service of their country just as much as if they had gone to Europe and fallen whilst fighting the enemy. That being so, there should be no differentiation between the treatment meted out to their dependants and the treatment which is being meted out to the dependants of men who lose their lives upon the battlefield.
– That argument opens up a very wide question.
– It does not matter how. wide may be the question which it opens up. These men lost their lives in the service of their country. A vessel of the capacity of the Endeavour ought never to have been sent . to Macquarie Island. The authorities who ordered this boat to Macquarie Island sent the men on board her to their death. That is a plain statement of a plain fact.
– “Unwittingly, of course ?
– Why unwittingly ?
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the authorities deliberately sent them to their death ?
– -I do not say that they were sent, as a pertain person was sent by David to the front of the battle, but I mean to say that any man possessing ordinary knowledge of seafaring matters ought to have known that the Endeavour had a very remote chance of living through such seas as are met with towards Macquarie Island. The vessel ought not to have been sent on that particular mission. That being the case, the dependants have a very good claim against the Commonwealth for adequate compensation, and not only forthe meagre sums provided for in the Bill. The widow of the biologist is to receive £520. I understand Senator Bakhap to say that she has two children. She ought to be provided for until she marries again, and the children ought to be provided for until they are able to earn their own living. What I have said applies to every one of those dependent on the men on the vessel, but I suppose the Government will offer the usual excuses’ about having no money. I find that there is plenty of money to waste in many other ways which might very well be directed to purposes of this character. If Senator Bakhap can devise some amendment in the direction I have indicated, I shall give him ray support.
.- The Bill is entitled to our fullest consideration, and those left behind by the men lost in this unfortunate disaster are deserving, of our greatest sympathy and practical support. In war measures passed during the last few weeks we have declared emphatically that the claims of those who make sacrifices on behalf ‘ of their country should not be unheeded. Pensions are provided for those physically incapacitated, and the widows and children of those who lose their lives are to be provided for. The men on the Endeavour were on a journey to Macquarie Island, not in connexion with fishery investigations, but to assist the members of the scientific expedition left there. It was an unusual trip for the Endeavour, because we understood when she was constructed that she was to be used for trawling expeditions round the Australian coast. It is true that some of those on this unfortunate ship had no claims for compensation under any Act, but the Government realized that it was only fair to consider the claims made on behalf of the widows and children. Although it may appear at first sight that the amounts provided for the purpose are, in a measure, generous, they are not as liberal as the sums provided under the War Pensions Act. We should be quite justified in dealing with the dependants of those lost in the trawler in the same way as we deal with the dependants of those who lose their lives at the front. A circular which I have received with respect to two widows whose names are mentioned in the Bill shows that, while they do not say they have been unjustly treated, they are far from satisfied that they are getting the consideration to which they are entitled. Can we not set a noble example by saying definitely that widows with children dependent upon them shall, so far as we are concerned, never be in want until they are able to look after themselves ? Nothing is more pitiful to a man than to see the widows of men who have lost their lives in the performance of their duty to their country - and that is what these men did - without the means to provide for themselves and for the proper up-bringing of their children. I shall join with anybody in this chamber in doing the fair and proper thing to the widows and children of the men lost on the Endeavour, and to any others in similar circumstances. Sympathy without relief is, it is said, like mustard without beef. We want practical sympathy in a matter of this kind, and. if any honorable senator moves for the granting of just and proper consideration to those mentioned in the Bill, I shall give the amendment my whole-hearted support.
– I have every sympathy for the relatives of those lost in the Endeavour, and agree that the ship ought never to have been sent on that expedition, and that the Federal Government and Parliament were responsible for her being sent. We have now to foot the bill for compensation for the dependants of those who were sent. A Court has already decided that the ship was seaworthy, but did not say that she was seaworthy for the voyage on which she was sent. I believe she was well found, but Senator Bakhap has asserted that she had only sufficient coal to take her there, and come back. That did not come out in evidence.
– The honorable senator will understand what was told me better than I can - that she had not sufficient coal to enable her tolie to and live out the seas, and then resume her voyage to Tasmania.
– Ships were three months looking for her, and very few ships carry coal for three months. I am glad to hear Senator Findley’s declaration that he is prepared to do for every man who has to go to sea what it is proposed to do for those who were on the Endeavour. I have found considerable difficulty in this regard with the various Departments. A little while ago the Commonwealth owned only the Endeavour and a few small launches, but it has now become a big ship-owner. It owns fifty-eight interned ships.
– It is not the owner yet.
– The ships are being used by the Commonwealth Government in trade and commerce.
– If they are owned by the Government, why are the Government paying for them?
– I do not know that they are. We have been able by an industrial movement to include in the articles of all those signing on those ships a provision that they shall come under the Commonwealth Compensation Act. The Commonwealth is also controlling requisitioned ships. Whatever Senator Millen says,the interned ships are, during the time of the war, owned and controlled by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government put the crews and the men on board and engage freight. What more evidence of ownership than that do honorable senators need? The question of requisitioned ships arises. The answer has been given here that in their case there is no charter party. The vessels are merely taken possession of under the authority of an Imperial Order in Council. The Government do not know what they have to pay for them, and that question has to be settled by the Admiralty in London. The men who go in requisitioned ships to-day are not covered in case of accident or of death, or in the case similar to that of the Endeavour. We cannot elicit from the Government what their intention in the matter is. The only information we have obtained, and that was got a month ago, is that the question has been referred to the Crown Law Officer for report. I have the declaration of Senator Findley that he is prepared to do the same for the dependants of men on requisitioned ships as for the widows and orphans of the men on the Endeavour.
– I said that I was prepared at all times to do a fair thing by everybody.
– The honorable senator said more than that. If I were to raise a big question on the schedule to this Bill, I do not know where it might land us, but I have nc such desire. I point out, however, that under the covering sections of the Constitution this Parliament only received power from the Imperial Parliament to enforce? the laws of the Commonwealth - the Compensation Act and every other Act - on ships “ whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.” The Endeavour did not come within that category. Yet the Government in their generosity bring forward this measure.
– Why does not it come within the category ?
– I do not know.
– Because the port of destination was not in the Commonwealth.
– Where was it?
– At Macquarie Island.
– That is in the Commonwealth .
– It is not.
– It is, because it is part and parcel of the State of Tasmania.
– Underthe Compensation Act a case was taken to the High Court, and the Judges decided that outside of the six States in the Commonwealth the men. were not entitled to compensation. I refer to the case of Clark against the Union Steam-ship Company.
– With all due respect to the honorable senator, I tell him that Macquarie Island is part and parcel of one of the six States.
– We will see about that. In that case the High Court held that as regards a voyage from Australia the return trip did not mean anything. An industrial move had to be made, and the men said “ We will refuse to sign on any ship unless its articles incorporate the provisions of the Commonwealth Compensation Act whether the ship is trading in the Commonwealth or not,” and the move has been successful so far except in the case of ships requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government.
– Why did they not apply the principle there?
– The position, so far as the industrial union is concerned, is that they are trying to assist the Government by saying : Can we not come to a conciliatory agreement in the matter, as the issue can be easily settled?” Men are not willing to-day to take the risks which the men on the Endeavour tooks They can simply say, “Unless you are prepared to provide for our widows and orphans we will not go to sea.” We do not want to take that extreme action at once. We wish to see if it is possible for the shipping companies to accede to the demand. The Union Steam-ship Company, trading to Vancouver, San Francisco, and New Zealand, agreed that it was a fair thing that it should provide for the dependants of the crews.
– Do you mean to say that the Seamen’s Compensation Act does not apply to interned ships?
– A conference was held by a Naval officer, Captain Richardson, with the Merchant Service Guild, the marine engineers, and the seamen. He made a recommendation that such a condition should be inserted in the articles of all interned ships, but the Minister has not yet signified his approval. That is the position of such ships to-day. Some trade to Africa, some to Asia, some to Europe, but most of them to . America. They go . right within the war zone, yet there has been no announcement by the Government that they intend to apply the provisions of the Compensation Act to the dependants of the men in the case of loss at sea. The same thing applies to requisitioned ships. It has been stated that for the transport of our next wheat harvest across seas it will be necessary to charter or requisition vessels. I do not know what is the intention of the Government, but the statement has been made that they have put the matter into the hands of two private companies in Australia. Are the seamen on those vessels to be protected in the same way as it is proposed to protect the dependants of the officers on the Endeavour? I would like the Assistant Minister to tell us whether the men on requisitioned ships, the men on interned ships, . and the men who are under the control of the Commonwealth will receive even the same treatment as is being meted out in this measure. Our legislation must be confined to the Commonwealth in accordance with the Imperial Act. The only way we can get over that restriction in regard to ships trading outside the Commonwealth is by a mutual arrangement between the Commonwealth and the seamen. I hope that the Assistant Minister will look into the question, and give me a promise that the men who are engaged by the Commonwealth to go to sea in the pursuit of trade and commerce will be safeguarded and protected. I do not make the request on behalf of the men in the Navy, because provision for them is made elsewhere; but I do point out that the seamen who are engaged by the Commonwealth are just as liable to be shot down to-morrow as men in the Military Forces or the Navy, for mines are scattered all over the waters. On his return from a trip the other day the captain of an interned ship told me that he had to evade a submarine three times on his voyage from Australia to New York, via London. The men on such ships have to run the risk of a submarine, which I think is even a greater danger than the sea near Macquarie Island.
– Senator Guthrie has invited us to travel over many oceans of thought and -many seas of inquiry, but I must resist . the temptation, and direct attention to one or two practical questions, though they carry us . somewhat beyond . the strict confines of the Bill. The position with regard to the men whose situation the honorable senator described is one which calls for very prompt action on the part of the Government. I refer, of course, to the seamen who are manning the interned boats controlled by the Government, the transports, and other vessels for military purposes. The vessels must be divided into two classes: ‘first, the boats employed merely as commerce carriers; and, second, the boats engaged in connexion with our warlike operations. The men on the vessels in -the first class ought to be treated as we treat other public servants under our Compensation Act, irrespective of whether they are travelling within Australian waters or outside of them. When we come to consider the other class, a somewhat different position arises. I venture to say that a seaman on board a troopship is just as likely to meet his fate if she is torpedoed as is a soldier whom lie is helping to carry. As long as he is serving in connexion with warlike operations he is liable to the same risk, and, therefore, he is entitled to the same measure of consideration which in the War Pensions Act we have extended to the more active part of the Army. Passing from that, the Bill seems to bring home to us once more the absolute necessity of dealing, not in a piecemeal way, but in a comprehensive fashion, with the whole question of the allowance, or pension, or whatever it may be called, to those who lose their lives in the service of the State. For some reason or other the majority of the members of the Federal Parliament have from time to time put their faces against that. Although we do that as a principle, yet every now and again we show our want of faith in the principle by supporting measures of this kind. I think that the sooner we address ourselves in a practical way to the consideration of the whole question of the allowance in the case of fatalities the better it will be for Parliament, and certainly the more satisfactory to those who receive the benefit of such an enactment. The special claim for consideration which is presented on behalf of the relatives of those who lost their lives in the Endeavour arises from this fact: that unquestionably they were engaged on a service quite other than that for which normally they had undertaken to serve the Government. We must also recognise that a great mistake was made in sending her on the mission in which she met her fate. It is idle to say that she was seaworthy. A rowing boat is seaworthy on the Yarra River, but it is not seaworthy if it is sent over the Rip. We have to consider, not merely whether the vessel was technically seaworthy, but whether she was suitable for the job. I do not think it can be disputed now, in the light of after events, that the Endeavour was not a vessel which any one to-day would venture to send on such a mission. Again, we must recognise the very serious omission to see that the vessel was fitted with wireless before she went into waters where she was likely to meet with very little assistance, and where the possibility of a call through that medium might have meant all the difference between disaster and safety. Those mistakes constitute the basis of a more substantial claim than that which the Government apparently are prepared to recognise. When Senator Bakhap was speaking, Senator Watson interjected that the men who went away in the Endeavour did so voluntarily. The statement is quite true, but the interjection is open to two answers. First, ifr is the glory of our race that it has always found individuals willing to offer for any service without counting the cost.
– No; I raised a question as to the statement made by Senator Bakhap that there was “a cloud of witnesses” which could have testified to the unseaworthiness of the vessel.
– The “ unsuitability of the vessel “ is a better phrase to use.’
– He used the other word..
– Yes; and he waa technically right, because the Endeavour was unseaworthy for that job.
– I think that I used the word “ unsuitable.”
– Why did not the men report that she was unsuitable rather than go out on a voyage which would imperil their lives t
– I Have given one answer to the inquiry, and that is the fact that men will volunteer for risky enterprises in no sense relieves the Government from the responsibility of sending them. If, as Senator Watson would suggest, the men knew all the circumstances of the case-
– No; I did not make that suggestion, but Senator Bakhap did.
– The honorable senator’s, inquiry suggested that the men knew all the circumstances.
– No. Senator Bakhap made that deliberate statement, and I challenged it. I said that the relatives of the men who lost their lives could have brought forward, had they so desired, a number of professional witnesses who would have testified to certain defects in the vessel which made her unsuitable for employment on such a voyage. Then I asked why it was not done before they went to sea.
– The honorable senator now asks, Why was this evidence not available before the vessel went to sea ? That, I may say, implies that the men who went in the vessel, whether they went knowingly or not, took the risk. They may be supposed to have sized up the situation, and been prepared to go, because they did not “ pull out.” I am reminded of a fallacious argument that used to be employed in the early days, that a seaman, when he entered an employment, was supposed to know all the risk. But as an argument against compensation allowances such views are now- entirely scouted.
– I do not wish to be misunderstood. I have no desire to bring in the question of compensation at all, but I am concerned with the fact thatmen jeopardized their lives by employment on an unseaworthy vessel.
– Whatever knowledge the men may have had ought surely to have been in the possession of the Government, which allowed the boat to go to sea on that mission. Therefore, if the men were to blame for being a little careless, or daring, in venturing upon that mission, a bigger responsibility should rest upon the Government which initiated the enterprise and authorized it to be undertaken.
– And ordered the men to go.
– Of course, the men were quite free to pull out.
– Are you quite sure they were able to pull out?
– Yes; they could have gone to a Court, and pleaded that the vessel was unseaworthy for the mission.
– They would have, had to go to gaol first.
– Why not assume that the officers and men believed that the vessel was seaworthy?
– I have not said anything to the contrary.
– Is not this a case of being wise after the event?
– It was not our business at all. But I want to make it quite clear that I allege nothing in the way of brutal indifference on the part of the Government, so far as the welfare of the men was concerned. What. I am saying is that a mistake was made in sending that boat out upon such a mission.
– Suppose the vessel waa seaworthy, would that, relieve the Government of responsibility ?
– If the boat had been plying upon the ordinary mission for which the men were engaged, we could only, ask that consideration should be given on the lines of the Seaman’s Compensation Act. But the vessel was engaged on a special mission, and although a mistake was made, it seems that a claim for special consideration can be established. If the boat had been continuing its ordinary occupation the chances are that it would have been still sailing the waters to-day, and honorable senators would not have been engaged in this discussion. The vessel was engaged on an enterprise which ended disastrously, and we have now to consider if we owe a special responsibility to the dependants of the men employed on the boat. If the Endeavour had been a privately-owned . vessel, and if the men had been engaged for the purpose of trading around the coast, I venture to say that had she been launched on a special enterprise for profit, and been lost there would have been expressions of pronounced indignation in this Chamber. I merely mention this in order to bring home to the Government the circumstances of this case. A mistake having been made, the special circumstances call for special consideration. I propose, therefore, to endeavour to secure an amendment which, if carried, will to some extent meet the circumstances. I am aware that, apart from the constitutional aspect of the matter in relation to this Bill, there is a difficulty arising out of the negligible quantity known as the dignity of the other House. I do not want to disturb the dignity of our friends elsewhere, and I intend, therefore, to submit an amendment which, I think, may possibly be accepted by the other House.
– Senator Long has an amendment.
– I am aware of that, but I prefer to move my own. I propose that all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Bill be referred back with a request to the Government that the question of granting increased ‘ allowances to the widow of C. T. Harrisson and G. W. C. Pirn be favorably considered.”
– Why not include all the widows?
– Because they did not lose their husbands in the Endeavour. The two cases to which I refer are the only ones that appeal to me, because I do not know the circumstances of the’ others.
– There were other dependants.
– Does not the honorable senator think he would help the case if he allowed the Bill to go through as it is, instead of taking the business out of the hands of the Government?
– If this were a party measure, I could understand the interjection from the Minister. Does the” Minister say that we must deal with these matters of compensation as if this were a party measure?
– That is what you are trying to make it.
– I am not aware of that. I am indicating my amendment in what I consider the most reasonable way.
– I propose to ask the. Senate to carry an amendment in the direction of requesting the Government to reconsider the amounts to be paid in respect of all the members of the crew.
– So far as I am concerned, nothing has been brought forward here to indicate, that the others are not getting fair and reasonable consideration. 1 propose to submit my amendment limiting that special consideration to the two cases mentioned, because they are the cases of widows whose husbands were lost in the peculiar circumstances surrounding the disastrous voyage of the Endeavour.
– I would point out that if the honorable senator moves the amendment that he has indicated, and it is negatived, Senator Long could not then move the amendment of which he has given notice.
– I understand that is so. Am I to understand, also, that if Senator Long’s amendment is moved and defeated I shall then have the right to move mine ?
– On a point of order, I would like to have it clearly indicated whether, if Senator Long moves his amendment, and it is defeated, it will be competent for any other member of the Senate to move another amendment providing that reconsideration be given to particular cases?
– If an amendment to ask the Government to reconsider the whole Bill is defeated, it will be open for Senator Millen to move that any particular cases referred to in the Bill be referred back to the Government for reconsideration. It is always recognised in financial Bills that amendment after amendment can be moved, providing they are not the same, and providing they are for reduced amounts. It is in accordance with the Standing Orders, and in accordance with the proper method for maintaining the rights of this Senate, to move the amendments as they have been indicated in this debate. Even if the other House were to make a request to alter the amounts, the Government would first have to get a message from the Governor-General to enable them to do so, and indicate the amounts. If this amendment as suggested be carried referring the Bill back to the Government for reconsideration of the amounts of compensation, the Government could get a message from the Governor-General and proceed in the usual way.
– I am afraid that I have not yet grasped the effect of your ruling, Mr. President, and I desire to have the point elucidated. Senator Long has indicated his amendment that this Senate should refer the Bill back to the other House with a request for the reconsideration of all the allowances to be paid. Senator Millen’s amendment seeks to have reconsideration of two cases. If Senator Long’s amendment were defeated, could any of the cases included in his amendment be the subject of another amendment by another honorable senator ? In other words, if it be wrong for Senator Millen to move his amendment now, would it be right for him to move it after Senator Long’s amendment has been defeated?
– I would point out again that if Senator Millen moves his amendment to refer back to the Government specific cases for reconsideration, and if that amendment be “defeated, evidently it would be the wish of the Senate that those two items should not be reconsidered, and the Senate could not accept another amendment including them.
.- I join with other honorable senators who have expressed their disappointment with the manner in which this Bill seeks to make provision for the dependants of persons who have lost their lives in the service of the Commonwealth. I hold that the men who were employed on the Endeavour were as truly engaged in the service of the Commonwealth as are those who are at present fighting at Gallipoli, and ‘ this Parliament has an equal responsibility to their dependants. Some honorable senators have said that’ the Government have discharged their legal responsibility in respect of the men lost on the Endeavour. No one questions that, but there are moral obligations, on a much higher plane than legal obligations, which should be given consideration. On the ground of our moral obligation, I think that the dependants of the men who lost their lives in the Endeavour should receive more substantial consideration than is proposed in this Bill. While Senator Millen was speaking, I indicated the nature of an amendment I propose to move. I regret that it will not be as comprehensive as I could wish, for the reason that, although I am anxious that the compensation to be granted to the relatives of the whole of the officers and crew of the Endeavour should be reviewed, I find that the schedule includes only three of the officers of that ill-fated vessel’, and I am compelled to limit the application of my amendment to those included in the schedule. The Bill has been discussed at some length, and it appears ‘to me that the majority of honorable senators are anxious that the Government should do something more than is proposed for the dependants of those who were lost on the Endeavour. The question which has been raised as to the seaworthiness of the trawler should not exercise our minds for a moment. The question we have to consider is whether the Government should be asked to do their duty to the dependants of those who lost their lives on that vessel. With the object of inducing them to reconsider the compensation proposed, I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the further consideration of theBill be postponed to enable the Government to» reconsider the amounts allocated to the relatives or dependants of the officers and crew of the lost trawler Endeavour.”
I submit that amendment with the greatest confidence in order to give the Government an opportunity to consider whether they cannot accord a greater measure of justice than is proposed by the Bill to the dependants of those who lost their lives in the trawler.
– I wish to raise a point of order on the amendment. Thereare only certain amendments which can be moved to the question for the second, reading of a Bill.
– Any amendmentstrictly relative to the Bill may be moved.
– I suggest that thisamendment is not strictly relevant to the Bill. I do not see how an amendmentproposing that a Bill shall be referred back to the Government can be held tobe relevant.
– If the honorable senator had moved, “ That the Bill be read this day six months,” that would be - relevant.
– Under standing order 194 specific amendments may be moved to a motion for the second readingof a Bill, and I think that if honorable senators disapprove of this measure they should move one of those amendments. I cannot see how the amendment which - has been submitted by Senator Long can be said to be relevant to the Bill.
– I should like to urge, as against the -contention of the Minister of Defence, that it is incumbent upon the honorable senator, not merely to say that he cannot see how the amendment is relevant to the Bill, but to show how it is irrelevant.
– It has nothing todo with the Bill at all. It has to doonly with the action of the Government.
– It is relevant to the Bill in this way: We are asked to approve of the payment of certain amounts by way of compensation, but instead of agreeing to do so we ask that the Bill should be reconsidered. The amendmentwould bring about exactly the same position, as would arise if an amendment were submitted to refer the Bill to a?
Select Committee. The Minister of Defence will not dispute the right of honorable senators to submit an amendment referring the Bill to a Select Committee for inquiry, and all that is proposed by Senator Long’s amendment is that it shall be referred back, to the Government as the only body in possession of all the information necessary for a proper apportionment of compensation, with an invitation to them to reconsider the amounts of compensation which have been proposed. Unless the Minister can produce tangible evidence that the amendment is irrelevant to the Bill, and is contrary to the Standing Orders, I submit that it must be regarded as in order.
– Standing order 195, after enumerating specific amendments which may be moved to a motion for the second reading of a Bill, reads -
No other amendment may be moved to the question, except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
Senator Pearce raises the question whether the amendment submitted by Senator Long is strictly relevant to the Bill. It is moved with the specific object of increasing the amounts to be .paid to certain persons enumerated in the schedule to the Bill. Therefore, the object of the amendment, at any rate, must t)e regarded as strictly relevant to the Bill. The only means the Senate has of giving effect to what some honorable senators desire is to induce the Government to “bring down another message from the GovernorGeneral recommending the increased provision. I therefore rule that the amendment is in keeping with the pro- per procedure for the Senate to take, and is strictly in order.
.- There are some features of the Bill which I am at a loss to understand. Every one naturally sympathizes with the relatives of those who were lost in the Endeavour, but one cannot fail to notice the great disparity between the amounts proposed by way of compensation to different persons -mentioned in the schedule. One honorable senator directed attention to the fact that the person to’ whom a particular -amount is to be granted under the Bill :is a widow, hut as two-thirds of the persons mentioned in the schedule are widows, it beats me to know why there should be a, distinction made between one widow and another.
– They d!b not all belong to men lost in the Endeavour.
– The circumstances in each case are quite different.
– If the husbands in each case lost their lives in the service of the Commonwealth, it appears to me that the widows are entitled to something like equal compensation.
– The Workmen’s Compensation Act lays down the principle of compensation to the amount of three years’ wages.
– Why should we dead differently with the relatives of different persons? If what Senator Guthrie says is correct, we should alter the Workmen’s Compensation Act to bring the amounts which may be paid under it up to the level of the amounts proposed in this Bill. Some of the amounts included in the schedule are very much in advance of what could be claimed under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and to agree to them may involve us in later claims which we might not be prepared to admit. I understand that the relatives of the crew of the Endeavour received compensation under the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
– Yes; that Act specially provides for them, and was intended to provide for such cases.
– It seems to me that some of the amounts mentioned in the schedule are very much greater than the compensation which could be claimed under that Act.
– The persons mentioned in the schedule have no claim under any Act.
– Officers in receipt of a salary beyond a certain amount have no -claim under the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
– The purpose of this Bill is to make the relatives of certain persons who have died in the service of the Commonwealth a compensation grant. I should like to have the relatives of all who were employed as members of the crew of the Endeavour provided for.
– They are all pro- vided for.
– I hope that the Minister, in replying to the debate, “will give some reason for the disparity between the amounts’ proposed as compensation. I cannot see why the widow of one man should be given £89, and the widow of another £1,128. They are both widows, and human beings.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was about to ask how many men lost their lives on the Endeavour other than those for whose dependants provision is made in this Bill? I should also like to know whether their dependants were compensated under the provisions of the Seamen’s Compensation Act, or of any other Act, and, if so, how much was paid in each case?
– Under the Seamen’s Compensation Act their dependants were entitled to receive a sum not exceeding in any case £500.
– It seems to me that in this Bill we ought to lay down the basis upon which compensation shall be determined in future cases of a like character.
– These men were not seamen.
– But they were all citizens of the Commonwealth, and they were human beings. Whatever basis may be adopted in respect of compensation payable under this Bill ought to be observed in the future if we wish to secure uniformity. I confess that I am not altogether enamoured of the idea that compensation should be based on the salary or wages paid to any deceased Commonwealth employee. I can conceive of cases in which the dependants of persons in receipt of small salaries . would be in much more need of assistance than would be the dependants of persons in receipt of large salaries. If men receive salaries of £2,000 or £3,000 a year, we naturally expect them to make provision for all sorts of contingencies. Take the case of the widow of a man who was in receipt of £150 a year. If compensation were based upon the wages which he received, his widow would be paid onetenth of the sum which would be received by the widow of a man who had been in receipt of £1,500 a year. Yet it cannot be questioned “ that the former would be much more urgently in need of assistance than would be the latter. We require to be very careful, therefore, lest we create a disparity between the amount of the compensation which we shall have to pay in one case and the amount which we shall have to pay in another case. I am not going to commit myself to support the amendment until I am satisfied that by so doing we shall not place ourselves in an invidious position which we shall be unable to justify outside.
– I rise for the purpose of putting a- few facts before honorable senators, and in the hope that by so doing I shall expedite the taking of a division. In the first place, I desire to correct the wrong impression which is entertained by Senators Millen and Bakhap in regard to the Endeavour. Senator Bakhap stated that “ a cloud of witnesses “ could be brought to show that she was unsuitable to undertake the voyage to Macquarie Island.
– Yes, and professional witnesses, too.
– I intend to show that the honorable senator is under a misapprehension. Senator Millen. seemed rather to clinch the statement of Senator Bakhap by affirming that an error had been made in sending the vessel to Macquarie Island. These statements are of too serious a character to* be permitted to pass uncontradicted. I may mention that an inquiry was held into this disaster, and the result of that inquiry is set out in the following findings:
Those findings are dated the 3rd May last, and are signed by Vivian Tanner, P.M., president; and James Tozer and John Sloss, skilled members.
– There is not a word in those findings as to the suitability of the vessel to make this particular trip.
– When honorable senators give utterance to sentiments which are calculated to create the impression that a mistake was made-
– I say so now.
– But it requires something more than the uncorroborated statement of the honorable senator and of Senator Bakhap to establish that contention. Their mere assertion is not sufficient.
– Those findings do not contradict my assertion.
– If they do not I am absolutely unable to contradict it. If the findings of the Court do not convince Senators Bakhap and Millen of the mistake they have made, I am sorry for them.
SenatorMillen. - Does the Board say that the vessel was suitable for the voyage on which she» foundered ?
– Had there been any statement to the contrary, or any suggestion to that effect, the Court would have taken cognisance of it, because it has to accept full responsibility for its decision. Instead, it held that the Endeavour, when she last left Melbourne, was in a well-found and seaworthy condition. If that is not a sufficient answer to the statements of Senator Bakhap and Senator Millen, I do not know what is.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council must know that a few years ago a man single-handed sailed a little vessel right round the world. That was a very satisfactory performance in a sense, but did it prove ‘ the suitability of the vessel to be navigated round the world ?
– I merely desire to put these facts before honorable senators, so that the statements of Senator Bakhap and Senator Millen may not pass without an answer. “
– Was the Endeavour designed and built for a voyage such as that upon which she was sent ?
– She was designed and built to go anywhere.
– I have no desire to enter into a discussion as to what she was designed and built for. I merely wish to say that for years she had proved herself a very seaworthy vessel whilst cruising along our coasts.
– Within sight of a cape to which she could always run to shelter.
– I can quite understand that Senator Bakhap feels his position keenly now that he discovers there are facts which prove that the vessel was absolutely seaworthy.
– Where are the facts?
– In the Bill before us it is proposed to pay certain amounts to the dependants of three men who lost their lives when this vessel foundered.
– What about the others ?
– They have been dealt with by the Government under the provisions of the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
– Captain Pirn’s case ought to have been dealt with under that Act.
– In dealing with Dr. Dannevig’s case and with that of one other officer who did not come under the Seamen’s Compensation Act, the Government adopted the system of granting their dependants the equivalent of two years’ salary.
– Dr. Dannevig did not come under the Seamen’s Compensation Act?
– No. In the case of the dependants of Captain Pirn, the same rule was adopted. We gave them the equivalent of two years’ salary.
– The Act provides that the dependants shall be paid the amount of three years’ salary, or not more than £500.
– Exactly. In dealing with these special cases . we adopted the rule that each should be treated alike. In Captain Pirn’s case the amount of the compensation granted to his dependants amounted to £124 more than the Act allowed, and in Mr. Harrisson’s case it represented £20 more. In the case of Dr. Dannevig it amounted to a large sum. These are the only three cases in which special provision was made. Our hearts are just as sympathetic with those who have been left behind by the men who lost their lives on the Endeavour as are the hearts of other honorable senators. But, even if the Bill be sent back to another place, the Government cannot reconsider those cases. The compensation granted has already been paid under the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
– The only provision made by that Act is for the payment of compensation to the dependants of workingseamen. Dr. Dannevig was not a seaman.
– We recognise that no provision had been made which would meet his case, and that is the reason why this Bill has been submitted. Whether the basis of the compensation paid be right or wrong, Parliament is responsible for it.
– And the dependants of the other men will have to fight out their eases in the Law Courts.
– They have already been paid their compensation.
– Was Parliament responsible for sending the Endeavour to Macquarie Island ?
– Nobody need be ashamed of having sent the vessel there, since the result of the expedition could not possibly have been foreseen. If we, were geniuses like the honorable senator we should be in a different position. The relatives of the other people who went down in the Endeavour have already been paid under the Seamen’s Compensation Act. There is no hardship involved to them. We could not legally deal with the other three cases under the Seamen’s Compensation Act, and we have therefore brought the proposal before Parliament, so that it may be dealt with on its merits. To refer the Bill back to the Government will delay the settlement of a number of other oases in which justice ought to have been done years ago. Senator Long says it is not proposed to refer all the cases back, but his amendment will have that effect, and until the Bill is passed by Parliament none of the amounts covered by it can be paid. The amendment, therefore, simply means delay for I do not know how long.
– If it goes back to the Crown Law officers, God knows how long it will be.
– That is just the point.
– I have more faith in the Government than that.
– It is not a question of faith in the Government; it is” a question of the Government doing the fair thing. We have brought down a proposal dealing generously with these people, because in each case we have given, to begin with, what Parliament laid down as a basis. If those amounts are not sufficiently generous - and some honorable senators have cited the pensions to be paid to the soldiers in comparisonthere is a plain, straightforward way to remedy the matter. Let us amend the Seamen’s Compensation Act, so that the dependants will in all cases get more generous treatment, but do not pick out two or three cases for special treatment. One honorable senator is just as sympathetic as another in that regard, but to send the Bill back to the Government with a request that certain people shall be dealt with more generously will lead us into a quicksand from which we may never emerge. All the other unfortunate people will be involved, instead of their cases being brought to^ a satisfactory settlement, because, until the Bill comes before Parliament nothing can be done for them. ‘
– On what basis were the Pirn and Harrisson cases decided ?
– The cases of Dannevig, Harrisson, and Pim were dealt with on a basis that would give the dependants of each two years’ salary. As this in two cases exceeds the maximum allowed under the Seamen’s Compensation Act, we are asking Parliament to grant in one instance £124 additional, and in the other £20 additional. In Dannevig’s case we are asking Parliament to grant £1,128.
– That is over £600 additional; there is a big discrepancy.
– It represents two years’ salary. I was one of the Committee that dealt with these cases. Honorable senators know what happens when claims are made in the cases of workmen employed by the Commonwealth. The claims are so numerous, and . appeal so much to one’s sympathy, that if we were to be guided only by our feelings, and had no safe course of conduct marked out for us, there is no saying where we should end.
– Are -not members of the Public Service compelled to insure their lives? These men were not workmen and not seamen, but members of the Service.
– That insurance is a life insurance - not an insurance against death by accident.
– Nineteen people went down on the boat, and we are dealing in this Bill with only three of them. The dependants of the workmen have received the amounts due. If those amounts were set down alongside of those in the Bill, most of us would be inclined to move to increase them, but in those cases we have been compelled to carry out the deliberately expressed will of Parliament.
– Roughly, what was paid in those cases?
– Three years’ wages.
– You would be surprised to know how little you. did pay.
– Whatever surprise, or even indignation, might be felt at the amounts, the members of this Parliament who years ago passed the Seamen’s Compensation Act, must take the responsibilty for them, and I accept ray share of it. Roughly, £500 was paid to the seamen, £500 in the case of the third engineer, and £432 in another case. The Bill deals with other cases, as I have said, including that of a person working at Woodlark Island. His work was not responsible for his illness, and legally the amount asked for could not be paid. The Committee tried to deal with each case in a sympathetic way, so as not to show favour to one more than to another. I urge Senator Long not to press the amendment, because to refer the Bill back will not benefit the dependants of the majority of the men who went down on the Endeavour. It will touch only the cases of two or three men, to whose dependants we have given what they would have earned in two years. If that is not a fair basis, it represents what we thought we could justly do, having regard to what was done in all other cases, and to the schedule of the Act already passed by Parliament. If in a spasm of generosity we compete with one another in an endeavour to see who can give the most, we shall find that there is no limit to what Parliament can give, and the more we give in . one case the more likely we shall be to overlook some unfortunate in another. If the law dealing with the dependants of people who work for the Commonwealth Government is not sufficient to meet their needs, I am quite prepared to join with other honorable senators in improving it.
– Dannevig and the biologist were passengers; they were not used in the navigation of the ship.
– I thought I was meeting the contention that the amounts were too small; but, apparently, Senator Guthrie is arguing that the money should not have been voted at all.
– No; they have a case under the common law.
– Then, if these amounts are not sufficient, let them go to the Courts, and get what they are entitled to.
– They cannot do that if we pass this Bill.
– There is nothing in the Bill to deprive any one of his civil rights. The Committee had a basis and system when drafting the amounts, the. other House has passed them, and we ask the Senate to do the same. The worst action that honorable senators can take is to send the Bill back to the Government, because, as we are nearing the end of this Parliament, the chances are that before the Government could get time to give full consideration to the desire of the Senate - and I do not know whether there has yet been a clear expression of the opinion of the Senate in the discussion that has taken place on the amendment-
– We want the amendment put to the vote to determine the expression of opinion.
– The Government came to a conclusion in all these cases by a most systematic method. They appointed a Committee to deal with quit© a number of them, and this Bill embodiesthe Committee’s report. The Committee went fully into each, and investigated most closely all the surroundings, of theseand many other cases that have not come before Parliament, because there were not sufficient grounds for bringing them before the Houses. The difficulties in> handling the claims were very great, but. we have arrived at what we think is a. fair thing. If the Senate decides otherwise, it is not for” me to complain; butI appeal to honorable senators- not to let a combination of circumstances induce- them to send the Bill back to- the Government for reconsideration. What is-, the object? Have we given too. little?
– Does the Ministerpretend to misapprehend the temper of; the Senate if it carries the amendment?
– There will be no misapprehension* about it.
– If the amendment-, is carried, how will you construe it?
– I will, regard it as meaning that the Government havenot done this thing in the way the Senatethinks it should be done. Therefore, the most straightforward and logical course would be to add to the amendment, “ And the Government no longer possess the confidence of the Senate.” Some of the other cases in the schedule go back: three years.
– If you prefer it, we will add the words you suggest.
– I do not prefer it, because I am not here to look for defeat, nor do I expect that Senator Long would welcome it, though no doubt Senators Bakhap and Millen would hail such a result with delight.
– Such a consideration does not trouble us at all in connexion with this measure.
– I am sure it does not. The position is simple. The Government have brought in a Bill, and ask the Senate to deal fairly with it. An amendment is moved to refer it back to the Government. What for? Is it that we may give larger amounts?
– Most decidedly. Do you pretend that it is not so?
– We have done what is fair. The amounts are not as generous as I should like them to be, but they are based on Acts which we have to guide us, and on a definite system dealing with these and other cases. In every case connected with the Public Service we tried to find out what the individual would have been entitled to if he had served a little longer, and in the circumstances I urge the Senate not to take the drastic action proposed. The following letter, handed to me by the Minister of Defence, has an interesting bearing on the subject:
Ite compensation to the widow of the late Director of Fisheries, I have consulted Mrs. Dannevig, and she is agreeable to accept settlement on the basis discussed by us, viz., two (2) years’ salary, plus payment up to date of Marine Board’s report. I believe that the relatives of the other officers of the s.s. Endeavour, including the biologist, are similarly disposed.
As Mrs. Dannevig is without means, I would be glad if you would facilitate early payment.
– Mrs. Pirn and Mrs. Harrisson are not satisfied.
– The letter is signed by W. A. Watt, the honorable member for Balaclava in another place.
– You could settle the -whole thing in twenty-four hours if you liked
– I know that every honorable senator could settle the matter in his own way in less than twentyfour hours, but the question is whether it would be possible to get other persons to believe that it was a correct settlement. If honorable senators referred the Bill back to the Government, they would be no nearer a settlement than they are now, because the Government would have no definite instruction from the Senate, and there would be no guarantee that Senators Millen, Bakhap, and Long would not have some fault to find in the future. I appeal, therefore, to honorable senators to allow the Bill to pass. Speaking as a member of the Committee which dealt with the cases, I am sure that any honorable senator, if he had been placed in my position, would have found the circumstances so conflicting and the claims so great that he would have looked for a safe basis of settlement. I believe that such a basis was found, but if it does not meet with the approval of honorable senators exactly, they will not attain the end they desire to reach by simply taking the Bill out of the hands of the Government and sending it back to the other House.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council commenced his speech by saying that he spoke at this juncture in the hope of shortening the debate and hastening a decision in the matter. I hope that he will be more successful in the methods he has adopted in other spheres of activity, for I do not know that any speech has imported as much debate into the Chamber to-day as the one just delivered by him. His broad appeal seems to me to rest on this consideration, that if we are not satisfied - and the amendment discloses a dissatisfaction - with the compensation or allowance sought to be given by the schedule, the proper thing for us to do is to pass a Bill with which we are dissatisfied, and later to amend the Compensation Act itself. I take that to be the Minister’s argument. But he knows very well that we are dealing, as he has said, with cases which are altogether outside the Compensation Act, and that no alteration of that Act would in any way deal with the cases brought under review by the amendment. What is the good of the Minister telling us that we ought to amend an Act which does not touch the cases ? All the amendments of the Act in the world would not affect our object. We might raise the amounts in the schedule to the Compensation Act, but not a penny would it vouchsafe to those cases we are considering. The Minister must have known that as well as any honorable senator in the chamber, because he emphasized and hammered home the fact that the two special cases were not dealt with by that law. Then he turned round, and showed his regard for our intelligence by saying that the correct thing for the Senate to do is to alter a law which he declared does not touch the cases. The whole point and purpose of the amendment is to deal with special cases, not cases which could be dealt with in a general law. It is idle for honorable senators to say, as Senator Guy has done, “We want to deal comprehensively with this matter,” for these, I repeat, are special cases.
– Surely you do not want to deal with them on a different basis from other cases?
– I want to deal with the Endeavour cases on their merits, and the loss of the vessel was surrounded by special circumstances, which constitute this a particular claim on the consideration of Parliament.
– Most of those cases are not covered by this Bill.
– I am aware of that.
– Why not deal with all the cases together if you want to deal with them?
– The reason is that the Minister will not allow them to be dealt with. Senator Long wishes to do that.
– No; only the cases which are mentioned in the Bill.
– No. Senator Long has asked for the whole of the cases to be re-considered, but what was the Minister’s answer? He asked the Senate to throw the amendment on one side.
– Because most of those cases are not dealt with in the Bill.
– It was because the cases were not dealt with in the Bill that Senator Long moved his amendment, and asked that they should be brought in. But, quite apart from that, and taking the two special cases which are included in the Bill, I remind honorable senators, in spite of all that the Minister said and read from the report, that the Endeavour was sent away on a mission for which originally the men had not engaged. The boat was seaworthy, and no one has disputed that fact. A rowing boat on the
Yarra River is seaworthy for that purpose, but if any honorable senator were asked to go down in her through the Rip some afternoon, when it was revealing its characteristics, would he say that she was suitable for that job? She is certainly a seaworthy boat, but not for that mission. The same thing applies to ferry boats engaged in a harbor. They are all seaworthy for that purpose, and get a certificate to that effect from the authorities, but would any one say that they were fit to take a voyage to America?
– Did not a Committee certify that the Endeavour was seaworthy ?
– Cannot the honorable senator see the difference between a vessel being seaworthy and being suitable for a particular mission ?
– Were not the members of the Committee dealing with that particular trip?.
– In this report there is not a single word that the Endeavour was suitable for the trip.
– But they say that she was seaworthy.
– Of course she was seaworthy, according to an examination made by a surveyor and an architect.
– That was the trip with’ which the Committee was dealing. We are not dealing with any other trip.
– If my honorable friends think that the Endeavour was in every way fit for the voyage on which she was sent, and knowing what they know now, they would send a similar boat on a like journey, there is no reason for moving this amendment, or giving any special consideration. The whole claim arises from the fact that the Endeavour was sent on a trip which was not normal within the knowledge of the men when they joined her. There is no other claim arising. If we are going to assume that the Endeavour was undertaking a part of her normal duty, for which she was thoroughly equipped, the position of the Minister is unassailable.
– Would they have sent the vessel out again ?
– Not a single senator in the chamber would have sent the vessel out again, nor sent her away without wireless. In Australia to-day there is not a single man who would justify any attempt to send a vessel constructed like the trawler on a mission of that kind on a future date. But if, as Senator Henderson suggests, it is thought that the vessel was thoroughly equipped for that duty, we can put the claim on one side, and throw the amendment under the table.
– That is quite another question.
– The amendment rests on the contention that there were special circumstances surrounding the voyage which entitled the Government to open the purse strings a little more liberally. If there is no special claim, the Government have done all that they can be asked to do, and the men, unfortunately, have met a fate which, in a percentage of cases, will overtake those who go down to the sea in ships. After listening to the arguments of honorable senators, the whole contention, as far as I am concerned, depends on the fact that these men were exposed to a special ‘ risk, and that, in these circumstances, their dependants are entitled to special consideration. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked why should we refer the Bill back, and, with great consideration for the Senate, he supplied the answer. He knows perfectly well that the only way by which we can secure an amendment of the Bill is either by defeating its second reading, or by referring it back to the Government. The Senate itself cannot make financial provision to meet an increased amount. It is asked to express the wish that a more liberal allowance shall be provided. How can we get that increase unless we refer the Bill back to the Government, which controls the Treasury benches ? There is another way which I intend to suggest, and my suggestion, I think, will dispose of the remark of the Minister that if we carry the amendment we shall take the business out of the hands of the Government. I do not think that he or any other honorable senator can be oblivious to the fact that, speaking generally, the Senate desires a more liberal compensation to be paid in these cases. If he accepts that as the expression of opinion from the Chamber, I suggest to him that if he would not like the amendment to be carried, he should allow the Bill to stand over until next week, and so give the Government an opportunity of itself reconsidering the matter, and submitting such an amendment as might appear fit to them. That suggestion is, I think, a practical one. It will also show the Government that I have no desire to touch their dignity, of which Senator Gardiner has, become a- careful champion just now, but to leave the matter entirely in their own hands. They could meet the wish of the Chamber, and do what I recognise as a simple act of justice to the claimants whose names figure in the schedule. The Minister has suggested that if we carry the amendment it would bring about some delay. The measure of delay would rest entirely with the Government. It is useless to refer to the Crown Law officers or other officials who are not here. The measure of delay, if any, would rest with the Government. They would know quite clearly, if the amendment were carried, that the Senate desires an increased amount to be provided. It does not want to be profligate with the people’s money, but to give an intimation to the Ministry that there should be an- increased allowance, and the measure of delay would be determined entirely by the time which the Government took to decide what increase should be granted. If that time ran into weeks or months, the Government would have to take the responsibility, and not the Senate.
– There are at least two case which , were hung up during the whole time the honorable senator was in office.
– I do not know the cases to which the Minister refers. They certainly are not Endeavour cases, because it was the present Government that sent the vessel out on her last voyage.
– There are only three of those cases provided for in the schedule.
– The case of Colonel Reeves was one.
– That is an old case, I know, and I am not at all certain that it has not been running for a very long while. The question of delay would be a matter of a few days, in my judgment. The Government themselves have determined, according to the Minister’s statement, upon two years’ salary as a basis, and it would not be a very difficult thing for them to decide whether the basis should be extended to two and a half or to three years’ salary, or whether they should add a substantial sum to the various amounts set out in the schedule. I cannot conceive that it need’ take the Cabinet more than half-an-hour to consider the amounts which might be added. Were this an ordinary Bill, I would have taken the responsibility, if another honorable senator had not done so, of moving a specific amendment; but I recognise, as all honorable senators do, the limitations placed on our free action in this matter. I thought that the amendment asking the Government to reconsider the question would have been more acceptable to them, enabling us to avoid difficulties and providing the most expeditious way of arriving at a solution which would satisfy the Senate’s sense of fairness.
– It seems to me that there are some difficulties in the way of adopting the suggestion to send the Bill back to another place at this stage.
– No one is proposing to do that.
– To send the Bill back to the Government is practically the same thing as to send it back to the other House.
– Is it?
– The honorable senator has made two or three statements which are not quite accurate. He said that if we sent the Bill back to the Government it would be a plain direction to the Minister that the proposed allowances are not generous enough. But I submit that on the supporters of the amendment lies the onus of proving their contention and indicating what, in their opinion, would be sufficiently generous amounts to provide. I think that if the suggestion of Senator Millen were adopted, the Minister would be fairly entitled to turn round and ask the Senate, “ What do you consider would be a generous enough allowance; have you any suggestion to make?” Like Senator Millen, I do not think that this is a party measure, or one which ought to be treated from a party stand-point. It provides for compensation to the widows or the connexions of persons who were not lost in the Endeavour. Yet I understand that the whole of the controversy raging round this measure to-day has been in connexion with three men who were drowned in that vessel. If that is so, and if the objection taken is that the amount to be paid as compensation to the dependants of those who lost their lives in the Endeavour is not sufficient, what about those other persons whose names are opposite the various amounts? Senator
Bakhap, Senator Millen, and those who are taking, objection to the amounts, ought to state whether they think that only - these three amounts in connexion with the Endeavour men should be increased, or whether any other increases should be. made.
– These are the only cases in connexion with which the data have been furnished. In fact I have just been furnished with data in connexion with one. The Government ought to be generous.
– I am just as anxious to be generous as any other honorable senator, but there ought to be justice as well as generosity. We ought to be generous within reasonable limits.
– Then why vote against both proposals?
– My argument is strengthened that the Bill should be allowed to go into Committee.
– As an ex-Chairman of Committees, the honorable senator’ should know what are our limitations in Committee.
- Senator Millen talks about mysterious limitations when the Bill goes into Committee, but I am not aware that anybody is regarding this as a party measure.
– I did pot say it was’; but surely the honorable senator, as an ex-Chairman of Committees, knows what our disabilities are in Committee in regard to increasing amounts of expenditure.
– I know” perfectly well what our constitutional limitations are, and I have been under the impression that Senator Millen was talking about limitations in a party sense. If this Bill were to be allowed to go into Committee, although, owing to constitutional limitations, we might not be able to make increases in the amounts, still suggestions as to what would be a reasonable increase could come from those honorable senators who have gone into the matter, and they would have the opportunity of saying what those increases ought to be. There are other members of the Senate who, perhaps, are satisfied that the Bill is as reasonable as it is, but probably their views would be changed. Consequentlv while I still retain a free hand in regard to voting, I intend to support the Bill going intoCommittee.
– I desire to say one or two words with regard to this matter. I believe Senator Bakhap made the statement that a large number of witnesses could have been brought forward to prove the unseaworthiness of the Endeavour, and as a practical man myself, and one who had an acquaintance with her from the day her keel was laid until the day she left for her last voyage, I want to say that I believe she was perfectlv seaworthy.
– It is a good job you did not go down to Macquarie Island on her.
– If I had done so perhaps the country would have been the loser by it. At the time of the inquiry I brought before the Minister the fact that the engineer. Mr. William Anderson - the man who supervised the construction of the vessel, and went with her for twelve months as a guarantor from the contractors, the New South Wales Government, and continued in her until he got another job - was prepared to go before the Committee and give his opinion as to her seaworthiness. The Committee, however, were satisfied that they had sufficient expert witnesses to prove that the vessel was fit to go anywhere. I might point out that accidents will happen to the best vessels in the world, and in such circumstances the staunchest vessel would be little better than the weakest in a storm. If, for instance, her tail-shaft broke or her rudder became disabled: it would matter little whether the vessel were staunch or not; her chance would be little better than that of a weaker vessel. I do not know what happened to the “Endeavour. Nobody will ever know, but practical men can form some idea. My opinion is that she met with an accident in bad weather, and thus, was not able to withstand the storm. I might remind the Senate that another vessel, the Aurora, has been down to Macquarie Island on several occasions, but that fact does not prove the seaworthiness of the Aurora or the unseaworthiness of the Endeavour. The former vessel is an old ship, while the Endeavour was built on the most uptodate and modern principles. The assumption is that the Government hadno right to send this vessel on this mission. Whether that is true or not. I am not going to say, but I do say that the vessel was perfectly seaworthy for that expedition.
There was not a man in her who did not know the vessel well, and if they had not been satisfied regarding her seaworthiness, they would have been the first to refuse duty. They did not do so, and I say now that no blame rests upon the Government for sending her on that mission. I believe the Minister then in office was Mr. Groom, but I repeat that no blame can be laid on the Government for allowing the vessel to make the trip to Macquarie Island.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to correct him? It was not Mr. Groom who authorized the sending of this boat to Macquarie Island. It was the present Minister, Mr. Tudor.
– Mr. Tudor informed me that it was Mr. Groom.
– The date of her departure shows that it was Mr. Tudor, for the report indicates that she sailed from Melbourne on 20th November last.
– Well, after all, it makes no difference. The claim is now put forward that the victims of this catastrophe are entitled to greater consideration, because it is alleged that the vessel was not fit to go there. But I point out that the Committee’s finding disproved that, and in the opinion of that body the Endeavour was seaworthy enough to undertake the duties allotted to her. Now, if we are going to review the cases mentioned in this Bill, we ought to review the cases of other men who lost their lives in the service of the Commonwealth prior to this disaster. There is the case of a man who lost his life at the coffer-dam at Cockatoo Island. I could give the Senate numbers of these cases, which ought to be reviewed if we open up this question on the. cases before us. If we are to review particular cases, as suggested, others ought to be reviewed in the same way.
– That is what the amendment proposes to do.
– No ; it is not proposed, so I understand, to review the cases of the labourer or the carpenter at Woodlark Island, but simply to review certain cases for the reason that it is alleged the Endeavour should not have been sent on her last mission. I do not agree with that, and I will vote for the Bill as it stands, because I think it is fair and reasonable.
– I do not think the question of voting for or against the amendment depends on the allegation of the unseaworthiness of the Endeavour at all. For my own part I am prepared to accept the finding of the Board on that matter. If my memory serves me correctly, the Endeavour left Tasmania last November or December for Macquarie Island on a voyage undertaken at the request of the Tasmanian Government, because the storeship which usually made the trip to supply stores to the island was not then available. When the Minister was speaking, Senator Bakhap interjected with the question - “ Did Parliament authorize the sending of the Endeavour to Macquarie Island ?” It will be remembered by most of us, I think, that the proposal to send the Endeavour to the island was published in the columns of the daily press at the time; and for some time before she left Melbourne, and for some longer time before she left Hobart, Parliament was sitting nearly every day, so that it was quite possible some honorable member of this or another place did raise the question as to whether or not the vessel should make the journey. As far as I remember, however, no protest was registered against such a course, and, personally, I believe the Endeavour was well found and thoroughly seaworthy. Of course she was not primarily intended for work of that character, but that fact did not unfit her for the voyage. The vessel was intended for another purpose, and she was provided with appliances for that particular work. I regret that the question of the seaworthiness of the vessel has been raised, because it will tend to breed in the minds of people outside some suspicion or doubt as to whether it was the proper thing to allow the vessel to go. I do not think there can be any question of the propriety of that course. The proposal was before the public for some time before the vessel left Hobart, and if- there had been any doubt in the mind of anybody it was not effectively expressed. I believe that if Senator Gardiner had made available earlier the information which he has just given to* the Senate, perhaps a good deal of the discussion that has taken place would have been avoided, “but I still think the information now -available is not as complete as it should be in relation to the three officers who are proposed to be provided for in connexion with this measure. I think Senator Gardiner said that the Committee ap pointed by the Government to consider this matter decided that these men did not come under the provisions of the Seamen’s Compensation Act, and that, therefore, the Government sought to apply the principles of that Act to “these cases. The maximum compensation allowed under the Seamen’s Compensation Act is £500, but’ two years’ salary of two of the persons who were lost in the Endeavour, and whose dependants are included in the schedule would amount to over that sum. In these cases; where £500 has actually been paid a balance of £124 in one case, and of £20 in another, is authorized under this Bill to be paid to the dependants. The Seamen’s Compensation Act authorizes the payment by way of compensation of an amount equal to three years’ salary of the deceased person, and it seems to me that the Government have not applied the principle of the Seamen’s Compensation Act in the case of the widows of G. W. C. Pirn and C. T. Harrisson. <
– The maximum payable under the Seamen’s Compensation Act is only £500.
– That is so; but the amounts already provided for in the two cases to which I have referred exceed that maximum. It is proposed in one case to pay £624, and in the other £520, or amounts equivalent to two years’ salary in each case, whilst the Act which has been referred to permits the payment of three years’ salary or wages.
– Would the honorable senator apply the same principle in the case of every civil servant who might lose his life as the result of a motor car accident ?
– I am prepared to deal with each case as it arises. The cases to which I am referring arise from deaths, the result of an accident, the nature of which we do not know. I do not see why the principle of the Seamen’s Compensation Act should not be applied in its entirety in these cases.
– Because the men referred to were not seamen.
– The seaworthiness of the Endeavour should not influence us in connexion with this matter. I am satisfied with the decision given by the Board of Inquiry, and it would be disastrous for us at this juncture, and in this Chamber, to raise doubts as to the seaworthiness of that vessel which might give rise to a very undesirable feeling in the community.
– Honorable senators in dealing with this measure may adopt one of two courses. They may accept it as it stands, including compensation proposed to the dependants of fourteen persons who have died or become incapacitated in the service of the Commonwealth, or they may refer it back to the Government for reconsideration of the three cases which are covered by Senator Long’s amendment. I have received a circular referring to two of the cases dealt with in the schedule, and apparently other honorable senators have been furnished with particulars of those cases also. If we referred the Bill to the Government for the reconsideration of those two cases only, we should, in my opinion, be failing in our duty to ‘those who are concerned in the other twelve cases included in the schedule, because it is quite possible that some miscarriage of justice may have occurred in connexion with those cases. We have been told by the Government that all of the fourteen cases mentioned in the schedule have been the subject of anxious scrutiny by the Government, and yet honorable senators are asking for reconsideration in the case of only two. People are liable to be led away by feelings aroused as the result of startling and sensational occurrences. Honorable senators are aware that public sympathy was greatly aroused in the case of the Bulli disaster for those who suffered hardship as the result of that abnormal accident. It is quite possible that in the fourteen cases dealt with by this Bill there are some in which the compensation proposed represents a greater injustice, comparatively speaking, than does the compensation proposed in the two cases which have been specially referred to. I am not prepared to extend compassionate consideration to those two cases and withhold it from the others. I am satisfied that the Sub-Committee of the Cabinet that dealt with all these cases felt quite as much compassion for the relatives of those who lost their lives in the Endeavour as for the relatives of the other persons mentioned in the schedule. What some honorable senators have proposed would repeat the circumstances of the Bulli disaster. Owing to that disaster certain dependants of the persons who were killed were made independent for life, whereas the dependants of persons in other walks of life who died under less sensational circumstances are left to the charity of their neighbours. I am not prepared to send the Bill back to the Government unless there is some evidence of miscarriage of justice in the other twelve cases as well as in the two cases specially mentioned.
– Does the honorable senator know of any injustice in connexion with the other cases ?
– Then what is the honorable senator growling about?
– There may be some injustice in the compensation proposed in the other cases. The loss of the Endeavour has been in every one’s mind, whilst those referred to in the other cases may have lost their lives under conditions which did not arouse public feeling.
The sending of the Endeavour to the Macquarie Island has been mentioned, and the Leader of the Opposition contended in a very emphatic way that she was not equipped for such a voyage. The honorable senator has sought to fasten responsibility upon some person for sending the Endeavour upon that voyage. I resent his action in endeavouring to fasten upon the present Administration the blame of sending the Endeavour to Macquarie Island.
– I have here a document’ which shows that she was sent to Macquarie Island by Mr. Groom, who was a member of the last Government.
– I find from the document handed to me By Senator Ready that the Endeavour was sent to Macquarie Island under the circumstances disclosed in the following information: -
Re Endeavour going to Macquarie Island.
The approximate steaming distance from Hobart ‘to Macquarie Island and back would be about 1,720 miles, which, at 8 knots per hour, would occupy about four and a half days each way.
The trip would be made within twelve to fourteen days - allowing three to* five days at the island.
The Endeavour’s steaming radius, under average conditions, is 2,500 miles.
Director of Fisheries,
It has been mentioned in this Chamber, I believe by Senator Bakhap, that the Endeavour should not have been sent to Macquarie Island because of the limited supply of coal she was able to carry. Mr. Dannevig’s memorandum is followed in, the official document by the statement -
Submitted that, unless required by the naval -authorities, the Endeavour be allowed to go to Macquarie Island in November, as requested by the Meteorologist.
“This recommendation is marked “ Approved, L.E.G., 13/8/14.” The initials are those of Mr. Groom, who was a colleague of Senator Milieu.
– I do not withdraw & word of my statement that a mistake was made in sending the Endeavour to Macquarie Island.
– Mr. Groom certainly authorized the sending of the Endeavour on this voyage against which Senator Millen so strongly protests. I am not . going to blame Mr. Groom or any other person for sending the Endeavour to Macquarie Island. Her loss was one of the risks of the sea.
– I did not blame any -one.
– After what the honorable senator has said, I do not think that any other person would make that statement.
– I say that a mistake was made.
– The honorable senator said that this steamer should not have been sent to Macquarie Island, as she was not fitted for such a voyage, and he cast a reflection upon the finding of the Board of Inquiry. It is simply one of the risks attendant on going to sea. But, judging by the discussion this afternoon, one would think that there never had been a vessel lost at sea previously. What happened to- the Yongala on the Queensland coast, the Koombana on the Western Australian coast, and the Waratah? Senator Millen has sought to fasten the blame for the loss of the Endeavour on somebody, but I do not blame anybody at all. I would further remind Senator Millen that Mr. Dannevig, the Director of Fisheries, and Captain Pim, the master of the Endeavour, were both consulted as to the advisability of sending the steamer to Macquarie Island, and those two men, who should know the vessel’s seaworthiness, raised no objection to the trip. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition has had his statements, placing blame for the loss of the ship on some person, scattered throughout the Commonwealth. My humble remarks are not likely to be quoted - they never are - and the impression will be created in the public mind that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate stated that the Endeavour should not have been sent on this voyage, for which the vessel was not suitable, and that somebody is to blame. I hold that nobody is to blame, but my opinion will receive no attention. Yet what do I care about the press? Whatever distinction I have won in my life has been attained independently of the press. My troubles whether the newspapers report my speeches or not ! I regard the loss of the Endeavour as merely the outcome of the inevitable risk associated with sea-going in every age and in every clime. Instead of saddling the blame on the present Government, Senator Millen should have looked the facts in the face, and not attempted to lend the weight of his influence and position to a statement that will not stand the light of day.
– I very much deprecate the heat that has been engendered in this debate. In my opinion, the Minister is not to be held responsible for what has occurred. The object of the Bill is to fix the compensation to be paid to the relatives of the crew of the Endeavour, but the insinuations that have been made in regard to the sending of the vessel to Macquarie Island have put an entirely different aspect on the debate. To insinuate, as Senator Bakhap did-
– I did not insinuate anything. I stated something.
– The insinuation was that the vessel was unseaworthy for that voyage, and that was a reflection on the present Government. Senator Bakhap’s statement cannot be regarded in any other way.
– I attempted to lay the blame on nobody. I studiously refrained from criticising any one.
– The question that the Senate should devote itself to is whether the compensation proposed in the Bill is sufficient or insufficient. Had honorable senators confined their discussion to that question, those of us who are willing to do justice to the relatives who have been bereft of their breadwinners, would have been in a position to formulate a correct judgment as to whether the proposal in the Bill is sufficient. Up to the present moment there has been no argument put forward as to what added compensation should be given. There has been merely an attempt, to castigate the Government for having introduced the measure in its present form, and a suggestion that they should reconsider the proposal in a manner of which no indication has been given. In the absence of any direct reason as to why an alteration should be made, I intend to vote with the Government, and, for the sake of the prestige of the Senate, I sincerely hope that these insinuations and statements, which have proved to be utterly false, and which can have only a political purpose, will not continue. The reputation of no honorable senator is exalted by assailing the Government as they have been assailed this afternoon.
– Senator Watson made reference to what he terms my insinuations in regard to this matter. I certainly did not intend to insinuate anything. I intended to speak plainly, and if I did not reach the standard of my original intentions I shall very speedily repair the omission. What did I know of the Endeavour beyond the ‘ fact that the vessel had been built some years ago, that the then Minister of Home Affairs had interested himself very much in her construction, and that the vessel was designed for the purpose of investigating the fishing banks around the continent of Australia. Until a few weeks ago, the fact that the relatives of those, who unfortunately lost their lives on the Endeavour would be dissatisfied with the rate of compensation proposed did not reach my ears, and am I a man to come forward and make wild assertions involving the reputation of anybody? Have I ever done such a thing ?
– Do you ever do anything else?
– The Minister, who sometimes mistakes weakuess for strength and strength for weakness, and imagines that when a Government makes a concession it sbows itself to be weak, is not a fit judge of these matters. 1 prefer to be the judge of my own conduct. I was supplied with certain information, but I knew I was not expected to take the initiative in this matter. The honorable senator who has moved the amendment has been furnished, I have no doubt, with some of the evidence that has been vouchsafed. The Court found that the vessel was seaworthy. No. doubt she was fairly seaworthy for the purpose for which she was designed. I tell honorable senators frankly that there was the plainest evidence in regard to her unseaworthiness, but that the dependants of those persons who ‘lost their lives upon her were advised by parliamentarians in another place not to bring it forward, because they were assured that the Commonwealth in its generosity would give them ample recompense.
– Who said that?
– The relatives themselves.
– Who were the members of Parliament?
– The members of Parliament in another place advised these people not to contest the seaworthiness of the vessel–
– Because they thought it would be more tactful for them to refrain from acting in that way, and to trust to the generosity of the Commonwealth. I make the statement on the responsibility of one of the relatives of a man who lost his life on the Endeavour - and my informant was in this building only yesterday - that the evidence of a master mariner with experience of this vessel could have been produced to prove that she was an unsatisfactory boat in certain seas.
– Who is the gentleman ? What is his name ?
– I owe a responsibility to this relative.
– Why did he not appear before the Court?
– I am not blaming the Court?
– Why did he not appear before the Court?
– I have told the Minister the reason. The dependants thought it would be unwise to challenge the seaworthiness of the Endeavour, because they were advised that the Commonwealth, recognising the circumstances of the case, would act generously. There is another man in this building at the present moment, I believe - certainly he has been here within the past forty-eight hours - who was for three weeks on the Endeavour, and he assures me that she was an unsatisfactory vessel from a seagoing stand-point.
– Who is the gentleman ?
– He is a man who has been in this building within the past forty-eight hours.
– What is his name ?
– I am not going to give his name.
– He is a myth.
– Since the honorable senator says that he is a myth, I shall probably get his consent to mention his name on another occasion. There were a number of other witnesses who could have been called to give similar testimony if the relatives of those who perished on board the Endeavour had ever dreamed that the Commonwealth would exhibit the parsimony that it is exhibiting in this matter. Personally, I never saw the Endeavour . I am making these statements on evidence which has been supplied to me. What did the vessel have on deck? She had all sorts of heavy steam winches, which were used in trawling operations. This top hamper, which was wholly unnecessary on a voyage to Macquarie Island, contributed to her total loss. I am not going to allow any parade of generosity by the Commonwealth in connexion with this disaster. Some time ago a great hullabaloo was raised because the ferry-steamers to Tasmania were not provided with wireless. Some honorable senators claimed that wireless should be provided on the Loongana, which trades across waters that are traversed by vessels every twenty-four hours. Yet the Endeavour was sent to Macquarie Island, into the most stormy waters of the globe, without being fitted with wireless. The Commonwealth, which regarded it as wrong for the Union Company not to install wireless on their vessels, sent the Endeavour to this island without being fitted with wireless. I notice that some honorable senators, who before the adjournment for luncheon were loud in their praises of the action of Senator Long, and who had practically committed themselves to his amendment, are now prepared to sing quite a different tune. I suppose that in the interval they have been approached by Ministers like the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who thinks that a question of confidence in the Government is involved.
– Who are they? Another insinuation.
– Some of those honorable senators who showed their sympathy with the amendment will not be present to vote upon this matter when a division is taken. It is notorious that many a man who has spent a night or two on board the Endeavour has expressed himself as having been so dissatisfied with her seagoing qualities that he has been very pleased to set his foot on land, and to affirm that in no circumstances would he be tempted to make another voyage in her. I trust that the Senate will remedy the parsimony which is being displayed by the Government in this matter.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Long’s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
The following paper was presented : -
Wounded Soldiers. - Summary of Inquiry in connexion with the Care and Transport from Melbourne to Sydney of Sick and Wounded Soldiers, Australian Imperial. Force, returned per s.s. Kyarra.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I propose to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence some very serious statements contained in the evidence given by Dr. Bray, the Medical Officer in charge of the venereal compound at Liverpool Camp, before a Select Committee which was appointed to inquire into contagious diseases generally amongst the troops. In his evidence the Medical Officer stated that the men ordered into the compound were invariably about 100 short. The men, it was stated, broke bounds and disappeared for so long as a week or ten days together; and the medical man pointed out how dangerous it was that these men should be permitted to mix with the general community. He further said that the guards were in sympathy with the men; and that he had found on duty one guard whom he had discharged four or five days previously. The evidence went on to describe the nature of the enclosure in which these men are proposed to be detained. I draw the attention of the Minister to the statements, because I am sure he will recognise their extreme seriousness, disclosing, as they do, some laxity on the part of those whose duty it is to guard these men.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Attorney-General a matter on which I shall make no comment, but in regard to which I desire some information. I shall quote from the Australian Motorist for this month, a journal from which I read some extracts in reference to the Continental Tyre Company. Some of the statements, if they are correct, are very striking, and call for investigation. It is stated -
After the proclamation signed by the GovernorGeneral, rightly proclaiming a trading concern having the greater portion of its capital subscribed in Germany, an “ enemy company,” another proclamation was signed, specifying, among others, the Continental Rubber Company Pty. Ltd., Polack Tyre Company, and Steffins and Nobelle, agents for Prowodnik tires, as concerns with whom trading was pro hibited. That legislation closed up, to all intents and purposes, the concerns named, and the business should have ceased. To-day (22nd July) a further proclamation has been issued, giving a permit to the concerns to collect and pay moneys. This change of front is in itself remarkable, but we find that yesterday (21st)’ the Hon. W. M. Hughes signed a permit allowing the Continental Rubber Company to sell oxit its stock, and trade as before. The only condition implied is that the Minister of Defence has the right of option of purchase over any of the stock of the Continental Rubber; Company. So the Hon. Mr. Pearce is evidently ready to purchase German tires, and, further, that the tires must be sold to British subjects. Our readers should note that the Polack Company and the Prowodnik agents have not received any concession to trade, which makes, the action of the Attorney-General and the’ Minister of Defence all the more peculiar.
The company, through their manager, now interned, admitted having £250,000 worth of stock. The new Tariff has increased the value of that stock by £25,000 - a nice profit. I shall be . glad if the Attorney-General will give some explanation of the concession which appears to have been given to the Continental Tyre Company.
– I shall bring the matter before the Attorney- General, and hope to be able to furnish the honorable senator with a satisfactory explanation.
– I promise Senator Millen that the evidence given by Dr. Bray will be inquired into. The condition of the compound referred to was also referred to by Mr. Justice Rich, and certain instructions were given on an interim report made by him.
– The discussion on the motion “ that the Senate do now adjourn “ on Friday afternoon is altogether out of order, although I have permitted it on this occasion. The sessional order provides that the question “ That the Senate do now adjourn “ must be put at 4 o’clock without debate. The sessional orders were suspended to enable the Bills just dealt with to be put through all their stages without delay. Those Bills having been disposed of, the sessional order relating to the adjournment again comes into force, and if I had interpreted it strictly the motion for the adjournment this afternoon should have been put without debate. In future I shall follow that course.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 August 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150813_senate_6_78/>.